September 25, 2014

TX: Private firm has power to seize land for toll road. On Monday, the North Central Texas Council of Governments held a public meeting about plans for the Northeast Gateway Project, and nearly 1,300 concerned citizens showed up for it. Also invited was the Texas Turnpike Corporation, a private company where Neal Barker is a board member. “We believe now is the time when a private corporation solution works,” Barker said. . . . But people like the Shaffers have a hard time understanding how the state could let a private company have eminent domain powers that could seize property for such a project. . . . In 1991, the state repealed a law that permitted the formation of private toll companies. The Texas Turnpike Corporation was grandfathered in because it had formed before the repeal was enacted. “It may be deemed legal, but it will never be right,” Shaffer said. WFAA


MI: Police: Prison worker suspected of seeking hit

. . . Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan confirmed that an Aramark employee was banned from Kinross for “alleged criminal behavior.” Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler said she wouldn’t comment on an active police investigation. Aramark’s work and its three-year, $145 million contract with Michigan have been under scrutiny. Michigan fined the company $200,000 last month for unapproved menu substitutions, inadequate staffing and employee misconduct. An independent monitor is in place. Ohio also has fined Aramark for similar contract violations. . . .Michigan’s contract with Aramark runs through Sept. 30, 2016. Democrats have called on Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to cancel the deal, saying problems were inevitable because of high turnover and lower pay for private workers who replaced roughly 370 state employees. The governor has defended the decision to stick with the food vendor, saying the state is on pace to save $14 million a year through privatization. Washington Times


IL: Can Rahm clean up the mess he’s made with school janitors?

. . . Back in the days of Mayor Richard J. Daley, CPS employed its own janitors. They were paid a pretty decent wage with good benefits and a pension. Then, in the 1990s, the second Mayor Daley—Richard M.—fired a bunch of CPS janitors and replaced them with hires from a private company, which received contracts worth millions of dollars while paying its janitors less money with fewer benefits. Mayor Daley promised that he was saving precious taxpayer funds—an old refrain in the privatization game. “We did the same work, but we don’t get the same money,” says a janitor I’ll call Billy, who works for a private firm. . . . “They took janitors out of the school they knew and put them in schools they didn’t know,” Billy says. “We didn’t do the hard cleaning—getting into those corners—like we usually do. We’d do a little cleaning at one school and then they’d move us to another one. I don’t know what they were thinking.” In late August, just before schools opened, the papers filled with reports from outraged school principals about mouse droppings, overflowing waste baskets, dirty halls, and other signs of filth. And then last week, pink slips went out to 500 privatized janitors.

Chicago Sun-Times


NC: Wos argues against Medicaid privatization

The state’s health secretary pushed back again Wednesday against a N.C. Senate proposal to privatize state Medicaid through the creation of a state Department of Medical Benefits. . . . The N.C. House, Gov. Pat McCrory and Wos have opposed the privatization proposal for months. They prefer massaging the existing system with more risk-reward responsibility to providers as part of fleshing out an Accountable Care Organization initiative. “The way to improve the Medicaid program is not to pull the Division of Medical Assistance from the department,” Wos said. “The path to improvement is to implement better management, budget forecasting, staffing and communication. Greensboro News & Record


PA: York City, PA rallies against privatization

York students, educators and families fight against a plan by politicians to completely privatize York public schools.


The $1-Billion-a-Year Right-Wing Conspiracy You Havent Heard Of

Have you heard of the $1,750-per-person “Gathering,” which starts Thursday in Orlando, Florida? Probably not. But if you’re female, gay, non-Christian, or otherwise interested in the separation of church and state, your life has been affected by it. The Gathering is a conference of hard-right Christian organizations and, perhaps more important, funders. Most of them are not household names, at least if your household isn’t evangelical. But that’s the point: The Gathering is a hub of Christian Right organizing, and the people in attendance have led the campaigns to privatize public schools, redefine “religious liberty” (as in the Hobby Lobby case), fight same-sex marriage, fight evolution, and, well, you know the rest. They’re probably behind that, too. Daily Beast