December 11, 2013


Meet David Steiner, America’s Highest Paid Sanitation Worker. The Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD) series of profiles on “America’s Highest Paid Government Workers” today puts the spotlight on David Steiner, president and CEO of Waste Management. PR Watch

The 10 school districts with the most charter school students. A new report on charter schools says that charter school enrollment around the country has grown 80 percent over the past five years – but represents only 5 percent of total public school enrollment (a statistic that may seem surprising given all of the attention that school reformers give to charters). Washington Post

The Perils of Privatization (Part One): Not-so-smart-cards in Chicago….. It’s been our own municipal version of the Obamacare rollout—which means everyone should pay attention. For the root problem is exactly the same. Congressman Henry Waxman argued about glitches in the ACA, “if anybody’s head should roll, it should be the contractors who didn’t live up to their contractual responsibility.” But that’s only half right. Consider the sign Harry Truman used to keep on his Oval Office desk: “The buck stops here.” The problem is not just the profusion of private contractors who do the public’s business so poorly; it’s the fact that the public’s business is being so relentlessly privatized by the government executives in charge. Slowly, the perceived imperative to privatize has become the political tail that wags the policy dog. The results are before us.  The Nation

How Wall Street Power Brokers Are Designing the Future of Public Education as a Money-Making Machine…. “This is about corporate control of taxpayers money,” she says. “[The private sector] already has part of the military, some of the roads, that kind of thing. The new money pot is education.” Valued at $1.3 trillion, the U.S. education market is more like a giant cauldron, and many of the individuals stirring it have a long track record of funding pro-charter candidates for state government across the country.  Truth-Out

IL: Protests fail to undo privatization of Long Grove roads. A vote to undo part of Long Grove’s recently approved road-privatization ordinance failed Tuesday night, despite the presence of dozens of residents at a Village Board meeting, many of them there to protest the shift of upkeep and plowing costs to residents. Public outcry had been growing since a deeply divided Village Board approved a plan last month that makes nearly half of the road system private. Chicago Tribune

IL: Editorial: Illiana Expressway is a bad idea….. Across the country, public-private toll roads built in the 2000s are struggling now because they were based on traffic forecasts that came up short. That left investors wary of deals that depend on toll revenue to recover their costs. Instead, they want their government partners to provide fixed payments, regardless of traffic. That doesn’t sound like much of a partnership. IDOT promises the Illiana won’t get built if the numbers can’t be made to work. In the meantime, more than $100 million has been approved for planning, engineering and land acquisition. That’s not chump change.  Chicago Tribune

IL: Committee advances plan for independent city budget office. The ordinance approved by the City Council’s Budget Committee Tuesday would empower the new office to: analyze the mayor’s annual budget and city audit; present aldermen with a report on “budget options reforms and efficiencies;” review privatization deals and asset leases and analyze actions taken by Wall Street rating agencies. Chicago Sun-Times

FL: Florida Senator Pushes For Abusive Youth Prison Company To Face Hearing. A top lawmaker in Florida is calling for a legislative hearing on abuses at the state’s juvenile prisons run by the troubled for-profit contractor Youth Services International. Darren Soto, one of the leading Democrats in the Florida Senate, sent letters Tuesday to fellow lawmakers and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, which oversees the more than $100 million in state contracts held by YSI. The company was the subject of a two-part Huffington Post investigation that documented more than two decades of abuse at the firm’s juvenile and adult facilities across the country. Huffington Post

OH: Deal to Privatize Parking in Cincinnati Dead. City Council approved the deal, but it was widely opposed. People feared higher rates and longer enforcement. In a release, council member P.G. Sittenfeld says, “This has shown us that the public values its public assets and wants long-term solutions to our financial challenges, not short-term fixes.” WKRC TV Cincinnati

PA: Senate GOP receptive to outsourcing Pa. Lottery’s management but not ready to vote on it. Senate Republicans are showing some receptivity to the idea of privatizing management of the Pennsylvania Lottery but they have some questions.

CA: Sacramento, California To Shorten Red Light Camera Ticket Timing. The Sacramento County, California Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on a plan to boost the number of $500 red light camera tickets issued at intersections. County officials quietly changed the wording of its memorandum of understanding with Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian company in charge of the program, so that the camera flash would trigger in half the time. Under the new proposal, the Redflex camera will issue a ticket 0.1 second after the signal changes — faster than the blink of an eye. Local activists are crying foul.

OR: Oregon board OKs controversial forestland sale. Top state officials on Tuesday agreed to move forward with the sale of scattered tracts of the Elliott State Forest, despite objections from conservation groups that they include nesting trees for a protected bird…..They said they’re not trying to privatize the forest but need to balance conservation concerns against a constitutional requirement that the land generate money for public schools. Kitzhaber said the state needs to go forward with accepting bids to determine the value of the 2,700 acres, whether the land is sold to timber companies or conservation groups. San Francisco Chronicle