January 20, 2015


Prisons’ move to privatize inmate medical treatment spotlights tough choices in ensuring care. . . Four months later, after Frazier’s 13th request resulted in hospitalization and doctors quickly diagnosed bone cancer, his arm had to be amputated, according to a lawsuit filed by his family. But the cancer spread and Frazier died in 2011, months after his release. As an inmate, his medical care had been managed not by the county sheriff’s office that runs the jail, but by a private company under contract. That company, Corizon Health Inc., is under growing pressure around the country after losing five state prison contracts, downgrades by credit analysts and increased scrutiny of care of inmates held by some of its largest customers, including New York City. But Corizon, whose responsibility for 345,000 inmates at prisons and jails in 27 states makes it the country’s biggest for-profit correctional health provider, is just one of many firms using a similar model to vie for the billions of dollars states and counties spend on prisoner care. Fox Business

Don’t Privatize the Ocean, Find a Better Way to Fish – Opinion . . . Quotas were set based on catch history – those who caught the most historically got the largest piece of the pie. Quota owners found ways to manipulate the system. Many valuable fish were dumped overboard, dead, as by-catch, so that fishermen could maximize their haul of the most valuable species. In effect, what the quotas accomplished was a transfer of wealth from America’s small fishing operations and fishing towns to large agribusiness operations and absentee investors. None of this should surprise us. Our society is suffering the consequences of over-privatization and consolidation in other parts of our economy such as agriculture, education and health care.   U.S. News & World Report

More reasons not to build toll roads – opinion. . . If we keep building more toll roads I’m certain most people who work for the government will get their toll fees rebated by the taxpayers or use transponders or license plates that identify them as “official business” and hence non-paying toll road users. And the more non-paying cars you have the more paying vehicles will have to shell out to keep these toll roads solvent. . . . So what happens then is we get a two-tiered transportation system. Uncrowded, high-speed roads for government officials and the people rich enough to pay the tolls. Crowded, busted-up roads for all the rest of us. Big corporate trucking fleets will use the toll roads. Independent fleets, owner-operators and start up companies, poor people and even middle class people will use the bad roads. This is elitism pure and simple, and a policy that favors the haves over the have-nots. Equipment World Magazine

IN: Proposed bill would give tax credit to those who travel the Toll Road. . . The tax credit would be worth up to $300 or half of the cost spent on tolls. “It’s a benefit to those who use the Toll Road,” says Republican Senator Joe Zakas, who authored the bill. But it may not be a benefit to the state. Early estimates show the tax credits could cost between $7.4 and $10.3 million annually. . . .Zakas says he believes the bill is a “fair way to share the cost of the interstate.” Indiana received $3.8 billion dollars when it leased the toll road to a private company in 2006. The money was used for former Governor Mitch Daniels’ “Major Moves” program which upgraded roads like U.S. 31 and paid counties along the Toll Road. The lease also set the limit on toll rates; however, those rates will expire in July of 2016. “We’re on the cusp of increased tolls next year and as a way to more equitably share the cost across the state,” says Senator Zakas.   WSBT-TV

IN: Illiana Expressway suddenly hits roadblock. . . Kick-started by a Republican governor in Indiana, the fate of the Illiana Expressway now rests with a Republican governor in Illinois who never showed his hand in regards to the $1.5 billion project during his campaign. But last week, new Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner wasted no time in playing his cards, halting the Illiana Expressway and other major projects pending a “careful review.” nwitimes.com

NJ: Report: Language of controversial Liberty State Park bill ‘will probably be retooled. The language in the controversial Hackensack Meadowlands Agency Consolidation Act – the bill that critics believe would lead to the privatization and commercialization of Jersey City’s Liberty State Park – “probably” will be altered, a state spokesman said. . . However, a last-minute addition to the bill states that the new commission “shall evaluate, approve and implement any plans for Liberty State Park.” This wording has triggered Friends of Liberty State Park (FOLSP) to be fearful that some control of the park will be taken from the state Department of Environmental Protection and will risk full public participation in the park. “Revisions were made, and some wording was added about Liberty State Park falling under the auspices of a new commission,” DEP spokesman Larry Hajna told the Inquirer. “The way it was phrased was not the way it was intended, it will probably be retooled.” NJ.com

GA: Privatization Advocate Crafts New Bill Aimed At Foster Care System. . . Last year Unterman was one of the biggest advocates of privatizing state services like foster care and adoption. A bill to do that seemed poised for passage with Gov. Nathan Deal’s initial endorsement, but it ultimately failed in the final hours of the session. Unterman dismissed comparisons to that effort, saying this is aimed at families that hit a stroke of bad luck, like a job loss, addiction or illness. . . Unterman’s bill will likely be formally introduced in the Senate when it reconvenes next week.   WABE 90.1 FM

NC: Anti-toll group to seek halt to I-77 project. Members of a group that opposes proposed toll lanes on Interstate 77 north of Charlotte plan to file a legal complaint Tuesday seeking to stop the project. Widen I-77’s request for a preliminary injunction could lead to a trial against the N.C. Department of Transportation and I-77 Mobility Partners, a subsidiary of the project’s contractors, said Vince Winegardner, spokesman for the citizens group. The filing would come two days before Cintra, the project’s contractor, has to secure funding for the $655 million project, said Kurt Naas, Widen I-77 group member. Charlotte Observer

CA: Commentary: Public will bear risks from toll road. When Gov. Jerry Brown took office, one of his first actions was to cancel the sale of government office buildings to private supporters of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger because the sale and leaseback agreements were an unwarranted transfer of taxpayer money to private corporations. It is these same corporations, banks and attorneys that stand to gain the most if the Transportation Agency for Monterey County approves the toll road being planned to replace Highway 156.   Monterey County Herald

TX: Deadlines continue to pass for state hospital privatization. State officials and representatives of the likely future operator of Terrell State Hospital say no deal has yet been signed to place operations in the hands of a private operator. Terrell Tribune