January 30, 2014


Outsourcing Probation: A Lucrative and Growing Industry. Privatization of the criminal justice system has extended beyond prisons that are run for profit and now includes probation operators making a buck off Americans who have violated the law. Quietly over the past four decades, private probation companies have gone into business in 40% of U.S. states, most of them in the South. Georgia alone has 34 businesses providing probation services. These entrepreneurs have replaced county offices that used to oversee individuals given probation instead of jail time for their offenses. But the switch from public to private probation has resulted in excessive financial costs levied on probationers, some of whom have been threatened with incarceration for not paying these companies on time.  AllGov

NSA Whistleblower Snowden interviewed on German TV. Snowden, who is 30, said that his case “highlights the dangers of privatizing government functions.” Even though he once worked directly for the Central Intelligence Agency, he was a private contractor when he assembled the trove of secret documents he provided to journalists last year. “What that means,” Snowden said, “is you have private, for-profit companies doing inherently governmental work like targeted espionage, surveillance, compromising foreign systems. And anyone who has the skills, who can convince a private company that they have the qualifications to do so, will be empowered by the government to do that. And there’s very little oversight, there’s very little review.” The Drum

Helium Shortage: Situation Update One Year Later. The Federal Helium Reserve shutdown was a consequence of the Helium Privatization Act, a law approved in 1996. At the time, there was less interest in helium production, as it was not considered essential for the defence industry anymore, and its technological importance was less relevant and understood. The situation, however, had changed dramatically since 1996, and these days helium is essential in many sectors. A lot of medical equipment, MRI and lasers for instance, require helium to keep parts of them at a very low temperature; helium is also used for electronic fabrication and aeronautics applications. Luckily, in the end the catastrophe was avoided, as a last minute solution was found. Decoded Science

PA: The Stealth Privatization of Pennsylvania’s Bridges. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has decided to sign a 40-year contract to privatize the state’s crumbling bridges, but there has been little to no media coverage of the deal and what it will mean for two generations of Pennsylvanians.  Truth-Out

IL: Emanuel defends new Chicago charter schools. Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday dismissed criticism aimed at his hand-picked school board’s decision to approve seven new charter schools after it shuttered 47 neighborhood schools last year, saying they’re two separate issues. The mayor made his first public comments on the matter since the Chicago Board of Education vote last week on charter school expansion months after the district cut $168 million from individual school budgets.  Chicago Tribune

NJ: Bloomfield council considers outsourcing engineering. The Bloomfield Township Council will consider outsourcing the municipality’s Engineering Department as a potential cost saver. NorthJersey.com

CT: LETTER: Says outsourcing will hurt taxpayers, families. There are few things more important than looking out for the health and safety of our children. Bristol parents rely on local food service workers to keep an eye out for them, to make sure they get the nourishment they need when parents aren’t present. For many children, the meals they receive at school are the only meals they receive at all. Many of these workers have grown up here and have a real stake in seeing our kids do well. That’s why news of attempts to outsource these jobs to a for-profit corporation is so unsettling.  When we outsource food service, parents are no longer in control. Instead, our kids’ health and nutrition suffer when companies cut costs by reducing the quality, increasing the fat content or removing fresh options of the food they are served, just to protect profits.   The Bristol Press