Home » News » Agencies & People » Letting agent sentenced to three years in prison over £302,000 theft previous nextAgencies & PeopleLetting agent sentenced to three years in prison over £302,000 theftGambling addict and father-of-two Robert Parker stole cash from his employer over an eight year period.Nigel Lewis4th February 201901,900 Views A letting agent has been sentenced to three years and two months in prison after stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds from his employer.28-year-old Robert Parker was convicted in November after he admitted stealing £302,000 between 2010 and 2018 while working at Nina Lettings Agents in Barry, Wales, and has now been sentenced.Parker, who was a University drop-out, had been employed as a junior member of staff at the agency by a close friend of his mother’s and was a hard working member of the team, eventually being promoted to lettings manager.Letting agentHe developed a close relationship with the businesses’ owner Nina Chivers and her husband, with whom he often went cycling.But Parker, who is a father-of-two children, had developed a gambling addiction and at one point was spending up to £50,000 a month on horse racing, and also enjoyed a ‘materialistic’ lifestyle including luxury goods and holidays.“To have a betrayal like that when I never ever would have doubted his integrity, and the fact that I knew his family, was just unbelievable,” Nina Chivers told the BBC.“Because I knew him and his family I never doubted his integrity for a minute and trusted him, and he was hard working and never had a day off sick.“But every day he was working he was thinking of a new way of defrauding and conjuring up what he could.”Parker will now be subject to a Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings with a hearing due to take place on May 20.nina chivers Robert Parker February 4, 2019Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles Letting agent fined £11,500 over unlicenced rent-to-rent HMO3rd May 2021 BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021
Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals withDisabilities.Please view Equal Employment Opportunity Posters provided byOFCCP here .The contractor will not discharge or in any other mannerdiscriminate against employees or applicants because they haveinquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay ofanother employee or applicant. However, employees who have accessto the compensation information of other employees or applicants asa part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay ofother employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwisehave access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is(a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtheranceof an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including aninvestigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with thecontractor’s legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR60-1.35(c) Position Summary:The Social Worker comprehensively plans for care management oftargeted patient populations. Performs resource management,facilitation, and referral to other levels of care. Workscollaboratively with the multidisciplinary care team to facilitateachievement of desired treatment outcomes. The social workerintervenes with patients who have complex psychosocial needs,require assistance with eligibility determination for socialprograms and funding sources, and qualify for community assistancefrom a variety of special funds and agencies. The social workersserve as patient advocates and counselors, perform psychologicalassessments, refer patients and families to medical resources andprovide patient and family assistance in obtaining financial andlegal assistance. In addition, offers crisis intervention topatients and families with psychosocial needs and collaborates withthe patient care team in the development of care for all patientsincluding high-risk patient population. The social worker will alsoparticipate in ongoing management of these patients. Mostimportantly, a LICSW/LCSW works to assure that the best interestsof the patient are met.Provide healthcare services consistent with state law and therequirements of the professional licensing or certificationauthority and/or hospital privileges, where applicable. Suchservice may include, but are not limited to.Minimum Qualifications:- Master’s Degree in Social Work.- LGSW, LCSW or LICSW or a temporary Social Work permit and mustobtain permanent licensure within the first six months ofemployment OR LPC or provisional licensure certificate. Must haveappropriate licensure for the state of practice.Please click on the link below to open and review the detailedjob description and minimum qualifications:Social Worker-MSW – OBGYNNotes To ApplicantsThis position would staff MFM sub-section 2d/wk.; 1 or 2 telehealthonly visit days; and Waynesburg and/or BridgeportLICSW in WV and LCSW in PA required
A pensioner has died after being knocked to the ground in Oxford city centre. Two women were arguing outside the British Home Stores outlet on Queen Street when they accidentally pushed over the 74-year-old.The woman was taken to the John Radcliffe infirmary to be treated for head injuries after the incident on Monday afternoon. Her condition deteriorated overnight and she died in the early hours of Tuesday morning.A 35-year-old woman is being held in police custody in relation to the incident. Police have appealed for anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.
