January 11, 2011

News summaries
NY: A Tapan Zee public-private partnership? Not just yet

“At this moment in time, we don’t have the leg    as they are technically defined in transportation projects,” Madison said. “So right now, the plan is that the Tappan Zee Bridge will be a publicly financed project.” This is the first time since Governor Cuomo’s October announcement of fast-tracked Tappan Zee plans that New York has said the bridge will be paid for with public dollars. In his State of the State speech, Governor Cuomo advocated for public-private partnerships to repair New York’s infrastructure, but Streetsblog reports that the legislature would have to sanction the novel financing mechanism if it were to be used in the Tappan Zee project. Mobilizing the Region

IL: Rockford City Council votes 8-5 to outsource street sweeping
The Rockford City Council’s 8-5 vote to outsource street sweeping wasn’ta nail-biter, but it was close and likely will serve as a reflection of challenges to come. Five Democratic aldermen voted to reject the bid from Elgin Sweeping Services, but the remaining eight aldermen — a combination of Democrats, Republicans and an independent — voted in favor of the nearly $300,000 annual contract…City leaders say the real savings will come in the ability to get the streets swept by an outside company while moving seven of its own employees to other areas of need, such as forestry…Union members were disappointed that the council chose to not debate the issue one last time before the final vote, said Local 1058 President Gary Cacciapaglia. Concerns about Elgin Sweeping Services’ safety record and alleged civil rights violations merited discussion, Cacciapaglia said, as did the union’s concerns about quality and loyalty. “When we look at what is best for our community, it isn’t always about dollars. It’s about the quality of services for our citizens, too,” Cacciapaglia said. “I don’t want to be standing here a year from now and talk to the same group about keeping forestry jobs. That’s the issue here. We feel like there’s a price tag on our heads. If anybody walks along and can do it any cheaper, we are out the door.” Rockford Register Star

NC: Private prisons profit – opinion
Though depicted as cost-saving efficient operations, independent studies suggest the contrary. A lack of regulation enables smaller staff and inadequate training, in turn, producing more violence and unstable conditions among those who “serve time.” Sustainable medical care has also come into question. Private prisons like the George W. Hill Center, Walnut Grove Youth Facility and New Castle Correctional Institute have garnered a barrage of scrutiny over the deaths of dozens of inmates. And though touted as inexpensively designed, private prisons have proven just as costly to construct. The same companies grossing billions from the capture and incarceration of Americans (mostly poor, black and Latino) are the same brokers who donate millions to state senators, school boards, mayors and police chiefs. It’s no secret that private firms such as The GEO Group possess direct appeal to federal legislation like “Three Strikes” and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing. Common sense says such merging complexities spell corruption – political dividends too close for public comfort. Fact is, we as Americans aren’t committing more crime; we’re doing more time because it pays. In a way, such structural manipulation is almost worse than slavery, considering America’s global claim to moral democracy at its highest order – an order not far removed, it seems, from Nazi Germany’s concentration camps at Warsaw and Auschwitz. We’re talking “Third World” sweatshops disguised as rehab programs, possibly in your home state! The Durham News