April 30, 2014


The Koch Efforts To Privatize Schools Dealt a Blow By Record High School Graduation Rate. . . According to a new report, for the first time in American history the national high school graduation rate surpassed 80% in 2012 and is projected to reach 90% by 2020. For the record, it is statistically impossible for a 100% rate due to a wealth of factors far out of the control of schools, teachers, students, and even parents. Republicans, privatization advocates, religious extremists, ALEC, and anti-union fascists contend that America’s public schools are failures on the decline and regularly propose “school choice” legislation, voucher scams, unregulated and failing charter schools, and private religious are necessary to stop the nation’s education system from continuing its downhill trajectory. The news that universal, and free, public education is not failing, and in fact improving, is certain to ire conservatives who will likely portray the news as proof that giving for-profit substandard corporate and religious education crusaders taxpayer dollars will guarantee a 100% graduation rate. PoliticusUSA           

This land is our land – until it’s privatized. . . This particular campground host works for a Phoenix-based corporation called Recreation Resource Management. Though the company’s vehicles and uniforms resemble those of the federal agency, these employees are not the noble forest rangers of days gone by, nor do they own the land they manage. American taxpayers have provided the infrastructure, including the recently completed, six-year renovation at Rose Canyon. In exchange for running the site, the concessionaire collects the profits. But national forest concessionaires don’t honor federal agency passes or follow the same rules that govern the Forest Service when it comes to fees. I notice that the fee booth on Mount Lemmon is closed. That is because the law does not allow the Forest Service to charge visitors for simple access — for parking and walking through the national forest. But when RRM opens the campground at Rose Canyon, all visitors will have to pay $10 just to park and walk around the lake. In fact, even if you park along the highway, as I did, RRM will charge you for walking through “their” campground, built with your tax dollars. It seems shocking to say it, but this privatization of what were once public resources was recently upheld by the Washington, D.C., District Court, in a lawsuit in which I was one of six plaintiffs. We challenged the Coronado and four other national forests’ use of concessionaires to evade laws that restrict what fees the agency itself can charge. We lost.  High Country News

California House delegation urges Postal Service to nix Staples deal. A California House delegation led by Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) is calling on Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe to reject a recent pilot program with Staples to operate retail mail counters at 82 U.S. stores.  The pilot program, announced in November, allows for Staples employees to process basic mail services. Of the 82 pilot locations, 32 are in California. . . .Lowenthal echoed criticism by union officials and warned that the partnership “is a clear and unmistakable attempt at union-busting, as well as the privatization of critical public services,” he wrote in a letter to Donahoe.  Los Angeles Times

NJ: Turnpike plan to privatize NJ toll collectors panned by Assembly leader. A vote on a plan to privatize toll collector jobs on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway has been postponed until October. The chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee says the savings, averaging about $1.50 a year for frequent drivers, is not worth it to “discard” loyal employees. The Star-Ledger

IL: Ousted Red-Light Camera Vendor Rakes In Windfall In Chicago. Even as Redflex Traffic Systems’ scandal-plagued eleven-year tenure operating the nation’s largest red-light camera system was ending, it was a particularly lucrative year for the company. The last Redflex cameras (at the intersection of Grand, Kostner and North) were turned off in February, but in the year before that, the company raked in $24 million, city records show, making this the second most profitable year in the company’s Chicago history.  TheNewspaper.com