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Ameren Missouri customers won’t be seeing lower bills anytime soon after an overearnings complaint from its largest customer failed to sway state utility regulators.
In a Wednesday hearing, Missouri Public Service Commissioners said they did not agree with an overearnings complaint filed by Noranda Aluminum, which had accused the utility of making $50 million in excess profits. That could have led to lower bills for Ameren customers, who have seen electric bills rise by about 40 percent since 2006.
While the PSC still must issue a final ruling, the commissioners said Noranda did not convince them that Ameren was consistently earning above the profit level they set.
“Noranda had to meet the burden of proof,” Commissioner Stephen Stoll said. “I don’t believe they did prove that Ameren’s rates were unjust and unreasonable.”
Noranda had contended that Ameren overearned by $50 million last year, half of which it attributed to an allowed rate of return that was too high. While the PSC staff agreed that Ameren appeared to have earned about $25 million above its rate of return last year, it maintained that earnings flatten out over time and a more comprehensive study was needed first no fax payday loan. PSC commissioners agreed.
“This system envisions that revenues, expenses and profits will fluctuate, sometimes significantly … but will even out over time,” Commissioner Daniel Hall said.
The PSC ruling against Noranda is the second loss at the commission this year for the Missouri aluminum smelter, which also sought to lower its rates with a concurrent PSC action filed in February. That request would have lowered its rates at the expense of other Ameren customers, who would have likely seen rate increases.
Noranda filed the overearnings complaint at the same time, which won the support of consumer groups that regularly fight against higher utility rates. The commission denied Noranda’s rate request last month, and Noranda said last week it would lay off 125 to 200 people as a result of the decision.
ST. CHARLES • Bob and Cindy Messmer moved to the New Town area three years ago, drawn by modern homes of various sizes and price tags on an old-style street grid with easy walking to shops, restaurants and recreation.
Now the Messmers and many of their neighbors are fighting a suburban-style subdivision proposed for New Town’s southeast edge along Boschertown Road.
The City Council would have to remove the 93-acre tract from the “new urbanist” district it authorized in 2003.
“To diminish that vision at this point … would be a big step backward,” Bob Messmer, an architect, told the council Tuesday night.
Another resident, Lindsay Sutton, was more blunt. “Please don’t let our land be sold off to make another everyday ordinary subdivision,” she said.
The proposed builder, Tom Hughes, says New Town is a wonderful place but not for everyone. He says there’s also consumer demand for a more conventional, lower-density development in the immediate vicinity.
“We believe folks need to have a choice of a different type of lifestyle” in the area served by Orchard Farm public schools, he said. A current suburban-type subdivision nearby, Charlestowne, will be sold out in a few months, he added.
He pointed out that several hundred other lots in other parts of New Town will still be available through two other builders.
The Hughes project, Charlestowne Crossing, would have 234 single-family homes plus a new elementary school planned by the Orchard Farm district.
New Town has about 1,300 dwellings with approximately 3,000 residents. The original New Town developer, Greg Whittaker of Whittaker Builders, had envisioned as many as 5,700 homes going up there over 15 to 20 years.
Home building has continued although the pace slowed with the recession that took hold in 2008.
After Whittaker Builders encountered financial difficulties in the recession, a consortium of banks — WBI Resolution LLC — took over ownership of much of New Town as well as the Whittaker firm’s role as overseer of the New Town plan.
Greg Whittaker is still involved in the project through NT Home Builders, a company he manages and that bought some New Town land from WBI Resolution, said NT attorney Brad Goss.
Goss also represents Hughes’ group, which last year purchased 305 acres from WBI Resolution, including the 97 it now wants removed from the city’s New Town zoning rules.
Last month WBI removed the tract from its internal New Town regulations and said it no longer considered the area to be part of the development.
Opponents worry that allowing the conventional subdivision could set a precedent.
“In the next few years, you’re going to find more young families that want to build and there’s not going to be any more room in New Town,” said resident Ariane Cameron.
