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  • Post-Gazette: Group urges caution on cameras for red light enforcement | PennPIRG
    Erie Altoona New Castle Johnstown and McKeesport A similar bill is pending in the House Transportation Committee which plans to hold a public hearing next month PennPIRG said nearly 700 jurisdictions have signed contracts with for profit companies to install the cameras Some of the contracts pay the company on a per ticket basis give the company veto power over locations and include penalties if the municipality tries to cancel them It urged municipalities not to include incentives in the contracts to maintain control over enforcement policies and ensure that the contracting process is open and includes public participation State Rep Paul Costa D Wilkins sponsor of the House legislation has said it will contain a provision requiring PennDOT approval before cameras are installed at any intersection That he said will ensure that the cities use the cameras to improve safety not to generate revenue Both the House and Senate bills require income from the cameras to be returned to the state and used for transportation safety improvements They also require conspicuous signs warning drivers that cameras are in place The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says its study showed a 24 percent decline in fatalities from red light running in cities where the cameras are used and reductions of 40 to 96 percent in violations It has estimated that 150 lives were saved over five years in the 14 biggest cities that use them Other studies though have shown an increase in crashes and critics say drivers slamming on the brakes because they are fearful of being cited are causing rear end collisions Alana Miller of PennPIRG said the group has not taken a position on the Pennsylvania legislation Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/media/pap/post-gazette-group-urges-caution-cameras-red-light-enforcement (2016-04-27)
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  • Essential Public Radio: Research Group Cautions About Red Light Cameras | PennPIRG
    has already passed a bill to expand these cameras to 19 Pennsylvania cities with population of 18 000 or more Rep Paul Costa D Allegheny County has introduced similar legislation in the House with his bill requiring PennDOT approval of all installation sites Miller said it s not a surprise to see proposals to privatize traffic law enforcement to generate revenue in the current economic state adding that as many as 700 cities and towns across the country are already doing it However both state bills would require revenue to be returned to the state for safety improvements Miller said municipalities run into trouble when they try to cancel private contracts Cities have also found themselves in lawsuits with camera vendors when they try to introduce these programs or decide to end their camera enforcement and that s not right Miller said Our local governments should be able to manage their own traffic and safety decisions without financial penalties from an outside company She said that automated systems aren t perfect explaining that her group has come across cases where traffic cameras issue citations for right hand turns on red whereas a human police officer would understand that is not a violation Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway Boondoggles Close Corporate Tax Loopholes Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Label GMO Foods Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Our Federation Featured Position PennPIRG Internship Work on some of the hottest political issues of the day from fighting the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms to promoting campaign finance reform and tackling Citizens United improving voter access

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/media/pap/essential-public-radio-research-group-cautions-about-red-light-cameras (2016-04-27)
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  • Central Penn Business Journal: Judge privatization panel on results, supporters say | PennPIRG
    competition she said That s why democracies have rules and systems to promote bureaucratic accountability such as public meetings laws and budget disclosure When government work is privatized companies have been able to obtain monopoly like franchises that free them from both market and bureaucratic accountability Dannin said If you don t have accountability you are just opening up a door to corruption graft and not giving people value for money she said Dannin described the Privatizing Yellow Pages Government report as thinly researched with no support for many of its assertions In a recent paper Crumbling Infrastructure Crumbling Democracy Dannin highlighted contract provisions companies have used to stack the deck in their favor including noncompetition clauses and compensation events the right to be paid when government actions adversely impact a privatized operation A contract privatizing a highway in Denver allowed its owners to object to improvements on competing nearby roads that might divert drivers and reduce toll revenue Dannin wrote The lease that turned over Chicago s parking meters to a private consortium for 75 years includes a noncompetition clause and clauses requiring the city to compensate the consortium for revenue lost when streets are closed for maintenance or public events she wrote That consortium led by Morgan Stanley hiked meter rates sharply and is earning a profit of 80 cents on the dollar far above the industry average according to a 2010 Businessweek article The consortium itself in the prospectus for a bond issue predicted earnings of 9 58 billion on the 1 15 billion deal Businessweek said Well structured privatization deals require accurate cost benefit analysis Dannin said Too often analyses have been done too narrowly failing to take important corollary costs into account and have been aimed at justifying a preordained conclusion Dannin said Highly complex deals have been negotiated in back rooms with limited public scrutiny or transparency she said Privatization has had failures as well as successes and it s essential to learn from past mistakes Brouillette said Noncompete clauses and compensation events have been misused he said You can do it right or do it wrong he said Public sector management has truly had to shift in knowing how to put these together The 24 politicians attorneys executives and organization leaders making up the governor s council formally the Advisory Council on Privatization and Innovation will serve voluntarily and without pay Some observers question whether they will have the motivation and expertise to do it right The council s makeup is disappointing said Alana Miller program associate with the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group based in Philadelphia Pro privatization advocates dominate the panel Miller said Several members have business dealings with the state and 17 of them contributed to Corbett s campaign according to published reports This panel lacks viewpoints from the public sector or those that are critical of privatization s shortcomings Miller said adding that the preponderance of campaign contributors suggests the members were chosen for political loyalty Harley dismissed the

