May 28, 2008

News Headlines
IL: Business group backs leasing lottery
TX: Teachers criticize money to private schools
PA: Congressman says agency ‘stalling’ I-80 plan
IL: O’Hare taking it one runway at a time
MA: Library will not privatize
KS: County considers naming rights for parks
FL: Residents protest highway privatization
FL: Commissioners wrangle on privatization

[click on ‘continued reading’ link for articles]

News Summaries
IL: Business group backs leasing lottery
A top business group has put its weight behind a plan to expand
gambling in the state and lease most of the Illinois Lottery to a
private company. A top business group has put its weight behind a plan
to expand gambling in the state and lease most of the Illinois Lottery
to a private company. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce Tuesday lent its
support for the gambling concept because it would pay for billions in
improvements to the state’s aging roads and bridges. Quad-City Times
TX: Teachers criticize money to private schools
Teacher and other education groups Tuesday criticized Texas Education
Commissioner Robert Scott for opening the door to some private schools
to get state funding for programs aimed at dropouts. The Dallas Morning News
PA: Congressman says agency ‘stalling’ I-80 plan
A Congressman opposed to putting tolls on Interstate 80 said the
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is "just stalling" in the resubmission
of its federal application to toll the highway. Gov. Ed Rendell urged
the agencies more than a week ago to "expedite" the process and reapply
by May 23. Rendell’s proposal to lease the turnpike — lagging in
legislative support — would get a boost if the federal agency rejected
the tolling plan. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
IL: O’Hare taking it one runway at a time
To compensate for lackluster financial support from carriers, the city
is looking at a public-private partnership as a funding source. OMP
executive director Rosemarie Andolino said that private investment was
being considered on a proposed new terminal on the western edge of the
airport that is part of the second phase. The city hopes if it turns to
a public-private partnership to raise about $800 million to finance
construction of the terminal. In exchange, private investors could
benefit from the sales revenues that could be generated within the
terminal. Chicago has entered into several privatization-lease deals of
existing assets, but any such deal on the O’Hare expansion would mark
the city’s first use to help finance the construction of a new asset.
Officials are currently reviewing proposals from six teams interested
in bidding on the rights to operate Midway Airport under a long-term
lease for an upfront payment that some have said could fetch around $3
billion. Chicago launched the national wave of interest in privatizing
assets with its 99-year concession lease of the Chicago Skyway tollroad
in early 2005 to a private consortium for $1.8 billion. The city has
since entered into a long-term lease on its downtown parking garages in
a $563 million deal and has advanced plans to privatize its parking
meter system and three waste-recycling centers. The Bond Buyer
MA: Library will not privatize
Three months after the town’s Financial Planning Task Force entrusted
the Tewksbury Public Library’s Board of Trustees to investigate the
benefits of privatizing the town’s public library, the trustees concluded
they cannot support a decision to privatize the library. The trustees
stated they lacked conclusive evidence that privatizing would bring any
savings to the town. Tewksbury Advocate
KS: County considers naming rights for parks
You or your company could become the namesake of a Shawnee County golf
course, swimming pool or baseball field. That is because county
commissioners are looking at selling advertising and naming rights at
county parks and recreation properties. "If the price is right, we’ll
name Lake Shawnee after you," Commissioner Vic Miller said Tuesday.
Topeka Capital Journal

FL: Residents protest highway privatization
If the state’s proposal to privatize the Alley becomes a reality, you
will likely be paying more to get to Miami by the end of this year. "We
see this as the beginning of a trend and we’d like it to stop before it
gets started," Gary Eidson of the Collier County Citizens
Transportation Coalition says. WINK News
FL: Commissioners wrangle on privatization
Library hours would shrink, parks close more often and some people lose
their jobs under a series of budget options outlined Tuesday that had
Broward commissioners debating the role of government and lamenting
their predicament. But it also turned into a philosophical discussion
on privatizing public services and the need to balance quality of life
with fiscal reality. "It concerns me greatly that we are heading down a
privatization path that we do not want," Commissioner Kristin Jacobs
said during talk of replacing all county-employed lifeguards with
private hires. "We do not choose this, our Republican legislature in
Tallahassee chose this." Sun-Sentinel

Posted in

May 27, 2008

PA: Hidden costs make turnpike deal a bad one
GA: Privatization of new cities unmeasured
OH: A renaming bonanza?
NJ: Lawsuit to stop privatizing marina

