October 17, 2013


TX: Moody’s downgrades toll road credit rating again. On Tuesday, Moody’s Investor Service once again downgraded the credit rating of the private company that built and operates the toll road. The ratings agency raised the possibility of SH 130 Concession Co. — owned by Spain-based Cintra and San Antonio-based Zachry American Infrastructure — defaulting on its debt unless traffic increases on the Central Texas roadway that connects Seguin to Mustang Ridge, just south of Austin.  San Antonio Express           

TX: Water task force against privatizing Fort Worth water department. After a seven-month study, the task force studying privatizing the Fort Worth water department is recommending that the city continue running the department. Privatization would likely force water rates up, increase costs for the city and the Tarrant Regional Water District and would limit Council’s flexibility in directing economic development, the nine-member task force decided on Wednesday. Fort Worth Star Telegram

IN: Indiana toll road money dwindles away, so what’s next?…State officials have said that something must be done because money remaining from then-Gov. Mitch Daniels’ $3.85 billion lease of the Indiana Toll Road is mostly spent or due to be spent for specific projects. As a result, Indiana must again rely on the state’s 18-cent-per-gallon fuel tax to get needed transportation work done. Land Line Magazine

FL:  Miami-Dade School Board votes down transportation outsourcing. Amid protests from hundreds of bus drivers and aides, the Miami-Dade School Board on Wednesday voted down a controversial proposed transportation outsourcing study.…. “Beyond its potential fiscal costs, privatization in Dade County could hurt the 1,700 hardworking bus drivers and aides currently employed by the district,” Garcia wrote.  Miami Herald

ID: Dems to Idaho Prisons Board: Let state run ICC. Democratic lawmakers are urging the Board of Correction to put Idaho’s largest prison back under state control instead of contracting with another private prison operator. The letter signed by 16 of the Legislature’s 20 Democrats was delivered Tuesday by an unexpected messenger: Republican Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s spokesman, Mark Warbis. Businessweek

Willoughby: Federal shutdown could lead to lockout on public land. Kooky and conspiratorial as it all may sound, many of those at the root of the shutdown can be heard declaring states of emergency and offering to fund the parks. Upon closer review, they can also be seen furthering the agenda to eradicate our public lands. Denver Post

October 15, 2013


Is There A Plot Against Pensions?….The latest piece of evidence capturing this divide is a recent report commissioned by Campaign for America’s Future, a left-leaning think tank, and written by outspoken political commentator David Sirota. Titled “The Plot Against Pensions,” Sirota blasts efforts by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation for what he calls “the right’s ideological crusade against traditional pensions [while helping] billionaires and the business lobby preserve corporations’ huge state tax subsidies.”  Governing

Why the UK Can Privatize Its Postal Service, but the US Can’t….. “The U.S. Postal Service is nowhere close to being ready to be privatized,” says Richard Geddes, a professor in the Cornell University Department of Policy Analysis and Management. “I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but it would be well into the future at a minimum.” That’s because America’s postal service has plunged into such a state of disrepair that it is perhaps the most troubled mail service of any developed nation. Yahoo Finance (blog)

Shutdown of US govt & ‘debt default’: Dress rehearsal for privatization of federal state system?….. The important question: could a process of ‘state bankruptcy’, which is currently afflicting local level governments across the land, realistically occur in the case of the central government of the United States of America? This is not a hypothetical question. A large number of developing countries under the brunt of  IMF ‘economic medicine’ were ordered by their external creditors to dismantle the state apparatus,  fire millions of public sector workers as well as privatize state assets. The IMF’s Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) has also been applied in several European countries.   RT.com

AL: Outsourcing justice: Opponents say private probation companies create modern-day debtors’ prisons… The Childersburg lawsuit is part of a mounting backlash against the use of private probation companies in Alabama. Dozens of cash-strapped Alabama cities have hired private companies to make sure people pay fines imposed for small offenses – an arrangement that often costs the city nothing, while improving the rate of collection on city fines.  Critics say the system blurs the line between guilt and innocence, turning small offenses into major financial obligations landing people in jail for traffic violations or other small offenses simply because they’re too poor to pay.  Anniston Star




October 11, 2013


Will the US Government Shutdown Lead to the Privatization of State Programs. …“ My main concern is that this showdown rather than shutdown is likely to set the stage for the fading out of major government programs whereby the private sector would take over”, says Chossudovsky. Center for Research on Globalization

IL: Stop, before they privatize: Groups want to save Chicago from another parking meter deal…With so much privatizing taking place, why don’t we know more about these deals? That’s the question posed by a coalition of unions and open-government groups that include the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 and the Better Government Association. They are  offering an answer: the Privatization, Transparency and Accountability Ordinance. ChicagoNow (blog)

