June 23, 2014


MI: Michigan spends $1B on charter schools but fails to hold them accountable. Michigan taxpayers pour nearly $1 billion a year into charter schools — but state laws regulating charters are among the nation’s weakest, and the state demands little accountability in how taxpayer dollars are spent and how well children are educated. A yearlong investigation by the Detroit Free Press reveals that Michigan’s lax oversight has enabled a range of abuses in a system now responsible for more than 140,000 Michigan children. That figure is growing as more parents try charter schools as an alternative to traditional districts. . . . Wasteful spending and double-dipping. Board members, school founders and employees steering lucrative deals to themselves or insiders. Schools allowed to operate for years despite poor academic records. No state standards for who operates charter schools or how to oversee them.  Detroit Free Press

TX: The real story behind Cintra nearing bankruptcy on SH 130. . . .Cintra is also in financial trouble on its Indiana Toll Road concession, and hoping to restructure its overwhelming $3.8 billion debt on its 75-year lease in order to stay solvent despite doubling the toll rates once it took over the tollway from the state. Transurban just handed over operation of the Pocahontas Parkway (895) in Virginia to its creditors in yet another fledging P3. TransUrban owed $300 million to a consortium of European banks who had DBi Services now take over operations of the lackluster toll road. . . .There are private roads, but public infrastructure is inherently a governmental function. So free market principles don’t apply. It’s why we have eminent domain – the public understands that sometimes private property must be condemned for public necessity. But under P3s, that land is taken for a private profit. Examiner.com

IN: Indiana voucher report raises funding questions. Nearly half the kids who used state-funded vouchers to attend private school last year never tried the public system first. That startling fact was part of a new report released recently by the Indiana Department of Education. It comes just a few years after the voucher program first launched. And the number of those students heading straight into vouchers is likely to increase, even though one original intent of the program was to provide an alternative to parents and students for whom public school wasn’t working.   The Courier-Journal

CA: Riverside, California Prepares To Dump Red Light Cameras. Officials in Riverside, California have lost faith in red light cameras after eight years of use. On Tuesday, Councilman Chris MacArthur moved to have staff draft a proposal that cancel the city’s contract with Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia and bring down all fourteen cameras — to applause in the council chambers. The motion passed six to one. MacArthur made his case by listing each photo enforced intersection in his ward along with the number of accidents before and after camera installation. There was no reduction in collisions.  The Newspaper.com

Beachfront Access. Though the rules of public beach access differ from state to state, the “public trust doctrine” ensures that the water and the part of the beach covered by high tide belong to all. But that can be rendered moot when property owners close off access to the public.  Is privatization of beaches appropriate? Should those with beachfront homes have to open their land to all comers?  New York Times