Posts Tagged ‘transit’

Public employment roundup

  • NYPD retiree “shared his happiness at scoring the disability pension, as well as his achievements running marathons” [New York Daily News]
  • Scott Greenfield on public sector unionism and Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association [Simple Justice, earlier] Pending Illinois case raises issues parallel to Friedrichs [Cato podcast with lead plaintiff Mark Janus and attorney Jacob Huebert]
  • San Diego voters tried to address public employee pension crisis, now state panel says doing things by ballot initiative violates obligation to bargain with unions [Scott Shackford, Reason]
  • “Staten Island Ferry deckhand who has already pocketed $600K in job related injuries sues city for $45M” [New York Daily News]
  • Detroit “firefighters were paid for 32-hour days….Numerous top-level fire officials signed off on the overtime.” [Motor City Muckraker]
  • “Without public worker unions, who would lobby against making it a crime to strike a pedestrian with right of way?” [Josh Barro on NYC controversy]
  • “Not Even a Criminal Referral to the Dept. of Justice Can Get You Fired From the VA” [Amanda Winkler, Reason]

“CTA pays $4.3 million in wrongful-death settlement”

The Chicago Transit Authority in September “approved a $4.3 million payment to the family of a Pilsen woman who in 2009 was killed by a hit-and-run driver and then struck again by a CTA bus following the car.” The driver who struck Martha Gonzalez in a pedestrian crosswalk sped off and was never caught; the bus driver who subsequently hit Gonzalez’s body, who has subsequently retired, was not issued a traffic ticket in the incident. [Chicago Tribune, September]

January 15 roundup

  • Malheur standoff: here come the self-styled “citizens’ grand jury” hobbyists [Oregonian, my two cents on this branch of folk law, earlier]
  • Your egg-flipping, coffee-guzzling grandma was right all along about nutrition, federal government now seems gradually to be conceding [Washington Post]
  • “Obama’s State of the Union pledge to push for bipartisan redistricting reform was a late add” [L.A. Times, Politico, American Prospect, Todd Eberly on Twitter, some earlier takes here and here]
  • More Charlie Hebdo retrospectives after a year [Anthony Fisher, Reason] Another bad year for blasphemers [Sarah McLaughlin, more] The magazine’s false friends [Andrew Stuttaford; hadn’t realized that departing NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos, who so curiously compared the magazine’s contents to “hate speech unprotected by the Constitution,” has lately held “the James Madison Visiting Professorship on First Amendment Issues” at the Columbia School of Journalism]
  • “The Ten Most Significant Class Action Cases of 2015” [Andrew Trask]
  • More from Cato on Obama’s “mishmash” of executive orders on guns [Adam Bates, Tim Lynch, Emily Ekins]
  • The “worst and most counter-productive legal complaint that’s been filed in a long, long time” [Barry Rascovar, Maryland Reporter on move by ACLU of Maryland/NAACP Legal Defense Fund to challenge as racially discriminatory the decision to cancel construction of a new Baltimore subway line]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • NYC Legal Aid lawyer “represented four defendants in a row who had been arrested for having a foot up on a subway seat” [Gothamist, including report of arrests for “manspreading”]
  • Recommendations would expand federal role: “President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” [Tim Lynch]
  • Profile of Pat Nolan and momentum of criminal justice reform on the right [Marshall Project] Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan shows how Republicans are experimenting with criminal justice reform [Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post]
  • “Though we weren’t at any toll plazas, something was reading the E-ZPass tag in our car.” [Mariko Hirose, ACLU on New York monitoring of car transponders, presently for transport management purposes] DEA license plate tracking has been subject to mission creep [L.A. Times editorial via Amy Alkon, earlier]
  • “Texas’s governor signs a bill that will end the ‘key man’ grand jury system, also known as the ‘pick-a-pal’ system.” [Houston Chronicle via @radleybalko, earlier]
  • “There’s little dispute overincarceration is a problem demanding immediate redress. Except when it comes to sex.” [Scott Greenfield]
  • Massachusetts SWAT teams retreat from position that they’re private corporations and needn’t comply with public records laws [Radley Balko, earlier]

