March 13, 2008

Headlines
1. Indiana toll road interest pleases state treasurer
2. Public records, private control
3. Louisiana: Priv school tax breaks for families advance
4. NY: Transition raises budget questions, including privatizing lottery
5. Okla. Senate passes bill to privatize lottery
6. Cubs fans fight to keep their field Wrigley
7. Ga: Gutting our schools – Editorial
8. Texas legislative leaders urge TxDOT to sell $1.5B of gas-tax bonds


News Summaries
1. Indiana toll road interest pleases state treasurer
Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock announced Monday that in 2007 the
state earned more than $287 million in interest from its investment of
proceeds from the $3.8 billion lease of the Indiana Toll Road. Gov.
Mitch Daniels pushed for the lease of the Toll Road in 2006 to create
Major Moves, a 10-year program for statewide road improvements. The Indianapolis Star
2. Public records, private control
Government bodies that contract out their record-keeping can add a whole new
layer of difficulty to gaining access. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
3. Louisiana: Priv school tax breaks for families advance
A bill that would provide a tax break for families whose children
attend private or parochial schools won Senate approval Wednesday after
public school students were added to the mix. The Advocate
4. NY: Transition raises budget questions, including privatizing lottery
Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s resignation leaves a big question mark beside key
initiatives that might have become hallmarks of his administration,
including a property tax cap and a $4 billion education endowment
funded by privatizing the state lottery. Times Union
5. Okla. Senate passes bill to privatize lottery
The full Senate has given its approval to a bill that could privatize
the state’s education lottery. Sen. John Ford said the lottery has not
made as much money for education as supporters had claimed. He said
privatization might create a more efficient operation. Tulsa Today
6. Cubs fans fight to keep their field Wrigley
Over the last eight years, baseball fans have watched Pacific Bell Park
in San Francisco become SBC Park — and now cheer on home runs from the
seats in AT&T Park. Fans in Houston tried to have a sense of humor
when Enron Field became Minute Maid Park — by nicknaming it the Juice
Box. But many Chicago Cubs fans vow they won’t accept a new name for
their beloved Wrigley Field. When an $8.2-billion privatization deal
gave local real estate magnate Sam Zell control over Tribune Co. — as
well as the Cubs and the second-oldest ballpark in the major leagues —
in December, the new owner said he planned to sell both the team and
the field. Los Angeles Times
7. Ga: Gutting our schools – Editorial
In the scattershot education bills approved this year, a single theme
has emerged: Gov. Sonny Perdue and the General Assembly have given up
on the traditional public education system that changed the fortunes
and paths of generations of Americans. The Republican leadership in
Georgia has abandoned the notion that the state can or will deal with
the transformative and thorny issues of funding, teacher quality or
school size. "The result is that they only grudgingly put any resources
into the Quality Basic Education Act and the salary schedule and focus
on relatively low-bore programs such as gift cards and graduation
coaches," says Tim Callahan of the Professional Association of Georgia
Educators. "Meanwhile, they assiduously pump up competing marketplace
options such as charters, home and private schools." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
8. Texas legislative leaders urge TxDOT to sell $1.5B of gas-tax bonds
Top state legislative leaders are urging the Texas Department of
Transportation to tap the bond market with $1.5 billion of debt backed
by the state’s gasoline tax to help reduce a growing backlog of highway
projects. With resistance growing to long-term private leasing and
operation of major highways in the state, lawmakers last year imposed a
two-year moratorium on any new concessions to private tollway
developers. The Bond Buyer (subscription)
Publications
Stabilizing and Rebuilding Iraq: Actions Needed to Address
Inadequate Accountability over U.S. Efforts and Investments, by David
M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate
Committee on Appropriations. GAO-08-568T, March 11, 2008
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-568T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08568thigh.pdf

