By Shannon Schmoll, Director, Abrams Planetarium, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University. NASA's projection of the August 21 solar eclipse. NASA Editor’s note: A total solar eclipse will be visible across the U.S. on Monday, August 21. Shannon Schmoll, director of the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University, explains why and how it happens,…
The Arkansas Department of Education just completed a six-figure deal to purchase new books for schools. However, the type of funding they are using and the founder of the book company appears to create a conflict of interest.
According to the Northwest Arkansas-Democrat Gazette, the department is set to spend $265,448 in books produced by the company, EverBright Media, founded by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R). In 2020, the company initially received $245,300 to produce and distribute a booklet for kids titled "The Kids Guide to Coronavirus."
At the time, Education Secretary Johnny Key announced the book at one of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's (R) daily COVID-19 briefings.
Now, the department is spending the $265,000 to produce a revised version of it for the 2021-2022 school year. Funding for the books reportedly came from the "Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act."
Huckabee's adviser Chad Gallagher issued a statement by email on behalf of EverBright and the former governor.
The publication reports: "Huckabee is the co-founder of the company with Brad Saft, who is the CEO who oversees and runs the company. Gallagher said he serves Huckabee, Saft and EverBright as clients of his firm, Legacy Consulting."
Kimberly Mundell, spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Education's Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, also noted that Key "was aware of the connection to Huckabee, who was the state's governor from 1996 to 2007."
Mundell also defended the deal in an emailed statement. "Secretary Key felt the resource guide was parent friendly and a good resource, so ADE pursued the purchase of the books," Mundell said in an email.
In this guide, you'll find answers to the following questions:
If you've ever applied to rent a home or apartment, you may have a tenant score. Tenant scores are different from your credit score. Tenant screening companies plug your personal details into secret algorithms and rate you as a potential tenant. These scores can have a huge impact on your life when you're trying to get approved for an apartment.
Unlike with credit scores, federal regulators do not review the tenant scoring models or algorithms. There is little guidance available on how to improve your score. It's not even easy to find out whether a company has given you a score.
My former apartment building used a tenant screening company called LeasingDesk, so I requested to see my file through LeasingDesk's website. Five days later, a one-page report showed up in my inbox. It contained a surprising amount of detail about me, with everything from my previous address at a house where I sublet a room one summer in college nearly 20 years ago to a $100 late fee I paid in 2018. I had no evictions or criminal history, but the report was full of information that could hurt my ability to negotiate a lower rent price if shared with future landlords. However, the report did not show my tenant score.
When I called LeasingDesk, a customer service representative told me the company deletes all scores 60 days after a screening.
But the consumer lawyers we spoke with for this project expressed doubts my score had been deleted, saying they had requested and seen much older tenant scores and reports during lawsuits against LeasingDesk's parent company, RealPage Inc. I decided to keep trying, and sent LeasingDesk another request for my score via a certified letter. In an Aug. 27 email, the company assigned my request a case number but gave no hints about when I might receive a response or whether it would include my score.
Tenant scores affect a lot of people, and that's why we are reporting on it. We would appreciate hearing about your experiences with these companies, too. Tell us about your tenant scores and how they compare to your credit scores below.
Maybe. Many tenants are unaware they have been rated by a tenant screening company.
Depending on the laws in your state, your landlord may not be required to share your score or your screening report with you unless you are denied housing. The best way to find out if you have a tenant score is to ask your landlord or property manager for the name of the tenant screening companies they used to screen you, according to San Francisco attorney Craig Davis.
Landlords may use tenant scores to decide whether to rent to you or how much to charge you for a security deposit. We have heard from tenants who say scores have impacted their ability to find housing. Other renters have reported being denied for apartments or asked to pay double in security deposits because of their tenant scores.
Where do I find my score?
Some tenants receive their scores in housing approval or denial letters. If you haven't, Davis recommends asking your landlord or property manager for your screening report. Davis said he's heard from some clients that property managers and landlords have pushed back against these requests, saying they can't release the reports to tenants directly. But Davis said you have the right to see your report. In fact, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires tenant screening companies to provide you with a report upon request listing all the information the company has on you.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends checking your report for any inaccurate information. You have the right to dispute any incorrect information and ask for the screening company to remove it from your file. You can use the same contact methods as below. If the company says it has received information from court records or credit agencies, you will need to fix your record with those agencies first.
