Wednesday’s City Reads

Two Albuquerque cops are charged with murder, and Pennsylvania's outgoing budget chief disses charter supporters.

Albuquerque | Shutterstock

Albuquerque | Shutterstock

National Reads: “In Albuquerque, protests against police shootings and charges against officers”

The national debate around police-involved shootings has largely centered on two places: Ferguson, Mo. and New York. But cities and towns across the country, including Philadelphia, are grappling with the issue.

The Washington Post takes a look one such place: Albuquerque, where “police shot and killed 27 people between 2010 and 2014.”

An investigation into the Albuquerque force conducted by the Justice Department concluded last year that the city’s police officers “often use unreasonable physical force” and found that officers often used force against people with mental illnesses or who were too drugged or intoxicated to comply with police orders.

Investigators also said Albuquerque police used deadly force against people who pose “a minimal threat.” Some of the protests that erupted in Albuquerque last year followed the shooting of James Boyd, a 38-year-old homeless man killed in March. He was shot because he was holding knives, police said, but helmet camera footage (warning: graphic) released by authorities showed Boyd turning away from officers just before they opened fire.

There is one significant way that Albuquerque’s recent history differs from Ferguson or New York’s, though. On Monday, the district attorney there announced murder charges against the police involved in Boyd’s shooting.

Local Reads: “In the final days of Corbett, budget chief Zogby reflects on his quest for school reforms” 

Charles Zogby has been Pennsylvania’s budget secretary during a time of utter financial chaos for Philadelphia’s schools. Whether it’s largely his and his boss Gov. Corbett’s fault, or the result of the loss of federal stimulus dollars, has been the subject of furious and seemingly never-ending debate.

NewsWorks’ Kevin McCorry profiles the man behind the checkbook as he prepares to leave Harrisburg to make way for Gov.-elect Wolf’s new team. A few fascinating details emerge: Zogby has a framed quote in his office that reads, “Nothing stimulates the imagination like a budget cut.” His biggest regrets are failing to end teacher seniority and mandate that teachers be paid based on student performance. And Zogby offers a theory for why charter schools have produced mixed results that, unexpectedly, is sure to upset some charter supporters:

Zogby blames the uneven results of the charter sector as a whole on poor oversight at the local level – calling for an independent, statewide authorizer and overseer.

“Having had a hand writing the original law, having helped write the cyber law, you’re never going to see me defend poor performing charter schools. I think we ought to shutter them,” he says. “If you’re not performing, you remediate. If you’re unable to remediate, you go out of business. Cause we’ll find another operator that can take your place.”

On this point he says charter proponents should be more vocal.

“One of the beefs that I’ve had with [The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools], frankly, is they jump to the defense of a charter school, right, no matter the performance of that school. Look at what the SRC did to close Walter Palmer. That was the right decision to make, and yet a lot of charter advocates, just because it says ‘charter,’ like we somehow can’t close that school.”

Another interesting tidbit: Zogby has several pictures hanging in his office of him and former Gov. Ridge, who he worked for as a policy director, but none of him and Corbett.