May 9, 2008

MI: Privatizing in city planned
FL: Forget dangerous idea of private TB hospital – editorial
NY: State wasting money on private consultants: union
NY: AG sees fraud in some lawyers’ pensions
AZ: City considers privatized jails
NJ: Teachers’ union oppose school choice bill

[click on ‘continued reading’ for articles]

News Summaries
MI: Privatizing in city planned
Budget planners for Saginaw are proposing more firefighters to reduce
overtime, delaying vehicle purchases and outsourcing the controller’s
office. Staff, City Council members and citizens have about two weeks
to debate the strengths and weaknesses of a $36.3 million plan City
Manager Darnell Earley is proposing. The city would save $150,000 by
outsourcing its controller’s office to certified public accounting and
business advisory firm Plante & Moran, he said. The new deal would
put Plante & Moran in charge of the controller’s office, a division
of Fiscal Services, for three years at $225,000 annually. Four staff
members in the controller’s office would lose their jobs, Earley said.
The Saginaw News

FL: Forget dangerous idea of private TB hospital – editorial
When the state in 2006 first sought information about privatizing
Holley, GEO Care Inc. was the sole responder. The company had no TB
treatment experience and is a subsidiary of a private prison operator
state auditors in 2005 cited for "artificially inflated" raises,
unauthorized, "greatly overstated" overhead costs, and for being one of
two companies paid "about $4.5 million to which they were not entitled"
for vacant staff positions. Efforts to privatize A.G. Holley began under Jeb
"private-is-better-than-public" Bush and appealed to Lantana leaders
who want the state to move A.G. Holley so the town can restore the land
to its tax roll. But the state has not shown that a private company should be
entrusted with curing TB patients and protecting the public from the spread
of the airborne disease in the meantime. Privatizing A.G. Holley would cut
public health in the name of cutting the budget. Palm Beach Post
NY: State wasting money on private consultants: union
The Public Employees Federation said the state is hiring private
consultants when it should be using state workers. Using data from the
state Comptroller’s Office, PEF did a study which said New York State
could save $700 million if it stopped hiring consultants and used state
workers to do the same jobs. Capital News 9 (Albany)
NY: AG sees fraud in some lawyers’ pensions
Hundreds of lawyers across the state have been illegally granted state
pension benefits by school districts, towns and other governmental
entities, according to Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, who has opened
an investigation into the abuses. Many of the cases involve politically
connected lawyers who work as independent contractors for regional
school districts but are classified by the regional officials as public
employees, which allows them to earn health benefits or become eligible
for a state pension. In turn, the boards were able to collect more
state financing. The New York Times
AZ: City considers privatized jails
With the cost to put people in county jails on the increase each year,
Peoria is taking a look at the private sector to do the job. Councilman
Dave Pearson said because the fees will likely grow in succeeding
budget years it was time for a creative approach. "What I am
recommending is a hot potato," Pearson said at recent budget talks.
"Let’s look at possible incarceration in private jails. More and more
cities are considering it. "I just know that in a year from now we’ll
see another hefty increase in jail fees." The Arizona Republic
NJ: Teachers’ union oppose school choice bill
A controversial bill that would give poor students in eight New Jersey
municipalities the option to attend a private school or another public
school cleared a legislative hurdle Thursday. The proposal was approved
by the Senate Economic Growth Committee by a 3-to-1 vote, despite
intense opposition from teachers’ unions who said it would have a
devastating impact on public education. Under the bill, private
corporations could donate money to a scholarship fund that would be
appropriated to low-income students in eight pilot municipalities,
including Camden, to give them school choice. In exchange, business
would get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit from the state. But the
state’s largest teachers’ union expressed concern that it could mean
the first step toward privatization of New Jersey’s education system.