August 12, 2013


CA: Ambulances in San Diego are arriving late more often and getting away with it. The city’s private ambulance provider, Rural/Metro, is required under its contract to arrive within 12 minutes 90 percent of the time or face up to a $50,000 fine. Each call that exceeds 24 minutes is subject to a $5,000 fine. However, the ambulance provider was never fined for taking more than 34 minutes to get to the Soliz family’s home. Since 2011, a loophole in its contract has allowed the ambulance company to arrive late without penalty to more than 20,000 of the city’s most serious emergency 911 calls, according to documents obtained from the San Diego City Emergency Medical Services Department.  Over the same time period, Rural/Metro was exempted from hundreds of 24-minute-response-time violations, in some cases taking more than 40 minutes to respond to an emergency call, according to city EMS documents.  SDCityBeat

IN: Gary airport’s rush to privatize raises questions. The Gary/Chicago International Airport’s rush to privatize is raising red flags with some potential bidders, who wonder how a pact tying up prime airport real estate for 40 years can be concluded with so many issues outstanding.

TX: Sheriff stands tall: Brown refuses jail privatization. Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown voiced his opposition of privatizing the Wayne McCollum Detention Center in front of a crowd of citizens that packed the e gallery during Thursday’s special commissioners court meeting. The county has been looking at the issue of private jail management for almost a year and received bids for this service from Community Education Centers and LaSalle Corrections. Waxahachie Daily Light

TX: Charter Schools in Churches a Focus of Praise, Concerns. While charter school advocates say the practice often reflects no more than smart budgeting, some educators and others question whether the schools receive the proper oversight to ensure that religious groups are not benefiting from taxpayer dollars.  Texas Tribune

CO: Privatization Too High a Price for Green Mountain Falls Public Safety –  Letter to editor. A private security company cannot provide our town with the quality of services that a police department can. How would a private security company provide the needed support and the professional law enforcement backup needed in case of an incident such as another fire or when crimes occur? A private security company would not be able to perform the statutory duties or the certifications necessary to keep the peace. And, we know we cannot call on the El Paso Sheriff’s Office every time there is an incident in Green Mountain Falls. As far as safety goes – would it be in the best interests for the Fire District Board to contract out for a private fire department? Just as in the case of our police department – absolutely not!  The Mountain Jackpot

When Charter Schools Are in Churches, Conflict Is in the Air. Because they are publicly financed, charter schools are required to teach secular, state-approved curriculums. When founded by a faith-based organization, they are also required to operate under a separate nonprofit entity. Because charter schools do not receive facilities financing from the state, a leasing agreement with a church, whose grounds often stand empty during weekdays, can be a cost-efficient arrangement for both parties. “It’s difficult to turn off the faucet of religion once it’s there, whether it’s in the shape of the building or the people who are running it,” said Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, a nonprofit advocacy group that has sued schools in Texas over this issue. “If you are a person of faith you say, ‘I am religious 24/7.’ It’s just really hard to turn religion off if you are as dedicated or as evangelical as many of these groups are.”  New York Times

Future of high-speed passenger rail could ride on private investment. Gridlock in Washington over transportation funding could be an incentive for states and cities to look to private investors to help finance high-speed passenger train systems. Advocates of high-speed passenger rail see it as a remedy for urban traffic congestion that’s more reliable than air travel and environmentally beneficial because it takes cars off the road.  Press & Sun-Bulletin