April 8, 2015


NJ: Chris Christie’s Lottery Privatization Is Costing NJ Millions. . . Northstar New Jersey Lottery Group — a joint venture of GTECH Corporation, Scientific Games and, yes, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System — missed its revenue target by $24 million its first year. And this year, the Associated Press reported earlier last week, Northstar is trailing revenue projections by $64 million though seven months of the fiscal year. “Missing the mark so badly with all of these proven methods for generating lottery revenues is like spitting and missing the floor,” John Kindt, a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois who studies gambling policy, told the AP. Philadelphia Magazine (blog)

NJ: Woodbury, others in NJ mulling privatizing water system. In February, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill that would fast-track the sale of municipal water systems in dire need of repair to private companies without the need to put it to a public vote. Last week, the city of Woodbury, N.J. began exploring the option to sell; and while a significant portion of the state already has private water, others are likely to follow. . . . A 2011 Environmental Protection Agency assessment of public water infrastructure estimated that national water utilities would require $384 billion worth of investment over the next 20 years. The EPA estimate for New Jersey is $7.9 billion, though the industry has said the real figure is closer to $40 billion. . . . “This can offer a strapped city the opportunity to cash out its assets at two to three times its book value, and can use that to pay off its bonds and leave quite a surplus for the city,” said Michelfelder. Newsworks.org

NC: Pro-school privatization group could receive $2 million taxpayer dollars to support charter school expansion. A bill moving through the General Assembly would award $2 million over two years to Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) to help expand the number of charter schools throughout the state. Sponsored by Reps. Bryan (R-Mecklenburg), Brockman (D-Guilford) and B. Brown (R-Pitt), HB 535, “Promoting Charter School Success Pilot” would also allow participating schools to have greater flexibility in expanding their enrollments. Funds can support up to four charter schools each year and PEFNC can make initial planning grants of up to $250,000. Progressive Pulse

MD: “This City Could Become The Next Detroit”. Starting this week, 25,000 households in Baltimore will suddenly lose their access to water for owing bills of $250 or more, with very little notice given and no public hearings. . . . In fact, the Baltimore Sun found more than a third of the unpaid bills stem from just 369 businesses, who owe $15 million in revenue, while government offices and nonprofits have outstanding water bills to the tune of $10 million. One of those businesses, RG Steel (now bankrupt) owes $7 million in delinquent water bills all by itself. . . . According to Jessica Lewis, Baltimore’s recent water shutoff initiative may be the follow-up to a failed effort that could have led to the privatization of Baltimore’s water last year. In August 2014, a group of Baltimore residents and community organizations formed the One Baltimore United coalition, which dedicated itself to fighting a proposed $500,000 consulting contract between the City of Baltimore and Veolia, a private water corporation. ThinkProgress

LA: N La state hospital operators lost $700000 over 1st year. . . Auditors say the nonprofit organization that runs north Louisiana’s two state hospitals lost $700,000 during its first year. The News-Star (http://tnsne.ws/1bZyixO ) reports that Postlethwaite and Netterville of Baton Rouge checked the 12 months beginning Oct. 1, 2013. That’s when the foundation took control of the hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe. It had never run a hospital before becoming part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s push to privatize most of the university-run public hospital system. KSLA-TV           

NY: At Success Academy Charter Schools, High Scores and Polarizing Tactics. . . In a rare look inside the network, including visits to several schools and interviews with dozens of current and former employees, The New York Times chronicled a system driven by the relentless pursuit of better results, one that can be exhilarating for teachers and students who keep up with its demands and agonizing for those who do not. New York Times           

KY: Editorial: Privatized dorms raise taxing questions. Public officials in Fayette and Madison counties were right to pursue property taxes on privatized university dormitories. The law is unclear, probably because lawmakers had not anticipated this relatively new way for universities to finance student housing and dining facilities. But the future seems sure to hold more public-private partnerships, and not just in higher education. Legislation to encourage more such partnerships for building roads and bridges has twice stumbled in the General Assembly but will return. This trend will produce better results if someone is strongly advocating for the public’s interest. Lexington Herald Leader