April 7, 2014


NC: The good, the bad, and the odd about the latest Commerce privatization proposal. . .But the committee also included provisions that change the North Carolina economic development partnership plan for the worse. Perhaps most critically, the updated legislation does not fully address the problems arising from pay-to-play incentive granting. Rather than explicitly eliminating pay-to-play by prohibiting businesses that donate to the new partnership from receiving state incentive grants, the legislation simply “encourages the nonprofit corporation to seek private funds from businesses and entities that are unlikely to seek economic development incentives or contacts with the state.” Although a step in the right direction, this “encouragement” is far too weak to adequately protect taxpayer dollars from companies that donate to the partnership solely to influence recommendations over incentive-granting. The Department of Commerce may well make the final determination over whether the company receives the incentives, but it appears unlikely that Commerce would ignore the recommendations of the partnership. As a result, the opportunity for pay-to-play remains intact.  The Progressive Pulse

FL: Records show emails between Orlando toll-road board member, developer. A board member of Orlando’s expressway authority offered to introduce possible investors to the managing partner of a billion-dollar development pegged to a toll road the agency is building, records reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel reveal. The documents indicate Scott Batterson of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority helped connect three companies with Maitland attorney Jim Palmer, who heads Kelly Park Crossing, which would be constructed around the sole interchange of the Wekiva Parkway for nearly 15 miles.  Orlando Sentinel

OH: Why are charters in Ohio are very different from those in some other states?  Charters in Ohio collect $900 million yearly from taxpayers, but there are important questions they will not answer.  .  .“Who runs the building? “Who is that person’s supervisor? “Who is the management company in charge? “How does one contact the school board? “When does the board meet? “Only 1 in 4 Ohio Charter Schools answered these five basic questions. That’s right. Only 1 in 4 Charters told members of the public, who pay $900 million a year for these schools, when the school board meets. And these schools are called “public schools” throughout the Ohio Revised Code. Perhaps this is why courts around the country are finding that Charter Schools aren’t actually public schools? Because they act like private schools? DianeRavitch

GA: Georgia universities could become biggest test for privatizing college housing. Georgia is on course to become one of the nation’s largest experiments in privatized college dorms, but it’s unclear whether the changes will lower students’ bills at a time when university costs are soaring. The new arrangements would lease to private companies the future revenue streams from the dorms — essentially student rent. In exchange, companies would oversee maintenance, and also take on responsibility for any existing debt on leased properties.  The Republic

MI: Editorial: What we’d lose by privatizing Detroit’s water system. . . Make no mistake: All of the dire outcomes suburban leaders foretell will come to pass, regardless of who is in control the region’s water system. But private management will take the public’s voice out of the process. It’s a classic case of shortsighted politics taking precedence over sound policy, and that’s exactly what holds the region back from broader cooperation. Detroit Free Press

LA: Public-private partnerships growing in Louisiana. The concept of using public dollars to assist or attract private development is nothing new. Louisiana has long used tax increment financing (TIF) and other financial tools to help private companies offset initial investments or build faciltites that create jobs and serve a public interest. And those partnerships are becoming more prevalent in Northwest Louisiana.  Shreveport Times

FL: Privatize school buses? No way, says their union. The Hillsborough County school district is the county’s single biggest employer, and that includes more than 1,300 people in the transportation department. Their pay ranges from just under $8,000 for the aides who assist the special-needs children to between $70,000 and $104 for the top-level managers. Now the “P” word is being spoken: Privatize. . .  The suggestion comes as dozens of drivers turn out at community meetings to complain about their equipment, work conditions and the way the department is run. Not surprisingly, the idea did not sit well with their union, the Hillsborough Service Employees Federation.  Tampa Bay Times

CT: Plan to privatize Southington transfer station would limit resident access. A proposal for a local recycling company to operate the town’s bulky waste transfer station could save the town as much as $200,000 but reduce the number of free trips for residents. . . . Town Manager Garry Brumback said the company proposed limiting trips to the station to two per resident every six months. Residents would also have to separate waste or pay a fee to dump unsorted waste. . . In HQ’s presentation, Champagne said, the company overestimated how much the town spends on running the station, throwing off savings projections. “I don’t think they realized we’re that efficient,” said Champagne, a Republican.  Meriden Record-Journal