by Georgi GytonNewly-formed bakery firm Mathiesons Foods Limited is already making plans to streamline operations at its three bakery production sites in Scotland.Mathiesons Foods has been formed by David Kilshaw, Mark Bradford and Paul Allan, following the purchase of Larbert-based Mathiesons Bakeries out of administration, saving around 340 jobs. The deal will see Mathiesons merge with two other bakery businesses: James Allan Bakers, owned by Bradford, and Murdoch Allan Bakers, run by Allan. Mathiesons Foods’ chairman Kilshaw is a former chief executive of sandwich business Food Partners.”The plan, at the moment, is to keep all three trading names,” retail director Bradford told British Baker. “They each have their reputation, product range and customer base, and we don’t want to upset that.” Bradford said the firm would retain the Murdoch Allan bakery in Hatton, but there will be additional new lines from the Mathiesons range of products produced there. “The James Allan bakery in Torrance will close and merge with the nearby Mathiesons bakery at the earliest opportunity,” he added.Bradford said the trio met up at the beginning of February when they learnt Mathiesons was available for sale. “We felt there was an opportunity, as a joint venture, to take the business on, but while we were in the process of those discussions, the business went into administration at the beginning of March. “We each put equity into the business, but the majority of the funding came from Lloyds Banking Group.”He said the new business would benefit from the combined mix of business skills from each of the trio. Manufacturing and production director Allan added: “James Allan has a great range of shops in an area where Mathiesons isn’t at the moment, so the retail side complements very well, and, in addition, having Murdoch Allan as a producer in the north-east of Scotland, gives us a fantastic distribution area.”Bradford said the firm has the potential to grow and become one of Scotland’s largest independent bakery companies. The three businesses would have a combined total of 51 outlets, employing over 560 people. He said the firm would try to avoid any redundancies.
Weights guidanceThe Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published guidance for businesses to accompany The Weights and Measures (Specified Quantities) (Unwrapped Bread and Intoxicating Liquor) Order 2011. The amendment to the law, set come into force on 1 October 2011, would see a lifting of all restrictions on the quantities that may be used for the sale of unwrapped bread.Action for homelessPret A Manger has recruited 25 homeless apprentices to mark its 25th birthday. In the three-month scheme, with a view to becoming permanent, the recruits get full pay and benefits, while Pret will also give them £100 for work clothes, as well as paying their travel to and from work and helping them set up bank accounts.Growing concernsA new survey commissioned by the Food Standards Agency found that consumer concern about the amount of salt, fat and sugar in food has grown. In the study, 50% of consumers said expressed concern about salt (up from 45% last year), 44% were worried about fat (40% last year) and 41% mentioned sugar (30% last year).Vehicle height worryBakery transport firms are concerned that European Commission proposals to limit the height of UK trailers could change their working practices. The Freight Transport Association wants to protect the current systems, which gives UK operators the right to operate trailers above four metres.Loaves not breadIn a story on Exquisite Handmade Cakes in 15 July issue British Baker incorrectly stated that the bakery made breads. This was incorrect; it makes loaves aka loaf cakes.
