Privatization Report: How to talk charter schools during the holidays | National parks in “serious trouble” | and more

Here’s our weekly analysis of privatization in the news and in communities nationwide. Not a subscriber? Sign up.

Education

1) National: In the Public Interest’s Jeremy Mohler shares some ideas on what to tell friends and family members on Thanksgiving if they start dissing traditional, neighborhood public schools and hyping up charter schools. “What’s broken is how we fundpublic education. Public schools simply need more resources, and, for that to happen, we don’t need anything all that complicated. Corporations must pay their fair share in taxes, and more resources must to go to the schools and communities that need them most.” 

2) National: BustEd Pencils Podcast has an interview with Professor Margaret Smith Crocco from Michigan State University. “What are teacher educators doing to resist the privatization of public education and help re-moralize the profession?  In “Principled Resistance: How Teachers Resolve Ethical Dilemmas” Professor Crocco details teacher educators fighting back. On #BustEDPencils she drops the mic!”

3) National: The organization behind a grassroots-appearing pro-charter school demonstration at a rally by presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren “was reportedly funded by the billionaire Walton family, which has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into privately-run schools critics say pull money away from public education.” 

4) ArkansasA judge has ordered the former head of a charter school to turn in the records for the school in one week—or else. “Valerie Tatum, the Little Rock school’s superintendent for 10 years, testified that she does not have the records or knows where they are. That doesn’t matter, the judge said. Arkansas law makes Tatum responsible for the documents, two school years’ worth of financial records, McGowan said. If Tatum does not have the documents, she needs to find them, the judge said. ‘You’re the one where the buck stops,’ McGowan told Tatum after a 90-minute hearing. ‘It doesn’t work to just say, “I don’t have it.”’ Failure to comply puts the 55-year-old Maumelle woman at risk of contempt of court, which can involve a fine, jail time or both.”

5) California: Los Altos resident Ellen Akerlund-Gonella asks, “how can Bullis Charter School and the county school board claim ‘equality’ when it is well known that they require a $5,000 per child ‘gift’ to attend, even though they say it is ‘requested.’ And tax-deductible at that! So much for the underserved community at San Antonio coming up with that kind of cash. It’s a ‘private school’ that we taxpayers are paying for. I am disgusted that they keep getting away with this.”

6) Colorado: Denver’s second-largest charter school network, STRIVE Prep, “has decided to merge two of its high schools, effectively closing one of them. The reason? Declining student enrollment, which is a districtwide issue affecting not only charter schools but district-run schools, too. (…) Shrinking enrollment likely means more schools will be closed or consolidated. The district considers any school with fewer than 215 students to be financially unviable. Independently run charter schools have their own thresholds, but in a state where schools are funded per-pupil, small schools often struggle to come up with the money to hire enough staff.”

7) Florida: The troubled Legacy charter school in Titusville is being shut down for the third time in two years by the Brevard County school board. “A recent audit revealed financial mismanagement and poor student performance. (…) Inside an old Publix store, Legacy Charter School students are not only failing to progress, according to a Brevard County School District audit, they’re going backwards. ‘We actually saw significant decline in student academic achievement, some students losing up to two years of academics since they’ve been at Legacy,’ Brevard School Board member Misty Belford said.”

8) Indiana: Charter school teachers rallied beside traditional, neighborhood public school teachers in a recent Red for Ed rally to support public education. “But the vast majority of the more than 100 charter schools in the state appear to be staying out of the debate, at least for now, and their teachers are expected in their classrooms on Tuesday. (…) While Indiana State Teachers Association President Keith Gambill said the union is focused on the needs of its members, he didn’t rule out interested charter schools from joining. “Our focus is for public education,” he said.” At the rally, “organized by Indiana State Teachers Association and other labor groups, speakers called on lawmakers to make changes in public education, especially when it comes to teacher pay, holding districts harmless from poor performances on a new statewide test and for new professional development requirements to be repealed.”

“Over 90% of all our Hoosier students attend public schools. We need our lawmakers to increase the funding for public schools and stop funding charters and vouchers,” American Federation of Teachers Indiana President GlenEva Dunham told the rally.

