March 15, 2013


U.S. Postal Service Urged to Weigh Contracting Operations. The U.S. Postal Service should consider keeping door-to-door delivery while privatizing the rest of its operations, a panel led by former Government Accountability Office head David Walker found. San Francisco Chronicle

VA: Va. rejects bids to privatize facility that provides post-prison treatment for sex offenders. Virginia has rejected unsolicited bids by two companies to operate a state facility that detains violent sex offenders for treatment after their sentences are completed. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that state officials who evaluated the proposals concluded that GEO Group, a private prisons operator based in Boca Raton, Fla., focused too much on incarceration and not enough on treatment. Liberty Healthcare Corp. of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., scored better on treatment but would have charged the state $2.4 million a year more than it is spending to run the facility itself. Washington Post

UT: Utah State Prison relocation takes step forward, It is far from a lock, but the Utah State Prison may be closer to a new home after lawmakers’ Thursday approved a prison bill to solicit proposals to make that happen. SB72, sponsored by Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, went through eight revisions before lawmakers were able to agree on makeup of the Prison Relocation and Development Authority (PRADA) board and whether to direct the board to solicit proposals to turn the prison’s programming and operations over to private contractors. Salt Lake Tribune

MI: Selling Lansing city hall, privatizing some city services proposed. The committee says city leaders should consider selling city hall and privatizing many city services.  Another recommendation is to consolidate city departments with other local governments. Former mayor David Hollister heads the mayor’s financial health team.  He says the proposals will be unpopular, but he believes they’re necessary to end Lansing’s chronic budget problems. Michigan Radio



March 14, 2013


FL: Charter Hype and Spin from Florida DOE. The latest embarrassing public relations stunt from the state DOE is a “study” claiming that charter schools in Florida outperform public schools. This is intended to help the privatization movement–for-profit and nonprofit–get a bigger market share. The latest “study” was not conducted by independent reputable scholars but by the Department itself. That explains a lot. Consider that only four months earlier, an independent study concluded the opposite: that public schools perform the same or better than charter schools.  Diane Ravich’s Blog

UT: Rep. Noel Leads Charge Against Privatizing New Prison. A bill passed out of the House today to move forward with a new authority relocate the Draper prison and develop the land underneath it, but not before Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, amended the bill to prohibit the new prison being operated by a for-profit company, arguing inmates should be treated as human beings and not commodities. Salt Lake City Weekly

WA: Voter Initiative Kills New Toll Roads. Converting freeways into toll roads is one of the most popular types of project among transportation bureaucrats and certain politicians. When asked their opinion on the wisdom of tolling, voters have expressed a far different sentiment. In Washington state, for example, there is now no question that Initiative 1185, which took effect last December, will block a number of tolling projects that have been in the works. . . The initiative, which passed with the support of 64 percent of voters, does not directly ban tolls. Instead, it requires fee increases of any type (including tolls) to be approved in a bill duly passed by the legislature and signed into law. Some politicians have preferred tolling as a means of outsourcing unpopular increases to a third-party toll management company or, for publicly owned toll roads, to the state Transportation Commission, whose members are not accountable to the public.

MS: Bill to privatize collection of child support payment passes Mississippi Senate. Senators voted Wednesday to support House Bill 1009. It would allow the Mississippi Department of Human Services to contract with private vendors to collect unpaid child support, which lawmakers say totals more than $1 billion. State employees protested the bill March 5 at the Capitol, warning a previous privatization effort had failed. The Republic

KS: Kansas to privatize child support collections. Kansas officials are taking the first steps toward turning child support collections over to private contractors. The Kansas Department for Children and Families said Friday it has begun accepting proposals to privatize the system. The agency says contractors may bid to collect support payments in one, several or all of the state’s 31 judicial districts.