Email [email protected] HM Land Registry is a government department created in 1862. It operates as an executive agency and a trading fund and its running costs are covered by the fees paid by the users of its services. Its ambition is to become the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data. For more information about HM Land Registry, visit gov.uk/land-registry. Seven exciting start-ups will join the Geovation Programme and receive the strategic backing of Ordnance Survey (OS) and HM Land Registry (HMLR). The Programme, which acts as an accelerator course to new GeoTech and PropTech businesses, will see each of the start-ups receive up to £20,000 in grant funding and a range of resources and services to help them develop their business.Alex Wrottesley, Head of Geovation, says: Jillian Kowalchuk, whose safety app, Safe & The City, launched in March this year and already has thousands of users, was another accepted onto the Geovation Programme 6 months ago. Jillian says: Trafalgar House1 Bedford ParkCroydonCR0 2AQ ContactFor further information, examples of businesses, interviews, and images, contact Keegan Wilson at Ordnance Survey: Entries for the Programme were again of a very high standard. This is an exceptional group joining us. The Programme is designed to give them the best possible support to help propel them to the next level. We offer a founder-friendly environment, great mentors, high-quality workshop content and, almost uniquely, a dedicated software development team in-house, who work hand in hand with our companies to build and release their first products. This is something very few accelerators can offer and it means the businesses joining us can move faster and further than they otherwise would have been able to. We can’t wait to get started with these new teams. HM Land Registry safeguards land and property ownership worth in excess of £4 trillion, including around £1 trillion of mortgages. The Land Register contains more than 25 million titles, which show evidence of ownership, for some 85% of the land mass in England and Wales. Geovation has been life changing. The grant money has helped us do things we couldn’t have done while we were waiting to secure our investment. Free office space in Clerkenwell is a major benefit for any business – early stage or not. It’s great environment, with numerous other inspiring start-ups in a similar field. Geovation’s network and connections with major people in this industry and in the government is priceless to us. The team is very pro-active, and their support and experience is really helpful and always available. One of the best benefits has been the ability to use OS/HMLR data. This gives us the option to reach out to more people who are looking to invest and be strategic with their portfolios. It has also helped us predict where regulations will be implemented. Overall, the culture at Geovation is one of collaboration and support. The GeoTech businesses accepted onto the ProgrammeMothive is an automated agronomy service to help farm managers maximise efficiency, reduce waste and improve the predictability and control of crops.Pocket Pals is a mobile animation game to encourage young people and families to engage with and visit the real wildlife local to them.Trik is a 3D mapping and reporting system to deliver drone-collected data into higher quality, digital, structural inspections available on a mobile tablet.The PropTech businesses accepted on the ProgrammeSkyscape uses artificial intelligence to analyse rooftops and identify opportunities to maximise utilisation and address urban challenges. Its rooftop data analytics platform enables asset managers to efficiently identify opportunities for utilising rooftop space, where value of existing and future stock can be increased.ThirdFort is a security enhancement tool to help property solicitors more efficiently process property transactions.Fruumi is a friendly and efficient end-to-end shared accommodation platform that empowers landlords to let out their property at lower risk and cost.Hipla is a platform to help buyers evidence their own buyer position, and for owners and estate agents to qualify buyers, giving better transparency earlier in the process, whilst enabling opportunities for selling additional services and attracting sellers.About the programmeSince opening in the summer of 2016, the Geovation Hub has become home to more than 900 GeoTech and PropTech start-ups. Its Programme provides access to data, to experienced software developers, and gives businesses geospatial expertise from OS and land and property insight from HMLR, as well as business mentorship and coaching to help prepare for presenting to investors. The Programme to date has supported 65 technology start-ups, which has seen £17M raised in investment funding.Orla Shields is the founder of GetRentr, a PropTech company using artificial intelligence to track all UK property licensing regulations and consultations in real-time to ensure property portfolios are compliant. After a successful application, Orla’s company was selected to join the Geovation Programme. In the six months that have followed, Orla and GetRentr