9) New York: A community meeting will be held this evening in Flatbush to voice opposition to the conversion of a Jewish day school to a charter school. The meeting flyer says, “due to a shortage of classroom space in this neighborhood, local Yeshivas offered to rent the building on the same terms. The East Midwood board decided they’d rather rent to an outside Charter school. We need to show that our community is united, that the community cares and that we have a voice. Your personal presence at this meeting will convey your support and your commitment to maintaining the safety and integrity of our neighborhood and what that school building was established to do.”

10) North CarolinaPublicSchoolsFirstNC has shared an in-depth recorded webinar with Angie Scioli, a Wake County public school teacher, on the impact of privatization on students and teachers. [Video, about an hour and 18 minutes]. 

11) North Carolina: Nonprofit Quarterly reports that the North Carolina Charter Schools Advisory Board (CSAB) has rejected an application to create a charter school focused on growing “indigenous leader practitioners” in the state’s poorest and the nation’s most ethnically diverse rural county. The application was rejected over “concerns about ‘Red Pedagogy,’ an educational philosophy cited in the charter’s application to the state. ‘Red Pedagogy’ is the creation of Sandy Grande, a Connecticut College professor whose 2004 book, Red Pedagogy: Native American Social and Political Thought, called for a radical overhaul of the American education system to recognize the ongoing struggles of indigenous peoples to retain sovereignty and establish self-determination.”

12) Texas: Congressional candidate Adrienne Bell says, “Our public education system is under the threat of privatization, and the fallacy of a ‘failing’ system. Our schools are not a business. Students are not merchandise. Teachers are not data points. And we are not failing.”

Infrastructure

13) CaliforniaAs debate on the future of PG&E intensifies, the utility is scrambling for a way out of bankruptcy. “If PG&E doesn’t reach an agreement with victims and other creditors by early next year, the utility might not be able to participate in a new state wildfire fund. A federal bankruptcy judge could also strip control from its management and board, or allow it to be broken up, with the pieces sold to the highest bidder. These tensions surfaced in a court hearing on Tuesday in which PG&E asked a bankruptcy judge to limit its liability for wildfires, and at a legislative hearing that featured the company’s chief executive on Monday in Sacramento.” Nathanael Johnson of Grist has the details what some of the options would mean.

14) CaliforniaThe San Diego Water Authority board has hired a public sector veteran to lead the agency. “As acting general manager, [Sandy] Kerl has launched an era of increased engagement with the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies, according to the board. Throughout Kerl’s career, she has been active in the International County Management Association, and has served as chair of the San Diego City/County Managers Association and San Diego Regional Training Center. Kerl received her bachelor of political science from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo and her master of business administration from the University of Redlands.” [Sub required]

15) Florida: The Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority is continuing its legal fight against efforts by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and GOP lawmakers to terminate it. “When DeSantis signed HB 385, he appointed to the new board Koch Industries regional manager Fatima Perez, Key Biscayne attorney Marili Cancio, and Rodolfo Pages, who is a managing director for the private equity firm Caoba Capital Partners. The local district FDOT secretary is an automatic board member.” [Sub required]

16) Illinois: Bonnie Allen, CEO of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, has weighed in on how a new tax increment financing (TIF) development plan of Mayor Lori Lightfoot could be used to address racial inequality. “The abuse of TIF is an old story in Chicago. In simple terms, TIF districts allow the city to use public money to fund and encourage public and private development in certain areas. State law restricts TIFs to areas that could not attract investment but for the city’s incentive (this ‘but for’ test is written into the law). It’s no coincidence that most of the areas that would qualify under this standard in Chicago are communities of color. After all, racially motivated policies like redlining and restrictive covenants have contributed to a destructive legacy of disinvestment. TIFs should be designed to repair those harms.” 

17) MaineGil Harris makes a forceful case for establishing public control of infrastructure. “These are a few examples of privatization of our commons that should be under control of ‘we, the people.’ When electric grid maintenance is neglected, drinking water is mismanaged and banking practices adversely affect the public, we need to have our eyes opened to see that changes are necessary. Maine needs to continue being a leader to represent its citizens and not be beholden to corporate lobbyists acting in their own interests at our expense.”

