March 5, 2013


More Redflex Executives Fall Over Bribery Scandal. Heads continue to roll at Redflex Traffic Systems in the wake of an unfolding bribery scandal uncovered in Chicago, Illinois. The Australian photo enforcement firm admitted today that what it once called a $910 “billing error” — the cost of a free room in a luxury hotel for John Bills, a city contracting official — was part of a much larger, illegal influence scheme headed by Marty O’Malley, a Redflex consultant. ” TheNewspaper

PR: Thousands protest airport privatization. Some 2,500 Puerto Ricans marched on San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport on Feb. 24 to protest plans to privatize the facility. “Our airport isn’t for sale and isn’t for rent” and “Alejandro [García Padilla, the governor], your mom’s ashamed of you” were among the marchers’ signs. . . Under the privatization plan the airport will be leased for 40 years to the Aerostar Airport Holdings consortium. . .Some 8.5 million passengers use the airport each year; it is served by 14 airlines and generates more than 8,000 jobs. World War 4 Report

MI: Op ed: A takeover by the state won’t solve Detroit’s underlying problems. Although the new financial manager for Detroit hasn’t yet been named, it is likely that he or she will move to abrogate union contracts for city workers, gut city management ranks and sell off assets, thereby privatizing such government services as public transit, streetlights and trash collection systems. These things have the potential to reduce the city’s costs and alleviate the immediate cash crisis, but they are disastrous over the long term, and they’ll be done without approval by the city’s elected leaders. This kind of managerial coup d’etat is at heart an abrogation of democracy and a failure of vision. Slashing spending and privatizing assets won’t fix Detroit, or any of the nation’s other troubled cities. This crisis calls for reinvention. Los Angeles Times

GA: Transit union takes fight against MARTA privatization to public. Transit union officials are rallying riders in a full-court press against proposed legislation to privatize parts of MARTA. Atlanta Journal Constitution

GA: Atlanta Transit Bill Harkens Back to the Days of Jim Crow. A lot of racial progress has been made in our country over the last 50 years for which we can be justly proud. One of the unfortunate by-products of success, however, is complacency, and those who resist change in the first place often take full advantage of that. An example of this is taking place in Atlanta, the birthplace of the civil rights movement, where state legislators are pushing for a transit bill that would go a long way toward turning the clock back to the Jim Crow era. But as highlighted in a Associated Press article, instead of forcing African Americans to the back of the bus, the new legislation threatens to take the bus away altogether for many of Atlanta’s working poor.  Huffington Post

CA: Speak Out to Stop the Toll Road and Protect Southern California’s Coast. A destructive toll road is threatening a popular state park and the last remaining wildlands along the southern California coast. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s the same nonsensical project we thought we killed five years ago. Natural Resources Defense Council (blog)

NJ: Editorial: Privatize cautiously. Local governing bodies should not ignore the financial benefits of hiring private vendors to perform traditional service. But before doing so, they should look past the initial savings and consider whether replacing longtime municipal and school district workers with outside help truly is the best thing to do. William Dressel, the executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, puts it best when he says that towns provide “quality-of-life” services, adding, “We’re not banging out widgets.” No matter its cost, poor service is not worthwhile.  The Record

PA: Senators call for scrutiny of Pa. charter schools. Some lawmakers on Monday called for stronger state regulation of Pennsylvania’s charter and cyber-charter schools, while others derided Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to finance new school grants by privatizing liquor and wine sales as a political gimmick. San Francisco Chronicle

PA: Pennsylvania officials look to close some health centers. Gov. Tom Corbett’s Department of Health wants to close nearly half of Pennsylvania’s 60 health centers and lay off some nurses as part of an effort to save money and improve the way the state handles its public health duties, officials said. York Daily Record

PA: James Powers: Allentown fixated on leasing water, sewer systems. The Allentown city administration, with little discouragement from City Council, is undeterred in what seems to me a reckless path to solve admittedly serious financial problems by a 50-year concession agreement of the city’s water and sewer works. The plan is portrayed as an almost magical solution to our financial woes, where everyone will win, and there will be no downside. . .  Many council members seem surprised — and perhaps even resentful — of an aroused public, which is clearly not in favor of the proposal, and they are ignoring a clearly growing public sentiment against the project. In fact, council — with the exception of one member — recently voted down a separate proposal that would have required a referendum to finally decide this issue, or any issue that exceeded $10 million. Allentown Morning Call

PA: Critics: privatizing liquor Less profitable. But even before Republicans fully unveil the latest legislative proposal to dismantle the liquor monopoly, critics are warning that the math just may not add up in a way that bodes well for shoppers or taxpayers. Proponents for dismantling the monopoly say that the upfront license sale will generate $1 billion. Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed using that money for a special grant program for schools. But once the liquor system is privatized, the state must replace the millions of dollars of profit that has been generated by the state Liquor Control Board each year. Last year, the LCB transferred $80 million to the state.  New Castle News

LA: Treasurer slams Jindal’s budget as unbalanced. Kennedy said Jindal’s budget includes millions of dollars in “pretend” savings from an unfinished privatization of the LSU hospitals and anticipates “inflated prices” from property sales that won’t happen. San Francisco Chronicle