April 6, 2015


Your Dollars at Work – for the Rich. . . This massive privatization of everything from prisons to public schools hasn’t done much of anything to make the United States a better place to live. On the other hand, this privatization has paid off quite handsomely for America’s most affluent. They’re collecting ever more generous paychecks, courtesy of the tax dollars the rest of us are paying. In Washington, D.C., for instance, top officials of the private companies that run many of the city’s charter schools are taking in double or triple what traditional public schools take in, or even more. Truth-Out

The Meaning of Magna Carta in the Era of Privatization. . . We need to address the commons as a solution to our own needs, for water, air, land, fire, and (as we must add) mind. We want equalization, or the abolition of the economic class system of exploitation. We need a different conception of property, neither State nor individual, and a different conception of ‘man’. Magna Carta gave us homo liber, or “free man”; Carl Linneas gave us homo sapiens, or “wise man”; E.P. Thompson spoke of homo economicus, or “economic man.” Our era of privatization has produced another ideal historical species of man, one opposed to the commons, and deriving etymologically from the Greek work for private, I mean homo idioticus. He is idiotically polluting the air and waters, engrossing the land and forests, and creating misery in his ceaseless, selfish accumulation and wars of drones. CounterPunch

IL: Under Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Opens the Door to Privatizing Half its Public Housing. Chicago, long a pioneer of privatization, is poised to embark on a sweeping experiment with the city’s public-housing stock. The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) plans to court private investment in as much as half of its public-housing units through the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), a new federal program billed as a way to “revitalize” housing for the poor and address a $26 billion backlog in needed repairs. But housing advocates around the country worry that RAD is just a prelude to privatization. BillMoyers.com

IL: Editorial: Illiana findings disappoint, then disappear. Illinois taxpayers spent $112,500 last year for a study to determine whether the proposed Illiana toll road would qualify for a key federal construction loan. But then-Gov. Pat Quinn didn’t get the answer he was looking for, and the information ended up in a drawer, or a wastebasket, or something. . . .Officials at the Illinois Finance Authority told Hinz that the finding was negative and that Fitch had submitted a bill for $112,500. So hey, let’s see what Fitch had to say about the Illiana, a project regional planners have already warned would require hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. Sorry, folks. The Illinois Department of Transportation says it never got anything on paper. The analysis “was provided verbally,” an agency spokesman said. Chicago Tribune

IL: State Senator Brady wants to push university privatization discussion. As Illinois’ 12 public universities were planning last month for the possibility of steep funding cuts proposed by the state’s new Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, a state senator quietly proposed legislation that would have gone much further: privatizing them all. Sen. Bill Brady, a Republican from Bloomington, introduced his university funding legislation on March 18 and withdrew it a week later. Although he said he won’t try to push his plan further this year, he hopes it will start a serious discussion about the state’s future role in the funding of higher education. The State

TX: Advocates Declare Victory After Contract to Privatize Terrell State Hospital Scrapped. After a 9 month battle, a coalition of mental health, labor, and civil rights groups, including Grassroots Leadership, was able to declare victory last week over GEO Care/Correct Care Recovery Solutions’ efforts to take over the Terrell State Hospital. This effort was a privatization scheme that was part of the company’s expansion ambitions into state hospital and civil commitment centers. The victory was aided by a large contracting scandal in the state, a damning state audit, and some terrific investigative reporting. Grassroots Leadership

TX: Editorial: Where did toll roads go so wrong in Texas?. . . Incorporating private companies into the building and maintaining of toll roads was a mistake. Public-private partnerships work in many areas, but building roads is not one of them. Taking land by way of eminent domain for a new road is a dicey process even when the Texas Department of Transportation does it. Imagine how landowners feel when they’re forced to give up land to an ambiguous shell corporation backed by overseas investors. The practice was ended by lawmakers in 2009, but the damage was done on the perception front. Waco Tribune-Herald

DC: Charter schools still a DC hot-button issue. For years, District residents have forecast — for better or worse — a future where charter schools consumed neighborhood schools. And with charter school enrollment growing every year for nearly two decades, that day has seemed not too far away. But this year, the percentage of students attending charters in the District has leveled off, with 44 percent of school-age city residents enrolled. At the same time, the city’s traditional public schools marked their third consecutive year of growth. Washington Post

NC: Disclosure differs for charter schools run by for-profit firms. Public school districts must account for every dollar they spend. Charter schools operated by for-profit companies often do not have to. Charters can keep salaries of supervisors, academic consultants, back-office staff – sometimes even school administrators – secret and still abide by North Carolina’s public records law despite being funded by tax dollars. These positions are often considered employees of the management company instead of the school, and therefore not subject to disclosure. Charolette Observer

NC: New Bill Proposes Privatizing NC Ferry System. State republicans have introduced new legislation that asks for more information on possibly privatizing the North Carolina ferry system. . . There are seven regular routes in the North Carolina ferry system, with 22 boats transporting more than 2.5 million passengers annually across the Currituck and Pamlico Sounds, and the Cape Fear, Neuse and Pamlico Rivers…. However, regular ferry riders are not keen on the idea of a private company controlling the cost of a ferry ride. “My concern would be that if they privatize it, the amount of riders that come across may decline because people don’t want to pay the higher prices because they’re willing to drive rather than take the ferry,” said Manual Avalos, a Wilmington resident. TWC News

PA: Five Indiana County bridges to be replaced through public-private partnership . . . To help kick that effort into high gear, Pennsylvania this year is launching a Rapid Bridge Replacement Project that is expected to put about 500 new spans in place by 2018 through a single contract with a group of companies that are combining efforts as part of a public-private partnership with PennDOT…. While PennDOT will provide snow removal on the completed bridges and will take care of line-painting on approaches to the spans, McAuley said the PWKP group will have to maintain the structures for 25 years. Tribune-Review