February 5, 2013


Private roads paved with public gold

Deals like these are increasingly common in the United States, sold by the same crowd that the conned cities and school districts coast to coast into disastrous interest rate swaps, rigged the municipal bond market, fixed international interest rates and set up the foreclosure catastrophe. The main selling points of the “privatizers” are almost always the same: the private sector can do everything better than the public sector, and offers lower municipal operating costs that keep taxes down. The claims don’t hold up. Costs may be kept down, but usually by eliminating jobs. It is a patently absurd claim that more unemployment is any city or state’s best interest. phillyBurbs.com

Another E-mail Trail: Jeb Bush’s Foundation and Ed Privatization

The key information revealed in these e-mails involves the foundation’s work in connecting the members of a Bush-created council of current and former state education commissions with corporations interested in privatizing state education functions. According to Donald Cohen, head of In the Public Interest, corporations have been using Jeb Bush’s foundation “to help state officials pass laws and regulations that make it easier to expand charter schools, require students to take online education courses, and do other things that could result in business and profits for them.” NonProfit Quarterly

FL: Fla. moving ahead with Medicaid privatization

Federal health officials gave Florida the green light to enroll tens of thousands of older, long-term care patients into a statewide Medicaid privatization program. But Gov. Rick Scott noted Monday he is awaiting a final signoff from the feds to privatize the program statewide for most of the state’s nearly 3 million Medicaid recipients….But critics worry for-profit providers are scrimping on patient care and denying medical services to increase profits.  Miami Herald

CA: Engineering association funded shadowy initiative campaigns

A group that backs privatizing public infrastructure engineering work gave $400,000 to a opaque out-of-state organization that injected millions of dollars — and plenty of controversy — into California’s initiative campaigns last year. New state campaign filings show that American Council of Engineering Companies California made a $150,000 donation to a Virginia-based nonprofit in July and another $250,000 in September. That nonprofit, Americans for Job Security, in turn, gave money to another non-profit organization based in Arizona which then contributed $11 million to a California committee that opposed Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 tax hike and supported Proposition 32, which sought to end payroll-deducted political contributions. Sacramento Bee

PA: Privatizing Pennsylvania Alcohol Distribution Risks Lost Revenue and Higher Social Costs

The Keystone Research Center (KRC) today called on the General Assembly and public to encourage Governor Corbett to abandon a new proposal to dramatically increase the number of retail outlets for beer, wine and spirits in the state. “The proposal could cost the commonwealth revenue that won’t be invested in education, health services and a stronger economy,” said Stephen Herzenberg, Ph.D., an economist and executive director of KRC. “It will also radically increase alcohol accessibility and the resulting social costs.” KRC economist Mark Price, Ph. D., estimated last year that, controlling for other variables including the strength of state alcohol regulations, privatizing alcohol distribution in Pennsylvania would lead to 58 more traffic fatalities annually. KeyStone.com

NY: LI lawmakers briefed on LIPA privatization plan

Long Island lawmakers met Monday night in Albany with a top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and financial consultants to hear the case for privatizing LIPA, the first in a series of briefings on the future of the troubled utility. Newsday

VA: Ports privatization critics voice concerns at public meeting

A last public hearing on possible port privatization in Virginia Monday quickly became a forum for opponents of two proposals that would put five state-run ports under new management. Opponents of the privatization proposals passed out fliers to hearing attendees and crowded the microphone with a string of speakers representing a range of local port companies.  Daily Press

TX: UT-Austin considering outsourcing some campus services

A new report released Tuesday by the University of Texas at Austin calls for the university to rethink its approach to housing, food and parking services. It also called for gradually raising the prices for those services up to market rates. The report, which is the product of a committee on business productivity that UT President Bill Powers assembled in April 2012, recommends consolidating business and administrative functions that are currently duplicated in individual colleges, improving the process for commercialization of technology developed on campus, and becoming more energy efficient.  The Horn