Goss said, however, that Hughes had made no decision on what to do with the rest of the New Town land his group bought.
“He’s willing to sit down and talk to people” about it, Goss said.
Hughes said the 234 lots he wanted to remove from New Town were offset by the addition last year of 236 residential lots on land originally slated for warehouse-type uses.
Critics also say that removing the tract would reduce the potential pool of homeowner fees that fund some New Town amenities and hurt current and future residents. Fewer areas for businesses in the mixed-use development also will be available, they warn.
More than 100 people, most of them opponents of the plan, packed into the council hearing on the issue. A vote is expected on Sept. 23.
Kim Higgins, who lives in the conventional Stable Ridge area nearby, was among a handful attending who supported Hughes’ request.
“I hate to see it sit empty year after year and no progress,” she said, referring to the vacant tract. She added that people in her area have a strong sense of community just as New Town residents do.
“We walk our dogs, too; we talk to our neighbors,” Higgins said. “We watch out for our children just the same.”
Supporters of Hughes’ request may have the upper hand politically, because six of the 10 council members are listed as co-sponsors. Seven votes are needed for passage.
A two-thirds majority is required because the city’s planning and zoning commission voted 6-2 last month to recommend against council approval.
A commission report said some members believed removing the tract would have a negative impact on New Town. The report also cited “incompatibility” of the Charlestowne Crossing home design with those in New Town.
Mayor Sally Faith, a planning commission member, was among those voting against Hughes’ proposal. However, she hasn’t said if she would veto or sign the bill if the council passes it. Veto overrides require seven votes.
Council President Dave Beckering, the bill’s sponsor, told the crowd Tuesday night that the vote was about the best use of the land.
“Nobody else wanted to buy it to build anything on it, let alone New Town-style homes,” he said.
Moreover, he said, it’s St. Charles’ only viable option for large-scale residential development inside the city limits. He said there was also little land available for annexation.
Herrmann, whose ward includes New Town, sides with opponents. He said the original developer “had a dream and a vision, and these folks here believed in it.”
“They know it could take 15 or 20 years, and they’re willing to wait,” he said.
The Canadian dollar was higher Wednesday, benefitting from the major deal struck that will see American fast-food giant Burger King buy Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons for $12.5 billion.
The loonie rose 0.41 of a cent to 91.72 cents US.
The cash-and-stock deal will see the parent of the U.S. firm, 3G Capital, own 51 per cent of a new company, which will be the world’s third-largest quick service restaurant company.
The loonie has been pushed higher in the past by big corporate deals. That’s because a foreign buyer acquiring a Canadian company will need Canadian currency to close the deal, boosting demand for the loonie on financial markets.
Our double-doubles better not start tasting like double-singles: editorial
Traders also anticipated a strong economic growth update Friday when Statistics Canada releases the June reading on gross domestic product. Economists expect that GDP grew by 0.2 per cent in June, which would translate into annualized growth of 2.6 per cent.
And next Wednesday, the Bank of Canada releases its next decision on interest rates.
On the commodity markets, October crude in New York was up 22 cents to US$94.08 a barrel.
December copper was down a cent to US$3.21 a pound, while December bullion gained $1.30 to US$1,286.50 an ounce.
The call for a federal inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous girls and women isn’t the result of nearly 1,200 females crying out from wherever their graves may be. It isn’t history leaking blood, it is a continuing serial tragedy, and pretty little Tina Fontaine, her corpse hauled out of the Red River on the weekend in the bag her killer had stuffed her into, is just the latest instalment.
What makes Tina’s death worse is that at age 15, she was only 5’3” and weighed a feather-light 100 pounds. It was so easy for the killer to murder Tina, bag her up and dump her in the river. Even though her family and the police were looking for her, he calculated that she would be just another missing native kid, fun to torment, easy to slaughter and really easy to dispose of.
He was right. She was only found by chance while police divers searched for the corpse of a man, Faron Hall, also native, who had been seen struggling in the water. Hall’s body was also brought in. Behind the big blue tarps screening Tina’s corpse from view, Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights gleamed in the distance.
