June 24, 2013


OK: Outgoing Okla. prisons chief warns of inmate hike…. The private prison lobby is an influential one at the state Capitol, and many lawmakers support shifting more inmates into private facilities, a concept Jones refused to endorse. “Just because something is legal doesn’t make it ethically and morally right,” Jones said after the meeting. “Sometimes it’s easy to privatize people that don’t have a voice, and it’s easy to privatize the disenfranchised of the world who don’t have a voice. Sometimes there’s a conflict of ideologies there.” Jones also warned that giving too much leverage to the private prison industry could pose problems for the state down the road.   San Francisco Chronicle

FL: State hopes to privatize more work release centers. The leaders of Florida’s prison system believe work release is one of the best ways to help inmates succeed in the outside world. But funding the nation’s third-largest prison system has been challenging in recent years given state budget woes. To save money, the state has turned a quarter of Florida’s 32 work release facilities over to private operators, such as Goodwill Industries-Suncoast. Six more could become private by year’s end — saving taxpayers $4.4 million, according to Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews.  Tampabay.com           

NC: Chiefs oppose ABC police outsourcing. Police Chief Jose Lopez and another local lawman have weighed in against a potential move by the county ABC Board to outsource the job of inspecting bars, restaurants and stores that sell alcohol. Durham Herald Sun

OH: Ohio prisons system announces privatization of meal services for $28 million. Ohio is turning over the feeding of its approximately 50,000 prison inmates to a private company in an attempt to save $14 million annually in the face of looming budget deficits. Daily Journal

OH: Who benefits from more, bigger development deals?…Gov. John Kasich has replaced the Ohio Department of Development with the essentially private corporation JobsOhio as the primary state agency for retaining and attracting business. The governor insists the state needs to operate “at the speed of business” to compete for its share of development activity. JobsOhio officials say — but haven’t shown — that private companies will walk away from a deal rather than be forced to reveal too much of what they consider proprietary data. So JobsOhio has largely kept taxpayers in the dark about what it’s doing with its chief source of revenue: the $125 million or so in annual profits from state government’s liquor monopoly, which back the bonds the company issues. Absurdly but effectively, the governor and General Assembly have defined these profits as private money rather than the public assets they are. That has helped keep State Auditor Dave Yost from performing a full audit of JobsOhio on taxpayers’ behalf. Ohioans still don’t know how well JobsOhio really is doing at creating jobs and recruiting employers. Toledo Blade

NJ: Lottery privatization deal reached in NJ. New Jersey has signed a contract to outsource part of its lottery operation and has collected $120 million from the vendor as part of the deal, state officials announced Friday. Vineland Daily Journal

LA: Legislators questions impact of privatization on women’s health care. Much of the women’s health care provided at LSU’s hospital in Bogalusa will continue after its takeover by a Catholic-affiliated group, but no birth control services or abortions will be done, hospital executives said Friday. The exceptions based on religious reasons caught the attention of some members of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget as the legislators reviewed the agreement allowing the private group to take over the public hospital.  The Advocate

LA: Texas firm hired for Louisiana prisoner telemedicine care. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s push to privatize the university-run hospitals and clinics includes contracting with a Texas company for telemedicine for Louisiana prisoners.Telemedicine lets doctors give remote checkups through a video hookup and other electronic communications. That can shrink the costs of prisoner transportation and lower safety risks.  Shreveport Times

NE: NU regents reject health center privatization plan. The University of Nebraska Board of Regents rejected a 36-year contract Friday with Bryan Health to operate and build a new home for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s student health center…. On Friday, five of the eight regents voted against the proposal, as well as all four student regents, whose votes don’t count toward the vote total.  Journal Star

Bill Moyers: The United States of ALEC: Privatizing America One Statehouse At A Time. In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it. Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, “United States of ALEC — A Follow-Up” explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.  OurFuture.org

Robert Kennedy Criticizes Privatization of Water at World Environment Forum. Privatization is currently the most troubling issue we face in relation to water. That is the opinion of Robert F. Kennedy Jr…”Water ought to be a right for all human beings,” asserts Kennedy. He believes that free market capitalism is the best solution, but it must be managed with a social interest, otherwise future generations will have to pay for our mistakes and excesses. And he insists: “We should encourage a more rational use of water, but we cannot restrict the use of water by the poorest people through pricing.”   PR Newswire

Fighting more forest fires will come back to burn us. “Privatization has changed firefighting, and not for the better,” says Rich Fairbanks, a former fire planner for the U.S. Forest Service and one-time foreman of an elite “hot shot” crew. Private companies supply everything from helicopters and bulldozers to caterers and mobile shower facilities for the fire camps. Most don’t get paid if they’re not actively fighting a fire; consequently, they lobby at the local, regional, and national level to fight as many blazes as they can. “There’s a lot of money to be made in fire suppression,” says Crystal Kolden, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Idaho who focuses on wildfire. “Contractors are very good at playing on the public’s fear of large wildfires. Those private entities … have an incredibly powerful lobby in Washington, D.C.” Salon