December 9, 2014


Would You Rather Get Your Water From Your City Government—Or From a Corporation?. . . . Detroit’s devastation seems freakish, but we may soon see more resource crises nationwide if pro-business officials decide water isn’t so much an essential entitlement as a commodity to be traded like corn and crude oil. According to research by Corporate Accountability International (CAI), the experience of dozens of communities that have experimented with privatizing their water infrastructures illustrates the danger of prioritizing cost concerns over human rights. The Nation

ProfitShip Learning. A top rightwing think tank has devoted more than $30 million to spread the message that public education is failing. According to a report by One Wisconsin Now, the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation is a major underwriter of this propaganda effort. Bradley spent millions on shoddy research, media punditry, and a lobbying campaign to promote the idea that public schools have failed and to push school vouchers and other privatization schemes as the “solution”. Large, national charter-school chains have been major of the beneficiaries of the campaign to fix “failing” public schools. Among them, Rocketship––“a low-budget operation that relies on young and inexperienced teachers rather than more veteran and expensive faculty,” according to a report by economist Gordon Lafer for the Economic Policy Institute.

TX: Texans want less toll road talk, official says. It’s no secret that toll roads are about as popular as Ohio State football in many parts of Texas these days. Rural areas in particular have traditionally shunned them. But now, even large metro areas such as Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston are showing signs of “toll fatigue,” the state’s top transportation official said Monday. That’s why Joe Weber, executive director of the Texas Transportation Department, said he expects a lot less talk about toll roads during the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 13. “That’s a great concern — tolling fatigue. There’s no doubt in my mind it’s out there. We’re sensitive to it,” Weber said during a conference call with reporters. “We’re going to listen very closely with local communities out there.” Fort Worth Star Telegram

OR: Elliott State Forest options no longer include privatization. Although the prospect of auctioning the entire 93,000-acre forest to the highest bidder was among solutions studied in a recent report, the land board won’t consider it. “That’s not a scenario we’re putting forth,” said Julie Curtis, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of State Lands. Groups including Trout Unlimited, the Sierra Club, Cascadia Wildlands and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers lauded the news.. . . With privatization off the table, the board must choose between several other options for an asset that, recently, has become a financial liability.

NY: On the Market: NYCHA to Sell Stake in Public Housing to Private Developers. On the campaign trail a year ago, Bill de Blasio voiced his opposition to NYCHA’s land lease program. But now, NYCHA is taking an even more drastic step toward embracing privatization—selling a 50 percent stake in nearly 900 public housing apartments to two developers (L&M Development Partners and BFC Partner), who could convert those apartments to market rate in 30 years, according to The Wall Street Journal. In exchange, the developers will invest a total of $550 million in NYCHA housing, renovating apartments and earning revenue through federal subsidies that will pay developers the difference between the market rate rents for the apartments and the discounted rates tenants pay. New York Observer

CT: Pro-charter school group to spend ‘multi-million dollars’ on Connecticut ads. The group, Families for Excellent Schools, has nosed around in Connecticut politics in the past and made a name for itself when it used a massive ad buy in New York to speak out against Mayor Bill de Blasio and other critics of charter schools. FES is part of newly formed-coalition “For Every Child,” which states that its mission is wanting access to excellent schools for all students in Connecticut. FES announced Monday that it would spill millions of dollars into Connecticut’s media markets in ad campaigns for the coalition. New Haven Register

CA: Protesters continue occupation as sale of Berkeley post office falls through. Local developer Hudson McDonald failed to reach an agreement regarding the sale of the Downtown Berkeley post office last week after months of negotiations and prolonged community protest. Despite termination of the sale and recent police intervention, some protesters remain outside the building on Milvia Street and Allston Way after more than a month of occupation. The protesters represent a coalition between Berkeley Post Office Defenders and First They Came for the Homeless and have opposed the sale and privatization of the post office for more than a year. Daily Californian