February 12, 2013


OH:  How Ohio’s Plan To Privatize Prison Food Could Lead To Deadly Riots

Ohio’s taste for privatization is likely to make prison food even less appetizing than it already is. Private vendors can skimp on food quality, quantity, and staff in order to make a profit. Unlike state-run cafeterias, private vendors servicing juvenile detention facilities can skip the federal nutrition guidelines for school lunches…. Poor food quality and sanitation have sparked multiple deadly riots at private prisons run by corporations like CCA and GEO Group. In one prison, inmates were fed soup filled with worms, while other prisons served burritos and brownies contaminated with human feces. The cost-saving claim of the plan is also dubious; Ohio’s last flirtation with Aramark in 1998 ended because the company insisted on being paid by daily inmate count rather than by actual meals served, which drove up costs by $2 million. ThinkProgress

OH: City’s plan to privatize parking key debate of mayoral race

The owners of nearby Cappel’s, the venerable accessory and party supply store, don’t want the city to sell the meters to a private company.  “It’s really going to discourage customers from coming to town, and I’m sure the enforcement is going to be significant, so that – that makes it even worse,” said business owner Diane Cappel.  The issue of leasing street meters to a private company is helping define this year’s campaign for mayor.  WLWT Cincinnati

PA: Researchers: Easier access to booze has a downside

So say public health researchers, who point to a body of evidence that suggests making alcohol easier to purchase and less expensive — goals of Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to end Pennsylvania’s system of state-owned liquor stores — will lead to more consumption and an increase in a host of social and health problems. “I think in the research world, you never have 100 percent consensus,” said Traci Toomey, a professor with the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health who sits on the board of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “But among those of us who do alcohol policy research and alcohol research in general, there is a strong agreement that as we increase availability of alcohol, we see a corresponding increase of a wide range of problems.”  Allentown Morning Call

DE: Board overseeing Wilmington port gets presentation from Kinder Morgan amid privatization talks

Representatives of energy giant Kinder Morgan are giving a presentation to the state board that oversees the Port of Wilmington. Dimond State Port Corporation comes as the Markell administration continues negotiations with Kinder Morgan over privatizing operations at Wilmington port. Last month, lawmakers approved a bill giving the General Assembly a say before any privatization deal is signed.  Gov. Jack Markell signed the measure even though his administration opposed legislative interference, saying it could upset delicate negotiations and even torpedo a deal. Washington Post

TX: Editorial: Money misspent on prisons is money better spent elsewhere

There was a time not all that long ago when Texas prisons were jam-packed. Now, because of falling crime rates and a move away from trying to incarcerate as many convicts as possible, about 10,000 bunks might be going unused in Texas’ 111-prison system. There are hundreds of additional empty bunks in the state’s six prisons for juvenile inmates. Even with all this empty state-run space available, Texas pays $123 million a year to lease beds from private prison companies, as the American-Statesman’s Mike Ward reported last week. This is money poorly spent that could be redirected elsewhere. The number of unused beds in state prisons gives legislators the opportunity to consolidate Texas’ prison system and close more prisons beyond the one they agreed to close in 2011. Additional money can be saved by ending contracts with private prison companies. Austin American-Statesman

The Postal Service Outrage

You are probably hearing that the Post Office is “in crisis” and is cutting back Saturday delivery, laying people off, closing offices, etc. Like so many other “crises” imposed on us lately, there is a lot to the story that you are not hearing from the “mainstream” media. The story of the intentional destruction of the U.S. Postal Service is one more piece of the story of crisis-after-crisis, all manufactured to advance the strategic dismantling of our government and handing over the pieces to billionaires. OurFuturel.org



February 11, 2013


Privatising the oceans

One key measure proposed by the EC to resolve over-capacity in the current climate of economic austerity, was the creation of transferrable fishing concessions (TFCs) — quotas that fishermen can sell on the market. These would cost the EC nothing, but there was serious concern that their widespread use would lead to the privatisation of the contents of the oceans, allowing quotas to fall under the control of the financial markets and would mean the programmed end of small-scale fishing.…In legal terms, the content of the oceans is what the Romans referred to as res omnis, the property of all. For months, the NGO coalition Ocean2012, small fishermen and some politicians had been warning MEPs that “as soon as you privatise access, you privatise the resource”, and on 18 December the introduction of TFCs was rejected by a large majority. LeMonde

