March 8, 2013


CA: Hayward, California Dumps Redflex And Red Light Cameras. On Tuesday, Hayward, California’s city council voted 6-1 to end the use of red light cameras at the earliest possible opportunity, joining thirty-four other California cities that have decided to abandon automated ticketing. Hayward’s decision comes at a time when the Australian-based company is reeling from investigations of its involvement in bribery schemes in Chicago, Illinois and two other cities. Between 2008 and 2012, Redflex issued 14,536 tickets worth $489 each in Hayward. Of these, 59 percent went not to motorists running through a red light, but to those who made a rolling right-hand turn. When motorists brought their complaints about the system to court, judges threw out the ticket 57 percent of the time.

PA: Philadelphia Officials Vote to Close 23 Schools. Philadelphia is one of a number of major cities that have been closing schools because of falling enrollment, poor academic performance and budget deficits. New York, Chicago and Washington have closed dozens of schools in the last decade and have recently published plans to shutter dozens more. Public school enrollments are falling as more students migrate to charter schools. In Philadelphia, the proportion of students attending charter schools jumped to 23 percent in the 2011-12 school year from 12 percent in 2004-5, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.  New York Times

DE: Privatization of Wilmington port appears dead. Citing hostility from organized labor, energy giant Kinder Morgan said Thursday that it is suspending efforts to work out a lease arrangement with Delaware officials for operating the Port of Wilmington. The company’s decision comes after months of work by the Markell administration to work out a public-private partnership to operate the port, which has received tens of millions of dollars in state subsidies in recent years but is in need of costly repairs. Houston Chronicle

MI: Detroit’s problems are deeply rooted. Although the new financial manager for Detroit hasn’t yet been named, it is likely that he or she will move to abrogate union contracts for city workers, gut city management ranks and sell off assets, thereby privatizing such government services as public transit, streetlights and trash collection systems. These things have the potential to reduce the city’s costs and alleviate the immediate cash crisis, but they are disastrous over the long term, and they’ll be done without approval by the city’s elected leaders. Youngstown Vindicator

FL: Controversial ‘parent trigger’ bill passes its first test in Legislature. A “parent trigger” bill that was narrowly defeated in the Legislature last year is back and won a first, favorable vote in a House education subcommittee Thursday. The bill gives parents a say in the fate of failing schools, allowing them to recommend “turnaround” options already required under state and federal law. The options include closing the school, converting it to a charter school or hiring an outside management firm to run it. Proponents say it would empower parents to get more involved in a school where students are struggling academically. But opponents say it is a move to turn public campuses over to private companies and to circumvent the power of elected school boards.  Orlando Sentinel

NC: Mandate for 3 toll projects ends in NC Senate bill. A bill to eliminate the mandate on North Carolina transportation officials to build three toll-road projects has cleared the state Senate, but it’s unclear if the House will go along.

Advocacy Group to Monitor Reform Efforts in Public Schools. Diane Ravitch, the historian and former assistant education secretary who has become an outspoken critic of those who favor high-stakes testing, tenure reforms and other controversial measures aimed at the public schools, has joined with other education advocates to form a group that will grade and endorse political candidates. . .  With wealthy individuals like Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg as well as groups like Students First (the organization created by Michelle A. Rhee, the former schools chancellor in Washington) donating large sums to individual campaigns and ballot measures in support of test-based teacher evaluations and charter schools, Ms. Ravitch said that her group would help foment a grass-roots movement to oppose them. New York Times