The House Oversight and Reform Committee earlier this week advanced bipartisan legislation designed to empower the Office of Personnel Management and implement recommendations from a congressionally mandated study.
But the debate during Thursday’s committee markup shows just how divided Democrats and Republicans are when it comes to federal workforce topics, perhaps a foreboding sign for lawmakers and oversight groups looking to advance more complex legislative changes aimed at improving OPM’s capacity to act as the federal government’s human capital leader.
Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, introduced the bill in question, known as the Strengthening OPM Act. He did so with House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).
The bill implements a few of the recommendations the National Academy of Public Administration made earlier this year. Those were a result of a year-long, congressionally-mandated study of OPM and its statutory missions following an attempt by the previous administration to reorganize and dismantle the agency.
Much of the Strengthen OPM Act would redefine and codify the agency’s role and mission. The legislation specifies the president should appoint an OPM director with “demonstrated human capital expertise and management and leadership experience” — without regard to political affiliation.
That doesn’t sit especially well with House Republicans.
“Instead of providing needed reform measured, the Strengthening the OPM Act fosters more unaccountable bureaucracy,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the oversight committee’s ranking member, said Thursday. “It requires a non-partisan appointment of the OPM director. That severs the OPM director from political accountability.”
Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), the government operations subcommittee ranking member, argued the bill would strip the president’s right to appoint officials of his or her choosing. Hice called it an “extremely dangerous precedent.”
“It’s not at all true that we don’t, from time to time, circumscribe the powers of an executive in appointing people and their credentials to various and sundry positions,” Connolly said. “We did it for FEMA. We did it for the U.S. Trade Representative. We did it for the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. We did it for the Federal Housing Finance Agency. We did it for the Institute of Education Sciences within the Department of Education. We’ve done it for the director of the Food and Drug Administration. We’ve done it for the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We’ve done it for the National Institutes of Health. One could go on. Other than that my friends are right; it’s unprecedented.”
The bill also codifies the role of the OPM chief management officer and specifies that a career member of the Senior Executive Service should serve in the position. Career federal employees have typically filled this role in the past, and OPM’s current chief management officer is a long-time career executive.
“Career officials are, by definition, shielded from political accountability,” Comer said. “In these and other ways the Strengthening the OPM Act follows a Democrat trend. That trend is to tear down, punish and prevent future renewals of the Trump administration’s valuable attempted reforms to OPM and the federal workforce. It’s well known that OPM is a underperforming federal agency.”
The legislation would create a new OPM Advisory Council on Human Capital, fulfilling another academy recommendation. That council would consult with the OPM director on various federal workforce issues.
Republicans argued they hadn’t heard from either OPM or NAPA about their thoughts on the legislation.
For Connolly, the recommendations, which came at the direction of a congressional mandate, are enough. Neither the House nor the Senate have held hearings on the NAPA study specifically, though Connolly’s subcommittee has discussed a variety of federal workforce issues during two separate hearings this year.
“We’ve been working with and talking with them as they introduced this legislation,” OPM Director Kiran Ahuja, said of Connolly and his staff. “I think there’s real value in what he’s trying to do in identifying the role for OPM and the position that OPM should have.”
Ahuja spoke Friday at a virtual discussion hosted by NAPA She reiterated that rebuilding the agency is one of her top priorities. In the last year, OPM has hired about 340 new employees, Ahuja said.
NAPA made a variety of recommendations back in March but centered on a particular theme — that Congress and the Biden administration needed to pay urgent attention to an agency that has a big mission but has been under-funded and unstable for many years.
Connolly’s bill, however, doesn’t tackle all of NAPA’s recommendations. It doesn’t, for example, make any statutory changes to OPM’s oversight role, which the academy suggested and would require more highly specific discussions about the agency’s role. It also doesn’t create new congressional oversight committees solely dedicated to human capital issues in the executive branch, and it doesn’t contemplate changes that would resolve OPM’s funding challenges, another difficult topic that’s bound to generate some debate.
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Review (2022)
Hotel credit cards are incredibly underrated. Even if you don’t spend much money on them, they can offer huge perks, including elite status and free night certificates. When you combine these two factors, a lot of these cards offer outsized value.
In this post, I wanted to take a closer look at a hotel credit card that I think just about everyone should have, for the anniversary free night certificate if nothing else. This is an especially good time to get the card, as the current welcome bonus is excellent.
