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Archives for March 20, 2013

Paul lays out steps to provide permanent legal status for illegal immigrants

Washington (CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Tuesday waded deeper into an issue fraught with political opportunity and risks: further clarifying his ideas on immigration reform by laying out steps to eventually provide permanent legal status for the millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S.

“I think the conversation needs to start by acknowledging that we aren’t going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants,” Paul said.

Sen. Rand Paul appears on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. ET, only on CNN.

The senator has previously made clear his position. Yet a widely-watched announcement will surely put him at odds with many of his own tea party supporters – and stoke louder claims that Paul is courting Hispanics ahead of a potential 2016 presidential run.

Paul’s proposal stands firm on an oft-stated Republican stance: any immigration solution must first involve securing the nation’s borders. But it is his insistence on allowing millions of immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally to remain that could hurt his standing with conservatives who criticize such a move as amnesty.

Paul delivered the Tuesday speech to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce gathered for sessions in Washington. While policy watchers will study the substance of Paul’s proposals, political observers are sure to seize on the audience: a consortium of business leaders and entrepreneurs which bills itself as the nation’s largest Hispanic business organization.

Aware of the growing influence of Hispanics in national elections – they overwhelmingly backed President Obama’s re-election – Paul began his speech with personal anecdotes of his understanding of their culture and frequent plight.

“I lived, worked, played and grew up alongside Latinos,” the Kentucky senator said, recalling his Texas upbringing. “As a teenager I worked alongside immigrants mowing lawns and putting in landscaping around businesses.”

“At a young age, I came to understand that it makes a difference whether you are a documented immigrant or an undocumented immigrant, that the existence was not easy for the undocumented but that opportunity in America somehow trumped even the poor living conditions and low pay.”

Paul criticized his own party for what he called “harsh rhetoric over immigration” that has “obscured our respect and admiration for immigrants and their contribution to America.”

“Republicans have been losing both the respect and votes of a group of people who already identify with many of our beliefs in family and faith, and conservative values,” Paul said.

From there, he laid out what he likened to a common-sense immigration plan. A first and critical step: securing the nation’s borders.

“It’s absolutely vital for both the success of our immigration policy and for the purposes of national security that we do secure our borders,” Paul said. “Not to stop most immigrants from coming – we welcome them and in fact should seek to increase legal immigration.”

Paul’s proposal would mandate that border and other officials certify border security steps and that Congress would vote on the veracity of those steps for several years.

With that, Paul stated, conservatives would be ready to swallow the notion of millions of illegal immigrants staying in the country.

“If you wish to work, if you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you,” Paul said.

His plan would provide work visas for the undocumented, with a Congressional panel determining how many visas would be given each year.

The plan would bring “these workers out of the shadows and into becoming and being taxpaying members of society,” Paul said in his speech.

In a recent column for the Washington Times, Paul suggested normalizing about 2 million undocumented citizens per year.

“I would start with Dream Act kids, children brought here illegally as minors. Normalization would get them a temporary Visa but would not put them ahead of anyone already waiting to enter the country. These undocumented persons would now be documented but they would still have to wait in line like everyone else. But their path to permanent legal status would be no faster than those currently waiting in line,” Paul wrote.

Many conservatives – especially tea partiers who support Paul – call such measures amnesty. In recent elections, some activists have defeated Republicans who have supported plans that would provide an eventual path to citizenship.

Should Paul decide to run for president, his stance could prove problematic. Apparently sensing backlash, Paul addressed the criticism, head on during the speech.

“Conservatives, myself included, are wary of amnesty. In fact, if you read the news already, I’m already being accused of it – and I haven’t even given my speech yet,” the senator said. “Amnesty is kind of who wants to make up the definition. But I’d say, what we have now is de facto amnesty.”

Paul continued: “The solution doesn’t have to be amnesty or deportation. Maybe there’s a middle ground that we call probation where those who came illegally – who did break the law, have a period that they have to go through called a probationary period. My plan will not, though – this is where I disagree with some in the bipartisan plan – will not impose a national ID card. It will also not have mandatory e-Verify. I don’t mind if there’s e-Verify that’s maybe related to the tax code somehow. But I don’t like the idea of making every business owner a policeman.”

