January 14, 2014


West Virginia Is Just The Beginning For Chemical Spill Disasters. Thanks to the mass privatization of public water systems and the fake rhetoric of “clean coal,” we’re all at higher risk for disasters like the Elk River chemical spill. Daily Beast

Overuse and Abuse of Adjunct Faculty Members Threaten Core Academic Values. The “Corporatization” is the name sometimes given to what has happened to higher education over the last 30 years. Corporatization is the reorganization of our great national resources, including higher education, in accordance with a shortsighted business model. Three decades of decline in public funding for higher education opened the door for increasing corporate influence, and since then the work of the university has been redirected to suit the corporate vision. Chronicle of Higher Education

MI: Effort to Save Pensions and Art in Detroit. Foundations have committed $330 million toward a deal to avoid cuts to Detroit retirees’ pensions and to save the Detroit Institute of Arts’ renowned collection.  New York Times

IL: Long Grove plan may pave way to privatize public roads. Facing an annual funding gap of more than $1 million, Long Grove trustees have twice in recent months affirmed a plan that could privatize nearly half of the village’s public roads – transferring the cost of upkeep and plowing to the residents in the process. Chicago Tribune

IN: Airport privatization deal readies for takeoff. The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority on Monday put itself on course to approve a 40-year privatization deal for the airport in as little as two weeks. nwitimes.com


IN: Airport advisors could ring up $2 million tab. It was revealed Monday the bill for airport advisers on the Gary/Chicago International Airport privatization could hit $2 million once legal fees for a prominent law firm are added in. nwitimes.com

NE: Omaha might outsource paramedic training. The City of Omaha is looking to outsource its paramedic training program, a move that Mayor Jean Stothert says will save money and improve the Fire Department’s performance. Omaha World-Herald

TX:  Red Light Camera Company Fights Photo Ticket Referendum. A red light camera firm is once again suing to block residents from having a say in the use of automated ticketing machines in their community. American Traffic Solutions (ATS) filed suit last month asking a Liberty County, Texas district court judge to issue a restraining order that would keep residents from voting May 10 on red light camera use.  TheNewspaper.com

PA: Lawsuit awaits city plan on public defenders. Many of the objections to the administration’s plans are centered on the fear that a private firm would put profits before clients, who often struggle with poverty, addiction, and mental illness. “The temptation will always exist to move cases along . . . to save the expense of investigation, mitigation, hiring experts, all of which impact the bottom line,” Defender Association chief Ellen Greenlee said in October. Philly.com

VA: Bills seek to help drivers manage new tunnel tolls. John Miller, a Newport News Democrat, has sponsored legislation (SB156) that would require the Virginia Department of Transportation or the private operator of an all-electronic toll road to pay the maintenance fee associated with the E-ZPass transponders held by drivers who live within a 50-mile radius of the toll road. The Virginian-Pilot



January 13, 2014


Christie aide latest to use private emails. The use of private emails adds Christie, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, to a growing list of administrations that use private email accounts and other digital services to conduct official business. In turn, state and federal officials, regardless of political party, have sidestepped public records laws meant to keep government activities transparent. Topeka Capital Journal

What’s At Stake In Privatizing Education. Obama’s contribution to the privatization campaign has centered for the most part on education. But before we can evaluate its impact, it is necessary to consider the different forms privatization can take in relation to schools, since it can occupy different positions on a wide spectrum of possibilities.  CounterCurrents.org

TX: Education Reform Group Mobilizes for 2014 Elections. Texans for Education Reform, whose legislative package included measures to encourage the growth of online education and charter schools, has formed a political action committee, according to filings with the state ethics commission. The new committee will allow the group, which spent at least $645,000 on a team of 16 lobbyists during its first legislative session, to put some of its resources toward political candidates.  Texas Tribune

