August 14, 2013


WA: State sells off former liquor distribution center for $23.4 million. Washington state’s privatization of its Prohibition-era liquor distribution business turned another major corner this month.

MI: Detroit Schools Start Door-to-Door Campaign to Win Back Students. As Detroit Public Schools pushes a new back-to-school marketing plan to try to reverse its enrollment and budget decline, the district must try to draw back kids from dozens of districts and nearly every charter school in the tri-county region…. The competition for students has heated up in the past decade with Detroit parents enrolling in suburban districts that offer school choice programs while more charter schools offer more options. Detroit Free Press

OH: Lawmakers argue true success of Kasich’s JobsOhio. Gov. John Kasich’s privatized development agency, JobsOhio, is under more scrutiny amidst new legislation….Ohio Democrats cite out-of-state jobs, tax payer contributions to the site despite privatization and a lack of transparency for the reason behind the move to “invoke rule 29” (The Dayton Daily News first reported that JobsOhio used $1.35 million in taxpayer money for an ad campaign). The Ohio News Network reported that Rep. John Carney asked Republican Ohio House Speaker William G. Batchelder to “invoke rule 29.” This would create a bipartisan committee to investigate JobsOhio.  Putnam County Sentinel

IL: Just months after closing 50 schools, Chicago issues RFP for more charter schools. Without fanfare, the district posted an official “request for proposals” to its website Monday that invites charter schools to apply to open shop in what the school district has identified as priority neighborhoods—large swaths of the Southwest and Northwest sides. Those heavily Latino areas have struggled with overcrowded schools. The district wants what it’s calling “next generation” charter schools, which could combine online and traditional teaching. It also wants proposals for arts integration charter schools and dual language charters.  WBEZ

IL: EDITORIAL: Slow down airport privatization effort. The rush to privatization for Gary/Chicago International Airport has some potential bidders wondering why the rush. It’s a good question, especially with so much up in the air.

IA: Branstad says privatizing Iowa Juvenile Home management should be considered. Gov. Terry Branstad says privately run agencies appear to “do a better job” than the state when it comes to caring for troubled children.

NJ: Hamilton residents wary of township’s move to privatize Bromley Neighborhood. The township’s move to privatize operations of the Bromley Neighborhood Service Center is raising questions from the local civic association and others about whether an outside group will be responsive to the community’s needs.  The Times of Trenton

CA: From Save the Post Office. The USPS plans to sell Berkeley’s historic main post office. On Saturday, August 10th, people met to rally and march in protest and to support those who have been camping out at the post office since July 27th. This is not a local issue but one arm of the struggle against privatization and the global fight for economic justice.  Berkeley Daily Planet

Are Public Schools Headed for a Wall Street-style Crash? In New York, a new rating system resulted in 70 percent of city students failing the new tests, earning the kind of tabloid headlines usually reserved for a politician’s sex scandal or a natural disaster. “Rotten to the score,” blared the New York Daily News. Fans of corporate education reform hail this as the tough love needed to force even tougher changes to the public school system despite the fact that privately owned charter schools fared just as badly. Huffington Post



August 13, 2013


Moody’s: Privatizing Mortgage Finance Will Cost Borrowers. If Congress shuts down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, borrowers likely will end up paying slightly higher mortgage rates. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, suggests that, as a result, typical borrowers could pay about $75 per month in extra interest payments—or about half a percentage point more—under the Senate proposal, and about $135 more under the House plan.  That could be the average on a conforming loan of about $200,000 with a 20 percent down payment. Realtor Mag

Where Education Is ‘Sold to the Highest Bidder’. The attack on the spirit of higher education is exemplified in the installation of former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a neoliberal archfiend of public schooling, as president of Purdue University. Truthdig

Fighting Back The Privatization Machine (VIDEO). America’s public education system has been under attack from corporations and Republicans for years, and the attacks have grown more and more intense over the last 24 months. Ring of Fire

AL: Selma city councilman wants to privatize public works dept. City records show it takes about a million dollars a year to run the public works department and thousands more on equipment repairs.  Earlier this year the city of Selma privatized the garbage service, and according to Williamson, no one lost their jobs. The same thing, he feels, could be done with public works.   WSFA