The Kentucky Republican’s remarks come as Congress and the Obama administration ready to tackle the issue of immigration reform. Shortly after his inauguration, the president made clear it is a high priority for his second term. Additionally, a bipartisan group of senators have been working on a framework for immigration reform that would include an eventual pathway to citizenship.

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Lawmakers look at adding taxes to 130 more services

RALEIGH To lower the state’s income taxes, top legislative leaders are considering a plan to levy a sales tax on roughly 130 types of businesses that offer tax-free services – everything from haircuts and insurance to pool cleaning and arcade games.

Republicans made an overhaul of the state’s tax system a top issue this legislative session, but the dialogue remains behind closed doors as the House and Senate work to craft a consensus plan before introducing legislation. The secrecy is a point of objection among the Democrats in the minority.

So far, much of the attention is focused on Senate leaders’ goal to eliminate all income taxes and less on how to pay for the cuts – even though the repercussions from the a sales tax on services is sweeping.

North Carolina lawmakers are considering putting a sales tax on any service that is taxed in at least one other state. The list of nearly 170 types of services is based on a 2007 survey from the Federation of Tax Administrators, an industry professional group.

It includes car washes, landscaping, water, debt counseling, dating services, taxidermy, newspapers, bowling alleys, most labor costs, pet grooming, investment counseling, and professional services offered by attorneys, accountants, veterinarians and physicians.

A recent study estimated the broader tax on services would collect about $44 million in additional revenue for the state, a small part of what is needed to offset the approximately $12 billion generated by the corporate and personal income taxes.

North Carolina currently taxes about 40 services. According to the survey, it taxes fewer services than all but 18 states. But not all are taxed at the current 4.75 percent state sales tax rate.

Only two states – Hawaii and New Mexico – tax most of the services tracked by the group, while only seven states tax professional services.

A handful of services on the list are taxed in a few states and seem outmoded for North Carolina, such as tickertape financial reporting and seismograph services.

Republican lawmakers acknowledge that a services sales tax may increase what consumers pay, but they argue that income tax cuts being considered will soften the blow to their wallets and create a system that is more sustainable and fair.

Sen. Bob Rucho, a Matthews Republican leading the tax overhaul efforts, said revamping the system is necessary because household consumption has changed, eroding the base of the state’s tax system. Two-thirds of household purchases are services and one-third are taxed tangible goods, the opposite of a generation ago, he said.

The share composed of sales tax revenue has steadily declined as people spend more of their income on services not subject to the sales tax, such as health club memberships or lawn care services.

“We are competing in a 2013 global economy, and our tax policy is from the 1930s,” he said. “That’s like trying to drive on a super highway in a Model T.”

Rucho, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he favors taxing all services on the list. “It should be a balanced approach because there is more and more of a shift toward the service industry in North Carolina … and it’s just a matter of fairness that everybody should be treated the same,” he said.

Rucho has shared slides around the state that suggest corporate and personal income taxes are volatile, fluctuating with the economy. But they still account for a growing share of North Carolina revenue.

At the same time, North Carolina’s job growth lags the national average while unemployment is higher. Per-capita income has fallen since the late 1990s.

Rep. David Lewis, a Republican leading the effort in the House, said he expects his colleagues to debut their own outline for a tax overhaul before the end of the month – amplifying the negotiation efforts with Senate leaders, who put forth a conceptual plan earlier this year.

“We are looking at broadening the base and trying to figure out what will spur additional economic growth and employment in the state,” he said.

From the sidelines, Democrats argue the Republicans’ initial ideas would shift the tax burden disproportionately and hurt lower-income taxpayers, who spend a larger share of their money on services.

“It’s unfair to the majority of people if income taxes are lowered and sales taxes go up,” said Rep. Paul Luebke, a Durham Democrat. “The wealthy will disproportionally benefit from the decrease.” Observer staff writer Jim Morrill contributed.

