April 14, 2008

Toll road offers NJ a fiscal test drive
Privatizing Detroit city airport studied
Fast lane ignorance has toll
Chicago: Pandora’s museum – editorial
Naming rights for historic Dallas fountain
This space sponsored by nobody – opinion
Firms are paid to undo deals they arranged
IL: Auditor may probe $1M state gave school
NC solicits private bids for bridge

News Summaries
Toll road offers NJ a fiscal test drive
When a private Australian-Spanish consortium took control of the
Indiana East-West Toll Road in 2006 after leasing the adjoining Chicago
Skyway the previous year, the move touched off a fierce debate in
Indianapolis that is reverberating in Trenton, Harrisburg and other
statehouses across the country, where the struggle to finance soaring
transportation costs goes on. Gov. Jon S. Corzine has been pushing to
privatize New Jersey’s toll roads, much as Governor Daniels did in
Indiana when he leased the road for 75 years and received a $3.8
billion lump sum, which he earmarked for transportation projects. But
events and public opinion have conspired against Mr. Corzine.
The New York Times

Privatizing Detroit city airport studied
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is close to announcing a plan to turn
over management of the struggling Coleman A. Young International
Airport — commonly known as City Airport — to a private company that
has pledged to spend $50 million to revamp it. The Detroit News
Fast lane ignorance has toll
Quick: How much did you pay the last time you drove down the
Massachusetts Turnpike? If you answered with an exact figure, down to
the nickel, you probably paid cash. If you said, "I don’t know," odds
are good that you own a Fast Lane pass. That ignorance may be costing
us. Amy Finkelstein, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, is getting ready to publish a paper that demonstrates the
consequences of electronic tolling, which has been adopted around the
country over the past two decades. Her conclusion: It makes us forget
how much we pay, and it makes lawmakers more likely to make us pay
more. Boston Globe
Chicago: Pandora’s museum – editorial
The issue here isn’t naming rights, it’s that no museum can locate in
Grant Park. But the naming-rights chutzpah is telling. Thursday’s
Tribune quoted Jim Law, a Children’s Museum vice president, as saying
of this Allstate notion: "A commitment was made. This is what the
Chicago Children’s Museum wanted to do to honor their gift." A
commitment was made? What the museum wanted to do? By what right does a
private institution peddle naming rights — for millions of dollars —
in Grant Park? Note that this isn’t like, say, Nike’s donation of
soccer fields and basketball courts to the Park District. This is a
donation to the museum — which then awards naming rights. Does this
outfit’s sense of entitlement bother you? Chicago Tribune
Naming rights for historic Dallas fountain
As part of their plan, city parks officials are quietly seeking a
sponsor willing to pay as much as $5 million for naming rights to the
historic Esplanade Fountain at the Dallas Fair Park. If they are
successful, it would mark the first sale of naming rights for an
original piece of Fair Park. "This [fountain] and our downtown parks
are the great naming opportunities in the city," said Willis Winters,
assistant director of the Parks and Recreation Department. The Dallas Morning News
This space sponsored by nobody – opinion
I have no particular love for Shea Stadium. Never even been inside.
From what I hear, it’s not a lovely place. Leaky pipes and "curious
smells," says one report. "A dump," says another. Still,
I’m sorry to learn that last week’s New York Mets season opener will be the
ballpark’s last. More to the point, I’m sorry to learn that next year
they’ll be playing in a new park called Citi Field. As in Citigroup,
the banking giant with offices in Africa, Latin America, Europe, the
Middle East, Asia and the United States. It leaves me wondering if
there remains any public space in this country without a corporate logo
on it. Baltimore Sun
Firms are paid to undo deals they arranged
Last October, New Jersey taxpayers paid the McManimon & Scotland
law firm $68,160 to help arrange a $650 million state bond deal. This
month, the firm rang up more fees for helping the state back out of
that deal after it went bad. McManimon is one of four professional
firms that collected a second helping of pay from taxpayers last week
as New Jersey began the complex process of extracting $3.4 billion in
public funds from the fractured "auction-rate" market for municipal
securities. "If I were the taxpayers I would be smarting over the
prospect of the very same bankers who put us in auction rates now
reaping these huge underwriting fees to refinance," said Sen. Barbara
Buono (D-Middlesex), chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations
Committee. The Star-Ledger
IL: Auditor may probe $1M state gave school
The state’s top auditor soon may be sicced on Gov. Blagojevich’s
administration to figure out how a politically connected private school
mistakenly got $1 million from the state in one of the governor’s
biggest, most inexplicable financial miscues. Chicago Sun-Times
NC solicits private bids for bridge
The North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA) will solicit investors
interested in partnering with NCTA to aid in the project development
and design and potentially build, finance, operate and maintain the
proposed the Mid-Currituck Bridge project. Leland Tribune (Leland, NC)