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Date Fairness.com Resource Read it at: Mar 14, 2016 Justice Dept. Condemns Profit-Minded Court Policies Targeting the Poor
QUOTE: The Justice Department on Monday called on state judges across the country to root out unconstitutional policies that have locked poor people in a cycle of fines, debt and jail.
New York Times Jul 23, 2015 Uber wins, liberals lose
QUOTE: The model for these big new disruptors, like Uber (for rides) and Airbnb (for rooms), in the so-called sharing economy is simple: 1) Make markets, while treating workers as independent contractors or eliminating them altogether, 2) Build scale quickly and then negotiate from strength with would-be regulators, 3) Use the money they're raking in to sway if possible and crush if not any politician who tries to interfere with (1) or (2).
CNN (Cable News Network) Sep 03, 2014 How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty
QUOTE: Jackson County has just 19 municipalities, and just 15 municipal courts — less than a quarter of municipalities and courts in St. Louis County. Some of the towns in St. Louis County can derive 40 percent or more of their annual revenue from the petty fines and fees collected by their municipal courts....white people didn’t just flee St. Louis, they used whatever tools were at their disposal to prevent black people from joining them, including race-restrictive deeds and covenants until they were struck down in 1947, segregation until it was struck down in 1954, real estate pacts, and finally zoning laws.
Washington Post Jan 09, 2014 Bridge scandal: Chris Christie, in me-me-me mode, is very sad. Very.
QUOTE: Not once in nearly 120 minutes did Christie describe the damage that was caused when his deputy chief of staff and his appointee to the Port Authority of New York decided to take revenge on the Democratic mayor who did not endorse their boss for reelection by closing off lanes to the bridge, causing three days of massive gridlock.
Los Angeles Times Dec 07, 2013 Playing Pension Games (Fair Game)
QUOTE: Securities laws require issuers of municipal debt to provide the information investors need to make informed decisions when buying or selling these instruments. But lax disclosure practices remain, making it hard to spot signs of problems...
New York Times Dec 03, 2013 A judge’s decision in Michigan is resonating all the way to California.
QUOTE: The ruling by Judge Steven W. Rhodes, who is presiding in Detroit’s bankruptcy case, that public pensions are not protected from cuts could alter the course of bankrupt cities like Stockton and San Bernardino, Calif., that had been operating under the assumption that pensions were untouchable.
New York Times Nov 08, 2013 Detroit Bankruptcy Case Turns on Issue of Good Faith
QUOTE: Opponents of the bankruptcy — primarily city employee unions and retirees — have argued that Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan and his associates rammed the bankruptcy through without meeting legal requirements to bargain in good faith with creditors for an alternate solution to Detroit’s deepening crisis.
New York Times Oct 20, 2013 Legislative panel examines mystery fee for water and sewer connections in new homes
QUOTE: unexplained and unexpected charges that has made it more difficult to afford their homes. The charge is assessed for the installation of pipes that connect new homes to the public water and sewer system. But in 1998, the Maryland General Assembly changed the law for Montgomery and Prince George’s counties to allow developers, rather than the public water and sewer commission, to lay the pipes, and then charge homeowners for the work.
Washington Post Sep 26, 2013 Public Nuisance: What happens when calling 911 could cost you your home.
QUOTE: the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and Briggs’ lawyer sued the borough of Norristown on behalf of Briggs, arguing that its disorderly behavior ordinance—and hundreds of similar laws around the country—unconstitutionally punish protected First Amendment speech, fall most heavily of victims of domestic violence, and recast those victims as a public nuisance.
Slate Jul 29, 2013 A City Invokes Seizure Laws to Save Homes
QUOTE: Scarcely touched by the nation’s housing recovery and tired of waiting for federal help, Richmond is about to become the first city in the nation to try eminent domain as a way to stop foreclosures. The results will be closely watched by both Wall Street banks, which have vigorously opposed the use of eminent domain to buy mortgages and reduce homeowner debt, and a host of cities across the country that are considering emulating Richmond.
New York Times Jul 21, 2013 Cries of Betrayal as Detroit Plans to Cut Pensions
QUOTE: Detroit’s pension shortfall accounts for about $3.5 billion of the $18 billion in debts that led the city to file for bankruptcy last week....Kevyn D. Orr, the city’s emergency manager, has called for “significant cuts” to the pensions of current retirees. His plan is being fought vigorously by unions that point out that pensions are protected by Michigan’s Constitution, which calls them a contractual obligation that “shall not be diminished or impaired.”