18) Missouri: Former state representative Jeanne Kirkton (D-St. Louis) has written to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch demanding a transparent independent study of a proposal to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport. “Although St. Louis Lambert International Airport is owned by the city, it is a significant regional asset in numerous ways. A public infrastructure proposal of this economic magnitude deserves transparency and careful fact-based analysis with a keen eye on regional well-being. Unfortunately, the additional study proposed by the St. Louis County Port Authority was voted down on Thursday. The study is not only a good idea, it’s imperative. The Port Authority should reconsider.” She writes, “this is especially true since the privatization consultants do not plan to share their study with the public, and St. Louis Alderman Cara Spencer’s $750,000 federal grant application request for an independent study was blocked.”

In an important political development, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay has demanded a public vote on airport privatization. “While I remain skeptical of any net community benefit that might result from such an agreement, I am deeply troubled by the lack of transparency and the obvious conflicts of interest that have tainted the current airport study process, including the involvement of individuals who retain a direct financial interest in its outcome,” he wrote in the St. Louis American. See also the Fox 2 News video report on the congressmember’s concerns

19) OhioSt. Clairsville officials have decided to delay a formal decision on whether to privatize the city’s water and sewer systems until after January 1. “Council members should not wait until the newly elected officials are in office to proceed with the study,” The Intelligencer says in an editorial. “A vote now to go ahead with it could provide a report soon enough to be helpful in making the decision on privatization.” 

20) Pennsylvania: Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse says privatization of the city’s water/sewer system is off the table as “Capital Region Water (CRW) has agreed to delay the start of a new storm water fee for six months.”

21) PennsylvaniaPennsylvania American Water plans to acquire Kane Borough’s wastewater system. “There are several steps that need to be taken before the transaction is finalized, according to Payne. He said there are six regulatory approval hurdles they need to go through first, including submission of a draft proposal and application review.”

22) International: Is the infrastructure finance industry finally owning up to the issue of profit gouging in publically regulated industries? Well, a little. “‘When you’ve got the chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reported as saying that privatisation has damaged the Australian economy, the Australian Energy Regulator handing down determinations reducing the total amount that transmission network service providers can recover from consumers, and, in the UK, Ofwat delivering strongly pro-consumer determinations and handing out record penalties for serious service failure, you’d have to say ‘yes’, infrastructure investors have been dining very well indeed on regulated monopolies.’”

23) Revolving door news: A veteran of the $150 billion Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Andrew Claerhout, has been hired by the private equity firm Searchlight Capital Partners to help raise its first infrastructure fund. “Sectors the strategy will focus on include communications and digital infrastructure, transportation and logistics, energy and power, water and waste management, and social infrastructure.”

Criminal Justice and Immigration

24) National: Writing in the Daily Beast, POGO’s Nick Schwellenbach, Katherine Hawkins, and Adam Zagorin report that David J. Venturella, GEO Group’s senior vice president of business development, “who lobbied the Trump administration for a multimillion-dollar cash infusion has also been staying in the luxurious Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., billing an unknown sum to his corporate expense account.”  

25) National/California: Writing in Capital & Main, Robin Urevich asks if ICE will pull an end run against California’s new law blocking private prisons in the state. “Five days after Newsom signed the bill, ICE found a way to get around it; the agency announced its intent to issue new contracts by December 20, just before AB 32 becomes law. Under the ICE request for proposals, the agency would expand its footprint in the state from more than 4,000 detention beds to 6,750. It would also add comprehensive mental health programming at the state’s largest detention center. Given the short deadline, immigration rights activists point out, these contracts – including the one for comprehensive mental health programming—would go to firms with extensive records of abuse and neglect of detainees and poor track records on mental health.” 

California’s federal lawmakers are pushing back against the Trump administration’s plan. “Both of California’s U.S. senators and nearly 20 members of the House delegation are taking aim at Immigration Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security saying in a letter that they have “serious concerns” about the way ICE is working with California’s for-profit prisons. ‘DHS is trying to circumvent the law,’ said Rep. Josh Harder, D-California.” [Read the letter

26) West Virginia@theappeal’s Media Relations Director Rebecca Kavanagh reports that “people incarcerated in West Virginia prisons will soon be charged $3 an hour to read books and $15 an hour for video visitation with their families.” For more on the for-profit video visitation industry see this report from the Prison Policy Initiative. See also this report on book bans in prison.

