November 14, 2014


HUD’s privatization scheme may herald end of public housing. At a time when a shortage of affordable housing is devastating low-income families, U.S. policymakers appear to have all but given up on the idea of a state-managed public housing system. . .Yet the notion that the solution lies in improved public funding and support — or that public housing should be publicly owned at all — has become a political nonstarter. Instead HUD is embarking on a sweeping privatization program in the name of renovation. After decades of demolitions and decay of public housing units, the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), a pilot program that purports to preserve existing housings units by providing access to more stable funding, could eradicate public housing as we know it within the next three decades. Al Jazeera America

Same As It Ever Was: The GOP’s Post-Election Plans for Social Security and Medicare. Congress’ new leadership may want to give former President George Bush a call. Not so many years ago, he believed his “voter mandate” cleared the way to privatize Social Security – cutting benefits and putting workers’ guaranteed benefits at risk on Wall Street. That didn’t turn out so well for the President simply because the American people understood then, as they do today, the abiding value of America’s retirement and health security programs. Huffington Post

Lawmakers, Postal Service employees protest service cuts. Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., urged members of Congress to bar the Postal Service from closing an additional 82 processing facilities and from reducing service levels. Congress can use the appropriations process to add a prohibition, they wrote, even though the Postal Service receives no federal funding. The service has already closed 141 processing centers. Federal Times

MS: MDOC Scandal Highlights Privatization Problems. . . With the nation’s largest private prison operators earning more than $3 billion in revenue, private-prison and government watchdogs say the opportunity for the brand of corruption alleged against Epps and McCrory is great.”It’s a very, very corrupt industry,” said Frank Smith, founder of the Private Corrections Institute, which monitors prison privatization issues around the nation. Smith said the profit motive of private businesses represents a magnet for corruption that doesn’t exist in public prison systems. Jackson Free Press

MD: The sleazy deal that’s been ignored. The O’Malley administration today pulled back from a sweetheart deal to buy $2.8 million in Eastern Shore farmland and hand it over for $1 a year to a Democratic campaign donor who wanted to use it as an “organic food hub” for the region. After questions from Comptroller Peter Franchot and an article in The Sun, the administration abruptly dropped the second two elements of the plan and instead pushed through the purchase with a promise to conduct requests for proposals for the rest. That’s an improvement over the original idea, but it still represents seat-of-the-pants governing that is unlikely to produce the best results. Baltimore Sun

PA: City Council launches hearing on Philadelphia Gas Works future. A Philadelphia refinery executive told City Council on Thursday that the city risks losing the opportunity to develop as a Marcellus Shale energy hub if it does not move quickly to put some of the city gas utility’s “developable assets” into private hands.