April 16, 2008

Headlines
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
Monthly

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)

Posted in

April 15, 2008

Headlines
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

Posted in

April 14, 2008

Headlines
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)

Posted in

April 11, 2008

Headlines

Missouri bill would expand public-private partnerships
Lawmaker seeks legal opinion on public money for Bible Park
Georgia patients’ records exposed on Web for weeks
UI officials may privatize bookstore
NY rejects LNG terminal

News Summaries

Missouri bill would expand public-private partnerships
A Missouri House panel has unanimously approved a bill that would
encourage more public-private agreements for transportation projects
throughout the state. The measure would authorize the state to enter
into agreements for projects that include roads, bridges, airports,
railroad and mass transit facilities. Land Line
Lawmaker seeks legal opinion on public money for Bible Park
Tennessee’s attorney general has been asked to weigh in on the legality
of whether Rutherford County officials can authorize the use of public
money for a religious business, such as the proposed Bible Park USA.
Developers want the county to forgo about $27.9 million in property
taxes in TIF to pay for bonds taken out to build the park. Based on the
developers’ projections, the county would receive $122 million in sales
and property tax revenue during that 22-year agreement. WBIR(Knoxville)
Georgia patients’ records exposed on Web for weeks
A company hired by the State of Georgia to administer health benefits
for low-income patients is sending letters to notify tens of thousands
of residents that their private records were exposed on the Internet
for nearly seven weeks before the error was caught and corrected, a
company spokeswoman said on Thursday. This is the second time in a year
that records for Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids participants in
Georgia have been compromised. Last April, the Department of Community
Health announced that a different private contractor had lost a
computer disk containing data on 2.9 million people. The disk, which
was apparently lost in the mail, was never recovered. The New York Times
UI officials may privatize bookstore
Officials at the University of Idaho are considering outsourcing
management of the school’s bookstore. Not everyone is sold on the idea.
Student body President Jonathan Gaffney says he thinks the bookstore
runs fine now, and students are worried that turning the operation over
to a national chain would drive up prices and lower customer service. Fox12Idaho
NY rejects LNG terminal
New York’s governor on Thursday rejected a proposal by energy companies
Shell and TransCanada to build a liquefied natural gas platform in Long
Island Sound, saying it was "fundamentally wrong" to privatize open
water. Reuters

Posted in

April 10, 2008


Headlines

Private information of thousands of Georgians on internet
Sidelined?Press coverage of athletics affected by deals
Okla panel ok’s study to privatize lottery
Denver greenlights controversial detention center
Florida:Bill would freeze subsidies for pro-sports franchises
Okla: City seeks other sites for private prison
Opening up world’s top library

News Summaries

Private information of thousands of Georgians on internet

The state Department of Community Health said it has notified state and
federal agencies that a Florida company mistakenly put the private
records of up to 71,000 Georgians on the Internet. The records were
made available on the Internet for several days by WellCare Health
Plans Inc. of Tampa, Fla., and some may have been viewed by
unauthorized people, company officials said. The problem was caused by
human error, the Department of Community Health said.
The Macon Telegraph

Sidelined? Press coverage of athletics affected by deals
Partnerships between state high school associations and private
photographers that give exclusive rights to sell game photos are
turning what have long been community events into an opportunity for
those private groups to profit from high school athletics. Newspapers
that have commonly made reprints of photos published in the paper
available for a small fee are now prevented from selling those images
under the agreements. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Okla panel ok’s study to privatize lottery
The bill’s House author, Rep. Ron Peters of Tulsa, says the bill would
create a board that would study whether the lottery would make more
money if it were operated by a private entity. The lottery is now
managed by a state agency. The Daily Ardmoreite
Denver greenlights controversial detention center
Members of the city’s planning commission Wednesday night voted 7-0 to
approve plans to build one of the nation’s largest illegal immigrant
detention centers near the intersection of 30th and Peoria. The GEO
Group, a billion-dollar transnational corporation, is the private
company behind the project. The group hopes to secure a contract with
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after building the 1,100 bed
facility. Rev. Patrick Demmer, who attended the protest on behalf of
the Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance, called the privatization of
prisons ‘immoral.’ "You’re making $95 a day for every person that you
put in a bed. You’re turning people into profit. There’s something
about that that’s just wrong." CW2
(Denver)
Florida: bill would freeze subsidies for pro-sports franchises
State subsidies used to help fund pro hockey and spring training
baseball in Broward County would be eliminated for one year, under a
budget amendment the Florida House adopted Wednesday night. "Listen, I
am a real Dolphins fan — even after the 1-15 season, but really, given
the budget climate this year, wouldn’t their $2 million annual subsidy
be better used to ensure that our colleges aren’t forced to lay off
professors?" House Democrat Leader Dan Gelber, of Miami Beach, wrote on
his blog before the House vote stripping the sports subsidies.
Sun Sentinel