27) International: Watch the trailer for a newly premiered film about a G4S for-profit prison in South Africa. “It’s all about money. It’s all about money.” Prison for Profit includes “testimonies by whistleblowers and ex-detainees and the findings of investigative journalist Ruth Hopkins make clear what prison privatization actually means. [Prison officers] are underpaid, overloaded and fear daily for their lives. Prisoners are seen as dairy cows, so rehabilitation is certainly not a priority.”

Public Services

28) NationalOur national parks are in serious trouble, former ranger Jon Waterman writes in the New York Times. “The system is badly underfunded and suffering from neglect. This is not a new problem, but it is getting worse, with deferred maintenance that mostly predates the Trump administration now topping $11 billion. But President Trump isn’t helping. He wants to cut the National Park Service’s budget by $481 million next year and is reportedly considering privatizing campgrounds and commercializing the parks in ways that contradict the agency’s goal of harmonizing with nature. We need to arrest this decline and make the park system the national priority it should be.”

Following a public outcry, the Trump administration has disbanded an industry-stacked advisory committee whose recent recommendations to greater privatize national parks were met with heavy criticism. “‘Privatizing America’s national parks is just the Trump administration’s latest attempt to sell out and sell off our outdoor heritage,’ said Western Values Project Deputy Director Jayson O’Neill in a statement. ‘But don’t be fooled—simply disbanding this industry-laden advisory committee doesn’t provide Americans with any assurances that the Trump administration won’t continue its pursuit of turning our national parks into amusement parks,’ O’Neill added. ‘Elected officials and members of Congress, especially from Western states, must demand that this special interest giveaway meets its rightful demise and ensure that it never happens again.’” The Western Values Project continues to warn that the threat of national park privatization is not over.

29) NationalSome of the biggest names in finance are warning about the risks in privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Wall Street Journal reports. Will taxpayers be on the hook for $5 trillion? “The investors, including BlackRock Inc., Fidelity Investments and Pacific Investment Management Co., have told the Trump administration that any move to privatize Fannie and Freddie should include an explicit guarantee of the $5 trillion in mortgage-backed securities they issue, which only Congress can provide, according to people familiar with the matter. The Trump administration, by contrast, says it is willing to move forward without such a guarantee, arguing that it is past time for the government to reduce its role in housing.” 

For a stroll down memory lane on Fannie and Freddie’s risky behavior when it was private, and the train wreck that followed, check out Matt Taibbi’s 2010 article, Fannie, Freddie, and the New Red and Blue.

30) FloridaA businessman looking to privatize Jacksonville’s city parking facilities is joining the board of JEA, the city public utility, which is in the midst of a furious battle with public interest advocates over privatization. “Grey’s effort to join the board encountered resistance from council members who questioned his independence – he’s a friend of JEA CEO Aaron Zahn, and his company is courting City Hall to privatize the city’s public parking—although his supporters prevailed in a 12 to 6 vote.” 

While on the Downtown Investment Authority’s board, Dane Grey sought to lease parking space from the authority. “Records reviewed by the Business Journal show that in August, Grey, who is CEO of Elite Parking Services of America, requested to use the city-owned parking lot by the Jacksonville Landing as weekend overflow space for the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, which is an Elite client. Grey’s company continued to request authority to use the Landing parking lot up until his resignation in October.” [Sub required]

31) FloridaA Nassau County man has chained himself to the beach in protest of potential privatization. “Since he started his protest Starling hasn’t been alone. He’s had friends, family and even strangers visit him. Some bring him food with words of encouragement. Starling is the leader of a group called Night Sanders that often camp on the beach. But he said that the area holds much more meaning that goes back decades. ‘Abraham Lincoln Lewis purchased this land for blacks to have a place of recreation without humiliation—those were his words,’ said Starling.” 

32) International/Think tanks: The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS), which works to ensure policy is on the side of everyday people in the U.K., has produced a useful resource for winning arguments for transformative change. “Our public services are too important to be left in the hands of private companies. They are the foundation of our society. The impact of delays of overcrowded trains, hospitals waiting times, and soaring utility bills has hurt many in our society. Many people have grown frustrated, tired and alienated from the very services we use and work in. We need to tell a compelling story that privatisation and insufficient spending is the root cause of frustration over our failing society and that public ownership is part of the solution.”

