September 12, 2012


OH: Lawsuit challenges privatization of state roads, prisons in Ohio. Plaintiffs hoping to stop the privatization of correctional facilities in Ohio are also challenging the constitutionality of Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to lease the Ohio Turnpike to private investors.  The lawsuit filed in August in the Court of Common Pleas in Franklin County, OH, takes aim at the privatization effort by attacking a state spending bill that consolidates and/or privatizes a number of state facilities. The plaintiffs say Kasich and others violated the “single subject” provision of the Ohio Constitution because the bill tackled multiple unrelated subjects. The plaintiffs want the court to void the law and prohibit the governor from privatizing assets. Land Line Magazine

IL: As Paul Ryan Lines Up Behind Rahm, the Scheme to Privatize Chicago Schools Becomes Clear…Significant sections of the Chicago Public Schools system are starved for funds. They are putting 40-50 students in classrooms without air conditioning. The kids don’t have books or materials weeks into the term. And ultimately, the goal is to make those schools so poorly maintained, staffed and administered that they “fail,” allowing Rahm Emanuel and his hedge fund buddies to essentially privatize them: What we’re seeing in Chicago is the fallout from Jonah Edelman’s hedge fund backed campaign to elect Illinois state legislators who supported an anti-collective bargaining, testing based education proposal giving Edelman the “clear political capability to potentially jam this proposal down [the teachers unions’] throats,” political capability he used as leverage to jam an only slightly less awful proposal down their throats. It’s a political deal that explicitly targeted Chicago teachers, while trying to make it impossible that they would strike by requiring a 75 percent vote of all teachers, not just those voting, for a strike to be legal. But more than 90 percent of Chicago teachers voted to strike.…Privatizing the services of public schools, or the entire schools themselves, has become big business. If it takes a standardized test to force that into being, if that becomes the data that “proves” the need for privatization, that’s what will get used. FireDogLake

FL: Union plans to challenge Fla. privatization plan. The administration of Florida Gov. Rick Scott is pushing ahead with a controversial prison privatization plan despite lingering legal questions. Florida’s prison agency is asking a legislative panel to approve spending nearly $58 million in order to privatize prison health care operations by January. The move could affect up to nearly 3,000 employees statewide.  But the union that represents state workers says that the Legislative Budget Commission cannot legally make a major adjustment to the state budget. A lawyer for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees says that decision must be made by the entire Florida Legislature. The union will sue if the budget panel approves the privatization plan at its Wednesday meeting. Sacramento Bee

WA: Washington liquor privitization raises concerns about cross-state transportation of spirits. Privatization of liquor sales for Washington state took effect on June 1. Three months after privatization took effect in the state, the Washington Department of Revenue and the Liquor Control Board are still examining the issue of spirit tax liability across state borders…Individuals are permitted to bring two liters of spirits into Washington from another state without a tax mark-up on the items, according to the Washington LCB. However, Gowrylow said enforcement of that will continue to be an issue. “If someone goes to Portland and buys a dozen things of whiskey and comes back, they’re obviously over the two liter limit,” he said. “So what do we do?” There is essentially no practical way to enforce limits on cross-state liquor transportation by consumers, he said. OregonLive

WA: Car renters angry at extra charges for highway tolls. It cost me $27.10 in tolls and fees to make the round trip between the Orlando airport and my home in Winter Springs, Fla., in a rental car last month. If that sounds like a lot of money for a half-hour drive, it should. There are no expensive bridges or tunnels between the airport and my house, just suburban sprawl connected by a flat toll road. And technically, I paid only $3.50 to Florida’s turnpike authorities, the rest went to a company called PlatePass. PlatePass is one of several businesses that offer electronic toll payments through an onboard transponder or a system that photographs license plates. These little-known businesses are at the center of a growing number of complaints from car rental customers, and a look at my bill offers a few clues as to why.  Seattle Times

IN: Matthew Tully: Privatizing the Hoosier Lottery won’t make sales tactics any less distasteful … Now, we can debate how much government should be in the business of encouraging or discouraging personal behavior. But when government does encourage certain behaviors, shouldn’t they be healthy? And we can have a debate over how limited or expansive government policies should be. But shouldn’t such policies always be crafted with the goal of uplifting the citizenry? Airing a radio ad that leads people to think they will hit it big — when they almost certainly will not — is not uplifting. Using gimmicks and marketing science to convince people to gamble more, or to start gambling, or to resume gambling, is not healthy. Still, this whole privatization thing is troubling. Yes, it would reduce the state’s role in the lottery, but it’s hard to imagine that the net effect would be positive. A lottery spokesman, after all, said the goal of the plan is to spark an increase in profits by allowing a private firm to control functions such as marketing and sales. If you think the state has gone too far with its marketing tactics, imagine what a private firm driven by profits would do.

NV: Las Vegas Mayor eager for toll roads to be option in Nevada. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman says she’s ready to get behind a lobbying effort for legislation that would enable the state to collect tolls on Nevada highways… Nevada is the only state among seven in the West that don’t have tolling authority.  VegasInc