GA: With privatization, 800 MARTA jobs could be cut. General Manager Keith Parker . . . believes many of those people might transfer to whatever private company that will be performing the service. . . Union officials and other analysts, however, contend privatization usually mean forcing down wages and benefits and cutting jobs because private companies need to perform the same work at a lower cost while making a profit. “The evidence is the first way to reduce costs, is either less pay or less benefits and over time in many cases the private sector has said it can reduce jobs, the number of positions,” said Linda Cherrington, an analyst with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “They may grandfather in existing employees in a comparable wage and benefit package but as new employees are hired in they are able to negotiate another (union) agreement.” Atlanta Journal Constitution           

When Public-Private Partnerships Are a Bad Idea. In Cincinnati, which faces a $35 million budget gap next year, controversy is currently raging over a proposal to contract out the management of the city’s parking meters and garages. . . Cincinnati would get a $92 million upfront payment and annual installments estimated at $3 million. Part of the upfront money would be used to address next year’s deficit, but most would go to develop a downtown high-rise, a bike trail and a new highway interchange. . . .Council member Laurie Quivlan asked the $64,000 question: How will Cincinnati deal with future budget deficits? The mayor said $25 million of the $92 million payment would be used to address next year’s deficit. But that would still leave a $10 million hole–and what about future years? . . . Cincinnati’s parking-lease issue once again highlights just how important it is for governments to make fiscal stability a top priority. A city in desperate need of cash is hardly well positioned to negotiate the best public-private-partnership deal. Sadly, governments that aren’t desperate don’t pursue them often enough.  Governing



March 13, 2013


MD: Public-Private Partnership Bill passes after hot debate over relaxed. The administration bill, HB560, establishes guidelines for how the state can partner with private businesses to deliver infrastructure projects without following the usual procurement process. . .Discussion of the bill centered around concern that the bill did not include sufficient measures to prevent favoritism. . .While P3’s are not defined as procurements, they still involve the distribution of millions of taxpayer dollars.  Maryland Reporter

NJ: Bill tightening oversight of lottery privatization passes Senate committee. Democratic Senators at a hearing Monday questioned the wisdom of Governor Christie’s effort to privatize part of the New Jersey Lottery. They advanced a bill that would tighten legislative control over the contracting process.

DE: Delaware governor defends failed effort to privatize operations at port of Wilmington. Gov. Jack Markell is defending his administration’s failed effort to try to enter into a public-private partnership with energy giant Kinder Morgan for operating the Port of Wilmington. Markell on Tuesday also defended Kinder Morgan, rejecting assertions by opponents of the deal that the company wanted to take over port operations for an unfair price. He also said he was in no hurry to throw more taxpayer money at the cash-strapped port.  Washington Post

PA: Corbett expected to resubmit Pennsylvania lottery deal. Gov. Tom Corbett plans to ask Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office to reverse its rejection of a contract with a British firm to manage the $3.5 billion Pennsylvania Lottery, a top lawmaker said Tuesday. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said administration officials told him Monday that they are making changes in the contract with London-based Camelot Global Services that Kane rejected last month over concerns that parts of it contravene the state constitution or violate state law. York Daily Record

PA: Editorial: Modernization favored over liquor privatization. There is an easier way of doing that without sacrificing millions of dollars in annual revenue, eliminating 3,500 family-sustaining jobs or killing the prosperity of the state’s family-owned beer distributors. Modernization. The modernization plan would offer state stores the flexibility to extend Sunday hours and offer consumers deeper discounts and wider product selections. Some of these initiatives already have been introduced and received bipartisan support. These options alone, according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, would generate an estimated $35 million in the first year of implementation. The Tribune=Democrat

PA: Lt. Gov. schmoozes before booze privatization vote. But on Tuesday he ran into a yellow brick wall. A group of state store employees dressed in canary polo shirts showed up to bend the ear of Cawley. They traveled from all over the state to hammer home how vital their service is to consumers. “You will not be able to find the same products anywhere in the world as you would have available here in Pennsylvania,” state store employee Wayne Manley said. Many don’t agree with Corbett’s proposal to shut down 600 Wine & Spirit stores. State workers contend if passed, that will force 4,000 employees to be financially sober.  abc27

