October 2, 2014

IN: County wants state to take back Toll Road
Dirty and outmoded rest stops. Long lines at automated toll centers. About $6 billion worth of debt. And a loss of money to roads in La Porte County. Those were among the reasons why the La Porte County Commissioners passed a resolution Wednesday asking the state to explore options for retaking full control and ownership of the Indiana Toll Road after the private consortium running it under a 75 year lease filed for bankruptcy. On Wednesday, members approved the resolution unanimously, citing a promise from former Governor Mitch Daniels that the Toll Road would revert back to the state’s control if anything like this were to happen. The Herald Argus

IN: Officials decry lack of information on Illiana plans
State Rep. Rick Niemeyer said he is tired of getting the runaround from state officials on some key facts concerning the proposed Illiana toll road and now he wants answers. . . The legislator said before the project moves any further local officials must have answers to several questions including what the cost of the tolls will be, how local emergency service providers will cope financially with the increased call volume and what will taxpayers end up paying if the toll road runs short. . . . The bankruptcy filing last week for the Indiana Toll Road calls into question the validity of the project, he said. Unlike the contract for the Indiana Toll Road, which protected the state from any financial responsibility in the event of a failure, the Illiana Toll Road does not have that same agreement. Post-Tribune

MI: Michigan Lawmaker Makes A Second Run At Imposing Speed Cameras
Automated ticketing machines are not legal in Michigan, home state of the domestic automobile industry. That could change under legislation introduced last month in the state Senate that would create the ideal environment for private companies such as Xerox, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia to take over traffic enforcement for cash-strapped municipalities and operate without any risk of being challenged. TheNewspaper.com

LA: LSU approves new hospital privatization agreements
The LSU Board of Supervisors approved Wednesday new agreements between its hospitals and private partners in hopes that these agreements will keep federal money flowing to the private managers. The new cooperative endeavor agreements were designed to satisfy concerns the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid over Gov. Bobby Jindal’s public/private hospital partnerships. CMS rejected the old agreements last spring. . . . But some board members questioned whether language in the new agreements leaves LSU and low-income patients vulnerable should a partner withdraw from the partnership. The Times-Picayune

LA: Opinion: Rape victims shouldn’t be billed
It’s hard to imagine anything more traumatic than being raped. Sexual assault often leaves victims scarred for life. Many are too traumatized, too scared, to call the cops. Those who do often spend hours undergoing forensic exams. That’s why it’s so infuriating that in Louisiana, many sexual assault victims are billed by public hospitals for portions of their rape exams. It wasn’t always that way, at least not in New Orleans. Making rape victims pay for the crimes of their attackers is an outrage. Many victims say they feel violated all over again. Gov. Bobby Jindal and state lawmakers created this mess when they privatized Louisiana’s public hospitals. Now it’s up to them to fix it.  WWL

PA: Advocacy groups call for closer scrutiny of charter schools
Three groups with union affiliations on Wednesday pointed to the case against ousted PA Cyber Charter School founder Nick Trombetta as a good example for why the state’s nearly 180 charter schools need better oversight and stronger accountability. The Center for Popular Democracy, Integrity in Education, and Action United of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh issued a report that alleges Pennsylvania charter schools defrauded taxpayers out of more than $30 million. That figure is an aggregate of cases brought by whistleblowers and media exposés, according to the authors. Tribune-Review

Online, For-Profit Charter Schools Hit Another Snag
The latest sign that the nation’s 14-year romance with the for-profit cyber charter industry might be cooling came this summer when the Board of Trustees for Pennsylvania’s scandal-plagued Agora Cyber Charter School discussed completely severing its relationship with K12 Inc., the nation’s largest for-profit cyber charter management and curriculum supplier. The action came nearly three weeks after an August 5 vote by Agora’s board to not renew its management contract with the online learning giant beginning with the 2015-16 school year. . . . Investors had already been skittish following an avalanche of recent setbacks for the company. Huffington Post