DC: New DC library chief sees MLK as ’empty canvas’. In his new job, the 44-year-old Reyes-Gavilan will have the opportunity to revamp the District’s biggest library — the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library — seeing through a planned renovation of the four-decade-old structure designed by modernist icon Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. What Reyes-Gavilan will undertake is just as momentous and complicated in political, financial and administrative terms —  building support, most likely, for a public-private partnership that finances the redevelopment in part by adding floors to the Mies structure, then leasing part of it to a private entity. Washington Post (blog)

GA: Budget, education among top Ga. legislative issues. Both Deal and Ralston have signaled a willingness to at least start a discussion about privatizing some child welfare services, looking to Florida as an example. San Francisco Chronicle

NH: Finding funding next step for bill to increase charter school aid. A bill to boost charter school aid that passed the House this week faces a tough road in the House Finance Committee, tasked with determining where to find the more than $2 million the bill would cost. Concord Monitor


January 9, 2014


Infrastructure 101: The Evolution of Building Big Things (Part 1). As this country’s public infrastructure crumbles,  prominent organizations, such as Reason and its allies, strongly advocate using privatization to solve the problem. However, this country has a long and continuing history of successfully taking on big infrastructure projects through direct public support and funding – circumventing privatization while getting the job done well.  Truth-Out

The Long And Winding Road To An Opaque Government, Part 1: Security Documents. Over the last several years both federal and state governments have employed two primary methods of hiding their activities from the public.  The first and most obvious is the misuse of the Patriot Act to label government documents and activities as security matters.  This is nearly impossible to monitor.  If the public and the press cannot see any of the documents, there is no way to know what is being hidden.   The second is privatization of government functions.  By privatizing what are in fact functions of government, much questionable activity can be concealed in what may pass as a private corporation. Both these issues are now being litigated before the Ohio Supreme Court. Plunderbund

Report Examines Teach For America. Teach For America: A Return to the Evidence challenges the simplistic but widespread belief that TFA is a clear-cut success story. In fact, Heilig and Jez find that the best evidence shows TFA participants as a group are not meaningfully or consistently improving educational outcomes for the children they have taught. National Education Policy Center

NE: State Senator proposes selling or privatizing MUD. A state Senator from Omaha says he’ll introduce a bill to sell or privatize the Metropolitan Utilities District. Nebraska lawmakers return to session Wednesday. State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh says the bill he’ll introduce could bring in up to $3 billion. That money would go toward Omaha’s combined sewer overflow project and unfunded pension liabilities.    91.5 KIOS-FM

IL: Chicago: Private Meter Readers Wrote Hundreds of Thousands of Tickets, Data Shows. For the past few years, city parking meter enforcement crews have had a private team of ticket writers helping them do their jobs — and helping fill the city’s coffers with millions of dollars in additional revenues. DNAInfo.com

FL: Elevated toll road in Pasco clears big hurdle. State transportation officials accepted a bid Wednesday from private investors who want to build and operate an elevated toll road in southern Pasco County that could change commuting patterns for generations of Tampa Bay motorists. The Tampa Bay Tribune

AZ: Official: Nurse exposed 24 Buckeye inmates to hepatitis B and C. A nurse working for Corizon Inc., the private health-care provider, improperly injected and exposed inmates to hepatitis B and C… Corizon, which last year was awarded a three-year, $372 million contract to provide state inmate health care, refused to provide details of the incident, which occurred Sunday night… Caroline Isaacs, an activist and outspoken critic of privatizing prison health care, said she was “sadly not surprised” that inmates again were potentially exposed to hepatitis. “It’s just yet another piece of evidence that these kinds of problems are inevitable because they are inherent in the way these corporations do business,” said Isaacs, American Friends Service Committee program director. “This will keep happening until the state of Arizona takes responsibility for medical care in its own facilities.” azcentral.com

ID: Editorial: Idaho finds privately run prisons don’t measure up. Idaho’s decadelong experiment with prison privatization has failed, so Gov. Butch Otter had little choice when he reluctantly pulled the plug last week. The Spokesman Review

