April 30, 2008

Atlanta privatization parking services
NJ Gov. denies plans to privatize state parks
TX: Not serious on roads – editorial
Put for-profit detention centers on ICE
Chicago to get $153m for congestion relief – with strings
WI: City must sell land for library
CT: Bridgeport may privatize school clinics
Military housing goes private
RI: State likely to take back auditorium

News Summaries
Atlanta privatizing parking services
Atlanta is scheduled to accept bids Wednesday from companies that want
to run the city’s parking ticket and meter collection operation, now
done by the Public Works Department. As the city grapples with a $140
million projected shortfall for the fiscal year that starts July 1,
some officials say Atlanta should privatize some services. Leonard
Gilroy, director of government reform for the Reason Foundation, a
California-based nonprofit group that supports free markets, believes
privatization is cost-effective. Nancy Lenk, a leader of one of the
city’s largest unions, disagrees. She says union leaders in other
cities have seen businesses frequently make low bids to provide
government services and later increase their rates well past how much
it cost government workers to do the job. "Over time, [privatizing] is
a bad idea," said Lenk, assistant director of the American Federation
of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 1644, which says it
represents about 2,000 Atlanta employees. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
NJ Gov. denies plans to privatize state parks
Responding to a charge by environmentalists, Gov. Jon Corzine said
yesterday he has no plans to privatize state parks or create a new
state department by combining the divisions of parks and forestry and
wildlife with the Department of Agriculture. He said he might consider
privatizing park concessions, "but no decisions have been made."
Corzine was reacting to charges by leaders of the Sierra Club of New
Jersey and the New Jersey Audubon Society that the administration and
legislators are quietly considering taking the state parks out of the
DEP’s jurisdiction, which could open them to privatization. The Star-Ledger
TX: Not serious on roads – editorial
Gov. Rick Perry can’t be serious. He says he is — seriously devoted to
building and maintaining highways. But he is just as devoted to fencing
state government into fiscal straits that make these goals impossible
without privatizing highways through tolls. Perry last week said that
going full-bore with toll roads is the only way for Texas to build new
highways. That’s not so. The history of Texas tells us it’s not. Toll
roads have their function without question. But so do bonds. So does a
gasoline tax that has not kept pace with inflation. So does a
reexamination of how Texas funds highways in general — including a look
at how highway funds are siphoned off for non-highway purposes.
Waco Tribune-Herald

Put for-profit detention centers on ICE
Privatized detention centers are going up all over the United States as
a way to deal with the growing number of undocumented immigrants. As a
result, not only are we detaining immigrants in our country, but
because of the move toward privatization, these facilities are able to
make a profit from these prisoners. The industry leader, Corrections
Corporation of America, has seen its stock price rise to as much as $22
a share, and in 2006 its revenue was $1.3 billion with profits of $105
million. According to industry experts, in order to make a profit these
companies not only need to ensure that more prisons are built, but also
need to keep them filled to an estimated 90-to 95-percent capacity
rate. These for-profit detention centers demand immigrants’ bodies and
labor, and it is disturbing to think about how this demand will be
met.The Daily Texan
Chicago to get $153m for congestion relief – with strings
Chicago has been selected to receive more than $153 million in federal
funds under a new congestion initiative, announced U.S. Secretary of
Transportation Mary E. Peters. The innovative proposal will reduce
traffic gridlock through the use of congestion pricing for street
parking spaces. The federal funding is contingent, in part, on the city
and the CTA adopting the necessary legal authorities. Also, the city
must successfully move forward on its previously announced plans to
privatize its metered parking system and enter into a long-term
agreement with a private firm by December 31, 2008. 7th Space
WI: City must sell land for library
Local developer Terrence Wall’s family made its fortune in the library
business. Now Wall wants to build the city a new downtown library to
replace the outdated 43-year-old structure in the 200 block of West
Mifflin Street, across from the Overture Center. The catch is the city
must sell the property to Wall, who proposes to tear it down and build
a nine-story, $45 million building that will house a new and bigger
library, several floors of private office space and some retail on the
ground floor. At a special meeting of the Madison Public Library Board
Tuesday night, Wall presented his plan with financing details that
included his company’s payment for the land, city funding and private
donations that could include a naming rights deal. The Capital Times (Madison)
CT: Bridgeport may privatize school clinics
The health clinics at city schools, which would be eliminated in Mayor
Bill Finch’s proposed 2008-09 budget, may be replaced by services
provided by two private health care agencies. Parents, students, union
representatives and nurses have loudly protested Finch’s plan. Hiring a
private provider to replace the city nurses is viewed by the Finch
administration as a way to reduce municipal expenditures while
retaining a popular service. Connecticut Post
Military housing goes private
Mandated by the Department of Defense, the privatization process takes
military housing that was once government-owned, leases it to large
private companies, and pays the companies the basic allowance for
housing or BAH which would have been paid to the service members living
in their on-post housing if they had been living off-post. Daily Guide
(Waynesville, Mo)
RI: State likely to take back auditorium
The state appears to be moving closer to transferring the
underperforming Veterans Memorial Auditorium from the private
foundation that now runs it to the state’s Convention Center Authority,
adding it to a stable of properties that includes the Dunkin’ Donuts
Center and the convention center. With the facility not meeting
expectations under private control, the legislature has directed the
authority to develop a basic business plan for the auditorium, and
return, probably next week, before the House Finance Committee to
outline its best guess on the facility’s financial future under state
control. The next step after that, said Rep. Steven M. Costantino,
D-Providence, would be to ask the Convention Center Authority to vote
on taking the building over. The Providence Journal

