August 8, 2014


The Open Road: Keeping Interstates Toll-Free Protects the Economy and Preserves Americans’ Freedom – commentary
Americans love the open road — it symbolizes the freedoms our country provides and a sense of exploration that has helped build our nation. The vast interstate network of asphalt and pavement for decades has facilitated people’s travel to places near and far for commerce or recreation. Now, that free system is under attack by some policymakers who want to roll back longstanding restrictions on tolling interstates. Doing that, as Massachusetts Transportation Department chief Richard A. Davey suggested in a July 25 Roll Call guest opinion column, would enable states to slap economically punitive fees on roads that traditionally have been toll-free. Such a policy reversal would be financially devastating for families and businesses, and the mere notion of it should alarm everyone who uses the interstates.  Roll Call 

Privatization delivers poor services for many, enriches a few – opinion
. . . For the record, the assault on postal services is about extreme ideology and privatization greed. The Postal Service had $67 billion in revenue last year, and arguments that it is obsolete are absurd. It uses no tax dollars, and two audits by private accounting firms show that its retirement accounts are overfunded by at least $60 billion, all from postage revenue and not taxes. Yet “pay-go” rules pushed by deficit hawks in Congress, who have been proved wrong on the economy, require budget cuts in other areas to return these funds to the Postal Service.  Rochester Business Journal

NC: Gov. Pat McCrory signs charter school bill
Gov. Pat McCrory said Thursday that he has signed a charter school bill that drew partisan debate over disclosure of administrators’ salaries and whether gay students were adequately protected. Charlotte Observer

GA: Stadium opponents want referendum on tax spending
Opponents of public money going toward new stadiums for the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons want lawmakers to require referendums for future public-private partnerships, even as those projects are underway. The Braves have begun construction of a new stadium in nearby Cobb County to replace downtown Turner Field, and the Falcons are building in downtown Atlanta next to the existing Georgia Dome. Public bonds have been approved for both — $200 million toward the Falcons $1 billion stadium and $300 million toward the Braves $672 million stadium.  SFGate

VA: Virginia requesting public input on public-private partnerships
The Virginia Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships is asking for feedback on how to increase transparency, competition and public involvement for projects that are developed under the P3 model. Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said the request for comments is intended to improve the P3 process. She said the method should be “a tool to deliver projects that leverage private sector equity, minimize risk for taxpayers, and maximize benefits for the traveling public.”  Land Line Magazine

OR: Public focus groups can help counter the privatization of direct democracy: Tim Nesbitt
. . .One of the problems with the initiative process is that its power to set agendas has become increasingly expensive and accessible only to those with sizable bankrolls, which is to say that it has become like the rest of our political system. This problem is then compounded by the privatization of public discourse. The results of the many focus groups and phone surveys that are invariably conducted on any new crop of ballot measures are almost always proprietary. How voters make up their minds and what they find persuasive remain the property of campaign consultants and their clients. Most of the pro and con statements that you will read in the Voters’ Pamphlet will be framed and pruned to match a rigid menu of talking points developed by campaign teams. The Oregonian