April 16, 2008

Toll roads, privatization, and taxes – connect the DOTs
Lawmakers ask FCC to alter rules for auction
NJ: Millions spent on consultants and legal fees for stalled toll plan
NY hires firm to study lottery privatization
MO: Board looks at privatizing substitute teachers
NJ seeking firm to house sex offenders
NY: Selling naming rights to town’s civic center ‘first priority’
SC: Private school aid rejected
Indiana’s governor’s campaign coffers swell
NH: Police break up Dover janitor protest
NJ: South River garbage plan blasted

News Summaries
Toll roads, privatization, and taxes – connect the DOTs
High up on the Right Wing Think Tank agenda are toll roads, privatized
toll roads if possible. But the truly interesting action in support of
privatized roads is with publicly owned toll roads. There, state and
local governments, under the lash of tax cuts, are testing methods for
making toll roads profitable. The advocates for privatizing highways
are making the talk show circuit. Had you been listening to NPR’s Talk
of the Nation (TOTN) on May 3, 2005, you would have heard: Enterprising
Innovations on Highways, featuring an interview with Robert Poole,
Director of Transportation, Reason Foundation. Poole was extolling
privatizing highways as the solution to drivers’ woes. Poole has been
promoting private roads for years. His arguments in their favor have
varied with the times. In 1996, Poole spoke of private roads as
salvation for cash-strapped states. Poole was wrong, as it turned out.
So far, these public-private partnerships have been failures. Texas

Lawmakers ask FCC to alter rules for auction
Lawmakers yesterday questioned members of the Federal Communications
Commission about the failures of a recent auction of wireless spectrum.
Last month, the FCC held an auction of airwaves to enable the creation
of new wireless networks, including one for emergency responders
nationwide. One of the goals of the auction was to attract a private
bidder that would build a network to be shared with public-safety
groups. That block of airwaves, however, did not attract the minimum
bid. The idea of creating a public-private partnership to build the
emergency-services network has drawn criticism. The FCC inspector
general is investigating an allegation that the trust’s business
adviser, Cyren Call Communications, had too much control over the
building of the network. Cyren Call admitted that it asked prospective
bidders for $500 million in lease payments to use the spectrum, which
critics say deterred bids. Some subcommittee members expressed concern
that the trust was using Cyren Call as both an adviser and a lender.
The trust received a loan from Cyren Call for operational expenses;
that money came from Cyren Call’s venture-capital investors.
Washington Post

NJ: Millions spent on consultants and legal fees for stalled toll plan
The state has spent $7.3 million so far on the governor’s stalled plan
to increase highway tolls and may soon spend more. Treasurer David
Rousseau said the money was spent on legal fees and consultants who
developed Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s proposal to significantly boost tolls
on the Atlantic City Expressway, Garden State Parkway and New Jersey
Turnpike to pay debt and fund transportation. The plan has stalled
since being unveiled in January because it lacks legislative support
and drew heavy public opposition. Newsday
NY hires firm to study lottery privatization
Gov. David Paterson is moving forward with researching whether the
state should privatize the state lottery for a higher education
endowment, hiring an investment firm at $165,000 a month to explore the
issue. The state recently awarded Rothschild, a global
financial-services firm, a three-month contract to explore a proposal
by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer to sell or lease the state lottery to
create a $4 billion endowment primarily for New York’s public colleges.
Press-Bulletin (Binghamton)
MO: Board looks at privatizing substitute teachers
Even though the majority of Alma School Board members approved a plan
to sign a contract with Willsub, a company that will hire substitute
teachers for the district, the vote will have to be taken again at
another meeting. Pavlik told the board that in addition to saving staff
time in locating subs, having Willsub contract for substitutes will
save the district about $10,000 a year. The district will not have to
pay federal taxes or pay into the teacher’s retirement program. Justin
said he voted no because of concerns for the teachers’ retirement
program as a whole and because of concerns for the subs themselves.
Justin said if there are fewer people in the retirement program and
fewer payments being made, it will hurt the whole system. The
Morning Sun
(St. Louis)
NJ seeking firm to house sex offenders
The state Department of Corrections wants to hire a private company to
house 373 "sexually violent predators" after a yearlong effort to
relocate them to a different state prison was strongly opposed by
politicians and communities. The state issued a "request for
information" last week to determine whether any private companies would
be interested in providing permanent, secured housing and mental health
treatment for civilly committed sex offenders — those ordered held by
a judge after completing their criminal sentence because they are
considered likely to offend again. Star-Ledger
NY: Selling naming rights to town’s civic center ‘first priority’
Selling naming rights to the Glens Falls Civic Center will be one of
the first priorities of the arena’s new management, said Global
Spectrum Chief Operating Officer John Page. "Over the course of the
next 100 days, if you will, that’s right at the top of the list," Page
said at a press conference on Monday, the day Global Spectrum took over
operation of the city-owned arena. Post Star (Glen Falls)
SC: Private school aid rejected
Families of children with disabilities failed Tuesday in a quest for
state aid to help pay for private school education. The bill’s defeat
is rooted in wariness about opening the door to more state aid for
nonpublic school students, a cause championed on a broader scale by
Gov. Mark Sanford. That much larger battle "has seeped into it," said
the proposal’s sponsor, Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston. About
110,000 students with mental and physical disabilities attend public
schools statewide, officials say. It’s unknown how many would switch to
private schools if aid were given. The State (Columbia)
Indiana’s governor’s campaign coffers swell
Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels continues to amass an impressive
re-election war chest and is out spending both his Democratic
challengers on television advertising while running unopposed in the
May 6 GOP primary. Looking ahead to the fall contest, both Democratic
challengers say Daniels will need to rely on his campaign cash
stockpile to diffuse negative sentiment surrounding some of his top
initiatives, including the 2006 privatization of the Indiana Toll Road.
Munster Times (Munster, IN)
NH: Police break up Dover janitor protest
Police quickly broke up a local custodian union’s protest outside City
Hall Monday because the group did not secure a permit for the
demonstration. About 10 members of the American Federation of State,
County and Municipal Employees Local 2932, Dover Custodial and Grounds,
had gathered with signs and fliers to protest the School District’s
decision to privatize custodial services in the district’s middle
school and three elementary schools. Fosters Daily Democrat (NH)
NJ: South River garbage plan blasted
Hundreds of borough residents packed the high school auditorium Monday
night to hear the governing body present a controversial plan to
outsource the municipality’s garbage pickup. Critics blasted the plan,
saying it would reduce the level of service and cost several residents
their jobs. The contentious meeting was filled with boos, jeers and
interruptions as borough officials unveiled the plan, which was
presented as a way to save the borough more than $3 million over five
years. Despite a plan to minimize job losses — sanitation workers would
be offered jobs with the private contractors or moved to other borough
departments — residents still took issue with the proposal. "These guys
do what they have to do and they do it fantastic," said Rex Place
resident Robert Kotora. "And you’re saying you’re going to privatize
it. . . . If you go without them, shame on you."
Home News Tribune
(New Brunswick)