November 20, 2014


Private Funding Brings a Boom in Hydropower, With High Costs. While some dams in the United States and Europe are being decommissioned, a dam-building boom is underway in developing countries. . . . . Public-private partnerships are on the rise, generally with the support of regional development banks. . . . Ms. Alexander said the problem with this model is that it “derisks” mega-projects for the private sector and draws in institutional investors like pension funds and mutual funds. “Very often this means privatizing profits and outsourcing risks to the public,” she said. Those risks can be both significant and hidden, she added. Project backers may cite national security or business confidentiality to avoid sharing information with the public. New York Times

How Macquarie Makes Money By Losing Money on Toll Roads. . . Randy Salzman, associate editor of Thinking Highways North America, has reported extensively about P3s, saying that it’s common for privately financed roads to go bankrupt. He says that firms acquiring infrastructure typically provide very little of their own cash, and because of a complicated mix of fees and tax breaks, they may benefit financially even when the deals go sour. “You’d think that they wouldn’t be investing in these things because so many of them go bankrupt,” he said. “You’d think that the money would be running away.” But Salzman says he’s seen these kinds of bankruptcies happen over and over again. “The only question is when.” Streetsblog Capitol Hill

Charter movement’s civil war: Meet the activist who says “unions get way too much blame”. When talking about education reformers or the broader charter school movement, many associate it with anti-union figures like Michelle Rhee and Campbell Brown. Education reformers are often seen as corporate and conservative; the kind of people who go to TED talks and worry about “entitlements” and who long ago forgot what it was like to live in the world of the 99 percent. . . .In that context, Steve Barr, a former teamster, television producer, Rock the Vote organizer and education reformer is not supposed to exist. Not because he has no experience as an educator or administrator, but rather because Barr is at once a charter school pioneer and a dedicated supporter of collective bargaining and the teachers unions’ right to exist. That makes Barr a bit of an odd-man-out in the education wars. Salon

Your children deserve better than this, first-grade teachers tell parents. . . The two teachers are part of a small but growing number of teacher who are refusing to administer standardized tests that they think are harmful to their students and publicly explaining why they are doing so, sometimes at the risk of being fired. . . .The letter by Hendren and Jones appeared on the website of the United Opt Out National, a grassroots organization advocating for the rights of parents to opt their children out of standardized tests and against the privatization of public education. Washington Post (blog)

MO: New report highlights ‘Dump Veolia’ water fight. St. Louis City is a model for what cities should do when large water corporations come knocking on their doors offering “public-private partnerships,” according to a report released today by the Corporate Accountability International organization. The report, “Troubled Waters: Misleading industry PR and the case for public water,” gives a nod to St. Louis’ grassroots organizers, who fought to prevent city officials from entering into a contract with Veolia Water North America, a French multinational company. The report’s author Emanuele Lobina predicts that St. Louis organizers’ struggle is one of many to come. St. Louis American

CA: California Court of Appeal Upholds Anti-Camera Initiative. California’s second-highest court rejected the attempt of a for-profit company to interfere with the right of voters to decide whether photo enforcement can be used in Murrieta. A three-judge panel went further on Tuesday and ruled that Stephen Flynn, the agent of American Traffic Solutions (ATS), must pay the court costs of Diana Serafin, the organizer of a November 2012 referendum that won 57 percent of the vote to bring the cameras down.


OH: Fire union opposes idea of privatizing city’s ambulance service

‎Nearly 200 people rallied outside a city council meeting on Tuesday to oppose a possible privatization of the Brook Park ambulance service. The Plain Dealer