Posted in

March 12, 2008

Headlines
1. Senate panel considers public-private partnership for infrastructure funding
2. Leasing Calif. lottery may pay half of state’s bet
3. Ex-Rendell firm bills Pa. $1.8M — report
4. GA: Tax breaks for groups that send kids to private school OK’d
5. Texas panel nixes talk of school vouchers for dropouts
6. Priv. of WV wastewater treatment plants raises concerns about upkeep and sprawl
7. IN: Welfare privatization critics call lawmakers to investigate problems
8. CO: Legislators agree to increase payments to prison company


New Summaries
1. Senate panel considers public-private partnership for infrastructure funding
The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing
Tuesday on legislation to create a public-private partnership to
finance needed improvements in the nation’s infrastructure. CQ Politics
2. Leasing Calif. lottery may pay half of state’s bet
The state is not likely to get a $37-billion up-front payment if it
enters a long-term lease of the state lottery to private investors, a
legislative analyst said Tuesday, adding that such an arrangement would
probably provide less than half that amount. Los Angeles Times
3. Ex-Rendell firm bills Pa. $1.8M — report
Gov. Ed Rendell’s former law firm has billed the state $1.8 million as
special counsel for privatizing the Pennsylvania Turnpike, a pet
project of the governor’s, according to documents posted on an Internet
site. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
4. GA: Tax breaks for groups that send kids to private school OK’d
Corporations that give money to nonprofit groups that send children to
private school could get a 75 percent tax credit on their overall
income tax bills under legislation passed Tuesday by the Georgia House.
In a 92-73 vote that fell mostly along party lines, the chamber passed
House Bill 1133. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
5. Texas panel nixes talk of school vouchers for dropouts
A special state committee on high school dropouts on Tuesday appeared
to nix the idea of a private school voucher program for those students,
but left open the possibility of the state contracting with private
firms to help dropouts complete their education. The Dallas Morning News
6. Privatization of WV wastewater treatment plants raises concerns about upkeep and sprawl
Where our wastewater goes is directly related to where we build and
grow as a city. Next Tuesday, the COG’s Special Wastewater Issues
Committee is expected to make a recommendation about whether or not to
condone private wastewater treatment plants, often called "package
plants," a move that could have significant implications on growth and
development in the Lowcountry’s rural areas. Charleston City Paper
7. IN: Welfare privatization critics call lawmakers to investigate problems
Advocates for senior citizens say problems with the rollout of
Indiana’s privatized welfare system has cost some people their food
stamps and other benefits. Three investigators for senior groups say
the implementation in 12 northern Indiana counties is especially
failing senior citizens, persons with disabilities and other low-income
clients who have difficulty with wait times at a new call center or
applying via the internet. WLFI.com
8. CO: Legislators agree to increase payments to prison company
State lawmakers have approved of a compromise to increase the per diem
rate Colorado pays its largest private prison company, Corrections
Corporation of America, after a battle between the state and the
company this year. GJSentinel.com

Posted in

March 11, 2008

Headlines
1. Spain’s Cintra gets financing for Texas toll road
2. Waxman expands probe of security contractor Blackwater
3. Study: contractors escape ethics laws
4. Passage of W.Va. toll road bill could take toll on Eastern Panhandle
5. NH: Dover school board to decide on privatizing custodial staff
6. Texas: Panel warned not to sneak in school vouchers funds
7. Louisiana House panel OKs Jindal-backed private school tax break