Tina’s story is harrowing, starting with the ID photos sent out as she went repeatedly missing after her life turned bad. There she is smiling with a cool ‘do, short on one side and long on the other, with big hoop earrings that must have made her very proud. On her slender neck just north of her throat, there is a worrying bruise or abrasion.
After Tina’s father got cancer when she was 4, her grandmother took her in, CTV reported. “She was a happy baby. She was a happy girl,” Thelma Fontaine said. But after her father was beaten to death in 2011, Tina fell apart. She was put into foster care in Powerview, Man., and then in Winnipeg, the latter a poor choice because she was both attracted to city life and unable to cope with it. Police say she may have been working the streets, and in the past year, she had run away three times. In one November 2013 notice of her disappearance, the RCMP in Powerview said she “is noted to have a history of attending Winnipeg.” That time she was found two days later but you can’t make a miserable, desperate teenager stay when she wants to flee.
“She had barely been in the city for a little over a month and she’s definitely been exploited, taken advantage of, murdered and put into the river in this condition,” Winnipeg homicide unit officer Sgt. John O’Donovan told reporters. And then he said what police are generally too brisk to say: “She’s a child. Society would be horrified if we found a litter of kittens or pups in the river in this condition. This is a child. Society should be horrified.”
O’Donovan has nailed us. We do treat aboriginal people like animals. Think of the children of Attawapiskat, a James Bay reserve which floods regularly and where children have basically been camping out in school shacks for years, begging the federal government for help. Those children are appallingly neglected.
“Yet the ones we see come down here and that we have as . . . patients, they are wonderful kids,” said a Toronto doctor who headed up north to help them. “They have got a great temperament, they’re very kind, they’re very intellectual, they are fun to be with high risk personal loans.” One Toronto rescuer was particularly upset by conditions in Moosonee. “It horrified me. There was neglect and abandonment and a very hard life.” Another said happily, “They are just lovely lovely children.”
Oh, I’m sorry, I mis-wrote myself. My mistake.
Replace “kids” and “children” with “dogs” and “doctor” with “vet” and I will be correctly quoting from a July story in the Toronto Star about white people going to Attawapiskat to treat stray dogs, “adopt” them and bring them back to Toronto. There is not a word about aboriginal children being neglected or abandoned or having a “hard life” after 150 years of colonialism, family patterns disrupted by residential school, sexual abuse, extreme poverty and hearty never-ending racism.
Dogs do as they’re told, for food. They attend obedience classes, don’t run away, don’t judge their pathetic unkempt owners, and fill a hole in the lives of inadequate people who don’t like children, much less aboriginal ones.
You may disagree. If ignoring Attawapiskat children in favour of dogs doesn’t seem harsh to you, read a 2010 Facebook post by Lorrie Steeves, a Winnipeg woman whose husband Gord is running for mayor of Winnipeg. “Lorrie Steeves is really tired of getting harrassed (sic) by the drunken native guys in the skywalks. we need to get these people educated so they can go make their own damn money instead of hanging out and harrassing (sic) the honest people who are grinding away working hard for their money. We all donate enough money to the government to keep thier (sic) sorry assess (sic) on welfare, so shut the f— up and don’t ask me for another handout!”
After the CBC reported the Steeves story on Aug. 8 — this was the last day Tina was seen alive in downtown Winnipeg — accompanied by a photo of Steeves at a gala with a big glass of white wine in front of her, Steeves apologized. I’m glad she did and I’m glad she enjoys a drink, but if this is how white Canadians think — that they are themselves exquisite while aboriginal Canadians are flawed beyond redemption and their sufferings of less interest than those of dogs — we have a long way to go. Well obviously we have a long way to go.
An inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered women might lay this all open under a bright light, but Stephen Harper’s Conservatives call it unnecessary. In the meantime, think of Tina Fontaine of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. When she went missing last year, a heartfelt flyer with her picture described her, with an addendum: “Scars on both arms.”
