June 25, 2014


MI: Tangled web at two charter schools shows shortcomings of state law. Alison Cancilliari was a Grosse Ile teacher making $64,000 when she and her husband, builder Dino Cancilliari, founded Summit Academy in 1996 in Flat Rock. A second charter school, Summit Academy North in Huron Township, soon followed, and the couple would later claim they invested more than $750,000 to launch the charter schools. They would also be accused of a textbook case of self-enrichment as millions of dollars in school funds were steered into companies founded by the Cancilliaris and the president of the schools’ for-profit management company. . . . John Austin, president of the Michigan Board of Education, which makes education policy and advises lawmakers, said “self-dealing and personal enrichment of one’s self and family members in operating a public school would not stand the light of day at a local school board meeting.” Detroit Free Press

IL: Perils of privatization. Touted as the biggest tourist attraction in Illinois — has long been a patronage haven where political insiders turned for jobs and lucrative deals to sell everything from expensive meals to gumballs. Who was cashing in used to be a matter of public record. It no longer is, since the state of Illinois and City Hall turned over operation of the government-owned pier to a private, not-for-profit group three years ago for $1-a-year rent. Navy Pier Inc. doesn’t have to explain how it’s spending $115 million in government bonds that were sold to pay for a face-lift for the 98-year-old pier, either. […]On Friday, the Better Government Association, which also was denied Navy Pier Inc. records, filed suit against McPier and NPI in Cook County circuit court to get them. The watchdog group argues the not-for-profit agency was created to shield pier operations from public view.  Chicago Sun-Times

LA: LSU hospital closure ruled unconstitutional. Lawmakers didn’t follow the Louisiana Constitution in authorizing Gov. Bobby Jindal to close the LSU-run public hospital in Pineville, a judge ruled Monday, but the judge is not requiring the Jindal administration to stop plans to shutter the facility next week. Judge Robert Downing said the Senate violated the open meetings law when the legislation was heard by its Health and Welfare Committee. He granted a preliminary injunction request sought by two hospital closure opponents. However, Downing also suspended that judgment — effectively allowing the closure plans to continue — pending an appeal of his decision. The appeal heads directly to the Louisiana Supreme Court because it is a question of constitutionality.  Chron.com

TX: Toll Roads, State Gas Tax Hike Discussed by Legislature. Lawmakers now say it will take between $4 billion and $5 billion a year to simply maintain the state’s crumbling road system, and state lawmakers are considering the possibility of a hike in the gas tax.. . . State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) also says toll roads ‘have to be one of the tools in the tool box.’ . . . Calls fore more toll roads are also being made in the shadow of major financial problems facing the company that operates the State Highway 130 toll road.  Moody’s says it is ‘dangerously close to default’ and its problems are liable to discourage other private investors from getting involved in Public Private Partnerships to build more toll roads. WOAI.com

NC: McCrory signs bill to privatize job recruitment. Pat McCrory signed a bill Tuesday to privatize part of the state’s commerce department, moving its recruiting, marketing and tourism functions to a non-profit entity. News & Observer

OR: Fred Meyer donates $139000 more to failed liquor privatization initiative: Oregon campaign finance. Liquor won’t be on grocery store shelves anytime soon after organizers of the liquor privatization campaign pulled the plug on the initiatives June 4. . . . Privatized liquor sales would have meant booze on the shelves of grocery stores, so it’s no surprise that grocers were the initiative’s largest backers. Fred Meyer had previously donated more than $1 million to the effort, with Safeway another major supporter. The Oregonian