Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wednesday deluge II: Other stories

  • Apparently the Black Panthers (see, e.g., this) have reconstituted themselves in North Philly! Not entirely clear whether they intend to help fight violence or to incite police resistance.

  • The main Philadelphia teacher's union is suing the School District (and Vallas) over last-minute changes to their pay structure. Not enough detail here to really understand, but it sounds like an extra one-week pay period was added this year in a leap-year-type accounting move, which may or may not be changing anybody's total salary (but could make things tighter on a month-to-month scale).

  • A commission put together by Gov. Rendell to look at the state of Pennsylvania's transportation infrastructure finds SEPTA in dire straights, needing almost $1 billion more than it has just to keep things in running shape. They're not alone -- lots of bridges and highways need overhauling, and efficiency increases in organizational management can't make up the slack anymore.

  • New Jersey school system woes: a large number of schools are facing No Child Left Behind penalties for not having higher property values showing insufficient progress over a number of years. In related news, NJ's education experts are looking to Maryland's example in trying to come up with better ways to distribute school funding.

  • The new Philadelphia Weekly offers a cluster of stories about climate change and green options in the region.

    • The cover story (by Gwen Shaffer, yay) looks at Philadelphia city preparations for climate change, including the formation of an "interagency sustainability working group" to work on reducing emissions and other long-term planning. There seems to be a lack of leadership from the top on these issues.
    • A second piece looks at increased use of roof-top gardens in the city, both to add plant life (improving air quality and decreasing sewer run-off, among other things) and to better insulate the buildings themselves.
    • Another piece looks at the buy-local movement and other efforts to make more regionally grown produce available.
    • Philadelphia students are now learning about environmentalism along with their other subjects.
    • One green transportation option, biking, is a bit dangerous in Philadelphia. More bike lanes and more riders help make drivers more aware, but there's a long way to go to establishing a usable network of routes here.

  • The Iraq war documentary made by soldiers had a preview showing here yesterday. The Weekly gives it a high rating here, and Albert agrees and also shares some excerpts from a question & answer session with one of the soldier filmmakers, held after the local screening.

  • Finally, an Inquirer editorial speaks out against witness intimidation and the "no snitching" ethic. They hope that better witness protection programs could help increase cooperation in prosecuting violent offenders.


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