Pennsylvania - In early September, the three county commissioners of Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia, voted down a $1.1 billion bid from Aqua Pennsylvania to buy their sewer system. This response to an outpouring of citizen concern about what would have been the largest privatization of a public wastewater system in the country illuminates a larger story — both of the encroachment of privatization and the potential for victories when citizens mobilize around its costs. Aqua had been systematically buying up smaller water systems for years. In New Garden in southeastern Pennsylvania, Bill Ferguson saw his wastewater rates jump nearly 70 percent in the few years after Aqua purchased his township’s sewer system in 2017.
Critics had called on the Department of Agriculture to suspend implementation of the new food stamp restrictions, especially in light of the economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. A federal judge has issued an injunction blocking the Trump administration from adopting a rule change that would force nearly 700,000 Americans off food stamps...
SANTA ROSA, Calif.—“We’ve been evacuated twice in the past five years,” J.D. Opperman tells a small crowd of around 30 who had gathered to protest Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in downtown Santa Rosa on Nov. 16, 2019. Among the protesters were members of the Marin, North Bay and East Bay chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). They held handmade signs reading “PG&E: The ultimate homewrecker” and “PG&E: Poster child for the corporate death penalty.”
Lawmakers in Kansas City, Missouri took a "visionary step" on Thursday by unanimously voting to make public transportation in the city free of charge, setting the stage for it to be the first major U.S. city to have free public transit. The Kansas City Council voted to direct the city manager to set aside $8 million to eliminate the $1.50 per ride fare that currently applies to the city's bus system. Some frequent riders could save about $1,000 per year under the new plan, according to KCUR, the city's public radio station.
Disabled and elderly paratransit riders in Seattle have won a victory over the corporate criminal, Veolia corporation, which for years has delivered negligent service to the disabled riding public. King County Metro Transit, which controls the Access Paratransit, just got rid of its contractor, Veolia, after years of public pressure and organizing. The Stop Veolia Seattle organization worked in solidarity with Access drivers and also had the support of the Boston School Bus Drivers union, United Steelworkers Local 8751.
Public libraries in Canada now purport to be for the whole public, but for some provinces in Canada this wasn't always the case. Lorne Bruce, author of Free Books For All: The Public Library Movement in Ontario, 1850-1930 wrote that the term "public library" fell out of favour as libraries evolved to an educational tool for lay persons and a "professional cadre and as a modern service ethic," from "a grand Victorian vision of beneficial societal change." In 1901, James Bain then-president of the Ontario Library Association spoke to this shift in the library's image.
Colorado has surpassed $1 billion in tax revenue from marijuana sales since recreational use was legalized in 2014. Marijuana tax, license and fee revenue has reached $1.02 billion, and marijuana sales over $6.5 billion, the Colorado Department of Revenue announced in a news release. Colorado has 2,917 licensed marijuana businesses and 41,076 licensed individuals working in the industry. Marijuana revenue funds a range of youth and public health programs in Colorado, including mental health services, youth literacy initiatives and anti-bullying programs in schools. Marijuana tax revenue goes to both state and local governments. “This industry is helping grow our economy by creating jobs and generating valuable revenue that is going towards preventing youth consumption, protecting public health and safety and investing in public school construction,” Governor Polis said in a statement.
They call themselves non-profit professional societies, but they often act as enabling trade associations for the companies and businesspeople who fund them. At their worst, they serve their paymasters and remain in the shadows, avoiding publicity and visibility. When guided by their better angels, professional societies can be authoritative tribunes for a more healthy and safe society. I am referring to the organizations that stand for their respective professions – automotive, electrical, chemical and mechanical engineers; physicians; architects; scientists; and accountants. The people working in these occupations all want to be members of a “professional” association, not a “trade” association.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has answered President Trump’s call to shrink the social safety net. Carson recently offered a proposal that would triple the rent some of America’s poorest families have to pay before they get housing assistance. Housing advocates are appalled. If they’re pushed out of public housing, many low-income families could face housing instability at every turn. That could mean a lifetime of poverty, tenuous employment, and an unstable environment for kids. As of March 2018, the median cost of a new home is $337,200, placing home ownership out of the reach of many Americans. Even for those who try to reach it, redlining and discriminatory lending on the part of banks can render the possible impossible. An analysis from Reveal by The Center for Investigative Reporting found that black Americans in particular...
