April 4, 2014


No Agreement on How to Pay for Interstate Repairs. . . Lawmakers and some business groups are pushing to lift the ban on new tolls along existing Interstate highways, a move that would provide additional revenue for road maintenance and repair. But a coalition of some of the nation’s biggest companies, including FedEx and McDonald’s, are fighting to keep the Interstates as toll-free as possible. They argue that tolls would add significantly to the expense of moving their goods across the country. There is also a hidden cost, they say, for restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations and other businesses that depend on Interstate highway traffic. The tolls could cost them customers as travelers choose other routes. . . On the other side is the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, a group that represents toll companies and their vendors. It says adding tolls to highways that do not have them and increasing tolls that are already in place are the most sensible solutions for financing repairs to the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure.  New York Times

Public Schools for Sale? I continue my conversation with education historian Diane Ravitch about the privatization of public education. In this extra video, we talk about the problem with charter schools being run by billionaires, celebrities and individuals with no experience in education; the fact that taxpayers are increasingly funding religious schools and why hedge-fund managers see education as an emerging market. Huffington Post

The Thing About Privatization. Why are people so sure, if government generally screws things up, that they won’t also screw up privatization? Why should I trust a company that our incompetent, ineffective, inefficient government selected to take care of things? Isn’t the mere fact that the government thought they were up to the job evidence that they are not up to the job at all?Cryptic Philosopher

OH: Mayor Collins: I will not entertain plans to privatize Toledo Express Airport. Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins took a strong stance Wednesday, saying he will not entertain any plans to privatize the Toledo Express Airport. Collins went so far as to say he would veto any measure to privatize the airport passed by city council. Toledo News Now

IN: Contractors line up for Illiana Expressway jobs. Some of the largest contractors on the planet told local small businesses Thursday how they can get their own piece of the $1.5 billion Illiana Expressway project. . .  The Illiana Expressway would run 47 miles from Interstate 65 just northeast of Lowell to Interstate 55, near Wilmington, Ill. It has a projected cost of $1.5 billion. It will be operated as a toll road. Illinois and Indiana are developing the toll road as a public-private partnership, seeking private investment teams to help finance, design, build and operate it. . . . IDOT wants the winning bidder for the expressway project to hire disadvantaged businesses for 20 percent of the engineering work on the expressway and 25 percent of the actual construction.  nwitimes.com

NY: Cuomo Played Pivotal Role in Charter School Push. . . He instructed charter advocates to organize a large rally in Albany, the person said. The advocates delivered, bringing thousands of parents and students, many of them black, Hispanic, and from low-income communities, to the capital in early March, and eclipsing a pivotal rally for Mr. de Blasio taking place at virtually the same time. The moment proved to be a turning point, laying the groundwork for a deal reached last weekend that gave New York City charter schools some of the most sweeping protections in the nation, including a right to space inside public buildings. And interviews with state and city officials as well as education leaders make it clear that far from being a mere cheerleader, the governor was a potent force at every turn, seizing on missteps by the mayor, a fellow Democrat, and driving legislation from start to finish.   New York Times

NC: Troubled StudentFirst charter school closes abruptly. StudentFirst Academy charter school will close at the end of next week, parents learned at an emergency meeting Wednesday night. . . That leaves about 270 K-8 students scrambling to find schools less than two months before the school year ends. Parents who gathered at the school Thursday said they fear their children will fail state exams and could be forced to repeat a grade. The school’s problems have been well known since early this year, when the Observer reported on allegations of financial irregularities, mismanagement and academic shortcomings. State officials have been investigating since November and had talked about revoking the StudentFirst charter before it could reopen in August. Charlotte Observer