June 3 roundup

  • Ohio appeals court: code enforcement officers in town of Riverside can be personally liable for towing cars off man’s property without due process [The Newspaper; Vlcek v. Chodkowski, Second Appellate District, Montgomery County]
  • “FDA’s proposed cigar crackdown could effectively ban up to 80% of stogies currently sold in US” [James Bovard, Washington Times; earlier here, here]
  • Don’t decriminalize subway farebeating, says Nicole Gelinas, it’s a deliberate theft and a damaging one (though “enforcing the fare helps enforce New York gun laws” may not work as an argument unless you admire those gun laws) [New York Post]
  • Lawyers take Fifth and (via their attorney) blame paralegal over DUI setup of a trial opponent [ABA Journal; Adams and Diaco, Florida]
  • “The Questionable History of Regulatory Reform Since the APA” [Stuart Shapiro and Deanna Moran, Mercatus]
  • Did American rebels of 1776 fight for English liberties, or universal Rights of Man? [David Boaz, Cato, taking issue with Daniel Hannan]
  • “Appeals court scolds Apple monitor, but does not remove him” [Jeff John Roberts, Fortune; Eriq Gardner, THR; Colin Lecher, The Verge; earlier]

“Short Circuits” on transit police arbitration

Our friends at the Institute for Justice have recently gone public with a beta version of what had been an internal newsletter, called Short Circuits, providing condensed (and sometimes acidulous) summaries of cases out of the federal courts of appeals. You can subscribe here. One of recent interest:

WMATA, a transit agency that serves the greater D.C. area, fires two police officers. (One allegedly struck a passenger and lied about it. The other allegedly altercated with a companion and lied about it.) Arbitrators order the pair reinstated, but by then their Maryland certification has lapsed, and, after the transit police chief voices strenuous opposition to their recertification, Maryland commissioners refuse to recertify the two. WMATA can’t have uncertified officers, so they are fired again. 4th Circuit: Which is cool.

Environment roundup

  • Biggest gaps between views of scientists and those of general public come on topics of animal research, GMO foods [Pew/AAAS]
  • New study challenges prevailing assumptions: controlling for such factors as poverty and race, “no differences [found] in asthma risk between children living in urban areas and their suburban and rural counterparts” [Science Daily; Knappenberger and Michaels, Cato]
  • Interview with NYU’s urbanist Alain Bertaud, formerly of the World Bank [Market Urbanism]
  • Little free libraries on the wrong side of zoning law [Conor Friedersdorf, Sarah Skwire/Freeman, L.A. Times]
  • “Who knew following the trail of ‘clean energy’ money could make you feel so dirty?” [Oregonian editorial on scandal that led to resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber, more, Watchdog] Actually, the correct answer is “plenty of us”: green-barrel projects rife with cronyism in other states too [Mark Newgent, Red Maryland; Michael Dresser, Baltimore Sun]
  • “EPA’s Wood-Burning Stove Ban Has Chilling Consequences For Many Rural People” [Larry Bell, Forbes]
  • “The digital poker magnate who financed an epic pollution lawsuit against Chevron has disavowed the case and accused the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer of misleading him about the underlying facts.” [Paul Barrett, Roger Parloff]

Public choice and D.C.’s ill-managed Metro

I’ve got a new post at Cato about the perennial problem of poor governance at Washington, D.C.’s WMATA Metro subway system, which on Monday suffered a smoke-in-tunnel accident that cost the life of a passenger and sickened many more. Excerpt:

If the cream of the nation’s political class, living within a 50 mile radius in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C., cannot arrange to obtain competence from their elected local officials in delivering a public service that’s vital to their daily work lives, what does that tell us about their pretensions to improve through federal action the delivery of local government services – fire and police, water supply and schooling, road maintenance and, yes, transit itself – in the rest of the country?

Reactions from George Leef (“it tells us that we should ignore them”), @jasonkeisling (“If it had been Uber, the gov would ban their service. But no need to address any problems with metro.”), and Christine Sisto/National Review. The Washington Post succinctly summarizes local outrage about the service’s failure to live up to its boasts of a “culture of safety”, while Washington City Paper, Aaron Wiener reviews Metro’s sluggish response to a series of previous safety crises and breakdowns.

A lot of literature — like this recent study cited by the Regional Plan Association — tends to confirm the idea that transit operations work better when governance is arranged so as to provide clear lines of responsibility and accountability. WMATA, which has gone through many general managers over the years, suffers from a weak, too-many-cooks board structure in which two each of eight board seats are filled by Maryland, Virginia, the District, and the federal government, along with another two alternates for each of the four jurisdictions.

On Wednesday morning at 9:15 a.m. I’m scheduled to be on Fox 5 WTTG Morning News television to talk about these ideas.

More: Michael Brickman, Flypaper. @politicalmath recalls when Metro got $200 million from the stimulus program to “create a safety culture.” Another comment from @jasonkeisling: “No accountability. Imagine if a private company had an incident like this…”