ST. PAUL, Minn.: ‘Public services not for sale’

Hundreds of state workers, members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), clogged the halls of the State House March 1, lobbying to prevent any further shutdown or sale of the state government.

Last July, a budget impasse halted state services from health care to driver’s licenses and put 9,300 workers on the street. Emergency measures got things moving, but state workers are demanding action to prevent more shutdowns. They are calling for public ownership and operation of all correctional facilities, full funding for schools, transportation and human services, investment in child care and no privatization.

Sporting brightly colored buttons reading, “I know what you did last summer,” state workers are moving quickly to head off Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s efforts to privatize in response to growing budget deficits. In a statement AFSCME Councils 5 and 65 said the “wounds remain raw from the government shutdown” because workers could not care for their clients and took it on the chin with lost pay.

DETROIT: Sputtering economy hits home

The Detroit metro area is ground zero in home foreclosures with 379 on Feb. 22 alone and 3,364 through January. Last year 9,000 families lost their homes. The metro area leads the country, according to, a web site that tracks foreclosures across the nation.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Gary Meyers, a foreclosure specialist with Venturi Realty of Salt Lake City. “I’ve been all over the U.S. and the most I’ve seen in a day is 30.”

Stuart Gold, a bankruptcy attorney in practice for 20 years in southeast Michigan, said, “It’s really three things: loss of income, reduction in income or substantial medical expenses. This is the worst I’ve ever seen it.”

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.: Women break into Hall of Fame

The national pastime now recognizes women. Effa Manley, co-owner of the Negro leagues’ Newark Eagles, was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame Feb. 27.

Manley, who was white, handled the Eagles’ business side for a decade for her husband, co-owner Abe Manley, who was African American. One year before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s “color line” in 1947, the Eagles, featuring Larry Doby, won the Negro Leagues World Series. Robinson played for the National League Dodgers and Doby became the first Black player in the American League.

The Manleys fought for civil rights, including helping players negotiate salaries with teams that barred them for generations. They held an Anti-Lynching Day at the ballpark every year.

Five years ago the Hall of Fame initiated a project to recognize the Negro leagues. Of this year’s 18 inductees, 17 were from the Negro leagues and the era preceding them in Black baseball. Among them are players Ray Brown, Willard Brown, Andy Cooper, Biz Mackey, Mule Suttles, Cristobal Torriente and Jud Wilson.

WASHINGTON: Long hours increase truck accidents

If you have felt queasy driving along the interstate, it’s not all in your head. The consumer rights group Public Citizen says last year 5,000 people died in truck-related accidents and 110,000 were injured. A contributing factor is weary truck drivers.

A coalition including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) testified before a federal appeals court Feb. 27 to change a Bush administration rule increasing hours truck drivers are on the road. Since the administration changed the rules in 2003, truck drivers can be behind the wheel for as many as 84 hours in seven days. Trucking companies are the big winners.

“We refuse to wait any longer for the government to rule on our challenge,” said IBT President James Hoffa. “We are stepping up the fight against these regulations that put Teamster drivers at greater risk.” In 2004, truck accident fatalities rose from 5,036 to 5,190, with truck drivers killed rising to 761. The Bureau of Labor Statistics calls trucking one of the country’s most dangerous professions.

MILWAUKEE: Police arrest can collectors

It is a crime to pick up aluminum cans here. The police have swept up hundreds of people with large plastic bags slung over their back or pushing grocery carts laden with cans. Aluminum cans have a street value of 75 cents a pound.

Judge Jim Gramling said a parade of people has come through his courtroom charged with stealing garbage — pop cans. He dismisses the charges which carry a $122 fine, about 150 pounds of cans. Sometimes, he added, police tack on other charges, like failure to obtain a junk dealer’s permit.

Milwaukeeans can rest easy. Their garbage is safe.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (