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