- Grassroots ed funding campaign yields results in Idaho
- Voucher fight gets fierce in Tennessee
- Southwest sports complex muni bond goes south
1) National: Lauren Jacobs and Elly Matsumura of PowerSwitch Action have an important piece in the current issue of Nonprofit Quarterly on how organizations can build the movement we need to overcome corporate power. The strategic lessons?
- Take the fight directly to the villain
- Use a “whole person” perspective to weave intersectional alliances
- Operate at multiple levels of geography
- Pay attention to power and forge multiracial, feminist space
“This political moment calls for organizing power that meets corporate power at scale. It is the only way to create an economy and democracy where we hold power so we can all get free.”
2) National/Idaho: Let’s hear it for Luke Mayville, the Idaho grassroots activist who travelled across the state to put together a successful mobilization of regular folks from both sides of the aisle to increase the state education budget. Mayville, writing in Commonweal, says “Grassroots organizing can also help advocates expose the creative attempts by voucher proponents to present their policy agenda as something less threatening. With the American public skeptical of school vouchers and school privatization more generally, the privatization movement has aggressively sought to rebrand vouchers by means of convoluted policy schemes…
“Grassroots organizing can expose these policies for what they are: vouchers by another name. In Idaho, we’ve invested time and energy in community meetings across the state where the goal is to share information with local public-education supporters about the mechanics of ESAs, tax-credit scholarships, and other policy schemes. Such meetings have prepared local citizens to speak out forcefully against thinly veiled attempts to siphon funds out of their public schools. (…) With so many grassroots advocates raising their voices and telling the truth about these policies, it’s been very difficult for privatizers to maintain the public narrative that they are promoting something other than a repackaged voucher scheme.”
“Every single proposal failed. Remarkably, Idaho remains voucher-free even as the voucher movement has enacted sweeping legislation in Arizona, Florida, West Virginia, Iowa, Arkansas, and elsewhere.”
3) National: The Center for American Progress is out with an encouraging report on “successful state action during the 2023 legislative session to strengthen workers’ ability to join unions and collectively bargain, such as repealing right-to-work laws, improving collective bargaining protections, strengthening protections for striking workers and allowing tax deduction for union dues. States also helped raise standards by banning captive audience meetings; establishing prevailing wage standards; enacting boards that bring together workers and employers to recommend industry specific working standards; and more.”
4) National: The Biden administration has announced a rule to cut millions of tons of methane emissions. “It was the most ambitious move to reduce fossil fuel emissions that President Biden’s administration was expected to unveil at the summit, known as COP28. (…) While many activists at the summit welcomed the methane announcement, they criticized the Biden administration for not doing more to end the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. The United States has seen a surge in domestic oil production over the past year, and Mr. Biden has approved some new drilling leases that have drawn criticism from environmental group”
5) National: Public schools can now get free COVID-19 tests. The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services are encouraging “school districts and charter schools to stock up nurses’ offices with the tests and hand out free tests to students, staff, parents, and the community to take home and use when needed. Health and Human Services is prepared to ship out millions of tests in the coming months. To get the tests, school districts and charter schools will have to order them—the Education Department has notified local education agencies about how to do that through a Dear Colleague letter.
6) Ohio: A Republican bill to censor discussion of climate change in Ohio college classrooms has been blocked. “The bill faced intense opposition from faculty, students, environmental groups and unions, leading to hours-long hearings over several months. Supporters of the bill made many changes to attempt to find a version that could pass, including the removal of language that banned strikes by higher education unions, but it wasn’t enough.”
7) Wisconsin: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Wisconsin school libraries will be getting 25% more funding for materials in 2024, a boost of $13 million statewide, thanks to a high return on investments in a state trust fund called the Common School Fund. “Wisconsin Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski, chair of the BCPL, said last week the board has moved investments into areas with higher returns including ‘real estate, infrastructure and venture.’ As a trust fund dedicated to public schools, it’s not part of the state budget process or subject to lawmakers’’ discretion. The returns on investments go directly to school libraries.”
8) Wisconsin/National: The LaCrosse Tribune reports that a $15 million federal grant will help Dairyland Power lay fiber optic cables for improved rural internet. “Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Tom Perez held a roundtable discussion with La Crosse community members to discuss how bringing fiber optic cables to rural areas would benefit their lifestyles and businesses. (…) Telemedicine, online small business and educational experiences were forefront issues for rural areas during the pandemic. Without adequate internet connections, rural families struggled through the pandemic and afterward, Perez said.”