have raised over £500,000 in funding and are currently working with letting agents and landlords via a partnership with the National Landlord Association. GetRentr is also about to launch a partnership with ARLA, the largest association of lettings agents in the UK.Orla says of Geovation: Phone (Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm) 0300 006 3365 Mobile (5:30pm to 8:30am weekdays, all weekend and public holidays) 07864 689 344 Geovation is filled with world-class minds and inspiring businesses. I have received a lot of help, including one-to-one support from the Programme Manager and the Head of the programme, development and UX support, workshops, coaching and learning materials to inform best practices, connections to other start-ups, organisations and corporates to raise our profile and access to OS contacts and PR support. It is an amazing community to learn from on a daily basis. by email [email protected] by phone 02380 055332 Notes to editorsAbout GeovationGeovation is an Ordnance Survey Initiative in association with HM Land Registry, which is dedicated to supporting open innovation and collaboration using location and property data. Location is at the heart of many of the most successful digital products and services. Land and property is the foundation of our national economy.About Ordnance SurveyOrdnance Survey is Great Britain’s mapping service for government, business and citizens. Their geospatial data serves the national interest by enabling a safe, healthy and prosperous society.About HM Land Registry Follow us on Twitter @HMLandRegistry, our blog, LinkedIn and Facebook. Press Office
Load remaining images Tumble Down Festival returned to Burlington, Vermont’s Waterfront Park, for day two of the annual festival hosted by Vermont locals, Twiddle. Started in 2016, Tumble Down has quickly become one of Burlington’s favorite weekends of the summer, as Twiddle invites some of their favorite bands to make music along the banks of picturesque Lake Champlain.On Friday, a very special friend joined in the fun, as 2016 presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, took a moment to address the crowd before introducing Twiddle to the stage. Sanders is no stranger to Tumble Down, showing his love for the event and Twiddle last year, in a thoughtful letter addressed to the band. Saturday’s jam-packed musical marathon saw three sets of Twiddle, as well as Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Ripe, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, GEM, and more.Tumble Down Night 2 Recap[Video: Twiddle]Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s set was cut short due to weather, but that didn’t stop them from throwing down a funk-filled set for the Green Mountain State. “Penguins” got the show started off, with Greg Ormont taking the lead on vocals, giving Tumble Down Festival a taste of his hysterical stage theatrics. “Somethin For Ya” led way to a fast-paced and groovy “Funk E.”, with bassist Ben Carrey putting on quite the show, laying down some massively sticky bombs. Carrey and drummer Alex “Gator” Petropulos seem to get tighter and tighter in the pocket together every show they play, and Saturday’s performance was highlighted by the pair’s mean rhythm section.Continuing with the funk, Pigeons dove into “Doc”, with guitarist Jeremy Schon laying down an impressive solo, firing off on all cylinders on his gorgeous PRS guitar. Ormont brought it back into the main theme of “Doc”, before transitioning into the breezy opening of “Horizon”. With Carrey thumping away on bass, Ormont set up the perfect rhythm riff for Schon to take the jam into deep improvisational space. As the jam came building higher, the weather also worsened, an issue that was at hand Friday night as well. As Pigeons Playing Ping Pong were playing “Fortress”, the band was unfortunately not able to play their complete set, and were abruptly cut short. Even a force as strong as PPPP aren’t able to control the weather, and fans were delighted with the tunes they did get to hear, despite a little disappointment.Setlist: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong | Tumble Down Festival | Burlington, VT | 7/28/2018Set: Penguins, Somethin’ For Ya, Funk E., Doc, Horizon, Fortress (cut short due to rain)Saturday night concluded with three sets of Twiddle. The Vermont quartet took full advantage of their final opportunity to jam with the various guests on site for the festival. The first set was marked by an energetically-charged “Polluted Beauty”, which saw 15-year-old and frequent collaborator Brandon “Taz” Niederauer flexing his chops with one of his favorite bands. The first set closed with a beautiful “Hallelujah”, featuring vocalist Kat Wright.Soaring through back-to-back jams during their second set, Twiddle also welcomed out guitarist Grahame Lesh for their signature “Lost In The Cold”. Later on, Lesh and vocalist Elliot Peck returned to the stage for a “Hatti’s Jam” into “When It Rains It Pours” during the final set of Tumble Down. Thanks to taper edmund.edwards, you can re-listen to the majority of Twiddle’s three sets below.[Audio: edmund.edwards]Setlist: Twiddle | Tumble Down Festival | Burlington, VT | 7/29/2018Set One: Second Wind, Dr. Remidi’s Melodium, Polluted Beauty w/ Taz (guitar), Hallelujah w/ Kat Wright (vocals)Set Two: Orlando’s> Jamflowman> Hattibagen McRat> Orlando’s> Frankenfoote> Tiberius> Orlando’s> Carter Candlestick> Cabbage Face> Orlando’sSet Three: Lost In The Cold w/ Grahame Lesh, Apples, Hatti’s Jam w/ Graham Lesh (guitar) and Elliot Peck (vocals) > When It Rains It Pours w/ Graham (guitar) and Elliot Peck (vocals)You can view a gallery of photos from Tumble Down Festival in Burlington, VT below via photographer Bahram Foroughi.Tumble Down Festival | Waterfront Park | Burlington, VT | 7/28/2018 | Bahram Foroughi Photography