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/media/pap/central-penn-business-journal-judge-privatization-panel-results-supporters-say (2016-04-27)
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  • Post-Gazette: Please protect consumers, Sen. Toomey | PennPIRG
    Servicemembers and veterans have long been targeted by private student lenders payday lenders rent to own stores auto title pawn shops and others of their ilk Numerous commanders have testified that bad credit has harmed security clearances military morale and unit preparedness Earlier this year JP Morgan Chase Bank apologized and paid civil penalties for illegal foreclosures on servicemembers Ms Petraeus a consumer expert and wife of the CIA director Gen David Petraeus is the CFPB s voice for military families in the financial marketplace but until the CFPB gets a director she cannot do much to protect them unless they are cheated by a big bank On July 18 the president nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray the CFPB enforcement chief as the bureau s first director On Sept 6 the Senate Banking Committee held his nomination hearing and is expected to vote on his nomination today Sen Toomey sits on the Banking Committee Mr Cordray has received strong support from Ohio newspapers and praise from the current Republican attorney general of Ohio former U S Sen Mike DeWine who had defeated him Even many Ohio bankers have commended his nomination The failure of current bank regulators to stop predatory lending and other reckless Wall Street practices is widely recognized as the primary cause of the 2008 mortgage meltdown that caused the loss of millions of homes millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in lost retirement income triggering the Great Recession In response Congress established the CFPB as part of the 2010 Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act Many consumer advocates and experts consider it the most significant consumer financial protection measure since federal deposit insurance was created after the 1929 stock market crash The bureau s mission is to use research regulation education and enforcement

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/media/pap/post-gazette-please-protect-consumers-sen-toomey (2016-04-27)
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  • PIRG’s Trouble In Toyland | PennPIRG
    when it passed the landmark Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act CPSIA in August 2008 1 In addition to expanding the agency s budget Congress gave the CPSC more tools to hold corporate wrongdoers accountable and speed recalls moved toward banning toxic lead and phthalates except in trace amounts and greatly improved import surveillance While the new law strengthens the CPSC and contains tough new protections against toxic chemicals like lead and phthalates these protections have not yet gone into effect As parents and other toygivers venture into crowded malls this holiday season they should remain vigilant about often hidden hazards posed by toys on store shelves The 2008 Trouble in Toyland report is the 23rd annual Public Interest Research Group PIRG survey of toy safety This report provides safety guidelines for parents when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards We visited numerous toy stores and other retailers to find potentially dangerous toys and identify trends in toy safety This year we focused specifically on toys that contain lead and phthalates in our research Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway Boondoggles Close Corporate Tax Loopholes Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Label GMO Foods Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Our Federation Featured Position PennPIRG Internship Work on some of the hottest political issues of the day from fighting the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms to promoting campaign finance reform and tackling Citizens United improving voter access for students and underrepresented communities and advocating for a 21st century transportation system Job Description

