November 15, 2012


IL: Mayor Emanuel ensures parking meters remain in private hands

There’s a major reason Chicago hasn’t been able to get rid of its street parking privatization deal: because Mayor Rahm Emanuel has fought to keep it in place. That’s the gist of a ruling Tuesday afternoon by a Cook County judge, who found that the 75-year privatization agreement may be “a bad deal” but can’t be declared illegal as long as the city claims to be benefiting from it. At issue was a 2009 lawsuit filed by attorney Clint Krislov on behalf of the IVI-IPO, a public-interest group. The suit argued that the deal illegally privatized the government’s right to set parking and traffic policy and restricted the options of future city officials.  Chicago Reader

IL: Chicago Mayor Planning First Step to Privatize Water

It’s hard to build a case against the 34 water call employees. They perform a vital service, answering calls and providing information about water bills. No one’s accused them of malingering. In fact, fewer people are doing more work as the staff is cut and calls increase—no doubt thanks to Mayor Emanuel’s hike in water and sewer fees this year. However, Emanuel claims the city will save $100,000 by farming out the service to NTT while drastically cutting down waiting times and improving service at the call center. He says he doesn’t know how much NTT will pay its employees or whether they will have health benefits.  PDAIllinois

IL: Emanuel has open door for corporate execs, record shows

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has opened the door to his City Hall office for a steady stream of investment bankers, venture capitalists and international consultants in his intense search for private solutions to some of Chicago’s biggest public problems…. One of his top advisers, Lois Scott, headed a financial consulting firm that represented companies entering government privatization deals. And since taking office, Emanuel has had many meetings with experts who are offering solutions to such problems for other governments. Chicago Tribune

AZ: ACLU-Idaho says private prison company may be violating settlement in 2010 federal lawsuit

The organization sent CCA a letter last week detailing its concerns about safety at the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise. The settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union stemmed from a 2010 lawsuit the organization filed on behalf of inmates at the prison, contending the CCA-run facility was so violent that inmates called it “Gladiator School.” CCA firmly denied the allegations, but the two sides reached a deal requiring staffing and safety changes at the prison.  Washington Post

CA: Public-private partnership for construction of Long Beach courthouse despite report

State and local officials have lauded the concept of a public-private partnership as an innovative, cost-effective way to build the new Gov. George Deukmejian Courthouse, but the concept may not have been the best approach, according to a recent study. The Legislative Analyst’s Office…. oncluded that the state Administrative Office of the Courts did not use clear processes and appeared “to have selected projects not well suited for” a public-private partnership. The report also stated that studies comparing the costs of projects under different options “were based on several assumptions that are subject to significant uncertainty and interpretation, and tended to favor” public-private partnerships.  Contra Costa Times

TX:  $4 million boathouse to be built at White Rock Lake

The project is a private-public venture between the city and Dallas United Crew, a coed high school rowing team…Under the deal, Dallas United Crew would raise the money to build the boathouse, which would be on the northeast part of the lake. No city money would be used. The city would own the building and earn 10 percent of the rowing club’s revenue, an estimated $150,000 over the course of a 20-year contract. There’s an option to renew the lease in 10 years. Some residents…worry that the deal represents a step toward privatization of the lake, a city park. Dallas Morning News

TX: Helium shortage could threaten Houston’s Turkey Day parade

Under the 1996 Helium Privatization Act, the land management agency has been charged with selling off the remaining supply of helium on federal lands as private industry and overseas production plants take over the role of helium extraction. Houston Chronicle

LA: More state workers laid off in past four months than in any year of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tenure

Since the fiscal year began on July 1, 967 state employees lost their jobs and the state is set to shed more than 2,000 more positions as the effects of cuts to hospitals and the privatization of state services go into effect later this year.