The man who helped to reshape the country’s largest school system has a new focus: the nation’s K-12 public schools.Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, spoke at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on Monday, outlining his plan for a “transformative” approach to the country’s ailing primary and secondary education systems.“Human history is a race between education and catastrophe,” said Klein, quoting British author H.G. Wells. According to Klein, catastrophe will be unavoidable without major restructuring of the American K-12 system. His proposed solution has three core recommendations: Professionalize teaching, create choice and competition among schools, and bring technology further into classrooms.Klein instituted many changes in New York City’s public school system when he was chancellor from 2002 to 2010, including implementing teacher performance bonuses, establishing more charter schools, creating a unified and citywide curriculum, incorporating data into teacher evaluations, and closing some high schools in favor of smaller, community-driven schools.He shaped his national proposal in part on that experience, and in part on an influx of depressing educational data.“The facts are pretty gruesome,” said Klein, who rattled off statistics, including a high school graduation rate in the United States that hovers around 70 percent, the country’s low literacy ranking in science and math internationally, and the fact that although U.S. spending has tripled since 1970, student achievement levels remain almost unchanged.But change is possible, said Klein, in part because so many teachers will be retiring from the profession in the next decade, making way for “millennials who I think will be much, much more accommodating to a new and different vision of the system.”In addition to fueling innovation and driving change, enhanced choice and competition among schools is a basic question of equity, Klein said. Every parent, regardless of income level, should be able to pick from the best schools available, Klein said. He cited his own efforts in New York City where he shut 60 failing high schools in favor of 300 smaller, community-based models that he said led to both greater choice and higher graduation rates. Too often, Klein said, parents tell him the schools they don’t want their children attending are for “other people’s children.”“Other people’s children are the kids who start out with the least advantages in life and the greatest challenges. They can’t move to a new neighborhood, or a new community, or send their kids to private school. For them, it’s truly one and done.”The system should not be about pitting a private or public school against a charter school, added Klein, “It’s about choice, and good schools, and schools earning the student body that attends them.”For Klein, fundamental reform includes changes involving teachers.“We have got to create a teaching profession that is a highly respected profession,” said Klein. He complained that too many teachers leave teaching after only a few years, and called both for new measures that ensure they are adequately trained both in content and pedagogy, and for a system that includes better support and pay.Klein singled out the example of Finland where it’s harder to “get into a graduate school of teaching than any other professional school.” Finland’s educational system includes a mentoring program in which teachers are carefully supervised. If they are deemed underperforming, they are “counseled out of the system.”“People go to Harvard Law School, they practice law. People go to Harvard Medical School, they practice medicine,” said Klein. “People go to education schools, and in the first five years a third to a half of them exit the profession. There’s something wrong with that model.”Klein now heads the education unit of media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, called Amplify, which in part aims to put tablet computers in the hands of teachers and students across the country.Such technology can engage students in richer, more exciting learning opportunities, Klein said, and can empower great teachers. Tablet computers also allow students and their instructors to work from highly customized plans.With his final words, Klein challenged his audience to help him.“This is the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Where else is a better place to reimagine education, to have big thoughts about the transformative power of three ideas?”
