December 11, 2014


Privatizing the Attorney General’s Office. Thanks to an in-depth investigation in The New York Times, we now know that the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) was coordinating efforts of their members. That’s not unusual, of course. What is unprecedented is that RAGA and the Republican AGs, according to the Times, are secretly working with corporations—especially in the mining and energy sector—to fight federal regulations. That’s contrary to the traditional role of the AG, which is to take on corporations that fail to adhere to regulations. In effect, RAGA appears to be actually encouraging their state attorneys general to privatize the office by allowing corporations to secretly back legislation and support lawsuits in their interests. Express Milwaukee

When Charter Schools Are Nonprofit in Name Only. . . Charter schools often hire companies to handle their accounting and management functions. Sometimes the companies even take the lead in hiring teachers, finding a school building, and handling school finances. . . . In the charter-school sector, this arrangement is known as a “sweeps” contract because nearly all of a school’s public dollars – anywhere from 95 to 100 percent – is “swept” into a charter-management company. The contracts are an example of how the charter schools sometimes cede control of public dollars to private companies that have no legal obligation to act in the best interests of the schools or taxpayers. When the agreement is with a for-profit firm like National Heritage Academies, it’s also a chance for such firms to turn taxpayer money into tidy profits. “It’s really just a pass-through for for-profit entities,” said Eric Hall, an attorney in Colorado Springs who specializes in work with charter schools and has come across many sweeps contracts. “In what sense is that a nonprofit endeavor? It’s not.” ProPublica

AZ: Apache tribe distressed by privatization of sacred land. Former San Carlos Apache Tribal Chairman Wendsler Nosie said he felt sick when he heard what legislators did last week. Members of Congress — including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — inserted into the National Defense Authorization Act a controversial land-swap measure that would privatize national forest land sacred to Western Apache tribes. More than a dozen versions of the land-swap bill have failed to pass Congress since 2005. But now the U.S. Senate is expected to make a final decision on the defense spending bill by late Thursday. Arizona Daily Star

VA: McAuliffe, Jones, back transportation reforms. . . The new legislation targets the state’s public private partnership process, which is used to draw private sector funding for large projects. That’s the plan along Interstate 95 in northern Virginia, which the governor visited Wednesday to announce this weekend’s opening of a new toll lanes. A private consortium will collect tolls for 76 years to make back the roughly $854 million in private money raised for the $969 million project budget. The state had a similar plan for U.S. 460, and signed an agreement with an international conglomerate to build a new tolled highway between Suffolk and Petersburg. The project was put on hold after nearly $300 million was spent despite not having a crucial federal permit to build the road. Daily Press

OH: Ohio’s charter school performance is “grim” and needs state attention. Ohio’s longstanding and “grim” problem with underperforming charter schools is improving, a Stanford researcher said at the City Club today, but the state needs to increase its quality control efforts. . . . Most of all, Raymond stressed, Ohio has an “expanded need for attention to quality” of charter schools to reduce the large amount — about half — whose students show both low ability and low improvement in reading and math.

MO: Drivers balk at idea of turning I-70 into toll road. . . “I hate the idea. I’ll be protesting against it,” said driver Glen Scharnhorst. “It actually takes money out of my pocket and reduces my spending power.”. . . Nixon said he’d like to study a private or public-private operation. He asked the commission to report back to him before the end of the month. He said if I-70 became a toll road, money set aside for I-70 would be used to repair and improve other highways throughout Missouri. KMBC Kansas City

WA: State’s first charter school in disarray. Just months after it opened, First Place Scholars, the first charter school in Washington state, is in turmoil. Its first principal resigned in November, more than half of its original board of directors have left, too, and the state’s charter-school commission has identified more than a dozen potential problems that need to be fixed soon if the school wants to keep its doors open. The Seattle Times



December 10, 2014


ALEC On the Run. At the ALEC meetings, corporate lobbyists draft legislation — to roll back renewable energy standards, to pass right to work laws, to privatize education, to pass stand your ground laws — and the legislators take the model bills back to their states and seek to pass them into law. It’s been a model that has worked remarkably well — until 2011, when the Center for Media and Democracy launched a project called ALEC Exposed. And ever since, more than 90 corporations have pulled out of ALEC and their revenues have dipped 20 percent in the last year. Corporate Crime Reporter