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The No. 1 Reason Consumers Hate Their Landscaping Provider

Landscape and lawn care contractors go to painstaking lengths to make customers happy; at least the real Green Industry Pros do. Much of their focus is on their craft, be it lawn maintenance or lawn care, design/build, hardscaping, etc. Some earn certifications such as PLANET’s various Landscape Industry Certified designations. There is no doubt that many landscape contractors are brilliant at their craft.

But that’s not enough. You are in the business of landscape contracting. “Most” of you are good at landscape contracting. Where you can make a difference and create some competitive separation is in the way of client communication and customer service.

We’re featuring Dallas-area Sunset Landscape Services in our March/April issue. They are a great family company that specializes in commercial maintenance and installation services. When interviewing them, I was struck by a comment from Carlos Fulton, Sunset’s director of sales. Carolos said he picked up on one thing soon after joining Sunset and entering the “landscaping services” industry.

When clients grow unhappy with their landscape service provider, it’s because of an overall lack of communication—along with a reactive approach to problem solving.

Clients like when their contractor talks to them, keeping them up to speed and helping to educate them. They like when their contractor comes to them with new ideas, insights into looming problems, etc.

So think about when and how you’re communicating with clients. Provided that you’re not one of the 20% of landscape contractors who is inferior when it comes to your craft, communication will come in real handy.

Here are some articles on this topic you might want to take a look at:

Greenscapes of SW Florida reinforces personalized approach

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Groups to come together to clean Venetian Gardens


Staff Report

V Day on Saturday will bring together businesses, churches, civic organizations and other groups in a community effort to improve Venetian Gardens. Work begins at 9 a.m. and runs through the afternoon.

The project is the latest community partnership organized by City Commissioner Jay Hurley, who in November rallied teams of volunteers to set up holiday lights for Christmas Tree Lane at Lakeshore Mobile Home Park.

Now, Hurley is requesting help from the community to benefit Venetian Gardens with shoreline debris cleanup, brush trimming and other landscape improvements.

“Let’s take the momentum of Christmas Tree Lane and do something special at Venetian Gardens,” Hurley said.

Large groups and businesses can designate part of the park for specific projects. Cutrale Citrus Juices USA — one of Leesburg’s largest employers — has agreed to help clean up overgrown vegetation on Venetian Garden’s lesser traveled Monkey Island at the mouth of Venetian Gardens cove on Lake Harris.

Groups can contact Jay Hurley at 352-504-5767 to volunteer. Participants should bring their own tools and landscaping equipment.

Venetian Gardens – originally created in the 1930s – is at 201 E. Dixie Ave., along the north shore of Lake Harris. The historic park features six landscaped islands, a marina, boat ramps, the Leesburg Boating Club, Kids Korner playground, a community meeting center, Pat Thomas Stadium and a large, open recreation area at Ski Beach.

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Edible landscaping

Rosalind Creasy, who coined the term “edible landscaping,” will give a talk, “Transforming your Home and Health through Edible Landscaping,” April 23, at 7 p.m. in the Taylor Little Theatre at Mercyhurst University. Her talk is free and open to the public.

Creasy’s “The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping” was first published in 1982. She has since written 18 books and recipe books from landscaped gardens. A book signing of the 2010 edition, “Edible Landscaping,” follows her talk. Books also will be available at the Mercyhurst bookstore.

Frozen in time

For some reason, frozen food is often frowned upon in classy cooking. In reality, though, many foods, especially produce that doesn’t grow here in the winter, might be better when picked ripe and canned or frozen. Foods that are frozen or canned at their peak retain better taste and nutritional value over those God-awful winter tomatoes and rock-hard strawberries.

The Daily Meal recently offered a list of eight frozen foods that live up to that, including carrots, broccoli, cherries, red bell peppers, spinach, cauliflower, berries and butternut squash.



For your e-shelf

The Chicago Tribune has created an e-book recipe collection series that includes Tribune-tested recipes from the past two decades from the Trib’s Good Eating section.

