February 4, 2013

News

FL: Governor Pushes Prison Work Release Privatization Plan

Though Florida Governor Rick Scott has recently said he won’t privatize state prison operations (something he considered early in his term, which received flak after it was revealed that the conservative’s election campaign received $30,000 in contributions from both Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group), his administration has pushed forward with plans to privatize healthcare services in state prisons and he recently recommended that 14 of the state’s publicly operated work release centers should also go to private contractors.  Forbes

PA: Lawmaker proposals could undercut privatization

While state lawmakers consider Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to privatize wine and liquor sales, at least eight members have introduced proposals to change Pennsylvania’s alcohol laws. Dozens of measures aim to “modernize” wine and liquor sales and change what liquor fees and taxes fund. Debates over these measures might be meaningless if lawmakers agree to full-scale privatization, said Chris Borick, a political scientist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. “But if you get some of those reforms moving, maybe the case for privatization becomes less strong. Tribune-Review

PA: AFSCME adds new arguments in its lottery privatization lawsuit

The union representing Pennsylvania Lottery workers is hanging its latest hope of invalidating Gov. Tom Corbett’s lottery management contract on an attorney general’s opinion from more than three decades ago. AFSCME 13 argues the lottery law may be unconstitutional but even if it isn’t, a 31-year-old attorney general opinion suggests Gov. Tom Corbett has to go through the state’s rule-making process before entering into a contract with Camelot Global Services PA, LLC. The lawsuit, filed in December, seeks a permanent injunction to prevent Corbett from handing management of the lottery over Camelot Global Services PA LLC. PennLive.com

IL: Not so fast, Mr. Mayor, on your Midway deal

The potential benefits of leasing the city’s No. 2 airport had dwindled considerably even before U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin weighed in last week with a demand for repayment of $380 million in federal grant money spent at Midway over the years. As my colleague Paul Merrion reported recently, private investors who were willing to pay $2.5 billion four years ago for the right to operate Midway are now unlikely to offer more than half that amount. That’s barely enough to retire airport debt the city hopes to extinguish with proceeds of a privatization deal. Subtract a third of the proceeds to pay back Uncle Sam and there’s even less. No matter what, little or nothing would be left to invest in infrastructure improvement, which is what Chicago and its taxpayers need.  Crain’s Chicago Business

WI: State prison head warns employees they could be fired for privatization rumors

The head of the state prison system warned employees this week that they could be fired if they spread what he considers baseless rumors about privatizing prisons and other matters involving the Department of Corrections… Privatizing prisons has long been a concern for correctional employees because it could lead to mass layoffs by the state. Gov. Scott Walker has taken no steps to privatize prisons, though he strongly backed the idea when he was in the Legislature in the 1990s.  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

OH: Kasich’s privatized prison fails first big test

When a series of fights broke out at the Lake Erie Corrections Institution last week, the company that operates the prison, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), was forced to call Special Response Teams (SRTs) from the state of Ohio for assistance. According to representatives of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA),  CCA’s own special response team has been in Mississippi since May when a riot broke out at a CCA facility in that state.  One guard was killed and multiple others were injured in that incident. ..Before being appointed as Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections by John Kasich, Gary Mohr was a consultant and managing director for CCA…. CCA’s inability to handle the disturbance that occurred last Friday further adds to our concerns that in a rush to privatize state assets, the Governor has put the safety of the employees and prisoners at LECI and the citizens of Conneaut at serious risk.  Plunderbund

VA: Big crowd expected at port privatization hearing

The public gets another chance today to weigh in on the port-privatization process. A hearing is planned from 5 to 8 p.m. at the theater inside Nauticus, the second public event sponsored by the Virginia Port Authority board. If it’s anything like the one held in early October, the room could be packed. The session comes as the process that began last spring moves closer to a decision, expected at the authority’s March 26 board meeting.  The Virginian-Pilot

CA: Judge terminates court order blocking Costa Mesa outsourcing

An Orange County city that found itself in the eye of a political firestorm after it explored whether to lay off nearly half of its workforce and replace it with private-sector employees is one step closer to repairing a fissure between workers and elected officials. Superior Court Judge Luis A. Rodriguez terminated an 18-month-old court order blocking Costa Mesa from outsourcing some of its services. The injunction took effect not long after an organized labor group, the Costa Mesa Employees Assn., sued the city to block some 200 layoff notices. Daily Pilot

The Post Office Heist

But now we are told the USPS is massively broke, teetering on bankruptcy, and can only be “saved” if it is privatized. Competition from private mail and package services and the advent of the Internet for routine correspondence and bill paying are the often cited reasons for the failure; that and “inefficiency.” It’s a scam. Think about it. The competition from the likes of Fed Ex, Yahoo and on-line bill paying and banking is not new. And automation has made mail handling steadily more efficient. Why is the postal service suddenly broke? Because a Republican Congress wanted it to be broke, and in 2006 required the USPS to pre-fund postal retiree health benefits for 75 years into the future, a burden no other public or private company is required to carry. Payments of $11.6 billion are due now on those obligations imposed by Congress.  phillyBurbs.com

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