Restructure the governing process by forming an independent commission to redesign congressional rules to greatly reduce two-party control over which bills are considered and how issues are addressed; Reduce the influence that money buys in politics. While the authors don’t suggest eliminating fundraising, they say ensuring that donations are fully transparent, closing fundraising loopholes, and encouraging small donors to participate can restore some balance and expand the rolls of those whose needs are heard. While major election and governance reforms likely would take years to implement, near-term fixes could help, such as electing a small group of independent, centrist U.S. senators to form a swing coalition that could align with either party on an issue. That would ensure that decisions satisfy more than just the political extremes.One major objective of the report, the pair say, is to get the business community to understand the structural source of Washington’s dysfunction and help begin to fix it. They acknowledge that won’t be easy. In the current environment, some business leaders want nothing to do with politics, while others have gotten into the game and done quite well for themselves with the help of lobbyists, who typically deliver a healthy return on investment. But while lobbying may produce short-term wins for an individual company or a specific business sector, it is at the expense of the country’s long-term well-being.Some businesses have become special-interest advocates, and thus contributors to the larger political dysfunction, the authors say. While most businesses are unhappy with the current state of affairs, they often disconnect their own lobbying efforts from the dissatisfaction they feel, said Porter, adding, “We’ve got to bring those things together.”“So we are determined, in whatever way we can, to try to get businesses to understand the kind of corrosive effects that is having on our entire economy, on everything they need to happen in our economy,” he said.“Today’s CEOs also need to redefine corporate purpose in ways that align strategy and business competition with the needs of society, which will mean a different relationship with government,” the paper concludes.Bringing the message to the business communityIn the coming weeks, Porter and Gehl will bring their message to the business community and Harvard alumni across the country and plan to work with HBS students eager to change the way Washington works. The authors also hope to convene a major event at HBS with top business leaders to begin tackling the issues.“We’re going to try to make the business community very uncomfortable with the status quo that they sort of fell into without necessarily understanding the consequences,” said Porter.If the political system is to work for everyone, ordinary citizens also must take responsibility for action and demand changes in the rules of the game.“That’s part of why we’ve written this, because we want to be explicit about what’s gone wrong, and we want to invite people who have heretofore engaged in the political system by supporting a candidate or a party to know that there’s another way they must engage,” said Gehl.“You have to engage in caring about the way the system itself is structured. You cannot just show up and vote for the candidate or support the candidate. You’re going to have to care about the rules of the game overall.” There’s a general consensus that Washington is “broken.” But the reason politics doesn’t seem to deliver for citizens anymore may not involve who’s in the White House, which party controls Congress, or even any inherent flaws in the political system.In fact, over the last few decades, the system may have worked better than ever for the constituencies that it was built to serve best: primary voters, donors, and lobbyists for special interests, including businesses. Unfortunately for the American public, most ordinary voters are not among those leading beneficiaries.According to a new Harvard Business School (HBS) report from Michael E. Porter, the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor, and co-author Katherine Gehl, Washington’s proverbial “swamp” isn’t a set of disjointed public institutions. Rather, it’s a self-regulating industrial complex that limits healthy competition in order to promote its continued growth and caters to the power and profit-driven demands of its best customers instead of the broader public interest.During the 2016 election cycle, the report estimates that federal political spending reached at least $16 billion, and nearly 20,000 jobs could be attributed to campaign staffing, consulting, and lobbying. The political media also benefitted, with most major news outlets posting record advertising revenues last year as a result of expanded interest in politics.While competition between the two parties looks fiercer than ever, in reality, the study suggests, both Democrats and Republicans benefit from having the other as a foil to raise funds against, from having opposing policy positions to rally around, and from, in effect, roping off the playing field from outside challengers who might outshine them.To understand how and why politics has become so disconnected from serving the people and producing positive results, Porter and Gehl studied the business of politics as they would study any company or sector, looking at structural components such as competitors, customers, channels to reach customers, suppliers, and the threat of new entrants into the market using the “five-forces framework.”They wanted to know how a country that personified the success of modern democracy after World War II could have fallen into a state of failure and inertia, with no end in sight.