CA: What is privatization? Or is Berkeley still a public University. Wiseman and Breslauer are fiercely critical of a political culture that has enabled the state to disinvest from higher education.  According to Breslauer, even after the passage of Proposition 30 state funds now account for just 14% of Berkeley’s total budget, down from 30% in 1999 and 70% in 1971.  Although, if one includes ‘restricted’ monies from federal and local government about 40% of Berkeley’s revenue comes from public sources, the withdrawal of state funding has indeed been calamitous.  Despite this Breslauer’s polemic is that Berkeley is now more of a public university than it used to be in the fabled Master Plan era. National Education Policy Center

January 8, 2014


Outsourcing State and Local Government Services is About Looting. For decades, citizens have been sold on the mantra that the hungry private sector can do a better and cheaper job of providing services than “inefficient” government. Now it is true that there were some badly run government entities that have done better when privatized (the poster child is British Telecom). But particularly on the state and local level, where voters demand a high level of accountability, this premise was always dubious.  Global Economic Intersection

TX: TxDOT sticks to toll roads or no roads agenda. TxDOT has been criticized by the public over the last decade for promoting its doctrine of toll roads or no roads. After several attempts at re-making the agency and trying to convince a skeptical public that it’s changed, the leopard hasn’t changed his spots and it’s back to its old toll roads mantra at this year’s forum. On the heels of announcing an $825 million toll plan for San Antonio, TxDOT continues to hold road funds hostage to tolling….. Though the private companies tout they’re taking all the risk if the traffic doesn’t show up (a claim both Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ted Houghton, Reason Foundation, and IBTTA reiterate), that’s simply not the case — they get public subsidies on the front end for construction and taxpayer-backed profit guarantees on the back end. San Antonio Express

WA: How privatization drove up the cost of liquor. WHEN Washington voters approved the privatization of liquor sales in November 2011, they did so with the promise of lower prices and higher revenue. Instead, they got sticker shock at the checkout counter while the state got a $200 million windfall at their expense. Before privatization went into effect, the people of Washington were already paying the highest spirit taxes in the country. Now, state taxes and fees on spirits have skyrocketed to more than five times the national average. The Seattle Times

NC: The high costs of a GED diploma. The profitization and privatization of GED test taking is just another attack on the poor coming from the General Assembly…. In North Carolina, the GED test, which was formerly administered by the nonprofit American Council on Education is now under the control of a public-private partnership with Pearson VUE, the largest for profit testing agency in the United States. The changes in administration will prove to present many difficult obstacles for North Carolinians trying to take the GED test—most of these low-income, minority citizens. Access to postsecondary education is commonly recognized as the most viable way to establish middle class earnings. A GED diploma is an important tool for advancing education and technical skills, leading people to better opportunities. Duke Chronicle

PA: Could 2014 be the year Pennsylvania’s liquor privatization movement reaches full proof? Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said Tuesday renewed negotiations led by Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley could lead to privatization of the state’s liquor store system. But differences between the House and Senate have scuttled similar proposals before. PennLive.com



January 6, 2014


Darrell Issa Has Sleazy Plan to Restore Veterans’ Pensions By Privatizing the Post Office. Late last week, Issa found a silver lining in another unpleasant situation for military retirees whose pensions are being raided by Republicans in their two-year austerity budget and is turning it into an opportunity to kill Veterans’ jobs, harm the United States Postal Service, and give two corporations control of a government program.  PoliticusUSA

Bill Clinton Is the Face of a Massive For-profit College Company. While it doesn’t have the name recognition of say, the University of Phoenix, Laureate Education Inc. is America’s largest for-profit college company by enrollment, though most of its 800,000 students attend one of the 70 schools it runs overseas. Bloomberg has published an investigation into the organization, which boasts $4 billion in annual revenue and backers who include George Soros, Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital, and Henry Kravis’s KKR & Co. In 2010, Bill Clinton became Laureate’s honorary chancellor, and has since traveled to its locations “in countries such as Malaysia, Peru and Spain, making more than a dozen appearances on its behalf.” (Portraits of him are posted around some of the campuses.) New York Magazine

