July 23, 2014


Our Old Friend, Public-Private Partnerships
Three years ago, a veteran Republican transportation staffer told me that the ideal role for the federal government in public-private partnerships would be as technical advisors to states and cities who are trying to make deals with private investors to build roads, bridges, or transit systems. The aide said that cities and states are better brokers of their local deals because they are intimately familiar with the tics of their own communities, but they desperately need help analyzing the complex metrics of the financing and modeling. Private infrastructure firms are giants compared to most city governments, and the feds could help mitigate a potential David and Goliath scenario. Last week, President Obama unveiled an investment center to be housed in the Department of Transportation that looks much like what this GOP congressional staffer described. National Journal

Rural US ripe for investment, Vilsack says
Rural America take note: the U.S. Department of Agriculture intends to bring a touch of Wall Street to Main Street. The agency’s newest funding model, the subject of a national conference that begins Wednesday in Washington, D.C., promotes private investment as the way to spur economic growth in rural communities. . . . Taylor said while Oregon does not maintain toll roads, there is a variety of infrastructure that generates revenue through operation, and other infrastructure needs — city halls and other public buildings, for example — can gain private interest if the government offers compensation for the construction and maintenance of the building.  Statesman Journal            

MI: Kevyn Orr looking for proposals to privatize Detroit’s parking system
Orr’s office today asked the City Council’s permission to seek bids to privatize the parking system. The council could vote on the request next Tuesday. The city wants to give private companies flexibility in bidding on the parking system, which includes seven parking garages, nearly 3,200 metered spaces and a towing operation for abandoned vehicles. A bidder could offer to buy the entire system, for example, it could offer to manage the system, or it could even offer to manage a portion of it, such as meter enforcement.  Detroit Free Press

MI: Thirsting for Democracy in Detroit: Activists Resist Water Service Shutoffs, Wall Street and Privatization
People previously blockaded to keep Homrich, a private contractor employed by the city, from shutting off people’s water on July 10. Another blockade took place the day of the rally, lasting six hours before police arrested a pastor, a veteran journalist in her 70s, welfare rights organizers and others. The water disconnections constitute a human rights violation if the people affected are genuinely unable to pay, said Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN special rapporteur on safe drinking water and sanitation, in a press release. Truth-Out

IL: Postal union workers to protest at Staples in Loop
A long-simmering feud between the U.S. Postal Service and organized labor will hit the streets of downtown Chicago today as the American Postal Workers Union protests what it calls the outsourcing of its jobs to private industry. The object of the demonstration will be a Staples office supply store at 111 N. Wabash Ave. The union says as many as 2,000 of its members, in town for a convention, will gather outside at 3:30 p.m. to protest the chain’s establishment of mini-post offices in some of its stores. Chicago Tribune

NJ: Surfboard campaign in Asbury Park makes surfers irate
Members of the Surfrider Foundation and some city residents, including Quinn, want to keep Bradley Cove as open space. They cite the privatization of much of the city’s oceanfront through the massive redevelopment project over the past decade as the main reason for the need for public space at the beachfront.  The Star-Ledger