News Summaries
1. Spain’s Cintra gets financing for Texas toll road
Spain’s Cintra on Monday said it had closed financing to build segments
5 and 6 of its SH-130 toll road between San Antonio and Austin, Texas
in the United States in which it will invest $1.36 billion. Reuters
2. Waxman expands probe of security contractor Blackwater
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A.
Waxman , D-Calif., asked federal regulators Monday to investigate
whether security contractor Blackwater Worldwide violated federal tax,
small business and labor laws. CQ Today
3. Study: contractors escape ethics laws
The military hires so many private contractors that it should consider
forcing them to disclose their financial interests so as to avoid any
conflicts of interest, according to a congressional audit. In a report
released March 11, the Government Accountability Office found that
contractors outnumber Defense Department employees in many offices and
perform such sensitive tasks as developing contract details and
advising award fees. Yet unlike federal employees, contractors are not
bound to most government ethics laws and regulations. Military.com
4. Passage of W.Va. toll road bill could take toll on Eastern Panhandle
Despite attempts by two Eastern Panhandle state senators to delay the
bill or put conditions on it, a controversial proposal that will allow
tolls on local highways like W.Va. 9, U.S. 340 and U.S. 522 passed
during the closing moments of the state legislative session in
Charleston, W.Va., over the weekend. The Herald-Mail
5. NH: Dover school board to decide on privatizing custodial staff
About 30 school custodial workers will find out if the school
department plans to privatize staff during a School Board meeting
tonight. The board is scheduled to vote on a bid for the
Massachusetts-based company UNICCO to take over all janitorial,
maintenance and grounds work for the district’s elementary schools and
middle school. Dover High School’s custodial work was privatized last
fall. Fosters.com
6. Texas: Panel warned not to sneak in school vouchers funds
Anti-voucher groups warned a state advisory board Monday not to do an
end run around the Texas Legislature by using tax money on private
school vouchers for high school dropouts. The Houston Chronicle
7. Louisiana House panel OKs Jindal-backed private school tax break
Parents of students attending private schools in Louisiana deserve a
tax credit to offset tuition bills, a House panel decided Monday. The News Star

Posted in

March 10, 2008

Headlines
1. Eminent domain measures on Calif. ballot
2. WV Senators seek veto power in public-private roads
3. Schwarzenegger seeks $67 million boost for private-prison operator
4. VA: Will state’s ports go private?
5. Agent blows whistle on Conn. driving schools
6. Del. pays outside lawyers big fees
7. Poor performing Dallas schools could be closed
8. Home-schoolers reel from California court blow
9. Panel: Yale police subject to open records laws


News Summaries

1. Eminent domain measures on Calif. ballot
On June 3, California voters will decide two ballot measures that would
restrict government’s use of eminent domain for private purposes – and
one of them goes much further, eliminating rent controls in cities
including San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose. San Francisco Chronicle
2. WV Senators seek veto power in public-private roads
In this era of dwindling tax dollars to build and maintain roads, West
Virginia lawmakers found it desirable Saturday to partner with private
industry to lay down more asphalt and charge motorists tolls. But the
Senate took an 11th hour move to insist the Legislature exercise veto
power on any projects. Register-Herald
3. Schwarzenegger seeks $67 million boost for private-prison operator
Although California has been contracting with private correctional
facilities for 22 years to cope with overcrowding, saving money in the
process, costs are about to go up. This year, Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger’s state corrections agency is proposing a five-year, $67
million increase to one company, GEO Group Inc. The proposal would bump
up the daily rate the state pays per inmate by 50 percent, which the
company says it needs to increase the minimum pay of its officers from
$10 an hour to $14.70. The Sacramento Bee
4. VA: Will state’s ports go private?
The Virginia General Assembly this week approved forming a committee to
study privatization the three state terminals in Hampton Roads. A
number of other U.S. ports, including those in New York, New Jersey and
Los Angeles, operate under public-private partnerships, where public
port authorities act essentially as landlords, collecting money on
leases paid by other companies to operate there. DailyPress.com
5. Agent blows whistle on Conn. driving schools
James Ricci, an agent for the state Department of Motor Vehicles,
almost couldn’t believe his ears in June 2005 when he made a surprise
visit to a state-required "driver retraining" class for habitual
violators conducted by a private contractor in Waterbury. The teacher
was telling the students how to avoid arrest for speeding, saying "the
best time to avoid getting a ticket was between noon and one o’clock,"
Ricci wrote in a report. In fact, Ricci said, he wrote reports
over 2 1/2 years alleging more than 50 violations by private driving
schools that either teach new drivers or retrain habitual offenders,
many of them young drivers, but little or nothing would happen. The Hartford Courant
6. Del. pays outside lawyers big fees
Delaware taxpayers have paid more than $17 million since 2003 to
private law firms for work state lawyers are supposed to handle — from
defending against lawsuits and responding to federal investigations to
routine tasks such as closing real estate deals. The News Journal
7. Poor performing Dallas schools could be closed
The largest teachers organization in Dallas is claiming that jobs are
on the line because the state is trying to privatize public schools.
This controversy stems from poorly performing schools in the Dallas
Independent School District. In the past, the Dallas ISD contracted
with the private firm Edison Schools to operate six campuses, but the
contract was not renewed. Now, state law is requiring the use of
outside management for those schools with lingering low performance. CBS11tv.com
8. Home-schoolers reel from California court blow
A court ruling that California parents "do not have a constitutional
right" to home-school their children has touched off anger and
bewilderment throughout America’s home-schooling community and prompted
a denunciation from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. For a movement that has
gained greater accommodation in recent years, a state appellate court
decision last month is a setback that, if not overturned on appeal,
could force some 166,000 home-schooled students in California to enroll
in conventional schools. It may also prod California and other states
with vague or nonexistent laws on home schooling to be more specific
about what is allowed and what is required of home-schoolers.
The Christian Science Monitor