33) District of Columbia/Virginia/Maryland: WTOP news radio reports that “nearly one month into a strike that has shut down more than a dozen bus routes in Northern Virginia, current and former union leaders said that there could be broader disruptions if Metro and regional transit systems continue to use contractors for their operations. The ongoing strike against Transdev, the private operator of Metro’s Cinder Bed Road garage in Lorton, is just part of the broader fight against privatization, union officials said.”  

Tempers flared at a meeting. “‘Safety is the last thing (Transdev) cares about. They put us out there … vehicles with no inspections. Shame on you, Paul (Wiedefeld)! Shame on you. You broke it! You need to fix it!’ one union member yelled, his voice getting louder as he went. The crowd cheered at the speech. ‘Can we keep it down and keep some decorum in here a little bit?’ acting chair Tom Bulger said at the crowd. ‘No!’ they shouted back.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) have written to WMATA “expressing concerns regarding its partial privatization and subsequent lack of oversight to ensure fair treatment of workers employed by its contractors.” [Letter]

34) Missouri: It seems online shopping is spurring privatization. Under budget pressure, Cape Girardeau officials are bent on privatizing many city services. “Possible privatization of some airport services and the wastewater treatment plant have been discussed, along with numerous other ways to reduce costs. But no decisions have been made, city manager Scott Meyer said.” A major reason for the city’s revenue problems: “Meyer said the city has experienced flat sales tax revenue as more and more consumers are purchasing items online, avoiding paying city sales taxes.”

35) New JerseyThe Liberty State Park Protection Act has cleared a Senate committee. “The bill would protect Liberty State Park from any future proposals to commercialize or privatize the state and national treasure. Additionally, the legislation would prohibit the DEP from considering any proposal to commercialize, develop, or privatize Liberty State Park, except as provided in the bill.” 

36) International: The British Labour Party has released its campaign manifesto for the upcoming December 12 elections. Rolling back decades of privatization and underfunding of public services is at the heart of the party’s effort. Some excerpts: “We will bring rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership to end the great privatisation rip-off and save you money on your fares and bills.”

“Labour will give the [National Health Service] the funding it needs, end privatisation, and never let our health service be up for grabs in any trade negotiation. We’ll expand our NHS to offer free prescriptions for all and free basic dentistry, building on its founding principles.”

“Whether it is the trillions of litres of water lost through leakages, barriers to renewable energy connecting to the grid or the billions of pounds of billpayers’ money being siphoned off in dividends to wealthy shareholders, Tory privatisation of our utilities has been a disaster for both our planet and our wallets.”

“A decade of Tory health cuts and privatisations has pushed our greatest institution to the brink. (…) Every penny spent on privatisation and outsourcing is a penny less spent on patient care.”

“We will reverse the fragmentation and privatisation of further and adult education.”

“Decades of privatisation and outsourcing have hollowed out council capacity, taken money out of communities and undermined democratic accountability.”

37) New Book: Dexter Whitfield, one of the foremost international experts on privatization, has published a new book, Public Alternative to the Privatisation of Life. The book “provides comprehensive evidence of the failure of privatization and the economic, social and environmental damage to people’s lives, working conditions and undermining of equalities. It details radical strategies for decommodification for a new era of public ownership and provision with participative and democratic accountability, quality public services, the preservation of nature and sustainable climate action.” Available in hard copy, PDF, and eBook formats. 580 pages. Also, if you’ve never read them, do check out Whitfield’s many other top flight books on privatization. It’s like going to privatization university.

Odds & Ends

38) National: The House Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), held a hearing last Tuesday on the practices of private investment funds and on proposed legislation. Among the witnesses was Eileen Appelbaum, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Appelbaum told lawmakers, “in ways large and small, Main Street is being pillaged by Wall Street’s largest private investment firms. Factories and stores have closed as wealth has been extracted from companies, hollowing them out and leaving them bereft of the resources they need to invest in technology and worker skills. Money has been funneled to millionaire and billionaire partners in these firms even when their firms do not create value and, indeed, may destroy it. Good jobs have been lost and inequality has worsened. Private investment firms take advantage of loopholes in laws and regulations that are not available to other financial actors to engage in the types of self-serving behavior documented here. It’s time to close these loopholes and bring private equity and hedge funds under the same regulatory umbrella that limits risky behavior by other financial institutions.”