New York Times Jun 25, 2013 Who will stop Google? Snowden revealed what many of us already suspected: Google completely controls the web
QUOTE: What do the U.S. government and Silicon Valley already have in common? Above all, they want to remain opaque while making the rest of us entirely transparent through the capture of our data. What is arising is simply a new form of government, involving vast entities with the reach and power of government and little accountability to anyone. Google, the company with the motto “Don’t be evil,” is rapidly becoming an empire. Not an empire of territory, as was Rome or the Soviet Union, but an empire controlling our access to data and our data itself. Antitrust lawsuits proliferating around the company demonstrate its quest for monopoly control over information in the information age.
Salon May 06, 2013 Charts: Why You're in Deep Trouble If You Can't Afford a Lawyer:Fifty years after the groundbreaking "Gideon" ruling, public defenders are overworked, underpaid—and America's poor are paying the price
QUOTE: the Supreme Court disappointed reformers when it refused to rule on a case involving a Louisiana man serving a life sentence after waiting five years in jail while the state came up with money to pay his court-appointed lawyer....Since the 1963 Supreme Court decision, America's prison population has grown more than tenfold—from 217,000 inmates to 2.3 million—largely due to decades of the war on drugs and tough-on-crime policies. It's been nearly impossible for the public defense system to keep pace.
Mother Jones Dec 01, 2012 As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price
QUOTE: states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains. The cost of the awards is certainly far higher....A portrait arises of mayors and governors who are desperate to create jobs, outmatched by multinational corporations and short on tools to fact-check what companies tell them....Many of the officials said they feared that companies would move jobs overseas if they did not get subsidies in the United States. Over the years, corporations have increasingly exploited that fear, creating a high-stakes bazaar where they pit local officials against one another to get the most lucrative packages.
New York Times Nov 02, 2012 Hardship Strains Emotions in New York
QUOTE: Emotions, frayed after almost a week of desperation, darkness and cold, approached a breaking point on Friday as the collective spirit that buoyed New York in the first few days after Hurricane Sandy gave way to angry complaints of neglect and unequal treatment. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, facing criticism that he was favoring marathon runners arriving from around the world over people in devastated neighborhoods, reversed himself and canceled the New York City Marathon.
New York Times May 07, 2012 No Room for Dissent in a Police Department Consumed by the Numbers
QUOTE: This, too, is Mr. Kelly’s police force, a department that can claim many victories but is consumed by a single imperative: crime and homicide rates must keep falling...There’s no definitive proof that top officials systematically manipulate crime data and set arrest quotas. But officers have stepped forward in recent years to talk of such practices in widely scattered precincts...
New York Times Mar 15, 2012 A Meter So Expensive, It Creates Parking Spots
QUOTE: ...San Francisco is trying to shorten the hunt with an ambitious experiment that aims to make sure that there is always at least one empty parking spot available on every block that has meters. The program, which uses new technology and the law of supply and demand, raises the price of parking on the city’s most crowded blocks and lowers it on its emptiest blocks....acknowledged that the program was “complicated on the social equity level.”
New York Times Dec 15, 2011 Arizona sheriff faces federal allegations of discrimination against Latinos
QUOTE: Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, under the leadership of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has engaged in systemic discrimination against Latinos...A comprehensive investigation found the practices include "unlawful stops, detentions and arrests of Latinos,"...
CNN (Cable News Network) Dec 13, 2011 Inside Wukan: the Chinese village that fought back: Something extraordinary has happened in the Chinese village of Wukan.
QUOTE: For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt....The plan appears to be to lay siege to Wukan and choke a rebellion which began three months ago when an angry mob, incensed at having the village’s land sold off, rampaged through the streets and overturned cars.
Daily Telegraph Aug 25, 2011 In Echo of Pancho Villa, Modern Raid Shakes a Town on the Edge of Extinction
QUOTE: Ninety-five years and a day after the infamous Villa raid, another group of armed men crept into Columbus [New Mexico]....They led away in handcuffs Columbus’s mayor, police chief, village trustee and numerous others accused of smuggling guns, ammunition and body armor across the border to Mexican outlaws.
New York Times Aug 05, 2011 Officers Guilty of Shooting Six in New Orleans
QUOTE: In a verdict that brought a decisive close to a case that has haunted this city since most of it lay underwater nearly six years ago, five current and former New Orleans police officers were found guilty on all counts by a federal jury on Friday for shooting six citizens, two of whom died, and orchestrating a wide-ranging cover-up in the hours, weeks and years that followed.
New York Times Jul 15, 2011 Making Murder Count (Op-Ed)
QUOTE: cities pay a lot of attention to the Census Bureau’s annual population estimates, which take place between the decennial censuses. And when these come in lower than expected, many will fight hard to revise them upward...But, because the process is so politicized, it often results in significant overestimates.
