April 21, 2015


Air-traffic control union chief: Privatization possible, but funding crucial. The union chief for air-traffic controllers said Monday he would negotiate with lawmakers and the aviation industry over whether to turn the system over to a private company, as it is in Canada, rather than insisting it remain a government function. But Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told the Aero Club of Washington he would oppose any effort to make air-traffic control a profit-making corporation. And he said stable funding is more important than organizational reform because funding disputes delay improvements. USA TODAY

Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota. In 2009 . . .Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV} inserted the following language regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) detention budget: “…funding made available under this heading shall maintain a level of not less than 33,400 detention beds.” This directive established what would become a controversial policy interpreted by ICE as a mandate to contract for and fill 33,400 detention beds on a daily basis. The directive would come to be known as the “immigrant detention quota” or “bed mandate.”. . . This report provides an in-depth assessment of the inception and implementation of the quota, with a specific focus on the role played by for-profit, private prison corporations. These companies have profited handsomely from the artificial stability provided by the quota while contributing millions of dollars in federal lobbying expenditures and in campaign contributions to ensure their interests are met. This report also features testimony from people directly impacted by detention and deportation, revealing the momentous human cost of the quota. Grassroots Leadership

Sign the petition: America’s public lands are NOT for sale. Republicans are using Congress’ annual budget process to lay the groundwork for turning America’s public lands over to state control for sale to private mining, drilling and real estate companies. Hundreds of millions of acres of pristine public lands in the American West that are the cradle of future national parks, monuments, and preserves would instead be sacrificed to dirty oil drilling and fracking companies. . . . Sign the petition from CREDO and Daily Kos to Congress: America’s public lands are NOT for sale. Daily Kos

NJ: Quigley: Privatizing the lottery was a bad gamble. New Jersey Lottery revenue was growing every year, with the biggest growth occurring in 2013, when the amount jumped by more than 14 percent to top a billion dollars. So whose bright idea was it to listen to the pitch of the people who were losing money in other states and suggesting we privatize one of the state’s biggest income sources? . . . So promises were given, contracts were signed, and lots of Lottery Commission workers were laid off. Northstar formally took over in October 2013. It hired even more lobbyists and a public relations firm closely connected to the governor and began operations here. . .So what happened then? Pfffft. Northstar missed projections by $64 million so far. Only four months after the contract was signed, Northstar was allowed to amend its promises and lower revenue projections. NJ.com

VA: Fight brews over proposal to add tolls for I-66’s morning, evening rush hours. A plan to turn Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway into a toll road during morning and evening rush hours has opened up sharp divisions between Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration and a bipartisan group of congressional representatives and raised broader questions about how to solve one of the region’s most persistent and infuriating bottlenecks. . . .Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) said he was taken aback by the tone and substance of a briefing by Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey L. Layne Jr. and other officials earlier this week on Capitol Hill. Connolly said that the briefing had an air of finality to it that seemed to indicate VDOT was barreling ahead with plans for a toll road even though that had not been sufficiently debated. . . . “It cannot be a fait accompli,” Connolly said. “I’ve worked with Democrats and Republicans in Richmond for more than 20 years and . . . I have never seen as little communication and outreach as I have with this one.” Washington Post

CO: U.S. 36 tolls topic of public meeting Tuesday. Proposed toll rates along U.S. 36 between Boulder and Denver will be one of the topics at an open house and public meeting Tuesday. The private firm working with the Colorado Department of Transportation for the nearly $500 million widening of U.S. 36 — Plenary Roads Denver — plans to charge tolls for a portion of the highway. The first phase of the U.S. 36 Express Lanes, from Federal Boulevard to 88th Street, will open this summer. The Denver Post

IN: Editorial: DNR violates the public trust with Dunes State Park conference center. Earlier this year the Indiana Department of Natural Resources revealed it was on the verge of allowing construction of a private conference center at the Dunes State Park beach. The conference center would be privately developed on public land under a lease lasting up to 65 years. Hoosier taxpayers were first introduced to this philosophy by former governor Mitch Daniels, who leased the Indiana Toll Road to a private firm. That lease was rightly criticized for selling the birthright of Indiana’s children in exchange for a slush fund to enhance Daniel’s reputation and fund I-69 in southern Indiana. The DNR plan for the Indiana Dunes, like the Toll Road lease, will lock up a public asset for generations. Unlike the Toll Road lease, the public will get little in the way of financial benefit in return with the guaranteed rental payments amounting to little more than the rent on a typical Hoosier home. Chesterton Tribune

OH: Jail privatization provision struck from Ohio House budget. The Ohio House Finance Committee is striking a provision from the state budget that would have allowed for privatization of county jails. . . County sheriffs raised concerns that the move could add confusion to duties held by law enforcement and risk public safety, while not saving money. FOX19