“How do you have this system that’s not meeting the customers’ needs, the citizens’ needs, not solving the problems that are in the public interest, and yet we’re not holding them accountable?” Gehl said she and Porter wondered. “What’s going on?”Porter, who studies economic development and competitiveness, said the idea to examine politics through the lens of business stemmed from his experience overseeing the U.S. Competitiveness Project at HBS. Since 2011, the project has surveyed HBS alumni and other business leaders to assess perceptions about which aspects of the country, such as the economy or education, they see as thriving and which as lacking.The survey results consistently showed that Washington’s persistent failure to pass legislation in recent years has been a major obstacle to moving the country forward on nearly every front that makes a healthy business environment, from tax reform and restoring economic growth to improving public education and health care and rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.Source: Katherine M. Gehl and Michael E. Porter, “Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America,” U.S. Competitiveness Project, Harvard Business School, September 2017Gehl, a former CEO who spent years in politics supporting candidates, said she eventually became disillusioned because while the names and faces changed, the partisan-driven gridlock in Washington and politicians’ focus on primary voters, special interests, and donors did not.“I was always looking for ‘who’s the right candidate?’” she said. But “because the system was so dysfunctional, no matter who you send into that system, the system, the structure, and the incentives that are built into that system are larger and stronger than any individual’s desire to make a difference.”Despite the present dire political straits, however, the pair say they see plenty of reasons to be optimistic.“There are things that can be done”“By changing the design, by changing the rules of the game, we can change the results that the system’s incented to deliver,” said Gehl. “We don’t just have to be frustrated about it, there are things that can be done.”One troublesome aspect of our current political system, the report finds, is that it offers the key actors no incentive to change their behavior. After all, why would they when it’s working great for their interests?Worst of all, the authors said, there’s no accountability.Unlike other industries, which are subject to federal oversight or face threats from competition if they don’t serve customer needs, there’s no higher authority lording over the political system. Though the Federal Election Commission is nominally tasked with ensuring that election and financing rules are followed, the panel is stocked with political appointees and under constant pressure to operate with a very light touch.Theoretically, voters are supposed to be the ultimate check: If the public doesn’t like what’s going on, the party or elected officials get voted out. Yet even with some leadership churn, candidates from outside the two parties rarely get elected, so the system continues to serve the needs of its preferred customers: the small number of hardcore primary voters, big-pocketed donors, and special-interest groups, the study says.That closed loop is no accident, the authors believe. Democrats and Republicans control the political system through mutually beneficial rule-making done behind the scenes, Gehl and Porter assert. The parties have enacted rules that protect their dominance by controlling the primary process, access to voter data, fundraising limits, how Congress is governed, and what issues are debated. The system even coopts media attention and access, which creates a major barrier to entry.Though no industry rolls out the red carpet to new competition, the Democratic and Republican parties have been particularly skillful in keeping challengers outside the two-party system from getting a toehold, the authors believe. Without a competitive threat, the parties have little worry that failing to serve the needs of average voters will have hurt them.“It’s one of the most striking cases I’ve ever seen” of antitrust-style behavior, said Porter. “It’s impossible” to succeed from outside the parties.What can be done to revamp the systemThough they concede that the situation is complex, Porter and Gehl identify four key areas of the political system that could be revamped to improve how politics can deliver for everyday voters.Among their recommendations:Change the election process so that it more fairly represents all voters, by gerrymandering reforms overseen by a nonpartisan redistricting panel, and open access to presidential debates to candidates outside the two major parties so voters can hear broader viewpoints;
The Harvard Innovation Labs has published a summary of achievements from the university innovation center’s community in 2019. This year’s annual list features nearly 50 accomplishments from current and former Harvard Innovation Labs teams.“At the start of 2010, the Harvard Innovation Labs was still just an idea — one that would not turn into a reality for nearly two more years,” said Jodi Goldstein, Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Executive Director of the Harvard Innovation Labs. “Since then, we’ve launched and scaled a university innovation center that has brought together tens of thousands of Harvard students, alumni, and faculty to explore ideas across industries and stages.”She added, “In recent years, our growth has included opening the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab, introducing the Launch Lab X accelerator program to support alumni entrepreneurs, engaging with more world-leading innovators and entrepreneurs to advise Harvard Innovation Labs’ teams, and creating multiple new funding opportunities through the Allston Venture Fund, the Social Impact Fellowship Fund, and early stage grants. Throughout, we’ve continued to scale the annual Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge, which will offer $510,000 in prize money from The Bertarelli Foundation to winners and finalists in 2020.”Read the Harvard Innovation Labs 2019 Year in Review here. Read Full Story