New York Times Jun 30, 2011 Local Laws Fighting Fat Under Siege
QUOTE: Several state legislatures are passing laws that prohibit municipalities and other local governments from adopting regulations aimed at curbing rising obesity and improving public health, such as requiring restaurants to provide nutritional information on menus or to eliminate trans fats from the foods they serve.
New York Times Jun 26, 2011 ‘Pilot’ Label Lets Mayor’s Projects Skip City Review
QUOTE: Dozens of [New York City Mayor Bloomberg's] marquee administration projects...ostensible experiments that are often exempt from the usual forms of city review...Admirers see an innovative way around red tape. Critics see a blunt tool that undermines democracy by minimizing the public’s role in scrutinizing the ideas of government.
New York Times May 11, 2011 Squeezed Cities Ask Nonprofits for More Money
QUOTE: As recession-racked cities struggle to balance their budgets with everything short of feeling behind sofa cushions for loose change, a growing number are seeking more money — just don’t use the word taxes — from nonprofit institutions that occupy valuable land but by law do not pay property taxes.
New York Times Apr 24, 2011 Supreme Court confronts whether Nev. conflict-of-interest law violates free speech
QUOTE: And the justices themselves are under increasing scrutiny from the left and right about whether their activities outside the courtroom cast doubt on their neutrality inside it… The Nevada Supreme Court elevated the matter when it agreed with Carrigan that restricting his ability to vote on council business violated his First Amendment right of free political speech.
Washington Post Apr 22, 2011 Montgomery judge set to rule Monday on county’s collective bargaining disconnect
QUOTE: “You have collective bargaining, but the county executive can basically do what he wants…” Carey R. Butsavage, an attorney for the union suing the county, said the union refuses to be left with the status quo, in which Leggett asserts he can essentially do what he pleases under the collective-bargaining law.
Washington Post Feb 06, 2011 Study finds funding gap between D.C. specialty and neighborhood schools
QUOTE: The two public high schools, 21/2 miles apart in Northwest Washington, serve vastly different student populations. And they do it with vastly different levels of financial support, according to an analysis of school spending by a District advocacy group.
Washington Post Dec 22, 2010 Alabama Town’s Failed Pension Is a Warning
QUOTE: the declining, little-known city of Prichard is now attracting the attention of bankruptcy lawyers, labor leaders, municipal credit analysts and local officials from across the country. They want to see if the situation in Prichard, like the continuing bankruptcy of Vallejo, Calif., ultimately creates a legal precedent on whether distressed cities can legally cut or reduce their pensions, and if so, how.
New York Times May 24, 2010 Hard Times Spur Ideas for Change
QUOTE: As states around the country gird for another grim budget year, more leaders have begun to talk not of nipping, not of tucking, but, in essence, of turning government upside down and starting over. Ever growing is the list of states, municipalities and agencies with blue ribbon committees aimed at reconsidering what government should be.
New York Times May 21, 2010 Take Justice Off the Ballot
QUOTE: a balance between lifetime appointment and partisan election by providing for the open, public nomination and appointment of judges, followed in due course by a standardized judicial performance evaluation and, finally, a yes/no vote in which citizens either approve the judge or vote him out. This kind of merit selection system — now used in some form in two-thirds of states — protects the impartiality of the judiciary without sacrificing accountability.
New York Times May 07, 2010 Seeking Lower Property Taxes on a House of Sinking Value
QUOTE: Challenging property taxes is becoming a national sport, as homeowners contend they are paying too much as their houses decline in value. Some, too, have lost their jobs or have seen their salaries cut and can no longer afford their hefty property taxes.
New York Times Oct 26, 2009 Sidewalks become battlegrounds
QUOTE: The nation's crumbling sidewalks have disabled residents taking their wheelchairs to the streets, a potentially dangerous practice that has cash-strapped cities and disability-rights advocates at odds over how to fix the problem.
USA TODAY Sep 29, 2009 Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water
QUOTE: Here is an inconvenient truth about renewable energy: It can sometimes demand a huge amount of water. Many of the proposed solutions to the nation’s energy problems, from certain types of solar farms to biofuel refineries to cleaner coal plants, could consume billions of gallons of water every year.
New York Times Sep 16, 2009 Should cheetahs be reintroduced in India? (60-Second Science)
QUOTE: controversial efforts are underway to return the cheetah to India...
Scientific American Sep 01, 2009 Post-Katrina 'vigilante' violence: rumor or fact? The US Attorney's Office and the FBI are looking into allegations of roaming 'people hunters' targeting blacks in the floods and chaos...
QUOTE: What actually happened [in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina] and who is culpable in these incidents is now the focus of probes by the US Attorney's Office and the FBI.