9. Panel: Yale police subject to open records laws
Many police officers on college campuses carry guns and make arrests
like city police, but as private forces, are not subject to the same
public scrutiny. However, a state panel ruled that Yale University
police are subject to the same open records laws as the city police. NPR Morning Edition

Posted in

March 7, 2008

Headlines
1. KY: West Buechel ok’s new private security contract
2. VA: Congressman calls for halt of Dulles Greenway toll increase
3. CA: Tollway veto means another project must be substituted, planners say
4. VA: Study of port privatization gets legislative ok

News Summaries
1. KY: West Buechel oks’ new private security contract
West Buechel, which disbanded its police force a year ago to save
money, has renewed its security contract with United Police and
Security Services, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
The new contract will pay United about $450,000 a year, a $100,000
increase more than the current raise from the previous contract City
Councilwoman Brenda Kay Moore, who voted against renewing the package,
pointed out that the total cost for the West Buechel police force in
2006, it’s last full year, was $431,000 — which is less than the
contract.
2. VA: Congressman calls for halt of Dulles Greenway toll increase
Congressman Frank Wolf is urging Virginia lawmakers to freeze the cost
of Dulles Greenway tolls, which are set to gradually increase by 60
percent through 2012, reports the Washington Examiner.
Wolf says toll increases on the 14-mile highway that runs between
Leesburg and Dulles Airport is beginning to force people off the road
and into area neighborhoods. The commission says Virginia law required
the increase so that the toll road’s owners could make a profit. Wolf
wants lawmakers to give the commission more leeway to reject toll
increases.
3. CA: Tollway veto means another project must be substituted, planners say
The apparent demise of a toll road through San Onofre State Beach could
have a domino effect on funding for other Southern California
transportation projects, a regional planning authority said this week,
according to the Los Angeles Times.
4. VA: Study of port privatization gets legislative ok
The Virginia General Assembly this week approved forming a subcommittee
to look at privatizing the state’s three marine terminals in Hampton
Roads. Though the state-controlled Virginia Port Authority uses a
subsidiary to operate its Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News
terminals, private entities are investing in marine terminals elsewhere
to capitalize on growing international trade, reports The Virginian-Pilot.
Upcoming Events
Discussion. The Georgetown University Law Center
holds a discussion on "Accountability of Private Security
Contractors." March 11, 2008, 6 pm. Georgetown University Law
Center, 120 F Street NW, Gewirz Student Center, 12th Floor, Washington,
D.C. Contact: 202-662-9519 [Note: Media should RSVP
mediar[email protected]]

Posted in

March 6, 2008

Headlines
1. Privatizing of some Utah services may grow
2. Toll-road bills back in Arizona, but face roadblocks
3. GA: Bill-failing schools will shift to private management
4. NC: Editorial: fixing ‘reform’