Okla: City seeks other sites for private prison
Florida-based GEO Group Inc. was interested in putting a 1,000- to
1,500-bed prison on a site at the Stroud industrial park. The private
prison would house prisoners who are elderly and in poor health,
according to the group’s proposal. The bed space would be marketed to
the state Corrections Department, whose facilities are near capacity.
City officials initially liked a site at the Stroud Industrial Park,
but the site is within a mile of a Heritage Hall, a school that serves
middle school, high school and alternative education students. NewsOK.com
Opening up world’s top library
A series of largely interactive exhibits labeled the Library of
Congress Experience, opening Saturday, will showcase the library’s
history and holdings in innovative ways that are even a bit flashy.
Dozens of private donors have underwritten the "Library of Congress
Experience," their names scrolling continuously on a screen above a new
information desk. The Washington Times

Posted in

April 8, 2008

Headlines
Firms’ offer renews interest in Calif. highway expansion
Texas toll agency concerned about highway
Public money for private roads in Missouri?
The public’s coast in NC – editorial




News Summaries
Firms’ offer renews interest in Calif. highway expansion
A radical proposal to build an underground highway funded entirely by
the private sector has revived the perennially delayed 710 Freeway
extension project. Metro officials have confirmed they have been
approached by a financial broker representing major international
corporations interested in investing in the plan, which would use giant
tunnel-boring machines to build a completely subterranean 6-mile,
multi- lane roadway. Whittier Daily News (California)
Texas toll agency concerned about highway
The North Texas Tollway Authority board yesterday approved a
"three-pronged approach" to determining the value of State Highway 161,
a proposed toll project in the western suburbs of Dallas. The three
options were: returning to the market valuation study with the Texas
Department of Transportation; agreeing on the NTTA’s
take-it-or-leave-it valuation proposal of $548 million; or allowing the
authority to pass on the project. The proposal comes after the NTTA and
TxDOT reached an impasse over the value of the project. NTTA executive
director Jorge Figueredo listed several proposals that were rejected by
TxDOT. That led to the two sides shifting the goal from a "market
value" to a "negotiated value." Under a new state law, a market value
study must be conducted on toll projects before they are awarded to a
private or public developer. The law also provides public operators
such as the NTTA the right of first refusal or "primacy" on any toll
projects in their region. The Bond Buyer (subscription)
Public money for private roads in Missouri?
A group of Wright County, Missouri citizens say public tax dollars are
being used to fix private roads. The Mountain Grove Special Road
District is responsible for the upkeep of 60 miles of roads. Mike
Patchin says, “Our roads are dirt with holes in it." Patchin is part of
a citizens group that claims the road district is operating under the
good ole boy rule. Sam Parsons agrees. He drives the roads and is in
charge of fixing them. He’s the Mountain Grove Special Road District
foreman. Parsons says while many roads are eroded with dirt, his bosses
roads are smooth and level. Parsons says “It’s wrong what they’re
doing. It’s favoritism." Parson’s says he and two other workers have
always taken special care of certain roads, roads that board members
and their friends live on. KSPR.com
The public’s coast in NC – editorial
A main point behind $20 million in state money going toward some
property and facilities along the coast is to ensure public access to
coastal waterfronts, say state leaders who approved the funds. That’s a
worthwhile goal. North Carolina’s coast is rapidly being eaten up with
development, some beautiful national seashores being the exception. But
the beach ought to remain the public’s beach and the ocean the public’s
ocean — or perhaps both would be better characterized as belonging to
nature. If those people get priced out, and the state’s long-standing
coastal traditions fade, North Carolina will have lost something, and
the loss probably won’t be realized until it’s too late.
The News & Observer (Raleigh)

