October 1, 2012


WI: Feds Slam Wisconsin Public-Private Partnership for Economic Development…The state was faulted for granting “forgivable” loans to a range of companies and giving $20,000 per job created to a manufacturing company called Kapco, twice as much as allowed under its own policies, the Journal reported. Two companies receiving $1.4 million were not properly assessed for financial soundness, the paper said. HUD was critical of the structure of the new public-private partnership and the “hasty” handoff of activities traditionally undertaken by traditional state agency employees at the now-extinct Department of Commerce. HUD ordered the state to hire a high-level administrator to monitor and oversee the new group’s activities and ensure proper compliance with state and federal laws.   Stateline

MI: State workers bid for own jobs as prison health union battles private sector. Nearly 1,300 health and mental health jobs are on the line in Michigan’s prison system as state officials begin to review bids to privatize them…. The push for privatization is part of an effort by the Republican-controlled Legislature to find new ways to save money. ..But it also puts state employees in an unusual position of competing directly with the private sector to maintain their livelihoods. Holman said state employees remain concerned about the push for privatization, adding union officials are convinced that privatizing prison services is simply a bad idea. Lansing State Journal

MI: Hearing scheduled over Detroit’s health department outsourcing. Lawyers for the Detroit City Council and Mayor Dave Bing will appear Thursday before a judge hearing the council’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the Bing administration’s outsourcing of the city’s health department to a nonprofit group. The council says privatizing the department would cost jobs, violate the city charter and endanger services to poor and elderly residents. Bing seeks to do the same with the city’s workforce development department. An arbitrator ruled this week that the city could not move forward with the transition — among cuts the Bing administration says the city must take under its fiscal stability agreement with the state. Detroit Free Press

NE: University moving ahead with plans to privatize health center. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln plans to privatize its health center operations — a plan being closely watched by university staff, faculty and students. Student body president Eric Kamler says he’s rarely used the University Health Center, but he likes to know it’s there and that he can count on it.  “I think the biggest concern that students have that we’ve heard at student senate and in our offices is maintaining the same quality of health care and services,” he said. The Republic

FL: Lake commissioners’ priorities skewed with thoughts of privatizing ambulance service – commentary. This  county is served by Lake EMS, a nonprofit organization and one of the finest ambulance outfits in the country, literally. Having the best of something is a claim this county rarely gets to make. Yet commission Chairwoman Leslie Campione and Commissioner Sean Parks want to find the cheapest company possible to attend to your stroke, complaining that the $5.4 million annual subsidy that the county pays EMS is too high. What Campione and Parks fail to mention in this offensive tirade is that THEY are the ones responsible for both paying the subsidy AND for spending it. They sit on both the commission that makes the grant and the board of directors of the agency that spends it. Neither of them ever has mentioned during an EMS board meeting during the last 11 months that they thought there was the slightest problem.  Orlando Sentinel

Working America: 10 Reasons Not to See ‘Won’t Back Down’. The Walden Media film “Won’t Back Down,” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, opens in theaters today. The film dramatizes a parent fighting to improve her child’s school, but it’s actually a dishonest Hollywood portrayal of the problems in our educational system—funded by the very people who want to privatize and profit from our schools. Here are 10 reasons to skip it.  AFL Blog

Political and Class Issues Complicate a Colorado Land Dispute. This is a story of a quiet billionaire and a middle-class mountain town, of class divisions, small-town quarrels and competing visions of the future of the West. But at its core, like so many stories here in the aspen-dappled hillsides, it is really all about land. Specifically, it is about a belt of public land that cuts straight through a ranch owned by the industrialist Bill Koch, whose brothers Charles and David are top contributors to conservative Republican causes. The New York Times

The sobering consequences of privatizing NPR – opinion. Evidence indicates that as public radio has increased its reliance on private revenue sources, the programming is adversely affected. An elimination of federal appropriations likely would accelerate that process. I recently completed a study of NPR from 2000 to 2010, examining the impact of privatization on news content. The public radio system has seen an 8 percent swing away from public funding sources toward more market-sensitive sources. This was accompanied by a shift in NPR content away from the mission of public broadcasting, which is to rovide diverse and in-depth coverage responsive to local communities. Analysis of programs “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition” reveals a decline in the type of news stories that public radio is intended to provide. There was a 23 percent decline since 2000 in the amount of in-depth topical news content on those programs. Public radio’s mission is to provide content that serves communities in a way that conglomerated commercial media cannot. If the trend of privatizing public broadcasting continues, we may be left with a monolithic presence of syndicated content that is insensitive to the diverse nature of North Carolina.  The Charlotte Observer