IL: Aldermen Decry Plan to Privatize Mammogram Program. Patients, politicians and health care workers joined together to protest reported plans to privatize the Chicago Health Department’s free mammogram program. NBC Chicago

MI: Forced into Bankruptcy, the Privatization of Detroit and the Protest  Movement against the Banks. Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit was the scene for the first International People’s Assembly Against Banks and Against Austerity that placed the blame for the city’s financial crisis squarely on the shoulders of the bankers and bosses. Detroit was illegally forced into bankruptcy court by a state-imposed emergency manager Kevyn Orr who is acting as an enforcer of the political will of the leading financial institutions seeking to exploit the majority African American municipality at an even higher level.  Center for Research on Globalization

MI: Kent County developing model to privatize foster care; state may follow plan. Kent County is on its way to being the first entity in the state to completely privatize child welfare services – possibly creating a model for the rest of Michigan – with the hope of improving the lives of children in the foster care system.  The Grand Rapids Press    

CA: When Public and Private Meet, Extra Care Is Needed. Across the nation, private companies are looking to take over public services. A legislative battle in Sacramento over a bill to privatize state trial courts epitomizes the promises and pitfalls of privatization.  San Diego Free Press

ID: Idaho governor open to state-run prison. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter says he’s open to ideas from legislative leaders and others on whether the state should take over a troubled private prison, or whether a new private operator should be sought. “I’m going to listen to other people,” Otter said. “I’m not foreclosing that discussion.” Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private prison operator, announced last week that it won’t submit a new bid to operate the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise when its contract ends next summer. Otter is an advocate of privatizing government services, and in 2008 he floated legislation to change Idaho laws to allow private firms to build and operate prisons in Idaho and even import out-of-state criminals to fill them. The idea made lawmakers squirm, and Otter backed off. The Spokesman Review

NY: Binghamton City Council Passes Resolution Urging the County to Maintain Ownership of BC Transit. “Here in the city, we are the urban core.  Our residents utilize public transportation to a larger degree, perhaps more than some of the more outlying communities,” said Binghamton City Council President Teri Rennia.  At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, council members Lea Webbe and Rennia along with County Legislator Jason Garnar and residents raised concerns over the possibility of privatizing the Broome County Public Transit.  FOX 40 News WICZ TV

FL: Miami-Dade Schools may explore outsourcing transportation. The Miami-Dade school district may look to privatize its vast fleet of school buses and transportation employees.   MiamiHerald.com

AL: Privatization of alcohol sales not the answer, attorney says….With privatization “you get less tax revenue and more problems associated with increased drinking,” he said. Privatization is when private companies handle alcohol sales and distribution rather than being in a “control state,” where the state sells and distributes heavier beverages at local Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) stores. Alabama is a “control state.” Alabama Baptist




October 10, 2013


Why the ‘GREAT Teachers and Principals Act’ is not great. During the last few years, The New Schools Venture Fund (NSVF), a major private funder of K-12 charter schools, has been intensely involved in creating and promoting a bill (the GREAT Act) in the U.S. Congress. This bill, if passed, would lead to the establishment of teacher and principal preparation programs that would not be subject to the same level of accountability as other state-approved programs. The bill is a part of a broader movement to disrupt the current system of college and university teacher education and replace it with deregulation, competition, and a market economy. Washington Post

Why I Stopped Writing Recommendation Letters for Teach for America….But in exchange for this social capital, our students have to take part in essentially privatizing public schools. The simple fact is that students who apply to TFA are not trained to be teachers. So by refusing to write TFA letters of recommendation, we’re merely telling our students that we can’t recommend them for a job they’re not qualified for. An increasing amount of research shows that TFA recruits perform at best no better, and often worse, than their trained and certified counterparts. What’s more, they tend to leave after just a few years in the classroom. Slate Magazine

ID: Otter on liquor privatization: ‘Not as long as I’m governor’…. Otter talked about how Idaho liquor stores have profited from cross-border sales since Washington’s move, because of price differences as that state saw liquor prices rise. “Some of these other states … are dealing themselves a bad hand because they try hard to be progressive,” Otter said. “Not as long as I’m governor – that ain’t gonna change.” His comment drew a quick burst of applause and laughter from the group, which represents bar operators. The Spokesman Review