Posted in

April 7, 2008

Headlines

Toll road opponents rally in Austin against Trans-Texas corridor

WV: Private money, public roads
Private groups push Detroit ahead
FL commission strikes down use of taxes for tuition vouchers
Labor complaint over privatizing custodial work at Dover, NH schools
Mich: Southfield school board to vote on privatizing
Privatization of Texas lottery may get 2nd look in 2009
Texas’ welfare privatization efforts snagged
Voodoo health economics
Iraqis angered by renewal of Blackwater contract
Scripps offers naming rights for new species, for a fee

News Summaries
Toll road opponents rally in Austin against Trans-Texas corridor
A crowd marched through the heart of downtown Austin to the state
Capitol on Saturday to protest Gov. Rick Perry’s plan for 4,000 miles
of toll roads across Texas. The Trans-Texas Corridor, a proposed
network of superhighway toll roads, rankles opponents who characterize
it as the largest government grab of private property in the state’s
history and an unneeded and improper expansion of toll roads. Houston Chronicle
WV: Private money, public roads
The state Department of Transportation is hopeful businesses will come
forward and express interest in entering into partnerships to build new
roads. A new state allow allows for public-private partnerships. West
Virginia joins 23 others states which already have the authority to get
help from the private sector. WV MetroNews
Private groups push Detroit ahead
To get something done in Detroit, you traditionally went to City Hall.
In recent years, more and more you went to a foundation, a nonprofit
agency or a quasi-public authority. The legal cloud over Mayor Kwame
Kilpatrick has some people wondering if the trend toward these new
privatized civic models will accelerate. No one wants to talk about it
on the record. But many civic leaders acknowledge the topic of the
mayor’s troubles is impossible to ignore. Detroit Free Press
FL commission strikes down use of taxes for tuition vouchers
A proposal to countermand the Florida Supreme Court and allow state tax
money to be used for tuition vouchers at private schools fell one vote
short Friday in a marathon meeting of the Taxation and Budget Reform
Commission. "The public school system is not adequately funded today,"
said Tallahassee attorney Martha Barnett, opposing the measure. She and
other opponents said vouchers would take tax money away from struggling
schools and give it to schools that might or might not need it —
possibly even home-schooling parents. Tallahassee Democrat
Labor complaint over privatizing custodial work at Dover, NH schools
A ecision to privatize school custodial work has prompted a formal
labor complaint against the school district. The complaint contends the
district refused a request to renegotiate the cost of the collective
bargaining agreement before awarding a contract to UNICCO, a private
Massachusetts-based company that will take over custodial services for
the district’s middle school and three elementary schools at the start
of the 2008-09 school year. Dover High School privatized custodial
services last fall. Foster’s Daily Democrat
Mich: Southfield school board to vote on privatizing
The Southfield Public Schools board will vote Tuesday on whether to
contract with outside firms for transportation, food and custodial
services in an effort to combat a deficit that’s expected to reach $7
million by June. The move to privatize would cost about 300 district
employees their jobs and offset costs of running these programs by
about $6.5 million. Ken Siver, district spokesman and assistant
superintendent, said privatizing would keep cuts away from the
classroom in the already shrinking district. The Detroit News
Privatization of Texas lottery may get 2nd look in 2009
Although the prospect of turning over Texas’ $1 billion-a-year lottery
to the private sector received the coldest of shoulders when Gov. Rick
Perry first suggested it, a year ago, proponents have been busy laying
the groundwork for a second, more concentrated push when lawmakers
return to Austin in January for the 2009 legislative session. Star-Telegram (Fort Worth)
Texas’ welfare privatization efforts snagged
Lost paperwork, other glitches often block help to needy Texans.
Lawmakers are worried that a partly privatized system for determining
who receives public assistance is still shaky and may not be
salvageable. State leaders acknowledge that promised cost savings
haven’t materialized and mistakes are common. Now, the system could be
headed for more severe problems, as a jittery economy means more Texans
may soon apply for public assistance. The Dallas Morning News
Voodoo health economics
Elizabeth Edwards has cancer. John McCain has had cancer in the past.
Last weekend, Edwards, wife of former Democratic presidential candidate
John Edwards, bluntly pointed out that neither of them would be able to
get insurance under the health-care plan Sen. McCain proposes. Op ed.
Paul Krugman. The New York Times
Iraqis angered by renewal of Blackwater contract
Iraqis expressed anger on Saturday at news the United States had
renewed the contract of Blackwater, a private security firm blamed for
killing up to 17 people in a shooting incident last year. Reuters
Scripps offers naming rights for new species, for a fee
A growing number of research institutions and conservation groups have
turned to raising money by selling species naming rights to the highest
bidder. San Jose Mercury News
Upcoming events
Forum. ‘The Privatization of National Defense’ forum will explore the
growing use of private contractors and its implications for national
security. April 9 and 10 in a program sponsored by St. Mary’s College
of Maryland, the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Patuxent
Partnership as part of the Patuxent Defense Forum. Cost: $95. See: http://www.smcm.edu/democracy/documents/PatuxentDefenseForum2008.pdf