[click on ‘continue reading’ link for articles]
News Summaries
PA: Hidden costs make turnpike deal a bad one
Gov. Rendell called for using a "tax-exempt, public benefit corporation
under IRS code 63-20." These new 63-20 "nonprofit corporations" are
nonprofit in name only. They create a shell corporation to finance
privatization by issuing tax-exempt bonds, something that only
governmental entities are otherwise allowed to do. Granting this
privilege makes it cheaper for private companies to borrow the upfront
cash, but the public pays for this private subsidy when it must make up
for the missing revenues not paid to the state and federal government.
Privatization boosters count on these subsidies and the lost tax
revenue remaining invisible to the public. Philadelphia Inquirer
GA: Privatization of new cities unmeasured
A year and a half after they split from Fulton County hoping to deliver
better services to taxpayers, the cities of Milton and Johns Creek have
not yet tracked how well they’re reaching that goal. As Sandy Springs
did before them, Milton and Johns Creek took a new approach and hired a
private company to manage nearly all their government services, except
their police and fire departments. But city leaders say they have been
too busy with other priorities to set benchmarks by which they can precisely
measure the company’s performance, a responsibility called for in their
multimillion-dollar contracts. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
OH: A renaming bonanza?
Hamilton County Commission chairman Todd Portune is renewing his calls
for the Cincinnati Bengals to sell naming rights to Paul Brown Stadium
to help the cash-strapped county avoid running out of money to pay off
debt on the stadium. But for reasons that have more to do with
football’s economics than political will, a renamed stadium wouldn’t
likely solve the county’s projected 2009 $12 million budget deficit
anytime soon. The Enquirer (Cincinnati)
NJ: Lawsuit to stop privatizing marina
Save Barnegat Bay teamed up with the township in 2004 to purchase
Trader’s Cove, a small marina on Mantoloking Road where 52 condominiums
and a 188-slip marina were proposed, in order to preserve the marina
and the adjacent land as a park. The environmental group filed a
lawsuit against the township this past January when it learned the
Township Council was courting private developers to take over the site
and develop it as a large marina."By privatizing the marina, it would
have to be a marina of a certain size to be profitable," deCamp said.
"We don’t want to see something that cuts people off from the water." A
private operation would create a private atmosphere even if the public
had access to the waterfront, deCamp said when the suit was filed.

Posted in

May 23, 2008

DC: Contractor payments deemed improper
Experts say more tolls in future
LA: House panel defers privatization bill
PA: Lawmakers deride turnpike lease plan
LA: Voucher bill gets tweaked
WI: Psychiatric site deal put off
MA: Privatizing custodians approved

[click on ‘Continue reading’ link for articles]

News Summaries
DC: Contractor payments deemed improper
A consultant for the District Office of Tax and Revenue has been paid
more than $2 million in improper charges, including airfare to Puerto
Rico, cable television bills, $3,000 apartment rentals and management
retreats, Auditor Deborah K. Nichols said yesterday. Accenture has been
paid about $135 million since 1998 to create the Integrated Tax System
and run the computers, including ongoing fees of $5 million per year.
Washington Post

Experts say more tolls in future
As the nation struggles with an aging and outdated transportation
infrastructure, private capital and increased reliance on toll revenue
financial will play a major role in funding future projects. That’s the
word from experts surveyed in support of a background paper for
Infocast’s Conference on Transportation Infrastructure. Logistics Management
LA: House panel defers privatization bill
LA: Legislation that would have allowed the state to privatize a
facility for certain mental health patients failed to get approval from
a House committee Thursday. State Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Marksville,
said it seems like the state wants to privatize these areas to get rid
of the charity hospital system that is costing the state money. “The
state’s not in this to make profits and private industry is and that’s
where it concerns me,” Johnson said. The Advocate (Baton Rouge)
PA: Lawmakers deride turnpike lease plan
Two state senators on Thursday bashed Gov. Ed Rendell’s plan to lease
the Pennsylvania Turnpike and one released an alternative that calls
for repealing the existing law that pays for roads, bridges and mass
transit. "To say that the administration has presented a rosy financial
scenario would be an understatement," Sen Sean Logan said. "It fails to
account for important relevant factors, and it makes actuarial
assumptions for future earnings that are so optimistic as to be
fiscally irresponsible. Under the governor’s plan, we could run out of
money in as little as 16 years." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
LA: Voucher bill gets tweaked
A grant program to pay private school tuition for students leaving New
Orleans public schools is nearing a final vote in the Legislature.
The Times-Picayune
(New Orleans)
WI: Psychiatric site deal put off
One of several issues supervisors want explored is how much of the estimated
savings from the proposed lease would be due to privatizing 73 hospital
housekeeping and maintenance jobs. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MA: Privatizing custodians approved
The Swansea School Committee unanimously approved the privatization of
the custodial and maintenance staff that will allow the final step of
contracting out all services once occupied by 19 full-time employees.
Wicked Local Swansea

