March 5, 2014


Anti-tolls group formed by trucking companies, truck stops, other sectors. Several trucking companies and trucking trade groups have joined a band of other business and consumer organizations to form an anti-tolling group who says its mission is to keep existing interstates toll-free. The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates includes trucking industry members FedEx, UPS, Old Dominion, the American Trucking Associations, all 50 state trucking associations, the Truckload Carriers Association, Quality Transport, H&J Trucking, NATSO and others. . .The group formed in response to three states implementing pilot programs to allow tolls on existing interstate lanes, even though federal law prohibits tolling on existing Interstates. Moreover, ATFI says, “the tolling industry is pressuring lawmakers” to change the law and allow tolling on existing lanes. Also, as the next highway bill looms and Congress searches for a solution to preventing the Highway Trust Fund going broke, ATFI says it hopes to show tolls as “unreliable, expensive and inefficient” as a mechanism for generating infrastructure funding.  Overdrive

Ravitch calls for congressional hearings on standardized testing gets unexpected support. . . The subject of congressional hearings on testing abuse came up Tuesday at a SXSWedu panel on accountability. On the panel were Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s former communications director, Peter Cunningham, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. (I was the moderator.) During the Q & A, one of the founders of NPE, veteran educator Anthony Cody, asked if the panelists would support the call for Congress to hold hearings on how standardized tests are being used in public schools. Weingarten quickly said she would. Then, Cunningham said he would support it, as well.Weingarten has been a vocal critical of excessive testing for some time. But it was a surprising moment for people who expected a different response from Cunningham, whose job it used to be to defend the Education Department’s policies which have resulted in a rise in testing. Washington Post (blog)

NY: Mayor De Blasio and Operator of Charter School Empire Do Battle. . . In his campaign last year, Mr. de Blasio took aim at charter schools, saying they had a “destructive impact” on traditional schools. He has promised to charge rent to well-financed charter schools, which are privately run but publicly financed, for using public school buildings, and he has placed a moratorium on future requests for classroom space inside traditional district schools.  New York Times

PA: Critics see loopholes in PGW-sale deal. The ink is barely dry on the city’s agreement to sell Philadelphia Gas Works for $1.86 billion to a Connecticut energy company, and critics are already seeing loopholes in promised customer protections. Under the purchase agreement announced Monday, UIL Holdings Corp. is required to maintain a three-year rate freeze and continue PGW’s low-income subsidies. But advocates who have read the 87-page agreement say it appears to contain provisions that would allow the new owners to hedge those commitments. Critics also say that UIL is taking over municipal liens that PGW placed on properties of nonpaying customers, triggering fears that the utility could foreclose on homeowners to extract long-standing debts.

MA: At meeting on proposed waste transfer station, City Council expresses dismay at push for privatization. A presentation by Republic Services for a proposed transfer station after the Fall River Industrial Park landfill closes turned into a protest when it became apparent to city councilors that Mayor Will Flanagan is talking with vendors about privatizing the city’s trash hauling. “I’ll be the first one to come forward and say I will never — never — be in favor of privatization of the city. No way, not on my watch,” said City Councilor Daniel Rego to thunderous applause from department of public works staff that packed City Council Chambers. Wicked Local Fall River