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New York revives professional-chef school lunch program

NEW YORK — Reversing course, city education officials said Monday that a well-regarded culinary organization that recruits professional chefs to prepare school lunches could continue doing so when the new year begins next week.

The organizer of the program, Wellness in the Schools, also known as WITS, was praised for bringing healthy meals, made from scratch, into cafeterias. But because a new, more stringent set of federal nutritional standards is set to take effect this fall, education officials said earlier this month that Wellness in the Schools could not create school meals because it could not ensure that all meals would meet the new rules, potentially costing the city some federal school lunch funding. “We are worried about, ‚ÄòToo many cooks can spoil the broth,”’ Eric S. Goldstein, the chief executive of school support services, said last week. “We have to make sure we follow what is federally mandated.”

After Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, and other lawmakers urged the Department of Education to figure out a way to keep Wellness in the Schools involved in devising and cooking meals, the department decided to allow the program to continue.

“We are working in collaboration with WITS on an alternative menu that will also meet the new USDA regulations,” said Erin Hughes, a department spokeswoman. “The Department always aims to work with our partners, and we value having an organization like WITS in our schools.”

Nancy Easton, the executive director and co-founder of WITS, said that city officials shared the “good news” with the group Monday. The program, a nonprofit formed in 2005, was recently making lunches in about 30 schools.

“We are very excited to be continuing our partnership with the department of education,” Easton said.

—Al Baker, The New York Times

Judge stirs Texas city with
talk of rebellion

LUBBOCK, Texas — A hearing on a proposed tax increase had just started at the county courthouse here Monday when Grace Rogers, a retired teacher, said she supported the idea of a 1.7 percent increase to finance the hiring of additional sheriff’s deputies — with one reservation.

It was that, she said, “it does not fund a paramilitary to create an insurrection and rebellion against the United States.”

Her comments might have sounded absurd at some other time, in some other place. But these days in Lubbock, Rogers’ request was timely and appropriate, under the circumstances.

A few days before, the county’s top elected official, Judge Tom Head, made an appearance on a local television station to generate support for the tax increase. He said he was expecting civil unrest if President Barack Obama was re-elected, and that the president would send U.N. forces into Lubbock, population 233,740, to stop any uprising.

“He is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N.,” Head said on Fox 34 last week. “OK, what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst-case scenario. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war, maybe. And we’re not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations, we’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.”

And if the president did send in U.N troops, Head continued, “I don’t want ‘em in Lubbock County. OK. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carriers and say, “You’re not coming in here.”’

—Manny Fernandez, The New York Times

Best Buy to open books
for founder

After more than a week of negotiations, Best Buy said Monday that it had finally agreed to let its founder, Richard M. Schulze, take a closer look at its financial statements to help him firm up his potential takeover proposal for the electronics retailer.

Both parties issued terse public statements during the talks as they jockeyed over terms of the due diligence period. Best Buy had sought to avoid having a prolonged fight with Schulze during the holiday season, which the company felt would be debilitating.

Best Buy’s stock, which has tumbled in recent months, closed up more than three percent to $17.87 on Monday.

Earlier this month, Schulze proposed buying the company he founded 46 years ago for up to $8.8 billion. Best Buy, however, has been cautious in its response to his overtures. During its quarterly earnings announcement on Aug. 20, Best Buy outlined plans for a turnaround effort to be led by a new chief executive, Hubert Joly.

Schulze and his potential partners and financial backers will now gain access to Best Buy’s books immediately. They will then have 60 days to present a fully financed deal.

One of the sticking points had been the duration of any standstill agreement — specifically, how long Schulze would be prohibited from going fully hostile in his takeover attempt should the two sides fail to reach a friendly deal.

Should Best Buy’s board reject Schulze’s proposal, he would have to wait until January to make a second offer. Company directors would then have 30 days to review the newer plan before Schulze, who already owns a 20 percent stake, could go directly to Best Buy’s shareholders, at either its annual investor meeting or at a special meeting that he could call with the support of 25 percent of stockholders. (He already owns a 20 percent stake.)

If the second offer is rejected by the board and by shareholders, Schulze would then be barred for a year from making a new offer to buy the company.

Best Buy is offering Schulze two seats on its board, though he cannot retain them if he takes an offer directly to shareholders or if he violates his agreement.

Schulze, who started Best Buy as a music equipment store in 1966, has not yet outlined his turnaround strategy.

This month, the electronics retailer reported a 91 percent drop in second-quarter profit, to $12 million, and said its same-store sales in the United States and overseas were down.

—Michael J. De La Merced, The New York Times