December 5, 2014


TX: Why would we build a toll road in the Trinity parkland?. . . Dallas is too dependent on cars already, and a freeway cutting through the Trinity River would not unite the city but rather divide it, urban planner Patrick Kennedy said. City and regional planners have been “deferential to traffic” over everything else, including quality of life and community. A fraction of the cost of the toll road — $1.5 billion, although it is unfunded — could instead be spent on economic development and job growth in southern Dallas, Kennedy said. And then workers would not have to drive to North Dallas, spending money on auto maintenance, gas, tolls and parking, not to mention losing family time in traffic, but they instead could find work in their own communities.   Advocate Media

IN: Spain’s Abertis Eying Bankrupt Indiana Toll Road. Abertis Infraestructuras SA is combing the U.S. and Canada for new toll-road projects, and has made an offer to buy the right to operate the Indiana Toll Road. “North America is missing in our portfolio,” Mr. Reynes said in an interview on Wednesday. “The U.S. and Canada are countries where the rule of law is strong, the economy is growing and yet they need upgrades and significant investment in infrastructure. Dow Jones Bankruptcy & Debt

MI: Michigan charter school law gets failing grade. Michigan has one of the worst ratings in a first-ever analysis of state policies for holding charter school authorizers accountable for their schools’ academic performance. . . . Of particular note, the report said Michigan’s standards for renewing a charter are too low, the law doesn’t provide for automatic closure if a school is academically failing and doesn’t include minimum quality standards for authorizers. It also said the law doesn’t require authorizers to produce an annual report on the academic performance of its schools. Detroit Free Press

NY: Teachout takes on the Hedge Funders over education. Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham law professor and progressive Democrat who ran a primary election against Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, made a favorable impression on many voters across the state. Her campaign revealed serious discontent with Cuomo and some of his policies. While Teachout didn’t topple Cuomo, she didn’t shrink quietly into the night, either. She’s back with a scathing report, “Corruption in Education: Hedge Funds and the Takeover of New York’s Schools.” Teachout documents how wealthy hedge fund operators poured millions into state lobbying and 2014 election campaigns to influence politicians. Their goal: take control of New York’s education policy in favor of privately-owned charter schools. Rochester City Newspaper (blog)

GA: Private Probation Firms Charged Illegal Fees. Private contractors charged with supervising misdemeanor probation terms cannot extend sentences to collect more fees, Georgia’s top court ruled. Georgia allows private probation companies to supervise offenders convicted of minor violations that do not warrant jail time. Probation is usually imposed when offenders cannot pay their traffic tickets and other misdemeanor fines. Thirteen people who were sentenced to probation in two counties in Georgia sued their for-profit probation supervisor, Sentinel Offender Services, claiming it charged them unauthorized fees in violation of their due-process rights. Courthouse News Service