They are mostly towns you’ve probably never heard of, places like Sandy, Ore., Leverett, Mass., Lafayette, La., and Longmont, Colo. Yet these smaller communities, and hundreds more like them, have something even the techiest big cities such as New York, San Francisco and Seattle don’t have: widespread, fast and well-priced broadband service. Big cities usually have the edge in the traditional drivers of economic development. They have the universities, the sports teams, the big airports, the interstate highway access, the ports. But in arguably the most forward-looking part of the economy, some smaller localities have the edge. They made it for themselves by developing their own broadband networks, typically employing the latest fiber-optic technology. “I believe over the next three to five years people are no longer going to be surprised that some small cities have much better internet access than big cities,” ...
Rail fares across the UK have soared in comparison to those of our European neighbours, and Scottish transport contracts go out to tender in a farcical franchise system whereby public sector companies in other countries can bid for control while those in Scotland are effectively barred. Scotland, the country which gave the world the pedal bicycle and the pneumatic tyre, now has a public transport network which is broadly unfit for purpose. Massive changes have to be made to ensure that our public transport network is not only of a standard befitting the people of Scotland, but one that is adapted to our environmental and economic needs – challenging climate change while connecting communities and creating jobs through enhanced mobility.
NEW YORK, NY - The Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), on behalf of a coalition of several organizations and individuals, filed a lawsuit against the city for violating the New York City Human Rights Law by not offering desperately needed elevators in 75% of subway stations. Members of Rise and Resist, Center for Independence of the Disabled New York, the People's MTA and other allies held a rally in support, outside of the New York State Supreme Court on 60 Centre Street at 9AM. Oral arguments scheduled to start at 10AM with several plaintiffs and supporters on hand to witness this historic case.
“Car nation” Germany has surprised neighbours with a radical proposal to reduce road traffic by making public transport free, as Berlin scrambles to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines. The move comes just over two years after Volkswagen’s devastating “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal unleashed a wave of anger at the auto industry, a keystone of German prosperity. “We are considering public transport free of charge in order to reduce the number of private cars,” three ministers including the environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, wrote to EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella in the letter seen by AFP Tuesday. “Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany,” the ministers added.
Washington DC – More than 250 national, state, and local organizations called on FEMA to implement proven disaster-recovery housing solutions like the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) for families with the lowest incomes. They note that the need for DHAP is underscored by FEMA’s recent decision to abruptly end its Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) for displaced Puerto Rican families in Connecticut. In a recent letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long, the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) – comprised of more than 250 organizations led by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) – called on FEMA to address the longer term needs of low income people displaced by the recent hurricanes and wildfires.
By Lyndsey Gilpin for Inside Climate News - Two years ago, the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) in Louisville, Kentucky, bought 10 electric buses to replace its aging diesel fleet. The agency installed two on-route chargers, where the buses now stop to recharge in less than 10 minutes before continuing their downtown route. TARC officials liked the buses so much, they've since ordered five more. A few hours to the south in Nashville, Tennessee, nine electric buses have been running fixed routes around the Music City since 2015. And across the country in Park City, Utah, the local transit authority recently purchased six electric buses to help reach a goal of a net-zero carbon footprint by 2022. In all, 40 transit authorities in the United States have looked to Proterra, an electric bus manufacturer based in South Carolina and California, to help them transition away from diesel buses and toward a solution that can save cities money and lower their emissions. Since 2004, Proterra has sold more than 400 buses to city transit authorities. The company has a waiting list of orders, and it recently opened a new manufacturing facility outside of Los Angeles that will employ 100 people and ramp up production to 400 buses a year. It's also pushing the envelope for what electric power might do for public transit. Last month, Proterra broke world records by test-driving an electric bus 1,100 miles on a single charge. The trip put the previous record for an electric bus―632 miles―to shame, and was more than triple the average mileage of a Tesla.