September 23, 2014


Higher ed’s obscene profit scheme: Schools, banks and the government win — you drown in debt. Imagine corporations that intentionally target low-income single mothers as ideal customers. Imagine that these same companies claim to sell tickets to the American dream — gainful employment, the chance for a middle class life. Imagine that the fine print on these tickets, once purchased, reveals them to be little more than debt contracts, profitable to the corporation’s investors, but disastrous for its customers. And imagine that these corporations receive tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to do this dirty work. Now, know that these corporations actually exist and are universities. Salon

IN: Indiana Toll Road Operator Files for Bankruptcy. The debt-stricken operator of an Indiana Toll Road filed for bankruptcy protection Sunday with a plan to restructure some $6 billion in debt by selling its assets or reorganizing its business. . . .The company Ferrovial SA and Australian investment bank Macquarie Group Ltd. , said it will follow a two-track restructuring process. . . . The 157-mile toll road, which runs through Indiana between the Ohio Turnpike and Chicago Skyway, has struggled for years with a heavy debt load and lower-than-expected traffic. It missed an interest payment in June, which helped accelerate restructuring talks with the hedge funds that bought the road’s bank debt.  Wall Street Journal

CA: Poll: 78% oppose pushing toll road through San Onofre preserve. . .Opponents of a plan to extend the 241 tollroad feared it could harm Trestles, the popular surf spot. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times) Foundation officials say they conducted the survey because they believe the Transportation Corridor Agencies in Irvine, which operates 51 miles of tollways in Orange County, still wants to extend one of its highways, State Route 241, across San Onofre to link up with Interstate 5. The controversial proposal was rejected in 2008 by the California Coastal Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce after a lengthy battle between the TCA and park users, surfers, environmentalists and various community organizations. Los Angeles Times

TN: Study: Growth in charter schools will strain Metro district. . . Total enrollment growth among Nashville’s charter schools is significantly outpacing the rest of Metro schools, imposing fiscal strains on the district that could deepen if this trend continues. That’s a central takeaway in a study performed by an outside consultant, MGT of America, hired by Metro Nashville Public Schools to explore the financial costs tied to opening publicly financed, privately run charters; 26 are set to operate in Davidson County by next fall.  The district’s overall student enrollment is expected to grow to a projected 84,828 students next year, a jump of less than 1 percent. The charter sector, though, is growing at a faster rate as students leave traditional zoned schools. While the enrollment of Metro-managed schools is expected to shrink marginally during that time, the firm forecasts a 21.5 percent jump in students attending charters. “If this trend continues, MNPS will begin to receive a lower amount of state and local tax revenues for MNPS-managed schools and will be required to address budget allocation issues related to declining resources in future years,” it reads.The Tennessean

PA: The City That Turned Its Water Into Cash. . . On April 25, 2013, the Allentown City Council met to vote on a proposal to authorize Mayor Ed Pawlowski to sign a 50-year lease of the city’s water and sewer system to Lehigh County Authority (LCA), a public water and wastewater utility then already operating 13 municipal water systems in the area. The lease would give the city a big upfront payment of more than $210 million and a steady revenue stream into the future. . . .Vocal and angry objectors raised issues relating to the transparency of the bidding process and the city’s negotiations over the lease. Described by a local reporter as contentious and chaotic, with plenty of jeering and yelling, the meeting finally ended after midnight when the city council voted six to one to authorize the lease. The strongest argument against the deal was that it ultimately would lead to skyrocketing water bills.  As appealing as the upfront payment might seem, critics said, it is essentially “a costly loan that households and local businesses will repay through their water bills for decades. The Atlantic