Titles include: “Classic Home Recipes,” “Creative Pasta,” “Party Snacks Appetizers,” “Quick Breads” and “Seasonal Salads.”

The e-books are intended for use by electronic readers such as Kindle and Nook and cost $4.99 at e-book dealers, including and

— from staff reports

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Green gardening tools and techniques that really work

Americans have embraced recycling and are enthusiastic about cleaner energy sources. Yet when it comes to caring for their outdoor environment, many people still use less earth-friendly tools and techniques. So what’s standing in the way of Americans going green in their gardens and landscapes?

One answer may be the common misconception that eco-friendly products and practices don’t work as well as less environmentally conscious ones – such as chemicals that repel common garden pests, but can also cause groundwater contamination.

“Advances in environmentally responsible products have made it possible for homeowners to effectively care for their gardens and landscaping, while protecting the environment at the same time,” says Elizabeth Summa, president of Repellex, which makes eco-friendly lawn and garden products.

Some greener gardening tools are time-honored, like rotary lawn mowers. Others are leading-edge, such as pest-control products that are eco-friendly. Here are a handful of environmentally safe, effective ways to keep your landscape and garden green this spring and summer:

Responsible repellent – Deer, rabbits, squirrels and gophers – animals munch on landscaping and garden plants because they’re hungry and the vegetation tastes good to them. Eco-friendly repellents, like those made by Repellex, use taste aversion and natural ingredients like pepper, dried bloodmeal and egg to make non-edible plants less appealing to foragers. Repellex Systemic Tablets deliver a dose of pepper to the roots of plants – just place in soil, water and walk away. The flavor gets absorbed through the roots into non-edible plants, making them taste unappealing to garden pests. For edible plants, Repellex Fruit Vegetable uses a combination of putrescent eggs and plant extracts to keep animals and insects away from fruits and vegetables all season long. Log on to to learn more.

Friendlier mowing – Long before combustion engines made it possible to mow your lawn quickly and easily, people relied on rotary mowers – also known as reel mowers. Environmentally responsible gardeners have rediscovered these people-powered mowing machines. Reel mowers have many positive attributes: they are pollution-free, quiet and very economical to operate. Modern reel mowers are lighter, smaller and with fewer working parts that require maintenance and repair. They’re also a great way to exercise; walking behind a rotary mower burns more calories than pushing a self-propelled mower.

Organic fertilizing – Chemical fertilizers are a well-known source of groundwater contamination, yet some form of additional nutrients is almost always necessary for successful gardens and lawns. The EPA says composting can eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers and results in higher crop yields. You can compost food waste from your own kitchen, as well as grass clippings and other yard waste. Composting your own organic waste at home not only reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, it can provide you with an effective, eco-friendly and essentially free way to fertilize gardens and flower beds. For lawns, you can find a variety of organic fertilizers – based on natural ingredients rather than chemicals – at most hardware, big box stores and garden centers.

Kinder weed control – Weed killers are also well-known contaminants, and can be hazardous when used around small children or household pets. Before you bring out the spray bottle, consider weed-elimination alternatives that are kinder to the environment. Some very effective options include using a mixture of vinegar and water, boiling water and even pulling weeds by hand. Removing weeds by hand also adds a health benefit for you – you’ll burn more calories pulling weeds than simply spraying them.

Bug-free without bugging the environment – Chemical insecticides can be harsh on the environment – not to mention skin if you use a chemical repellent to ward off mosquitoes and other biting bugs. Instead of chemical insecticides, consider natural alternatives. Repellex’s Mosquito Tick product keeps mosquitoes, ticks and other insects off you by keeping them out of your lawn and garden. The all-natural repellent sprays on your lawn, garden, patio, deck and home exterior to ward off these disease-carrying insects.

Choosing to go green with your lawn and garden care doesn’t mean you have to give up effectiveness. With the right tools, it’s possible to accomplish your lawn and gardening goals while protecting the environment at the same time.