9) National: Politico reports that wealthy parents are benefitting from Republican-backed voucher bills. “the new vouchers in many cases lift—or even eliminate—household income caps, giving wealthier families state cash to send their kids to private schools. With enrollment surging in these programs—which Republicans say shows how desperate families are for more education choices—early data shows that students in some of these states aren’t leaving their public schools for private options. Instead, most scholarships are going to incoming kindergarteners and students already enrolled in private schools. (…) Democrats and teachers unions have blasted the vouchers as handouts to wealthy families that don’t need the assistance. The programs have also caused a fissure among Republicans, most notably in Texas, with lawmakers representing rural areas where private schools are scarce and public schools are a bedrock of the local economy often opposing the initiatives. (…) That dynamic — the wealthy benefitting from vouchers while the poor are stuck — appears to be playing out nationally. While school choice is especially popular for families with incoming kindergarteners, data shows students who are accessing thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds are often already enrolled in private schools.”
10) Arizona: “Arizona gave families public money for private schools. Then private schools raised tuition,” says The Hechinger Report. “That risks pricing the students that lawmakers said they intended to serve out of private schools, in some cases limiting those options to wealthier families and those who already attended private institutions. Critics of Arizona’s empowerment scholarship accounts, or ESAs, cite the tuition increases as evidence of what they’ve warned about for years: Universal school choice, rather than giving students living in poverty an opportunity to attend higher-quality schools, would largely serve as a subsidy for the affluent.”
- It is likely that the entire ESA voucher program will cost the state well over $500 million total this school year, reaching $1 billion in a few short years.
- ESA vouchers grew by 400% after they were expanded universally, from 11,000 students to 45,170.
- The program’s primary beneficiaries are students from wealthier families in Maricopa & Pima counties, nearly all of whom already have access to well-performing public schools in their neighborhoods.
- Only 8,000 students in the program qualify as special needs—the kids for whom the program was originally sold.
11) Florida: Public university leaders in the state are fighting to defend the teaching of sociology, one of the oldest core disciplines in social science. “‘It’s really important for students to understand that human behavior is not just a factor of individual level characteristics, right? That there are larger social structures at play,’ said Alison Cares, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Central Florida who teaches an introductory sociology class. Critics of the move believe that the course is being targeted because it covers race, gender and sexual orientation, topics that have drawn intense backlash and in some cases have even been banned by conservative politicians in Florida and beyond. Most recently, the New College of Florida board voted to remove gender studies as a major, an effort spearheaded by Christopher Rufo, a trustee and conservative activist who has also rallied against Florida State University’s sociology department.”
But people are fighting back. Anna Eskamani, a member of the Florida House, says “help defend academic freedom, diversity, and sociology in Florida universities.” The American Sociological Association responded to the Florida decision:
“What is sociology? It is the scientific study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies and how people interact within these contexts. Since all human behavior is social, the subject matter of sociology ranges broadly. Our association has 53 interest groups for sociologists studying topics including, for example, aging and the lifecycle; communication and information technologies; consumers and consumption; crime; international migration; organizations, occupations and work; politics; science, knowledge and technology; social dimensions of the law; and social dimensions of medicine. Clearly the topics sociologists study are among those of current public debate. Failure to expose students to the scientific study of the range of issues faced by American citizens would be a failure of civics education.”
“How can we expect students to make positive contributions to their communities if they do not have scientific understanding of the issues facing those communities?,” asks ASA. The answer is obvious. We can’t. Which is exactly what the know-nothings want.
12) Indiana: “Roughly one in three Indiana charter schools have closed since 2001,” Indiana Chalkbeat reports. “While closing schools represents a form of accountability, the volume of closures turns a spotlight on Indiana’s charter authorizers. These boards, often connected to government agencies or universities, essentially provide the oversight an elected school board would for traditional public schools. As the city’s charter enrollment grows, observers question whether authorizers are doing enough gatekeeping and quality control of schools—and whether the state’s own oversight of authorizers has been lax. (…) “It is a bit of a zombie state right now, I think, as far as trying to evaluate the performance of schools,” said Jamie Garwood, director of Ball State’s Office of Charter Schools.”