Posted in

April 29, 2008

VA: Toll road will bulldoze hundreds of trees
PA: Port Authority mulling naming rights sale for assets
CA: A zoo by any other name?
DE: Comedian’s death raises questions of private jail
LA: Port looks for private partner
NC: Bell tolls for low-income drivers – opinion

News Summaries
VA: Toll road will bulldoze hundreds of trees
Hundreds of trees along the Capital Beltway will be cut down in
preparation for construction of four more toll lanes, officials said
yesterday. The Virginia Department of Transportation said crews have
begun clearing brush and trees to make room for construction trailers
along the Beltway. Hundreds of trees along the 14-mile project will be
cut down, officials said — probably the first sign commuters will see
of the project. The public-private partnership is trying to add the
lanes within the Beltway’s existing footprint to prevent the need to
purchase adjoining land and houses. That means trees and shrubbery have
to go. Washington Post
PA: Port Authority mulling naming rights sale for assets
The Port Authority of Allegheny County is considering selling naming
rights to a 1.2-mile light-rail extension under the Allegheny River as
well as to other transit stations and assets it controls.Marketing
consultants and public relations firms have until May 22 to present
proposals to the authority board. Among the more likely targets for
naming rights are a new glass-covered light-rail station being built in
downtown Pittsburgh. That station would help riders access the new
light-rail extension that will take riders through tunnels beneath the
river to the city’s North Shore, which is home to PNC Park, Heinz Field
and other attractions. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
CA: A zoo by any other name?
The Pampers Greek Theater? The Purina L.A. Zoo? Not likely. But under
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposal to sell the naming rights for Los
Angeles facilities, the possibility exists. The concept could generate
more controversy than revenue, advertising experts say.
Los Angeles Business Journal

DE: Comedian’s death raises questions of private jail
An autopsy will be performed tomorrow on Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, a
39-year-old comedian who died Thursday after contracting pneumonia at
the Delaware County jail, where he was awaiting trial. Since 2005, at
least eight people have died at the George W. Hill Correctional
Facility, the state’s only privately run jail. Several of those deaths
resulted in lawsuits by family members who say the facility did not
provide adequate medical care or proper supervision for inmates.
The Philadelphia Inquirer

LA: Port looks for private partner
The Port of New Orleans is getting serious about finding private
investors to help pay for an expansion of its Uptown container
terminal, the jewel of the port’s $1 billion master plan for 2020. U.S.
toll roads have generated much of the private-sector activity. The
practice has drawn criticism from those who say such deals put public
assets in the hands of private operators who are free to jack up tolls
and other fees with impunity. Despite the controversy, ports smell
opportunity in such partnerships and are increasingly seeking them out.
Boock said private partners can often pump money into a project more
quickly than government can. Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
NC: Bell tolls for low-income drivers – opinion
The N.C. Turnpike Authority is advocating regressive toll road
solutions that will negatively affect our broader transit needs for the
next 40 years. Toll roads lead to taxpayer subsidies that siphon off
resources needed for public transportation and create special hardships
for lower-income drivers. The News & Observer (Raleigh)

Posted in

April 28, 2008

NJ: State’s model for toxic clean-ups fails audits
IN: Daniels unopposed – editorial
FL: Leasing alligator alley – benefit or boondoggle?
CA: LA county transit support lanes
MS: Airport parkway set to be toll road

News Summaries
NJ: State’s model for toxic clean-ups fails audits
More than two out of three privately supervised toxic clean-ups in a
Massachusetts program that New Jersey wants to adopt failed audits with
serious violations, according to records released today by Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Despite these red
flags, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is
rushing to embrace further privatization of its troubled toxic
remediation program as a cost-free panacea. PEER
IN: Daniels unopposed – editorial
Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with his actions, Gov.
Mitch Daniels has without question invoked change. Perhaps his most
significant – and most controversial – action was the 75-year lease of
the Indiana Toll Road. Other significant steps include a major shift
toward privatizing other government services, adoption of statewide
daylight saving time, an overhaul of property taxes, money for full-day
kindergarten and moving the ISTEP+ standardized testing from fall to
spring. While Democrats are talking a lot this spring about health
care, the economy and education in generalities, this fall’s campaign
between Daniels and the winning Democrat will most likely focus on
whether Daniels’ record has helped or hindered Indiana.
Journal Gazette
(Fort Wayne)
FL: Leasing alligator alley – benefit or boondoggle?
Try predicting the value of your home 75 years from now. Or forecasting
the return on an investment over 99 years. It’s a tricky business, but
one state officials soon could be banking on to boost revenue.
Alligator Alley, the 78-mile stretch of Interstate 75 between Naples
and Fort Lauderdale, has caught the state’s eye as a candidate for
leasing to a private company. Tolls have been raised only nominally
since the road was completed in 1969, but privatizing the road could
mean big changes. Naples Daily News
CA: LA county transit support lanes
The freeway may soon not be so free in the land of the automobile. Los
Angeles County transit officials voted Thursday to support a plan that
would charge drivers tolls to use some freeway lanes. The federal
government recently offered $213.6 million to the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority to help convert some carpool lanes to toll
lanes to reduce congestion during busy hours and fund transportation
improvements. The Mercury News (San Jose)
MS: Airport parkway set to be toll road
The Mississippi Department of Transportation is looking for a private
company to build the airport parkway and operate it for 50 years as a
toll road. WAPT (Jackson)

