April 15, 2008

Private collectors cost IRS more than they raise
No sale! IL ends naming rights deal
NJ to privatize pollution regulation – PEER
Bill closes CA loophole in public records law
Atlanta’s venerable hospital goes private
NY: Nassau wants payback for questioned pensions
Mich: School district looks to privatize food service

News Summaries
Private collectors cost IRS more than they raise
The Internal Revenue Service expects to lose more than $37 million by
using private debt collectors to pursue tax scofflaws through a program
that has outraged consumers and led to charges on Capitol Hill that the
agency is wasting money for work that IRS agents could do more
effectively. Since 2006, the agency has used three companies to go
after a $1 billion slice of the nation’s unpaid taxes. Despite
aggressive collection tactics, the companies have rounded up only $49
million, little more than half of what it has cost the IRS to implement
the program. The debt collectors have pocketed commissions of up to 24
percent. Washington Post

No sale! IL ends naming rights deal
A highly touted initiative Gov. Blagojevich’s office once said could
rake in $300 million for the state through corporate sponsorships and
naming-rights deals met a quiet death in February after netting the
state a paltry $315,000. The four-year deal between the Blagojevich
administration and Team Services, a Maryland-based consulting group,
was hatched in 2004 on the premise it could bring the state anywhere
from $40 million in the first year to $300 million in three years. The
profit for the state amounts to only 0.1 percent of what Team Services
predicted could be generated. Chicago Sun-Times

NJ to privatize pollution regulation – PEER
Pre-empting legislative debate and the work of its own newly convened
task force, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will
privatize pollution control and deregulate toxic clean-ups, according
to statements from its top official. Unfortunately, this decision will
jeopardize public health protections and further enmesh the embattled
DEP in scandal, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
(PEER) argues in testimony delivered tomorrow before a joint hearing of
Senate and Assembly Environment Committees. PEER
Bill closes CA loophole in public records law
A bill approved in the state Senate would ban private companies who
contract with the government from using confidentiality agreements to
keep their dealings secret. San Diego Union Tribune
Atlanta’s venerable hospital goes private
Grady Memorial Hospital has steered through a squall of public protest
on its way to privatization. Now, the Atlanta institution is looking
for a new captain to chart its future. The 953-bed hospital, which
ended the year about $48 million in the red, is a political and racial
lightning rod. Grady’s privatization, which transferred daily operating
control of the hospital from the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority to a
nonprofit management corporation, has drawn fire from some community
leaders. They allege the new board, stocked with corporate executives,
will steer the hospital away from its historic mission of serving the
poor and uninsured, particularly minorities. Atlanta Business Chronicle
NY: Nassau wants payback for questioned pensions
The New York State comptroller is reviewing the case of a private
attorney in Nassau County who received 21 years of retroactive pension
credits – helping him earn a six-figure annual pension – even though he
had been paid as an independent contractor all those years, a spokesman
said yesterday. In a separate action, Nassau County Comptroller Howard
Weitzman urged the state to reimburse the county for the $102,246 it
paid to get that attorney, Albert D’Agostino of Valley Stream, the
credits. Weitzman also questioned whether D’Agostino was entitled to
county health insurance, a benefit potentially worth up to $500,000
over his lifetime. "I want our money back," Weitzman said. Dennis
Tompkins, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s spokesman, said the
office is reviewing D’Agostino’s case, "as well as several others." Newsday
Mich: School district looks to privatize food service
Dixie Simpson feels betrayed and frustrated. She’s worked as a cook in
the Holly Township School District since 1992 and can’t stomach the
thought of her job duties being taken over by a private company. "In
hard economic times with prices skyrocketing for gas and groceries,
foreclosures and job losses, my loyalty runs deep," Simpson told the
Board of Education Monday night. "Where are your loyalties? The Flint Journal