TX: Coalition organizes against toll road funding for highways. Decrying “fairy-tale budgeting” that has racked up $31 billion in debt for state roads in the past decade, tea party activists and transportation advocates are teaming up to demand a dedicated source of revenue for highway construction, arguing that neglect by state leaders simply is pushing costs onto local taxpayers. San Antonio anti-toll road organizer Terri Hall said the group will press for legislation that earmarks proceeds from the state vehicle sales tax to road construction, gradually shifting $250 million a year to the Texas Department of Transportation budget. If they rely on tolls, “Texans will not be able to get to work or get their kids to school without paying $10 or more a day to get across town,” Hall said. “How is this not a tax hike?”  San Antonio Express,  YNN

TX: Citizen Council PAC Paves Way for Trinity Toll Road.  “Trinity Parkway” was the advertising term used in campaign literature 15 years ago to get voters to approve what the Citizens Council really wanted — a multi-lane, high-speed, limited-access toll road along the Trinity River through the city center. Linked to plans for the redevelopment of key landholdings downtown, the toll road has always been, is now and will always be the Citizens Council’s premiere piece of business. Dallas Observer

OH: Exceptions threaten Ohio open records law. Ohio’s statute once was considered a model open records law nationally. Most public officials are well-intentioned, and it’s often the case that each idea for a new exception has a justification that appears reasonable in isolation. It is the cumulative effect that alarms us. We now have 29 categories of records that are secret under Ohio law.

OK: Okla. Senate votes to privatize CompSource agency. The bill by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman of Sapulpa would convert CompSource Oklahoma from a state entity to a private company owned by its policyholders. Supporters say a state agency should not by competing with private insurers. State law requires employers to have insurance to compensate injured workers. CompSource was created by the Legislature in 1933 as an insurer of last resort. It has thousands of policyholders, including state, county and municipal government agencies, and it writes 35 percent of the workers’ compensation policies in the state.  San Francisco Chronicle

Real consequences of ‘school choice’. The Pied Piper of school choice is undoubtedly Jeb Bush, who recently declared “school choice is a catalytic converter for rising student achievement”. . . The results of Bush’s program for public schools — what he likes to refer to as “the Florida miracle” — are very thin indeed. The “miracle” claim is derived primarily from the fact that Florida fourth graders, especially black fourth graders, out-gained the national average on the National Association of Education Progress in 2003 and 2005. . . It turns out that the scores for Florida fourth graders had improved mostly because the state suddenly started flunking large numbers of third graders, so low-achieving third graders were still in third grade when the fourth grade test was given. “With only the higher-achieving students taking the test, the scores according to an article in NEA Today.  Campaign for America’s Future

Privatize Schools Teach Hippies are Dirty & Celebrate the KKK – Video. Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers, joins Thom Hartmann. Louisiana’s voucher program supports schools that teach creationism and celebrate the KKK. Satan worshipping hippies – heroic Klansmen – and – real – live dragons! No – these aren’t figments of Glenn Beck’s delusional mind. They’re true facts. Well – at least according to the new series of textbooks used in schools funded by Louisiana’s voucher program. ThomHartman,com




March 12, 2013


IG report scores DoD audit oversight of contractors. The Defense Contract Audit Agency’s work consistently fell short of professional standards, according to a new Defense Department inspector general’s report. Federal Times

CA: News Corp Spends Big on LA School Board Race, Sets Sights on Public Education “Market”.  A subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp – parent company of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal – has spent a whopping $250,000 on the Los Angeles school board race, just as the corporation focuses on making money off of public education. News Corp and its for-profit education subsidiaries are also members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the education initiatives promoted by News Corp’s preferred candidates track the ALEC agenda.  PRWatch

NJ: CWA begins campaign to derail NJ lottery privatization plan. The Communications Workers of America is seeking to put the brakes on a proposal by Gov. Chris Christie to privatize portions of the New Jersey Lottery. A video, entitled “Bad,” is the first salvo in a six-figure advertising campaign that seeks to paint the idea as wrong for workers and wrong for small businesses who currently sell lottery tickets. Asbury Park Press

NJ: Lottery bidder expands lobbying efforts. With Governor Christie’s administration weeks away from deciding whether to privatize part of the state’s $2.7 billion lottery, the only company to have bid for the contract has poured money into lobbying, retaining a law firm founded by the chief of Christie’s transition team and a public affairs firm headed in the state by Christie’s top campaign strategist.