Posted in

April 25, 2008

Bush plan to contract federal jobs falls short
Texas’ privatizing quagmire – opinion
Budget crunch has Atlanta considering privatization
Dogs of war: Cost-effective: Myth or fact?
FL: State could start privatizing Alligator Alley next week
S. Dakota private schools defy trend
MA: Rockland study favors town-run ambulances

News Summaries
Bush plan to contract federal jobs falls short
It turned on a simple idea: Force federal employees to compete for
their jobs against private contractors and costs will decrease, even if
the work ultimately stays in-house. But as Bush’s presidency winds
down, the program’s critics say it has had disappointing results and
shaken morale among the federal government’s 1.8 million civil
servants. Private contractors have grown increasingly reluctant to
participate in the competitions, which federal employees have won 83
percent of the time. The program fell short of the president’s goals in
scope and in cost savings. Between 2003 and 2006, agencies completed
competitions for fewer than 50,000 jobs, a fraction of what Bush
envisioned. Washington Post
Texas’ privatizing quagmire – opinion
Like that other military gambit, where we blew up a country and thought
a mobile and sleek fighting force could piece it together, Texas’s
privatizing experience has been a debacle. Or, as Thomas Ricks’
best-seller termed the Iraq incursion, a "Fiasco." In Austin, as in
Baghdad, it long has become clear that blowing things up and sending in
waves of contractors doesn’t exactly work. Waco Tribune Herald
Budget crunch has Atlanta considering privatization
Facing a projected $140 million budget shortfall driven in part by
escalating pension costs, the Atlanta City Council may be ready to take
a serious look at putting some services in private hands. Advocates for
privatization cite big savings state and local governments are
achieving by outsourcing services from billing to utilities to some
aspects of public safety. "Privatization will have to be looked at
because of the increasingly high cost of maintaining employees during
and after employment," said Howard Shook, chairman of the council’s
Finance Committee. Atlanta Business Journal
Dogs of war: Cost-effective: Myth or fact?
But whether it’s true that contractors are cost effective is at best an
open question, the answer to which depends, in part, on what you mean
by cost. While outsourcing can be effective, doing things in-house is
often easier and quicker. You avoid the expense and hassle of haggling,
and retain operational reliability and control, which is especially
important to the military. Then there is the fact that outsourcing
works best when there’s genuine competition among suppliers. But while
there may be hundreds of private security contractors in Iraq, not all
of them are created equal. For really big contracts, like the U.S.
State Department’s Worldwide Personal Protective Services Contract,
shared by Blackwater, DynCorp and Triple Canopy, there are not that
many alternatives. That is one reason the State Department was
reluctant to fire Blackwater after last September’s shootings in
Baghdad by Blackwater contractors. UPI
FL: State could start privatizing Alligator Alley next week
If the state moves forward with a proposal to lease Alligator Alley to
a private firm, South Floridians will be able to add private investors
to that list. Construction, engineering and investment firms converged
Thursday for an “industry forum” hosted by the Florida Department of
Transportation to discuss the past, present and future of Alligator
Alley. The 78-mile stretch of Interstate 75, named for a one-time slur
against the highway, is currently a toll road owned by the state. A
possible plan to lease it to private investors would allow for a 50- to
75-year contract, with tolls to be regulated in the agreement, though
FDOT projections call for an increase. In one projection, tolls could
rise to as much as $10 within 10 years. Naples Daily News
S. Dakota private schools defy trend
As South Dakota private schools struggle to keep tuition down and
enrollment up, President Bush on Thursday renewed his call for
religious-school vouchers to turn around poor student performance in
public schools. Argus Leader (Sioux Falls)
MA: Rockland study favors town-run ambulances
A study group has found that it would be too expensive and inefficient
for the town to privatize its ambulance service. Privatization was
proposed last summer, as selectmen hoped it could help save money. A
switch to privatization would also have an effect on the level of
service and Rockland’s mutual aid pacts with neighboring towns,
Henderson said. In the final report, the group also will recommend that
the town increase its billing rates, and conduct yearly reviews of the
program. Enterprise News (Brockton)

Posted in

April 24, 2008

NYC: Judge blocks overhaul of park
TN: Private security cracking down on panhandling in Memphis
IN: Riot costs add up for New Castle prison
WY: State juvenile facilities draw ACLU’s attention
CA: Savings from privatized state lottery at a cost
States explore privatizing roads
NH: Private firms could provide kindergarten
MI: Southfield schools to privatize services
NM: Army cancels White Sands privatization study

