Abby Rapoport

Abby Rapoport is a freelance journalist, and former staff writer at The American Prospect. She was previously a political reporter for the Texas Observer

Recent Articles

Life Imitating Art—and Parks

Scrolling through clips of state news, I happened on the latest from Idaho: The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation is launching a new program that allows vehicle owners to voluntarily pay a $10 fee when they register their cars that gives them access to 30 state parks in an effort to raise money for the embattled agency. Director Nancy Merrill hopes the idea, modeled after a successful program in Michigan, will alleviate financial pressure on her agency that has been mounting since Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter moved to wean it from taxpayer support two years ago. A few years ago, I probably wouldn't have cared much what the Idaho Parks and Recreation units were doing. However, that was before I became an avid viewer of the television show Parks and Recreation. Devotees will remember that at the end of the second season, the city of Pawnee, Indiana was in dire economic straights and the Parks and Recreation Department was in trouble. Leslie Knope, heroine of both the show and my heart...

Common Sense Radicalism

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
Apparently California Gov. Jerry Brown missed the memo. Across the country, governors outlining educational priorities for their states have focused largely on more testing and doing away with teacher tenure. The approach is so in-vogue, it reaches across party lines. A few examples: Last week, South Dakota's Gov. Dennis Daugaard outlined his education reform package , including merit pay for high performing teachers and the right to fire those whose students fail to perform on tests two years in a row. On the east coast, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is also asking legislators to do away with tenure , while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, under pressure from the U.S. Department of Education, is determined to implement more teacher evaluations, based largely on standardized tests . In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal wants to create a full-scale voucher program , as well as getting rid of teacher tenure. Finding "high quality" teachers is a key component of the education reform movement, but...

Fumbling Towards an Exit

AP Photo/Matt Rourke
You remember that moment when the seventh-grade bully arrived in high school and was, in turn, bullied by the big kids? It's hard to know what you feel—some satisfaction, sure, but somewhere in there, there's bound to be some pity. And of course the big question of whether the experience will leave him humbler and more kind or just more eager to maintain power. Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropped his bid for the GOP nomination today . "I have come to the conclusion that there is no viable path forward for me in this campaign," he said at a press conference. "As a Texan, I've never shied away from a fight," he went, explaining he was making "a strategic retreat." He endorsed Newt Gingrich, the man who lost his initial campaign staff this summer to the Perry hoopla. It's hard to remember back to the summer, when Rick Perry seemed like the man who would take the national stage by storm. Instead, his moment in the sun lasted less than a month before a spiral of gaffes and political...

A Party with Pirattitude

Question : What do some disgruntled pirates do when they want to advocate for more privacy rights and government transparency? Answer : They form a political p-ARRR-ty. (For those of you who don't get pirate humor, well, I'm sorry .) In honor of the SOPA protest day, I thought I'd point everyone to the Massachusetts Pirate Party . According to its Facebook page, the party wants to "open up government, defend your privacy" through copyright reform and abolishing patents. A fairly specific agenda, but the pirates are only one of 21 third parties in Massachusetts, explains an article in the Cape Cod Times . According to the article : Out of the nearly 4.2 million Massachusetts voters who registered for the 2010 elections, 52 percent, or 2.16 million, were unenrolled. Around 1.53 million, or 36 percent of voters, registered as Democrats. Eleven percent, or 474,798, were Republicans and 15,857, or 0.38 percent, were Libertarians. Another 8,438 Massachusetts voters, or one-fifth of 1...

Recalling History

Governor Lynn Frazier of North Dakota was recalled in 1921 after accusations that he was a socialist. AP Photo
Yesterday, Wisconsin activists turned in more than one million petitions supporting the recall of Scott Walker . It was almost double the number they needed to turn in. The Republican governor prompted mass protests last year when he slashed public-employee benefits and then began dismantling collective-bargaining rights in the state. Unions, Democrats, and others affected by the policies were all eager for political payback. "This is the most participated major recall in American history," Meagan Mahaffey, executive director of the coordinating group United Wisconsin, told me with evident pride. But that's not saying as much as you might think; only two governors have ever been recalled. The recall of former California Governor Gray Davis is relatively well known, but I, for one, wasn't familiar with the first official gubernatorial ouster, which took place 90 years ago in North Dakota. Deciding to put that liberal-art history degree to use, I dug around a bit to discover the story...