Posted in

April 4, 2008

Headlines
1. CO: The price of privitization
2. CA: Private tax-collecting firm has troubling record
3. Midway airport privatization plan may turn into bidding war
4. The Washington Nationals; Raking in money, killing dreams
5. A library plight, by Ralph Nader
6. MA: Salem evaluates bids from private companies for school meals
7. UM’s research contrary to its ‘private’ actions?
8. Utah lawmakers considering privatizing state hospital
9. Official: WV tolls may become inevitable
10. TN: State sells top-rated public golf course at loss
11. CO: House committee passes RTD financing plan
12. Cuomo: Lawyer pensions on school payrolls are "fraud"


News Summaries
1. CO: The price of privitization
Roy Otto, the city manager, and certain members of the Greeley City
Council are considering turning over most of Greeley’s recreational and
cultural facilities to private operators. Otto suggests a private group
or company may be able to operate these facilities with greater
efficiency. When the people of Greeley approve bonds or tax increases
to build our schools, libraries, and recreational and cultural
facilities, they are seeking to enhance the quality of life within the
community. They do not expect to turn a profit. In fact, most residents
realize these projects will require long-term subsidization.
The Tribune
(Greeley)
2. CA: Private tax-collecting firm has troubling record
A state employee union is complaining about an embryonic scheme in the
state Board of Equalization to hire one or more private collection
firms to track down those who owe taxes to the state. The Service
Employees International Union says the state’s own tax collectors could
do the job just as well, for far less cost, if they were equipped with
up-to-date tracking tools. SEIU obviously wants to bolster civil
service worker ranks and stave off privatization. But in this instance,
given the identity of the tax collection firm that is most aggressive
in seeking a contract, the union’s concerns appear to be well-placed.
Sacramento Bee

