May 16, 2013



PA: Liquor privatization advocate worried over slow motion senate. A key figure in the effort to privatize the state liquor stores said Wednesday he is less bullish that a privatization plan will be enacted before the legislature takes it’s summer break. Patriot-News

PA: Pennsylvania senators hear debate on liquor privatization. For supporters of privatizing the Pennsylvania liquor system, the virtues of leaving alcohol sales to business are a rallying cry. But for the taverns and beer distributors, groceries and wineries already in the market, the movement to overhaul regulations that have shaped their business models are cause for industry-specific opportunity and concern. Pittsburgh Post Gazette

LA: La. Hospital Privitization Costs Still Foggy After Auditor’s Report. Lawmakers that have fought the Administration for more power in the process of privatizing the state’s charity hospitals may get their wish as they consider funding for the cost of laying off hospital workers.  WWNO

NJ: NJ TO STUDY PRIVATIZING MOTOR VEHICLE INSPECTIONS. After running out this weekend, the contract for Parsons Corporation to operate the state-run vehicle inspection stations in New Jersey has been extended for three years.  Officials are studying whether to privatize the inspection system. New Jersey drivers now have the choice of paying a private garage to do an emissions inspection or having it done without charge at a state facility. The $20 per vehicle cost for Parsons to do the job is funded by the motor vehicle fees that drivers pay. WBGO News

NY: LIPA privatization moves closer. New Jersey’s Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., would effectively take control of the Long Island Power Authority under legislation proposed Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Crain’s New York Business

MI: Running prisons for profit so wrong, it’s almost criminal. Privatization might sound, in theory, like the way to bring Michigan’s prison costs under control. But because the desired outcomes in the corrections system are about more than bottom-line dollar analyses, privatization is just not likely to deliver. Detroit Free Press








May 15, 2013


LA: Audit: $42M in layoff costs for LSU privatization. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s push to privatize all but one of the LSU-run hospitals across south Louisiana will cost the state an estimated $42 million to make the layoffs, according to an audit released Monday. The review by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office said privatization of six hospitals in the LSU Health Care Services Division would require an estimated $29 million for termination pay and another $13 million for unemployment payments. San Francisco Chronicle

LA: Louisiana privatization efforts would get legislative oversight under bill. Louisiana lawmakers would be given the power to reject efforts to privatize work now done by state government employees under a bill advancing in the House of Representatives. The measure, House Bill 240, would require the governor to submit efforts to contract out-of-state work to legislative committees and the Legislative Auditors Office for approval.

FL: Bill opens up funding for private virtual schools. Private online learning companies will get a better shot at Florida public school funding under a bill that won approval on the final day of the legislative session. Though the vote garnered little attention from outside observers, Republicans hailed it as among the year’s most important victories for school choice…..But Democrats were outraged that the final action took place on the last day of the session — and only hours after lawmakers reduced the funding for Florida’s public virtual school. Taken together, critics said, the moves were a clear effort to privatize public education.

NY: Legislators Tentatively Back Cuomo’s Plan To Do Away With LIPA. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo received tentative support from legislative leaders Monday for his plan to finally sideline the Long Island Power Authority, which has been criticized for high rates and questionable response in disasters — most infamously including Superstorm Sandy. The Cuomo proposal would replace LIPA’s role in daily operations by Public Service Electric & Gas Co. of New Jersey. The proposal would freeze Long Islanders’ rates for three years. CBS Local

NJ: Bill regulating privatization contracts passes N.J. Assembly committee. Amid concerns over Governor Christie’s plan to privatize part of the state lottery, a bill imposing new requirements on privatization contracts passed the state Senate on Monday. The bill would outlaw new contracts that rely on increasing fees or cutting services to save money. It would require the state to demonstrate any savings came from increased efficiency or other improvements that would not diminish services.