David Kolb: Don’t let the GOP kill the Post Office

Let’s be clear: This “crisis” is entirely preventable, and was brought on by Republicans to weaken, and then kill off, a great government service in order to allow their pals, the privatization vultures, to consume the carcass. The Muskegon Chronicle

Global education market reaches $4.4 trillion — and is growing

Good news for those who see school reform as a way to make big bucks: A new report says that the global education market is now worth $4.4 trillion — that’s TRILLION — and is set to grow a lot over the next five years….And in the United States, the education policies of former president George W. Bush, and now President Obama, have spurred a trend toward privatization of of public education. For more than a decade now, market forces have been driving school reform. Are schools any  better? The real question is how much worse have they become. Washington Post

DC: D.C. debates growth of charter schools

It’s the latest sign that the District is on track to become a city where a majority of children are educated not in traditional public schools but in public charters: A California nonprofit group has proposed opening eight D.C. charter schools that would enroll more than 5,000 students by 2019.,,, Rocketship’s charter application — which is the largest ever to come before District officials, and which might win approval this month — arrives on the heels of Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s decision to close 15 half-empty city schools, highlighting an intense debate about the future of public education in the nation’s capital. Washington Post

FL: Cashing in on state contracts becomes growth industry

Florida’s two-decades-long push to shift state services to contract vendors has meant big business for a burgeoning industry of lobbyists….No one is keeping track of the total, but Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater last year estimated the total contract expenditure for Florida’s 2011-12 budget cycle at $50.4 billon — 72 percent of the budget. The bulk of it, nearly $42 billion, was for healthcare contracts and service sector grants that often are never competitively bid. “We probably privatize, or outsource, more than some of the Northeastern states — and we have a lot more volume,’’ said David Wilkins, a retired business executive who was tapped by the governor to review the state’s byzantine contracting process. He also is secretary of the Department of Children and Families. Miami Herald

FL: Public schools lose millions to crooks and cheaters

Florida’s Department of Education doesn’t screen backgrounds of the people who profit from subsidized tutoring, and it seldom cracks down on companies accused of improper billing, illegal marketing and low-quality tutoring. Overwhelmingly, the state has allowed these companies to continue earning tax dollars year after year….The state was set to shut down the program when lobbyists for the tutoring industry stepped in. They convinced state lawmakers to keep the money flowing…. The companies are paid at a dramatically higher rate than conventional public schools. In the 2009-10 school year, the most recent period for which numbers are available, the state spent $9,981 per student — about $11 an hour. Florida spent $58 an hour, more than five times as much, on private tutoring. Tampa Bay Times

PA: Public education the focus of Pittsburgh rally

American public schools have leveled the playing field for poor children and provided opportunities for children of all backgrounds for more than a century. But their ability to continue to do so will continue to erode unless the community works to establish adequate, equitable and sustainable government funding for public education, local education activists said Sunday. Pittsburgh Post Gazette

NY: Be Our Guest: Fix LIPA and keep it public

It’s true, LIPA is a mess. It is saddled with debt that comes from bailing out shareholders from the last failed effort to privatize the utility, then LILCO. But the bank-like private utilities to whom LIPA would be sold are not to be trusted. They have a long record of lining their pockets at the expense of New Yorkers. State regulators should not sign off on the deal. After three decades of moving ever deeper into privatizing public infrastructure, regulators should insist that essential public infrastructure should be managed for the public, not for profit. In the aftermath of Sandy, as we’re examining the failure of our infrastructure, regulators should call for a responsible, public approach to infrastructure.  New York Daily News



February 8, 2013


PA: Convention Center board votes to seek privatization proposals

The board of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority voted Thursday in favor of seeking proposals from companies to privatize certain functions of the Convention Center…. “As a public agency, federal tax rules prevent us from fully privatizing with a for-profit venture,” Fox said. “There are some limitations. Philadelphia Inquirer

OH: Council should heed the red flags from Chicago – opinion

While a large lump sum to lease Cincinnati’s parking meters, lots and garages might sound like a sweet deal, we must consider potential pitfalls and hidden costs that often accompany privatization deals. Chicago is now suffering from buyer’s remorse, and Cincinnati is in a position to learn from its mistakes. In particular, there are three common problems with privatization that should make City Council think twice about its privatization plans.  Cincinnati.com

OH: Kasich plans to privatize food service at prisons

Up to 456 state jobs could be lost, but many employees could be offered positions with the private contractor, officials at both agencies said. Exactly how many jobs that would be is unknown. The proposal, included in Gov. John Kasich’s budget released Monday, is vigorously opposed by the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing 33,000 state workers, including prison staff. Columbus Dispatch

