December 30, 2013


Parking meters and prisons: Top six privatization horror stories. Selling public resources to private companies for them to profit off of is a hot trend in cities and states—not all of them controlled by Republicans, either. Privatization deals affecting everything from parking meters to child welfare to public water systems are often negotiated in secret, carried out with little oversight, and subject to massive cost overruns and corruption. The sordid story of Chicago’s parking meters has to be a top entry in any “worst privatization stories” competition.  Daily Kos

Fox Promotes Privatizing The US Postal Service. On December 14, 2013, host David Asman kicked off the discussion by saying there are “new calls” to privatize the Postal Service after it posted a $5 billion loss this year. News Hounds

IN: Indiana pension board stands by annuity privatization plan. State pension officials have rejected a legislative recommendation that they reconsider privatizing retirement annuity payments for state and local government employees, including teachers.

FL: Pasco vote on toll road coming Tuesday. With just a week to go before bids are due for a private toll road in Pasco County, commissioners will vote Tuesday on whether to support the concept of the elevated highway along the State Road 54/56 corridor. International Infrastructure Partners, headed by Lutz engineer Jerry Stanley, submitted an unsolicited bid in June to the Florida Department of Transportation to lease the road right-of-way so his company could build and operate the 33-mile toll road.  Tampa Tribune

NJ: NJ toll collectors fighting to keep jobs as privatization looms. Union leaders are worried that toll takers may disappear altogether unless they are able to stop the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the parkway and turnpike’s operating agency, from privatizing the fare-collection system on both roads. Cherry Hill Courier Post

TX: Time to Investigate Pearson in Texas. Thanks to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the charitable arm of testing giant Pearson will pay $7.7 million to end his investigation into whether it was illegally helping its for-profit parent company. This comes as a shock to Texans, where Pearson has an eye-popping $462-million testing contract, as opposed to New York where Pearson is only getting $32 million. The surprise isn’t that a special interest cut corners at taxpayers expense but that a state attorney general can investigate it. It’s simply not done here, but then again, why isn’t Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, now running for governor, investigating the Pearson Foundation?  Behind Enemy Lines

VA: It’s a hard road ahead on tolls. It’s a sweetheart deal for Elizabeth River Crossings, the private consortium renovating the Downtown Tunnel, building a new Midtown tube and extending the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway in Portsmouth. For commuters, and especially for entrepreneurs in Portsmouth, it’s a fiscal nightmare that will reorder business and settlement patterns in a region defined by water and saddled with high state tax rates matched only by Northern Virginia. The double-whammy provided through the state’s ERC contract is particularly egregious given its duration – nearly a lifetime, at 58 years. And, starting in 2016, the toll is allowed to increase 3.5 percent or more annually.  The Virginian-Pilot