April 18, 2008

Lease of Florida highway sought
CA: Public works bill rejected
CA: Legal help for poor called inadequate
The Wrigley Field conflict
Pittsburgh to privatize tow pound
MI: Talks of outsourcing heat up school meeting
IN: Gov. wants state to pay for college tuition

News Summaries
Lease of Florida highway sought
Seeking to help spark the state’s lagging economy, a powerful senator
is proposing the lease of South Florida’s Alligator Alley to a
state-run endowment fund. Senate Majority Leader Dan Webster, R-Winter
Garden, said the idea would bolster a state health care program’s
investment return and generate much needed money for roads. Under
Webster’s plan, the Lawton Chiles Endowment health care program would
spend an estimated $500-million to acquire the 78-mile toll road that
cuts across the Everglades from Fort Lauderdale to Naples. St. Petersburg Times
CA: Public works bill rejected
Cities and counties won’t have a special state office to provide
information on how to work with private investors on water,
transportation or other projects, ending an effort by Assemblywoman
Anna Caballero, D-Salinas. Lawmakers this week rejected Caballero’s
Assembly Bill 1756, which would have created the Office of Local
Public-Private Partnerships. An existing state law allows such joint
ventures, but Caballero said few have been tried, especially by smaller
communities that don’t have the staff and expertise to negotiate deals
to design, finance, build and maintain multi-million-dollar projects.
Her bill was intended to provide help for such efforts, but it was
opposed by public employee unions, which argued that enough information
is already available and that public-private ventures don’t deliver
quality work or protect public. The Californian
CA: Legal help for poor called inadequate
A statewide commission reported Thursday that many California counties
have cut their spending for impoverished criminal defendants by
providing them lawyers whose representation fails to meet
constitutional standards. Counties are increasingly hiring legal firms
that offer cut-rate representation by failing to spend money on
investigators or experts that are needed for adequate defense, said the
report issued by the California Commission on the Fair Administration
of Justice, created to examine ways to guard against wrongful
convictions. "This is like a cancer within the system of providing
indigent defense, and it’s spreading," said Gerald Uelmen, executive
director of the so-called Fair Commission, calling the spread of
low-bid, flat-fee private firms "a race to the bottom." The Mercury News
The Wrigley Field conflict
Should the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority buy Wrigley Field from
Tribune Co., the owner of this newspaper? Like most other Illinoisans
with a pulse, we have thoughts on that issue. As an editorial board,
we’ve been seeking a way to delve into the mix of components at play:
private ownership of a sports franchise, public ownership of a stadium,
the complex pluses and minuses for Illinois taxpayers, the desires of
Chicago Cubs fans to keep their team in perpetuity at 1060 W. Addison
St. We want what’s best for the people of Chicago and of Illinois. We
want what’s best for the Cubs and their fans everywhere. We also want
what’s best for Tribune Co. That self-interest diminishes whatever
credibility we would bring to this important discussion. So we must
recuse ourselves. Chicago Tribune
Pittsburgh to privatize tow pound
The city of Pittsburgh plans to privatize the city’s vehicle pound in
the Strip District.The city submitted requests for proposals today.
City officials hope the prospective buyer will move the tow pound out
of the city, allowing for riverfront development. KDKA (Pittsburgh)
MI: Talks of outsourcing heat up school meeting
Emotions ran high at Hillside Middle School on Monday night when the
Northville Public Schools Board of Education held a study session to
begin looking at the benefits and challenges of privatizing some of the
district’s support services. The school board reviewed a rough overview
of bids from five custodial vendors and one transportation vendor. The
board is still awaiting bids from food service vendors. Consultants
Rahmberg Stover and Associates and Plante & Moran were hired last
May to help determine if the district could save money by outsourcing
these three support services departments. HometownLife.com (Michigan)
IN: Governor wants state to pay for college tuition
Gov. Mitch Daniels wants the state to help bankroll the first two years
of college for Hoosier families struggling to pay tuition. The governor
doesn’t know how the state will pay for the plan, which he said would
provide $6,000, the equivalent of two years of tuition at Ivy Tech
Community College. Daniels offered one possible funding option: his
controversial proposal to privatize the state lottery. Leasing the
lottery, Daniels has said, would generate $1 billion to $2 billion to
be used for education. A lottery privatization plan died last year in
the Democrat-controlled Indiana House, but Daniels, a Republican, has
said he intends to bring back the issue. "I still think it would be a
good idea to liberate trapped value from the Hoosier Lottery and
reinvest it in education in this state," Daniels said in December. "I
do expect to make a proposal about that. It will probably look a little
different — it will look different — than the one we tried last
year." The Indianapolis Star