January 22, 2015


How To Sell Off a City. . . For over a decade now, Chicago has been the epicenter of the fashionable trend of “privatization”—the transfer of the ownership or operation of resources that belong to all of us, like schools, roads and government services, to companies that use them to turn a profit. Chicago’s privatization mania began during Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration, which ran from 1989 to 2011. Under his successor, Rahm Emanuel, the trend has continued apace. For Rahm’s investment banker buddies, the trend has been a boon. For citizens? Not so much. In These Times

Cities Hoping to Cut Collection Costs Continue to Explore Privatization Options. Dwindling budgets and skyrocketing costs have municipalities across North America looking to privatize city-run services, including solid waste and recycling. waste360

IL: Council’s Progressive Caucus Wants More Transparency For Privatization Deals. . . Proponents said the measure to require more disclosure of pending privatization deals has been bottled up in committee, even though Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he’s generally in favor of the proposal. Ald. John Arena (45th) said the city’s history with privatization shows aldermen need more information about such efforts before they vote on turning over city services or assets to private companies. . . . Aldermen have never gotten over the sting of voting for the city’s disastrous 75-year parking meter lease in 2009, without knowing the full scope of the agreement. CBS Local

NC: Advocacy group to file lawsuit to stop I-77 toll lanes. . .Gibbons hopes a judge agrees this project is not in the best interest of the public. The injunction will be disrupt any ongoing construction plans for the project until the issues are examined. . . . The lawsuit, in part, will examine the legality of promises made to its public-private partner, Cintra. The Spain-based company will bear the majority of the cost. Cintra will design, build, and operate the 26-mile stretch of road. In return, collect toll revenues for the next fifty years.. . . “We shouldn’t have to pay to drive on roads that belong to us,” said cab driver Chevy Sims. WCNC

VA: Virginia’s HOT lanes could be the future of US transportation. . . “High-occupancy toll” means that drivers can travel for free in a carpool or they can pay a toll. The benefit is a quicker, more reliable trip than they could get using the interstate’s regular lanes. . . . Many drivers know the toll rises and falls with the level of traffic. So, overnight, when traffic is extremely light, shouldn’t the toll sometimes drop to zero? The private consortium that shouldered most of the cost of building the lanes did so in exchange for the right to collect tolls for most of this century. No matter how light the traffic is at any particular hour, the investors still want their money back. Washington Post

FL: Fla. legislators ‘have lost confidence’ in governor to investigate prison system. Skeptical that Gov. Rick Scott’s administration can conduct an independent review of abuse allegations at the Department of Corrections, a bipartisan group of state senators is conducting its own inquiry. . . Records show that the state’s prison system had its deadliest year in 2014 — inmate deaths climbed at least 13 percent — as Scott’s push to privatize prison medicine resulted in a spike in medically related deaths and the system’s culture allowed for prisoner abuse by guards to go unchallenged in many cases. CorrectionsOne

NY: Cuomo Dangles Extra Schools Funding in Exchange for Education Reform. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for tougher teacher evaluations, changes to tenure, and more charter schools— and said if lawmakers are willing to take the political risk to pass his education reform agenda, he’ll offer up considerable funding rewards. . . . Unsurprisingly, the plans for reform did not find favor with the state’s teachers union, New York State United Teachers, nor with Mr. Cuomo’s liberal primary challenger Zephyr Teachout, who both insisted the true crisis was inadequate and unfair state education funding. “The truth is, there’s no epidemic of failing schools or bad teachers. There is an epidemic of poverty and under-funding that Albany has failed to adequately address for decades. Nearly 1 million New York schoolchildren—including more than one-third of African-American and Latino students—live in poverty. The state’s systemic failure to provide enough resources for all of its students and to do so equitably—while giving all teachers the tools and support they need—is the real crisis and the one our governor is trying to sweep under the rug,” NYSUT President Karen Magee said. Ms. Teachout blamed Mr. Cuomo for the “most segregated schools in the nation” and accused him of seeking to privatize education and take resources away from public classrooms. New York Observer