Christian Science Monitor Aug 27, 2009 After Iowa Flood, Feeling Just a Bit Ignored
QUOTE: The outpouring of attention toward New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, ratcheting up again now as the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, has not been seen here [Cedar Rapids, Iowa]. In fact, the people of Cedar Rapids are feeling neglected.
New York Times Aug 18, 2009 Cellphones problematic for 911
QUOTE: r the millions of Americans giving up their land lines in favor of cellphones, dialing 911 may no longer mean a quick response. It can lead to misrouted calls, delayed information about the location of the caller and, most important, a slower emergency response.
USA TODAY Aug 17, 2009 One Person’s Boondoggle, Another’s Necessity
QUOTE: Those [certain] proposals for spending federal stimulus money were all criticized... But they have something else in common, too. They are popular locally. And they underscore a truth that has been evident since the New Deal: sometimes the boondoggle is in the eye of the beholder
New York Times Aug 17, 2009 Clash Over Rebirth of Mt. St. Helens
QUOTE: Some say the Forest Service should manage it [Mount St. Helens] differently. “There is a certain segment of the population who would say, ‘It’s been 30 years [since Mount St. Helen's major eruption], and it’s over,’ ” said Peter Frenzen, whose job title with the Forest Service is monument scientist.
New York Times Aug 10, 2009 Subway Safety Panel Foiled by Constraints: 12-Year-Old Oversight Committee Has Little Influence on Metro Operations
QUOTE: Before June's deadly subway crash, no federal agency stepped in to ensure that [the Washington, D.C.] Metro found and fixed the electrical circuits now suspected of contributing to the worst accident in the system's history. That's because none is authorized to.
Washington Post Jul 26, 2009 In New Jersey, Ideal Conditions for Corruption
QUOTE: As 44 people walked before cameras last week, their hands in cuffs, after they were arrested in the state’s biggest corruption scandal in years — but not, to be sure, that many years — even their most scandal-fatigued constituents, from the gritty precincts of Journal Square in Jersey City to the glittering new condominiums on the Hudson in Hoboken, began to wonder: Why is New Jersey so unshakably corrupt?
New York Times Jul 23, 2009 2 N.J. Mayors Arrested in Broad Inquiry on Corruption
QUOTE: The mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus, two state assemblymen, five rabbis and dozens of others were rounded up early Thursday as the F.B.I. swept across New Jersey and Brooklyn as part of a two-year corruption and international money-laundering investigation...
New York Times Jul 20, 2009 In New Mexico, moviemaking isn't always magical: Film incentives draw Hollywood to small towns like Las Vegas, where not all the residents are star struck.
QUOTE: As more and more movie production leaves California, sensible small towns across the country are getting a taste of Hollywood glitz -- and it isn't always sweet.
Los Angeles Times Jul 07, 2009 Colorado town's wildfire law called intrusive
QUOTE: Breckenridge [,CO]... recently passed an ordinance requiring residents to thin vegetation around their home... the new law has infuriated many residents, who call it an encroachment on their rights and demand its repeal.
Los Angeles Times Jun 22, 2009 Mayors complain about stimulus spending
QUOTE: City and county officials say a disproportionate amount of the economic stimulus money is going to rural areas, leaving urban areas shortchanged.
Los Angeles Times Jun 14, 2009 Blacks abandon San Francisco: No US city has seen a more rapid decline of its African-American population.
QUOTE: While San Francisco's image has been defined by a history of tolerance and openness, some say today's reality is much different. They paint a picture of a racially and economically divided city where blacks are vanishing from the social and cultural fabric, priced out and marginalized by the urban redevelopment policies of the past half century.
Christian Science Monitor Jun 12, 2009 San Francisco at Crossroads Over Immigration
QUOTE: But over the last year... San Francisco has become less like its self-image [a liberal enclave that does not cooperate with immigration authorities] and more like many other cities in the United States: deeply conflicted over how to cope with the fallout of illegal immigration.
New York Times Jan 08, 2009 Latinos Recall Pattern of Attacks Before Killing
QUOTE: While some Latino immigrants say they are reluctant to report crimes because they are in the country illegally or fear the police will assume they are, they and their advocates believe the police did not see a pattern because they did not want to see one. “I told people, here the authorities are waiting for a white to kill a Hispanic or a Hispanic to kill a white,” Mr. Orellana said. “They keep attacking and robbing, and nothing changes. There had to be a death...
New York Times Jan 08, 2009 Nationwide Inquiry on Bids for Municipal Bonds
QUOTE: appears to be collusion among the banks and other companies that have helped state and local governments take approximately $400 billion worth of municipal notes and bonds to market each year....companies did not engage in open competition for this lucrative business, but secretly divided it among themselves, imposing layers of excess cost on local governments, violating the federal rules for tax-exempt bonds and making questionable payments and campaign contributions to local officials who could steer them business.
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