December 8, 2014


NJ: Water privatization bill amended, opponents contend it still takes away public say. A bill fast tracking the sale of public water systems to private companies was amended this week by its sponsors. Those sponsors say they are intending to narrow the definitions of what water systems could be sold without a public vote, as now required by law. Critics say it’s the same bill with a few token changes.

MD: Baltimore, Maryland Inspector General Blasts Lack Of Camera Oversight. Speed camera vendors in Baltimore, Maryland went wild, and city officials did nothing about it, according to a report released Wednesday by the city’s office of the inspector general (OIG). Up to a third of the speed camera tickets issued by some cameras were found questionable or outright erroneous in past program audits. The latest inquiry concludes this was more than ordinary mismanagement as a top city official engaged in “inappropriate activity” to favor a camera vendor.

TX: Dallas Highway Revolt Might Actually Defeat the Trinity Toll Road. A successful highway revolt in Dallas? It’s looking like a distinct possibility as supporters of the Trinity Toll Road project continue to defect, leaving a lonely few against a growing coalition opposed to the highway. . . . The project is still supported by some of the deep-pocketed shot-callers in the city’s business and development elite, but they have tended not to be very vocal. That’s not the case with the opposition, which seems to have the momentum. People living in nearby areas like Oak Cliff don’t want to see the quality of life in their neighborhoods subordinated to suburban driving convenience. And so, what used to feel like a total longshot might actually happen — Dallas might shelve a highway to retain the strength and cohesion of its neighborhoods. Streetsblog Capitol Hill (blog)           

DE: ACLU: Delaware charter schools causing resegregation. Delaware’s charter schools are causing resegregation and discrimination against minorities and students with disabilities, the ACLU and Community Legal Aid Society are arguing in a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The groups say that, especially in Wilmington, most charters are easily racially identifiable as either mostly white or mostly minority schools, with those serving minority students vastly underperforming those serving more affluent white students.. . . The ACLU argues that some of the more “elite” charter schools’ enrollment requirements, like high exam scores, parent essays, mandatory parental involvement and required fees and uniforms, block low-income families from enrolling. USA TODAY

PA: Nutter, Clarke Spar Over Death of PGW Privatization Deal. Despite some glimmers of last-minute hope a few weeks ago and Doug Oliver’s endorsement of a sale earlier this week, Mayor Michael Nutter’s proposed deal to sell Philadelphia Gas Works to a Connecticut company for $1.86 billion — already comatose after City Council President Darrell Clarke announced in late October that Council would not touch the matter — has ended not with a bang, but a withdrawal. In a statement yesterday afternoon announcing the termination of its offer, UIL Holdings placed the blame squarely on City Council. Philadelphia Magazine (blog)

PA: Pa. public agrees: LCB modernization, not privatization, is the way to go: PennLive letters. The most recent statewide independent poll conducted by Franklin & Marshall in June, 2014, shows 57 percent of Pennsylvania voters support common sense proposals to modernize the state’s Wine and Spirits Stores or allowing this asset to continue operating as it does today. . . . Voters simply are not buying the privateers’ spin. . . Common sense proposals, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, to improve customer convenience could lead to an additional $185 million a year in new revenue for the state. These proposals include adding Sunday stores and increasing Sunday hours; opening more stores inside of or next to grocery stores; and creating more premium shops.