February 12, 2014


CO: Controversial, privatized toll lanes coming to U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder… E-mails have been circulating this week criticizing the Colorado Department of Transportation for pushing the deal through without a lot of transparency. CDOT argues that’s untrue and says the state board, called High Performance Transportation Enterprise, signed off on the deal months ago….”It’s outrageous,” said critic Ken Beitel, a clean energy analyst with the Drive Sunshine Institute. “It could be up to a $28 round-trip during rush hour.”  The Denver Channel

MN: As big cities privatize bus shelters, Minneapolis moves them to government control. Despite resulting revenue loss, city will end deal with CBS Outdoor over maintenance complaints. It will shift oversight to Metro Transit…. The end of the longtime agreement with CBS Outdoor follows complaints about the upkeep from lingering graffiti, loose glass and a “nightmare” shelter with missing panels, rust and faded scribblings.  Minneapolis Star Tribune

WI: Wisconsin: State Senator Reveals Covert Plan to Privatize Public Education. Senator Kathleen Vinehout revealed a plan hatched behind closed doors to close 5% of thestate’s schools every year and turn them over to private corporations. Diane Ravitch’s blog

FL: Bush-era voucher program could gain more cash with sales tax jolt….The program is opposed by the Florida Education Association and many school boards, including Palm Beach County, which say it directs tax dollars that should go to public schools into private schools and the companies that run them. The program has flourished under the direction of Tampa equity fund manager John Kirtley, chairman of Step Up for Students, the non-profit that administers the scholarships. Palm Beach Post

FL: Florida Legislative Report Pans Red Light Camera Safety. Revenue from red light cameras in Florida has more than tripled in the past year, from $38 to $119 million, but a report by the state’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability found no commensurate jump in traffic safety….According to the study, some jurisdictions made no profit from the cameras after the state took its cut and red light camera vendors, primarily American Traffic Solutions, walked away with half of the proceeds. The lack of local profit is not an issue, as reducing accidents is the stated goal for the majority of red light camera programs in the state.  TheNewspaper.com

IL: Gov. Candidates Support Private Money for Public Infrastructure. The Republican candidates for governor agree that using private investment for public infrastructure may be the best way to complete large road construction projects in the state. KMOX.com

NJ: NJ educators react to resignation of Education Commissioner Chris Cerf…. Cerf announced yesterday that he will join his old boss, former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who is now CEO of Amplify, an education technology firm in New York City. Cerf, who served as Klein’s deputy from 2006 to 2009, will lead Amplify Insight, a division that the company says provides professional and consulting services to teachers and administrators. He led the state’s effort to reach a deal with the teachers union for teacher tenure reform, has been a strong proponent of charter schools and has backed reform efforts in Newark and Camden.  NJ.com

MO: Hope Academy Charter School loses UMKC sponsorship over low student achievement. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Hope Academy Charter School in Kansas City, Mo., will lose its sponsorship with the University of Missouri- Kansas City at the end of the 2013-2014 school year…. . Last fall, members of DESE’s Charter School Office made an unannounced visit to the school and found falsified attendance records and instructional activities that did not meet state standards.  KSHB

The Difference Between a Farmer and a Global Chemical Corporation. We are witnessing a strange, though remarkably predictable public discourse, where State lawmakers claim that those “truly serious about supporting local farmers” must abolish Counties’ rights “forever,” and transnational corporations call themselves “farmers.” Legislators attempt to contort the “Right to Farm” into a mechanism for chemical companies to evade health and environmental concerns, as water grabs by these same companies undermine the actual rights of farmers…. Farmers’ rights to innovate, share and save seed, and cultivate the agricultural biodiversity upon which we all depend is also supplanted by the new corporate rights to privatize what has always been considered “common.” Huffington Post