Posted in

May 22, 2008

PA: Turnpike roles not conflicts of interest, Citigroup says
The great government sell-off
US infrastructure attracting global players
CA: Feds to hold hearing on O.C. toll road

VA: At one university, tobacco money is a secret
MS: Lawmakers ok toll road financing
NC: Mental health staffing suffers acute shortage
FL: Private firm to handle permitting

[click on ‘Continue reading’ link for articles]

News Summaries
PA: Turnpike roles not conflicts of interest, Citigroup says
One part of Citigroup was trying to save the state’s Turnpike
Commission while another branch was bidding to take it over. Turnpike
officials say they’re certain the employees of Citigroup Global Market
who have been advising them since early 2007 did not share financial
data with Citi Infrastructure Investors, or CII, which is bidding to
lease the toll agency. The situation has prompted lawmakers, who are
considering Gov. Ed Rendell’s turnpike lease proposal, to question
Citigroup’s motives. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The great government sell-off
Is it any wonder that investment banks and private equity firms are
hiring infrastructure experts at a rapid clip? Dealogic reports that a
total of $53 billion in privatization deals have been announced this
year through May 20, 2008, more than triple the $13 billion in the
comparable period last year. The New York Times Blogs
US infrastructure attracting global players
The 359-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike system services one of the most
highly developed regions of the U.S., linking the major urban areas of
Philadelphia, Scranton, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh and links up with
toll roads to Boston, New York and Chicago. If award of the contract
were eventually approved, it would be one of the largest public private
partnership initiatives ever undertaken in the U.S. The U.S. represents
a strategic market for abertis and its partners where Abertis is
already present via its airport business that manages the
Orlando-Sanford airport and the Atlanta international terminal, one of
the busiest in the world. It also affords the consortium a position
from which to embark on additional growth opportunities and boosts its
scope for expanding into other sectors in the U.S., the largest market
in the world.
CA: Feds to hold hearing on O.C. toll road
The U.S. Department of Commerce said Wednesday it would hold a public
hearing on a state panel’s rejection of a controversial toll road
through southern Orange County. The decision was hailed as a victory by
toll road opponents and downplayed by officials with the Transportation
Corridor Agencies, who wanted to avoid another raucous meeting like the
one before the state Coastal Commission. The February meeting drew more
than 3,500 people to the Del Mar Fairgrounds and was the largest in
commission history. It ended near midnight with a 8-2 vote rejecting a
proposal by the Irvine-based TCA for a 16-mile toll road that would cut
through San Onofre State Beach. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a project
supporter, did not renew the state Parks Commission terms of
actor-director Clint Eastwood and Bobby Shriver, the governor’s
brother-in-law. Both attributed the move to their opposition to the
toll road, although the governor’s office denies it. Los Angeles Times
VA: At one university, tobacco money is a secret
On campuses nationwide, professors and administrators have passionately
debated whether their universities should accept money for research
from tobacco companies. But not at Virginia Commonwealth University, a
public institution in Richmond, Va. That is largely because hardly any
faculty members or students there know that there is something to
debate — a contract with extremely restrictive terms that the
university signed in 2006 to do research for Philip Morris USA, the
nation’s largest tobacco company and a unit of Altria Group. The
contract bars professors from publishing the results of their studies,
or even talking about them, without Philip Morris’s permission. If “a
third party,” including news organizations, asks about the agreement,
university officials have to decline to comment and tell the company.
Nearly all patent and other intellectual property rights go to the
company, not the university or its professors. The New York Times
MS: Lawmakers ok toll road financing
The House and Senate on Wednesday both passed a bill to allow private
financing to build toll roads. The plan could speed up the process of
getting an alternate pay-to-drive route between Jackson-Evers
International Airport and downtown in Mississippi’s capital city. The route
has been discussed more than a dozen years. The Sun Herald (Biloxi)
NC: Mental health staffing suffers acute shortage
When mental health reform privatized the delivery of services, the
safety net was shredded, said Mike Hopping, a psychiatrist who left the
system five years ago, early in the state’s mental health reform. He
says he left because of the immorality of a system that puts more stock
in regulations than it does in the people serves.When mental health reform
forced the area programs to stop offering mental health services and treatment,
social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists were laid off, and they no
longer were eligible for state benefits in the new privatized system. Many
jumped ship before they could be laid off, going to other state jobs where
they would be able to keep their pensions and health benefits. Citizen-Times (Asheville)
FL: Private firm to handle permitting
Developers and builders will have an easier time working in Bonita
Springs once a private firm assumes the city’s community development
services. After hours of debate, the Bonita Springs City Council
Wednesday voted unanimously to hire CH2M Hill to handle its permitting
and building inspections for $1.5 million.

