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Odds and Ends

Catching up after several weeks of training and research duties:

* Jonathan Hiskes in Grist underscores the disparity between historic federal investment in highways and transit, using a chart from the report we co-authored with U.S. PIRG Education Fund, A Better Way to Go. Yes, the chart only relates to federal spending over time, but it does give a good snapshot of our national transportation priorities since World War II -- lots of highways, lots of sprawl, not so much transit.

* The folks at Bloomberg add up the numbers and find that Chicagoans will pay 10 times more over the next 75 years to a Morgan Stanley-led consortium than the city received in revenue from the lease of the city's parking meters. (A topic we wrote about here.) Not only that, but the money paid to the city for the meters has already been spent. With more local and state governments finding themselves in budget trouble, look for more of these sketchy asset privatization deals in which governments sell off not just the family jewels but also the everyday silver, plates and sofa to Wall Street financiers in exchange for a quick infusion of cash.

* Here in New England, we're experiencing a typical global warming-type year -- record rainfall in the spring, a long stretch of hot, dry weather in the summer, and now our third consecutive day of heavy rain. (See our 2007 report,When it Rains it Pours). We'll have a new report out on the links between global warming and extreme weather very soon.

* Finally, best wishes to policy associate Kari Wohlschlegel as she begins her studies at NYU law school. Kari's work on government transparency and asset privatization helped move the debate on those issues forward in important and lasting ways. We'll miss her intrepid nature and her tenacity.