MI: The potential costs of privatizing Michigan’s prison system – audio. During the lame-duck session last December, Michigan lawmakers passed legislation that would pave the way for more privatization of prison services and even entire prisons. But state efforts to save money through privatization of prisons are fraught with examples across the country of dubious budget savings, dangerously inadequate services, and moral conundrums.  Natalie Holbrook, program director of the Michigan criminal justice program for the American Friends Service Committee, and Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, outline some of the problems with prison privatization. WKAR


May 10, 2013


How School Privatizers Buy State-Level Elections. A fundamental struggle for democracy is going on behind the scenes in statehouses around the country, as a handful of wealthy individuals and foundations pour money into efforts to privatize the public schools. The implications are huge. But the school privatizers, and their lobbyists in the states, have so muddied the waters that the public does not get a clear picture of what is at stake.  The Progressive

GAO Report Paints Bleak Fiscal Outlook for States, Local Governments. A new report by the Government Accountability Office forecasts a gloomy outlook for state and local government budgets, finding an ever-widening gap between projected revenues and expenses for years to come.   Governing

TX: Perry’s Vision For University Of Texas Criticized. There’s a debate across the country over how well universities are preparing graduates for the real world, and whether colleges should operate more like businesses. That debate is particularly heated in Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry wants big changes at state colleges, including the flagship University of Texas…. And most of the reform ideas had come from a close ally, an oil man, a former UT business school professor named Jeff Sandefer. He argues that professors concentrate too much on research and writing books, and the reformist solution is to essentially turn Texas’s universities into the kind of super star community colleges where many professors would not be tenured or necessarily even full-time. They’d be experts working in their industries and they’d be paid for how much money they brought into the university and how many students they taught. And Sandefer believes universities should be run more like a business with the students being the customers.  NPR

CT: Issues rise when public-private boundary blurs. A public-private partnership is building a version of Central Park in downtown Stamford. But a public-private partnership can be a tangled web, as a ticket tiff showed last week before a gala to celebrate the opening of the first section of Mill River Park. The partnership is called the Mill River Collaborative, which organized last Thursday’s gala to also be a fundraiser to help meet its goal of collecting $20 million from private contributors. The Advocate



May 9, 2013


NJ: Democrats Attack Potential Privatization of Motor Vehicle Inspections. Stung by their inability to block the privatization of the State Lottery, Democratic members of the Assembly Budget Committee yesterday assailed the Christie administration for considering privatization of motor vehicle inspections. NJ Spotlight

PA: Poll reveals Pennsylvania voters don’t view liquor privatization as top issue. In the Franklin & Marshall poll, voters ranked the creation of new jobs and improving the state’s economy as the most important issues facing the state. Both liquor privatization and lottery privatization were given the lowest priority ratings by voters in the poll.  Patriot-News

MD: Public-private partnerships: the new model for infrastructure. There’s a P3 in your future.Maryland is poised to join 34 states and key federal agencies in transforming the way government works. Maryland’s P3 legislation, championed by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, enables state agencies to engage business in planning, financing, building and operating public projects, from roads and rail to schools and other infrastructure. Baltimore Sun

US Under Fire over Privatization of Prisons – video. The Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA is a multi-billion dollar company and the largest private prison provider in the country. From the company’s inception 30 years ago, the US prison population has jumped 500%. Behind me is one CCA facility, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this week and is coming off the heels of a judicial scandal in which a Pennsylvania judge was found guilty of sending children to prison in exchange for money from privately-run prisons. Stories like this illustrate a major problem with modern prison privatization.  Press TV

May 8, 2013


States accuse prison food contractor of overbilling. Aramark, the company Michigan officials have selected to provide meals for about 45,000 state prisoners, has skimped on food and overbilled corrections departments in other states, according to audit reports. Florida and Aramark parted ways in 2008 after the state repeatedly fined the company for contract violations and an audit accused Aramark of cutting costs and boosting profits by skimping on meals. In Kentucky, corrections officers and others said a 2009 prison riot was provoked by poor food service by Aramark, state Rep. Brent Yonts, a Democrat from Greenville, said Monday.  USA TODAY

