At a time when towns and cities are facing budget shortfalls and cuts to basic services, legislation was passed by the House of Representatives on 11/20 to invest in firefighter assistance programs throughout the country. According to a press release issued by Rep. Lois Capps, who voted for the measure, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act (HR 3791) authorizes a total of $2.2 billion a year in grants. Local agencies will be able use the money for a variety of purposes including training, purchasing equipment and vehicles, and hiring personnel.


Former Santa Maria mayor and current State Senator Abel Maldonado has been chosen by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace John Garamendi as Lieutenant Governor. Garamendi was recently elected to the U.S. Congress. Maldonado was key in getting Schwarzenegger’s budget plan adopted in the State Senate earlier this year, going against many Republicans. Maldonado will have to be confirmed by a majority of both the Senate and Assembly to fill out the rest of Garamendi’s term, which is over at the end of 2010.


In order to combat the shortage of preventative H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccine supplies throughout the country, Direct Relief International this week shipped roughly 500 packages containing thousands of bottles of hand sanitizers and soap bars to 478 clinics throughout 49 states. The Goleta-based, medical aid nonprofit has estimated that 80 percent of clinics and health centers have less than a month’s worth of important protective equipment to prevent flu spread.


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