News Summaries
NYC: Judge blocks overhaul of park
A state judge has temporarily blocked the Parks and Recreation
Department from continuing its $21 million overhaul of the north end of
Union Square Park. The project, which includes installing a new
restaurant in the park’s pavilion, has been opposed by various
neighborhood groups, which say the establishment of a privately owned
restaurant would be an illegal use of public parkland. “The temporary
restraining order is a small but important step in the right
direction,” said Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, whose district
borders Union Square. “They are taking away a piece of the park. You
wouldn’t use the park for a bookstore or a shoe shop, and you shouldn’t
use it for a restaurant.” The New York Times
TN: Private security cracking down on panhandling in Memphis
Many people say employing private security guards to patrol parts of
downtown has stopped many aggressive panhandlers. The guards carry stun
batons. They say, so far, no one has been stunned. Eyewitness News (Memphis)
IN: Riot costs add up for New Castle prison
A riot one year ago at the New Castle Correctional Facility cost a
private prison contractor more than $1.1 million in police protection,
repairs and improvements. And though that’s a bullet dodged by
taxpayers, they’re not out of the woods yet. What remains to be
calculated is the cost of ongoing legal proceedings in Henry County,
where 28 inmates are charged with dozens of felony and misdemeanor
crimes. Seven of the men have pleaded guilty and their cases now are
complete, but 21 others are pursuing jury trials, and they could rack
up significant costs for taxpayers. Already, taxpayers are paying for
the defendants’ attorneys, depositions, and in at least two cases,
private investigators, according to court files. The Star Press (Muncie)
WY: State juvenile facilities draw ACLU’s attention
The American Civil Liberties Union said it is concerned about
conditions in Wyoming’s two privately run juvenile detention centers
and would like to hear from youth who have spent time in the jails. Billings Gazette
CA: Savings from privatized state lottery at a cost
Hoping to improve on the returns, the Schwarzenegger administration
last year suggested the state could generate as much as $37 billion in
one-time money in exchange for letting a private investor run the
business for 40 years. The governor suggested some of the cash could be
used to close persisting deficits while the rest could be saved for a
"rainy day" account. Dickerson said private investors would likely want
to loosen the rules so they could offer bigger jackpots and create new
games. Currently, the lottery is hamstrung by the constitution from
using new technologies, such as video lottery terminals that look like
slot machines and feature instant payouts. It is also banned from
using casino themes such as roulette or blackjack. California is
currently among a number of states — Texas, Indiana, Massachusetts and
New Jersey — considering at least some privatization of their
lotteries. Sacramento Bee
States explore privatizing roads
The most talked-about piece of real estate in Pennsylvania at the
moment isn’t a pricey vacation home or high-rise office building. It’s
a stretch of road. The Pennsylvania Turnpike is for sale. State
officials there are hoping to sell the road in a move that could
generate billions of dollars for state, money that could be used to pay
for other road projects, according to news reports. The sale of the
turnpike is one of the more dramatic examples of a recent trend in many
states, including West Virginia. The construction and maintenance of
roads, once considered the sole domain of government, is increasingly
being turned over to private businesses, either through selling road
systems or, more commonly, through entering into public-private
partnerships with businesses that put up the money to build new roads,
taking the burden off taxpayers. The State Journal (WV)
NH: Private firms could provide kindergarten
The 12 New Hampshire school districts that don’t have public
kindergarten soon may get more leeway under the law that makes
kindergarten mandatory. A new proposal would allow those districts to
contract with private providers, rather than offer the service in
public schools. The Union Leader (Manchester)

MI: Southfield schools to privatize services
Southfield Public Schools has voted to privatize bus and janitorial
services. The move comes despite offers from unions on concessions. ClickOnDetroit
NM: Army cancels White Sands privatization study
Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation say the Pentagon has
decided to cancel a study on whether to privatize some jobs at White
Sands Missile Range. The study would have looked at replacing civil
service employees at the southern New Mexico installation with a
private contractor’s workers. Members of the delegation had sent
letters to then-Army Secretary Francis Harvey when the study was first
announced in 2006. They argued that with many changes expected at White
Sands during the next few years, such a study would be unfair to
employees and a waste of taxpayer money. KOB.com (Southeast, NM)

Posted in

April 23, 2008

Fingerprinting rankles travel companies
More states consider tolls amid budget deficits
IN: Gov candidate rejects privatization
IN: Residents angry at welfare meeting
NYC: Naming rights for park rink

News Summaries
Fingerprinting rankles travel companies
Airline and cruise ship companies will be required to fingerprint
foreign nationals leaving the United States under a controversial
Department of Homeland Security proposal released Tuesday. Tuesday’s
proposal delegates the fingerprinting job to the airlines and cruise
lines, which would be required to submit the prints and travel
information to the U.S. government within 24 hours. The proposal
sparked immediate opposition by the airlines and privacy groups.Both
groups said the government was "outsourcing" security, and the airlines
raised the specter that the change would lead to long lines at airport
counters. CNN
More states consider tolls amid budget deficits
A growing number of states are looking to freeways as potential revenue
sources to help offset budget deficits and pay for highway repair and
maintenance. Lawmakers here are weighing tolls for Interstates 78 and
80, two busy highways that slice across the state from Pennsylvania to
New York City. The idea was raised as an alternative to Gov. Jon S.
Corzine’s widely panned proposal to increase tolls on the New Jersey
Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway. "It’s not
the silver bullet that solves all our problems, but it’s one way to
bring some money into a system that needs it," said Democratic
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, chairman of the transportation committee.
Washington Post

