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?

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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