IL: Chicago Midway Plan Draws Interest From Ferrovial, GIP           

The leasing of Chicago’s Midway International Airport is drawing investor interest from Global Infrastructure Partners LP to Ferrovial SA, London Heathrow’s biggest shareholder, as privatization efforts advance.  Bloomberg

NH: House Hears Bill To Ban Prison Privatization

The bill to ban private prisons comes as the state continues to evaluate bids from private contractors for three potential projects: a 1500 bed facility for men; a 200 bed facility for women and a third co-ed prison. The lead sponsor of the proposed ban, Keene Democrat Tim Robertson, says NH needs to stay far away from letting for profit companies run NH prisons. “There is no evidence that they can actually save you money and the incentive is for them to get more money out of us by keeping people in longer and in longer and treating them worse.” NH Public Radio

Background on the $15.9 Billion Loss by the Postal Service

Congress has put the Postal Service in an impossible situation. It has imposed restrictions, like the requirement that all assets in its pension and retiree health fund be invested in government bonds that substantially raise its costs relative to competitors. It has also prohibited USPS from getting into new lines of business that take advantage of its resources in order to protect private sector companies from competition. However it still expects the USPS to be run at a profit. Clearly the Post Service would face difficulties in any case as technology has led to a shift away from first class mail, the system’s main source of revenue. However the restrictions that Congress imposes makes it impossible for USPS to adjust to changing economic conditions.  CEPR

The post office can still be saved, but its grave has been dug

Elaine C. Kamarck of Harvard Kennedy School of Government has observed the essential contradiction in Congress’ attitude toward the post office from the very beginning of its new life as a corporation. “Congress wants it to be self-sufficient but doesn’t want it to make money.” Kamarck continues: “For example, in the mid-1970s, the post office was told to remove copy machines from post offices under pressure from lobbyists representing office equipment stores who feared that USPS was taking away its business…”Years later, when Internet shopping took off, the delivery of packages to individual households should have resulted in a dramatic increase in USPS business. But parcel shipments were generated by large organizations and the USPS was not allowed to negotiate discounts and thus lost business. It was forbidden by law from lowering prices to get more business. This resulted in the entirely incredible situation in the 1990s where the United States government negotiated an agreement for the delivery of U.S. government package services with Fed Ex because the USPS was not allowed to negotiate for lower prices!”  Alternet


February 7, 2013


PA: Voter poll pulls losing numbers for Corbett’s lotto plan

A Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College Poll released Thursday shows that registered voters strongly oppose Corbett’s plan to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery and don’t like the way he’s pursuing that goal. And, as with a long-running series of polls, Corbett’s job approval numbers are anemic as he turns toward a campaign for a second term in 2014. Sixty-four percent of the voters polled said they oppose his plan to turn over control of the lottery to a British company, Camelot Global Services. Just 18 percent support the idea, which Corbett announced Jan. 11. Nearly one in five voters, 18 percent, didn’t have an opinion.  Phlly.com

NM: NM Schools Chief Overrules Panel, Clears Path for Virtual School

New Mexico state schools chief Hanna Skandera has overruled her state’s public education commission and approved a new statewide online provider, arguing that the panel’s rejection of the virtual program relied on faulty logic and a misreading of the law. The online provider, Connections Academy, seeks to operate a full time, virtual charter school in New Mexico. The state’s public education commission, an elected body, in September rejected the academy’s application by a 6-3 vote. Education Week News

OH:  City Councilman petitions to stop outsourcing

Sittenfeld, who has been a vocal opponent of a proposed plan to lease Cincinnati’s parking meters and garages to a private company, said the petition has been circulated in business districts including Oakley, Mt. Lookout, Clifton and Hyde Park…. Mark Rogers, The only reason a business would be interested in buying the right to lease parking is if it expected to make a lot of profit, said Rogers. “If there is that much profit on the table why would we give that away?” Cincinnati.com

MS: Miss. considers privatizing child support collections

The Mississippi Department of Human Services could hire private companies to handle child support collections under a bill that passed the state Senate on Wednesday. Jackson Clarion Ledger

IL: Privatizing Chicago – opinion

On the surface, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking great pains to assure the public that any Midway transaction will not be a sequel to the parking meter fiasco…. While such good intentions are welcome, the public’s comfort level would be much higher if there were a law that established a clear set of rules to ensure an open, transparent and accountable process for every privatization transaction. Unfortunately, the City Council, charged with keeping a watchful eye on such dealings, has not rallied to that important cause. The council has buried a proposed privatization disclosure act in the Rules Committee, where it cannot get a full public hearing.  Chicago Tribune