News Summaries
1. Privatizing of some Utah services may grow
Outsourcing government services to the private industry could become
more commonplace, under legislation passed by the 2008 Utah
Legislature, according to the Desert Morning News.
Lawmakers approved a pair of bills requiring state and local
governments to inventory all "competitive activities" that potentially
could be done better — and cheaper — by the private sector. Salt Lake
County officials fear the privatization move could be the first step to
shutting down government-operated golf courses and recreation centers.
"You can privatize just about anything if you really want to," Salt
Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon said in an earlier interview. "The
question is what will best serve the citizens, will government or
private industry best serve the citizens?"
2. Toll-road bills back in Arizona, but face roadblocks
A trio of bills that would allow the state and other agencies to work
with private companies to finance, build and maintain pay-as-you-go
roads had failed to garner support from the Senate Transportation
Committee, according to The Arizona Republic. But members reversed
course last week, giving the bills the green light. The bills still
must get past major roadblocks before becoming law.
3. GA: Bill – failing schools will shift to private management
Public school systems could have more say how they spend their money if
they agreed to meet certain standards set by the state. And if they
failed, they could be converted into charter schools or put under
private management. That would be the situation if the General Assembly
approves Gov. Sonny Perdue’s "Investing in Educational Excellence"
legislation., according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Georgia House passed the bill 112-58 Wednesday after two hours of
impassioned debate. Democratic opponents used equally strong
superlatives to lambaste the bill. "For six years, we have starved
education," House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) said. "Under
this bill, we will be deserting public education."
4. NC: Editorial: fixing ‘reform’
The News & Observer says that immediate action is needed to fix ‘reform’
of the state’s mental health system after abuses were uncovered in an N&O series.
"Yes, the reform movement, a privatization of sorts of the mental
health system that was launched by the General Assembly in 2001, went
on to become a shambles, a miserable failure. The victims of that
failure have been the many thousands of North Carolinians suffering
from mental illness. Governor Easley maintains that he opposed the
legislature’s reform push at the time, and that he thought the effort
had died. But once it went through, he obviously was responsible for
carrying it out. Easley said the system now amounts to "privatization
without accountability," and that in effect no one has been in charge.
The legislature created this mess, and the Easley administration didn’t
watch the changes closely enough. Now, everyone will be watching — to
see if the governor and lawmakers will keep the promises implicit in
"reform.""

Posted in

March 5, 2008

Headlines
1. Privatization v. the public’s right to know
2. Fitch assigns negative outlook to toll roads over next 3 to 5 years
3. WV House oks public-private partnerships to fund new roads
4. CO: House panel postpones toll road vote
5. PA: Private bidders sought to finish toll roads
6. NC: Gov. Easley seeks more power to fix mental health care