Posted in

May 21, 2008

PA: The turnpike bid: Whoa! Slow down!
IN: ACLU lawsuit targets state’s welfare changes
NY: More ball fields allowed despite voiding of deal

[click on ‘Continue reading’ link for articles]
News Summaries
PA: The turnpike bid: Whoa! Slow down!
There’s lots to like about what would be the largest toll-road
privatization in the history of the United States. Until one peels back
the veneer, that is. Gov. Ed Rendell, in a process that gives
"secretive" new meaning, has anointed Abertis Infraestructuras S.A. of
Spain and Citi Infrastructure Investors of New York as the bidder of
choice to lease and run the Pennsylvania Turnpike for 75 years. The
winning bid — $12.8 billion. It’s far from the "slam-dunk" Mr. Rendell
says it is; the state Legislature, which must approve the deal, largely
appears cool to it, and with good reason. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
IN: ACLU lawsuit targets state’s welfare changes
Problems with Indiana’s landmark automation of welfare eligibility have
cost some disabled residents food stamps and other benefits they need
to survive, the American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a lawsuit
that seeks class-action status. Before privatization, Indiana welfare
clients had individual case workers who closely monitored a household’s
eligibility for benefits and intervened when necessary, Rose said. Now,
a household’s welfare records are stored electronically and available
to any case worker in the state. The lawsuit claims FSSA denied or
terminated benefits to each of the plaintiffs when the agency was
missing some document such as a birth certificate or a medical record
— documents that the plaintiffs had delivered previously. In each
case, benefits were cut off with a letter citing "failure to
cooperate," with no further explanation. Chicago Tribune
NY: More ball fields allowed despite voiding of deal
A judge in Manhattan has ruled that the Bloomberg administration can
continue to build athletic fields on Randalls Island even though a deal
in which private schools had agreed to help pay construction costs was
voided by the court earlier this year. The ruling does not change Justice
Kornreich’s ruling in January that annulled the agreement reached last
year among 20 private schools, the city’s Parks Department and the
Randalls Island Sports Foundation, which operates the parkland on the
island, to grant the schools priority in using the fields in exchange for
$45 million. Even after the ruling, the city continued to build or refurbish
more than 60 ball fields and add lighting and bathrooms to Randalls
Island, which is in the East River near Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens.
Soon after, neighborhood groups and park advocates, who had joined
to oppose the original deal, sued the Bloomberg administration again,
this time seeking to halt construction.The New York Times

Posted in

May 20, 2008

PA: Inside consortium looking to lease turnpike
Should huge college endowments pay tax?
Talk of TVA privatization goes way back
MA: Battle over sale of Boston city hall

MI: City outsources accounting jobs
PA: Waste plan not down drain
Upcoming events

[Click on ‘Continue reading’ link for articles]
News Summaries
PA: Inside consortium looking to lease turnpike
The group that submitted the highest bid to lease the Pennsylvania
Turnpike is made up of three entities: Abertis Infraestructuras (at 50
percent), Citi Infrastructure Investors (41 percent) and Criteria
CaixaCorp (9 percent). Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Meanwhile,
presidential candidate, Ralph Nader said that the proposed
corporatization of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is an unconscionable
“long-term giveaway to big banks and foreign corporations.”“The
public paid for the turnpike,” Nader said. “The public should maintain
operational control. The turnpike is a commonwealth asset for motorists
and workers.” Third Party Watch
Should huge college endowments pay tax?
With nine of its colleges and universities boasting endowments above
$1 billion, Massachusetts is now center stage in the emerging national
debate over whether wealthy schools are doing enough to justify their
tax-exempt status. "There is an exorbitant amount of wealth that has
been generated with these endowments, especially in the case of Harvard
and MIT," about $35 billion and $10 billion, respectively, says
state Rep. Paul Kujawski (D), who proposed the tax plan in part because
the state is facing a $1.3 billion budget gap. "When is a nonprofit
onsidered not a nonprofit?" he asks. The Christian Science Monitor
Talk of TVA privatization goes way back
Calls for the privatization of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the
nation’s largest public utility, have spotted the agency’s 75-year
history. "I think the privatization idea is one that gets pulled up
once in a while because we are a government-owned corporation, but
privatization is not a good idea because if we privatize, whatever
company bought TVA would have to pay dividends to its shareholders,"
said TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore. "If we were privatized,
somebody would want to earn a profit to pay to shareholders; we don’t
have to do that." Privatization advocates and TVA critics have a
decades-long history. Times Daily (Northwest AL)

