1. NJ Judge dismisses charges against toll-hike protesters
A New Jersey municipal court judge dropped charges Monday against two toll-hike protesters arrested outside Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s speech in Middle Township this month, reports the Press of Atlantic City. Municipal Prosecutor Mary D’Arcy Bittner said she did not want to pursue charges of defiant trespass against former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan and Somers Point lawyer and former Atlantic County Freeholder Seth Grossman. Township police arrested and charged the two men Jan. 19 for allegedly trying to bring protest signs into the Performing Arts Center where the governor was promoting his toll-hike plan. A notice on the front door of the center on Middle Township school property banned signs, backpacks and packages from the building during the governor’s appearance. The arrests were captured on amateur video by members of the public at the center and posted on the Internet site YouTube. The footage has been viewed thousands of times.
2. Pa. Gov. Rendell preps hard-sell for turnpike lease
Gov. Ed Rendell is expected to begin an aggressive campaign to privatize the Pennsylvania Turnpike when he presents his state budget blueprint Tuesday to a joint session of the General Assembly, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Jim Lee, president of Susquehanna Polling and Research in Harrisburg, puts the odds of Rendell getting private lease approval at "50-50" — an improvement over where it stood last year.
3. Private interest in rail to Dulles
The Washington Post reports that private equity investors are drawing up proposals to partner with Virginia for a rail line to Dulles International Airport as hope fades that the federal government will help fund the 23-mile Metrorail extension. State officials said several equity groups have expressed interest in investing in a rail since Thursday, when U.S. transportation officials declared the project unfit for federal funding.The $5 billion project had been counting on a $900 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.
4. Army testing privatized housing
As part of the Residential Communities Initiative, the Army is privatizing housing for Soldiers and their families, and a pilot program under RCI is also providing billeting for unaccompanied NCOs and officers, reports the Army Military News. At five installations — Fort Irwin, Calf.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Fort Bliss, Texas — the Army’s commercial partners under RCI are building privatized apartments for unaccompanied Soldiers.