May 1, 2008

CA: See the world, let special interests pay, governor urges
CT: City schools give Aramark the boot
NJ: School board undos private janitors deal
IL: No taxes in deal to buy, rehab Wrigley?
NJ: NJN conversion plan gets static from legislators
FL: Voucher angst imperils FCAT bill
FL: Alligator alley lease draws investors attention
PA: Port Authority mulling naming rights sale
LA: Tuition plan squeaks by panel
PA: Pike lease draws no bids

News Summaries
CA: See the world, let special interests pay, governor urges
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday encouraged lawmakers —
especially those from small towns — to do more globe-trotting on the
dime of special interests. The governor suggested lawmakers would be
more willing to embrace his plans to privatize the building of roads,
schools, high-speed rail systems and other public works if they could
see how effectively it has worked in other countries. "Some of them
come from those little towns, you know what I am saying, they come from
those little towns and they don’t have that vision yet of an airport or
of a highway that maybe has 10 lanes or of putting a highway on top of
a highway," Schwarzenegger said. "They look at you and say,
‘We don’t have that in my town. What are you talking about?’ "So
they are kind of shocked when you say certain things. So I like them to
travel around." Such travel is typically paid for by a combination
of special interests with business before the Legislature and foreign
governments. It usually involves stays at luxury resorts, high-end dining
and the option of bringing a spouse along. Los Angeles Times
CT: City schools give Aramark the boot
In an unexpected turn of events, the New Haven Board of Education
unanimously voted Monday to bring control of school kitchens in-house,
effectively booting Aramark Corp. July 1 from city school cafeterias.
“It’s time for us to get back to work and do what’s right for our kids
and our school system,” said school Chief Operating Officer Will Clark.
Facing mounting union discontent, Superintendent of Schools Reginald
Mayo announced earlier this year the district would rebid food service
and facilities management contracts, both held by Aramark Corp. of
Philadelphia. “This is terrific, from the perspective of the workers,
the parents and, most of all, the children,” said Steve Mathews,
Connecticut Director for Local 217 of Unite Here. However, “it’s only
part of what we need to happen. … (Aramark) shouldn’t be cooking the
food, and they shouldn’t be managing the buildings. We hope the city
will complete the job they surprisingly started tonight,” he said.
New Haven Register

NJ: School board undos private janitors deal
The Cherry Hill school board has unanimously approved an administrative
recommendation to staff custodial jobs with district workers rather
than with a contractor’s employees. The district will return privatized
positions — including building cleaners and six out of 19 head custodian
positions — to district bargaining units when the $3.1 million contract
with Philadelphia-based Aramark expires on June 30. The move to undo
the privatization represents the latest chapter in a decade of actions
that irked many residents. The district privatized custodial services in
a cost-cutting move in 1998. At first, some of the new workers tested
positive for drugs, and one custodian confessed to stealing electronic
equipment. Parents complained that the schools were not clean and
that the workers could not speak English. The original contractor, Control
Building Services, was replaced in 2000. Courier-Post (South Jersey)
IL: No taxes in deal to buy, rehab Wrigley?
Former Gov. Jim Thompson said Tuesday he has found a way to have the
state buy and renovate Wrigley Field — a remodeling cost of "at least
$400 million" — with "no taxes of any kind." Thompson hesitated
when asked if his new plan would rely on the controversial sale of naming
rights to the 94-year-old shrine of Major League Baseball. Tribune CEO
Sam Zell’s plan to sell naming rights to Wrigley to generate as much as
$400 million over 20 years has met with stiff resistance from baseball
purists and die-hard Cub fans. "I would say yes. But we would look for
a naming rights deal that does not displace Wrigley Field.” Chicago Sun Times
NJ: NJN conversion plan gets static from legislators
Lawmakers gave a cool reception to NJN’s (New Jersey Public Television
and Radio) plan to sever ties with the state by transferring its licenses
to a private nonprofit corporation. "I am disturbed, dismayed and
very surprised to hear that the effort to privatize NJN is in place,"
Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) said during a budget committee hearing
yesterday in Trenton. Star-Ledger Staff (Newark)
FL: Voucher angst imperils FCAT bill
Senate Republicans have a take-it-or-leave-it deal for the lawmakers
who want to change the much-maligned FCAT exam: Give us more public
money for private schools. The Florida Senate on Wednesday put together
a mammoth education bill that would finally change the way the Florida
Comprehensive Assessment Test is used, but that same legislation would
also expand a controversial private school voucher program by $30
million. The move drew protest from several Democrats, as well as the
state’s teacher union, which say it’s wrong to spend more money on
vouchers during the same year that Florida’s sagging tax collections
has led lawmakers to cut money for public schools. ”Brick by brick, we
are dismantling public education,” said Sen. Frederica Wilson, a Miami
Democrat. Miami Herald
FL: Alligator alley lease draws investors attention
In what is perhaps a sign of the economic downturn and a slowdown in
public-private partnerships in other states, numerous domestic and
international firms have shown interest in leasing a 78-mile-long toll
road in South Florida called Alligator Alley. Nearly 170 people
attended a forum last week on the monetization proposal by the Florida
Department of Transportation, many representing companies expected to
bid on the public-private partnership concession. Alligator Alley would
be the first existing toll road in Florida to be leased, although the
state has other P3s in the pipeline. The Bond Buyer (subscription)
PA: Port Authority mulling naming rights sale
The Port Authority of Allegheny County is considering selling naming
rights to a 1.2-mile light-rail extension under the Allegheny River as
well as to other transit stations and assets it controls. Marketing
consultants and public relations firms have until May 22 to present
proposals to the authority board. York Daily Record
LA: Tuition plan squeaks by panel
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration weathered a bruising committee
debate Wednesday before claiming a narrow victory for a proposed $10
million grant program that would send as many as 1,500 New Orleans
public school pupils to private and parochial institutions. The debate
featured familiar themes, with Badon, Jindal’s policy team and other
supporters casting the plan as a way to give more choices to the
parents of low-income children in poor schools. Opponents decried the
bill as a back-door "voucher" program that would siphon students and
money out of public schools. The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
PA: Pike lease draws no bids
Gov. Ed Rendell didn’t receive any bids for leasing the Pennsylvania
Turnpike by his self-imposed deadline of Wednesday, but observers say
there is interest from private companies in the multibillion-dollar
deal. Morgan Stanley has estimated a 75-year turnpike lease could bring
in $12 billion to $18 billion. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review