39) National/IdahoEnvironmental groups have filed a second lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service to halt a major project in the Payette National Forest. “‘It seems almost unbelievable, but the new Lost Creek-Boulder Creek decision by the Forest Service basically tells the Ninth Circuit the agency has no intention of complying with the court’s order,’ said Mike Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. (…) The project has a combination of commercial logging, prescribed burning and recreation improvements such as additional trail maintenance and installing bathrooms. Also planned are habitat improvements for federally protected bull trout and northern Idaho ground squirrel. But the environmental groups say the project comes at the expense of wildlife habitat and turns the public forest into a tree farm to benefit timber interests.” 

40) National: A private equity firm, Ethos Capital, is buying up the Public Interest Registry (PIR). Whole Whale Podcast asks, “what does it mean that a private equity firm now own the .ORG and .NGO domains nonprofits rely on for their websites? We interview Joshua Peskay a trusted nonprofit internet expert about what this means and what nonprofits should do now.” 

41) National: Senate Armed Services Committee leaders are demanding that “the Air Force investigate reports that a major U.S. military housing provider falsified maintenance records for years at a Texas base in order to gain millions of dollars in performance bonuses.” 

42) National: Writing in Jacobin, Thomas M. Hanna, research director at the Democracy Collaborative and the author of Our Common Wealth: The Return of Public Ownership in the United States, demystifies a taboo subject in the U.S.: “Nationalization Is as American as Apple Pie.” He concludes, “nationalization has been used for decades in the United States for a variety of purposes, from dealing with financial collapse to intervening in labor-management disputes to saving jobs. With climate change bearing down on us and inequality at Gilded Age levels, we should turn again to nationalization to address the many interconnected crises we face.” 

43) National: As tens of millions of Americans take to the skies in the run up to Thanksgiving, it’s a good time to reflect on what’s been lost in the four decades since airlines were deregulated. Apart from the “comfort” issues, of course, there are more serious problems surrounding corporate self-regulation

44) National: The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board has just released its 2019 Annual Report. Comments are due by January 17, 2020.

45) Massachusetts: A debate is roiling over the impact of gentrification on working people in Bayside and beyond as they move ahead with redevelopment. “Mary Jo Connelly, a researcher and organizer at UMass Boston’s Professional Staff Union, said: ‘I think this is exciting and it’s going to be a wonderful community and a place to live. The question I have is who is going to get to enjoy this community? I really would like to see a little more consideration [for] how this could be a place where people that are being displaced from South Boston and Dorchester or other parts of the city could get to live. I live in a place that’s got great vision and it’s going to be a cool place to live, but all of the people who used to live there—all of the working people and various populations of ethnic groups—are out.’”

46) Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb has announced his intention to run for the position of state auditor general, a key post for monitoring, among other things, the performance of charter schools. The current auditor general, Eugene DePasquale, who exposed many scandals in outsourcing and budget shenanigans, has been term limited. “Among his top accomplishments as controller, Lamb said, are his fight against a plan put forth by former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to shore up the city’s pension fund by privatizing the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s lots. Joining with dissidents on council, Lamb advanced a plan that pledged future parking tax revenues to the pension fund. Since then, he said, ‘While we still have a very long way to go, we have made a dramatic reversal in the pension trust fund.’” 

Governing for the Common Good

47) NationalPew has put out a useful guide to best practices by public structures on infrastructure risk mitigation. “’Mitigation Matters,’ new research from The Pew Charitable Trusts, identifies 13 states or cities that have adopted policies resulting in effective flood mitigation. To learn more, read the overview, which includes lessons from these jurisdictions, or go directly to briefs below about each city or state. The policies are organized into three categories: 1) using existing funds for mitigation by redirecting revenue and spending, 2) creating revenue sources, and 3) establishing smarter regulations.”

48) Florida: The Washington Post reports that “When a deep red town’s only grocery closed, city hall opened its own store. Just don’t call it ‘socialism