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Basics For January 2022
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is the premium Chase and IHG co-branded credit card. Even if you don’t plan on putting much spending on the card, this card can be worth having for the anniversary free night certificate, fourth night free on award redemptions, and more.
For those of you not familiar with IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), the group owns InterContinental, Six Senses, Regent, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, and more.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about this card.
Welcome Bonus Of 125,000 Points & Free Night
At the moment the IHG Premier Card is offering an excellent two-part welcome bonus, which is earned after spending $3,000 within the first three months:
Receive 125,000 IHG Rewards pointsReceive a free night award valid at a property costing up to 40,000 points
Personally I value IHG points at 0.5 cents each, so the 125,000 points are worth ~$625 to me, while the free night certificate can be worth up to ~$200.
The welcome bonus on the IHG Premier Card isn’t available to those who currently have this specific card, or those who have received a new cardmember bonus on this card in the past 24 months. You’re eligible for the IHG Premier Card even if you have the no annual fee IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card (review).
Furthermore, you’re eligible for the IHG Premier Card even if you have IHG’s previous co-branded credit card. These cards are even great complements to one another.
While you can get multiple cards, note that Chase also typically lets you product change between personal cards, assuming you’ve had a card for at least 12 months. You’ll need to phone up the number on the back of your card to find out more.
Chase’s 5/24 Rule
Chase has what’s known as the 5/24 rule. This means that if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months you typically won’t be approved for this card. So if you do apply for this card, make sure you’re under that limit. Chase’s other general application restrictions apply.
$89 Annual Fee
The IHG Premier Card has an $89 annual fee. You can add additional cardmembers to your account at no extra cost. As I’ll explain below, the annual fee is well worth it even if you don’t spend money on the card, since you get an anniversary free night certificate.
Earning Points With The IHG Premier Card
The IHG Premier Card offers some bonus categories, though in general this isn’t a card that I would put much spending on, given the relatively low value of IHG Rewards points.
10x Points At IHG Properties
If you have the IHG Premier Card then you can earn a total of 25x IHG Rewards points per dollar spent at IHG properties. However, in reality, not all of those points are coming from the credit card as such. Here’s how this breaks down:
You earn 10x points from IHG for being an IHG Rewards memberYou earn 5x points from IHG with Platinum status, which is a benefit of this cardYou earn 10x points for paying with your IHG Premier CardEarn 10x points for stays at IHG properties
2x Points At Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, And Restaurants
The IHG Premier Card offers 2x points for purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Given my fairly low valuation of IHG points, that translates to a return of about one cent per dollar spent.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend spending money in these categories with this card, since there are much better options out there.
Earn 1x Points On Other Purchases
For categories in which you can’t earn 2-10x points, the card offers one IHG Rewards point per dollar spent. I would highly recommend against spending money on the card at that rate, since you can do better with other cards.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The IHG Premier Credit Card has no foreign transaction fees, so it’s a good card for purchases abroad. That’s especially true when staying at IHG properties abroad, as well as for dining and commuting outside the United States.
IHG Premier Credit Card Benefits
Anniversary Free Night
Every year on your account anniversary you get a free night certificate, valid at any property costing up to 40,000 points per night. This will be issued shortly after your anniversary and is valid for 12 months. This is in addition to the free night certificate currently being offered as part of the welcome bonus.
This covers a vast majority of IHG properties worldwide, and I’ve consistently gotten outsized value with this. For example, I’ve now three times in a row redeemed it at hotels that would have cost $250+ for one night if paying cash.
I’ve used a free night certificate at the Kimpton EPIC Miami
Fourth Night Free On Award Redemptions
Just for having the IHG Premier Card you get a fourth night free on award redemptions. When you stay four consecutive nights on an award redemption then you only have to redeem points for the first three nights.
This is an awesome perk, since it can be used an unlimited number of times (you can even use it to book multiple rooms at the same hotel). If you usually redeem points for stays in increments of four nights, this is like getting 25% off all your redemptions.
Get a fourth night free on an award at the InterContinental Maldives
IHG Rewards Platinum Status
You receive IHG Rewards Platinum status for as long as you have the card. While IHG isn’t the richest program in terms of elite benefits, this more than does the trick for those who only occasionally stay with IHG.