MA: Battle over sale of Boston city hall
In 2006 Mayor Thomas Menino proposed selling both city hall and its
plaza to private developers and relocating the city’s seat of
government to a waterfront site in South Boston. Menino had previously
floated the idea of moving city hall in 1998, though nothing came of it
at that time. The newly formed Citizens for City Hall is lobbying for
keeping city hall where it is, in the heart of the city, and
revitalizing it into “a green, state-of-the art public building.”
Co-founder Herbert Gleason said relocating city hall and turning the
current site over to developers would be a legal minefield. Not only
would the majority of the current city council oppose the move, but
because the Massachusetts constitution protects public spaces, the
state legislature would have to approve the sale. Gleason called the
road to privatizing the city hall site “very stony.” Commercial Property News
MI: City outsources accounting jobs
The 2008-09 budget Saginaw’s City Council passed Monday will shift
accounting jobs to the private sector despite pleas from staff and
union members who fear a beginning trend of job-outsourcing. The Saginaw News
PA: Waste plan not down drain
Water Commissioner Bernard Brunwasser says a new, privatized sludge
plant in Southwest Philadelphia would reduce the human waste stored on
site. What seems like an easy sell has been anything but because, in
part, it would eliminate 60 union jobs at the city’s current
"biosolids" plant, a nice name for the not-so-nice mess that comes out
of the city’s wastewater. The Nutter administration introduced
legislation yesterday in City Council that would allow a private
partnership, led by the country’s largest biosolids contractor, to take
over disposal from the city’s wastewater treatment facilities.
Upcoming events
Symposium. The Institute for Infrastructure and Information Assurance
at James Madison University holds a 2008 Homeland Security Symposium on
public-private partnerships Events begin at 8:50 am Highlights: —
8:50 am: Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, D-Md., delivers opening
keynote remarks — 3 pm: Assistant Homeland Security Secretary for the
Private Sector Alfonso Martinez-Fonts, delivers closing remarks.
Thursday, May 22, All day. National Academy of Sciences Building, 2100
C Street NW, Washington, D.C. Contact: 540-568-3621, [email protected]

Posted in

May 19, 2008

PA: Spanish group is high bidder for turnpike
NV: Nevada moves ahead with toll road
UT: Mining co. gets name for new museum
Obama links McCain’s Social Security stance to Bush’s
NY: Two counties differ on privatizing health centers
TX: Haggling over money after privatization bid fails
MI: Last county may outsource rubbish pickup
Sen. Dorgan against privatizing military housing
Revamped TVA board changed management, politics

[click on ‘Continue reading’ link for articles]

News Summaries
PA: Spanish group is high bidder for turnpike
A Spanish group submitted the highest bid for the right to lease the
Pennsylvania Turnpike for 75 years. Abertis Infraestructuras offered to
pay $12.8 billion for the lease, which Gov. Ed Rendell announced at a
news conference today. The governor’s been pursuing a privatization
plan to raise billions for the state’s transportation needs. He’s said
he’ll pass along the highest bid to the Legislature for its consideration.
If a turnpike deal can generate enough money, Rendell says the state
will abandon plans to introduce tolls to Interstate 80. PennLive
NV: Nevada moves ahead with toll road
Nevada transportation officials last week decided to move forward with
a plan that would bring the state its first public-private partnership,
and its first road tolls. The Board of Transportation voted Thursday to
move forward with a demonstration project that would add toll lanes
along the Interstate 15 corridor in Las Vegas, one of the busiest
roadways in the state. The board, which governs the Nevada Department
of Transportation, was acting on the recommendation of a Public-Private
Partnership Advisory Committee, a 12-member panel appointed last year
by Gov. Jim Gibbons. The Bond Buyer ($)
UT: Mining co. gets name for new museum
Plans for a new Utah Museum of Natural History took a large step
forward today with the announcement Kennecott Utah Copper will
contribute $15 million to the project.With that come naming rights for
the new museum, which will be called the Rio Tinto Center, named for
Kennecott’s parent company. The University of Utah said Kennecott’s
contribution is the largest corporate donation it has ever received.
The new museum will be built on 17 acres of University of Utah property
adjacent to Red Butte Garden, opening in 2011. Deseret News
Obama links McCain’s Social Security stance to Bush’s
Sen. Barack Obama today continued his efforts to tie presumptive
Republican presidential nominee John McCain to President Bush,
contending that the Arizona senator’s Social Security proposal was
simply a continuation of Bush’s failed attempt to privatize the
government-sponsored retirement plan. "Privatizing Social Security was
a bad idea when George Bush proposed it," Obama told a forum at an
assisted-living facility here. "It’s a bad idea today." Los Angeles Times
NY: Two counties differ on privatizing health centers
In Suffolk County, moves are afoot to sell the county’s nursing home.
In Nassau, a years-long effort continues to improve and revitalize the
public nursing home. The sharply different approaches are vivid
examples of the counties’ divergent philosophies when it comes to
public health. Suffolk wants increasingly to involve the private sector
in areas once handled by government. Nassau, meanwhile, is deepening
its commitment to publicly financed health care and figuring out ways
to make it financially viable. Newsday
TX: Haggling over money after privatization bid fails
More than a year after Texas canceled a deal with Accenture LLP worth
hundreds of millions of dollars to run call centers enrolling people in
public assistance, the breakup is still not final. Since Executive
Commissioner Albert Hawkins announced the end of the Accenture deal in
March 2007, the divorcelike process has involved negotiating over money
and assets tied to what started as a five-year, $899 million deal.
Texas has paid Accenture nearly $243 million, Goodman said.

