May 6, 2013


GA: Georgia privatizing five state parks with upscale lodges and golf courses. Park employees, who learned Monday of the dismissals, should be able to reapply for their old jobs through Coral Hospitality, the Coral Gables, Fla., hotel and resort management company that will run the parks….News of the change didn’t go over well with employees at Amicalola Falls State Park, said Jim McMartin, who works at the park kiosk and takes the $5 entrance fee from visitors. “They just sprung it on us yesterday,” McMartin said Tuesday. “Nobody thinks much of it.” “They’re out of Naples, Fla.,” he said of Coral. “The money, whatever they make, is not going to stay in Georgia. It’s going to go out of state.”  Times Free Press

FL: Privatized Justice. The privately funded prosecutor at the State Attorney’s office is soon to be no more. State Attorney Catherine Vogel has apparently decided to silence the controversy involving special DUI prosecutor Nick Trovato.  Trovato was initially hired pursuant to a $ 52,000 contract between the office of the State Attorney and the Monroe County Coalition (MCC) and the Guidance/Care Center (GCC). The deal came under fire last week when local defense attorney, Jiulio Margalli, exposed the contract claiming it constituted a conflict of interest and amounted to an unconstitutional funding of the State Attorney’s office….. According to Jiulio Margalli there are indications that this may be happening in other Counties.     He believes that Ms. Vogel may be cancelling the contract in order to effectively render moot any judicial review which could have far-reaching implications and possibly involve a lot more than the $52,000 for this one DUI prosecutor.

TX: Prison Watchdog Demands Info on CCA. Prison Legal News sued the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private prison contractor, for records about its contracts in Texas and lawsuits filed against CCA there….The nonprofit claims that CCA blew off its March 1 public records request for records about “Contracts between CCA, the state, and local counties and municipalities … Petitions from lawsuits filed against CCA in Texas … Settlements, verdicts, and injunctive orders entered against CCA in Texas.” But “CCA ignored Texas law and disregarded the request, producing nothing,” Prison Legal News says…. Federal and state governments and private prison companies have used privatization to deny oversight to the press, the public and regulators. Governments have claimed they are not responsible for what goes on in the prisons, and the private companies have claimed that inconvenient laws, such as FOIA and state public records laws, do not apply to them. The Corrections Corporation of America has been sued 416 in the past 3 years, according to the Courthouse News database. Many of the lawsuits allege physical and sexual abuse from guards. Prison Legal News is part of a coalition urging U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas to reintroduce the Private Prison Information Act in Congress.  Courthouse News Service

NH: Bill to forbid private prisons is killed. The votes comes several weeks after state corrections officials and the Attorney General’s office announced that the state was cancelling the bidding process for privatizing state prisons because of what they said were inadequate proposals  The Union Leader

WI: Opinion: I hate to say I told you so, but…So the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is a huge disaster. It turns out that dismantling the Commerce Department was a mistake. Who could have predicted that? Oh, wait, I did! Anyway, in February, 2011, when the Wisconsin Legislature approved  Walker’s proposal to partly privatize the Department of Commerce, one senator who voted for the change said the state needed to “do something different. This is different.” (I don’t think by “different” he meant “worse” but that’s what we got.) Those questioning the move pointed to Indiana and Michigan where unemployment was, and still is, higher than in Wisconsin. Indiana’s unemployment rate is 8.7%, Michigan’s is 8.5%, and Wisconsin’s is 7.1%. So basically we copied the brilliant plan from states that have worse unemployment than we do and now our rate is going up. The WEDC has spent millions on its own administration and given away $172 million in loans, grants and tax credits and what do we have to show for it? We’ve dropped from 11th in the nation in job creation to 44th. You’re doing a heck of a job, WEDC!   Milwaukee Journal