September 10, 2013


USDA privatizing meat inspections with program that allowed ‘chunks’ of feces. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is planning to roll out a meat inspection program nationwide that will allow pork plants to use their own inspectors, but it has a history of producing contaminated meat at American and foreign plants. The Washington Post reported on Monday that documents and interviews showed that a plan to allow hog plants to replace federal USDA inspectors with their own private employees had produced “serious lapses that included failing to remove fecal matter from meat” in three of the five plants that had participated in a pilot program for more than a decade.  Raw Story

Journal Explores Incentive For False Results In Lab Tests For DUI. A recent analysis published in the Criminal Justice Ethics academic journal suggests when technicians perform forensic analysis of blood and other evidence for cases such as drunk driving, the results can be influenced by built-in financial incentives to produce a conviction. Syracuse University Professor Roger Koppl joined Meghan Sacks from Fairleigh Dickinson University argue that even if false conviction rates are very low, a 3 percent error rate could put 33,000 innocent individuals behind bars every year.  The primary problem, according to the paper, is that fourteen states reward crime labs with a bonus for each conviction they generate. North Carolina pays a $600 bounty “upon conviction” to the law enforcement agency whose lab “tested for the presence of alcohol.”

A sea of disabled placards in many cities….The Illinois Legislature passed a law that takes effect next year in which free-metered parking will be reserved for only the most severely disabled residents. It was spurred in part by Chicago’s decision to privatize its parking meters. As part of the deal, it agreed to reimburse the company for free parking provided to holders of disabled placards. The tab since 2009: $55 million.  Times-Standard

FL: Why Privatizing City Functions In West Palm Beach Is Raising Some Eyebrows. Leading the privatization effort was former CRA Director Kim Briesemeister. During her tenure as director, she simultaneously ran and co-owned a private firm called Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) based in Broward County. RMA is the very same type of firm that West Palm Beach is seeking to hire, and indeed, RMA intends to submit a bid….. “It just looks slimy… [Privatizing the CRA] might be the right thing to do. Maybe it brings greater expertise to the city, maybe it brings lower costs, maybe it’s a good thing. But obviously there is at least an appearance of impropriety when she is suggesting, ‘let’s go to the private sector’ and, ‘oh by the way, I’m in the private sector,’” Jarvis said.   WLRN

IL: The tick-tock on Midway’s failed privatization …..Now that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to end up in roughly the same place, the Sun-Times said, it’s unlikely a Midway privatization deal will be reached before 2015. Chicago Business Journal

IL: Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Why I said ‘no’ to the Midway deal…. Some may ask why we would pursue any investment involving the private management of city assets, particularly in light of the parking meter fiasco. The answer is that Chicago is facing huge structural deficits and must explore any avenue that promises new sources of revenue without raising property or other taxes. The Midway partnership promised a source of revenue for badly needed infrastructure improvements, from schools to public transit. While this partnership did not work out, the process was not a waste of time.  Chicago Tribune

NY: Money troubles send county nursing homes into private hands…In recent years six New York counties have sold or closed their nursing homes, and as costs continue to rise, many others are considering privatization. North Country Public Radio

NC: NC could get 170 new charter schools in 2015. The number of charter schools has expanded sharply since legislators eliminated a 100-school cap in 2011. The 127 that are now open could serve as many as 65,000 students this year. The number of schools could grow to 153 next year; the State Board of Education gave preliminary approval last week for 26 charters to open in 2014. One of the questions will be how rigorously the state reviews new applications. News & Observer