February 5, 2015


WI: Walker backs off removing ‘Wisconsin Idea’ from UW mission. Gov. Scott Walker abruptly backed off Wednesday from a contentious plan to eliminate the University of Wisconsin System’s public service mission statement known as the “Wisconsin Idea” and replace it with the charge of meeting the state’s workforce needs. . . . The governor, who does not have a college degree, has proposed $300 million in cuts to the UW System in exchange for more autonomy and freedom from state oversight. . . .Walker angered faculty and staff, though, by suggesting they don’t work hard enough and should teach more classes. His proposal to delete the Wisconsin Idea generated more anger from the university community. “The Wisconsin Idea is embedded in our DNA,” said UW President Ray Cross in a statement. “It is so much more than words on a page. It is the reason the UW System exists. It defines us and forever will distinguish us as a great, public university. Wisconsin must not abandon this core principle and value.” Associated Press

TX: Texas Lawmaker Proposes Ban On Toll Road Land Confiscation. Opponents of toll roads in Texas no longer want to see the public gets the worst end of the bargain in “public-private partnerships. That is why state Representative Cindy Burkett (R-Sunnyvale) introduced legislation for the current session to strip private entities of the power of taking land from citizens for the use of toll road builders. . . . The issue came to light last year when the state quietly included construction of the Blacklands Tollway-Northeast Gateway corridor in its long-term transportation plan. This tolling project would have cut through Burkett’s district, and her constituents turned out in large numbers at public meetings to express their disapproval, citing the corporation’s ability to take homes away serving as a top concern. TheNewspaper.com

FL: City may privatize building services. Can a private firm better handle the city’s building services needs, including plan reviews, inspections, issuing of building permits, flood plain and zoning issues, than the current arrangement with Pinellas County? Belleair Beach officials are taking steps to find out, inviting representatives from a building service firm to present their case at the Feb. 2 City Council meeting. County building department officials will get the chance to say why they should be retained at next month’s council meeting. Tampa Bay Newspapers

FL: VIDEO: Fort Myers set to privatize city marina. Nine companies expressed an interest in managing the City of Fort Myers Yacht Basin downtown, which means the city-owned marina could become a private business. . . . Although privatizing the yacht basin probably would include improvements and save the city money, many who use the basin are concerned that the rates will go up. “They might make it look fancy and add some amenities, but I don’t feel that the basic service of being able to keep a boat here and feel happy and comfortable and welcome — I don’t think that’s going to be the case anymore,” yacht basin customer Debbie Lazar told the network. Trade Only Today

NY: Health and Hospitals Corp.’s dialysis plan scrutinized. The New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. wants to privatize its dialysis operations to help stem a $103 million operating loss it suffered last year. . . . But privatization is a politically charged issue. At a public health hearing last week, the dialysis proposal was opposed by the New York State Nurses Association, a union for registered nurses; Doctors Council SEIU, which represents HHC physicians; and Public Advocate Letitia James. Speaking at the hearing, Ms. James said, “We know for a fact this company underperforms. They put products ahead of patients.” Crain’s New York Business