August 11, 2014


NY: New York teachers plan to shred standardized tests in protest of privatization, profiting
New York teachers say they plan to protest against the privatization of public education by shredding standardized tests. Leaders of the New York State United Teachers union say the protest will take place Monday evening on the steps of the state Education Department in Albany. NYSUT President Karen Magee says the protest is meant to call attention to corporations the unions say stand to profit from New York students while diminishing the rights of teachers.  The Republic

IN: Supreme Court to consider IBM welfare privatization case
The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to hear the dispute between the state and IBM over the failed attempt to privatize public welfare services under former Gov. Mitch Daniels. IBM and Indiana entered into a 10-year, $1.37 billion contract in 2006, which was hailed at the time as the solution for fixing one of the nation’s most-troubled welfare systems. The state, though, canceled the contract three years later after a flood of complaints about the system from clients, their advocates and federal officials. At the time, the state had paid $437 million to IBM. The two sides sued each other for damages. In 2012, a Marion Superior Court judge awarded $52 million to IBM. Indianapolis Star

MI: Michigan fines prison food vendor $200,000
The state Corrections Department stopped short of ending its contract with Aramark Correctional Services, which it absolved of blame for maggots found recently in a Jackson prison’s food service area. Gov. Rick Snyder defended the decision to stick with the food vendor, adding that the state is on pace to save $14 million a year through privatization. The Daily Telegram

OH: 1000 Ohio Inmates Dump Their Lunches Over Maggot Infestation
Since Michigan turned over food services at its prisons to a private contractor in December, the state has seen a spate of maggot infestations in and around prison food, outbreaks of food poisoning, and meal shortages. In Ohio this week, inmates facing the second maggott infestation this year at their facility dumped their lunch trays in the garbage en masse in protest. The mother of one of the inmates at Ohio Reformatory for Women reported the protest to the local ABC affiliate, telling the news outlet, “People make mistakes, it doesn’t mean you have to be treated like a dog.”  ThinkProgress

PA: The ‘P3’ dilemma: How effective are public-private partnerships?
. . . Pennsylvania, after rejecting proposals to privatize the turnpike and state lottery, is getting into the P3 business. Legislation enacted in 2012 allows the state Department of Transportation to enter into public-private partnerships. The first major project involves hiring a consortium to build and maintain about 600 state bridges for about 30 years. Underlying the debate is the fact that P3s allow government officials to avoid being blamed for raising taxes, tolls and making other unpopular decisions. . .“It‘‍s really about a political unwillingness to do what is necessary,” U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., said at the March hearing. “As a former city councilman, mayor, and congressman, none of us like raising taxes. … Let’‍s be honest about what this is.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

FL: South Miami rejects plan to privatize trash collection
Applause spilled out of the doors of the commission chambers at South Miami City Hall on Tuesday as commissioners unanimously rejected an ordinance that would have privatized the city’s solid waste department. City Manager Steven Alexander and his staff worked on the proposal with Waste Pro of Florida Inc., which could have saved the city more than $600,000 annually. Eleven jobs within the city’s public works department would have been affected had the proposal passed. “I don’t think that I feel comfortable moving with this outside of a complete understanding of the budget and a necessity to do this,” Mayor Philip Stoddard said at the meeting. “I share the residents’ concerns. I see the obvious financial benefit. Public waste is certainly not broken. We get excellent services.” Miami Herald

OR: Why hunters should oppose sale of Elliott State Forest: Guest opinion
Oregon hunters are facing the very real threat that we could lose access to hundreds of thousands of acres of quality hunting lands within our state. Weyerhauser, the giant logging corporation that owns 2.6-million acres in Oregon and Washington, recently announced it was closing much of its forestlands to the general public.  From now on, hunters will have to buy a special permit costing up to $350 if they want to hunt on those lands even though the elk and deer belong to the public.  The Oregonian

How will charter schools deal with their corruption scandals?
. . . Now recent investigations from the Detroit Free Press, South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, and the Florida League of Women Voters have painted a troubling picture of two out-of-control charter school systems. Starting under the administrations of former governors John Engler and Jeb Bush, both Michigan and Florida have been early and enthusiastic backers of the charter school movement and have been particularly receptive to for-profit management companies. While many states prohibit full-service, for-profit companies from running charters, Michigan, and to a lesser extent Florida, has encouraged the model. Washington Post (blog)