MI: Last county may outsourse rubbish pickup
The only municipality in Macomb County that does not use private
companies for rubbish pickup may soon outsource recycling and compost,
but cost-conscious officials insist they’re not looking to slam the lid
on Warren’s unionized workers. Past attempts to fully privatize trash
collection created a firestorm of controversy. Macomb Daily
Sen. Dorgan against privatizing military housing
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., visited Grand Forks Air Force Base, where he
talked about a Pentagon proposal to privatize housing on the nation’s
military installations. The Air Force has said recently it plans, by
mid-2009, to turn over ownership of all military housing to private
contractors, who would collect rent from military personnel. Under the
plan, the contractors would sign 50-year contracts to maintain the
facilities. Dorgan opposes the proposal, saying the housing stock at
the Grand Forks and Minot bases are in good condition. “I think this
plan is a bad idea, and I’m going to try to put a stop to it,” Dorgan
said. “This policy isn’t limited to the Air Force; it’s being
implemented throughout the Department of Defense. But I don’t see any
sense in turning over some of the best housing stock in the world to
private contractors. That’s not in the interest of our taxpayers or the
personnel who are living there.” The Dickinson Press (Dickinson, ND)
Revamped TVA board changed management, politics
Even Kentucky’s U.S. Sens. Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell, both
Republicans, have agreed for now not to push legislation they
introduced in 2007 that would bring the Tennessee Valley Authority
under regulation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency and order the
U.S. Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on privatizing
TVA. Sen. Bunning said he introduced the measure when five Kentucky
distributors of TVA wanted to break from the federal agency but TVA
balked on transmission line connections for such a move. But the new
TVA board and staff last year worked out an agreement with the
distributors and two of them ultimately agreed to stick with TVA.
Chattanooga Times Free Press

Posted in

May 16, 2008

FL: County saves, developer profits: Guess who pays?
Blackwater’s return – editorial
PA: Turnpike bid race narrows
IN: Meeting hears welfare system complaints
NV: Toll road plan ok’d

[click on ‘Continue reading’ link for articles]
News Summaries
FL: County saves, developer profits: Guess who pays?
Brenda Crenshaw wants to move her private school in southwest Orange
County. But to do so, she is going to have to pay a group of developers
led by KB Home more than half a million dollars to buy access to public
roads. Crenshaw’s predicament stems from an unorthodox deal Orange
County leaders made with a group of developers this past year to widen
a portion of County Road 535. Orange is so strapped for transportation
money that when the developers agreed to pay for most of the
road-widening project, the county jumped at the offer. The goal was to
unclog traffic enough to allow the developers’ stalled projects to be
built. But there’s a potentially profitable clause written into the
contract. The widening, which is under construction, will allow the
road to handle more traffic than the developers’ plans will create. The
deal with the county gave the developers the right to essentially sell
off that extra traffic capacity. A key architect of the road deal,
according to county records, is Orlando attorney and developer Pat
Christiansen, who would not comment. Christiansen is a Republican
fundraiser who was finance chairman of Jacobs’ re-election campaign in
2004 and co-chaired County Mayor Rich Crotty’s 2006 campaign.
Orlando Sentinel