IN: Gov candidate rejects privatization
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jill Long Thompson fired up a crowd
of union steelworkers Tuesday with pledges to reject the privatization
policies advanced by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels."It’s time to end
the Bush-Daniels era in Indiana," Long Thompson told
a crowd of about 50 at the United Steelworkers Local 1010 hall in East
Chicago. "I think it’s time to privatize Mitch Daniels.""It’s time to
end the Bush-Daniels era in Indiana," Long Thompson told a crowd of
about 50 at the United Steelworkers Local 1010 hall in East Chicago. "I
think it’s time to privatize Mitch Daniels." Daniels, a former federal
budget director for President George W. Bush, touts the $3.8 billion he
secured for state highway construction by leasing the Indiana Toll Road
to a Spanish-Australian consortium in 2006. Northwest Indiana Times (Munster)
IN: Residents angry at welfare meeting
Charles Baxter is running out of time. The 51-year-old Anderson man
says his liver is failing, and each day, he wakes wondering if it will
be his last. Baxter, a U.S. Army veteran, says his life is at risk
because of the privatization of Indiana’s welfare system. I applied for
Medicaid last May and haven’t heard a thing yet.” Baxter and others
attended a meeting at the UAW Local 663 Union Hall in Anderson to
discuss a growing opinion that the Family and Social Services
Administration’s recent modernization of the welfare system is hurting
Hoosiers. The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, IN)
NYC: Naming rights for park rink
An ambitious redesign of a winter (and summer) wonderland planned for
Prospect Park could add $25 million to its cost, park officials
acknowledged Tuesday. The so-called Lakeside Center, which already has
received $22.5 million from Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Marty Markowitz
and the City Council, is seeking $2 million more from each while also eying private
donations, Thomas said. Naming rights for the rinks also will inject cash into the
increasingly expensive Prospect Park project, which would begin construction in
2010 and open by 2011, Thomas said. Daily News (Brooklyn)

Posted in

April 22, 2008

New look at privatizing California lottery
Toll roads, higher gas taxes predicted
FL: State looks to lease Alligator Alley – editorial
The unmaking of the market
NJ: School board rethinks privatized custodians
Texas Gov says tolls worth fighting for
MI: Some names just won’t sell
Miss. Gov signs private jail bill
Stadium names are about money
MI: Another school may privatize custodians
Texas moves to ease food stamp backlog

News Summaries
New look at privatizing California lottery
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and some lawmakers are newly interested in a
push to privatize the state lottery as one of the least painful
possibilities for addressing the state’s financial troubles. But it’s
become clear that in order to make the business enticing to private
investors, voters would have to agree to authorize bigger jackpots and
allow games that are currently banned. Sacramento Bee
Toll roads, higher gas taxes predicted
When it comes to the big picture, two ranking members of the U.S. House
Transportation Committee, one Republican and the other Democrat, were
on the same page in separate speeches Monday. Building toll roads and
leasing some to private corporations will be needed to keep traffic
moving on the nation’s highways, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas,
and Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., told more than 1,000 people at the Texas
Transportation Forum. Toll roads and privatization are at least part of
the answer, said Johnson, who’s been working with a handful of members
of Congress from Texas since last year to come up with a bipartisan
list of recommendations. "We cannot see how it can be done with just
tax dollars," she said. San Antonio Express-News
FL: State looks to lease Alligator Alley – editorial
Lawmakers may promise limits on any dramatic increases, but the
language in pending transportation bills before the Florida Legislature
says something else. HB 1399 provides a loophole big enough to
accommodate an 18-wheeler: "Toll rates may be increased beyond these
limits as directed by bond documents, covenants, or governing body
authorization or pursuant to department administrative rule." The fact
that state transportation officials were quick to rush down this road
toward privatization is regrettable. The scenario begs the question of
whether it’s simply better for the state to raise tolls and keep the
highways managed in the public domain. BOTTOM LINE: Privatization is
the wrong road for Florida’s toll roads. Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale)
The unmaking of the market
Once upon a time, we had a healthy and robust government — public
structures to look out for the public good. From roads to water systems
to schools to emergency management, we used our shared tax dollars to
pay for our shared needs. Then, around the 1980s, corporations looking
for the next business opportunity figured that attacking government
could open up a whole new industry, making money off the things that
make America work. Sanitation, transportation, healthcare — we took
good public programs and turned them over to private profit. The idea
was that business would do it better. But the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina, with private contractors filling the role of the once robust
Federal Emergency Management Agency, proved a stark illustration of
Milton Friedman’s point: Left to its own devices, the market will put
profit ahead of everything, even human life. HuffingtonPost
NJ: School board rethinks privatized custodians
The Cherry Hill school board will consider an administrative
recommendation to provide all custodial services in-house rather than
continue to contract with private companies when it meets this evening.
In a controversial cost-cutting move, the district privatized custodial
services in 1998. At first, some of the new workers tested positive for
drugs, and shortly thereafter one custodian confessed to stealing
electronic equipment. Another worker was accused of inappropriately
touching a female high school student. Parents complained that the
schools were not clean and that the workers could not speak English.
The original contractor, Control Building Services, was replaced in
2000. Courier Post (Camden)
Texas Gov says tolls worth fighting for
Urging the state’s transportation advocates to "be willing to get a
bloody nose for a good idea," Gov. Rick Perry said today that he’s
ready to fight for his transportation reforms — including partnerships
with private toll road builders — even if it means another bruising
session of the Legislature. "The Legislature must understand that no is
not a solution," Gov. Perry said in a speech at the annual TxDOT
Transportation Forum. "It is an abdication of responsibility."
The Dallas Morning News