ID: Edit: Prison Privatization Odor Lingers. Now that the Idaho Board of Correction need no longer look after Corrections Corp. of America, perhaps it can begin taking better care of you. More than three months ago, that board – and by extension, Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter – yanked CCA’s $29 million contract to manage the violence-plagued Idaho Correctional Center outside Boise. But while correction board Chairwoman Robin Sandy was willing to consider a new bid from CCA and its competitors, she forbade the Idaho Department of Correction from submitting its own proposal to run the state-owned prison. The Spokesman Review

IL: City may privatize free mammogram program. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is considering privatization of a city program providing free mammograms to uninsured women after the Public Health Department allegedly mismanaged the effort badly enough that the state yanked its funding. Chicago Tribune

OK: Rep. Brown: Privatization could destroy healthy state pension plan. Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, said his colleagues would rather give credits away to natural gas and oil companies than fund the state’s liabilities, like retirement. “It’s our responsibility to pay our part of these retirement systems,” said Brown. “But since the state is the holder of the policies, we’ve pushed it back and underfunded it.”…. “To say the sky is falling without privatization [and we don’t have the funds for retirement] is ridiculous,” said Brown. “If we leave the current system alone and allow it to travel the path it’s already on, in 22 years it will be paid out, and that’s the worst-case scenario. To scare everyone [into thinking the funds are dwindling immediately] is ludicrous.” Brown said during the upcoming session, Oklahomans will see a heavy push by legislators to privatize the system, resulting in much higher fees to be paid by employees. Tahlequah Daily Press




October 9, 2013


Privatizing the undocumented. Could President Obama’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) lead to higher rates of detentions for undocumented immigrants? Progressive critics of CIR say the private prisons industry has pushed for tougher border security in order to profit from increased detentions, but industry representatives deny the allegations.  Al Jazeera America

Credit Rating Firm Catalogs Toll Road Woes. Fitch Ratings, sees trouble ahead for toll road projects and public private partnerships in general. In a report issued Monday, the credit rating agency outlined the failures of tolling and related projects in the United States and around the world, though the agency remains optimistic on the viability of this road funding mechanism.  TheNewspaper.com           

Privatize The National Monuments: Well, It’s One Shutdown Solution. Ayn Rand followers over the years have advocated for the privatization of almost everything: space travel, schools, even roads. Hudgins himself testified before Congress about privatizing the U.S. Postal Service in 1996.  Huffington Post

Outsourced Government: Have We Gone Too Far? Recent security problems involving contractors suggest that we need to rethink what government services should be performed by the private sector. Governing

FL: Privatized prison health care is worse than you thought. What we didn’t quite know, and apparently weren’t supposed to know, is that Corizon has been sued for malpractice 660 times in the last five years; Wexford has faced an alarming 1,092 malpractice complaints in the same period. Both have had to pay out substantial claims after being found guilty either by settlement or jury. Orlando Weekly

NJ: Mayor exploring privatization. Mayor Bob Hurst reported Monday that he and City Attorney Jerry Stilwell are looking into privatizing the city’s sanitation system. Princeton Daily Clarion




October 8, 2013


Top Public Universities Push for ‘Autonomy’ From States. The proposals vary in scope, but their proponents generally argue that more autonomy allows public universities to operate with less red tape and with greater freedom to raise revenue as state funding has fallen.   But many within higher education point to the potential downsides. They worry that these universities — often the better-known and wealthier public universities — could end up sidelining broader state goals such as access and affordability in pursuit of their own agendas, such as moving up in college rankings.   ProPublica

Profiting from the Poor: Outsourcing Social Services Puts Most Vulnerable at Risk. In a story most in the media missed, protestors gathered under the dome at the Mississippi state capitol earlier this year to oppose a bill that would allow the state Department of Human Services (DHS) to privatize everything from child protective services to nutrition programs for the elderly.  PR Watch

IL: Low job numbers could kill Illiana toll road. The proposed Illiana Expressway would create just 940 full-time jobs over the next 30 years even though, at least initially, the state might have to put up more than $600 million of its own money to build the controversial roadway. So conceded Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider in a candid — and revealing — interview yesterday as the fight over whether to build the express route between Interstate 55 in Illinois and Interstate 65 in Indiana nears a critical decision-making point.  Crain’s Chicago Business

PA: Nutter administration defends privatization effort. Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison ….however, refused to answer a series of questions, mainly from Councilman Dennis O’Brien, about the presumed winning bidder of the contract or how that firm would operate. “It’s kind of like doing your contract negotiations in public,” Gillison said. “We don’t do that.” “My fear is that this contract will be signed the minute you walk out this door,” O’Brien said. “And none of our founded questions will get answered.” Philly.com

PA: PennDOT 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. Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