Blackwater’s return – editorial
There is no good reason that military policemen or other specialist
units could not protect diplomats. After all, the skills Blackwater
personnel have were often learned in military service (its founder is
an ex-Navy SEAL). Yet it is clear that the Iraq war has become a gravy
train for private contractors. And with the war having gone on longer
than U.S. involvement in World War II, the military is strained enough
without taking on a new job. Sen. John Kerry, the Democrat from
Massachusetts who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s
Middle East subcommittee, has called for hearings on how Blackwater,
which is under grand jury investigation, should be given this no-bid
security contract. It’s a worthy call, but in a sense we already know
the answer: Because this is how the Bush administration’s arrogance and
incompetency feed the Iraq fiasco. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PA: Turnpike bid race narrows
A financial consortium once thought to be the leading candidate to
lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike has apparently dropped out of the
running. Spain-based Cintra and Australia-based Macquarie
Infrastructure Group, which bought rights to the Chicago Skyway in 2005
and the Indiana Toll Road in 2006 for a total of $5.6 billion, have
decided not to increase their bid for the state toll road being offered
by Gov. Ed Rendell as a means of generating more funds for roads,
bridges and transit. While tomorrow is the deadline for final bids, the
Rendell administration said the results won’t be released until next
week. If the high bidder meets Mr. Rendell’s goal, he will seek speedy
legislative approval to privatize the turnpike and amend the
controversial Act 44 transportation funding bill to halt efforts to
convert I-80 to a toll road. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
IN: Meeting hears welfare system complaints
Indiana began privatizing welfare delivery last fall in a pilot program
that involved a dozen central and eastern Indiana counties, including
Delaware County. Whereas each county previously had its own welfare
office, most operations in the 12-county region have been moved to a
Marion call center operated by IBM Corp. and Affiliated Computer
services. The objective of the measure was to reduce welfare fraud and
improve service to clients, according to Roob. Since the transition,
however, social service agencies have reported an increase in
complaints from people who have lost their food stamps and Medicaid
health care coverage. The Star Press (Muncie)
NV: Toll road plan ok’d
A proposal to allow for privatized toll lanes in Las Vegas as a way to
help reduce a huge funding shortfall for Nevada highway projects was
endorsed Thursday by the Nevada Transportation Board. Private
investment would cover nearly all of the costs of the project.
Toll-road legislation died in the 2007 session. Advocates of the
public-private partnerships for highway projects include former U.S.
Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, now a lobbyist for investment firm
Goldman Sachs. Gephardt has said the public-private deals aren’t
limited to toll roads, and light-rail ventures also are part of the
equation. While there’s some resistance to such deals, he added that to
many tax-wary voters they represent "the least worst alternative."
Analysts from the investment bank previously told the transportation
subcommittee that the demonstration project would cost $1.4 billion, of
which 88 percent could be paid for by private entities. The
public-private partnership would then allow private investors to reap
the proceeds from the tolls to pay back their investment at a fair rate
of return, which was judged to be 13 percent. Las Vegas Review Journal

Posted in

May 15, 2008

PA: Legal firm tied to Gov gets $2.1 million
FL: Food fiasco costs inmates, taxpayers – editorial
MI: School board dumps Aramark
CA: Higher Cal State fees approved
LA: House backs private tuition grants
AL: Developers propose AL to FL toll road
What’s next? The Soros Lincoln Memorial?

[click on ‘Continue reading’ link for articles]

News Summaries
PA: Legal firm tied to Gov gets $2.1 million
Gov. Ed Rendell’s effort to raise transportation funds by leasing the
Pennsylvania Turnpike already has cost state taxpayers more than $4.6
million for legal and financial advice. Of that, $2.1 million has been
paid to Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll LLP, a Philadelphia law
firm with political ties to the governor. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
FL: Food fiasco costs inmates, taxpayers – editorial
The Aramark contract, signed seven years ago by Gov. Jeb Bush, has been
subject to so little scrutiny the department’s own inspector general
wrote last year that "most documents related to food service
performance prior to 2004 (have) been purged from department files."
The inspector general’s report, released eight days after Crist was
inaugurated, found that Aramark had pocketed a $10.5-million windfall
by charging for meals it never served and by substituting cheaper
ingredients without approval. Given the connection between Aramark and
Republican political causes, questions about the contract were raised
from the very start. Bush’s first privatization czar quit the job when
she found out that the governor was interested less in saving tax money
than he was in transferring government services to private companies.
St. Petersburg Times

MI: School board dumps Aramark
The food program provided to Detroit Public Schools students could soon
be served, as well as managed, by school employees. The Detroit Board
of Education voted unanimously Thursday night to allow the contract
with Philadelphia-based Aramark Educational Services, LLC to expire on
June 30. Aramark has managed the $44-million food-services operation
since 2001. The vote came after at least a year of lobbying and
protests staged by union employees who argued that DPS employees could
do a better and cheaper job of running the food services. Detroit Free Press
CA: Higher Cal State fees approved
The cost of attending a California State University is going up again
in the fall following a decision by the 23-campus system’s governing
board Wednesday to authorize a 10-percent student fee hike. Lt. Gov.
John Garamendi, who unsuccessfully urged fellow trustees to keep fees
at their current levels next year and tying future fee hikes to the
rate of inflation, said the financial aid set-aside only concealed the
growing "privatization" of the state’s public universities.
The Press-Enterprise