People cut themselves when they’re hurting. Tina was hurting badly. The flyer also warned passersby, “Tina went missing before. Do NOT approach her harshly please.” She was approached harshly, one final time.
LAS VEGAS • Nevada officials say casino revenues shot up more than 14 percent in June thanks to a banner month on the Las Vegas Strip.
The state Gaming Control Board reported Friday that Nevada casinos brought in about $907 million in June.
Las Vegas Strip casinos pulled in $532 million in June, up more than 22 percent from the same month a year ago. Downtown Las Vegas casino revenues of $41million were up 12 percent.
Reno casino revenues of $48 million were down 3 percent compared with June 2013, while South Lake Tahoe casinos brought in $12 million and were down 2 percent payday loans.
The state collected $44 million in taxes based on the June winnings, which is up less that 1 percent compared with a year earlier.
NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says U.S. discount-store chief Bill Simon is stepping down.
The world’s largest retailer has named the head of its Asian business as his replacement.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer says that Greg Foran, 53, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Asia, will succeed Simon.
Simon helmed the Wal-Mart U.S. division since June 2010. The changes will take effect Aug. 9. The company says Simon will be available on a consulting basis for the next six months to ensure a seamless transition Internet Payday loans.
Foran will report directly to Doug McMillon, who took over as president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in February.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have finally shown a willingness to put Andrew Wiggins in a trade for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
While no deal is imminent, this development jump-starts the conversation between the two teams.
Minnesota has been adamant that any deal with the Cavs for Love include Wiggins. Cleveland had been reluctant to include the No. 1 overall pick in June’s draft in trade talks. It remains unclear what else the T’wolves would want in a trade and whether that will be enough to get a deal done.
Wiggins for Love? NBA executives debate merits of deal
Cavs insist they’re not trading Wiggins
Right now, the T’wolves are playing hardball for teams who want the all-star power forward. Cleveland has numerous young players and several future draft picks to offer, but Wiggins is high on Minnesota’s priority list. USA TODAY Sports previously reported the Golden State Warriors balked at including shooting guard Klay Thompson in a trade for Love, but their interest remains.
Love is coming off the best season of his career, averaging 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds a game. He can opt out his contract after this season, meaning teams that look to trade for him may want a commitment that he won’t leave after one year. That option also puts pressure on the T’wolves to trade him before losing him for nothing.
But Wiggins was drafted No. 1 with considerable hype. He is averaging 13.7 points, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks in summer league action the past week and is expected to play well with LeBron James, who signed with the Cavs last weekend.
Love also would be a great fit with James, replicating the stretch big man role played so well by Chris Bosh for James’ Miami Heat’s four consecutive NBA Finals runs. Love played with James for Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics.
As for Wiggins, the 19-year-old Canadian is receiving a crash course in the NBA rumour mill.
Since he arrived in Las Vegas and found out LeBron James was coming to Cleveland with him, Wiggins has heard his name brought up in possible trade scenarios as the Cavaliers pursue Love. Two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the Cavaliers’ position has remained unchanged despite the reports Thursday and that no offer including Wiggins has been made to Minnesota.
“Rumours are rumours. That’s why they call them rumours,” Cavs coach David Blatt said. “Sooner or later in one’s career, you’re going to have to deal with it. If he has to deal with it now, then so be it. It’s summer league. He’s learning everything as he goes along.”
Wiggins scored 21 points in 31 minutes on Thursday night in a loss to the Houston Rockets. He showcased his superior athleticism by creating mismatches and getting to the free throw line at will, making 15 of 20 free throws and getting one jaw-dropping, chase-down block in transition.
Several fans made remarks during the game about the Cavaliers getting Love, but Wiggins was unfazed. He was unavailable to reporters after the game, but Blatt said he felt no need to talk to him about the speculation.
