March 21, 2013


Parceling out old post offices. The U.S. Postal Service is trying to sell many of its historical buildings to private developers as it looks for ways to cut losses that reached a record $15.9 billion in 2012. The fire sale started gaining momentum two years ago after the Postal Service hired the commercial real estate firm CBRE to oversee the properties, many of them relics of the New Deal era. Of the 58 post offices currently listed, six are on the National Register of Historic Places.  USA TODAY

PA: Lobbying frenzied as Pa. House vote nears on privatizing alcohol sales. In the hours leading up to what is widely expected to be a historic vote Thursday on whether to privatize alcohol sales in Pennsylvania, activity has intensified behind the scenes as much has it has on the House floor….Such a frenzy of lobbying hasn’t been seen in the Capitol on a single issue – other than the annual budget – since Gov. Ed Rendell’s days…Strategists say Corbett needs a legislative win to bolster his sagging approval ratings. Several House Republicans tell of a blunt warning recently received: If privatization fails, they could be calling Democrat Allyson Y. Schwartz “governor-elect” come fall of 2014. Philadelphia Inquirer

NJ: Non-profit cautions Allendale on privatizing its water department. Jim Walsh, N.J. Director of Food & Water Watch, said the New Brunswick-based group is very concerned with water privatization in general and highlighted three main issues it had with the borough’s proposed contract: less public control, greater public costs and worse service. He said while he hasn’t looked at all the financial data, from a community perspective, “private water companies wind up costing more than municipal water systems.”

TN: Tennessee Is Abandoning Public Education – Letter. “Within 5 years TEA and all the locals will be relegated to cursory “remember whens” as the major population centers of the state no longer are in the business of educating their own children. Charters, vouchers and non-profits will have no union affiliates. This will bankrupt the state level organization and open the floodgates for private equity and hedge funds to capitalize off of public tax dollars. All the while those making these decisions have their children in elite private schools that would never take on the ridiculous data-obsessed practices brought to us from Bill and Melinda Gates. No, Mr. Gates, data does not hold the answers to the world’s problems.” Diane Ravich’s Blog

MI: In Michigan, GOP governor finds a tax to like. Conservative lawmakers are calling for freezing spending on other programs, tapping other funds, privatizing rest areas and leasing advertising space or selling naming rights on state property. Businessweek

CA: Toll Road Purchased by Sandag Records 240000 Trips in a Week. The San Diego Association of Governments, the regional transportation and planning agency, said state Route 125, the former privately-held toll road that it purchased out of bankruptcy, handled some 240,000 trips in the past week, a record. After Sandag acquired the toll road in December 2011 it cut the tolls by as much as 40 percent. San Diego Business Journal

IN: Common Core will hurt students, teachers – Opinion. As out-of-state investors and pro- privatization education interest groups pour into our state with their deep pockets to advocate through media advertisements in favor of Common Core State standards, it would seem the practitioners commissioned to implement them should be consulted as well. As a teacher of 22 years in our public schools, concerns exist with the newest “fad” to sweep the nation. Indianapolis Star

NY: LIA formally opposes Cuomo plan to privatize LIPA. The Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group, has formally recommended against a plan by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to sell the Long Island Power Authority’s assets to a private company. Newsday

ID: Idaho Legislature Moves Forward with Resolutions to Study and Demand that Federal Lands be Transferred to the State. While the sponsor of the legislation, Lawrence Denney, and proponents of the bill vigorously deny the claim that the purpose of the transfer of public lands is to sell them to the highest bidder once they have been transferred, the Idaho Constitution provides for just that. The Wildlife News

OH: Parking dispute lingers, judge to extend restraining order. Lawyers on both sides of a dispute over the City of Cincinnati’s $92 million parking privatization plan are biding their time this week, awaiting Judge Robert Winkler’s still-pending ruling on the matter. Winkler heard legal arguments from both sides on March 15 and indicated he’d make a ruling quickly. Business Courier of Cincinnati