MI: For Detroit, a Crisis Born of Bad Decisions and Crossed Fingers. Under Michigan law, the emergency manager would ultimately have the authority to remove local elected officials from most financial decision making, change labor contracts, close or privatize departments, and even recommend that Detroit enter bankruptcy proceedings, a possibility that experts say raises the prospect of the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history, at $14 billion worth of long-term obligations. None of the decisions, experts here say, will be simple, and some wonder whether Detroit can be saved at all.  New York Times

UT: Bill would beef up privatization board. A proposal to beef up a board created to look at privatizing government services that could compete with private businesses passed the House easily Monday.  Salt Lake Tribune




March 11, 2013


MI: Power grab. Across Michigan, emergency managers installed by the state are using sweeping powers to privatize public services, lay off city employees, and weaken public sector unions with little standing in their way.  MSNBC

LA: Hospital privatization could impact thousands of state employees. Much of the budget savings associated with the Jindal administration’s privatization of LSU public hospitals comes from a $400 million reduction in funding for employee pay and benefits as hospital workers lose their state jobs across south Louisiana.  The Advocate

NJ: NJ Legislature wants say in privatizing lottery. The state Treasury Department is looking to hand over sales and marketing to a private company this year. The state would keep ownership of the lottery and would try to find work for 150 lottery workers under the new arrangement. New Jersey has the eighth largest state lottery in the country. San Francisco Chronicle

NJ: Allendale moving on water contract. The council plans to vote today on a draft contract that would privatize the operation of its water system. The contract, if approved at today’s special meeting, would go before the public at the council’s March 28 meeting.

NY:  Yonkers report: Public-private schools partnership ‘doable’. Under the model, a consortium of private companies would agree to build, renovate and operate city-owned schools for a given period in exchange for a set monthly fee that would be paid with city and state dollars. The school system would be the first in the nation to use this method to renovate and rebuild school buildings. The Journal News

PA: State lawmakers favor moderization over privatization of liquor stores. Mahoney, secretary of the Liquor Control Board, said that modernization is a better course for the state, rather than losing the estimated $80 million annual revenue stream now funneled to the general fund to privatization.  Uniontown Herald Standard

PA: Plans to privatize psych jobs attacked. A state workers union is criticizing a move by the Corbett administration to look at privatizing psychological services at the state’s 27 correctional institutions and centers. “To privatize these services to a for-profit company that will look at numbers and not individuals is not only foolish but puts every citizen in the commonwealth at risk,” Kathy Jellison, the president of the Service Employees International Union, said in a release.  Altoona Mirror

IL: CTA hearing sets sights on switch to Ventra card. The hearing seeking public feedback on the new Ventra fare card is required by law because of the new fees introduced in the open fare system, which is tentatively set to launch this summer, officials said. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St., Chicago. The changes are the result of a $454 million contract the CTA awarded to Cubic Transportation Systems in November 2011 to begin privatizing the fare-collection process.  Chicago Tribune

TX: City of Dallas mulls privatizing police auto pound in West Dallas. Efforts to privatize the pound (and sell its 50 acres) eventually stalled, but yesterday on its inscrutable bids website the city said it’s willing to give the proposal another spin.  Dallas Morning News

5 Ways Privatization Is Poisoning America. The free-market capitalism that drives our economy is a doctrine of individuals pursuing profit. Nothing else matters . . . With privatization of the common good we risk losing both our heritage and our humanness. OpEdNews


