August 29, 2014


TX: Texas To Vote On Toll-Free Road Funding Amendment. Voters in Texas will decide on November 4 whether they want highway funds to go only to general purpose roads and not to bicycle paths and infrastructure for foreign-owned tolling companies. Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry announced last week that Proposition 1 had qualified for the ballot. If approved by voters, the measure would reflect a major reversal from Governor Rick Perry’s push for tolling that included plans for a massive Trans Texas Corridor toll road that stalled after stirring widespread opposition. The proposition would create a temporary constitutional amendment drawing about $1 billion per year from the state’s “rainy day fund” through 2018 and depositing the cash in the highway fund for the sole use of building and repairing new roads that are free for use by all residents. The rainy day fund currently has $6.2 billion from state oil production tax. . . . As in most states, Texas frequently diverts “transportation funds” to projects that have nothing to do with transportation, such as building a park. The group Empower Texans recently criticized the Texas Department of Transportation for requesting $50 million for research into “drones, jetpacks, a hyperloop and hover cars.”

CA: ‘Sharing Economy’ Stopped from Privatizing SF Public Parking Spaces. Following today’s close-of-business deadline that City Attorney Dennis Herrera imposed on mobile app companies seeking to facilitate sales or auctions of the city’s on-street public parking spaces, all three businesses involved in the practice have confirmed in writing that their apps are currently on hiatus in San Francisco. Herrera issued the first cease-and-desist demand to Monkey Parking on June 23, noting that the service violated state and local law, put drivers on the hook for $300 fines, and risked steep civil penalties of up to $2,500 per transaction for the company. The announcement named two other startups whose businesses similarly violated the law with mobile app-enabled schemes intended to illegally monetize San Francisco’s public parking spaces.  Capital and Main

PA: Pa. Lottery outsourcing critics say Illinois’ failed privatization could have played out here. After three years of revenues falling short of expectation, Illinois is parting ways with the private management firm it hired in 2010 to run its state lottery. The news of Illinois’ decision to divorce Northstar Lottery Group announced on Friday struck a chord with a Pennsylvania labor union official and others who had been critical of a similar pursuit by Gov. Tom Corbett to hand over the reins of the Pennsylvania Lottery to a private management firm.  The Patriot-New

MO: Petitions sufficient to challenge KC ambulance billing outsourcing. A group opposed to the Kansas City Council’s decision to outsource ambulance billing has gathered enough petition signatures to force a referendum. . . . The City Council voted 7-4 on June 19 to privatize Kansas City’s medical billing for ambulance calls, a function currently handled by Fire Department employees. The council authorized the fire chief to enter into a five-year contract with Advanced Data Processing Inc., a subsidiary of Intermedix Corp. . . . But opponents cited several cities that had serious problems with Intermedix’s customer service and failure to meet collections. They also objected to privatizing good-paying municipal jobs. Kansas City Star

Fox Still Working To Privatize The Post Office. Fox News’ Cashin’ In show used the U.S. Postal Service’s default on a $5.7 billion payment recently as little more than a pretext to bang the drum of privatization again. Jonathan Hoenig got the privatization ball rolling. “We should follow Europe in this case and privatize it just like postal industries in England, in Denmark, and in Germany.” News Hounds

Private ‘Sponsorships’ For Roadways To Fund Infrastructure?. . . We’ve see this kind of sponsorship on non-toll-roads too, in the form of a so-called “safety patrol” sponsored by State Farm. These trucks operate in metro areas to help stranded motorists with flat tires, or stalled vehicles.  Ideastream’s Tony Ganzer spoke more about these creative funding sources with Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Faulkner.  ideastream