Monthly Archives: May, 2011

Friday Grab Bag.

Transportation

There are more calls for a renewed spending package for transportation at the federal level.  With the GOP in a state of permanent (selective), budgetary freak out, it probably won’t happen, but it’s worth looking at anyway.  As part of the 2009 Recovery Act a lot of money flowed to the states to be used to fund so called “shovel ready” projects that would provide a quick jolt to the disastrous jobs situation inherited from the Bush collapse of the previous year, while beginning to address the infrastructure crisis that’s built up via decades of neglect.  It was an impressive investment and in many ways it did what it was supposed to do short term.  Of course a lot of that money went to road construction (STP), which produced less job hours per dollar/per month, rather than public transportation, and because of the disproportionate influence of rural states in Congress,  a lot of money went into rural projects that were often less urgently needed but very politically expedient.  Some States controlled by the GOP like Florida, and Wisconsin even returned transportation stimulus funds rather than encourage the Obama administration’s clearly “socialist”, attempt to jump start the economy through insidious high speed rail lines.  So now, with a GOP controlled House and a filibuster friendly Senate, the GOP is sitting on transportation funding while the nation’s bridges crumble and the commuter rail system continues to atrophy.

Opinion: The necessity of infrastructure cash – Rep. Jerry Nadler – POLITICO.com –

Study: $2 trillion needed for U.S. infrastructure – The Washington Post.

On Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, you remember them from the recent Judicial election (yes they elect their judges in Wisconsin, go figure), where the progressive candidate was going to unseat the conservative until a county clerk with close ties to the GOP and a history of election day “irregularities” and errors, “found” an extra 15,000 votes that guaranteed the conservative a win, will probably overturn the ruling, but this is still a victory.  Governor (for now) Walker and the boys in the State Senate are in for a long, hot summer.

The Maddow Blog – Breaking: Judge strikes #Wisconsin union-stripping law.

Energy:

The days when you could be out “shootin at some food”, and have your bullet set off a geyser of “bubbl’n crude” are fast coming to an end.  Energy extraction, at least fossil fuel energy extraction is getting expensive and very dirty.  The oil companies hold out a lot of hope for Canadian oil shale and tar sands, but the process of extraction is an ecological nightmare, and only seems profitable if the price of oil gets a lot higher and stays there (think they know something they’re not telling?).  There’s been a move afoot in Congress to build a huge pipeline from Canada down south to get all that “black gold and tundra tea” to the waiting SUVs of America.  It’s an international pipeline so it’s being held up at the State Department, which is a good thing, consider dropping a line opposing this bad idea, see below.

Tell the State Department: Stop the Canadian tar sands pipeline.

Interesting story about the wide spread use, and perhaps abuse of a psychological test that is meant to diagnose psychopathy in prison inmates.

http://www.npr.org/2011/05/26/136619689/can-a-test-really-tell-whos-a-psychopath

The Movement:

Reading this made me very proud of the members of APV, we’re already doing a lot of what is suggested here.  Still this is a great resource and one we’ll be using in the future.  Check it out.

http://www.thenation.com/article/160704/ten-things-start-movement

Sarah Palin, the occasional Governor of Alaska has a movie coming out (and no, not that movie), about how incredible she is.  It’s modestly called “the Undefeated” cause, you know she only lost that one time as part of a ticket in a national election.  Any way, the gang at Balloon Juice have been collecting alternate titles… enjoy and have a great weekend and holiday.

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/05/25/so-much-awesome-in-one-place/

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Misplaced Priorities.

In Washington on Monday, Congressmen Robert “Bobby” Scott of Virginia hosted a policy briefing based around a recent NAACP report on the grievous toll taken on the African-American community as a result of decades of over-reliance on prisons and underfunding of education. The report entitled Misplaced Priorities: Over Incarcerate, Under Educate is the latest indictment of a series of harmful policies that have steered larger and larger numbers of at risk youths away from much-needed educational opportunities and into a prison system that is more and more seen as a revenue generator for states and communities hard hit by economic downturns. The report highlights a series of case studies from around the country that each illustrate an aspect of the problem, from wrecked families, to misguided drug laws and sentencing, to the dearth of money for educating at risk children. While its conclusions are depressingly predictable, it still adds important data to a debate that is just starting and needs desperately to happen.

Today, there is no greater threat to civil rights accomplishments than the state of our country’s education system and its impact on young African-American youth. Failing schools, college tuition hikes, and shrinking state education budgets are narrowing the promise of education for young people all across the country. Meanwhile, we continue to invest billions of dollars into our corrections system, sending our youth a clear message that we value incarceration over education.”

More findings from the report:

Misplaced Priorities 1 

1. Over incarceration impacts vulnerable populations and destabilizes communities. 

• The majority of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are people of color, people with mental health issues and drug addiction, people with low levels of  educational attainment, and people with a history of unemployment or underemployment.  

• The nation’s reliance on incarceration to respond to social and behavioral health issues is evidenced by the large numbers of people who are incarcerated for drug offenses. Among people in federal prisons, people in local jails, and young people held in the nation’s detention centers and local secure facilities, more than 500,000 people— nearly a quarter of all those incarcerated—are incarcerated as the result of a drug conviction. 

• During the last two decades, as the criminal justice system came to assume a larger  proportion of state discretionary dollars, state spending on prisons grew at six times the rate of state spending on higher education. 

2.  In the six cities profiled in the report, the NAACP research team found stark disparities. 

    Approximately each year: 

• In Texas, taxpayers will spend more than $175 million to imprison residents sentenced in 2008 from just 10 of Houston’s 75 neighborhoods (by zip code). 

These neighborhoods are home to only about 10 percent of the city’s population but account for more than one-third of the state’s $500 million in prison spending. 

• In Pennsylvania, taxpayers will spend nearly $290 million to imprison residents  sentenced in 2008 from just 11 of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods (by zip code). These neighborhoods are home to just over a quarter of the city’s population but  account for more than half of the state’s roughly $500 million in prison spending. 

• In New York, taxpayers will spend more than half a billion dollars ($539 million) to imprison residents  sentenced in 2008 from 24 of New York City’s approximately 200 neighborhoods (by zip code).  These areas are home to only about 16 percent of the city’s population but account for nearly half of the state’s $1.1 billion in prison spending.

3. Incarceration impacts educational performance at the local level.  

• For three cities—Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Houston—the research team examined the spatial relationship between “high-incarceration communities” and “low-performing schools” (as measured by mathematics proficiency). By grouping five different ranges of incarceration from the two lowest to the two highest, the authors have shown where high- and low-performing schools tend to be clustered: 

 ◦ In Los Angeles, 69 of the 90 low-performing schools (67 percent) are in neighborhoods with the highest incarceration rates;  

 ◦ In Philadelphia, 23 of the 35 low-performing schools (66 percent) are clustered in or  very near  neighborhoods with the highest rates of incarceration; and 

 ◦ In Houston, 5 of the 6 low-performing schools (83 percent) are in neighborhoods with the highest rates of incarceration. 

Welcome to APV’s Blog

Hi, and welcome to the Alliance for Progressive Values blog.

APV is a Richmond Virginia based progressive organization working at the local, state and national levels.  Our web site, APVonline.org  has info about the organization and up coming events and we also have a Facebook page, we invite you to have a look at both.  This blog will be where we talk about current events and generally editorialize.  We hope you enjoy it and we look forward to your comments.