Could Nyc Have Avoided Its Teacher-hiring Freeze?
May 07, 2009
Today, in light of this year's massive budget crisis, New York City's chancellor of education Joel Klein announced a hiring freeze on new teachers. This development dovetails with an article I wrote for this week's print issue about public school teachers in the Big Apple who get paid even though they don't have full-time jobs. They're part of what's known as the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR), a group of educators who've been displaced from their old positions by school closings, other structural decisions, or voluntary transfers.
Wind And Groaning In Los Angeles
April 17, 2009
On the site this morning, we have a piece by T.A. Frank about his afternoon with a group of Los Angeles Tea Partiers. While what he saw was comical, he didn't find it to be altogether ridiculous. Here's how the piece starts: What crashed the tea party in Los Angeles was the wind--icy, salty gusts from the Pacific that swooped up sand and flung it into eyes, pockets, and hair. Dockweiler State Beach, a three-mile strip of shoreline beneath the flight path of Los Angeles International Airport, proved an inhospitable host.
Home Movies, 3/17
March 17, 2009
In contrast to last week's video avalanche, this is an exceptionally slow week for DVD releases. The major offering is Catherine Hardwicke's soggy adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's soggy adolescent vampire saga Twilight. As I described it when it arrived in theaters: Twilight is silly and melodramatic and hard to dislike in much the same way as its target audience, with a distinctly teenage sense of tragedy. Before you know it, Bella is begging Edward to make her a vampire too, so they can be together forever.
Health Care Reform, A San Francisco Treat
March 12, 2009
Anthony Wright is executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.
Bye For Now
March 11, 2009
I don't know Dan Baum personally, so maybe it's a little odd to be flacking his new book, but I want to flag Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans for Plankers who wonder what happened to the Big Easy after Anderson Cooper and his cameras left town.
Barack's Too-long Wish List
March 11, 2009
A surprised Rudolph Penner, assistant director of President Ford's OMB and later a CBO director, offered a blunt assessment of the new president: "[He] has proposed a huge restructuring of government, and people are actually taking him seriously. The man ...
Hurry Up and Waste
March 04, 2009
Republicans like to accuse Democrats of wasting taxpayer dollars and being condescending eggheads. But if President Obama's economic stimulus fails to prevent a depression--and I'm not saying it will--it will be because he didn't waste enough money, and didn't spend enough time being a condescending egghead. Let's start with the egghead part. The stimulus bill is based on Keynesian theory, which I'll briefly explain in the condescending manner we liberals so enjoy using. When we're in a severe recession, good productive capacity goes to waste.
Reformers: Meet Public Enemy Number One
March 03, 2009
Richard Scott became famous, and infamous, for his management of the Hospital Corporation of America during the 1990s. More than almost any other individual, he is emblematic of everything that's frequently wrong with corporate, for-profit medicine--and how it can twist the principles of well-intentioned reforms like managed care, designed to refocus medicine on prevention and efficiency, into a crude tool for cost-cutting and profiteering. Scott left, or was forced out, from HCA just as it became mired in scandal in 1997, although Scott never faced any criminal charges.
Hurricane Katrina: All Washington's Fault
February 25, 2009
One more laff line from Jindal's speech: Today in Washington, some are promising that government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us. Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina, we have our doubts. He's right. Jason and I were down there right after the hurricane hit, and one thing everyone told us was, "Man, why won't the federal government just leave us alone?
California's Snowpack Problem
February 02, 2009
From the department of ominous ledes: "State officials reported a Sierra Nevada snowpack smaller than normal on Thursday and said California may be at the beginning of its worst drought in modern history." Uh oh. Okay, so is this the onset of perennial drought in California or is it just year-to-year variability? There's evidence that what's going on now is somewhat flukish: One big culprit appears to be La Nina, which has been pushing winter storms further north, past California and up to Washington and Canada. But this could also be a sign of things to come.