Acting Head of SOCU appointed

first_imgThe Guyana Police Force (GPF) on Friday afternoon announced the appointment of Althea Padmore as acting Head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).Newly acting Head of SOCU Althea PadmoreThe Police, however, did not release the credentials and qualifications of Padmore, who was appointed to manage one of the most important unit within the force.When contacted, the Public Relations Office directed all questions in connection with the appointment to the Police Commissioner. However, calls to the Top Cop went unanswered. On Thursday, Commissioner Leslie James had promised that an appointment will be made before the end of the week.Padmore replaces Head of the Unit Sydney James, who is currently on administrative leave amidst allegations of mismanagement of funds at the unit.The decision to send him on leave came months after a special audit had unearthed several instances of mismanagement of funds and falsification of documents at the entity. The audit had also found some unaccounted-for expenditure which could not be verified by a paper trail.The audit was ordered by the Police Commissioner in February. Although the Top Cop has not commented on the findings of that audit, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan had described the revelations as “damning”.The probe into the operations of the white-collar crime-fighting Unit was triggered after the former British adviser, Dr Sam Sittlington, had made a number of allegations against the Unit.Following those allegations, James was questioned over allegations of improper spending. This is in light of the ongoing investigation and audit which was conducted after termination of the British adviser’s services.The Public Security Minister had confirmed that an investigation was ongoing into the matter and he had noted that there were allegations of monies not being spent properly and had said it is now within the jurisdiction of the investigators to understand the spending procedures at SOCU.After being fired amidst a conflict-of-interest scandal, Sittlington had revealed that SOCU had not been operating in the manner in which it should and he had said there are instances of improper spending.The parliamentary Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has maintained that SOCU, which was set up to fight money-laundering and other white-collar crimes, has become a political Unit under the APNU/AFC regime.The PPP had said that Sittlington was going beyond his advisory role and was taking on executive functions. It was pointed out that Sittlington was going on operations such as raids and arrests.Questions were previously raised about the Police investigating James and whether there could be any bias involved; however, the Public Security Minister had assured that the investigation was perfectly normal and that in addition to the Police’s own internal audits ongoing at SOCU, the Auditor General could come in and take control of the proceedings.He had said the Police auditors were seeking to better understand the systems which had been in place for spending at the agency.last_img read more

Students struggle with book prices

first_imgGarcia is one of millions of students nationwide who are realizing that school is hard – but paying for books can be harder. The National Association of College Bookstores reported that prices of college textbooks have skyrocketed nearly 40 percent in the past five years. In hopes of finding a way to address this issue, College of the Canyons will host a public hearing Monday. The forum was organized by the U.S. Department of Education and is part of a year-long study requested by U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita. “Textbook prices are particularly noticeable in California because our tuition at community colleges is the lowest in the nation,” said Eric Harnish, assistant to the president at College of the Canyons. “When you are paying $60 for a three-unit class that requires a $120 textbook, the price is very noticeable.” VALENCIA – Just one of Elvia Garcia’s textbooks cost her nearly $175. The 18-year-old Newhall resident is taking 16 units at College of the Canyons this semester, and with classes like calculus, physics and history, her book bill was more than $400. Considering she makes just $350 a month, it’s no surprise she’s had to make payments on her texts. “There is still one book I haven’t even bought,” Garcia said. Harnish said college bookstores have nothing to do with textbook prices – those are set by publishers – but the college holds frequent outreach programs to advise students about financial aid and scholarships to help pay for education. But most of COC’s 19,000 students have little or no help struggling with the price of books. Kristina Davey, a counselor for COC’s Extended Opportunity Program, said the textbook issue is huge for students living in Santa Clarita – already an expensive place to live. “Most students I know are already working one to three minimum-wage jobs just to cover rent. That doesn’t even include books,” Davey said. The EOPS-CARE program Davey works for helps qualifying students – usually low-income students who are the first generation in their families to go to college – by giving them book vouchers. The first semester students get $150, and returning students get $300. Davey said the vouchers are good as gold for most students, but they still don’t cover all book expenses. “The average students spends anywhere from $300 to $500 a semester on books, with math and science books being at the top of the price list,” Davey said. Students have also begun buying books online. Web sites such half.com and addall.com sell used books at rates 30 percent to 70 percent cheaper than most college bookstores. But, Davey said, many times Web sites cannot keep up with the pace of new textbook editions, and new editions are always more costly than earlier ones. Garcia, who is a freshman biochemistry major and plans to be a doctor, knows her book expenses are only beginning. “Many of my friends can’t even afford to buy any books,” Garcia said. Still, students find ways to be resourceful. “We just share books.” connie.llanos@dailynews.com (661) 257-5254 If you go A public hearing on textbook prices will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday in the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center, 26455 N. Rockwell Canyon Road. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more