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

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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