MI: Some names just won’t sell
Ed McNamara won’t be joining the ranks of the Jacobs brothers anytime
soon. The late former Wayne County executive, instrumental enough in
affairs at Detroit Metropolitan Airport to get a portion of it named
for him, will remain the namesake of the midfield terminal at the
airport, whose governing body is selling naming rights to a new
terminal. The Wayne County Airport Authority board on March 19 awarded
a 10-year contract to Rochester-based General Sports and Entertainment
L.L.C. to handle naming rights, sponsorships and related marketing for
Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s new north terminal, a $450 million,
824,000-square-foot facility scheduled to open in the fall to replace
the Smith and Berry terminals. Everyone involved insists McNamara’s
name will stay put on the six-year-old midfield terminal. There is recent
precedent for stripping venues of names in favor of a corporate identity
and a big payday. Crain’s Detroit Business
Miss. Gov signs private jail bill
Gov. Haley Barbour has signed into law a bill that gives a privately
owned jail in Natchez the authority to house federal and state inmates.
The correctional facility is located on more than 140 acres in
southwest Mississippi near Natchez. It is owned and operated by
Corrections Corporation of America. Hattiesburg American
Stadium names are about money
A story in this newspaper last week quoted a University of Oregon
business professor as saying the market is getting saturated. So many
companies have paid for the rights to so many stadiums that there
aren’t many companies left — nor does a name bring the bang it once
did. That’s particularly true for a minor league stadium, which doesn’t
get a lot of TV exposure outside its own city. In 1991, only five teams
in the nation played in stadiums with corporate-sponsored names. Today,
a majority do. Desert News (Salt Lake City)
MI: Another school may privatize custodians
Another local school is talking about privatizing its custodial staff.
The people of Potterville rallied around those custodians ahead of a
school board meeting to talk about the idea. Six to eight jobs are at
stake, but a school board member says going private could save the
district about $70,000 in the first year and up to $120,000 in five
years. WLNS (Lansing)
Texas moves to ease food stamp backlog
The state, to relieve overworked eligibility screeners, will suspend
for the rest of the year interviews its workers usually have to conduct
with food stamp recipients every six months, officials said Monday.
Nutrition policy expert Celia Hagert of the Center for Public Policy
Priorities, which advocates for low-income Texans, applauded the
state’s move. "They found a solution that works for everybody," Ms.
Hagert said. The state has been scrambling to rebuild its
eligibility-screening workforce and improve performance at four
privately run call centers after the disastrous 2006 launch of a partly
privatized system of social program signups. The Dallas Morning News

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April 21, 2008

Senate subcommittee downplays public-private partnerships
TX: Tollway agency approves deal on Highway 161
CO: Public heard in Greeley – no privatization
Mich.weighs privatizing prison jobs
NY widens pension probe
Milwaukee outsourcing of inmate transport rejected
Century-old navy prison ripe for development

News Summaries
Senate subcommittee downplays public-private partnerships
A Senate subcommittee on transportation discussed the need for an
increased federal investment in infrastructure during a hearing
Wednesday, April 16, downplaying the current administration’s call for
more public-private partnerships and tolling. One panelist who
testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure said U.S.
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters’ push for more PPPs and tolling is
disheartening. “Those comments have been suggesting that this is a
choice between public-private partnerships and the status quo and that
there’s somehow not anything in between,” testified Edward Wytkind,
president of transportation trades development for the AFL-CIO. Land Line
TX: Tollway agency approves deal on Highway 161
The North Texas Tollway Authority on Sunday unanimously approved a deal
with the Texas Department of Transportation that sets the value of the
State Highway 161 toll road at about $1.1 billion. The vote ratifies a
compromise reached Friday after leaders from both agencies met behind
closed doors with key legislators to end a stalemate that had
threatened to stall or even cancel plans to build the approximately
10-mile toll road in western Dallas County. Construction contracts for
the road already have been awarded, and work is expected to begin
Monday. The Dallas Morning News
CO: Public heard in Greeley – no privatization
The idea of researching privatization of some services has been given
much attention, and the public discussion about this suggestion has
shown that citizen input is important to us and that we’re willing to
listen. On April 1, we hosted a room full of residents who spoke their
minds regarding the question of privatization. That was preceded by
many calls and e-mails from residents asking that we reconsider that
approach. As a result, council members and staff are no longer
considering privatizing services, but they will be asking the
appropriate boards and commissions to find efficiencies and possible
revenue enhancements to help us balance the budget with community
priorities. — The Greeley City Council: Mayor Ed Clark and council
members Charles Archibeque, Don Feldhaus, Carrol Martin, Ed Phillipsen,
Maria Secrest and Pam Shaddock. The Tribune (Greeley)
Mich.weighs privatizing prison jobs
A proposal to privatize part of the Department of Corrections has
cleared the Senate, but is stirring controversy and leading some
lawmakers to urge caution.Lawmakers are under pressure to reduce the
cost of the department, one of the state’s largest expenses. Prisons
alone account for 20 percent of the state’s budget. Todd Tennis, a
lobbyist for the Michigan State Employees Association, a union, said
privatization isn’t a cure-all for the department’s spending problems,
and some lawmakers are jumping to the conclusion that it would save
money. MLive.com
NY widens pension probe
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Friday he is subpoenaing all 37 of
the state’s BOCES organizations for information on whether they
registered private lawyers in the state’s public pension system.
Times Union
Milwaukee outsourcing of inmate transport rejected
Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. does not have the
authority to hire a private firm to transport inmates, Milwaukee County
Circuit Judge Charles Kahn has ruled. Clarke proposed hiring TransCor
America, a Nashville, Tenn., firm, to transport prisoners, saying it
would free 15 deputies to do more intensive law enforcement work. The
plan also would save taxpayers $325,000 a year, he said. The County
Board’s Finance Committee rejected the plan, saying it hadn’t been well
thought out and should have been included in the annual county budget.
Clarke said he would work to build support for the idea, after it
failed in October. The Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association
filed a lawsuit trying to nip the plan in the bud. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Century-old navy prison ripe for development
What do you do with a more than century-old prison that sits on the
scenic shore of a New England Navy shipyard? That’s a question that the
U.S. Navy is hoping some creative developer will be able to answer
under an innovative program called Enhanced Use Lease that allows
service branches in the Department of Defense to monetize underused
assets without surrendering proceeds to the general treasury. The site
is at the southern end of Seavey Island at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in
Kittery, Maine, 50 miles north of Boston. The Navy is looking for a
developer to find the best market value for the prison and to operate
under a 50-year lease. While the idea of converting a remote,
antiquated prison into a money-maker might sound daunting, the military
has already scored some victories in even more challenging scenarios.
The Bond Buyer

