September 13, 2012


Keep Wall Street Out Of Our Waterways. Up until now the United States has adhered to a public trust approach to our waterways, maintaining that waters were part of the commons–owned by no one and by everyone–and protected for future generations. As populations grow and water demands increase and as industry seeks workarounds from our environmental laws, the Wall Street investment industry is looking for new ways to profit. And what’s the best “commodity” for any investment banker? As Goldman Sachs puts it, “As a necessity for life, there is no substitute for water. It is the only utility you ingest….” For the investment banking industry, water-related death, drought and degradation aren’t calamities; they’re profit opportunities. “If you play it right,” says one hedge-fund advisor, “the results of this impending water crisis can be very good.”  Huffington Post

FL: Florida Investigates K12, Nation’s Largest Online Educator. Florida’s Department of Education has launched an investigation of K12, the nation’s largest online educator, over allegations the company uses uncertified teachers and asked employees to help cover up the practice. K12 officials told certified teachers to sign class rosters that included students they hadn’t taught, according to documents that are part of the investigation… The documents suggest K12 may be using uncertified teachers in violation of state law. In 2009, K12 asked Seminole County Public Schools if it could use uncertified teachers in some of its online classes. That uncertified teacher would be overseen by a so-called “teacher of record” — a certified teacher. Seminole County Public Schools consulted with the Florida Department of Education and then denied the request, citing state law requiring certified teachers.  NPR

FL: State panel approves privatization of prison health care. A GOP-dominated state budget panel signed off on a plan to turn over health services for the state’s 100,000 inmates to two private companies, ignoring threats of lawsuits and concerns about questionable savings…But the outsourcing is far from a done deal. The prison health care privatization has been mired in court since last year. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Florida Nurses’ Association challenged it as a major policy change that needed to be approved in a stand-alone bill, not just as part of budget language. Palm Beach Post

FL: Unions Protest Privatization Outside Jackson Memorial Hospital. Local unions protested a plan to privatize part of Jackson Memorial Hospital Wednesday. The unions claiming the move would put profits before patients. “The doctors and nurses here do not serve bankers. Theydo not serve lobbyists. CBS Local

MN: Political differences impede regulation of for-profit schools. Building on a U.S. Senate investigation that concluded that for-profit colleges employed aggressive or misleading recruiting tactics, state officials are weighing tighter regulation of the institutions in Minnesota. Larry Pogemiller, director of the state Office of Higher Education is gathering information on the schools, an inquiry that follows a two-year investigation by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee into companies that run 30 for-profit schools in the United States. The committee did not review Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business, but some former employees of those schools told MPR News how recruiters there emotionally manipulated prospective students and fed them misleading information to get them to enroll. MinnPublicRadio

MI: City of Muskegon moves to privatize its building inspection services . The privatization of building inspections will mean the layoff of five city employees and is estimated to bring more than $100,000 in annual savings to the city, City Manager Bryon Mazade said.  It also is a signal that the Muskegon-area cities and townships could not come to an agreement over a local, consolidated inspections department. “This is never easy nor desirable,” Mayor Steve Gawron said. “These people (facing layoff) are known to us. They have been and are dedicated employees. But we have to be proactive in facing the new financial realities. We are not in control of our funding sources.” Muskegon Chronicle

IN: VIEW: Privatization of lottery cause for pause. Despite the Daniels administration’s proclivity toward privatization and its desire to bring in more revenue outside taxes, the administration should carefully reconsider going forward with hiring a private company to run the Hoosier Lottery. Two of the four companies that submitted proposals decided to withdraw them. One, Camelot Global Services, said the state’s plan “strongly incentivizes all bidders to propose artificially high income targets.” Even worse, the company said the plan did not adequately protect the state if revenue falls short…. Hoosiers and their elected leaders must not lose sight of this issue: To increase revenue, the contractor has to sell more tickets, and the only real way to do that is to entice more Hoosiers to buy more tickets. Does the state really want to encourage more people to lose money gambling?  The Star-Press