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

August 9, 2013


Video: Protesters Condemn ALEC’s Push to Privatize Public Education. Six people were arrested Monday when protesters descended upon the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago to push back against the impending visit of ALEC. The Real News Network

NY: New York State Lags on Firing Workers Who Abuse Disabled Patients. A new law will force private providers to comply with the Freedom of Information Law, a critical step as the state continues to privatize much of the system. New York Times

NC: NC may approve up to 32 new charter schools. The State Board of Education agreed Thursday to consider opening up to 32 new charter schools in 2014….The state’s 129 charter schools receive taxpayer funding but are exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow. They are also independent of the school districts in which they’re located. State legislators approved various changes this year, including lowering the number of certified teachers charter schools must have and creating a new advisory board for charter schools. News & Observer

IL: Bidders meet on Gary airport privatization. The event brought out more heavyhitters in the world of investment and infrastrucuture, including William Blair & Co., of Chicago; TIAA-CREF, of New York; BLOC Global Group, of Birmingham, Ala., a builder and investor; and Hastings Funds, based in Melbourne, Australia. Those were in addition to companies that signaled their interest last month in responding to a request for preliminary proposals from the airport. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told investors and others seated at five rows of tables in the airport administration building in the morning that her administration proclaimed a new day when it came into office last January.




August 8, 2013


Sen. Carper Introduces Legislation to Virtually End the USPS. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) has moved the United States Postal Service (USPS) one big step closer to extinction this weekend by introducing his new Postal Reform Act (S. 1486). Carper, a longtime ally of wealthy corporate interests, intends to drive the stake into the heart of the world’s best Postal Service. His bill, on many levels, closely resembles Rep. Darrell Issa’s (D-Calif.) H.R. 2748, which passed out of a House committee 10 days ago on a party-line vote with only GOP support.  AFL-CIO Blog

NY: Charter schools and public schools equally showed poor testing performance. Dismal state test scores don’t discriminate between charter schools and traditional public schools. Charter schools performed better than their district school counterparts on some benchmarks — but not enough to separate themselves from the widespread drop in scores….The proliferation across the five boroughs of charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately managed, have been a key component of Mayor Bloomberg’s education legacy. New York Daily News

IA: Group suggests privatizing Iowa Juvenile Home. Terry Branstad should consider privatizing the Iowa Juvenile Home and immediately order issuance of new rules that would minimize the home’s use of long-term isolation and physical restraints, a federally funded advocacy group says. Des Moines Register

PA: Amid privatization push, PA liquor stores thrive. Although there has been a push for privatization of liquor stores, Pennsylvania’s state-owned retailers are seeing record revenues. Philadelphia Business Journal

NJ: Paterson school district scraps outsourcing of 500 special education jobs.  Facing strong opposition, city education officials Tuesday night backed away from a proposal that could have cut more than 500 special education jobs through privatization. Some of the crowd at Tuesday night’s meeting. During a special meeting packed by more than 150 worried employees, Board of Education President Christopher Irving told the crowd that the district would retain all of its current personal aides, the 504 staff members who provide one-on-one care for students with special needs.

VT: Gov Shumlin: Privatization of Vermont Veterans Home not necessary. Privatizing the cash-strapped Vermont Veterans Home is not necessary for the facility to become financially stable again, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Monday, ahead of an independent report on the home’s financial viability set to be presented to lawmakers on Thursday… The independent report to be revealed Thursday to the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee includes a look at “alternative governance structures” for the home. The Vermont State Employees Association, which represents more than 200 workers at the facility, feared that would lead to privatization, and perhaps a loss of state jobs. “Modest” changes to the home’s existing governance structure should stave off any privatization talks, according to Spaulding.   Brattleboro Reformer


August 7, 2013


Booze Is Still Big Business for States. On Tuesday morning, the conservative group FreedomWorks put forward a call to action: “Are We Ready to Battle for Private Booze?” For FreedomWorks, state control over liquor sales is just another example of government overreach: “It turns out that when you get government out of a business it didn’t necessarily belong in originally, people don’t perish en masse.” The thing is, though, privatizing liquor in the 17 states that have a booze monopoly isn’t so easy. That’s in part because, as FreedomWorks notes, liquor is big, big business for some states. Just look at Pennsylvania.  National Journal