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April 18, 2008

Lease of Florida highway sought
CA: Public works bill rejected
CA: Legal help for poor called inadequate
The Wrigley Field conflict
Pittsburgh to privatize tow pound
MI: Talks of outsourcing heat up school meeting
IN: Gov. wants state to pay for college tuition

News Summaries
Lease of Florida highway sought
Seeking to help spark the state’s lagging economy, a powerful senator
is proposing the lease of South Florida’s Alligator Alley to a
state-run endowment fund. Senate Majority Leader Dan Webster, R-Winter
Garden, said the idea would bolster a state health care program’s
investment return and generate much needed money for roads. Under
Webster’s plan, the Lawton Chiles Endowment health care program would
spend an estimated $500-million to acquire the 78-mile toll road that
cuts across the Everglades from Fort Lauderdale to Naples. St. Petersburg Times
CA: Public works bill rejected
Cities and counties won’t have a special state office to provide
information on how to work with private investors on water,
transportation or other projects, ending an effort by Assemblywoman
Anna Caballero, D-Salinas. Lawmakers this week rejected Caballero’s
Assembly Bill 1756, which would have created the Office of Local
Public-Private Partnerships. An existing state law allows such joint
ventures, but Caballero said few have been tried, especially by smaller
communities that don’t have the staff and expertise to negotiate deals
to design, finance, build and maintain multi-million-dollar projects.
Her bill was intended to provide help for such efforts, but it was
opposed by public employee unions, which argued that enough information
is already available and that public-private ventures don’t deliver
quality work or protect public. The Californian
CA: Legal help for poor called inadequate
A statewide commission reported Thursday that many California counties
have cut their spending for impoverished criminal defendants by
providing them lawyers whose representation fails to meet
constitutional standards. Counties are increasingly hiring legal firms
that offer cut-rate representation by failing to spend money on
investigators or experts that are needed for adequate defense, said the
report issued by the California Commission on the Fair Administration
of Justice, created to examine ways to guard against wrongful
convictions. "This is like a cancer within the system of providing
indigent defense, and it’s spreading," said Gerald Uelmen, executive
director of the so-called Fair Commission, calling the spread of
low-bid, flat-fee private firms "a race to the bottom." The Mercury News
The Wrigley Field conflict
Should the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority buy Wrigley Field from
Tribune Co., the owner of this newspaper? Like most other Illinoisans
with a pulse, we have thoughts on that issue. As an editorial board,
we’ve been seeking a way to delve into the mix of components at play:
private ownership of a sports franchise, public ownership of a stadium,
the complex pluses and minuses for Illinois taxpayers, the desires of
Chicago Cubs fans to keep their team in perpetuity at 1060 W. Addison
St. We want what’s best for the people of Chicago and of Illinois. We
want what’s best for the Cubs and their fans everywhere. We also want
what’s best for Tribune Co. That self-interest diminishes whatever
credibility we would bring to this important discussion. So we must
recuse ourselves. Chicago Tribune
Pittsburgh to privatize tow pound
The city of Pittsburgh plans to privatize the city’s vehicle pound in
the Strip District.The city submitted requests for proposals today.
City officials hope the prospective buyer will move the tow pound out
of the city, allowing for riverfront development. KDKA (Pittsburgh)
MI: Talks of outsourcing heat up school meeting
Emotions ran high at Hillside Middle School on Monday night when the
Northville Public Schools Board of Education held a study session to
begin looking at the benefits and challenges of privatizing some of the
district’s support services. The school board reviewed a rough overview
of bids from five custodial vendors and one transportation vendor. The
board is still awaiting bids from food service vendors. Consultants
Rahmberg Stover and Associates and Plante & Moran were hired last
May to help determine if the district could save money by outsourcing
these three support services departments. HometownLife.com (Michigan)
IN: Governor wants state to pay for college tuition
Gov. Mitch Daniels wants the state to help bankroll the first two years
of college for Hoosier families struggling to pay tuition. The governor
doesn’t know how the state will pay for the plan, which he said would
provide $6,000, the equivalent of two years of tuition at Ivy Tech
Community College. Daniels offered one possible funding option: his
controversial proposal to privatize the state lottery. Leasing the
lottery, Daniels has said, would generate $1 billion to $2 billion to
be used for education. A lottery privatization plan died last year in
the Democrat-controlled Indiana House, but Daniels, a Republican, has
said he intends to bring back the issue. "I still think it would be a
good idea to liberate trapped value from the Hoosier Lottery and
reinvest it in education in this state," Daniels said in December. "I
do expect to make a proposal about that. It will probably look a little
different — it will look different — than the one we tried last
year." The Indianapolis Star