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Start pruning your roses now

It’s time to start pruning your roses

If you want your roses to produce fantastic blooms later in the season, you may need to prune some of them now, Hannah Stephenson reports

They are the quintessential English plant, with unrivalled fragrance, beauty and variety of colours, shapes and sizes.

Little wonder, then, that many gardeners are baffled as to when to actually prune their roses to ensure a flurry of gorgeous flowers in the summer and beyond.

The best time to prune autumn and winter-planted roses and established bushes is early spring, when growth is just beginning and the uppermost buds are swelling but no leaves have appeared.

The traditional method involves cutting out all dead wood and diseased or damaged stems, removing branches which are rubbing against each other and aiming for an open-centred bush.

Then cut out all unripe stems – if the thorns bend or tear rather than snapping off cleanly, the wood is unripe.

You should be left with about six key stems that define the shape of your rose bush. For hybrid teas, otherwise known as modern bush roses, cut back each of these stems by at least half. For other shrub roses, prune lightly so they don’t become top heavy.

Also watch for suckers, vigorous growths which emerge from a point low down on the plant, close to the root system. If you leave them, they can choke the plant or reduce its vigour. Suckers are easy to identify because they have different leaves and growth habit. Just pull them off, as cutting encourages them, as does hoeing around the base.

If it’s really cold, you can leave pruning as late as early April, which means that your plants will flower slightly later than usual, but at least the soft new growth won’t have been damaged by frost.

Rose pruning isn’t rocket science, as many gardeners have learned over the years.

Rose connoisseur Edward Enfield, father of comedian Harry Enfield and former member of the Royal National Rose Society, once told me of an experiment in which one group of rose bushes was pruned lightly, another group heavily and a third hacked with a hedge cutter – and those hacked off with the hedge cutter did the best.

He himself prunes twice – once in autumn, cutting out the deadwood and spindly growths and shortening the main stems to stop windrock, then again in March, cutting to an outward eye where a group of leaves join the stem.

Hard pruning, when stems are cut back to three or four buds from the base, is recommended for newly planted rose bushes, while moderate pruning, where stems are cut back to about half their length, is advised for hybrid tea bushes growing in ordinary soils.

If you don’t have time to prune, but love roses, consider investing in some ground cover or patio roses which will just need a tidy-up in spring.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to prune your roses because the flowers grow at the tips of the stems, so if you don’t shorten those stems the blooms will end up at the top of the plant where you can’t see them, and the stems will just become a straggly maze of twiggy bits.

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Beacon Hill GC Tour and Book

Get Daily discounts and offers on sporting events, plays, concerts, museums and other events around town

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Bonnier Corp. Folds "Garden Design"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Article Database



Garden Design, the upscale bimonthly home/garden/lifestyle magazine that launched with fanfare in April 1994, shut down quietly on March 13. A statement from owner (since 2006) Bonnier Corp. blamed “the economic climate, compounded by the significant industry transition to digital, [that] limited the growth in advertising needed to make [GD] viable for our future.”

GD was the brainchild of Chris Meigher, the former Time Inc. executive whose credits included the 1990 launch of then-Time Inc.-partnered Martha Stewart Living. (Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia did not form until 1997.) This first Meigher Communications brand was introduced at the New York Flower and Garden Show in Rockefeller Center, and investors were said to have included 1989-1992 Time Warner co-CEO Nick Nicholas. In 1995, Meigher and editorial director Dorothy Kalins launched the epicurean Saveur (which continues), and the future seemed bright.

But Meigher’s financial problems in 2000 led to his selling both magazines to Orlando-based World Publications founder (1984) founder Terry Snow for a bargain-basement $7 million that August. When Snow sold World to Bonnier Corp. for an estimated $100 million in May 2006, the two were part of the package.

By then, the 185,000-circ GD was the weaker of the two (Saveur‘s rate base is 325,000), and it could be that Snow–as Bonnier president following the World sale–kept GD afloat because it was a favorite of his wife.

If there was “protection,” it ended with Snow’s Jan. 14, 2013, resignation. It was successor and Snow protégé Dave Freygang who made the call. The GD Web site and Facebook page will be taken down on June 1.


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