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/pap/pirg%E2%80%99s-trouble-toyland (2016-04-27)
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  • Email Contact Form | PennPIRG
    hottest political issues of the day from fighting the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms to promoting campaign finance reform and tackling Citizens United improving voter access for students and underrepresented communities and advocating for a 21st century transportation system Job Description Take Action Donate Join Us Priority Action We re teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms Call on KFC to

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/email/node/398/field_bio_email (2016-04-27)
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  • As House Holds Oversight Hearing, 340 Groups Call For Defense of CFPB | PennPIRG
    CFPB has of course been active in drafting new rules of the road for the marketplace developing educational programs for everyone from servicemembers to students to homebuyers handling consumer complaints and making marketplace activities and its own activities more transparent through a regular series of reports snapshots public hearings webinars and a searchable public database of consumer complaints The CFPB s comprehensive Semi Annual Report 191 page pdf has more So does its website consumerfinance gov or cfpb gov both work which includes a newsroom a searchable database of complaints a complaint portal and innumerable other tools for consumers click the Get Assistance menu on the home page and social service providers as well as a Spanish language mirror site and help in over 180 languages Nevertheless powerful special interests including the banks and credit unions and their many trade associations as well as payday and high cost lenders financial services lawyers and lobbyists debt collectors and credit bureaus mortgage companies for profit trade schools and auto finance companies joined by generally coin operated free market think tanks and other special interests continue to try to rev up Congressional opposition to the CFPB AFR estimates they ve been spending 1 8 million per day to roll back Wall Street reform As our letter continues The rollback proposals that have been debated in the past and which we expect will be raised again in the new Congress will not protect the public or increase agency accountability Instead these proposals would hamper the agency and interfere with its ability to fulfill its mission The arguments to support them are part of a pattern of mischaracterizing the CFPB s organization and processes Unfortunately opponents of consumer protection including portions of the financial services industry that opposed the creation of the Bureau have opposed its consumer protection efforts at every step and possess a narrow self interest in preventing effective consumer regulation We strongly urge members of Congress to refrain from placing those narrow industry interests above the vital public interest in regulation of the consumer finance market place Legislative attacks on the bureau can be grouped into three categories Some bills aim to radically change its structure or eliminate the independent funding that insulates it from special interest efforts the goal to starve it to death or otherwise cut off its head Other opposition ploys use a death by a thousand cuts strategy Finally the bureau is one of many agencies that would see its effectiveness diminish if any of a package of U S Chamber of Commerce analysis paralysis proposals were enacted that are intended to prevent agencies from issuing any health safety or pocketbook protection rules in less than geologic time The CFPB is also currently carefully considering a number of very important rules to make the marketplace work better It is studying the growing but largely unregulated pre paid accounts and cards market comments due 23 March It has proposed to make the excellent public consumer complaint database even better

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/house-holds-oversight-hearing-340-groups-call-defense-cfpb (2016-04-27)
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  • Patriot-News: Report targets unsafe toys in time for holidays | PennPIRG
    a certified Environmental Protection Agency lab in Chicago for testing The results A pair of plastic toy glasses contains 42 000 parts per million of phthalates a chemical that poses developmental hazards for small children That s 42 times more than the maximum safe level of 1 000 ppm A Little Hands Love soft book contains seven times the amount of lead recommended for a product to be safe And a Hot Wheels Rat Bomb toy is deemed too loud at 93 decibels compared to the maximum level of 85 decibels The federal government revamped guidelines used by the CPSC in 2008 helping remove dangerous or poisonous toys from the market faster than before These safeguards along with safety conscious steps taken by many toy makers and sellers have contributed to a continued decline in toy recalls since 2008 There were 34 toy recalls in fiscal year 2011 down from 46 toy recalls in 2010 and 50 recalls in 2009 according to the CPSC However Wright said work still needs to be done More than 80 percent of toys purchased in the United States are made in Asia We believe if a toy comes from another country and meets their toxic standards it should meet our toxic standards because we are the buyers Wright said For a full report go to www pennpirg org and for a list of recalled toys go to toysafety mobi Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway Boondoggles Close Corporate Tax Loopholes Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Label GMO Foods Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Our Federation Featured Position PennPIRG

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/media/pap/patriot-news-report-targets-unsafe-toys-time-holidays (2016-04-27)
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