PNN #157 Show Notes http://bit.ly/18trce9
Philly School Goes Nonviolent
Half of Detroit Property Owners Don’t Pay Taxes
Is flashing your headlights free speech?
This is your Peace News for Sunday, July 21st, 2013. Silver is trading at 20 dollars per ounce. Bitcoin is trading at 89 dollars per bitcoin. Peace News brought to by friends of WeUseCoins.com and by listeners like you.
Jeff Deeny writes for the Atlantic about a school located down the street from the Peace News Now studios:
Last year when American Paradigm Schools took over Philadelphia’s infamous, failing John Paul Jones Middle School, they did something a lot of people would find inconceivable. The school was known as “Jones Jail” for its reputation of violence and disorder, and because the building, like many government schools, physically resembled prison. Situated in the Kensington section of the city, it drew students from the heart of a desperately poor hub of injection drug users and street level prostitution where gun violence rates are off the charts. But rather than beef up the already heavy security to ensure safety and restore order, American Paradigm stripped it away. During renovations, they removed the metal detectors and barred windows.
The police predicted chaos. But instead, new numbers seem to show that in a single year, the number of serious incidents fell by 90%.
The school says it wasn’t just the humanizing physical makeover of the facility that helped. Memphis Street Academy also credits the Alternatives to Violence Project (or AVP). AVP is a noncoercive, nonviolent conflict resolution regimen originally used in prison settings that was later adapted to violent schools. AVP, when tailored to school settings, emphasizes student empowerment, relationship building and anger management over institutional control and surveillance. There are no aggressive security guards in schools using the AVP model; instead they have engagement coaches, who provide support, encouragement, and a sense of safety.
In one school year serious incidents – drug sales, weapons, assaults, rapes – went from 138 to 15.
Top Comment for this story comes from Mike Waz, who says, quote “It’s amazing what happens when you stop telling kids they are monsters and start treating them like dignified human beings.”
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Christine McDonald and Mike Wilkinson report for the Detroit News:
Nearly half of the owners of Detroit’s 305,000 properties failed to pay their tax bills last year, exacerbating a punishing cycle of declining revenues and diminished services for a city in a financial crisis.
47 percent of the city’s taxable parcels are delinquent on their 2011 bills. About a quarter of a billion dollars in taxes and fees went uncollected.
Delinquency is so pervasive that 77 blocks had only one owner who paid taxes last year. Many of those who don’t pay question why they should in a city that struggles to light its streets or keep police on them.
“Why pay taxes?” asked Fred Phillips, who allegedly owes more than $2500 on his home. On his block, only 5 owners paid taxes. “Why should I send them taxes when they aren’t supplying services? … Every time I see the tax bill come, I think about the times we called, and nobody came.”
Detroit has the highest property taxes among big cities nationwide. Many houses are assessed at more than 10 times their market price.
Detroit relies on a shrinking sliver of businesses to pay the bulk of the bills. Just seven businesses paid nearly a fifth of all collected property taxes. The rich neighborhoods, representing about 2 percent of the city’s homes, paid about the same. In all, only 41 percent of people who received tax bills in Detroit paid anything.
Detroit’s delinquencies are so pervasive that some owners have been allowed to keep their property even if they don’t pay taxes. Wayne County treasury officials are so overwhelmed by foreclosures that they ignored about 40,000 delinquent Detroit properties that should have been seized last year and said they will look the other way on about 36,000 this year.
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When Michael Elli of Missouri flashed his headlights to warn other drivers of an upcoming speed trap, he didn’t think he was doing anything illegal.
After he received a ticket for obstruction of justice, which carried a $1,000 fine, he fought back, saying the warning was protected free speech. Eventually prosecutors in Missouri dropped the charges, but now Elli and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a class action lawsuit against the city for issuing such tickets in the first place.
Tony Rothert with the ACLU said, quote, “Those who use their First Amendment rights to warn others to drive cautiously should not be punished for their message. After all, the purpose of traffic laws is to promote safety, not generate revenue.”
Florida, Utah, Tennessee, Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have all deemed that warning other drivers with a flicker of your high beams is protected by the first amendment. Alaska and Arizona have laws strictly forbid headlight flashing in any situation.
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