LA: State working on privatization for long-term care. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is planning to privatize the state’s long-term care programs for the elderly and developmentally disabled.  Sacramento Bee


October 7, 2013


How profits, politics and obsession with secrecy helped break the security clearance.  The government also chose to farm the bulk of its vetting work out to contractors, which generally are more nimble than federal agencies in growing or shrinking, and are practiced at luring federal funds by promising to cut costs. It relied in particular on US Investigations Services (USIS), a firm that in 1996 was calved off of an independent agency known as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and quickly got most of the background investigation business before being snapped up by a private equity investment firm in 2003.  Public Integrity

Privatization isn’t always a plus in government investigations – editorial. Privatization of government-performed services has been the cry of anti-government forces for some time. They preach that private enterprise is more efficient and the profit motive encourages efficiency. It does in some instances. But generalities such as these are too broad and exceptions take place. Journal Inquirer

The Interstate of the Future: Privatization or Innovation? It could be said that Robert Poole, the Searle Freedom Trust Transportation fellow and director of transportation policy at the Libertarian Reason Foundation, has never seen a toll road – or, more precisely, a privatized toll road – he didn’t like. Exhibit A: his newly released Interstate 2.0: Modernizing the Interstate Highway System via Toll Finance.  Poole calls his project “Interstate 2.0” to signal that Reason’s agenda is something that cool, leaning-forward folks will want to support. But the bottom line is that Poole’s proposal offers nothing innovative: just another proposition for the kind of relentless privatization that has stricken cities across the country, rolled into a highway-long package.  Truth-Out           

IL: Planning panel votes in favor of Illiana Corridor toll road. A panel of state and local transportation agency officials, advocacy groups and county officials voted by a slim margin today to support the controversial Illiana Corridor…..Critics cited the potential financial risks, including the possibility that if toll revenues fall short, taxpayers might be on the hook for as much as $1.1 billion to pay for the project. Building the Illiana would expose the state to “extensive financial risk” because of the uncertainty over the cost and financing structure, concluded a report by CMAP staff. IDOT proposes the Illiana be built as a public-private partnership.  Chicago Tribune

PA: Secret money funding advocacy at Capitol. Tracking the way political spending works its way into the political discourse in Harrisburg is difficult because some of the most prominent advocacy organizations operating in the capital do not have to disclose where they get their money. That means both the Keystone Research Center and The Commonwealth Foundation get to decide how much information they give the public about who is paying for their research….. The Commonwealth Foundation has been the leading proponent of liquor privatization, one of the key policy priorities announced by Gov. Tom Corbett earlier this year. Meadville Tribune

PA: 2 State Senators Want Corbett to End Lottery Privatization Bid. Two Democratic state senators want Gov. Tom Corbett to pull the plug on his efforts to privatize Pennsylvania’s Lottery and turn his attention to what they say are more pressing issues including transportation funding, Medicaid expansion and education. 90.5 WESA

DC: Meridian Public Charter School shrugs off DC investigation into test tampering. Six months ago, a consulting firm working for the D.C. schools superintendent reported that staffers at the Meridian Public Charter School had tampered with their students’ annual city tests, raising scores significantly above what they would have been. Washington Post

CA: Charter school founders sentenced in misuse of funds. The founders of a San Fernando Valley charter school were sentenced Friday for the misappropriation of more than $200,000 in public funds in a case that could affect charter schools statewide….. For charter critics, however, the result is a long-overdue rebuke of what they say is an anything-goes mentality that sometimes abuses the public trust and drains resources from students.  Los Angeles Times

CA: L..A. events call for opposing corporate-style school reform. Los Angeles was the scene last week of two events that took on corporate-style school reform, which emphasizes competition and accountability and is promulgated by many state governments and the U.S. Department of Education. Los Angeles Times







October 4, 2013


From Junk Bonds to Junk Schools: Cyber Schools Fleece Taxpayers for Phantom Students and Failing Grades. Like the ubiquitous African email scammers that promise great things as long as you pay them in advance, evidence is building that some full-time charter schools charge state taxpayers big bucks for students who may only spend a few days or a few weeks in front of a computer before they decide that “virtual” education is not for them — but the schools keep the cash anyway. PR Watch

MI: Michigan rejects bids to privatize prison; offers were ‘substantially’ higher than current costs. Michigan is not moving forward with plans to transfer nearly 1,000 inmates to a privately run prison after receiving bids that were “substantially” higher than current costs. The Bay City Times

MI: State Senate panel studies complaints about Grand Rapids veterans home. Lawmakers are taking seriously complaints that care for veterans has deteriorated since state nursing assistants at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans were replaced by lower-paid workers hired by a contractor, a committee chairman said Thursday. Detroit Free Press

