States looking to close pesky budget gaps are finding an untapped mother lode beneath their feet -- er, wheels. Last year Chicago leased its eight-mile Skyway for $1.8 billion to a private consortium for 99 years. Now, governors on both coasts are salivating at the prospect of turning their asphalt and rest stops into cash.
Clips from my work.
Biologists are on a mission: They're in Arkansas to kill some trees. The reason? To save a bird they thought was extinct. And unfortunately for the bird, regulators are close behind with their own brand of help.
You'll remember that recently the ivory-billed woodpecker was rediscovered after being "extinct" in the minds of ecologists for a half century. Scientists, juiced by the sighting, want to help the bird by killing trees because dead bark attracts a certain kind of beetle the bird loves to eat. By the way, they're using herbicides to kill the trees.
Sex, money and power make for the best political stories, and U.S. Senator Jon Corzine's admission that he forgave a sizable loan to former girlfriend and powerful state union boss Carla Katz meets those criteria. Now we're learning that the two live in the same tony Hoboken high-rise; the house that Ms. Katz bought with Mr. Corzine's money is empty. Ms. Katz's union has endorsed Mr. Corzine's candidacy for New Jersey governor.
Al Franken steals money from needy New York City kids. OK, that's not the story exactly, but hold off calling us a lying big, fat idiot liar, or whatever, because there are financial shenanigans afoot at Mr. Franken's employer, the Air America radio network.
Where is a pay raise not a salary increase? In Pennsylvania, where last month the State Legislature voted to give itself more money. This week the checks started rolling in, and voters are fuming that lawmakers and Governor Ed Rendell did an end-run around the state constitution.
A Long Island elementary school teacher says she was sacked for hanging a picture in her classroom. No, not a dirty picture or even a classical nudie painting. She posted a picture of President George W. Bush along with several other presidents. Apparently, these guys are "political" and that's a no-no for eight-year olds.
Same-sex marriage passed Canada's upper house of Parliament last week, providing a look at how legalizing political correctness can spawn intolerance. Not against gay couples, mind you, but against religious expression.
At issue is whether publicly objecting to same-sex marriage can now land you in hot water with the country's loosey-goosey Human Rights Commission.
The biggest question among New Jersey Democrats is: Should Jon Corzine win the governor's race this November, how will his rivalry with current Acting Governor and Senate President Richard Codey stir up state politics? At issue is Mr. Corzine's U.S. Senate seat. There's no doubt that his seat will remain in Democratic hands -- he'll return to the Senate if he loses. If he wins, he'll appoint his own successor, and his rival, Mr. Codey, says he wants the job.
William Penn's vision for a war-free New World didn't consider the menacing boogeyman called "costal zone management." The State of Delaware, once part of Mr. Penn's colonial landholdings, has seized upon this obscure body of law to launch a NIMBY war against economic development plans on neighboring New Jersey's side of the Delaware River.
New Jersey's two gubernatorial candidates, Republican Doug Forrester and Democrat Jon Corzine, both say the key to a healthy budget is ending the financial shenanigans that they call the "corruption tax." A good place to start would be the state's under-funded and over-abused employee pension plan.