July 21, 2014


As Investors, Officials Meet, a Warning Note on Public-Private Deals
Even as President Barack Obama was headed to Delaware on Thursday to promote public-private partnerships to finance infrastructure, Peter Ruane, president of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, was telling a conference of officials and investors who put together such deals that there’s growing resistance in Congress to the “P3s” trend. Even proven programs such as the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program “could be subject to cuts or elimination” by Congress, Ruane told the conference.  Roll Call (blog)

Reinventing the American highway: The promise (and pitfalls) of learning to love tolls
Want a glimpse of the future of roads in this country? Look elsewhere. As Congress juggles stopgap solutions, the U.S. road network is in the beginnings of a profound structural shift towards privately run turnpikes. . . .Progressives, too, have reason to be concerned. Tolling isn’t a less equitable way to raise money than the highly regressive gas tax, but building roads with profit in mind does influence planning decisions. According to a recent report from the Dallas Fed, “road placement has generally occurred in areas where personal incomes have been higher, making the toll collection used to repay bonds more predictable and, thus, supporting the credit rating.”  Salon

Our Voice: Must we keep going down the same road?
. . . President Obama used the same cliché on Tuesday when he announced the Build America Investment Initiative, a program to encourage public-private partnerships to improve infrastructure. Rep. Raul Ruiz issued a statement on Tuesday supporting the short-term fix, but he also encouraged his colleagues to work toward a “pragmatic, long-term solution to ensure appropriate investment in essential infrastructure across the country.” . . . . Raising gas taxes and tying the rate to inflation is the most equitable long-term solution. Drivers who wear out roads should pay for the upkeep. The Desert Sun

The privatization of public campground management
If you camp at a U.S. Forest Service campground this summer, you’ll probably hand your fee directly to a host employed by a private company, rather than stuffing it into a little brown box on the honor system or giving it to a retiree volunteering for the Forest Service. That’s because the majority of the agency’s campgrounds are now managed by for-profit companies called “concessionaires.” High Country

John Oliver Calls Out America’s Racist, Broken Prison System: ‘We Are Doing A Terrible Job’
After dropping the bombshell that the United States has more people in prison than China, Oliver detailed the racial inequity in incarcerations, the horrid conditions in which prisoners live, thanks in no small part to privatization, and how most Americans are so disassociated from caring about prisoners, “prison rape” has become a common and acceptable punchline in mainstream media.  Huffington Post

FL: Private Prison CEO Will Host Florida Governor At $10K-A-Plate Fundaiser
Over the past few years, private prison firm GEO Group has become known for inmate abuse, workplace violence, and fraudulent reporting at its U.S. facilities. One federal judge found that GEO “allowed a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate” at one Mississippi facility for juveniles. But on Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) will headline a $10,000-per-person VIP fundraiser at the home of GEO Group Chief Executive Officer George Zoley, Mother Jones reports. Attendees can also attend a general reception for $3,000 per person. The proceeds will go to both Rick Scott’s gubernatorial campaign and the Republican Party of Florida.

FL: Despite state money, private schools skirt public records laws
. . . Private organizations typically aren’t subject to the public records laws, though there are circumstances when they may be subject to them, said Jason Bent, an assistant professor of law in Stetson University’s College of Law. He said it would not appear that private schools like Warner meet the current test, which considers the level of public funding, as well as whether the activity was conducted on publicly owned property and whether a public entity created the private entity. Daytona Beach News-Journal

MI: Outsourced in Michigan
Colleges and universities have outsourced lots of services in the past several decades, from food preparation and delivery to bookstores to sanitation. But to many academics it is taboo to even consider outsourcing the faculty. Not in Michigan. In recent years, a handful of community colleges in that state have outsourced the recruitment and hiring of adjunct instructors – who make up the overwhelming majority of the community college teaching force – to an educational staffing company. Just last week, the faculty union at a sixth institution, Jackson College, signed a collective bargaining agreement allowing EDUStaff to take over adjunct hiring and payroll duties. Inside Higher Ed

DC: DC charter board member has $195000 contract with DC charter school
A member of the D.C. Public Charter School Board is receiving $195,000 to do consulting work for a network of schools that the board is responsible for overseeing, according to a list of recent contracts the board published on its Web site. Washington Post