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April 17, 2008

Texas: Authority gets green light to build $1.2B toll project
PA: Rendell says bids nearing on pike lease
GA: DOT adviser says drop toll road proposals
Chicago group sues over public park
The sound of failure
MI: Northville schools assess privatization
TX: No privatization of school bus fleet planned
AZ: Board’s advice to county: Privatize home health care

News Summaries
Texas: Authority gets green light to build $1.2B toll project
The North Texas Tollway Authority is still on track to build the $1.2
billion State Highway 161 after the Regional Transportation Council
accepted the NTTA’s "last and final offer" for valuing the toll road
project. By a narrow vote of 16 to 13 Tuesday, the RTC, a
transportation planning consortium of governments in the North Texas
region, signaled its preference for the NTTA’s offer over private
bidders for the project. However, authority will not make a final
decision on whether to build SH 161 until June at the earliest,
chairman Paul Wageman said. The NTTA must first get assurances from the
rating agencies that taking on the additional debt will not prompt
another downgrade. The RTC’s recommendation now goes to the Texas
Transportation Commission, which supervises the Texas Department of
Transportation. TxDOT typically follows the recommendations of the TTC.
Setting a market value for toll projects is required under a new law,
SB 792, passed by the Legislature last year. If the NTTA and TxDOT
cannot agree on the market value, TxDOT can seek bidders from the
private sector. Jose Lopez, president of the North American division of
Spanish developer Cintra Concesiones Infraestructura de Transporte,
told the RTC his company would value the project at $1.7 billion.
The Bond Buyer
PA: Rendell says bids nearing on pike lease
By the end of April, Gov. Ed Rendell will announce the highest bid for
the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and he hopes the Legislature will vote by
mid-June to lease the toll road to a private operator. He has a good
chance of getting the votes of legislators whose districts lie along
the Interstate 80 corridor, because the turnpike leasing proposal would
scrap the state’s plan, approved in July, to impose first-time tolls on
I-80. But he’ll face some opposition from members of his own Democratic
Party. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
GA: DOT adviser says drop toll road proposals
The multibillion-dollar project to build toll lanes along I-75 and
I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties is unlikely to be financially
feasible as proposed by the private consortium Georgia Transportation
Partners, and it should be dropped, the state Department of
Transportation’s financial adviser told the DOT board Wednesday. Very
little private investment was included in the plan, but hundreds of
millions of dollars would be invested by the state. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Chicago group sues over public park
The fight over a soccer field under construction in Lincoln Park moved
to the courts Wednesday, as a residents group filed a lawsuit hoping to
put a stop to construction. The $2 million field, which is being funded
in part by the private Latin School in exchange for priority use of the
property, has become a source of rancorous debate in the North Side
neighborhood. Some residents said the project was approved without
proper public hearings. They also are upset that a public meadow will
be replaced with an artificial-turf field. In exchange for paying for
the field to be built, the Latin School will have exclusive use of the
field for about 25 percent of the time it is open. In February, Park
District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said the arrangement
reflects a public/private partnership that benefits the
neighborhood.Critics charge that the school has reserved the field for
its peak times, including weekday afternoons and weekends. Chicago Sun Times
The sound of failure
When Homer Simpson fouls up he makes this wonderful sound: D’oh! As he
repeats the mistake, repeatedly, he makes the sound again, and again
and again. All of the above makes me wonder what sound politicians, and
long-suffering IRS officials, make when the rediscover this fact of
life: Hiring outside debt collectors to replace IRS agents may not be
the way to go. Apparently it is not cost-effective nor soothing to the
taxpayers. Mike Causey’s Federal Report
MI: Northville schools assess privatization
Anxiety among Northville Public Schools workers is increasing this week
as administrators begin evaluating a long-debated plan to privatize
operations and maintenance services. Board of Education members on
Monday began reviewing bids to outsource custodial and transportation
work and say proposals to contract food service operations are in the
works. Officials expect savings to range from $400,000 to $1 million.
Currently, about $7 million is budgeted annually for salaries, benefits
and supplies in the three departments. The Detroit News
TX: No privatization of school bus fleet planned
Contrary to recent rumors, Tyler ISD Superintendent Dr. Randy Reid said
the school district is not planning to privatize its transportation
department. The district, however, did allow a private transportation
company that approached it to look at whether it could save the
district money. "We were approached by a private transportation
provider who just came in and talked to us about the idea. They’d
talked to other districts in East Texas about it and basically wanted
to know if we would be interested in having them give us just a review
of our transportation services and whether privatization would be
something that could even provide a savings to the district," Reid
said. Tyler Morning Telegraph
AZ: Board’s advice to county: Privatize home health care
The Pima County Board of Health voted Wednesday to recommend transitioning
the Pima Health System’s home health program to 21 private Tucson companies.
The program helps disabled and homebound clients with nonmedical needs,
such as getting out of bed, bathing and light housekeeping. Board member
Carolyn Trowbridge, said the 275 people who showed up – clients, care
workers and family members of clients – made a good case against privatization.
The supervisors decided in December to hold public hearings on the issue, which
would affect about 350 clients and 350 to 375 part-time workers. The majority
of people who showed up at the meetings asked that the program be left as it is.
Clients expressed concern that they would not get the same level of care from the
companies as they now receive. Tucson Citizen

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