November 16, 2012


ID: Gangs, Private Prison Company Allegedly Partnered Together

A new lawsuit brought by eight inmates of the Idaho Correctional Center alleges that the company is cutting back on personnel costs by partnering with violent prison gangs to help control the facility. Court documents and an investigative report issued by the state’s Department of Corrections show how guards routinely looked the other way when gang members violated basic facility rules, negotiated with gang leaders on the cell placement of new inmates, and in one instance may have even helped one group of inmates plan a violent attack on members of a rival gang.  Think Progress

IL: Chicago Passes Austerity Budget with Little Debate—But More Than Usual

What was notable was that three aldermen did vote against the budget and one, Robert Fioretti, spoke in strident terms about how cuts and privatization could hurt regular people. Last year’s budget passed unanimously despite deep job cuts, the closure of six union-staffed mental-health clinics, the privatization of primary-care clinics, and other public-service cuts.  “We may not be generating the headlines of the parking meters,” Fioretti said, referring to the debacle when former Mayor Richard M. Daley leased the city’s meters to a private company, “but we are eliminating middle-classes jobs. For what result? What do we say to our constituents who are sold out, to the dedicated employees of mental health centers, to the police officers who are not seeing vacancies filled? … This helps the city in the long run how?”  In These Times

IL: Aussie Traffic Camera Company In Turmoil Over Shareholder Revolt, Ethics Investigation

Australian investors angry at the recent performance of Redflex Traffic Systems let management know by issuing a “first strike” Wednesday against the photo enforcement firm’s compensation plan. …Just one day before this year’s meeting, Redflex issued a statement informing investors that the Chicago, Illinois Inspector General was conducting an investigation into allegations of corruption related to the city’s red light camera contract with Redflex — the largest automated ticketing contract in the world. Last month, Chicago announced it excluding Redflex from bidding on the forthcoming speed camera contract after learning about a breach of the city’s ethics rules.  The Newspaper

NJ: Retailers form group opposing a privatized lottery

Citing a potential shift in lottery sales from Main Street retailers to big-box wholesalers and online platforms, a coalition of small retailers and unionized workers has launched a grassroots campaign opposing the Gov. Chris Christie administration’s plans to privatize the state lottery. NJBIZ

VA: Authority Overseeing Airports, Toll Road, Repeatedly Warned over Contract Deficiencies

The agency overseeing the region’s two major airports and managing construction of the $5.6 billion Dulles rail project was warned repeatedly over the past 10 years that it was improperly The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, already under fire for such ethics abuses as taking Super Bowl tickets from contractors, issued several large no-bid contracts that violated federal transit policy, according to reports and audits.  Washington Post

VA: Virginians favor fixing roads; paying for it is another matter

Virginian voters oppose, 57 percent to 38 percent, putting tolls on parts of Interstate 95 in the commonwealth to pay for that work, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. Virginians are even less keen on higher gas taxes. Given the choice between that and tolls, voters prefer tolls 56 percent to 32 percent. The Quinnipiac survey found that Virginians oppose privatizing the state’s port operations, 40 percent to 34 percent.  Washington Post

OH: Ohio PIRG questions turnpike proposal

As the state nears the end of a study into how it can wring billions out of the Ohio Turnpike, a consumer advocacy group Thursday questioned whether such a deal makes sense and how it might be structured. The Ohio Public Interest Research Group questioned whether such a deal might include a clause, as Indiana’s did, that might prohibit improvements to nearby public roads seen as competition. “If it is structured like that, projects like that could definitely be in jeopardy,” said Tabitha Woodruff, Ohio PIRG advocate and co-author of the report. The issue of a noncompetition clause was one of several posed by the group as ODOT prepares to release the results of the study conducted by Texas-based KPMG Corporate Finance LLC by the end of the year.  Toledo Blade

FL: Privatization hearing postponed

A Thursday court hearing for a case filed against the state’s privatization of prison health services was rescheduled for Monday morning so attorneys could have more time presenting oral arguments. Tallahassee Democrat ‎           

Hurricane Sandy and a National Infrastructure Bank

Hurricane Sandy’s blow on New York represented a direct hit on lower Manhattan and Wall Street – the epicenter of global finance, peopled with master financial planners. Yet here is an irony: “Wall Street,” notes infrastructure expert Michael Likosky, “continues to build Chinese, Middle East and North African, Indian, and other nations’ infrastructure and pipelines. It needs to do more at home.” With a national infrastructure bank of the type endorsed by President Obama and many top fiscal experts, there’d also be a strong spur to attract big financial capital pools now on the sidelines.  Citiwire