13) Tennessee: A fierce backlash against voucher expansion is taking shape. The Tennessean reports that the Tennessee Education Association released a statement in staunch opposition of vouchers. “In the statement, association President Tanya T. Coats criticized the removal of income requirements in Lee’s proposed program and said it shows the program was never about helping economically disadvantaged families. She also accused the state of making a ‘false promise’ by saying vouchers would only apply to Memphis and Nashville when they initially passed. ‘Now here we are just one year into the actual implementation of the program with the governor attempting to expand the unproven program statewide,’ Coats said in the statement. ‘What we do know from other states is that vouchers do not improve student outcomes and often segregate communities. The proposal allows for unaccredited, unproven and unaccountable private schools to siphon public funding away from the local school district and leave Tennessee children without the high-quality education they would have received in their neighborhood public school.’”
Rachael Anne Elrod, who chairs the Metro Nashville Public Schools board, said “it is moral and fiscal malpractice for Tennessee to dismantle and destabilize public education. The state started education privatization in Nashville and Memphis, and it is now spreading across the state.” [Sub required]
14) Think Tanks: Two developer-oriented online outlets have published guides on how to lock in private investment in K-12 school construction. Both discuss the complex issues involved, but basically rhyme with the privatization industry’s motto, “desperate government is our best customer.”
Business Design + Construction, looking at the controversial Prince George’s County, Maryland, school construction P3, says “alternative financing isn’t a silver bullet, but it does provide options to cash-strapped districts.” Construction consultants Brailsford & Dunleavy’s P3 K-12 Resource Center is out with a 40-page Guide To K–12 Public-Private Partnerships, which also uses Prince George’s as a case study. They base their case on “operational efficiencies” and speed of delivery, neither of which can be taken at face value, as numerous cases of P3 failure demonstrate. But at least the latter publication doesn’t completely hide the ball on the more expensive P3 option: “P3s are absolutely not free money. In fact, it often costs more money to do a P3 project than to use a traditional delivery method. Among other reasons, private financing tends to be more expensive than public borrowing due to less favorable credit ratings. While the private sector’s efficiency, innovation, and competitive marketplace hypothetically close this gap, the private sector must deliver on that concept. If that gap is not closed in full, any remaining difference is additional cost passed along to the public.” But the word “interest,” as in “interest rates,” does not appear in the document. Rising rates make a private option even more expensive to the public.
15) National/Arizona: Bloomberg reports that a muni bond blowup over a sports complex in the Sonoran Desert outside of Phoenix has exposed flaws in a $600 billion “corner” of the market. “All it took was an eight-page application to the Arizona Industrial Development Authority, which had never turned down any of the scores of borrowers that sought the state’s imprimatur on their bond sales, an audit late last year showed. Dangling yields near 8% back when the Federal Reserve was pinning rates near zero, the debt was snapped up by big institutional money managers like the Vanguard Group Inc. and AllianceBernstein Holding LP. Quickly, it all went south. (…) All told, there are roughly $600 billion of these so-called conduit bonds, accounting for about 15% of the municipal bond universe. There are few checks and balances, largely because the agencies aren’t responsible for the debt if a project fails. The securities are often unrated, and when interest rates were at rock-bottom levels, some of the highest yields in the industry made it easy to attract money managers in droves. Now, as soaring borrowing costs close the door to low-cost refinancings, many more projects may be pushed to the brink. ‘We’ve set ourselves up for a decent pipeline for defaults,’ said Matt Fabian, a partner at Municipal Market Analytics. His firm estimates that conduits already account for roughly three-quarters of the $15.5 billion of municipal bonds currently in default, excluding those from Puerto Rico.” [Sub required]
16) California: The LA Times reports that a proposal for a new water district is sparking fear of a “water grab” in Northern California. “In the walnut and almond orchards along State Route 99 near Chico, agricultural landowners have led a years-long campaign to form the Tuscan Water District — an entity they say is vital for the future of farming in this part of Northern California. They say having the district will enable them to bring in water and build infrastructure to recharge the groundwater aquifer. Yet some residents argue the district would open the door to water profiteering, claiming the plan would connect local supplies to California water markets, and allow the state to demand transfers during drought emergencies.”