March 8, 2013


CA: Hayward, California Dumps Redflex And Red Light Cameras. On Tuesday, Hayward, California’s city council voted 6-1 to end the use of red light cameras at the earliest possible opportunity, joining thirty-four other California cities that have decided to abandon automated ticketing. Hayward’s decision comes at a time when the Australian-based company is reeling from investigations of its involvement in bribery schemes in Chicago, Illinois and two other cities. Between 2008 and 2012, Redflex issued 14,536 tickets worth $489 each in Hayward. Of these, 59 percent went not to motorists running through a red light, but to those who made a rolling right-hand turn. When motorists brought their complaints about the system to court, judges threw out the ticket 57 percent of the time.

PA: Philadelphia Officials Vote to Close 23 Schools. Philadelphia is one of a number of major cities that have been closing schools because of falling enrollment, poor academic performance and budget deficits. New York, Chicago and Washington have closed dozens of schools in the last decade and have recently published plans to shutter dozens more. Public school enrollments are falling as more students migrate to charter schools. In Philadelphia, the proportion of students attending charter schools jumped to 23 percent in the 2011-12 school year from 12 percent in 2004-5, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.  New York Times

DE: Privatization of Wilmington port appears dead. Citing hostility from organized labor, energy giant Kinder Morgan said Thursday that it is suspending efforts to work out a lease arrangement with Delaware officials for operating the Port of Wilmington. The company’s decision comes after months of work by the Markell administration to work out a public-private partnership to operate the port, which has received tens of millions of dollars in state subsidies in recent years but is in need of costly repairs. Houston Chronicle

MI: Detroit’s problems are deeply rooted. 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. Youngstown Vindicator

FL: Controversial ‘parent trigger’ bill passes its first test in Legislature. A “parent trigger” bill that was narrowly defeated in the Legislature last year is back and won a first, favorable vote in a House education subcommittee Thursday. The bill gives parents a say in the fate of failing schools, allowing them to recommend “turnaround” options already required under state and federal law. The options include closing the school, converting it to a charter school or hiring an outside management firm to run it. Proponents say it would empower parents to get more involved in a school where students are struggling academically. But opponents say it is a move to turn public campuses over to private companies and to circumvent the power of elected school boards.  Orlando Sentinel

NC: Mandate for 3 toll projects ends in NC Senate bill. A bill to eliminate the mandate on North Carolina transportation officials to build three toll-road projects has cleared the state Senate, but it’s unclear if the House will go along.

Advocacy Group to Monitor Reform Efforts in Public Schools. Diane Ravitch, the historian and former assistant education secretary who has become an outspoken critic of those who favor high-stakes testing, tenure reforms and other controversial measures aimed at the public schools, has joined with other education advocates to form a group that will grade and endorse political candidates. . .  With wealthy individuals like Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg as well as groups like Students First (the organization created by Michelle A. Rhee, the former schools chancellor in Washington) donating large sums to individual campaigns and ballot measures in support of test-based teacher evaluations and charter schools, Ms. Ravitch said that her group would help foment a grass-roots movement to oppose them. New York Times



March 7, 2013


CA: How Corporate Reformers Explain Big Loss in Los Angeles. While we were celebrating Steve Zimmer’s thrilling win over Kate Anderson in the Los Angeles school board race, the corporate reform crowd had to figure out how to spin this embarrassing defeat. Inconvenient facts: The billionaires put together about $5 million to beat Steve Zimmer, who is a member of the school board in his first term. Steve is an independent thinker who dared to propose oversight for charters and a moratorium on new charters until the board had established some means of holding them accountable.  Diane Ravich’s Blog

CA: What’s driving privatization of public transit?  As more cities turn to private companies to run public transit systems, our recent investigation shows that privatization may not be the silver bullet that cash-strapped municipalities were hoping for. California Watch

NY: Comptroller skeptical on costs of privatizing LIPA. The state comptroller’s office has weighed in on the notion of LIPA as a private entity, telling a State Senate investigations panel that it has “serious ongoing issues” with LIPA’s financial condition, while questioning the costs of going private. Newsday

OH: Cincinnati’s City Council votes to privatize parking. Cincinnati City Council voted today (5-4 decision) to turn over Cincinnati’s parking to a private company for the next 30 years. In return, the city will receive annual payouts and a $92 million dollar lump sum. . . After council voted, Hamilton County Judge Robert Winkler placed the decision on hold after a group of concerned citizens filed suit to block the decision. The group wants the matter decided on a voter ballot.