Among other things, IHG Rewards Platinum members receive:
Complimentary room upgrades, subject to availability50% bonus pointsLate check-out, subject to availabilityPriority check-inComplimentary internetWelcome amenityGet room upgrades as an IHG Rewards Platinum member
Global Entry Or TSA Pre-Check Credit
The IHG Premier Card offers a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit once every four years. Just charge the membership fee of up to $100 to your card, and it will automatically be reimbursed. It doesn’t matter who the fee is being paid for, as long as you charge it to your eligible card.
One of the great features of Chase cards is access to Chase Offers, which provides savings on purchases with all kinds of retailers. The program wasn’t launched that long ago, but has already saved me a significant amount of money.
Secondary Car Rental Coverage
The IHG Premier Card offers auto rental collision damage waiver coverage. Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card.
Coverage is provided for theft and collision damage for most cars in the United States and abroad. Do note that domestically the coverage is secondary to your personal insurance, though.
Protection With Trip Delays, Lost Luggage, And More
The IHG Premier Card offers a variety of other protection when traveling. Among these features is:
Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance — be reimbursed up to $5,000 per trip when your trip is canceled or cut short due to sickness, severe weather, etc.Lost Luggage Reimbursement — be reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger if you or your immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost by an airlineBaggage Delay Insurance — be reimbursed up to $100 per day for three days for essential purchases when your bag is delayed by over six hours
Make sure you check your cardmember agreement for all of the details, since there are terms & conditions.
Is The IHG Premier Credit Card Worth It?
I think the IHG Premier Card is absolutely worth having. While this isn’t a card I would put much spending on, the card is worth the $89 annual fee for the incredible perks that it offers. The card offers an anniversary free night certificate, a fourth night free on award redemptions, IHG Rewards Platinum status, a Global Entry fee credit, and more.
Everyone in my family has an IHG Card, if for no other reason than that we consistently redeem the free night certificates at hotels that would cost $250+ when paying cash.
IHG isn’t my favorite hotel group, but there are 5,000+ locations, and I inevitably end up staying at IHG hotels several times per year, because the brand often has the best options.
Let’s discuss a few other aspects of the card, though…
Quick Comparison: IHG Premier Vs. IHG Traveler Card
Above I’ve written about the $89 annual fee IHG Premier Card, though there’s also the no annual fee IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card (review). The Premier Card is absolutely worth the annual fee. Why?
The Premier Card offers an anniversary free night, while the Traveler Card doesn’tThe Premier Card offers IHG Platinum status, while the Traveler Card offers IHG Gold statusThe Premier Card offers a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit, while the Traveler Card doesn’tThe Premier Card offers a huge welcome bonus
Like I said, the single best benefit of the Premier Card is the anniversary free night certificate, and that’s worth way more than its annual year.
Other Options For Earning IHG Points
The IHG Premier Card doesn’t actually offer great points earning rates when you factor in the fairly low per point value of IHG Rewards.
Do keep in mind that IHG is transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you could transfer points at a 1:1 ratio. For example:
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review) offers 3x points on dining and travelThe Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) offers 3x points on dining, online groceries, and streaming services, and 2x points on travelThe Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review) offers 3x points on the first $150,000 spent annually on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search enginesThe Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review), in conjunction with one of the above cards, earns 3x points on dining and drugstores, and 1.5x points on all purchasesThe Chase Freedom FlexSM (review), in conjunction with one of the above cards, earns 3x points on dining and drugstores, and 5x points in rotating quarterly categories
That being said, in general I absolutely wouldn’t recommend transferring Chase points to IHG. As I said, I value IHG points at ~0.5 cents each, while you can instead transfer points at the same ratio to programs like World of Hyatt, where I value the points at ~1.5 cents each (three times as much).
Sometimes it can make sense to buy IHG points when the program has a sale. IHG Rewards sometimes sells points with a 100% bonus, which brings down the cost per purchased points to 0.5 cents each. When you stack that with the fourth night free offered by this card and the Platinum perks you’ll receive, that could be well worth it.
Have The IHG Select Card?