17) Florida/National: Global warming not only creates a hugely expensive need for infrastructure remediation, but also years of environmental noise pollution and disrupted living space from the needed construction. “‘They live on the corner of hell,’ said Ted Inserra, incoming president of the River Oaks Civic Association. ‘First they had the pump outside their house. And it was loud, going 24/7. Then they filled in the creek. And they chopped down the mangroves. They were great, mature trees. They’ll probably plant little saplings to replace them.’ (…) The temporary pump, known as the ‘Silent Partner,’ sat about 30 feet from Richard’s bedroom window for 10 months, from February through the end of October, right at the corner of Southwest 20th Street and Coconut Drive. It was so loud, it broke Fort Lauderdale’s own noise laws—a fact confirmed by Dodd, who says the city took its own decibel readings after Richard and her husband complained. But under the city’s ordinance, infrastructure projects are not subject to noise laws, Dodd notes.”
18) Maryland: The new governor, Democrat Wes Moore, is slashing the transit budgets. The cuts “would slow highway construction, reduce transit service and increase the cost of airport parking, according to a summary of the plans. (…) Construction budgets at most of the agencies would face even deeper cuts, according to the summary, parts of which were obtained by The Washington Post.”
Will it affect plans for climate change adjustments of transportation infrastructure and services? You bet. “The proposal also calls for eliminating commuter bus service and abandoning a planned expansion of service on MARC’s Brunswick Line. It calls for eliminating or reducing ‘inefficient’ service on other transit lines without affecting core operations in Baltimore. The cuts would delay a transition to electric buses, according to the summary.”
19) Nevada: People in Las Vegas are paying $15 just to look at the Sphere. As for the private parking company, as the song goes they can’t help it if they’re lucky. “Four parking garages at the neighboring Hughes Center just happen to have the best up-close, unobstructed views of the Sphere. Most of the spaces are reserved for tenants who work on campus throughout the day, but operator LAZ Parking has opened up the lots to the general public after 6 pm, taking advantage of the sudden interest in the new attraction. ‘Once the Sphere was almost fully done, we started getting a ton of extra vehicle traffic in the area,’ LAZ Parking Regional General Manager Brandon Myers said. ‘And once they turned the lights on, it just became a spectacle in the middle of the desert. We were getting endless lines of people offering to pay to park, just to stand on top of the garage and take a picture of the Sphere, so we just embraced it.’”
20) Tennessee: As predicted at the time, Nashville’s privatized city parking system is causing consternation and will need to be revisited. The music scene is especially hard hit. “The program was rolled out under a 5-year contract with Georgia-based LAZ Parking approved in November 2022, something [now-Mayor] O’Connell opposed during his tenure on Metro Council. (…) Though the new meters have made parking more convenient by eliminating the need to carry around a roll of quarters, Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell said in October that Metro has ‘seen difficulties’ with musicians parking on-street for gigs, residents unable to park on-street overnight and business patrons exceeding the meters’ two-hour cap—something O’Connell himself has experienced after returning to an establishment last-minute for a forgotten coat.”
NewsChannel5 Nashville reports that “free nights and weekends are a thing of the past at Music City’s metered spots. ‘It’s mind-blowing how much that box of death like messed up the whole vibe of the block,’ Seth Bell at Hops and Crafts said. He said one of their regulars doesn’t come to the gulch anymore due to the city’s new parking system.”
21) International/United Kingdom: In the latest chapter of Britain’s disastrous experience with water privatization, Thames Water’s auditors have warned its parent company that they may run out of money in April because of the crushing debt the privatized company ran up for decades. Bloomberg reports that “PricewaterhouseCoopers said there’s ‘material uncertainty’ about whether the group can continue as a going concern because there are no firm arrangements in place to refinance a £190 million ($241 million) loan in one [of] the subsidiary companies. Thames is expected to face scrutiny over its debt levels when it issues results on Tuesday, as investors question the embattled company’s financing structure. Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said it’s considering calling executives in to explain whether they misled lawmakers about the company’s financial situation when they gave evidence in July. ‘Recent revelations of Thames Water’s financial situation raise further concerns about the stability of the company’s finances,’ Robert Goodwill, the panel’s chair, said in a statement on Friday.”
The Financial Times says the issue is further clouded by questionable labeling by the company of new equity it raised. “The unregulated parent company of Thames Water in March received a £500mn loan from its shareholders—charging 8 per cent annual interest—in an arrangement that highlights the complicated structure of water company ownership. Thames Water, which supplies water to about 25 per cent of the population in England, presented the loan in March as ‘£500mn of new equity funding from its shareholders’ to improve ‘leakage and river health’ and deliver a turnaround plan. However, the recapitalisation involved the owners—which include sovereign wealth, private equity and pension funds—providing a £515mn convertible loan to Thames Water’s parent entity, Kemble Water, according to the company’s accounts.” [Subs required]
22) Think Tanks: As global warming generates global flooding, the Congressional Research Service has issued an updated white paper on private flood insurance and the National Flood Insurance Program. The bottom line: private insurance isn’t cutting the mustard.
