April 23, 2013


Targeting Municipal Distress. The Bayonne, New Jersey water and sewer utility is now a crown jewel in the infrastructure portfolio of private-equity firm KKR & Co. and a model for how United Water wants to privatize water systems across the U.S…. The Bayonne deal is an example of the financial engineering pitched to cities across the U.S. that are in a jam. For decades, Wall Street firms have seen municipal distress as an investment opportunity, getting behind everything from parking meters to airports. Experts say the deal making is accelerating as more cities have struggled with lower property-tax revenue and deepening debt and pension obligations since the housing bubble burst.  Wall Street Journal

PA: Is that legislative movement we see on liquor privatization? The first of what will likely be three Senate hearings on a controversial bill to privatize Pennsylvania’s government-run wine and liquor stores has been scheduled for Tuesday of next week (April 30) in the Capitol – and it is bound to be telling. It is no secret that the bill has few ardent fans in the Senate, where Republicans who control the chamber have strongly signaled they are leaning toward modernizing, rather than privatizing, the current state-store system. The hearings, before the Senate Law and Justice Committee, are bound to provide the first glimpse into just how hard it will be to move liquor privatization closer to the finish line.  Philly.com

FL Privatization fears, finger-pointing marked troubled home-confinement program. Two recently completed reviews of home confinement — one by the county, another by internal-affairs investigators — add up to more than 100 scathing pages of misconduct. Amid the finger-pointing in the reviews was an array of serious allegations, including that management pressured staff not to report defendants’ home-confinement violations. The pressure, lower-ranking staff said, was about numbers: “… we wanted our program to look strong… so that we wouldn’t possibly be … privatized,” field officer Kenya Cox said. Orlando Sentinel

NJ: New Jersey lottery workers protest privatization plan. Lottery employees at today’s rally – who all declined to give their names, saying they feared Northstar would punish them for speaking out – said they have not been told how the privatization will affect them or whether they will be able to keep their jobs.  NorthJersey.com

NJ: New Jersey Governor Imposes Red Light Camera Freeze. Chris Christie, New Jersey’s tough-talking Republican governor, has gone from red light camera proponent to active photo ticketing opponent in a matter of months. On Thursday, the state Department of Transportation (NJDOT) announced there will be no new red light cameras installed in the Garden State with the notice specifically mentioning it was the political decision of the “Christie Administration.”…Data from the first year of camera use show a spike in the number of injury-causing and severe accidents (view report). The results ran counter to the promise that photo ticketing reduces “more dangerous” angle collisions. Running a camera program without the state’s explicit approval can prove to be an expensive mistake. Earlier this year, American Traffic Solutions entered into a $4.2 million settlement for operating red light cameras before the legislature began the pilot project.  TheNewspaper.com

HI: Hospital privatization bill sidelined. Legislation that would have allowed privatization of eight Hawai`i and Maui County public hospitals facing financial struggles has been replaced in favor of a task force to again study a public-private partnership for Hawai`i Health Systems Corporation. KPUA