February 27, 2008


1. NC: Mental disorder: failure of reform
2. TX: Lawsuit challenges impact of toll road
3. DE: U.S. 301 bypass to be toll road
4. CO: Toll road bills debated this week
5. Detroit schools’ food charges probed
6. NY Assembly Leader: State shouldn’t share endowment with private schools
7. Lawmaker: extend tax break to Idaho private school parents

News Summaries

1. NC: Mental disorder: failure of reform
The News & Observer has published a series on the mental-health privatization in North Carolina that was intended to improve community treatment and give taxpayers good value, but they have done neither. Local governments, forced to stop offering treatment, were replaced by providers out to make a profit. Most of their workers were high school graduates, not licensed professionals, but the bill was stunning. In a few months, the cost of the community support program was $50 million a month, more than 10 times what the state had expected. Providers took clients shopping, swimming and to movies for $61 an hour.

2. Texas: Lawsuit challenges impact of toll road
A long-running standoff over plans to morph part of U.S. 281 into a tollway — a spat that could lead to costly delays for motorists — headed to a federal court Tuesday, reports the San Antonio Express-News. Toll road critics and environmental activists joined forces, once again, to file a lawsuit on the last day of a deadline to legally challenge the tollway’s latest environmental study. The 48-page lawsuit challenges the environmental study’s conclusion — that widening U.S. 281 and tolling the express lanes would not significantly harm people, wildlife or drinking water. Activists called the claim ridiculous. "Charging a toll will only hurt local businesses and residents who have invested in the 281 corridor," said Terri Hall, founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom. "Powerful special interests will profit from these tolls."

3. DE: U.S. 301 bypass to be toll road
The Delaware Department of Transportation plans to spend more than $602 million in bond money to build the U.S. 301 Middletown bypass in the next nine years, then repay the bond from toll revenues starting in 2017, reports The News Journal. Darrel Cole, DelDOT’s director of public relations, said the toll plaza will be at the start of the bypass, at the Maryland line near Warwick. He said the amount of the toll "will probably be comparable to the I-95 toll," which is now $4 for two-axle vehicles. Officials have been fighting for years with civic associations and community groups over the plan and proposed routes.

4. CO: Toll road bills debated this week
Call it the duel of the toll road bills. On on side, we have HB1007 from Rep. Marsha Looper, a Calhan Republican. Her bill would clear the titles of property along a proposed toll road path on the eastern plains. On the other is HB1343, introduced last week by Rep. Debbie Stafford, D-Aurora, and Sen. Tom Wiens, R-Castle Rock. That bill would not only clear titles but eradicate mention of the toll road proposal from all public records. It also would prevent companies from securing a toll road corridor by claiming they are a railroad company, reports the Colorado Springs Gazette.

5. Detroit schools’ food charges probed
The contractor that puts food on the plates in Detroit public schools pocketed food rebates and discounts that should have been given back to the district and charged $1.6 million for unclear reasons, according to records obtained by the Detroit Free Press.

6. NY Assembly Leader: state shouldn’t share endowment with private schools
New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said yesterday he had reservations about Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to create a $4 billion education endowment by privatizing the Lottery and that he is against any of the money going to private schools, according to the Lower Hudson Valley Journal News. "I think the private colleges, many of them have their own endowments, so what we’re talking about publicly is creating a public university endowment," said Silver, D-Manhattan. As for sharing money with private institutions of higher education, "I’m not sure that’s an appropriate use of public money," he said.

7. Lawmaker: extend tax break to Idaho private school parents
A southwestern Idaho lawmaker aims to let parents with kids in private religious or secular schools deduct up to $5,000 in tuition costs from their state income taxes, according to a report in the Idaho Statesman.

Privatization Watch is a project of Essential Information, PO Box 19405, Washington, DC 20036, www.essential.org. Essential Information is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization involved in a variety of projects to encourage citizens to become active and engaged in their communities. To contact Privatization Watch, email [email protected]