October 17, 2014


MI: Governor Snyder Stands Behind Prison Privatization, Even After Maggots and Murder for Hire. Ideological slogans often trump facts when it comes to the outsourcing of public services. When independent studies are commissioned, the conclusions are often disregarded. In some cases, however, there seems to be solid research supporting the cost-efficiency of privatization. Such was the case in Michigan – at least at first glance. PR Watch

TX: Plans for Texas’ First Private Toll Road Roll On — and Right Over People in its Path. For the people who live in the countryside east of Lake Ray Hubbard and Lake Lavon, the appeal is in the quiet rural roads, dense trees, wild animals in the woods and bright stars shining in the night sky. To a Dallas company called the Texas Turnpike Corp., all that open space is a sign that not enough stuff has been built yet. “A review of an aerial map of the metroplex shows that there is a lack of development to the north and east of Dallas,” said a report the corporation prepared and sent in 2012 to the mayor of Lavon, a small town on the eastern shore of the lake. “Lake Ray Hubbard and Lake Lavon have blocked access to the area and stifled growth.” Texas Turnpike Corp. had a fix for that “lack of development:” a private toll road, developed by none other than Texas Turnpike Corp. Dallas Observer (blog)

IN: Plans call for right to run the Ind. Toll Road to be sold at auction. . . . It’s expected that the right to run the Indiana Toll Road will be auctioned off to the highest bidder in bankruptcy court in Chicago in the next three or four months. “Indiana can approve a new operator or changes that might happen with that operating lease, which they’re not likely to do,” said Kevin Kelly. “And thirdly, if that all goes to heck, Indiana gets the road back free and clear.” If no bidders take part in the auction, ITRCC’s $6 billion dollar debt would be reduced to $2.75 billion and ITRCC would remain in control according to ITRCC executive Fernando Redondo. The bankruptcy could be a damper on efforts to build new toll road travel plazas. Bids are due on October 24th. ITRCC is looking for private companies interested in designing, building and operating new plazas. WNDU-TV

WI: WEDC slammed in report on privatization of public services. . . And in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker heads the new quasi-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which has handed out awards to Walker campaign donors and firms that have offshored jobs. According to one report, Walker donors ended up getting 60 percent of the funding from WEDC even though they made up only 30 percent of the recipients. Madison.com

FL: Florida Appeals Court Strikes Down Red Light Cameras. In a dramatic reversal of a decision handed down six months ago, the Florida Court of Appeals decided Wednesday that the way red light cameras are operated throughout the state is unlawful. A three-judge panel unanimously set aside its April 23 opinion, replacing it with a decision that represents bad news for automated ticketing vendors and cities that rely upon them. “For the reasons set forth herein, we… find that the city is not authorized to delegate police power by entering into a contract that allows a private vendor to screen data and decide whether a violation has occurred before sending that data to a traffic infraction enforcement officer (TIEO) to use as the basis for authorizing a citation,” Judge Mark W. Klingensmith wrote in the new decision. “Such outsourcing to a third-party for-profit vendor of a city’s statutorily mandated obligation to issue uniform traffic citations for red light camera violations is contrary to the plain wording of the Florida statutes.” TheNewspaper.com

PA: Philadelphia Charter School To Cut Enrollment. An embattled Philadelphia charter school is abruptly cutting its enrollment in half tomorrow, leaving 600 students searching for new schools, two months into the school year. CBS Local

NY: Backlash grows against letting charter schools submit proposals to take over struggling city schools. A backlash has quickly mounted to the Buffalo School Board majority’s “rammed-through” request last week that the state allow an unprecedented third round of charter school proposals for the takeover of struggling city public schools facing closure. Several dozen members of Citizen Action, PUSH Buffalo and Lafayette High School stood in front of Lafayette with minority board members Wednesday morning to protest the lack of community input before the controversial School Board vote Oct. 8. Buffalo News