LA: House backs private tuition grants
After more than three hours of intense debate, the House gave a 60-42
approval Wednesday to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed $10 million private
school tuition grant program for New Orleans students transferring from
public schools. The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
AL: Developers propose AL to FL toll road
Developers and Wiregrass economic development groups are proposing
building a toll road from Montgomery, Alabama, to Panama City, Florida.
It would be the state’s first toll road to connect central Alabama to
the Florida Panhandle. State transportation officials and Governor Bob
Riley have had meetings with the developers proposing a public-private
road. AP
What’s next? The Soros Lincoln Memorial?
In the 1960s, I lived in New York City. One of the pleasures many of us
experienced in those days was a visit to the New York Public Library. The
library was our home away from home, and it made us proud of the city. I
t was more than a library, encompassing many of the ingredients that had
made New York great. I — and I suspect many other people — was therefore
surprised and shocked to learn that the New York Public Library’s flagship
building on Fifth Avenue will become the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building i
n honor of a manager of hedge funds who is contributing $100-million toward
a $1-billion modernization of the library system. There is no end in sight to the
names that one day will probably deface the facade of the building. The ego
needs and driving ambitions of very wealthy individuals are understandable,
if not laudable, character traits. Their desire for remembrance and memorialization
are motivations that fund raisers often take into consideration as they seek
big gifts. But the ease with which charities offer naming rights as a way to bring
in big money is neither praiseworthy nor forgivable. It is a strategy that has
opened the floodgates to institutions willing to do anything to bring in money.
Even modest contributions are producing living memorials for their donors.
Naming rights have now become an opening gambit for many fund raisers,
not as a last resort for recalcitrant donors unwilling to give money unless
they are honored by having something named for them. – Pablo Eisenberg,
Senior fellow at the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute. The Chronicle
of Philanthropy

Posted in

May 14, 2008

FL: Bill dies that would raise tolls, lease highway
CA: Bright lights, big payday for MTA
TX: Mixed feelings on privatizing Austin airport
CT: Bridgeport nurses, parents protest privatization

[click on ‘Continue reading’ link for articles]
News Summaries
FL: Bill dies that would raise turnpike tolls, lease highway
Time ran out for Florida lawmakers considering a massive transportation
bill that would have boosted tolls on the state’s Turnpike. The bill
also sought to allow the state to lease from the Florida Department of
Transportation for up to 50 years the part of Interstate 75 that’s
referred to as Alligator Alley. The Florida DOT unveiled plans this
spring to lease the toll road to private investors. An analysis said
that leasing the 78-mile stretch of interstate would earn the state
$500 million for a 50-year lease. Land Line
CA: Bright lights, big payday for MTA
On Tuesday, commercial messages on mass transit in the Southland
reached a new frontier when subway riders began seeing a 15-second
video floating outside the train’s window in a dark tunnel near
Universal City. The first ad was a short promo for the film "Speed
Racer," featuring the main character’s car zipping and flipping about.
An ad for Target began showing later in the morning, complete with
dancing models. "It’s intrusive to me," said passenger Roberta Richey,
an actress. "If I want to see that, I’ll turn on the TV or pick up a
newspaper." Such video ads have become part of the subway landscape in
San Francisco and New York and are even more prominent overseas. But
they also have raised hackles among those who see the line increasingly
blurring between public space and commercial messages. The selling of
naming rights to stadiums and placement of billboards have been widely
debated nationally but seem less controversial on mass transit. Los Angeles Times
TX: Mixed feelings on privatizing Austin airport
An Australian investment company looks to take over operations at
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Yet members of the Austin
Aviation Advisory Commission expressed concern Tuesday that a private
company might only be concerned with the bottom line and not customer
service. KXAN(Austin)
CT: Bridgeport nurses, parents protest privatization
Some 200 nurses, parents and children protested the city’s plan to
privatize the city’s school-based health clinics, which were given
another three months to operate while that process is under way. City
Council member Robert Walsh, D-132, opposed the privatization plan and
led the crowd in chanting "Bill Finch lies," referring to promises
Walsh said the mayor made to not privatize city services and to give
residents a $600 tax break. Connecticut Post

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