May 13, 2008

Public wary of efforts to lease roads
Naming rights: What’s in a name?
PA: Firm’s ties with Rendell officials questioned
FL: More prison food troubles
CA: EdFund execs seek $3 million in severance
IL: Zell no to state bid for Wrigley
LA: Radio ad targets tuition grant foe
MI: Detroit council members leery of tunnel sale
PA: Deadline extended for turnpike offers
CA: Toll road through state beach gets boost

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News Summaries
Public wary of efforts to lease roads
An increasing number of international companies are looking to make
multibillion-dollar investments in U.S. roads and bridges. But a
brewing fight in Pennsylvania offers a test of the American public’s
willingness to give up control of vital infrastructure — and
potentially pay higher tolls. Morgan Stanley estimates Pennsylvania
could raise as much as $18 billion by leasing the state’s major highway
system to private investors, who would charge tolls and fund the
system’s upkeep. State officials see a potential source of funds for
their aging roads and bridges. Pennsylvania estimates its immediate
needs total $1.7 billion a year. Proponents of lease deals see them as
a way to meet the U.S.’s growing infrastructure investment needs, which
total $1.6 trillion over the next five years, according to the American
Society of Civil Engineers. The Wall Street Journal (subscription)
Naming rights: What’s in a name?
The proliferation of business and product names has drawn mixed
reactions from fans. Some critics decry the commercialization of local
landmarks while others long for names they grew up with. San Francisco
voters passed an initiative to ensure that historic Candlestick Park
would no longer be called Monster Park when Monster Cable Products
Inc.’s rights expire at the end of the month. But that return to
tradition was an exception to the rule, said David Brooks, a senior
writer at industry journal Venues Today. "We are seeing an environment
now where essentially everything is for sale," Brooks said, noting that
naming rights are the biggest area of revenue growth for arena
operators after luxury seating. Inside arenas there are clubs,
restaurants, bars, hospitality suites — all with the potential to be
named after companies that want to reach free-spending fans. "There is
kind of a sense that naming is a little bit out of control and people
make fun of it," Brooks said. "But I think fans realize it’s here to
stay." San Francisco Chronicle
PA: Firm’s ties with Rendell officials questioned
State contracts with an information technology consultant and an
initiative to equip classrooms with technology are about to go under
the auditor general’s microscope. A Patriot-News analysis of payments
made to Deloitte, an international firm with U.S. headquarters in New
York City, tallied more than $330 million during that four-year span.
That was primarily for information technology services. Some current
and former state employees question how one company got so much of the
state’s technology business and whether it had anything to do with ties
to Deloitte held by four high-level officials in Gov. Ed Rendell’s
administration. The Patriot-News (Harrisburg)
FL: More prison food troubles
Florida’s prison system had already fined its food provider $241,000
this year over staffing and supply issues. And then 277 inmates said
they became sick last month after eating chili. The April 25 incident
at a Panhandle prison has raised the latest question into the
performance of Aramark Corp., which took over prison food service in
2001 as part of former Gov. Jeb Bush’s privatization push. But the
situation has added to ongoing trouble for Aramark, a powerful
Philadelphia company that has been at the forefront of outsourcing
efforts nationwide. The corporation, which provided the food for the
2000 Republican National Convention and is a major GOP campaign
contributor, has faced a wave of bad news recently, including a
statewide probe in Connecticut about poor quality and service in public
schools. St. Petersburg Times
CA: EdFund execs seek $3 million in severance
The executive staff of EdFund, the student loan guarantor the state
plans to sell to a private investor, has crafted its own severance
package worth more than $3 million. The state is trying to sell the
nonprofit public benefit corporation for $500 million, half of what the
governor was hoping to get. The Sacramento Bee
IL: Zell no to state bid for Wrigley
Tribune Co. Chairman Sam Zell has rejected former Gov. James Thompson’s
secret plan to acquire and renovate Wrigley Field for at least $400
million without raising taxes and now plans to package the Cubs and
their landmark stadium in a private transaction, sources said Monday.
Sources said Zell has rejected the state’s proposed terms because it
relies on a novel and untested financing plan: the sale of individual
seats at Wrigley as if they were condominiums. The idea is called
equity seat rights and has been advanced by Chicago area business
executive Lou Weisbach, who has applied for patent rights on it. Chicago Sun-Times
LA: Radio ad targets tuition grant foe
An advocacy group has ratcheted up the debate over Gov. Bobby Jindal’s
proposed private school tuition grant program for New Orleans public
school students with a radio advertising campaign criticizing a leading
opponent of the plan. The target, Rep. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New
Orleans, asked Monday that the sponsoring group, the Louisiana chapter
of All Children Matter, pull the ad. The political action organization
is part of a national group that backs school choice initiatives and
endorsed Peterson for re-election. Peterson blamed the ad on Jindal and
his chief of staff Timmy Teepell, and got some support from other
lawmakers who say the administration is using strong-arm tactics to win
passage of the controversial House Bill 1347 by Rep. Austin Badon,
D-New Orleans. The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
Detroit council members leery of tunnel sale
City Council members today worried a deal to sell the city’s portion of
the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel would repeat a bad trend of trading city
assets for one-time budget fixes."What are you going to do to balance
the budget next year?" Councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins said. "Sell
Hart Plaza?" The debate surfaced as administration officials asked
council members to create an entity called the Detroit Tunnel
Authority, which would control the tunnel indefinitely, and approve the
$75 million purchase price. Collins and Council President Pro-Tem
Monica Conyers worried the deal’s short-term benefits would be
outweighed by the act of at least temporarily losing control of the
tunnel. Collins pointed to the Detroit Zoo and Detroit Institute of
Arts as prior examples of privatization. The Detroit News
PA: Deadline extended for turnpike offers
Those groups interested in leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike have until
Friday to submit "last and final" bids, a spokesman for Gov. Ed Rendell
said Monday. Asked whether he wanted to comment on a Wall Street
Journal report that stated that two groups — one led by Spanish
toll-road operator Abertis Infraestructuras SA, while the second group
includes Spain’s Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructura de Transporte SA
and Australia’s Macquarie Infrastructure Group — had bid to lease the
turnpike, Ardo said, "you have to double-check carefully even the most
reliable sources." Pittsburgh Business Times
CA: Toll road through state beach gets boost
Orange County’s toll road operator said it has cleared the final environmental
hurdle for a proposed 16-mile highway extension through San Onofre State
Beach Park. NBC San Diego