July 28, 2014


NY: Green feared interference with utility commission
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration attempted to “strong arm” his first Moreland Commission on public utilities into supporting a “pre-cooked” plan to privatize LIPA, according to a commission member who said he threatened to resign to put a stop to it. Mark Green, the former New York City Public Advocate, said that during the commission’s early work and its attempt to produce an interim report by January 2013, there was pressure to indicate the full commission supported privatizing LIPA, when at least three of the 10 members weren’t yet prepared to do so.  Newsday

NY: Red Hook library privatization plan panned
A scheme to rent out a big chunk of the Red Hook library branch to an arts group is a sweetheart deal that sells out everyday bookworms, residents argued at a packed community board meeting inside the branch on Thursday.  Dozens turned out to the evening meeting of Community Board 6’s land use committee concerning the fate of the prose depot, most to condemn the privatization plan.  Brooklyn Paper

CO: Critics say CDOT making same US 36 mistakes on I-70
. . . Jones and others claim the Colorado Department of Transportation recently rammed through a recommendation to turn the retooling of I-70 into a public-private partnership, similar to the 50-year agreement CDOT sealed for U.S. 36 between Boulder and Denver. The agency also touted an online poll, conducted among 1,643 visitors on CDOT’s website from June 24 to July 9, that showed more than 50 percent of respondents want some sort of tolling and public-private partnerships to pay for new roads and maintenance. . . .Thaddeus Tecza, a senior instructor emeritus of political science at the University of Colorado, said from an academic perspective the poll “was a joke. It was one of the most biased polls I’ve ever seen.”  The Denver Post

CA: Caltrans to put toll lanes on 405 Freeway in Orange County
The battle over toll lanes on California freeways moved to Orange County on Friday when Caltrans announced it would defy local officials and place what critics call “Lexus lanes” on a 14-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway. The lanes would be on a notoriously congested section of the freeway between Seal Beach and Costa Mesa. The cost of the tolls has not been finalized, but some existing toll lanes can charge about $10 one way during rush hour. The move comes as communities throughout Southern California are increasingly considering toll lanes in order to relieve traffic and generate funding. Los Angeles Times

OH: Ohio, France, Germany: Traffic Cameras Disabled
In Milan, Italy, peaceful protesters from the Northern League covered up a speed camera with a cardboard box on the Via Enrico Fermi on Monday, La Repubblica Milano reported. A large warning sign read, “Slow Down, Pisapia will fine you,” referring to Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia. In Greenwich, Ohio, vigilantes have been twisting the speed camera owned and operated by the for-profit vendor Optotraffic, preventing the devices from generating tickets, the Norwalk Reflector reported.  TheNewspaper.com

AR: Highway Department ready to shaft consumers with toll roads
Let the users pay. (And avoid a common-sense reliance on increases in the fuel tax, which encourages more fuel-efficient cars and living patterns.) But who really pays? Study after study has shown that regular passenger vehicles cause, comparatively, almost no damage to interstate highways. But the big rigs that use Arkansas as a bridge state crumble the roads at a fearsome rates. Truckers don’t like tolls, but they really hate tonnage charges and other fees that truly recoup the damage they do to roads. Think: How often have we had to rebuild Interstate 630 through Little Rock, which carries a heavy commuter load but virtually no trucks? Never is the answer, compared with the perpetual rebuilding of I-40 and I-30, destroyed as soon as rebuilt by steady rig traffic. Arkansas Times (blog)

KY: State Park to Lead Way For Park Privatization in Kentucky
The Kentucky Department of Parks is poised to allow private corporations to develop at, or even operate aspects of, state parks, and expansion of previous efforts permitting commercial activity. Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker suggested to a state legislative committee Thursday that General Burnside State Park, a 400-acre park 10 miles south of Somerset, could serve “as a potential pilot” for the effort. WKMS.org

IL: Vote Postponed On Privatization Of North Riverside Fire Department
North Riverside officials put the brakes on a contentious cost-savings proposal to privatize the village’s fire department at a Thursday meeting. Village officials, who, according to Trustee H. Bob Demopoulos, were planning to vote on the privatization plans Thursday evening, did not take up the proposal. Progress Illinois

FL: South Miami workers concerned by plan to privatize garbage collection
. . . Eleven jobs within the city’s public works department will be affected if the city decides to hire Waste Pro of Florida Inc. and passes the ordinance at its second reading Aug. 5. “I think maybe 14 employees, that have been working an average length of eight years for the city will be impacted,” said Norman Herdocia, regional director of AFSCME council 79, the union that represents the city employees. Miami Herald

ME: For-profit charter school opens in Maine
. . .But the charter school is also drawing sharp criticism from public school advocates because taxpayer dollars for curriculum and programming are being paid to a corporation – in Maine’s case, the second-largest for-profit provider of online schools. Seacoastonline.com