“What you’ve got to like about the kid is that it doesn’t make a difference if it’s the fourth game of summer league in seven or eight days, or if people are keying on him or the crowd has funny things to say to him,” Blatt said. “He goes out there and really plays and has a nice calm about him and a real good demeanour. Andrew’s going to be a high-level player. It’s good to see.”
The Cavaliers and Timberwolves have been engaged in discussions since before the draft for Love, who can opt out of his contract next summer. That stipulation gives Love tremendous influence on where he ends up, and he initially balked at joining a Cavaliers team that appeared to be in rebuilding mode after missing the playoffs and firing coach Mike Brown.
That all changed when James decided last week to leave the Miami Heat and return to Cleveland, where the Akron native played for the first seven seasons of his career. James’ signing changed Love’s mind about going to Cleveland and the Cavaliers again started conversations with the Wolves.
General manager David Griffin, Blatt and owner Dan Gilbert have to this point refused to include Wiggins in any offer.
That has been a deal-breaker for the Wolves, who want Wiggins to headline any package that the Cavs would offer.
It’s not known if James would prefer the Cavs to hold onto Wiggins in any deal for Love, his U.S. Olympic teammate. But what’s certain is that the Cavaliers will take James’ feelings into consideration before making any move. The four-time MVP is hugely influential, and his return to the Cavaliers has restored hope in a franchise that has been down and out since he left for Miami in 2010.
Wiggins has yet to sign his rookie contract, which has led to speculation that the Cavaliers were stalling on that front to make it easier to execute a trade. The minute Wiggins does sign the deal, he cannot be traded for 30 days under league rules.
But keeping him unsigned also gives the Cavaliers more flexibility to pursue free agents. They have already agreed to terms with veteran shooters Mike Miller and James Jones, and have reached out to Ray Allen as well.
U.S. homebuilders’ confidence in the housing market surged this month to the highest level since January, reflecting a pickup in sales of new homes and heightened expectations for sales the second half of the year.
The brighter sales outlook suggests home construction could pick up in coming months after a sluggish start this year.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Wednesday rose this month to 53, up four points from a revised reading of 49 in June.
Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor. The latest reading is the first above 50 since January, when it was 56.
Builders’ view of current sales conditions for single-family homes, their outlook for sales over the next six months and traffic by prospective buyers each increased since June.
Higher mortgage rates and the bad weather weighed on home sales in late 2013 and early this year. Harsh winter weather also contributed to a sluggish start to this year’s spring home-selling season.
But sales of new homes have picked up in recent months.
New home sales jumped 18.6 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000, the highest level in six years. That followed a 3.7 percent increase in April. The gains came after declines in February and March.
Even with the big overall gain, sales of new homes are still running at just about half the pace of a healthy real estate market.
Still, the recent pickup in sales suggests that the housing recovery may be regaining its footing after slowing earlier this year.
Economists say there is significant pent-up demand for homes as many potential buyers put off purchases over the past few years because of concerns about the economy paydayloans.
Solid job gains this year also bode well for housing.
Employers added 288,000 jobs last month, the fifth straight month of gains above 200,000. The national unemployment rate has slid to 6.1 percent, a 5 1/2-year low.
“An improving job market goes hand-in-hand with a rise in builder confidence,” said David Crowe, the NAHB’s chief economist. “As employment increases and those with jobs feel more secure about their own economic situation, they are more likely to feel comfortable about buying a home.”
That optimism is reflected in the latest NAHB index, which is based on responses from 241 builders.
In the latest survey, builders’ view of current sales conditions for single-family homes rose four points to 57. A measure of traffic by prospective buyers increased three points to 39. And builders’ outlook for sales of single-family homes over the next six months jumped six points to 64, the highest level since September.
Housing, while still a long way from the boom of several years ago, has been recovering over the past two years.
Though new homes represent only a fraction of the housing market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to NAHB data.
The builder confidence survey sent shares in U.S. homebuilders higher in morning trading Wednesday. M/I Homes Inc., based in Columbus, Ohio, led the pack. The stock rose 72 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $23.63.
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