Study: Private Prison Growth Can Impede Local Job Growth

Researchers at Washington State University are challenging the widespread belief that private prisons can help job growth in rural counties…. “What we found is that when a new prison opens in a rural county, they tend to have fewer jobs instead of more,” says Gregory Hooks, a WSU sociology professor. “There is no evidence of private prisons being statistically significant in terms of job growth but we did find that states embracing privatization went the other way.” The Skanner

Taking a Stand Against Water Privatization in Our National Parks

One of the strategies corporations like Coke employ to undermine our faith in the public water system is using our national parks to promote and sell bottled water—one of the most environmentally destructive products on the market. That’s why Corporate Accountability International, the membership organization working to protect human rights, public health and the environment from irresponsible and dangerous corporate practices, is working to compel Yosemite National Park and Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) to buck the bottle. We want these parks to join the tens of thousands of people, businesses, public officials, universities and fourteen other national parks in declaring freedom from bottled water. Beyond Chron

February 6, 2013


TX: Texas Schools Inadequately Funded, Court Rules

In a decision certain to be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, state district Judge John Dietz ruled Monday in favor of more than 600 school districts on all of their major claims against the state’s school finance system….Dietz said that the state does not adequately or efficiently fund public schools — and that it has created an unconstitutional de-facto property tax in shifting the burden of paying for them to the local level.. Dietz said that issues raised by another party in the lawsuit, Texans for Real Efficiency and Equity in Education — a group representing parents, school choice advocates and the business community that argued the current system was inefficient and overregulated — were better solved by the Legislature. He also declined to find the state cap on charter school contracts, or the charters’ lack of access to facilities funding, unconstitutional.  Governing

TX: UT-Austin at center of fight over the purpose of college

In Gov. Perry’s push for productivity, many here see something nefarious: a campaign, rooted in a longstanding anti-intellectual strain of Texas politics, to gut a university that shouldn’t have to apologize for being “elite.””I just don’t understand why they want to dumb down a public institution of this magnitude,” said Machree Gibson, chair of the Texas Exes, UT’s powerful and independent 99,000-member alumni society, which has pushed back… Many on campus see a clash of fundamentally different visions of the very purpose of a university. “There seems to be a political move, and it’s not just in Texas, away from the classical mission of the university — cultivation of the mind and pursuit of knowledge — to a concept of a public university as sort of a job corps or a trade school,” said Peter Flawn, who came to Texas more than a half-century ago and was UT-Austin’s president from 1979 to 1985, then again in 1997-98.  USA Today

CA: Privitazation Group ACEC Tied To California Dark Money Millions

An engineering trade organization that advocates for privatizing government work has been tied to the group behind the $11 million dark money donation that prompted a legal showdown in California last fall. TPM

VA: Pro-privatization robocall blasts ports executive

A robocall aiming to convince listeners to support a privatization of Virginia’s ports began circulating as early as Monday. In addition to advocating for a management change at the state-run terminals, the script blasts an outgoing top port executive, calling him overpaid. Daily Press

PA: LETTER: Serving up liquor stores as shot for school safety a bad brew

One billion dollars will change forever how school safety initiatives are funded, and I credit the governor for his commitment. It certainly seems the days of unfunded mandates are finished. However, using the privatization and sale of the state liquor stores to fund our children’s safety simply does not mix. Taking jobs away from the working class, as his latest privatization effort would do to the tune of 5,000 PLCB employees, hurts the same families who Corbett seemingly wants to protect. Delaware County Daily Times

Republican Privatization Schemes in Action: Subhuman Prison Conditions

The ACLU has a deeply disturbing report about deteriorating conditions in Ohio prisons after Corrections Corporation of America took over.  Crooks and Liars

Postal Service to end Saturday mail service Aug. 1

It will mark the an end of an era for the agency, which started Saturday delivery in 1863. Tired of waiting for Congress to help, the Postal Service later Wednesday is expected to unveil a series of more drastic cuts they plan to pursue that will save them billions of dollars, a spokesperson for the service confirmed…The Postal Service has been borrowing billions of dollars from taxpayers to make up for shortfalls caused by a 2006 congressional mandate, under which it has to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees…The move to end Saturday service is only expected to save a few billion dollars, far less than the tens of billions the Postal Service needs. CNN Money