News Summaries
1. Privatization v. the public’s right to know
Privatization is on the rise, but public access laws have yet to catch
up — shielding important organizations from media scrutiny, writes
Rani Gupta for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
2. Fitch assigns negative outlook to toll roads over next 3 to 5 years
Fitch Ratings gave the U.S. toll road sector a negative outlook over
the next three to five years, citing possible opposition to public and
private attempts – including through public-private partnerships – to cash
in on undervalued roads, reports The Bond Buyer (subscription.)
In the next one to two years, Fitch assigned the toll road sector a stable
outlook due to expected increase in the leveraging of existing roads to
meet the nation’s growing transportation needs. "In Fitch’s view,
the growing realization by elected officials that existing toll roads are highly
valued and under leveraged will lead to more debt either through long-term
leases to private concessionaires, or through mission change whereby existing
public toll road authorities adjust to these circumstances and directly compete
with the private sector to plug funding shortfalls or subsidize state departments of
transportation," the report said. "Either way, Fitch expects more
levered private concessions and public authorities and thus increased credit risk
in the sector."
3. WV House oks public-private partnerships to fund new roads
The West Virginia House has approved a bill that is intended to open
the door to public-private partnerships in the state, reports Land Line Magazine.
House lawmakers voted 69-27 to advance a bill to the Senate that would
allow private developers to build and collect tolls on future highways
throughout the state. Private groups also would be allowed to mine coal
at project sites. Opponents say they have grave concerns about allowing
private investors to run roadways. They also say adding tolls to
highways in the state would devastate business and tourism in area
regions.
4. CO: House panel postpones toll road vote
After hearing hours of testimony Tuesday on a measure designed to help
property owners in the path of a proposed private toll road, a House
committee decided not to vote on the bill just yet, reports the Pueblo Chieftain.
5. PA: Private bidders sought to finish toll roads
Although the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission opposes a long-term lease
of its historic mainline, the five-member board now wants to know if
private corporations are interested in building and financing the
northern section of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and remaining pieces of
the Southern Beltway, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The commission’s action came despite its opposition to Gov. Ed
Rendell’s plans to test the investment market to create a
public-private partnership and lease the 360-mile east-west mainline
and 110-mile Northeast Extension.
6. NC: Gov. Easley seeks more power to fix mental health care
North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley called on state legislators Tuesday to
give his administration more authority to fix the state’s troubled
mental health system, reports The News & Observer. Though he said he
was not attempting to lay blame for the problems, the governor
repeatedly pointed to the General Assembly and local mental
health agencies as those primarily responsible for bungling the 2001
reform plan. Easley again contended that his administration
"vigorously" opposed the plan from the start — a version of history
that does not square with the written record or the statements of the
bill’s primary sponsor. Implemented by the Easley administration over
the past six years, the reforms dismantled an established system of
county-run mental health offices and sought to pay businesses to do the
work.
Upcoming Events
Discussion. The Georgetown University Law Center holds a
discussion on "Accountability of Private Security Contractors."
March 11, 2008, 6 p.m., Georgetown University Law Center, 120 F Street NW,
Gewirz Student Center, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C. Contact: 202-662-9519
[Note: Media should RSVP [email protected]].
Participants: Richard Goldstone, former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa;
Gary Solis, adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center; Anthony Arend,
professor of government and foreign service and director of the
Institute for International Law and Politics at Georgetown University;
W. Hays Parks, senior associate deputy general counsel of international
affairs at the Defense Department; Albert Pierce, professor of ethics
and national security and director of the Institute for National
Security Ethics and Leadership at National Defense University; Doug
Brooks, president of the International Peace Operations Association;
Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch;
and Jeffrey Green, president of J.A. Green and Company LLC.

Posted in

March 4, 2005

Headlines
1. PA: Rendell’s plan to lease turnpike unwise, study says
2. Texans ponder where superhighway might take them
3. GAO disputes savings reports
4. NC: Rife with abuse
5. Clinton supports bill to ban use of State Dept private security contractors
6. Louisiana: Jindal may back private tuition tax breaksÂ

News Summaries
1. PA: Rendell’s plan to lease turnpike unwise, study says
A study done for state House Democrats has concluded that it is unwise
to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a private operator, as Gov.
Rendell hopes to do, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Instead, the study supported the legislature’s move to keep the
Turnpike Commission, raise tolls on the turnpike, and introduce tolls
on I-80. The study, by three experts from Pennsylvania State and
Harvard Universities, is to be formally released today in Harrisburg.

2. Texans ponder where superhighway might take them
The Boston Globe has an article about the battle over the so-called
NAFTA Superhighway. Texas officials say the superhighway is necessary
to relieve chronic road congestion. Local opponents say it will cut
through their ranches and destroy the area’s ecology. And politicians
like US Representative Ron Paul, Republican of Texas, and national
commentators like CNN’s Lou Dobbs have condemned it as a betrayal
of American interests – the very road by which American jobs will
move out of the country.

3. GAO disputes savings reports
The Bush administration’s competitive-sourcing policy took a hard smack
from the Government Accountability Office less than three weeks after
Office of Management and Budget officials publicized one agency’s
success story about saving an estimated $100 million a year from that
initiative, according to Federal Computer Week. The Agriculture Department’s
Forest Service reported savings of $38 million from competitive sourcing
based on three public/private job competitions between fiscal 2004 and 2006.
However, the agency spent an estimated $40 million on transition costs in
2005 and 2006 to restructure its information technology infrastructure for
one of the competitions. That cost is $5 million more than the $35 million in
savings that the agency reported to Congress, according to a GAO report.