WA: Small liquor stores struggling to compete with big retail. Almost a year after the state privatized liquor sales, more and more small, independent stores around the Puget Sound region are going under. They complain they can’t compete with big retail and grocery stores. “It’s aggravating – there’s not much we can really do about it,” said Sean Niesel…. Lower prices at nearby grocery stores are driving their stores out of business… The trouble began last year when voters passed Initiative 1183 to privatize liquor sales. Immediately, liquor manufacturers offered big-box stores and grocery chains huge discounts for buying bulk, while smaller store owners still pay the full wholesale price. Add on top that 17 percent state tax and store owners say it’s impossible to compete. KOMO News

PA: More bad news for Gov. Corbett: Support slipping for sale of liquor stores. The poll found 31 percent strongly oppose privatization, up from 24 percent in February, while the number of people who strongly support the effort dropped from 34 percent to 30 percent in the same period. One thing remains unchanged in the poll: Corbett’s job approval rating is so low that just one in four voters thinks he deserves a second four-year term in 2014.

MI: Stephen Henderson: Running prisons for profit so wrong, it’s almost criminal. Privatization works best in parts of government where the profit motive aligns closely with the need to provide a direct, definable service to constituents. Think garbage collection. Or some parts of public works or transportation. But where the success of government is measured more in social than economic terms, the profit motive can be a confounding factor, and privatization can actually lead to worse results.  That’s what we’re seeing in Michigan’s prison system, which nearly everyone agrees is both bloated with expenses and is producing less-than-desired outcomes. Detroit Free Press

NJ: As NJ considers privatizing auto inspections, contract extended for state examiner. Martinez says more than 80 percent of inspections in New Jersey are done at the state facilities, but the nationwide trend is toward privatization. He said a consultant will examine whether to privatize the entire inspection system.

NV: Subcommittee nixes toll roads in Southern Nevada. A legislative subcommittee closed the door Tuesday on plans by the state Department of Transportation to install toll stations, mostly in Southern Nevada. The Senate-Assembly budget subcommittee rejected the recommendation of Gov. Brian Sandoval to spend up to $60,000 in each of the next two years to work with private companies to install toll stations on some of the major roads. Senate Bill 485 to authorize the HOT lanes died in the Assembly Transportation Committee, but the money for the proposal was still included in the department’s budget. Under the pooling motorists to travel at no charge. A single driver in these lanes would be charged a fee. Las Vegas Sun

NY: Suffolk County Executive mulls privatization of county-run health clincs. Recently, Hudson River Health Care sent in a proposal to take over the county clinic in Southampton….Bellone says he is considering handing over the other six county clinics to the company….. Suffolk’s Legislature is expected to vote on whether to privatize the Southampton clinic in June.. News 12 Long Island



May 7, 2013


NJ: Christie vetoes bill to give NJ Legislature a say in lottery privatization plan. Chris Christie today vetoed a bill that would have required him to get the state Legislature’s approval to go ahead with a plan to privatize parts of the New Jersey Lottery. Both the state Senate and Assembly passed the bill (A3614) earlier this year amid concerns from Democratic lawmakers that the plan has been cloaked in secrecy. Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), one of the most vocal critics of the plan, said the veto puts Christie “squarely against public transparency and oversight” and was “sadly not surprising.” Hunterdon County Democrat

OH: Gubernatorial candidate warns against privatizing state agencies. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald….used as an example the problems that are going on now with JobsOhio which was created when the Ohio Department of Development was privatized under Governor John Kasich. “You’ve got millions and millions of dollars going into a private corporation, what they’re calling JobsOhio, and it’s a secret as to how the money is spent,” FitzGerald said. “Now you’ve got the state auditor investigating them and subpoenaing the records to try and figure out how the money is being spent and, on behalf of the taxpayers, trying to figure out what has happened.” FitzGerald called the problems outrageous. Wilmington News Journal

