July 15, 2014


A Rare Win For The Unions? Staples Abandons Postal Service Trial
. . . And on Monday, days after the 1.6 million member American Federation of Teachers said it would join the boycott, Staples and the USPS told the WSJ the pilot program would be discontinued. The 82 Staples outlets offering postal services will shift to the more established Post Office Approved Shipper program already available in thousands of retail outlets across the country. . . .A USPS spokeswoman also declined to comment on the role of union pressure. “We respect their right to their opinion,” she said. “This decision is all about expanding service to our customers.” The postal union isn’t declaring victory just yet. A statement from APWU president Mark Dimondstein called the USPS and Staples announcements a “ruse”, and said the discontinuation of the pilot program doesn’t go far enough. The company should stop offering postal services altogether, he said. Wall Street Journal Blog

Net Neutrality: Comment Period Closing
. . . The fear among net neutrality supporters is that the FCC will rewrite broadband regulations to allow broadband service providers to build private toll roads on the Internet that offer faster data delivery while neglecting investment in open bandwidth so that congestion drives customers to more expensive offerings. InformationWeek

MI: Stalking Horse: Detroit Water Crisis as Possible Precursor of Privatization
. . . . As others have observed, the suddenly vigorous efforts of Detroit Water and Sewerage to clear up delinquencies through an aggressive regime of shutoffs may be a prelude to an effort to sell a very valuable asset and infuse billions into Detroit’s fiscal picture. The battle over potential privatization of public water services is a core element of water controversies. Anna Lappé, the author of Diet for a Hot Planet, reports that privatization of public water systems “overwhelmingly leads to higher prices for cities and people and, in many cases, decreased efficiencies.” Her findings, based on a white paper from Corporate Accountability International, note significant price rises of privatized water systems in the UK and France. Although water privatizers promise that they will help balance municipal budgets, that’s not the way it happened that way in Stockton, California. The city with its private water system ended up declaring bankruptcy anyhow—and after the bankruptcy returned the water system to public ownership. The Nonprofit Quarterly

MI: You get what you pay when hiring private company for Michigan prisons: embarrassing failures
American is gung-ho for privatization these days, both to save money, and because government at all levels has become something we love to hate. Thanks to years of being told that government is bad, corrupt, expensive and inefficient, we are happy to reduce its size. Well, we may not be quite ready to hand the nuclear arsenal over to an assets management firm, but apart from that, anything goes. And frankly, there are some things that probably should be privatized. Garbage collection, for example. But Michigan decided last year to privatize food service in our prisons, and so far, it has been a highly embarrassing failure. Michigan Radio

AZ: Arizona charter school history book says whites envied “freedom” of slaves
One of the oldest public charters in the state is using wingnut history to promote racism and Christian nationalism. Salon

AZ: Arizona State University agreement with Starbucks contributes to higher education privatization
. . . The Starbucks plan only applies to Starbucks employees pursuing an online degree, which has consistently fallen short of goals around retention, passing, metrics of learning and degree completion. . . . Starbucks is not doing this for charitable reasons. It has two profit-related goals, the first of which is broad public relations. This is evident from the Starbucks press release and a variety of major news headlines falsely stating that Starbucks will fully reimburse their workers’ tuition — one headline even states that Starbucks is paying them to get a degree! . . . .The second goal is to advertise the Starbucks brand to the college.  UT The Daily Texan

LA: Gov. Bobby Jindal leases state parking garage for $2M
. . . The 91-year lease will generate less money than the state paid for the garage, while also giving away possibly millions of dollars the state stood to receive in parking revenue over the life of the contract. The arrangement is part of a Jindal administration trend of leasing and selling state property to patch short-term budget gaps.  Shreveport Times

NY: Report: Nassau sewer deal would save $158 million
Privatizing management of Nassau County’s massive sewer system would save at least $158 million over 20 years — $73 million less than County Executive Edward Mangano has projected, according to a new legislative budget analysis. . . . A range of local environmentalists support the privatization. But Eric Weltman of Food & Water Watch, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit consumer rights group on food and water safety, said of United Water’s plan to operate with fewer workers: “Experience has shown that significant downsizing following privatization frequently leads to worse customer service.”  Newsday

TX: Austin Toll Operator Denies Default, Says New Terms Reached
The State Highway 130 Concession Co. that operates a new, lightly traveled toll road outside Austin says it has reached new terms with its lenders and is not in default.  Bond Buyer ($)