“By law or regulation, federal agencies, federally regulated lending institutions, and government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) must require certain property owners to purchase flood insurance as a condition of any mortgage that these entities make, guarantee, or purchase. Property owners are required to purchase flood insurance if their property is identified as being in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA, defined as having a 1% or greater risk of flooding every year) and is in a community that participates in the NFIP.
“Historically, this generally has meant such property owners were required to purchase a Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) from the NFIP. In BW-12, Congress explicitly provided for private flood insurance to fulfill this mortgage requirement instead of the SFIP, if the private flood insurance met the conditions defined further in statute at 42 U.S.C. §4012a(b)(7).
23) National: Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA) issued a warning on the House floor about Republican plans to gut Social Security and Medicare, including by replacing the promise of Medicare “with inadequate vouchers to purchase private insurance on the open market, likely resulting in huge out-of-pocket costs for seniors,” undermining Social Security “by essentially advocating for privatization with universal savings accounts,” and limiting and phasing out auxiliary benefits, such “as additional benefits paid to dependent spouses and children of disabled workers receiving Social Security.”
24) National: The Federal Bureau of Prisons is a major contractor with the private prison companies, mainly Geo Group and CoreCivic, which run prisons and immigration detention centers for profit. But does the BOP adequately monitor the contract compliance and practices of these private companies? Does it even pass muster on its own operations? Is it even playing it straight with Congress?
In an article about the stabbing in prison of former policeman Derek Chauvin, murderer of George Floyd, the Associated Press has this to say: “Chauvin’s stabbing comes as the federal Bureau of Prisons has faced increased scrutiny in recent years following the beating death of James “Whitey” Bulger in 2018 and wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein’s jail suicide in 2019. The attack on Chauvin was the third incident involving a high-profile federal prison inmate in the last six months. Disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar was stabbed in July at a federal penitentiary in Florida and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski killed himself at a federal medical center in June. An ongoing Associated Press investigation has uncovered deep, previously unreported flaws within the Bureau of Prisons, the Justice Department’s largest law enforcement agency with more than 30,000 employees, 158,000 inmates and an annual budget of about $8 billion. AP reporting has revealed rampant sexual abuse and other criminal conduct by staff, dozens of escapes, chronic violence, deaths and severe staffing shortages that have hampered responses to emergencies, including inmate assaults and suicides.”
25) National: Think the controversies over “Medicare Advantage” are new? Cheryl Kunis, MD, MS, a nephrologist and bioethicist. gives us a history lesson. “In 1973, The New York Times published an editorial entitled ‘Medicarelessness,’ questioning the allocation of public funding for ‘special interest groups’—specifically, for patients with end-stage renal disease. Just 2 months earlier, President Richard Nixon had signed the Medicare Amendments Bill, which expanded coverage for dialysis and transplantation. The editorial argued that the benefits of prioritizing funding for expensive therapies like dialysis over other societal needs were unclear. At the heart of the issue was whether legislators, given limited resources, were acting responsibly when deciding how to prioritize public funding.
“Exactly half a century later, the question of “Medicarelessness” is more relevant than ever, although in an entirely different context. Medicare has expanded dramatically since its inception in 1965. Supposedly to improve its efficiency, Congress eventually created Medicare Advantage (MA) in 2003. This new program, which is publicly funded but privately administered, ushered in a new era of Medicare privatization.”
26) National/Iowa: “Managed where? A brief history of privatized Medicaid,” Sofia DeMartino, a Gazette editorial fellow, takes us on a guided tour of the disasters of former Gov. Terry Branstad’s privatization of Medicaid. “In those months, the fear of running out of medicine and watching my toddler succumb to the convulsions of daily epileptic seizures was overwhelming. I could not afford to purchase the medicine out of pocket without sacrificing somewhere else in the budget. Do I pay Alliant this month, or CVS? Do I buy diapers or medicine? These are the choices people who rely on Medicaid are forced to make when they are denied services, dis-enrolled, or otherwise excluded from care. Service organizations are already reporting increased demand at food pantries during a time when high inflation and rising interest rates have decreased the donor support that nonprofits depend on. A critical element of leadership is the ability to identify missteps and chart the best new path forward. If we are to be judged by how we care for those most in need, it’s time to acknowledge that there is, in fact, a problem and get to work solving it.”