OH: Ohio’s public-private jobs agency report raises questions. But the Ohio Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in the JobsOhio constitutionality case. What Jones calls “misunderstandings” aren’t surprising to Dale Butland with Innovation Ohio, a liberal leaning think tank. He says JobsOhio’s annual report actually raised more questions than it answered.  “We still don’t know how much public money has been spent. We still don’t know how JobsOhio calculates its return on investment, which means also have no idea whether the investments that JobsOhio has made have been good or bad. And we still don’t know, in the end, how many jobs we’re going to have, or how many jobs have actually been created.”  WKSU News

PA: Allentown City Council rejects another attempt to have residents decide 50-year lease. Another attempt to empower Allentown voters to decide the city’s planned 50-year lease of its water and sewer systems went nowhere at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting. . . Such an ordinance would give the city’s voters the final word and could reverse any approval of the lease by council.  WFMZ Allentown

OR: Oregon liquor agency faces troubling questions, inside and out. The internal struggles come at a time when the OLCC is under a higher level of scrutiny from state lawmakers and city of Portland officials, who think the agency has been less than responsive to complaints about problem bars. There’s also an underlying worry about the possibility of a ballot measure to privatize liquor sales, as happened last year in Washington. Currently, the OLCC is the third biggest revenue source for the state, behind income taxes and the Oregon Lottery.

UT: Opinion: Beware of any move to privatize Utah’s prisons. Ever notice how Utah legislators like to keep their hottest and most controversial bills under wraps until the very end of the annual session? This time around, though, the bill opens the door for private companies to submit requests for proposals to build and operate a new prison. . .Private prisons have been around for quite a while, and they’ve proven to be a terrible idea. Salt Lake Tribune


March 6, 2013


GOP Endgame — Privatization of Government? Is the Republican zeal for the sequester and cutting government, a cover up for privatizing government services? WIll many services performed by government workers go to businesses?  Huffington Post

Paul Krugman: Mooching off Medicaid. And despite some feeble claims to the contrary, privatizing Medicaid will end up requiring more, not less, government spending, because there’s overwhelming evidence that Medicaid is much cheaper than private insurance. New York Times

FL:  Editorial: FAU needs better explanation for stadium’s new name. In this case, there was a U.S. Justice Department investigation of a GEO youth facility in Mississippi that found its detainees had suffered inappropriate sexual behavior, indifference to medical issues and excessive use of force from staff. . .  Saunders has no business putting the school in the middle of the debate over prison privatization, as she did when she told protesters, “This is a wonderful opportunity for us to discuss the impact of privatizing prisons.”  Sun Sentinel

PA: Liquor privatization picking up speed in Pennsylvania. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Allegheny County, said today at a press conference he expects legislation designed to get the state out of the business of selling alcohol will move on the fast track. He said House Bill 790 will be introduced today. “Because there is a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm … There is widespread agreement in our caucus,” Turzai said.

