February 21, 2006 in Nation/World

GM workers leave plant for last time

The Spokesman-Review
 

Some workers brought cameras to General Motors Corp.’s Oklahoma plant to take photographs of their work stations and co-workers before the last vehicle rolled off the line Monday.

After 27 years, the last vehicle produced at the plant, a white Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT, rolled out Monday evening as GM shut down production in the first of 12 facilities the company plans to close by 2008 as it struggles to match production with market demand.

Detroit-based GM plans to cut 30,000 jobs. The Oklahoma City plant employs 2,400 – 2,200 hourly and 200 salaried – but economists said as many as 7,500 jobs could be affected including those at GM suppliers and secondary jobs, like hotel and restaurant workers.

Gov. Brad Henry said the state will help displaced employees and their families find new jobs through job assistance, retraining and educational opportunities.

HOUSTON

Panel examines storm warning

The next time a monster hurricane threatens Texas, the governor should be in charge of ordering evacuations to ensure that those in most danger have a better chance to get out first, a task force said Monday.

About 60 people died during September’s evacuation as Hurricane Rita churned in the Gulf of Mexico, including 23 residents of a Houston-area assisted-living facility whose bus exploded near Dallas.

Centralized control over evacuations would be an improvement over the system allowing local officials to order them, the task force found. “The process could have been smoother,” Gov. Rick Perry said while announcing the findings of the task force, which held a series of hearings around the state.

The task force, which gathered data and testimony in six cities, made 21 recommendations in five areas: command, control and communication; evacuation of people with special needs; fuel availability; flow of traffic; and public awareness.

NEW YORK

Poll: Nation ready for woman leader

A growing number of Americans – 64 percent – think the nation is ready for a woman as president, though Democrats are more partial to the concept than Republicans, according to a new snapshot of voter sentiment.

The poll by the Siena College Research Institute and Hearst Newspapers also detected growing enthusiasm for a theoretical presidential bid by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The survey found 48 percent hoping she would enter the 2008 presidential race, up six points from a similar poll last year.

Meanwhile, 51 percent encouraged Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., to make a White House run, although that was a 2 percent drop from the support level the same poll detected last year.

For Clinton, the poll should be another reminder that she needs to begin stressing populist messages on improving the economy, according to Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf.

“She needs to do better with white Catholic men from the Midwest,” Sheinkopf said.

Three-quarters of Democrats told the Siena pollsters they think the nation is ready for a woman to run the country; only half of the Republicans polled agreed with that.

But only about one in five said they could not vote for a woman for president, the poll found.

Although first lady Laura Bush has never openly coveted trading places with her husband, just 11 percent said she should run for president.

Compiled from wire reports


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email