May 7, 2008

Contractors gone wild
CA: Fed ruling resurrects prospects of toll road
Main Street, not Wall Street, should fix crumbling infrastructure
UT: Provo mayor calls iProvo sale a good deal
Forida proceeding with leasing 78 mile road
Detroit’s water fight
CT: Panel forms to privatize school health clinics
PA: Harrisburg mayor unveils ambitious parking proposal

News Summaries
Contractors gone wild
Theft, hookers, melting down Iraqi gold to make cowboy spurs–all
in a day’s work for private military contractors in Iraq? Mother Jones
CA: Fed ruling resurrects prospects of toll road
A federal review has found a toll road proposed to run through a
popular coastal state park in Orange County would not jeopardize
sensitive wildlife species. Sacramento Bee
Main Street, not Wall Street, should fix crumbling infrastructure
It would be a monumental mistake to turn the future of America’s
infrastructure over to the same crowd that brought us the subprime
crisis, an economy loaded down with debt, and recession. We should
know better by now than to create a scenario where bridges and highways
are sliced and diced like subprime loans into financially engineered
"collateralized infrastructure obligations." America needs a large
source of stable, long-term capital to build the system of buildings,
roads, and power supplies needed to sustain the country. We need a
source of capital that values infrastructure because it provides a
reasonable rate of return, strengthens the overall economy, and doesn’t
burden users with excessive fees. Enter that source of capital: Public
pension funds, which are responsible for the retirement benefits of
more than 18 million Americans, have more than $3 trillion in assets,
and a long-term investment approach consistent with the stable returns
that infrastructure assets generate. — KS Gov Kathleen Sebelius and
SEIU Pres. Andy Stern. The Christian Science Monitor
UT: Provo mayor calls iProvo sale a good deal
The city’s announcement that iProvo — the fiber optic network that has
registered financial losses since its inception — will be sold for
$40.6 million should not be interpreted as cut and run, Mayor Lewis
Billings said Tuesday. News of the city-owned fiber optic network’s
pending sale to Broadweave Networks, a fiber optic service provider
based in South Jordan, comes after numerous calls from a think tank,
the Utah Taxpayers Association and other critics to sell the system.
Several City Council members have also voiced their support of
privatization, but Billings said that didn’t factor into the city’s
decision to sell iProvo. The city has always been open to the private
sector taking over, he said. Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)
Forida proceeding with leasing 78 mile road
The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday began seeking
qualifications from firms interested in leasing the 78-mile-long
Alligator Alley toll road that crosses the southern part of the state
from Collier County on the west coast to Broward County on the east
coast. The state road agency expects to enter into a concession
agreement through a public-private partnership to lease the road, which
is part of Interstate 75, in return for an upfront payment and a
portion of excess toll revenues over the life of the concession
agreement, which will be between 50 and 75 years. It is Florida’s first
attempt to lease an existing toll facility, but FDOT officials have
said the move is prompted by the need to find new sources of revenue
for new and back-logged transportation projects. The Bond Buyer
Detroit’s water fight
The truth commission, held at that bastion of liberalism known as
Detroit’s Central United Methodist Church, was convened by area welfare
rights activists outraged by the fact that 45,000 Detroiters had their
water shut off last year. One of the bottom lines emphasized repeatedly
during the event was the increasing likelihood that multinational
corporations will try and buy up and privatize publicly owned water
works. With fresh water supplies expected to dwindle in many parts of
the country as a result of overuse and global warming, water from areas
like the Great Lakes region is expected to become ever more valuable.
"Water will be more valuable than gold," was a phrase uttered more than
once. Detroit, with the world’s largest water plant, could be
particularly vulnerable to this sort of attempted takeover, warned John
Riehl, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees Local 207, which has more than 900 members and represents
workers at Detroit’s Department of Water & Sewerage. Metro Times (Detroit)
CT: Panel forms to privatize school health clinics
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, excoriated in recent days over his
proposed budget that would deeply cut the school health clinics, said
Tuesday the clinics could remain open if they were privatized. ConnPost
PA: Harrisburg mayor unveils ambitious parking proposal
Harrisburg Mayor Stephen R. Reed this afternoon revealed a plan to
lease 11 Harrisburg Parking Authority garages, its parking lots and
approximately 900 metered parking spaces in the city to a private
company, which would pay the authority a one-time up front sum of $215
million. Central Penn Business Journal