Outsourcing Pays Big to Private Companies While Americans Suffer. Remember how outsourcing was shoved down the throats of the American people by claiming it would save money and was more efficient?  Guess what, not only is costing more, the services now provided are dismal failures.  A new report, Out of Control describes the abysmal state and consequences of outsourcing public services.  Not only did America lose these jobs in many cases, taxpayers have lined the pockets of private enterprises while receiving less and paying more. Economic Populist

DC: New claims surface in Options charter case. A senior official at the D.C. Public Charter School Board allegedly received $150,000 to help the former managers of Options Public Charter School evade oversight and take millions of taxpayer dollars for themselves, according to a new court document. Washington Post

PA: Corbett Optimistic Legislative Support for Lottery Privatization is Growing. The governor’s plans to outsource the lottery’s management were stymied when the state attorney general rejected a contract last year. Last month, Senate Republicans began considering a measure that would pave the way for privatization and allow the expansion of lottery games. The Senate GOP majority leader suggested hearings might be held on the measure later this month.  90.5 WESA


January 3, 2014


TX: Fast Texas Toll Road Struggles to Pick Up Drivers. Some drivers and trucking groups said motorists have avoided the privately operated toll road because of the expense—fees can exceed $8 for cars and $29 for commercial trucks—and it often isn’t the fastest way from point A to B. Wall Street Journal

ID: Gov. Otter orders state to take over operation of troubled private prison. Gov. Butch Otter just announced that he’s ordering the state Board of Correction to halt its ongoing effort to get new bids from private firms to run the privately operated state prison, the Idaho Correctional Center, south of Boise, and instead move to have the state take over operating the scandal-plagued lockup. The Spokesman Review

IN: Indiana officials spar over annuity privatization plan. A battle appears to be brewing in Indiana over a plan to privatize future annuity payments to retired public workers and teachers. LifeHealthPro

FL: Charter school lobbyist hired to do political work for Senate’s top budget-writer. A lobbyist who until recently represented a host of charter-school organizations has been hired to do political work for the Senate’s top education budget-writer, state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. St. Augustine Record           

Home, Sweet (Privatized Military) Home.  The goals of faster and cheaper military housing may have been achieved through privatization, but problems including unreliable builders and an unwillingness to fix persistent problems including mold has led to legal action by tenants. Truth-Out

January 2, 2014


IL: Critics knock process for more charter schools. With Chicago’s Board of Education set to vote this month on proposals for 21 new charter campuses, the district’s efforts to gather community input has done little to satisfy critics of the privately run schools. Opponents say charter advocates have been given too much influence over several of the Neighborhood Advisory Councils set up by Chicago Public Schools to discuss proposals in Northwest and Southwest side neighborhoods where charters have yet to gain a foothold. Chicago Tribune

AZ: Editorial: Private prisons: Let’s see hidden cost comparisons. After years of studies showed that private prisons cost more than state prisons, conservative supporters of privatization repealed a statutory requirement to compare costs. Convenient for those who like private prisons. Not helpful to those who want policy based on solid information. Arizona is putting increasing numbers of inmates into private prisons — even guaranteeing high occupancy rates at those private facilities. This represents the triumph of an ideological bent toward privatization. We don’t know whether it represents the taxpayers’ best interests.  Arizona Republic

The 25 Best Progressive Victories of 2013. In August, Demos published a report, Underwriting Bad Jobs, that revealed that the federal government — through contracting out and privatization — is the largest employer of low wage, dead-end jobs. The think tank and its organizing allies urged Obama to issue a Presidential Executive Order raising the minimum wage for workers on all federal contracts.  Huffington Post