February 14, 2014


Elizabeth Warren’s Postal Banking Idea Has Big Public Support, New Poll Finds. Expanding post office services to include banking was recently explored in a report by the Postal Service inspector general, and is backed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) as a way to bring affordable basic banking services to low-income neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods are often ignored by banks and served only by check cashers and payday lenders that charge high fees. According to the new poll, 44 percent of Americans said they would favor the Postal Service offering basic financial services like bill-paying, check-cashing and small loans. Thirty-seven percent said they were opposed, and 19 percent said they weren’t sure. Huffington Post

IN: Court: Ind. owes IBM nearly $50M in welfare fight. The Indiana Court of Appeals says IBM Corp. failed to deliver its part of a deal to privatize the state’s welfare system, but the company is still entitled to nearly $50 million in fees that the state agreed to pay, the Indiana Court of Appeals found Thursday…. The state and the Armonk, N.Y.-based company sued each other in 2010 after then-Gov. Mitch Daniels canceled the $1.3 billion contract that set up call centers for clients and largely automated parts of the state welfare system, leading to a hail of complaints. “In the most basic aspect of this contract — providing timely services to the poor__ IBM failed,” the court said in the 2-1 opinion. Regardless, the state owes IBM nearly $50 million in agreed-upon fees, the judges said.  Wall Street Journal

IN: Retirement privatization could cost workers millions. Battle lines are being drawn over a plan to privatize part of Indiana’s public retirement system. Supporters say failing to take action could end up costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. But, critics say it would also leave thousands of public employees facing a new set of retirement risks. WISH

FL: Elevated toll road losing support among Pasco commissioners…..Commission Chairman Jack Mariano told members of the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization he’s received emails from people opposing the toll road and none supporting it. “I think I’ve seen a lot of public input already,” he said. “Why go through this whole process when we know our people are telling us we don’t know it’s the right thing.”… If built, FL54 Express would be Florida’s first privately built and operated toll road.  The Tampa Bay Tribune

LA: Health firms make privatization pitches. In an overheated Holiday Inn banquet room Thursday morning, business leaders made pitches for privatizing a $2 billion slice of the state’s health care business. The Advocate

WA: Feds drop demand that could privatize mental-health care. The federal government has backed off a demand that Washington state change how it administers mental-health care, a reversal that removes the possibility of one of the largest privatizations of services in state history.  The Seattle Times

OH: Cincinnati Mayor Shuns Parking Privatization Deal. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley unveiled a plan for the municipal parking system that would keep the asset under city control as an alternative to a controversial proposal to lease it to the local port authority for an upfront cash payment.  Bond Buyer($)

WI: Tollways create road to a worse Wisconsin – oped… Why does there seem to be extra government funding (when in reality there isn’t) for property and income tax cuts, but not enough to keep public roads free? One reason should be evident by now: The Wisconsin Republican Party (like many Tea Party-oriented congressmen) has pledged to privatize government services where it can, and at the same time ensure that supply-side economic policies are enacted, regardless of whether the government has the funds to do so. The privatization of public roads by converting them into toll roads is just another example of this phenomenon. UW Badger Herald

CT: Mayor’s analysis of water pollution control should be in the open – to the editor…..Stratford residents are right to be concerned, if not suspicious, when they hear that it may be foreign-owned Aquarion corporation that will be calling the shots when it comes to sewer system rate increases. We are, unfortunately, accustomed to important decisions being made in the dark of night, by caucus, and then ratified by rubber-stamp actions of the Town Council, whose own leadership dismisses the need for public discussion since the votes are already in the bag. Stratford Star