Obama To Endorse Privatizing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac. President Obama flew to Phoenix, scene of some of the worst wreckage in the housing collapse, to talk about how the government can lengthen and strengthen the housing recovery on Friday. He will endorse gradual privatizing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. NPR

Pension Reform Could Disrupt Investment Funds. Detroit’s financial woes, exacerbated by underfunded pension liabilities, have brought renewed scrutiny to public pension plans. Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, and others have suggested overhauling these plans to shift more responsibility to the private sector….Proponents argue that privatization could reduce the risk of municipal bankruptcy and federal bailouts. One downside is the possible increase in fees associated with external management of retirement savings; it creates another way for Wall Street to extract wealth from Main Street.  New York Times

Moral Monday demonstrations are spreading around the country. Next up: Chicago! Now, the model of these protests is spreading around the country to target the erosion of civil rights, liberties, and the takeover of unelected secretive Big Money politics. The next waive is in Chicago, where a group of “Chicago Moral Monday Coalition, an alliance of Chicago clergy, lay people, unions and community organizations” is targeting the historic hotel where the notorious ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is to hold their meeting in the first week of August….These includes bills on “Stand Your Ground”, privatizing schools, health insurance, voting rights, tax structures, gun legislation, environment, and more. Religion News

MI: Detroit bankruptcy: Will city’s storied art collection be sold? The potential sale of its public art collection, which includes masterworks by Rodin, Degas, Van Gogh, and Cézanne, is generating the most controversy. Emergency financial manager Kevyn Orr announced Monday that he is hiring Christie’s Appraisals Inc., the famed New York City auction house, to appraise a portion of the collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts on the behalf of creditors who are requesting the assessment, which then might be used in a sale or leasing situation to help pay back the debt.  Christian Science Monitor


August 6, 2013


Credit Rating Agencies Uneasy About Toll Roads as Americans Drive Less. Toll roads aren’t the cash cows they used to be. The assumption that the roads will “pay for themselves” is no longer a reliable one, and credit rating agencies are taking notice.  Streetsblog Capitol Hill

Eight Ways Privatization Has Failed America. Some of America’s leading news analysts are beginning to recognize the fallacy of the “free market.” Said Ted Koppel, “We are privatizing ourselves into one disaster after another.” Fareed Zakaria admitted, “I am a big fan of the free market…But precisely because it is so powerful, in places where it doesn’t work well, it can cause huge distortions.” They’re right. A little analysis reveals that privatization doesn’t seem to work in any of the areas vital to the American public.  Truth-Out

Groups Charge ALEC with Tax Fraud over Secretive “Scholarship” Fund that Finances Junkets for State Lawmakers. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is running a secretive, multi-million dollar slush fund that finances lavish trips for state legislators and has misled the Internal Revenue Service about the fund’s activity, two government watchdog groups charged today. Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy said the “scholarship fund” scheme also raises serious questions about ALEC’s compliance with state gift and disclosure laws, and the ethics of lawmakers who accept ALEC’s travel payments…. ALEC’s agenda includes the privatization of schools and other public assets, anti-labor laws, weakened protections for clean water and air, and telecom deregulation bills.  PRWatch

Some “Teach for America” Alums Criticize A Program That Promotes Racial Power Dynamics, Privatization, Standardized Testing, and Union Busting. If the recent multi-million dollar donation from the Walton Family, which owns Walmart, is any indication of its real agenda, the non-profit organization Teach For America could be seen be a vehicle for promoting charter schools and undermining unions….Now some of TFA’s alumni are speaking out, denouncing TFAs tactics as promoting government policies of excessive standardized testing, and providing an army of recruits to replace veteran union teachers in charter schools.  Uprising

NY: Gov. Cuomo signs bill to privatize LIPA. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law a bill to privatize utility operations of Long Island Power Authority. New Jersey-based Public Service Electric and Gas Co. Electric Light & Power

