NewsWatch: Cities and Counties -- Zombie Satellite Kills Rural Internet, More ...

Predicting Crime Hot Spots, Utopia Crumbles, City Computer Expert Sentenced, Libraries Win Reprieve, Online Checkbooks, Zombie Satellite.

by / August 9, 2010

Chicago Police go High-Tech to Pinpoint Crime Hot Spots
The Chicago Police Department is working with the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Rand Corp. on an innovative project that will help pinpoint hot spots of criminal activity. The process -- called predictive analytics -- is to analyze every violent incident and gang interaction with police to extrapolate and identify future problems. The numbers will be analyzed by experts at ITT. Chicago Sun-Times

Planned Utopian Community Deterioriates
A utopian dream of a new urban community, built in Grenoble, France, in the 1970s, had slowly degraded into a poor neighborhood plagued by aimless youths before it finally burst into flames three weeks ago. A mob set nearly 100 cars on fire, wrecked a tram car and burned an annex of City Hall. President Nicolas Sarkozy seized on the event as a symbol for a new campaign to get tough on immigration and crime. New York Times

City Computer Expert Sentenced for Locking Down System
A former engineer who prosecutors said held San Francisco's computer network hostage in a "power play" was sentenced Friday to a four-year prison term. Superior Court Judge Teri Jackson said Terry Childs was simply wrong in thinking he owned the computer system he built for the city. She sentenced the 45-year-old computer technician to four years in prison but gave him credit for time served, meaning he could be released within six months. San Francisco Chronicle

Camden Libraries Win Reprieve
The Camden, N.J., libraries were given a reprieve today with the announcement that the Camden County library system will take over the city branches, preventing their imminent closure. Philadelphia Inquirer

Texas Cities' Online Checkbooks Open to Residents
Cities across Texas are starting to open their books to the public by posting their check registers online. Open government advocates applaud the trend, though they note that in many cases the way the information is provided makes it difficult for the public to scour the books. "It is still too early to tell the effectiveness because it's so new," said Keith Elkins, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. "To see governments embracing putting check register information online, that's a good thing."  Dallas Morning News

Sheriff's Office Loose with Credit Cards
High-level officials within the Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff's Office have used county-issued credit cards to make expensive purchases with little scrutiny, while street deputies have been held accountable to the penny for items bought to do their jobs, according to an investigation by the Arizona Republic. Until recent action by county management, about 820 sheriff's employees and volunteer posse members had access to county credit cards. That allowed high-ranking employees to routinely charge pricey meals and stays at luxury hotels, while rank-and-file deputies typically used their cards to buy fuel to patrol roads and lakes throughout the sprawling county. Arizona Republic

"Zombie Satellite" May Cut Internet to Rural Alaska
As many as 35,000 people in rural Alaska may lose Internet access, long-distance phone service or both for hours at a

time this week because of a "zombie" satellite that has wandered off course and is expected to scramble the signals of thearea's main telecommunications provider. Anchorage Daily News

Mayor Moves City Funds to Black-Owned Bank

Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. plans to move Jackson, Miss., city funds into Liberty Bank and Trust as a way to support the city's only black-owned bank. Johnson said he wanted to put $1 million to $2 million into certificates of deposit with Liberty as a good-faith effort to show support. "We have one minority-owned bank in the city of Jackson, and here is an opportunity to do business with that bank," Johnson said. Jackson Clarion-Ledger