The Uncertain Future of Public Roads. “The notion right now is that PPPs are the solution to the problem of not being able to use public funding as much, and that it becomes a win-win situation,” says Elliott Sclar, director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University. “Right now that’s the conventional wisdom, but if you actually look at what happened to so many PPPs, you begin to see where these problems are going to begin to creep up.”  The Atlantic Cities

Fannie, Freddie Study Privatization of Multifamily Business. Privatizing the profitable multifamily businesses of Fannie Mae FNMA -0.61% and Freddie Mac FMCC 0.00% would do little to repay taxpayers for their government bailouts of the firms, and while the new companies might be viable, they would play a much smaller role in the market, according to new reports published by companies at the request of their regulator. The Federal Housing Finance Agency asked both companies last year to study the feasibility of privatizing the multifamily units, which sustained minimal losses during the housing market crash, in contrast with the hundreds of billions in losses at the companies’ single-family loan-guarantee businesses.  Wall Street Journal



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

May 3, 2013


PA: Kane: Lottery deal must have Assembly role. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Wednesday that she expected to receive the Corbett administration’s revised contract to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery any day now – but signaled that she likely will not approve the proposal unless the legislature gets to sign off. “They would have to vote on it just like any other privatization deal, and also, they would have to change the gaming rules,” Kane said. She added that she had seen no sign that the legislature would be given such a role.

PA: Harrisburg lobbying firm reps both sides in liquor privatization fight. A Harrisburg lobbying firm representing the state liquor store clerks earned more than $1 million last year for campaign work on behalf of Republicans, who are pushing privatization of liquor sales. Tribune-Review

NJ: CWA releases radio ad attacking Christie’s lottery privatization plan. Chris Christie’s plan to privatize parts of the state lottery. In the 60-second spot called “Sketchy,” the Communication Workers of America says the plan is illegal and will lead to thousands of job losses. Hunterdon County Democrat

IL: Opinion: Chicago Mayor Makes Parking Meter Deal Worse. Chicago, Illinois Mayor Rahm Emanuel may have done the impossible. He may have actually made Chicago’s reviled parking meter lease deal even worse. At a press conference Monday morning Emanuel announced a settlement in the ongoing legal battle between the city and Chicago Parking Meters, LLC (CPM). Initially, it sounded like the city had indeed arm twisted some mild improvements to the universally despised deal out of CPM, but as details of the proposed settlement emerged, Emanuel’s allegedly new and improved parking meter lease deal looks like it could make things even more challenging and expensive for Chicago drivers.


May 2, 2013


PA: Variety of groups inject money into fight over privatizing liquor sales. Convenience stores, business advocates and political groups are jockeying for state lawmakers’ votes on privatization of liquor sales in Pennsylvania with specialty websites, TV ads and face-to-face meetings. The Senate Law and Justice Committee held its first of three hearings on Tuesday on the decades-long fight. Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, a privatization proponent, is airing a TV ad in southeastern Pennsylvania targeting Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks County, who chairs the committee considering privatization. The ad claims McIlhinney is “siding with union bosses who want to keep taxpayers footing the bill for Pennsylvania’s broken government-run liquor store system.” Tribune-Review

WI: Editorial: Evidence doesn’t support choice program expansion. Legislators should be skeptical of a proposal by Gov. Scott Walker to sharply expand the school voucher program. There isn’t much evidence that students in voucher schools are better educated; in fact, they seem to perform at about the same level as their peers in mainline public schools…. But here’s the bottom line: The evidence isn’t persuasive that the choice schools have had much impact on achievement. Kids in the voucher schools do about the same, overall, as their peers in the public schools. And that underwhelming finding surely is not enough to justify a broad expansion that seems based more on ideology than on anything else. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

LA: Suits against state government mounting. The new legal threat on the horizon comes from Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, who told KTBS-V in Shreveport that he will soon sue to assert the Legislature’s authority to review Jindal’s proposed privatization agreements for public hospitals. According to a recent attorney general’s opinion, the governor does not have to seek lawmakers’ approval to implement privatization, but most legislators want a say in that process anyhow. Ville Platte Gazette