MI: Precious Art Appraised as Detroit Tries to Dig Out of Debt. A couple weeks after a state-appointed emergency manager filed a bankruptcy claim on behalf of Detroit, the world-famous Christie’s auction house has been called in to begin appraising some of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ permanent collection. Gawker

WA: Privatized liquor’s easier for minors to steal – opinion. Kids have always stolen booze, but it usually was beer lifted from the local convenience store or supermarket. It was harder for them to get the hard stuff because they weren’t even allowed in the state liquor stores that once had the monopoly on sales. They’d have to steal it from home, persuade an adult to buy it for them or hope the liquor store clerk would be fooled by a fake ID. Now all they have to do is visit the local supermarket, tuck a bottle under a jacket and walk out the door. Kids are no longer bothering to steal wine and beer when the hard stuff is so readily available. It’s much easier for them to steal liquor than cigarettes, which generally are kept behind the counter. Bellingham Herald

NC: What NC lawmakers treasure (It isn’t children) – opinion. There was also a budget provision to spend $10 million for low-income students to get private-school vouchers. Even though there is no evidence vouchers increase student achievement, the General Assembly will not only fund this proposal in 2014-15, it has every intention of increasing program funding in the future. This would give away tens of millions to private entities in just a few years. There is no way to believe this General Assembly cares about the importance of public education to our state. When given the chance to invest in our children, lawmakers drained the resources of time, talents and treasure from public schools and are turning it over to private corporations and undertrained workers. This legislature’s heart is with privatizing public education, because that is where its treasure is. News & Observer


August 5, 2013


Arizona, Texas: Opposition Mounts To Toll Roads. Road tolling is becoming a less popular option in many areas in the country. In Arizona, efforts are underway to put an initiative on the statewide ballot that would ban the tolling of existing roads while in Texas lawmakers realize voters would never approve a transportation package that included authorization for tolling.

TN: Gov Haslam’s outsourcing draws little push-back. Still, in the three years Haslam has held the office, outsourcing of state government functions to private companies has grown dramatically and indications are the trend will continue. The most striking example is turning over management of state government buildings to Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle, a move depicted as something no other state has done — but now has other states asking Tennessee to show them the way.  Knoxville News Sentinel

FL: Medicaid Privatization Begins With 9000 Central Florida Long-Term-Care Patients. The move comes two years after state lawmakers approved the privatization of Medicaid for low-income Floridians. Under the managed care system, the state will send Medicaid dollars to the insurance companies. WFSU

NY: NYC charter schools getting $4.5 million state grant to teach regular public schools. Top city charter schools will teach regular public schools how to better educate students in a new initiative funded by a $4.5 million state grant, Education officials said…. Promoting charters has been a key of Mayor Bloomberg’s overhaul of the city’s system of education system. Charter schools outperform traditional public schools on many standardized tests, but critics say the comparisons are unfair because charters serve fewer kids in need. Charters and district schools have fought bitterly at times over shared space in public school buildings, which the city rents to charters at no charge. New York Daily News           


August 2, 2013


DC, Maryland: Speed Camera Firms Move To Hide Evidence. The firms operating red light cameras and speed cameras in the District of Columbia and Maryland are working to suppress evidence that could be used to prove the innocence of a photo enforcement ticket recipient. In Washington, the Arizona-based vendor American Traffic Solutions has repositioned cameras and cropped photos so that it is impossible to determine whether another object or vehicle happens to be within the radar unit’s field of view.

The Public-Private Surveillance Partnership. The NSA is also in the business of spying on everyone, and it has realized it’s far easier to collect all the data from these corporations rather than from us directly. In some cases, the NSA asks for this data nicely. In other cases, it makes use of subtle threats or overt pressure. If that doesn’t work, it uses tools like national security letters.  The result is a corporate-government surveillance partnership, one that allows both the government and corporations to get away with things they couldn’t otherwise. Bloomberg

WA: A year after privatization, liquor thefts rampant. More than a year after Washington privatized liquor sales stores continue to deal with brazen shoplifters. Right now stores don’t have to disclose what’s been stolen but lawmakers are hoping to change that. While stores don’t have to disclose what’s being stolen, Dian Lee, who lives in the Logan neighborhood, only has to look around her neighborhood and behind the grocery store to see how much is being stolen.  KXLY Spokane

