March 12, 2014


The Postal Service is Outsourcing Itself to a Company Doing Almost as Badly as the Postal Service. In November, the United States Postal Service launched a big partnership with Staples under which 84 of the office-supply retailer’s stores, in four states, would start offering nearly comprehensive postal services, staffed by Staples employees. If this year-long pilot program succeeds, postal officials said, it could well expand to hundreds more Staples stores around the country. Meanwhile, last week, Staples announced that it is closing 225 of its stores—some 12 percent of its North American outlets—following a plunge in revenues in the fourth quarter of 2013. The company’s stock plummeted 15 percent on the announcement. There is something wrong with this picture. What exactly is the postal service doing staking its future to a partnership with a company whose business model is if anything in even greater trouble than its own?  The New Republic

VT: Faceoff coming in Vermont Senate over privatizing schools. Later this week, the Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill that would put a two-year halt to turning public schools into independent institutions while the state studies whether the practice is constitutional. A split over which way to go emerged Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Burlington Free Press

GA: House puts brakes on plan to privatize foster care, adoptions. . . But child advocates cautioned lawmakers against moving too fast, and the House Judiciary Committee responded to those pleas by passing a substitute that would inch Georgia toward privatization with a two-year pilot program in portions of the state. Atlanta Journal Constitution

FL: Toll road opponents say Pasco officials using ‘scare tactic’. . . Panelists from the Urban Land Institute, who toured the county last October, said Pasco officials are overestimating their projected 2025 population by more than 50,000 people. In the final report released Monday, the panelists strongly oppose the elevated highway concept, saying it would promote “highway oriented development” rather than “transit oriented development,” which is the county’s stated goal. . . They recommended the county “defer for a reasonable time” the private toll road. “Instead, the county should pursue a regional collaboration that could both enhance funding opportunities and configure different physical solutions,” they wrote. “Proceeding with the elevated freeway before pursuing the regional MPO configuration would foreclose possible superior solutions to the east–west congestion challenge. In the meantime, the continued buildup of congestion may spawn more public support for transit solutions.”

MI: Orr’s alternative: Privatize or sell Detroit water department. With multi-county negotiations stalled to create an expanded regional water authority, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is exploring Plan B — privatize operation of the Detroit Water and Sewer Department or sell it outright. The Detroit News