3. Midway airport privatization plan may turn into bidding war
Six teams — including one with ties to the Spanish-Australian
consortium that paid $1.82 billion to lease the Chicago Skyway — will
vie for the right to make Midway Airport the nation’s first privately
run commercial airport. Competition for a 50-plus-year concession that
could generate as much as $3 billion to shore up city pensions and
rebuild Chicago’s aging infrastructure includes Wall Street giants and
airport experts. NBC5.com (Chicago)
4. The Washington Nationals; Raking in money, killing dreams
The Washington Nationals, formerly known as the Montreal Expos, a team
that at one point was taken over by MLB, has hit one of the sweetest
deals in pro sports. They are currently looking at naming rights for
their new stadium in Washington D.C. and any deal should net the team
owners anywhere from $8-$12 million a year. A hefty profit for the
owners. While naming rights are a norm for most owners this situation
is a little different. The Nationals, according to Sports Illustrated,
have built the stadium with D.C picking up nearly 97% of the tab,
compared to 60%-70% that most teams get. LucasOnSports.com
5. A library plight, by Ralph Nader
As illustrated so elaborately in Washington D.C. last week, the
“gleaming new baseball stadium” temporarily named “Nationals Park” for
the local major league baseball team, opened with $ 611 million
dollars—mostly taxpayers money—going into its constructions. Consider
one aspect of this “tale of two cities”—the depleted and disrepaired
condition of the main Martin Luther King Library and its twenty six
neighborhood branches. The annual budget last year was only $33
million. Four of the branches were shut down for remodeling or
rebuilding three and a half years ago. The money has been appropriated.
But with the sites being eyed by avaricious developers for “multi-use”
complexes, among other reasons, the residents still do not have
operating libraries. “On time and within budget” is not even on the
radar. Now I ask you—what is the most appropriate, profound, and
respectful use of tax dollars? A ballpark built for mega-millionaire
owners who could have raised their own capital? Or “gleaming new
libraries” which edify a metropolis and play a critical role in
educational, civic and urban renewal? Library News
6. MA: Salem evaluates bids from private companies for school meals
The prospect of a privatized program was met with dismay by the workers
themselves and some parents, who brought their case to School Committee
meetings in February and March, arguing their knowledge of the students
and their needs and preferences was irreplaceable. WickedLocal.com
7. UM’s research contrary to its ‘private’ actions?
The University of Maine’s Bureau of Labor Education updated a 1998
analysis on the dangers of privatizing state government and
institutional services and shows that, for all its possible benefits,
giving public services over to the private sector is still risky. This
comes at the same time that the university is considering privatizing
the Cutler Health center. The paper cites costs, accountability,
quality of services, employment impacts and violation of constitutional
rights as the primary things that governments and institutions need to
consider before they privatize a public service. The Maine Campus
Read Privatization Pitfalls Update: 2008
8. Utah lawmakers considering privatizing state hospital
The Legislature is once again looking at privatizing Utah’s only
state-run mental health facility. The Health and Human Services Interim
Committee is scheduled to study the issue this summer, even though a
recent legislative audit found no serious problems with the hospital. KCPW News
9. Official: WV tolls may become inevitable
Are folks driving elsewhere in West Virginia eventually going to get a
taste of what southern drivers have faced for half a century — shelling
out bucks for the privilege of using the Turnpike? Could be, now that
the West Virginia Legislature has passed a public-private
transportation act. The Register-Herald
10. TN: State sells top-rated public golf course at loss
The state will lose more than $2.6 million in the sale of a Jack
Nicklaus-designed golf course in rural Middle Tennessee to a private
company. The Tennessean
11. CO: House committee passes RTD financing plan
A bill that would enable RTD to issue tax-exempt bonds to promote
private development of transit improvements won overwhelming support
from the House transportation committee Thursday.
The Regional Transportation District hopes to form
"public-private partnerships" with private companies to build commuter
rail lines from Union Station to Denver International Airport
and Arvada/ Wheat Ridge.
The Denver Post
12. Cuomo: Lawyer pensions on school payrolls are "fraud"
New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said last night his office
believes that "multiple acts of fraud" were committed when Long Island
school districts put private attorneys on their payrolls so that the
attorneys could receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in state
pensions. Newsday

Posted in

April 3, 2008

Headlines
1. Greeley, CO residents protest UCCC privatization proposal
2. Special report: Should the public library no longer be public?
3. Audit of Arizona prison advances
4. IL: Blagojevich aide gives few answers on botched grant
5. MD: Opponents rally to block private school tax credit bill

News Summaries
1. Greeley, CO residents protest UCCC privatization proposal
About 40 residents protested a proposed privatization of the Union
Colony Civic Center on Tuesday night at the Greeley City Council
meeting saying outside control will hurt city-owned services never
meant to be run for profit. Greeley Tribune
2. Special report: Should the public library no longer be public?
Tewksbury, MA – While state and local governments seek privatization
of certain public functions such as trash collection, payroll
processing and road maintenance since the Reagan era’s push for
privatization, the concept of privatizing a public library is
relatively new. “I don’t see a way that a private company could save
money besides employee costs,” said Hinderer, who conducted her own
research along with the Board of Directors. “We give things away to
them in hope that they will give them back in an attempt to be
accessible to everyone. I don’t see a way a private company could save
money besides employee costs. Towns choose to establish a public
library for good reasons, it’s not in anyone’s best interest to have a
private company making decisions.” WicketLocal.com
3. Audit of Arizona prison advances
State lawmakers have tentatively approved a bill to audit a privately
run Arizona prison that holds more than 1,800 Hawai’i convicts. The
bill for an audit is advancing after recent Mainland media reports
cited a former Corrections Corporation of America manager who said he
was required to produce misleading reports about incidents in CCA
prisons. The Honolulu Advertiser
4. IL: Blagojevich aide gives few answers on botched grant
An Illinois House committee grilled a Blagojevich administration aide
for 90 minutes Wednesday about a botched $1 million grant to a private
school, but got little information. The State Journal-Register (Springfield)
5. MD: Opponents rally to block private school tax credit bill
Opponents of a bill to grant tax credits to businesses that give
scholarships to private schools are scrambling after being taken by
surprise by its scheduling. Capital News Service
Upcoming events
Federal Transit Administration is sponsoring a series of seminars on
how to use public-private partnerships to develop transit projects. June
11-12
. Denver, CO.

