April 28, 2015


Is the Tide Turning Against Water Privatization?. . . With the relentless drive to marketize a critical natural resource, water privatization has alienated both labor and consumers in rich and poor countries alike. And this is precisely why the remuncipalization trend has been led by richer cities. For example, as Veolia’s contracts have collapsed across the United States, where rate hikes and sewage spills have tainted municipal relationships, the chief brand in corporate water has seen its profits dwindle in recent years. The Nation

The Great Charter School Debate: How Many Is Enough? As charters become a permanent feature of the educational landscape, a series of debates are taking shape over their role in our educational portfolio and, in some places, the rules under which they operate. Should charters replace entire school districts? Are they best suited to coexist alongside public schools? How many is enough? And is it fair to consider them, as charter advocates have long insisted, true public schools? U.S. News & World Report

For-profit Corinthian Colleges to close last campuses. Corinthian Colleges Inc., the for-profit college company that collapsed in June 2014 amid financial and legal problems, said Monday it has ceased operating and will close its 28 remaining campuses. . . .The company faces a $29.7 million fine on its Heald College system from the U.S. Department of Education, which accuses it of misrepresenting its job placement success by hiring temp agencies to hire students for short periods after they graduated. Chicago Sun-Times

VA: Investigation: ERC past due toll fees. As a real estate agent who lives in Portsmouth, Michael Gray is always driving through the Midtown Tunnel. So, naturally he chose to set up an EZ Pass account early last year with Elizabeth River Crossings to pay tolls. Today, he wonders why he’s receiving bills when there is money in his EZ Pass account. . . . On a few occasions, Gray said he received a bill with past due charges or what ERC calls the admin fee, the cost of collecting past due tolls. The problem is, he never received a preceding bill. “You never receive the initial bill, you only receive the bill with the $25 fee.” Gray said efforts to straighten out the issue have been unsuccessful. Accounts such as his have Portsmouth Mayor Kenny Wright and others saying there is not enough transparency over how ERC is handling the billing process. ERC is the private contractor hired by VDOT to finance, deliver, operate and maintain the Elizabeth River Tunnels Project. 13newsnow.com

IN: Indiana Toll Road takeover expected by late May or early June. The Indiana Toll Road should have a new operator by late May or early June. That’s when the latest multi-billion dollar deal for the rights to run the roadway is expected to close. . . . Since the Toll Road is still owned by the State of Indiana, the Oversight Commission was established to protect the asset on behalf of Hoosier taxpayers. The Commission met today in Granger, for what was likely the ‘last’ meeting with the Toll Road’s current operator, (ITR Concession Company). WNDU-TV

MA: Baker’s T “Control Board” Challenged. Three weeks after a special commission appointed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker unveiled recommendations for fixing Boston’s MBTA, Monday the panel members got a grilling from members of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee. The Baker panel, formed after a winter of disaster on the transit system 1 million riders a day count on, included as one of its boldest recommendations a takeover of the T by a “fiscal and management control board” with sweeping new powers to cut costs, privatize services, and renegotiate labor expenses. But now that Baker has forced out six members of the existing Massachusetts Department of Transportation board that had overseen the T, and will get to name replacements by May 15, legislators seem to have major doubts they need to create what some called a whole new bureaucracy to oversee the T. NECN