‘Social Insecurity’ in the hands of Wall Street’s vultures

Private prisons, private roads and bridges, a private postal service, private water and sewer systems — even private schools for public education — are all great money makers for Wall Street and the 1 percent. But nothing comes close to the potential of privatizing Social Security. Wall Street has coveted this prize for decades. It’s not hard to understand why: money. It’s not just the billions in fees and commissions to be made from managing private retirement funds. It’s the assets Wall Street will get to play with. Social Security collects more than $1 trillion a year. Think what the barons could do with that. They have.  Phillyburbs.com


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



February 4, 2013


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

February 1, 2013


Skeptics: Profit and education don’t mix

Charter schools of all types continue to spread rapidly. But schools managed by for-profit companies make up a smaller share than they did just a few years ago. The number of for-profit companies has declined modestly, and the number of schools they operate has hit a plateau, said Gary Miron, a professor of education at Western Michigan University who studies charter schools. (At the same time, some of the schools’ enrollment continues to increase, Miron said, and the number of virtual schools is exploding.) Education leaders say there are two main reasons for the increased wariness toward for-profit operators: philosophical objections to mixing public education and profit, particularly in low-income communities, and mounting skepticism over their record in some cities and states. NBCNews.com(blog)

NJ: Christie Pushes Private Lottery as Bidder Misses Targets

Governor Chris Christie says turning over New Jersey’s lottery to a private manager would boost sales, even though there’s scant evidence to support his position. The Republican is reviewing the one bid his administration received from a group that includes Gtech Corp., a company that helps run the lottery in Illinois, where revenue has missed goals. Though New Jersey had a record $2.7 billion in lottery sales in fiscal 2012, Christie says a private company can do better.  Bloomberg

IL: Sen. Durbin wants cash payback before privatizing Midway

Not so fast, Sen. Dick Durbin cautioned federal regulators who have final say on whether Midway International Airport should be privatized. The city of Chicago is studying whether to lease Midway on a long-term basis as part of a privatization pilot program run by the Federal Aviation Administration. Durbin pointed out that federal tax dollars revitalized Midway. “The $378 million invested in Midway helped rebuild runways, taxiways and a new terminal,” he told U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a letter…. “The federal taxpayer should have a seat at the table during negotiations,” Durbin noted. Those tax dollars should be repaid, he added, and used for projects such as modernizing O’Hare International Airport. Daily Herald

FL: Editorial: Work-release shows perils of privatization

It should not have taken the murders of two men and the rape of a teenage girl for the Florida Department of Corrections to realize that something was wrong at the privatized Largo Residential Re-Entry Center — the largest work-release program in the state. Now state officials are pledging reforms there and the operator, Goodwill Industries, appears to be responding. But the evidence of lax state oversight should give pause to the continued campaign in Tallahassee to privatize more of the state’s corrections services. Tampa Bay Times

TxDOT Considers Outsourcing IT

TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson sent an email to TxDOT employees Thursday notifying staff that the agency had requested proposals from private firms to improve the agencies’ IT function….While informing TxDOT staff that the agency may outsource some or all of its IT functions in the near future, Wilson also said the agency’s current IT department has the chance to fight for its own survival. Texas Tribune

PA: Corbett makes his case for privatizing the LCB

Pressing his campaign to privatize Pennsylvania liquor sales, Gov. Corbett borrowed a staff member’s smartphone at a Philadelphia news conference to show a photograph and drive home a point.” ‘Welcome, visitors. Sorry, no beer. We sell only wine and spirits. Beer is sold four lights up at 12th and Walnut Streets,’ ” he said, reading from the photo of a sign posted at a state liquor store in Center City. “That speaks to what we are talking about,” the governor said. The point of his plan, he said, is consumer choice and convenience.  Philadelphia Inquirer

VA:  Commentary: Falls Church Should Not Privatize City Government Buildings

These “public-private” arrangements are often sold to cash strapped and credit starved communities because the private “partner” can show a short term financial benefit either in terms of a new facility, new services, or even a lump sum cash payment. Over the life of the project however the cost is substantially higher using this privatization arrangement instead of traditional financing mechanisms. That is because the City can borrow money more cheaply than the private developer and does not have to fund a profit line. The excessive cost of the privatization approach is most dramatic when one considers that the City could be in a decades-long lease and thus paying rent long after any public debt would have been paid off had the City used traditional financing. Having to make these long-term (and generally increasing) rent payments will drain the money that our City will need to educate future generations of Falls Church children.  Falls Church News Press