Posted in

April 2, 2008

Headlines
1. States scrambling to find funds to fix roads, bridges
2. 6 groups want to purchase Midway Airport
3. Ga. bill giving tax breaks for private school scholarships ok’d
4. IL: State House to hold hearing Wednesday on why school received grant for church
5. Regulation takes back seat in Bush’s privatized world – opinion
6. Privatizing our security, wasting our money
7. Bailing out the Reaganites – Harold Meyerson
8. NO’s historian Arnold Hirsch on public housing


News Summaries
1. States scrambling to find funds to fix roads, bridges
States are desperate to tap every possible source of funding – tolls on
leased roads, sharp increases in taxes on motor fuels, and partnering
with the private sector – to finance the building and repairing of
roads and bridges. Experts see sharp increases in states partnering
with the private sector for funding. Some analysts say highway funding
may be the next "sweet spot" for institutional investors as the burst
housing bubble leaves firms looking for ways to put their money to work.
The Philadelphia Inquirer

2. 6 groups want to purchase Midway Airport
Six teams — one including some of the same players who paid $1.82
billion to lease the Chicago Skyway — will vie for the right to make
Midway Airport the nation’s first privately-run commercial airport.
Chicago Sun Times

3. Ga. bill giving tax breaks for private school scholarships ok’d
The Georgia General Assembly on Tuesday gave final approval to a
ground-breaking school choice bill that would eventually provide
scholarships for children to leave public schools for private
institutions. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
4. IL: State House to hold hearing Wednesday on why school received grant for church
As Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration was steering $1 million to a
private, family-run school, state and federal authorities were trying
to collect thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes from the school, the
Tribune has found. Chicago Tribune
5. Regulation takes back seat in Bush’s privatized world – opinion
Who will guard the guardians? What is the future of all this
privatization? Will we insist on the accountability — the checking and
the balancing — which has been the hallmark of our constitutional
system? Or will we continue the administration’s weapon of choice: a
blanket policy of legal immunization, such as is enjoyed by Blackwater?
– Stanley Kutler is a retired history professor at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. The Capital Times
6. Privatizing our security, wasting our money
When it comes to public investment, it’s never just about the price
tag. It’s about whether we invest our public dollars wisely and
effectively. Are we picking the right priorities, allocating a
sufficient amount, and investing in what works? That’s not what
happened on Bush’s watch. BlogForOurFuture
7. Bailing out the Reaganites – Harold Meyerson
American conservatism was in trouble before Wall Street’s convulsions.
The Bush administration’s failure to get a Republican Congress to join
its efforts to privatize Social Security during the 2005-06
congressional session revealed the limits of conservatism’s push to
dismantle government protections. At the very moment employer-provided
benefits and pensions were being ratcheted down, the last thing the
American people clamored for was an assault on Social Security, too.
The Washington Post

8. NO’s historian Arnold Hirsch on public housing
As part of a series on post-Katrina housing in New Orleans, PBS’s
NewsHour correspondent Betty Ann Bowser interviewed University of New
Orleans history professor Arnold Hirsch about the history of public
housing in New Orleans and the rest of the United States. BETTY ANN
BOWSER: [What do you think of the federal government’s] vision of the
future of public housing…. Is this essentially privatizing public
housing? ARNOLD HIRSCH: It is essentially privatizing public housing
and what we find out is that as with so many other things that we
tended to privatize that are inherently unprivatizable, the ends may be
stated to be social reform and social uplift and assistance to the
poor, but we don’t confront that problem head on. And as long as we do
that, what we will get is economic development and subsidized growth
but thousands are left out of that program because they are not able to
be helped at a profit. NewsHour

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