Scrutiny for hospitals and power providers
This morning's trail mix: the state rates hospitals, purchasing is up - but also down, Ginna is cleared but National Grid is not, politicians are talking federal funding, Binghamton is wondering where the protestors are and other unsolved mysteries.
Hospital infection ratings released
Papers across the state are checking in with hospital acquired infection rates at their local hospitals. The state Department of Health has issued a new report. The Democrat and Chronicle reports that Rochester's hospitals did above average. The Press & Sun-Bulletin says the Southern Tier's facilities were closer to the state average. Albany-area hospitals also matched the state average or better, according to the Times Union.
Purchasing yin and yang
Purchasing is on the rise at factories in the Buffalo-Niagara region, according to a new survey from the National Association of Purchasing Management:
Overall, the group’s business activity index rose to 58.4 last month, its highest level since it reached 59.2 in April and better than the 54.6 reading in July. An index reading above 50 indicates growth, while one below 50 is a sign of a declining economy.
But the Associated Press reports that the purchase of autos by consumers is down everywhere.
... it was the worst August for U.S. auto sales since 1983, when the country was at the end of a double-dip recession. General Motors, Toyota, Honda and Ford all reported declines from the month before and from a year earlier.
Power providers under scrutiny
Federal watchdogs have stepped down their monitoring at the Ginna nuclear power plant now that safety checks have come back clear. The plant has been under additional surveillance, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission focused on the turbine-driven auxiliary feedwater pump during a special July inspection at the plant, on the Lake Ontario shore about 15 miles east of Rochester. The pump, which would cool the nuclear reactor during a sudden shutdown, had failed tests at least three times in 2009. It was found to be poorly maintained and partly corroded, the agency said.
Meanwhile, the Post Standard is reporting that National Grid employees used subscriber cash to ship wine, fix a washing machine and send kids to private school. That's the sort of thing state regulators frown on when you're asking for a rate increase.
Three items about federal funding from across upstate:
- School clinics in Utica are hoping to receive funds from the $200 million pot authorized by the health reform bill.
- Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is shopping her economic agenda, saying that federal money should be a "job generator."
- And naturally, Gillibrand's opponent says she's fostered the opposite of that, by voting for the stimulus bill. Republican David Malpass says legislators think "they have a blank checkbook drawn on the people of New York," according to the Observer-Dispatch
Paladino on the horizon
Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino campaigned in Niagara Falls, telling supporters that he wants the town to rival its counterpart in Canada, with "a skyline to match the skyline across the river."
Quiet on the southern front
In shale country, Binghamton is surprised by the lack of response to the newly rescheduled EPA hearings on hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale, according to the Press & Sun-Bulletin:
No one has contacted the City of Binghamtonrequesting a permit to stage a demonstration since the rescheduled dates of Sept. 13 and Sept. 15 at The Forum were announced Tuesday, according to Andrew Block, executive assistant to the mayor.
The paper also has the details about several businesses that are expanding from New York into Pennsylvania, some because of shale drilling opportunities. The Innovation Trail's Emma Jacobs and Zack Seward are both working on stories about cross-border relations, so be on the look-out for those reports.
Two feel-good stories out of the Democrat and Chronicle this morning. The regional transportation agency is naming busses after employees' children, including five-year-old Zuri Cotton (who starts kindergarten today!). Plus the Rochester Public Market has ranked as the top large public market in the United States, according to American Farmland Trust - and the 5,000 people who voted for it.
There are a couple of mysteries to report (let us know in the Facebook comments if you solve one). From the Post-Standard, a cobbler asks why people bring shoes in for repair but never return to pick them up. He's got over 100 orphaned pairs.
The New York Times looks at whether flourescent lighting could be the cause of headaches in school children.
The Buffalo News digs into why the state is insuring dead people and scammers. And Chris Churchill at the Times Union's Places and Spaces blog wonders why anyone would say that Albany is dead.
Finally, we pat ourselves on the back: Innovation Trail collaborator WSKG has picked up a New York State Broadcasters Assocation award for one of its kids' programs.