IL: Emanuel prepared to sink plan to privatize Port of Chicago. Two days after the Colorado-based Broe Group “amicably suspended” exclusive negotiations on a 62-year master lease, Emanuel said he was prepared to walk away from the deal, just as he pulled the plug on privatizing Midway Airport. Voices


October 3, 2013


NY: Private cameras, public money. The news that a security company is using $1 million in public money to install 100 surveillance cameras on city lampposts in Borough Park and Midwood raises serious concerns about why a private firm is being allowed to operate like the NYPD. It is understandable that these Brooklyn communities want additional security — but the arrangement sets a terrible precedent.  New York Daily News

FL: Florida prison healthcare providers sued hundreds of times. The Florida Department of Corrections awarded a five-year, $1.2 billion contract to provide medical care for thousands of state prisoners in North and Central Florida to a Tennessee company that was sued 660 times for malpractice in the past five years. Miami Herald

DC: DC charter school allegations raise questions for city officials. D.C. PUBLIC charter school officials say that, as soon as they learned about alleged fiscal irregularities at the city’s oldest charter school, they took swift action. That’s true. But two issues remain: why the alleged abuses were not discovered sooner, and whether sufficient protections are in place to ensure that public funds are spent in the best interest of students.  Washington Post           

TX: UT Students and community members speak out against Smarter System. The coalition began last semester in response to the Smarter Systems plan, and is composed of student organizations, faith leaders, local nonprofit organizations and the Texas State Employees Union, which protests the outsourcing and privatization of on-campus job and services. The coalition was formed by the United Students Against Sweatshops, a group which aims to protect the rights of student workers on and off campus.  “Taking outsourcing off the table is a basic, minimal request from the community because this plan is wide reaching and we already know that outsourcing and privatization has a devastating effects on local economies and our community as a whole,” Plan II junior Bianca Hinz-Foley said.  UT The Daily Texan

PA: Privatizing legal representation for poor defendants may set a dangerous precedent. Since last year, Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration has quietly sought to revolutionize how court-appointed lawyers are provided to poor Philadelphians, through a new office of conflict counsel. But on Monday, Oct. 7, City Council will hold a hearing to air concerns about the plan. And there are lots of them.  Philadelphia City Paper

How Much Public Money Does Your State Spend on NFL Football . It’s true, the world’s most profitable sports league is also a tax-free entity. More shockingly, however, is that the American taxpayer provides 70% of capital costs for increasingly lavish, billion-dollar stadiums….. Second, Congress must enact legislation prohibiting the privatization of television images performed in publicly funded stadiums. Only with the threat of losing their television contracts worth several billion dollars will the NFL be inclined to privately finance their own stadiums. Such a drastic measure would prevent the public from being gouged for the construction and maintenance of stadiums that serve as the playground for the uber rich.  PolicyMic

October 2, 2013


DC: Charter school officials diverted millions, lawsuit alleges. Options Public Charter School was founded to improve the fortunes of the District’s most troubled teens and students with disabilities, and the District government sent millions of taxpayer dollars to the school each year for their education and care. D.C. officials alleged in a lawsuit Tuesday that three former managers at the Northeast Washington school diverted at least $3 million of that money to enrich themselves, engaging in a “pattern of self-dealing” that was part of an elaborate contracting scam.  Washington Post

IL: Mayor’s plan to privatize port still afloat. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to privatize, improve and market one of Chicago’s greatest untapped assets — the nation’s largest inland general cargo port — is still afloat, a top mayoral aide said Tuesday. One day after the Colorado-based Broe Group “amicably suspended” exclusive negotiations on a 62-year master lease, Port Authority Board Chairman Michael Forde vowed to forge ahead with negotiations with Broe’s competitors.  Chicago Sun-Times

OR: More Than 200 Protest Proposal to Clearcut More of Oregon’s Forests. Reps. Peter DeFazio (D.-Ore.), Kurt Schrader (D.-Ore.) and Greg Walden (R.-Ore.) have proposed to effectively privatize 1.5 million acres of public land in western Oregon known as the “O&C” lands, turning it over to a private logging “trust” to be managed under the Oregon Forest Practices Act, where clearcutting is rampant. Sen. Wyden is currently developing his own plan for expanded logging of public lands in the western part of the state. Speakers at today’s rally said management of Oregon’s federal forests should be based on an accurate understanding of the state’s modern economy and of where the greatest opportunities for growth are instead of trying to solve county budget issues by sanctioning ill-advised, unsustainable clearcutting projects.  Center for Biological Diversity