February 10, 2014


‘Public-Private Partnerships’ Sound Great, But Private Investment Requires Public Accountability – Donald Cohen….. Most importantly, many governments have overlooked the opportunity to use these arrangements to alleviate income inequality. To help state and local officials make sure that private investment in our public infrastructure protects and advances our public needs and remains solidly in public control,, In the Public Interest has assembled a new backgrounder, entitled “Infrastructure Justice: Building Equity into Infrastructure Financing.” Huffingtn Post

The disastrous idea for privatizing Fannie and Freddie – Dean Baker…. Instead, Corker-Warner would replace Fannie and Freddie with a new a system in which private financial institutions could issue mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) that carry a government guarantee. In the event that a large number of mortgages in the MBS market went bad, the investors would be on the hook for losses up to 10 percent of their value, after which the government would cover the rest. If you think that sounds like a reasonable system, then you must have already forgotten the housing crash and ensuing financial crisis. Al Jazeera America

PA: Pa. to privatize bridges; what will it mean? A 2012 law authorizing “public-private partnerships” will enable PennDOT to team up with a private-sector partner that will finance, design, build and maintain the 500 bridges for up to 35 years. The state won’t have to borrow to build the bridges — the private partner will do that, and be repaid over the lifetime of the contract….The law explicitly permits “user fees” — tolls — on new or rebuilt roads or bridges, though PennDOT officials stress none of the 500 bridges in the rapid replacement project will be tolled. But, down the line, motorists could see more toll booths, or EZ Pass restrictions.  Lancaster Newspapers

NV: Nevada County Will Charge Inmates For Their Meals And Medical Care. The Elko County Commission, which oversees the jail in that Nevada county, approved a plan on Wednesday to levy a $6 daily fee on inmates for meals, a $10 fee for visits to the doctor, and $5 fee for getting booked. People in jail for less than 24 hours and people who get jobs in the jail will be exempt, and those who are in jail but are later found innocent will be reimbursed. The scheme is the brainchild of Sheriff Jim Pitts, who argues that the government shouldn’t have to foot the cost of jailing people.  ThinkProgress

CO: Colorado public-private partnership in spotlight…. In calling the meeting, the advocacy group Drive Sunshine Institute had alleged a “sweeping 10-year effort by corporate lobbyists from the world’s largest toll road developers to create a Colorado state highway privatization board.” At stake, said the group, was not just U.S. 36 but then C-470, Interstate 70 and who U.S. 36knows where it would end. Fourteen state legislators in Colorado also saw shadows. A letter issued the day before by Matt Jones, a state senator from nearby Louisville, and 13 of his Democratic colleagues had called for a 60-day review before “entering into a secret 50-year toll lane contract” for managed express lanes on U.S. 36. The added time, the letter explained, was necessary so that legislators and citizens alike could understand restrictions on carpools, toll maximums and other provisions of the contract. Mountain Town News

CO: Denver Direct: US 36 Privatization 50-Year Contract to be Signed Day before Senate briefing by CDOT. Nine Colorado public highways being sold to foreign toll road firms over the next 12 months starting with US 36. I-70 in downtown Denver. Round trip from Denver to Boulder will cost $28 in the express lane during rush hour. Toll cost is indexed to inflation and will rise much higher over the next half century. Denver Direct

GA: Involuntary servitude: Editorial. In theory, shifting oversight of probationers from courts to for-profit corporations would reduce government bureaucracy and save taxpayers money. And if that were the only measure of success, privatized probation services would be a smash hit. The reality, unfortunately, is that privatization has created a perverse system in which companies operating outside the purview of the courts are shaking down folks, including some of society’s most marginalized. For what? Exorbitant “supervision” fees and extended probation terms under threat of jail time. The business euphemistically is referred to as “pay only” or “offender-funded” probation. “State-sanctioned indentured servitude” may be more accurate. The Augusta Chronicle

GA: University System’s push to privatize dorms moves forward. The University System of Georgia is seeking the tax break for companies as part of a plan to help reduce the system’s $3.8 billion in debt by privatizing student housing on its campuses. Extending the exemption to the companies would require a statewide referendum. Atlanta Journal Constitution

OH: Ohio Charter Schools – What Is Our Investment Buying?  The truth is that across the state, charter schools are not performing as well as our local public schools.  To follow our car analogy, not only aren’t the charters performing like that Volvo S80, very few charters are even performing as good as our little Fiat.  In fact, most of Ohio’s charter schools are performing more like an AMC Pacer from the late 70s. Plunderbund

WI: Opinion: Plan unveiled to gradually privatize public schools. “If I was going to write a bill to privatize public schools,” the Senate staffer told our small group, “this is what it would look like. Winona Daily News

IL: Redflex Faces Employment Discrimination Lawsuit. Redflex Traffic Systems is in the news for the alleged use of bribes to land contracts in a scandal that has spread to a dozen states. The firm’s woes have taken a toll in the form of lost contracts, including that of Chicago, Illinois, cutting business by 25 percent of its business. The company is also defending against an ongoing employment lawsuit claiming the Redflex office in the US harbors anti-Australian bias. TheNewspaper.com