June 10, 2008

FL: DOT names 8 candidates for toll lease
FL: Toll roads – editorial
TN: Possibility of toll roads in state
CA: Town overthrows corporate giant for control of water
MI: Comstock school custodians to lose jobs in privatization
MI: Alma may privatize custodial service
MI: State’s bid to buy Wrigley strikes out
A bridge too far
Inherently governmental functions

[click on ‘continued reading’ link for articles]

News Summaries
FL: DOT names 8 candidates for toll lease
The Florida Department of Transportation last week released the names
of eight firms interested in the state’s first-ever lease of an
existing toll road. Leasing of the 78-mile toll road known as Alligator
Alley in South Florida is being considered primarily as a way to raise
cash when state revenue collections are down and there’s a backlog of
transportation needs. Funds from the lease must be spent on such
projects in Broward and Collier counties, which Alligator Alley
crosses. However, the leasing idea is getting considerable opposition
from drivers. Protestors carrying placards picketed several locations
in South Florida late last week attempting to get the attention of
elected officials visiting the region. Gov. Charlie Crist has
encouraged FDOT to use public-private partnerships to speed up some
transportation projects, and he has indicated he supports leasing the
Alley. The Bond Buyer ($)
FL: Toll roads – editorial
DOT officials say they need extra revenues to pay for other highway
projects, including widening both Interstate 75 and Interstate 95. They
say raising taxes isn’t politically feasible to fill the funding gap.
That much is understandable. But before any leases are cut, Floridians
need to see details, a lot of them. Principally, by how much would
tolls rise? Alligator Alley, like other Florida highways, is a lifeline
for the state, both for residents moving around and for businesses
trucking commerce. A precipitous rise in toll costs could hurt tourism,
and lead to increased costs for consumers. Sun Sentinel
TN: Possibility of toll roads in state
The State of Tennessee wants to raise some cash to fund road
construction, but with gas prices soaring, it’s unlikely lawmakers will
attempt to raise the state gas tax. The Tennessee Department of
Transportation (TDOT) has been given approval to study two projects;
one a bridge, the other a road. EyeWitnessNews
CA: Town overthrows corporate giant for control of water
Felton’s victory should inspire other communities suffering from the
effects of privatization to take back their water systems. Bay Area Indymedia
MI: Comstock school custodians to lose jobs in privatization
Nineteen custodians in Comstock Public Schools will soon be out of work
after the school district’s board voted Monday to privatize custodial
services. Officials say contracting with Grand Rapids Building Services
Inc. to perform custodial work next year is expected to save the
district $430,000. “They want to privatize our jobs and bring in
people for $8.50 an hour instead,” Valerie Hurley, lead custodian at
Green Meadow Elementary School, said as co-workers picketed and
she stood in front of the Comstock Education Service Center, handing
out fliers titled “Do You Want Strangers in School With Your Children?”
“They called us `the school family’ here until it cost more money to
keep that `family’ together,” said the 53-year-old Hurley, who has
been with the district for 23 years. MILive.com
MI: Alma may privatize custodial service
In a cost-saving effort, Alma school officials are exploring
privatizing custodial services. The district is looking at a budget deficit
of $176,000 this year and a shortfall of more than $400,000 in 2008-09.
The move would eliminate 19 custodial jobs, which doesn’t sit well with
members of the Alma Education Support Personnel Association. MILive.com
MI: State’s bid to buy Wrigley strikes out
Former Gov. Jim Thompson struck out Monday in his efforts to have the
state buy and renovate Wrigley Field without raising taxes. Thompson
finally acknowledged what the Sun-Times has reported for weeks: that
the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority’s creative financing plan relied on
the untested concept of "equity seat rights" and that the Tribune Co.
would not go along with it. The state would have raised money to acquire
Wrigley by issuing "taxable bonds" and by selling "associated
naming rights" that would not change the name Wrigley Field.
The Chicago Sun-Times

A bridge too far
The only thing worse than naming big places after politicians is naming
them after the writers of big checks. (I give a pass to Carnegie Hall,
but not Avery Fisher. Philharmonic is as apt and beautiful a word as
Idlewild.) Check that: even worse is naming them after corporations.
New York is not a more poetic city because the Selwyn Theatre, on
Forty-second Street, is now the American Airlines Theatre—though I
admit that, offhand, I’m not sure I could think of an alternative way
to pay for its refurbishment. The New Yorker
Inherently governmental functions
Has the government reached a “tipping point” regarding an overreliance
on contractors. The Public Manager