November 6, 2014


How Sallie Mae and the Privatization of Student Loans is Eroding America. Originally known as the Student Loan Financing Association – which started four decades ago as a government-sponsored enterprise to support the guaranteed student loan program under the 1965 Higher Education Act – Sallie Mae has today been privatized into a for-profit corporation as a result of bipartisan deregulation of the big banks. Since its privatization, Sallie Mae has earned a stunning record of mistreating its patrons, including cheating military service-members on their student loans. Without admitting or denying guilt, the Justice Department ordered Sallie Mae to pay $97 million in fines, restitution, refunds and penalties in a settlement agreement still awaiting court approval. Nation of Change

CA: “Blood in the Water”: The Privatization of California’s Water Spells Disaster. . . Bechtel is one of the few companies that have the capacity to construct the enormous water tunnel (DTP). When Bechtel’s spokeswoman Michelle Michael was asked about the possibility of Bechtel building the Delta Tunnel Project she explained, “We’ll keep an eye out”. Chevron Oil is holding onto the largest oil reserves in California but is waiting to frack, perhaps needing to acquire water from the DTP first. Chevron declined to respond to emails questioning their potential desire to use DTP’s water for fracking. . . . If the DTP were built, and western water privatization expanded by the company Cal Water, California could possibly see a water crisis similar to the 1999 energy crisis.  Center for Research on Globalization

CA: UC outsourcing is bad for workers and campuses’ bottom line – opinion. When we hear about exploited workers, we often think of people working in other countries for pennies a day, in sweatshop conditions. Closer to home, we often think of private companies such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart racing to shift as many of their labor costs onto the backs of taxpayers as possible – forcing full-time employees to work three jobs and rely on government assistance just to get by, while blocking an increase to the federal minimum wage in Congress. One place where we would never expect to see such deplorable employer conduct is in the public sector – especially at a world-class institution like the University of California. But it is happening. Over the past several years, many UC facilities have ramped up their use of outside contractors to perform work normally done by career UC employees. Sacramento Bee

PA: Building on Regional Trend, Reading, Pa. Passes Anti-Privatization Measure. Reading residents voted last night to amended the city charter to guard against future attempts to privatize the city’s municipal utilities and infrastructure…. The Reading vote adds to a string of victories in communities throughout Pennsylvania fighting privatization attempts. Food and Water Watch

TX: Anti-toll candidates sweep key races in Texas – commentary. Texas taxpayers have been tormented for more than a decade when it comes to transportation and toll roads, and their torment is finally coming to an end tonight. With the strong win by Greg Abbott, Texans will soon have a new governor who actually campaigned against toll roads. (blog)

TX: Voters supporting more road funds in what could be a landslide. Texans overwhelmingly agreed today to steer billions in existing tax revenues to the state transportation department, which estimated it faced a $5 billion annual shortfall.…The constitutional amendment is expected to give TxDOT an additional $1.7 billion a year. But even Proposition 1 supporters say lawmakers still need to better fund the agency’s needs. Those supporters plan to frame Tuesday’s dramatic victory as a mandate from voters as they lobby legislators for more transportation funds. . . . Proposition 1 dictates that the new funds must be used on highway maintenance and construction and that they can’t be used on projects with tolling components. “These funds will be used for new road construction, road maintenance, safety improvements, and repair of roads in the energy sectors,” said TxDOT spokesman Tony Hartzel. “None of these funds will be used for toll roads.” Dallas Morning News (blog)

NC: 9 Investigates: The real cost of toll lanes. The North Carolina DOT is close to finalizing a financial contract with a Spanish company to build toll roads on Interstate 77 from Mooresville to uptown Charlotte. But not much is known about exactly how much it will cost or how construction will affect traffic, and the public has only seen animations of how it will look when it’s done. To get answers, Channel 9 anchor Scott Wickersham traveled to Dallas, Texas where Cintra is building a similar toll road. Channel 9’s investigation found that Texans are paying a hefty price to drive congestion-free — and one group there says people in Charlotte should be very concerned. WSOC Charlotte