March 3, 2014


PA: Pennsylvania will have private companies rebuild and maintain more than 500 bridges. Pennsylvania is moving closer to awarding a contract for private companies to repair and maintain at least 500 structurally deficient bridges. The plan will work like this, according to PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch. The state’s Public-Private Transportation Partnership Board will select a firm to replace as many as 650 structurally deficient bridges. The contracts will call for those firms to then maintain the bridges for the next 30 years, Schoch said. After that, the state would resume maintenance. Patriot-News

TN: State Takes First Steps Towards Privatizing Parks. NewsChannel 5 has learned the Haslam administration has taken the first steps that could lead to the privatizing of almost a dozen state parks. Now, some fear that move could end up costing hundreds of state employees their jobs.

IN: Gary Airport Consultants Set To Score $2 Million From Privatization Deal. There are always the usual suspects who cash in big time from the consulting work that occasions the execution of a privatization agreement. The magical number for the pay day to the consultants for the 40-year privatization deal with Aviation Facilities for the Gary Airport is $2 million, which is about the same amount Indianapolis spent on consultants for its corrupt parking meter privatization deal with ACS. Advance Indiana

CA: OC toll road CEO put on leave after spending questioned. The chief executive officer for Orange County’s toll road agency has been put on leave after less than one year on the job, a spokeswoman for the agency confirmed Friday. Neil Peterson had been under fire for spending thousands of dollars without public  scrutiny, using a provision that gave him and the agency’s chairwoman authority to sign smaller contracts without the authorization of the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ board of directors.  Los Angeles Times

FL: Privatizing government work reaps lavish profits for some. The idea behind privatizing Florida government services is that it’s supposed to be not only cheaper, but better — to save money for the taxpayers and, just as important, to do the job better than state employees. . . A lot of state employees and their elected representatives, who were Democrats, warned that there was another purpose behind privatization. It makes a lot of money for companies taking over state contracts, and officers of those companies make a lot of contributions to politicians. We’ll let you take a wild guess at which party grabs most of the gelt.

FL: Grand jury investigates 3 toll-road board members. An Orange County grand jury is looking into an allegation that three board members of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority violated the state’s open-records law. Orlando Sentinel

OR: National liquor group gives $100,000 to Oregon privatization effort. The Distilled Spirits Council, a national group that advocates for liquor manufacturers, has donated $100,000 to the effort to privatize Oregon liquor sales, state records show. The money could help jump-start a signature-gathering drive when the campaign pushing for the law change gets an approved ballot title, said Pat McCormick, spokesman for Oregonians for Competition. That’s the group, backed by Northwest grocery chains, that’s trying to put a measure on the November ballot that would end Oregon’s monopoly on liquor sales, and allow big retailers to stock booze on their shelves. The Oregonian

GA: Privatized college buildings bill clears Georgia House. After several fits and starts, legislation making it easier for the University System of Georgia to privatize student dormitories and parking decks is moving in the General Assembly. . . The university system Board of Regents wants to step up its privatization efforts in order to reduce the system’s debt load from campus construction projects, a total that is approaching $4 billion. Atlanta Business Chronicle (blog)

GA: Children at risk – Opinion. Senate Bill 350 proposes to fully privatize the foster care system in Georgia. Private companies or non-profits would take over all services related to adoption, foster care, family reunification, and case management. . .The problem with Senate Bill 350 and its full privatization of the foster care system is that it would do nothing to address the failure of DFCS to identify and respond to children at risk of abuse and neglect. . . Full privatization of foster care does not ensure better outcomes for children. Florida, from which this legislation was taken, does not appear to offer any advantage over Georgia’s public agency approach. There is no evidence whatsoever that full privatization is more effective at keeping children safe or finding permanent homes faster than Georgia’s current system.  Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Fighting Schemes to Privatize the USPS. In an effort to protect good jobs and community service against privatization schemes on Capitol Hill and the marketplace, Postal Workers this month called for a boycott of Staples office-supply stores. Specifically accusing Republicans of trying to privatize mail processing and delivery to enhance profits for their campaign contributors by destabilizing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is demanding that Staples stop operating postal retail units staffed by non-postal employees. Tri States Public Radio

Chomsky: How America’s Great University System Is Getting Destroyed. When universities become corporatized, as has been happening quite systematically over the last generation as part of the general neoliberal assault on the population, their business model means that what matters is the bottom line. The effective owners are the trustees (or the legislature, in the case of state universities), and they want to keep costs down and make sure that labor is docile and obedient. The way to do that is, essentially, temps. Just as the hiring of temps has gone way up in the neoliberal period, you’re getting the same phenomenon in the universities. The idea is to divide society into two groups.  AlterNet