PA: PennDOT Now Accepting Unsolicited P3 Transportation Proposals. During this period, the private sector can submit proposals offering innovative ways to deliver transportation projects across a variety of modes including roads, bridges, rail, aviation and ports. Proposals can also include more efficient models to manage existing transportation-related services and programs….Public and Private Partnerships for Transportation Act, which authorized P3 projects in Pennsylvania. This law allows PennDOT and other transportation authorities and commissions to partner with private companies to participate in delivering, maintaining and financing transportation-related projects. Sacramento Bee

FL: Thom Hartmann; Privatizing Medicaid isn’t enough for Florida Republicans. Even after getting a voucher to allow the state to privatize Medicaid, Florida still wants to screw over the poor.  Last Friday, the Republican-controlled Florida state house rejected federal funding for their Medicaid expansion.  Instead, they want to open the state up to more private insurance carriers…. Under the Florida Republican’s plan, those families will now have to select a private high-deductible plan, which means less care and more money out of pocket.  Where are the so-called compassionate conservatives?  If Florida Republicans think it’s so easy to raise a family on poverty wages, they should try doing so themselves… and try to cover the cost of corporate healthcare while they’re at it.

StudentsFirst under scrutiny from the left. Michelle Rhee frequently says her StudentsFirst lobbying group is a bipartisan organization that backs Democrats and Republicans who support her vision for education: charter schools, vouchers and performance pay for teachers. But left-leaning critics of the group routinely cast StudentsFirst as a Republican outfit, out of step with the union values many Democrats hold dear. Last month, California Democrats wouldn’t let StudentsFirst have a booth at the party’s state convention and Dean Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association, gave a speech saying the group is “backed by moneyed interests, Republican operatives and out-of-state Wall Street billionaires dedicated to school privatization and trampling on teacher and worker rights.”   Sacramento Bee



May 1, 2013


MI: In reversal, Mich. privatizing prison food service. State officials reversed themselves Tuesday in deciding to hire a private company to prepare food for Michigan’s 44,000 prisoners, saying they originally misjudged a plan that would actually save the state about $16 million. The Michigan Department of Corrections sent a notification to state employees of the decision, which puts the jobs of 373 workers at risk. The agency initially said the plan would not save enough money. But on Tuesday, agency officials said mistakes were made in evaluating bidders’ proposals, including comparisons between the private sector and state costs that were not “apples to apples.”

PA: Corbett’s liquor privatization plan on life support. First came the cops. Then came the drug-and-alcohol counselors. Next up was the moms. And finally, the kids. All of them told a state Senate committee Tuesday they oppose a plan to privatize wine and spirits sales and make beer more readily available under a House-approved bill supported by Gov. Tom Corbett. Indeed, the one-sided panel signaled in stark terms that the House-passed bill is on life support in the Senate. That means Corbett’s vision of privatization is unlikely to become law. What, if anything, will pass to replace Pennsylvania’s dated booze-distribution system remains unknown. This much is clear: A key Senate committee chairman effectively pulled the plug on the House’s version of privatization just two months before a June 30 deadline for a new state budget. “I am on record saying I will not support the House bill,” Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, chairman of the Law and Justice Committee, said after the hearing. Allentown Morning Call

PA: Privatization would boost drinking, board hears. Witnesses from the union for state troopers, who enforce liquor laws, and from drug and alcohol prevention and treatment groups said privatizing would lead to more liquor outlets, more drinking, and more alcohol-related crime and violence.

TX: Bill would open Loop 1604 to private company. The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would open the door to a private developer one day building a toll road project on Loop 1604. If the bill becomes law, state or local transportation officials would have the option to partner with a company or other private entity that could front the money to develop, finance, build, maintain and operate the toll road…. The state owns the road but a private consortium, made up of Spanish-based Cintra and San Antonio-based Zachry American Infrastructure, built and maintains it. The consortium shares toll revenues with the state for the duration of a five-decade lease. San Antonio Express