Here's some advice from the CFPB:
- If you are applying as a tenant for a residential property, ask the management company for the names of all consumer reporting companies it will be using to screen you.
- Contact the tenant screening companies to fact-check your information and dispute any inaccuracies. A tenant screening report with negative information in it, such as prior housing evictions, could result in a rejected lease application, or it may get approved but with tough conditions inserted into the lease agreement such as requiring you to pay 12 months of rent in advance.
- If a landlord refuses to rent to you or charges you more because of something in a background check, be sure to know your rights and protections.
It's unclear how many tenant screening companies exist. There is no comprehensive list, so below we've compiled a list of a dozen of the more well-known tenant screening companies with directions on how to request your free report, which may contain your score.
Many of these screening companies allow you to request your report online, over the phone or by mail. But before they send you a report, you will often need to verify your identity by providing your Social Security number, date of birth and a photocopy of your driver's license. If you are wary about giving out this kind of personal information, ask if they can process your request using just your name and the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- AmRent: You can call 888-898-6196 to request your file.
- AppFolio: You can fill out this online form with your name, address and date of birth.
- Contemporary Information Corp. (CIC): A customer service representative said the company only accepts requests in writing. There is an online form you can fill out, or you can email your request to Compliance@CICReports.com.
- Experian RentBureau: You can call 877-704-4519 to request your report. You can also mail your request.
- First Advantage Corporation Resident Solutions: You can call 800-845-6004 and ask for your tenant screening report. (The company also screens job applicants.)
- LeasingDesk: You can enter your name and email address in this online request form. The company will email you a link to the full request form. You will need to provide your name, your date of birth, your previous addresses and the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- On-Site: You can make an online request by providing your name, your email address and the name of the rental building that screened you.
- RentGrow: You can request a copy of your tenant screening report online.
- RentPrep: You can fill out this form and email it to email@example.com or send it in by mail. Make sure to check the box stating "I would like to request a copy of my consumer report."
- SafeRent Solutions: You can fill out this form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Screening Reports: You can call 866-389-4042 to request your report.
- TransUnion SmartMove: You can call 800-230-9376 and ask for your "ResidentScore." A customer service representative can look up your score if you have been screened in the past 60 days. You can also email your request to email@example.com.
Next steps could include consulting a lawyer or sending a formal records request by mail. I mailed a certified letter to RealPage's corporate headquarters, asking for my full consumer file, including my tenant reports and scores and the dates those scores were calculated. I also asked them to provide a list of landlords or companies who had received information about me.
Georgia's Raffensperger punches holes in Trump's latest election fraud claims in Morning Joe interview
Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday morning, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger pushed back at Donald Trump for sending a letter asking him to decertify the results of the 2020 presidential election and walked the hosts through the many voter fraud allegations made by the former president and his allies before knocking each one down.
Asserting, without a doubt, that President Joe Biden won the state's 16 Electoral College votes, the Republican lawmaker claimed the former president has no case left to press.
Pointedly he noted one accusation and proceeded to swat it aside.
"The conspiracy theorists seemed to focus on Fulton county and one of my friends sent an article from a website run by a Chinese religious cult that says somebody is taking suitcases out from underneath the table and moving them out and some conspiracy theory. Did somebody take suitcase and ballots and move them out?" he was asked.
"At the State Farm Arena, it was under surveillance 24/7," the Georgia Republican explained. "What we did was we brought in the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of investigation and all three law enforcement agencies looked at that and said there was not anything. That lie got around the world before our investigators had the opportunity to bring in outside law enforcement also looked at it."
"Some people choose to understand the truth and others want to continue the big lie," he added.
"Is there any doubt in your mind that Joe Biden won the state of Georgia?" he was pressed.
"No, there is no doubt of my mind," he replied.
MSNBC 09 21 2021 06 35 03 youtu.be
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