27) New Jersey: Morristown public housing residents say privatization has left them shivering, neglected and disrespected. “Manahan Village residents unleashed a torrent of hot complaints about cold apartments, and about the privatization that was pitched as a way to fund massive, long overdue renovations to improve life for the 200 families there. Some tenants now have shiny new appliances. But several said they have no heat or hot water. It’s been that way for days and even weeks. Their calls to Orbach Affordable Housing Solutions LLC, their new landlord from Bergen County, largely have gone unanswered, or have been fielded by people who speak little English, they said. One woman angrily said her renovated unit now smells like excrement. (She used a less delicate term.)”
28) Iowa: West Des Moines is considering outsourcing its food pantry. “There’s concern that outsourcing could potentially diminish services, Victor Dutchuk Jr., a member of the WDM Human Services Advisory Board, tells Axios. (…) WDM is the only city in Iowa with a human services department that provides a full range of services like the pantry, a medical clinic and emergency rent assistance. Local governments and nonprofits generally cover those types of services in other municipalities. WDM’s department has about 10 full-time staffers and an annual budget of just over $1.1 million.”
29) South Dakota: After turning down federal money for summertime child food vouchers, the state is now scrambling for pennies from private donors. “The South Dakota arm of the nonprofit group Bread for the World has urged state residents to ask Gov. Noem and Education Secretary Joe Graves to accept the funds for next summer. The site-based summer food program is helpful but doesn’t touch all South Dakotans, the organization says, particularly those unable to access meal sites. ‘Neither program by itself is enough to cover a child’s nutritional needs,’ the organization’s website says. ‘Kids need both.’
Cathy Brechtelsbauer, Bread for the World South Dakota’s leader, cited a report from the Food Research & Action Centerthat says just 5.5% of the children who receive free or reduced price school lunch are fed through site-based programs. Turning away funding is indefensible, according to Brechtelsbauer. ‘How can they turn down food for kids who are hungry?’ she said.”
30) Texas: Privatized foster care is heading to Texas metropolitan areas. “The rollout so far has been limited to areas like the Panhandle and North Texas, but the Legislature approved funds this year to start the shift in four new regions—including Houston and El Paso, along with a relaunch in San Antonio—and the agency plans to transition the entire state by 2029.”
31) International/South Korea: The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and Federation of Trade Unions rallied on Saturday against privatization.
32) International/United Kingdom: We Own It has greeted the new Conservative Health Secretary with a letter signed by almost 11,000 supporters calling on her to “face the facts: privatisation is wasteful, ineffectual and costs lives. We are calling on you to reinstate our NHS as a fully public service by eliminating the private for-profit interests in it that have warped its public service mission. The crisis in our NHS did not begin 2 years ago. We have lived through the last 13 years of NHS underfunding, outsourcing and privatisation under five successive Conservative prime ministers, the effects of which are clear for all to see.”
33) New Jersey: Tom Gilbert, co-executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, says New Jersey must not cut funds for saving open space and farmland. “This steady and reliable funding source has been exactly what the nation’s most densely populated state needs. It allows New Jersey to protect vitally important lands that grow food, provide outdoor recreation, protect wildlife, safeguard clean water and air, and reduce the impacts of climate change. It lets the state buy out flood-prone residential properties and turn them into parks and open space, and clean up hazardous polluted sites. But unless the State Legislature and Governor Phil Murphy act quickly, New Jersey could lose a huge chunk of this incredibly valuable funding source.”
34) International: Investors now own more than 50% of Toronto’s new condos, and experts say they’re driving up housing prices for everyone. “The result, they say, is not only a real estate market where an income of more than $200,000 is needed to even get a seat at the table and prospective homeowners burdened by ever rising rents are unable to save up for a down payment, but also a system where investors dictate what gets built — and what doesn’t — and over-leveraged multi-property owners can weaken the overall health of the market.” [Sub required]
35) International: The Argentine Football Association has rejected the new right wing president’s idea of privatizing the country’s football clubs. “In Argentina, soccer clubs are owned by the fans, have their own statute and usually host elections regularly for the club members to choose their authorities. Moving to a privately-owned model would remove the members from the decision making process as the club’s rights would be in the hands of private investors.” In the U.S., of course, professional sports teams are traded like baseball cards