December 1, 2014


TX: A Careless Solution. Terrell State Hospital needs help, badly. So why is Texas privatizing the psychiatric facility—and picking a notorious company to run it?. . . But now Texas is privatizing Terrell—a move that will likely shield the hospital from the kind of scrutiny that prompted reform and could even inhibit state oversight. That has patients’ rights advocates asking what, exactly, officials learned. Equally troubling is the state’s choice of contractor, selected without input from employee unions or patients’ rights advocates. Last month, state officials announced that they’d awarded a five-year contract to run the hospital to Correct Care Solutions, a Nashville-based correctional healthcare corporation. The company’s track record in other states includes allegations or confirmed reports of rape, suicide, neglect and medical malpractice that make Simmons’ cause of death look almost merciful. The Texas Observer

NJ: N.J. Lottery privatization falling short. Three months after Illinois declared the first privately run U.S. state lottery a failure, New Jersey’s similar experiment is faltering, endangering a program that supports schools and the disabled. Northstar New Jersey Lottery Group’s revenue fell short $24 million in the year ended June 30, even after Gov. Christie let the company cut the target.

NY: Charter schools have $28M in questionable expenses: audit. Investigators uncovered probable financial mismanagement in 95% of the schools they examined. It is estimated wasteful spending at charters could cost taxpayers more than $50 million per year. New York Daily News

NY: Why I’m Breaking Up With Uber. . . I’m not sure when things began to go wrong. Maybe it was when a senior executive allegedly floated around the idea of spending a million dollars getting opposition researchers to “investigate journalists.” Maybe it was when your top official in New York was being investigated for violating a reporter’s privacy. Maybe it was your internal document that outlined your plan to hire a “director of research and rapid response” to “identify and weaponize the facts.” NYU Local

GA: In 4-3 vote, commissioners say no to privatization. The Barrow County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 Tuesday night not to enter into an agreement with CH2M Hill to privatize the majority of its departments. . . . “I still feel I am not in favor of this,” Hendrix said. The very first question I had was out of 159 counties in Georgia, why are none of them doing what we are proposing to do. I believe in thinking outside the box. Someone has to be first. But if this is such a great deal, why is Barrow County the only one looking at doing this? We’ve had financial issues in recent years, but other counties have had it worse than we do.” . . . Before the vote, three citizens spoke against the move. One citizen said he was in favor of privatization but said CH2M Hill had issues, such as being fined for not paying overtime, that needed to be looked into further. Barrow Journal

IL: Revenue From Gas Tax For Road Repairs Declining. You might notice roads and bridges in need of repair as you drive around this holiday weekend. But revenue from a key funding source, the gas tax, has been declining. It’s charged per gallon of gas purchased. U of I professor Don Fullerton says it was created on a simple concept: The more you drive, the more gas you use. The more you ought to have to pay for the road. It’s sort of a benefit principle of taxation.” Improved mileage in vehicles means less gas is being used. . .Fullerton says options could include using technology to tax the number of miles an individual drives, adding more toll roads or raising the gas tax. He admits all these options would be politically difficult. WNIJ and WNIU