Selling the Public Farm, Bit By Bit. Why are we content to let our public highways become entitled tollways for the monied? I thought our tax dollars built those roads, maintained them. I thought this was the great post-war boom, the opening of individual pathways to Everytown USA. But to travel east in LA one needs money to use part of the roadway, additional extracted beyond the shared contribution of our taxes to the commons, money invested in privilege. Rewards to those engaged, and victorious, in the game of capitalism. The same is true for our public schools, threatened by privatization and the strength of money played by individuals for their personal, exclusive betterment. Money invested in isolated reservoirs of homogeneity and privilege. Money kicked back individually for personal advantage, reinforcing exclusive communities of advantage. City Watch

Red Light Camera and Speed Camera Crime. Although red light cameras and speed cameras are presented as tools of law enforcement, these privately owned companies, their employees and public officials are often caught disregarding the law. Highlights of these cases presented chronologically below include FCC fines, fraud convictions, bribery convictions and speed camera vehicles busted for drunk driving.

WA: Retiring liquor chair on privatization: ‘Dumbest thing we ever did’. When Sharon Foster retires in January, she plans on travelling and has no plans to stay involved with state government. . . .On the privatization of liquor sales, Foster said, “I think it’s the dumbest thing we ever did in our state.” Foster blames higher prices and increased shoplifting of alcohol, especially by minors, on the voter-approved move. “We’ve heard stories there may be alcohol brokers in every high school,” said Foster.

TX: Planners Doubling Down on Proposed Toll Roads. Barely a month after Texas voters overwhelmingly agreed to free up as much as $1.5 billion more a year for road construction, the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization today is set to approve a new long term transportation plan that doubles the number of roads which will involved ‘managed lanes,’ which is government-speak for toll roads. “So here we go, round two, more toll roads, even though we voted to give nearly $2 billion a year to TxDOT in what we were told would be a way to get out of our hole and away from all these toll projects,” Terri Hall, the founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom and an anti-toll activist, told News Radio 1200 WOAI. WOAI

LA: Federal approval expected this week for financial arrangements key to privatizing 6 LSU charity hospitals. Federal approval should come this week to financial arrangements that are key to privatizing six of the LSU charity hospitals, state health Secretary Kathy Kliebert said Monday. . . . Federal approval means the private concerns contracted to operate the public hospitals can receive a higher level of reimbursement for care of the poor and uninsured. The hospitals are located in New Orleans, Lafayette, Bogalusa, Lake Charles, Shreveport and Monroe. The Advocate

MO: Lawmakers react to Nixon’s request for toll road study. . . Gov. Jay Nixon formally requested that the state Highways and Transportation Commission provide analysis on utilizing toll roads to improve and expand Interstate 70, an effort that several lawmakers have responded to unkindly. The Missouri Times

Canada: Private-public partnerships cost Ontario taxpayers extra $8-billion – Auditor General. The Ontario government has shelled out nearly $8-billion more to use public-private partnerships when building new infrastructure than it would have paid if it had simply built the projects itself. That is the conclusion reached by Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk. She examined 74 projects – including hospitals, schools and light rail lines – that were built using private partnerships. The Globe and Mail

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

December 8, 2014


NJ: Water privatization bill amended, opponents contend it still takes away public say. A bill fast tracking the sale of public water systems to private companies was amended this week by its sponsors. Those sponsors say they are intending to narrow the definitions of what water systems could be sold without a public vote, as now required by law. Critics say it’s the same bill with a few token changes.

MD: Baltimore, Maryland Inspector General Blasts Lack Of Camera Oversight. Speed camera vendors in Baltimore, Maryland went wild, and city officials did nothing about it, according to a report released Wednesday by the city’s office of the inspector general (OIG). Up to a third of the speed camera tickets issued by some cameras were found questionable or outright erroneous in past program audits. The latest inquiry concludes this was more than ordinary mismanagement as a top city official engaged in “inappropriate activity” to favor a camera vendor.

