Thursday, April 21, 2005

News roundup

Lots of news today, so combining a bunch of highlights in one (monster) post:
  • Eleven underperfoming Philadelphia schools are targeted for sweeping reforms by the school district. There will be an outside audit to make suggestions, but local planners are already thinking big.
    [S]chool district officials, buoyed by powers granted under the federal No Child Left Behind law, have a growing list of measures they have already identified for implementation:
    Expanding the school day by perhaps an hour, lengthening the school year to 11 months; changing curricula; partnering schools with behavioral health organizations; converting schools into public charter schools; and even closing some schools.
    Not all of the schools are equally excited about the plans, so I hope that the district will do a better job of seeking their input.

  • A gun buy-back program has netted a lot of weapons already, but experts doubt whether that will result in any drop in local crime.
    "The people who are really at risk of using a gun in a violent crime don't give their guns back," Kennedy said. "The guns tend to come from older folks, from folks outside violent neighborhoods. It usually looks like people are essentially cleaning out their closets."
    One can only hope they're wrong...

  • More kerfluffle over Santorum's funding sources and their linkage to his policy initiatives. Which comes first: disrespect for low-wage workers or support by crappy employers?

  • An appeals court offered no sympathy to bribe-taking plumbing inspectors, despite the fact that such "tips" were common in the Department of Licensing and Inspection. I can still recall a big article in the Inquirer on this (focused around the guy who blew the whistle) -- a clean inspector would almost be forced to take money, with people sliding it under his front door, clipping it to application forms, sticking it in his coat pockets... I hope it all got cleaned up with these extortion convictions, but that's a pretty deep culture.

  • Despite Philly's failure to put a lid on pay-to-play, some small blow has been struck, in Harrisburg, of all places, where legislators have at last required that all lobbyists disclose their monetary activity.
    "For too many years, we've been the nation's laughingstock," Minority Leader Robert J. Mellow (D., Lackawanna) said before the 47-0 vote. "We are a state perceived as the Wild West of the East, the North and the South - where spoils go to special-interest groups carrying the biggest gun."
    The bill is through the House, but Senate consideration is still pending, so this too may fall short...
Never say I'm not watching the news for my readers! That should keep everybody busy for a while! :)


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