OH: Ohio to Privatize Inmate Meal Services. Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) has awarded a two-year contract to Philadelphia-based Aramark to provide meal services to the state’s 50,000 inmates. Expected to save approximately $14 million annually during a time of a $60 million deficit, Aramark won the bid with a cost of $3.61 per inmate, per day.  Correctional News

IL: City’s defense of privatizing Midway suggests deal likely soon. With two bidders still on the runway, a top mayoral aide on Thursday appeared to lay the groundwork for privatizing Midway Airport to help solve Chicago’s pension crisis and rebuild the city’s neighborhoods. Chicago Sun-Times



August 1, 2013


FL: In One Month, Florida Will Privatize Prison Health Care, Lay Off 2,000. After a prolonged battle, Florida has set a date for when its prison health care system will be privatized, booting nearly 2,000 state employees out of their jobs. ThinkProgress

NC: Privatization of N.C. Commerce gets under way. The machinery to convert the N.C. Department of Commerce into a public-private partnership is already under way, a week after the 2013-14 state budget was approved. The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area

WI: Mulwaukee: Abele’s Privatization Plan – editorial. We’re very disappointed by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s decision to terminate Milwaukee Transport Services’ contract to operate the county’s fixed bus and paratransit systems and, allegedly, select the out-of-state, for-profit MV Transportation instead. It’s a curious choice and one we may never fully understand, thanks to the Abele-backed Act 14, which boosted his power at the expense of good-government checks and balances. The Shepherd Express warned that this change to Milwaukee County governance, Act 14, would result in secret, corrupt sweetheart deals.  Express Milwaukee

IN: Former Republican Indiana school chief made sure GOP donor’s charter school got top marks. A former Indiana school superintendent frantically overhauled a school grading system to ensure a Republican donor’s charter school received an “A” grade…. The Indianapolis charter school was run by Christel DeHaan, who has given more than $2.8 million to Republicans since 1998, according to the Associated Press. Bennett had received $130,000 from DeHaan. Bennett had promised to hold “failing” schools accountable by implementing the new statewide A-F school grading system. The new grading system had initially given Christel House a “C” grade, because of the school’s poor test scores in algebra. “This will be a HUGE problem for us,” Bennett wrote in a Sept. 12, 2012 email. At the urging of Bennett, the grading system was quickly altered so that Christel House ended up with an “A” grade. Raw Story           

TN: Chattanooga‘s public, private parking fees no longer presented together online. Two weeks after learning that tickets for public parking violations were being presented alongside private fees owed to Republic Parking, the Chattanooga Parking Authority has put an end to the arrangement and changed the structure of its online payment system….Since last October, the recipients of tickets on Chattanooga streets have been presented with the option of paying fines online. Although the typical ticket in the city costs $11, the fees had appeared to be much higher to citizens seeking to clear their records at times.  That’s because Republic Parking, the private company contracted by the city to monitor streets and enforce meters, also operates a number of private lots across the city. And if drivers had outstanding fees from violations in those private, for-profit lots, the fines also appeared in their online charges—right alongside any tickets they owed to Chattanooga.

KY: Chamber pushes public-private work on projects. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is floating the idea of using public-private partnerships to build such things as roads, an idea that was suggested more than two years ago in southcentral Kentucky as a way to get the remainder of Interstate 65 widened more quickly. But Kentucky is one of 26 states that do not have enabling legislation that would allow general public-private partnerships, or P3, according to a report released Tuesday by the state chamber. Kentucky did enact specific legislation that is allowing the Louisville bridges project to move forward as a type of partnership.   Bowling Green Daily News

OH: Lawmakers to examine seized Elmwood traffic cams. “We all wonder what these cameras look like up close and the costs associated with each unit,” Mallory said in a prepared statement. “When out-of-town camera companies encourage the privatization of law enforcement, it takes advantage of both local governments and citizens’ right to due process, and such information should not be kept in the dark. I look forward to hearing Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil shed some light on this matter.”  In June, a Hamilton County judge ordered Elmwood Place and its camera vendor to pay back $48,500 they collected from speed camera tickets after the judge told the village to stop using the cameras earlier this year.