TX: Dallas Highway Revolt Might Actually Defeat the Trinity Toll Road. A successful highway revolt in Dallas? It’s looking like a distinct possibility as supporters of the Trinity Toll Road project continue to defect, leaving a lonely few against a growing coalition opposed to the highway. . . . The project is still supported by some of the deep-pocketed shot-callers in the city’s business and development elite, but they have tended not to be very vocal. That’s not the case with the opposition, which seems to have the momentum. People living in nearby areas like Oak Cliff don’t want to see the quality of life in their neighborhoods subordinated to suburban driving convenience. And so, what used to feel like a total longshot might actually happen — Dallas might shelve a highway to retain the strength and cohesion of its neighborhoods. Streetsblog Capitol Hill (blog)           

DE: ACLU: Delaware charter schools causing resegregation. Delaware’s charter schools are causing resegregation and discrimination against minorities and students with disabilities, the ACLU and Community Legal Aid Society are arguing in a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The groups say that, especially in Wilmington, most charters are easily racially identifiable as either mostly white or mostly minority schools, with those serving minority students vastly underperforming those serving more affluent white students.. . . The ACLU argues that some of the more “elite” charter schools’ enrollment requirements, like high exam scores, parent essays, mandatory parental involvement and required fees and uniforms, block low-income families from enrolling. USA TODAY

PA: Nutter, Clarke Spar Over Death of PGW Privatization Deal. Despite some glimmers of last-minute hope a few weeks ago and Doug Oliver’s endorsement of a sale earlier this week, Mayor Michael Nutter’s proposed deal to sell Philadelphia Gas Works to a Connecticut company for $1.86 billion — already comatose after City Council President Darrell Clarke announced in late October that Council would not touch the matter — has ended not with a bang, but a withdrawal. In a statement yesterday afternoon announcing the termination of its offer, UIL Holdings placed the blame squarely on City Council. Philadelphia Magazine (blog)

PA: Pa. public agrees: LCB modernization, not privatization, is the way to go: PennLive letters. The most recent statewide independent poll conducted by Franklin & Marshall in June, 2014, shows 57 percent of Pennsylvania voters support common sense proposals to modernize the state’s Wine and Spirits Stores or allowing this asset to continue operating as it does today. . . . Voters simply are not buying the privateers’ spin. . . Common sense proposals, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, to improve customer convenience could lead to an additional $185 million a year in new revenue for the state. These proposals include adding Sunday stores and increasing Sunday hours; opening more stores inside of or next to grocery stores; and creating more premium shops.

December 5, 2014


TX: Why would we build a toll road in the Trinity parkland?. . . Dallas is too dependent on cars already, and a freeway cutting through the Trinity River would not unite the city but rather divide it, urban planner Patrick Kennedy said. City and regional planners have been “deferential to traffic” over everything else, including quality of life and community. A fraction of the cost of the toll road — $1.5 billion, although it is unfunded — could instead be spent on economic development and job growth in southern Dallas, Kennedy said. And then workers would not have to drive to North Dallas, spending money on auto maintenance, gas, tolls and parking, not to mention losing family time in traffic, but they instead could find work in their own communities.   Advocate Media

IN: Spain’s Abertis Eying Bankrupt Indiana Toll Road. Abertis Infraestructuras SA is combing the U.S. and Canada for new toll-road projects, and has made an offer to buy the right to operate the Indiana Toll Road. “North America is missing in our portfolio,” Mr. Reynes said in an interview on Wednesday. “The U.S. and Canada are countries where the rule of law is strong, the economy is growing and yet they need upgrades and significant investment in infrastructure. Dow Jones Bankruptcy & Debt

MI: Michigan charter school law gets failing grade. Michigan has one of the worst ratings in a first-ever analysis of state policies for holding charter school authorizers accountable for their schools’ academic performance. . . . Of particular note, the report said Michigan’s standards for renewing a charter are too low, the law doesn’t provide for automatic closure if a school is academically failing and doesn’t include minimum quality standards for authorizers. It also said the law doesn’t require authorizers to produce an annual report on the academic performance of its schools. Detroit Free Press

NY: Teachout takes on the Hedge Funders over education. Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham law professor and progressive Democrat who ran a primary election against Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, made a favorable impression on many voters across the state. Her campaign revealed serious discontent with Cuomo and some of his policies. While Teachout didn’t topple Cuomo, she didn’t shrink quietly into the night, either. She’s back with a scathing report, “Corruption in Education: Hedge Funds and the Takeover of New York’s Schools.” Teachout documents how wealthy hedge fund operators poured millions into state lobbying and 2014 election campaigns to influence politicians. Their goal: take control of New York’s education policy in favor of privately-owned charter schools. Rochester City Newspaper (blog)