MS: Miss. workers protest child support privatization. Mississippi state workers are protesting legislative efforts to privatize the state’s child support program. Mississippi Alliance of State Employees President Brenda Scott says House Bill 1009 would likely cause state workers to lose their jobs. She says that the state tried to privatize child support services in Hinds and Warren counties in the 1990’s, but that the private entity ultimately collected less money per case. WJTV

LA: Legislator questions legality of privatization efforts. Privatization of state-run LSU hospitals requires legislative action, and there’s plenty of legal footing to support that position, a New Orleans legislator wrote Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. State Rep. Jared Brossett, D-New Orleans, made the assertion as he supplemented a request he made last week for an attorney general’s opinion on the issue.  The Advocate




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



March 4, 2013


National Attention and Cash in Los Angeles School Vote. On Tuesday, voters in Los Angeles will go to the polls for a mayoral primary. But much of the attention will also be on the three races for the school board, a battle that involves the mayor, the teachers’ union and a host of advocates from across the country — including New York City’s billionaire mayor — who have poured millions of dollars into the races. The outcome of the political fight for the school board seats will have a profound impact on the direction of the nation’s second-largest school district. But the clash has also become a sort of test case for those who want to overhaul public education, weakening the power of the teachers’ union, pushing for more charter schools and changing the way teachers are hired and fired.  New York Times

NJ: NJ DEP: New privatized toxic-site-cleanup program clears cases faster. Since the state began in 2009 handing off day-to-day control of environmental cleanup to the private sector, the monthly rate of completed cases has risen almost 30 percent compared to the two years before the program began, according to data provided by the DEP. But as the process accelerates, environmentalists worry that without direct state oversight, lands on which people could one day live and play are not being cleaned up to state standards and could present a public health risk. Bill Wolfe, a former DEP official and frequent critic of the agency, said allowing environmental-cleanup firms, which are often paid by the polluters, to police themselves would inevitably lead to shortcuts. “They’re supposed to be the white hats protecting the public health and the environment, but at the same time, they’re answering to their clients,” he said. The theory that the cleanup professionals “would serve the public interest and do a straight job is ludicrously naive.” Philadelphia Inquirer

MI: Mich. won’t privatize prisons further. Michigan officials said this week they will not privatize nearly $350 million in prisoner health care and food costs, keeping intact nearly 1,700 state workers’ jobs but frustrating lawmakers who questioned the bidding process. State Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan told The Associated Press on Friday that none of three contracts out for bid would have achieved the necessary 5 percent savings as required by state rules. Sault Ste. Marie Evening News

KS: Kansas moves toward privatizing child support collections. Kansas officials are taking the first steps toward turning child support collections over to private contractors. The Kansas Department for Children and Families said Friday it has begun accepting proposals to privatize the system. The agency says contractors may bid to collect support payments in one, several or all of the state’s 31 judicial districts. Department Secretary Phyllis Gilmore says contracts are scheduled to be awarded in June and will go into effect in September. Houston Chronicle

NY: LIPA Trustee Calls Privatization ‘A Terrible Idea’ A Long Island Power Authority trustee has called the suggestion to privatize the agency a “terrible idea.” “I think privatization is a terrible idea, because what it would mean for Long Islanders is probably about a 20 percent rate increase,” Lewis said. “We also know that when LILCO was taken over by LIPA, they left the grid in terrible shape, and so it’s not just the cost. It’s also the fact that a private company, in order to drive up profits, does things to cut corners and doesn’t invest in the system.”  CBS Local

CA: Fresno council OKs election on trash privatization. The Fresno City Council voted Thursday evening to hold a special election in June and allow voters to decide whether residential solid waste services should be privatized or remain with the current city workers. The council had given a thumbs-up to privatizing the services through Mid-Valley Disposal on Dec. 20, but a subsequent union-led petition drive gathered enough signatures to force the council to meet anew and adopt one of three proposals.  Fresno Business Journal

WI: Privatizing Wisconsin’s Public Education System. Wisconsin’s voucher program is clearly a move to privatize education, support religious schools, and set up our community with a “winners” and “losers” school system.  The winners being the strongly supported private schools (religious and for profit), and the losers being the kids in the increasingly underfunded public schools (who pay not only for their education, but also subsidize the voucher system).  This is a competitive model that is well understood by business interests.  This works well for many things, but is exactly the wrong model for public education.  The best public education model recognizes that ALL children deserve an excellent education so that they may reach their full potential in life. This is a collaborative model where the goal is only “winners”.  Daily Kos