Back in the day, there was the IHG Select Card, which is no longer open to new applicants. If you have that card, then you should absolutely hold onto it and then also apply for this card, as you’re eligible for both. Why? Because you can stack the benefits on both cards:
Both cards offer an anniversary free night certificate, so you could earn two of those each year, and use them for back-to-back staysThe old card offers a 10% refund on redeemed points (up to 100,000 refunded points per year), while the new card offers a fourth night free on award redemptions, and you could stack those benefits; in other words, if you make a four night stay at a hotel costing 70,000 points per night you’d end up paying 210,000 points, and then would get 21,000 points back, for a total cost of 189,000 points, which is over 30% off
The IHG Premier Card is a card that I highly recommend getting. Not because it makes sense to put a lot of spending on the card long term, but because the anniversary free night certificate can be worth way more than the $89 annual fee.
Add in the IHG Platinum status, fourth night free on award redemptions, Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check credit, and more, and this card is a no-brainer. The card even has a top notch bonus right now, getting cardmembers even more value.
I know some people are opposed to having a lot of credit cards, but often it can make sense to have some cards just for the perks they offer, even if they’re not worth spending much money on. This is one of those cards.
Source Here: onemileatatime.com
Commentary: “Hockey Day” Was a Rousing Success
FITCHBURG — Money aside, it’s safe to say Saturday’s “Hockey Day in the Burg” was a success.
That’s not to say the thousands of people who entered the Wallace Civic Center didn’t raise a boatload of money for the Thibeault Family Rehabilitation Trust. They certainly did.
But the smile that was pasted on Jake Thibeault’s face — clearly visible at all times, even with a mask on — was proof that the event was successful. That happiness, the escape it brought even temporarily, was worth more than any amount of money.
Thibeault was greeted by friends, teammates and coaches. In a way, it was akin to a family reunion for the teen.
He was welcomed back to his hometown rink as rock star, posing for photos, chatting with each and every person who came up to say hello. Turn and look at any 10 people and at least one would be wearing one of the “TBOTOUGH” T-shirts that were being sold.
What a boost that must be for Thibeault, who arrived back to his home in Fitchburg Friday for the first time since a hit during a September hockey game left him without sensation from the waist down. Until then, it had been all hospital time in Boston, working hard in rehab to hopefully someday walk again.
If any of that was on Thibeault’s mind throughout Saturday’s three hockey games, you wouldn’t know it. He was back with teammates, embraced by coaches. When I mused that it would be a long day for him, Thibeault smiled and said “yeah, but it’ll be a great day.”
If you haven’t had a chance to talk to Jake Thibeault, here’s a primer on what you pick up on immediately. He’s polite. Thoughtful. Wise beyond his years. Engaging. Determined.
His positivity is contagious. Inspiring. The road ahead of Jake Thibeault is a long one that will be filled with challenges, but it’s one he’s meeting with the mindset of a hockey player: he’s going to grind it out every day and he’s going to win.
“Every day is a new day with ups and downs, but I try to minimize the bad days and just have bad moments,” he told me. His focus is on the good.
Want a glimpse at what kind of young man Jake Thibeault is?
He’s not worried about living a fulfilling life; he knows he’s going to no matter what obstacles are ahead. And his biggest concern? Letting people know how grateful he is for the support he’s received.
“I have so many people that I have to repay and I don’t know how I will,” he said.
Humble. Determined. Full of respect and love for those who have shown the exact same thing to him.
It’s been an incredibly tough few months for the Thibeault family, but Mike and Tracy — Jake’s parents — know they’ve raised a remarkable young man. He didn’t become that way because of a tragic accident on the ice; he’s been that way for a long time.
Whether or not he walks again doesn’t change that one bit. Jake Thibeault off the ice is what he’s always been on the ice to teammates and coaches; a dedicated and determined leader who works hard and is the kind of kid you root for.
And using Saturday’s showing at the Wallace Civic Center as a clear indication, he still has a lot of people rooting for him.
Source Here: sentinelandenterprise.com
Large Scale Renovation Plans for Richford Arms Soon to Be Unveiled
A large scale plan to renovate one apartment building in Downtown Erie is close to being unveiled.
The owner of Richford Arms, the apartment building located on State Street, has reportedly planned what they’re calling a “kick off event” for January 24th.
Beacon Communities has already begun the work on the north side of the apartment building.
The project has been priced at 27 million dollars and will include major updates inside and outside of the 100 unit building.
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According to Beacon, the changes will include a two story addition and six new fully-accessible units.
Source Here: yourerie.com
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