GA: Private Probation Firms Charged Illegal Fees. Private contractors charged with supervising misdemeanor probation terms cannot extend sentences to collect more fees, Georgia’s top court ruled. Georgia allows private probation companies to supervise offenders convicted of minor violations that do not warrant jail time. Probation is usually imposed when offenders cannot pay their traffic tickets and other misdemeanor fines. Thirteen people who were sentenced to probation in two counties in Georgia sued their for-profit probation supervisor, Sentinel Offender Services, claiming it charged them unauthorized fees in violation of their due-process rights. Courthouse News Service

December 4, 2014


When Corporations Sue Governments. . . . The European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, refuses to accept that European courts “be limited by special regimes for investor-to-state disputes.” Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s vice chancellor and economy minister, has warned of states seeing “policy objectives circumvented by the threat of damages.” Last month, the French trade minister, Matthias Fekl, too, came out strongly against investor-state settlement provisions: “We must preserve states’ rights” to “set and apply their own standards,” he told the French Senate. British politicians have made similar statements amid fears that such cases could solidify the increasing privatization of Britain’s national health service.   New York Times

Poverty, Incarceration and Criminal Justice Debt. . . . In many jurisdictions around the country, failure to pay criminal debt extends an otherwise law-abiding individual’s entanglement in the justice system. Many states extend the term of supervision for failure to pay, despite the reality that supervision costs money. Another enforcement mechanism – the issuance of warrants for nonpayment of fees – pulls individuals before the court and may result in incarceration. Therefore, an individual can pay a penalty for an offense, and then be incarcerated for failing to pay off the debt incurred as a result of that offense. Ironically, these tactics are costly to the state. Probation officers, judges and court personnel must spend time serving as debt collectors. The privatization of debt collection is increasingly common, but the success of these companies is difficult to assess.

Teach for America at 25 and the Movement to Privatize Schools. . . TFA has become an increasingly powerful and visible cog in the education reform movement machine, which promotes the privatization of public education through the building and staffing of alternatives like charter schools, replacing public school teachers, and finding leadership positions for TFA alums, where they can push for privatization. The Nonprofit Quarterly

CA: Over North County objections, TAMC inks toll road adviser. Regional transportation officials authorized hiring a financial adviser on Wednesday to review draft public-private partnership documents for a Highway 156 toll road. But the decision came over the objections of longtime Supervisor Lou Calcagno, who was attending his last Transportation Agency for Monterey County meeting before leaving the Board of Supervisors next month. Calcagno said the commission should address his North Monterey County constituents’ concerns before moving any further on the toll road proposal. Monterey County Herald

AZ: Bill could privatize forest land for mine near Superior. A controversial bill to privatize national forest land in Arizona has been tucked into the national defense spending bill, to the dismay of those fighting a mining company’s efforts to buy the land. If approved, the legislation would open the door for a massive copper mine 100 miles north of Tucson. The company, Resolution Copper Mining, has been trying to acquire the land for nine years through a legislative land swap. Arizona Daily Star

GA: Deeply in Debt, Georgia Universities Look to Privatize Dorms and Parking Decks. Georgia voters may have overlooked—or simply clicked “yes” on—a tax referendum that will change the way many university dorms and parking decks are managed in 2015. Statewide, two-thirds of voters who went to the polls agreed with the referendum that said, “Shall property owned by the University System of Georgia and utilized by providers of college and university student housing and other facilities continue to be exempt from taxation to keep costs affordable?” Athens-Clarke was the only one of Georgia’s 159 counties where the referendum didn’t win a majority. At that, only 500 more ACC voters said “no thanks” rather than “yes, please.” Flagpole Magazine

TX: Trinity toll road debate draws hundreds of opponents but few supporters. If the planned Trinity toll road remains popular among Dallas residents, its supporters didn’t show up Wednesday at a panel-style debate on the divisive $1.5 billion project. Dallas Morning News

MI: Detroit facing big bill from bankruptcy consultant. Mayor Mike Duggan confirmed Wednesday the city faces an outstanding bill of more than $20 million from investment banking firm Miller Buckfire & Co. for its work in Detroit’s bankruptcy. Miller Buckfire’s contract calls for the firm to be paid a flat $28 million fee for its services in negotiating deals tied to city water and sewer debt and securing Detroit loans to support operations during its Chapter 9 bankruptcy and pay off some creditors. . . . A renegotiated contract signed by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr in June calls for the firm to get a flat $28 million fee and eliminated a possible bonus for securing a deal to privatize water department operations, which never materialized. The Detroit News