4. NC: Rife with abuse
The News & Observer says that the abuse of patients at the state’s psychiatric
hospitals is yet another sign that mental health ‘reform’ has far to go. "Accounts
and evidence of abuse (and worse) in the final two segments of The
N&O’s "Mental Disorder" series were painful to behold. They told of
beatings of patients in North Carolina’s state mental hospitals, of workers hired
despite long criminal records, of suspicious deaths unreported to the state, even
though a 2001 law requires such reporting. In a system that has "privatized"
much local care to near-extinction, there’s little effective community-based
treatment. The hospitals have to be an option."

5. Clinton supports bill to ban use of State Dept private security contractors
Sen. Hillary Clinton has signed on as the first co-sponsor of a bill
that would ban the use of all State Department private security
contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill could create a wedge
issue with her chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination,
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who does not support the measure, reports
Government Executive
. Last week, Clinton, D-N.Y., offered her support
to the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, which was introduced last November
by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. An identical House version of the bill, sponsored by
Rep. Janice Schakowsky, D-Ill., was introduced in 2007 and has 23 co-sponsors.

6. Louisiana: Jindal may back private tuition tax breaks
In a move certain to spark a philosophical debate over spending on
public education, Gov. Bobby Jindal will ask lawmakers to consider tax
breaks for families that pay private school tuition, according to a
state senator who has championed such benefits in recent years, reports
The Times Picayune.

Posted in

March 3, 2008

Headlines
1. Study: ‘aggressive increases’ likely with private Penn turnpike
2. AL: DYS statistics not kept on contract facilities
3. It’s official: water deal is history
4. Niles’ bus privatization up for vote
5. Chicago: Glitch takes its toll on rush

News Summaries


1. Study: ‘aggressive increases’ likely with private turnpike
A Pennsylvania House Democratic study says leasing the Pennsylvania
Turnpike poses major risks, reports WGAL.com. The study stated that "aggressive toll increases" are likely to result
from a turnpike lease and recommends that instead the state continue to
pursue the plan to add tolls to Interstate 80.

2. AL: DYS statistics not kept on contract facilities
Call up Alabama’s Department of Youth Services and staff members can tell you fairly quickly how many claims of assault, sexual abuse and other violations have been made by young people housed in the six youth facilities run by the state. But the same information is not so readily available for the 26 privately run facilities that the state agency pays to house youthful offenders. Private detention centers hold about half of the agency’s juvenile wards, but DYS says it doesn’t routinely keep statistics to show what is going on in those lockups, according to the AP and reported in the Montgomery Advertiser. The Associated Press contacted the state agency as part of a national project that found a lack of oversight and standards makes it hard to determine how many youngsters have been assaulted or neglected while in youth centers around the country.

3. It’s official: water deal is history
The Stockton Record reports on the city’s take-back of its water and sewer utilities from water giant OMI-Thames Water, which operated the plant since 2003. The management, for the most part, had moved out. The rank and file stayed on, returned to the payroll of the city, for whom most had worked before. The turnover was forced by a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge, who ruled in 2006 that the contract was illegal. The city failed in its approval of the deal to conduct an adequate environmental review, the court ruled. The council last year abandoned its appeal of the ruling.

4. IN: Niles’ bus privatization up for vote
The question of whether or not to privatize bus transportation next school year will likely be decided by Niles Community Schools officials Monday, reports the South Bend Tribune. The 28-member bus drivers union had attempted to deflect the outsourcing question by offering a concessions package containing about $150,000 in savings, Pat Furner, the union’s Michigan Education Association UniServ director, said. The package included insurance rollbacks and hourly wage cuts totaling about $100,000, he said.

5. Chicago: Glitch takes its toll on rush
Motorists who use the Chicago Skyway were stuck in traffic Friday after a tollbooth computer glitch — the first of its kind since the roadway was privatized — during the morning rush. It was the first major problem since the $1.83 billion deal that privatized the Skyway in October 2004, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

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