March 22, 2013


IL: City of Chicago hit with $57.8 million tab in parking garage snafu. City Hall has been hit with a $57.8 million arbitration ruling in favor of the private investors who took over four city-owned parking garages in downtown Chicago for allowing a competing parking garage to open….Under terms of the city’s $563 million, 99-year contract with Chicago Loop Parking, the arbitrators’ ruling “shall be final and binding.”… The Emanuel administration also faces another arbitration case with a potentially huge pricetag. In two arbitration cases, Chicago Parking Meters LLC — another Morgan Stanley-organized company, this one in charge of Chicago’s parking-meter system, under a $1.15 billion, 75-year exclusive deal with the city — is demanding more than $60 million from City Hall for having to take parking meters out of service and having to provide free parking to people with disabilities. Chicago Sun Times

IL: Outrage: 50 public school closings in Chicago. Guess whose schools were closed? The poorest, the neediest, the children of color. Now the charter operators will decide which ones they want. They will take the “strivers.” Who will take the others? Which children will be left behind in the era of No Child Left Behind? Which children come in last in Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top? How will the PR folks spin the mass closure of 50 public schools as a victory in “the civil rights issue of our time?” Diane Ravich’s Blog

PA: Pennsylvania legislature votes to privatize state liquor sales. Pennsylvania moved a step closer on Thursday toward getting out of the liquor business, with its House of Representatives voting to sell state-run liquor stores into private hands. Passage of the measure, which still faces a vote in the state Senate, would leave Utah as the only U.S. state to control the wholesale and retail sales of liquor and wine. Reuters

MI: Lawmakers request investigation of Michigan emergency manager law. Two Michigan Democrats have called for a review of Michigan’s emergency manager law shortly after a manager was appointed to improve Detroit’s financial state…. About a year ago Conyers asked Attorney General Eric holder to review the emergency manager law. Conyers said that the provision of the law that gives the emergency manager “sole discretion” over changing or ending contracts is in violation to the U.S. constitution.  The Hill

NH: NH House votes to prohibit privatizing prisons. The House has voted to prohibit New Hampshire’s corrections commissioner from transferring inmates to a private prison except in an emergency…. Supporters argued it is the state’s constitutional responsibility to rehabilitate inmates. Opponents argued private prisons should be considered as a way to avoid building new, costly facilities in New Hampshire. Businessweek

LA: LSU hospital bonds are taxable under privatization. Plans to privatize most of LSU’s public hospitals means borrowing for repairs and construction of the health facilities will be taxable. That borrowing will cost the state more. The Bond Commission learned that bonds issued for LSU hospitals and clinics slated to be managed by private hospital operators don’t meet the requirements for tax-exempt status by the IRS. KLFY

TX: SH 130 toll way or freeway? Texas lawmaker urges to consider buyout. That’s the idea being floated in Austin by State Rep. Paul Workman, who says the tolls are keeping the roads clear… too clear. Workman said, “It’s like $60 for a trucker to go on SH 130, which is prohibitive for a lot of guys.” Workman proposes Texas buy it all back: pay off the near $3 billion in bonds that built the upper section of toll road and buy out the newer, 41-mile stretch near Seguin. Buying out Zachry Construction and Spanish company CINTRA’s 50-year lease would eliminate the tolls.  KENS 5 TV

Privatization Limits Access to Public Information. Private contractors are circumventing open records and sunshine laws as state and local governments push to privatize public services. For example, for-profit prison contractors are escaping scrutiny about prison conditions, financial information about government services that was once public such as management salaries and employee wage rates becomes “proprietary information” exempt from disclosure and even the names of corporations bidding to take control of public services are kept from the public.  Truth-Out

Three Years Running, House Republicans Pass Radical Budget. For the third year in a row House Republicans coalesced around a budget blueprint that calls for converting Medicare into a subsidized private insurance market; dramatically slashing all manner of domestic spending and devolving programs for the poor like Medicaid and food stamps to the states. TPM