MD: Veolia is rejected by city panel as consultant for water efficiency study. Two days after 100 people stood up at a City Council hearing to denounce a possible city contract with French water giant Veolia, an administrative panel today approved the bid by its sole rival. PA Consulting was selected by the city’s Architectural and Engineering Awards Commission to negotiate the terms of a $500,000 efficiency study of Baltimore’s water and wastewater treatment plants prior to final ratification. Baltimore Brew


December 3, 2014


Senate Explores Outsourcing Security Services. In a break from its current in-house service delivery model, the United States Senate might use managed security services providers for some of its core cyber security support requirements. Some of the support functions being considered as candidates for outsourcing to a third party include network security monitoring, threat analysis, incident reporting, vulnerability analysis, and security engineering and research. InformationWeek

TX: Trinity Parkway emerges yet again as Dallas’ top controversy. They call Trinity Parkway the “zombie toll road” for a reason. The $1.5 billion road planned to run within the Trinity River levees has been in development for 16 years. But it’s never managed to come to life — or completely die. And now, more than seven years after Dallas voters last signaled approval of the project, it’s emerged as one of the city’s most contentious issues once again. Dallas Morning News

MD: Rally Cry: “Don’t Privatize the City’s Water System!” On Monday afternoon, Dec. 1, 2014, a rally was held in front of Baltimore’s City Hall. Social Justice activists raised their concerns about their strong suspicions that the city plans to privatize the municipality’s water system. The Mayor has publicly denied the charge, but few believe her. Immediately after the rally, activists attended a City Council meeting to express their fears.

LA: La. Medicaid spending up $900 million since ’12. Medicaid expenditures have increased by more than $900 million since 2012 amid the move to privatization, according to a legislative auditor’s report. The Advocate

NY: Charter school fight heads to NY Capitol. After a bruising battle last month for control of the state Senate, supporters and detractors of charter schools are ramping up their lobbying in advance of the state Legislature’s return to the Capitol. Elmira Star-Gazette

NY: Charter school won’t open after lies discovered. Greater Works Charter School will no longer open in Rochester in 2015, part of the continuing fallout over lies in the resume of its 22-year-old founder. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


December 2, 2014


The Billionaires’ Park. CAN billionaires remake the Manhattan shoreline? Apparently so, in light of the news that a new park will be just offshore in the Hudson River, largely financed by the media mogul Barry Diller and situated, conveniently, a short walk from his office in Chelsea. The new park will also be near the High Line, allowing for an easy tour of how private wealth is remaking the city’s public spaces. This trend isn’t unique to New York: Philanthropists are also busy reshaping the riverfront of Philadelphia and building a green corridor through Houston. In Tulsa, Okla., a vast new park system is being financed in part by the billionaire George B. Kaiser. The New York Times

MI: Privatization comes with a downside. . . Privatization typically cuts costs, which is a great virtue, but it does so at a price. Tens of thousands of dollars that once recirculated within the community now leave, whether in the form of corporate salaries, expenses or profits. Privatization often replaces a local enterprise with outside control. It says we no longer trust local people to provide a service as efficiently and as economically as it can be bought on the open market. That is to be lamented. Port Huron Times Herald

IL: Principal rep: “Terrified” about schools’ snow removal plan. Chicago Principals Association President Clarice Berry said Monday that school cleanliness issues triggered by the privatization of janitorial management have not yet been resolved and she’s is “terrified” about what will happen when it starts snowing. Berry was testifying before the City Council’s Education Committee on a transition to Aramark she described as a “train wreck.” She described an improving situation that hasn’t improved nearly enough. Chicago Sun-Times

ME: Maine Supreme Court Endorses Confusing School Bus Tickets. Photo enforcement companies see school buses as a lucrative source of revenue. Passing a school bus can generate an expensive ticket, and this happens most often when motorists are confused in situations where it is not clear exactly what constitutes a violation.

NJ: After privatization, lawmakers concerned falling lottery income could affect agencies. Lawmakers worry falling income from New Jersey’s recently privatized lottery could affect state agencies after a report showed revenue projections are down, and some are demanding more information from Gov. Chris Christie about the venture. . . . The money funds a number of education-related agencies, including school nutrition and tuition grants. Millions of dollars from lottery proceeds also go to the state’s Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs for disabled soldiers and for the operation of state psychiatric hospitals. Lawmakers say the possibility of a shortfall raises the chance of cuts to programs across the state. Daily Journal

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