June 13, 2008

JP Morgan to lend up to $2.5B for toll roads
FL: Italian firm eyes highway project
NY: Taxpayers to front new Yankees stadium?
MS: DOT seeks private partners for parkway
NY: Question mark looms over 3 expensive projects
LA: Worse than Katrina?
NY: NYC pavilion protest
MA: Schools pays for food provider’s losses
MI: Contract averts privatization

[click on ‘continued reading’ link for articles

News summaries
JP Morgan to lend up to $2.5B for toll roads
A growing interest by the private financial sector in transportation
projects has spread to Central Texas and may be part of the long-term
answer to funding toll roads. As cash-strapped federal and state
agencies increasingly relinquish funding and control over transportation
projects across the country, private capital is stepping in. MSNBC
FL: Italian firm eyes highway project
Italian highway operator Atlantia is interested in the privatization of
a highway in the U.S. state of Florida and has submitted a request to
determine eligibility for the project, a company source said on Wednesday.
"Atlantia is among the participants that have presented a request for pre-qualification,"
the source said, referring to the "Alligator Alley" highway project. Reuters
NY: Taxpayers front new Yankees stadium?
Yankees making ‘informal inquiries’ to get $400M more in public
financing for new Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have informally
approached New York City officials seeking increased public financing
to build their new stadium, the president of the city economic
development corporation said last night. State Assemb. Richard Brodsky
(D-Westchester), whose committee investigates publicly funded projects,
told The Associated Press that the Yankees now say that if they don’t
get another $400 million in public financing the stadium might not
reach completion. The $1.3 billion stadium is scheduled to open next
year across from the current stadium. Newsday
MS: DOT seeks private partners for parkway
The Mississippi Department of Transportation is seeking prospective
concessionaires to enter into the state’s first public-private
partnership to build a new toll road estimated to cost as much as $500
million. The concession, to be for 50 years, is expected to fully fund
and accelerate construction of the Airport Parkway project, which has
been under consideration for many years. No state funding will be
available other than $32 million the state DOT already has spent on
design and some right of way acquisition. The Bond Buyer ($)
NY: Question mark looms over 3 expensive projects
More than two years ago, the Bloomberg administration came up with an
aggressively creative way to use tax-exempt bonds to finance two of the
most expensive stadiums in the world, one for the Yankees in the Bronx
and another for the Mets in Queens. The IRS initially approved the use
of the bonds for the ballparks, but quickly issued a proposal in 2006
to tighten the rules governing the use of tax-exempt bonds so that it
would be more difficult, and perhaps impossible, for this kind of
financing to be used again by profitable, private enterprises like
professional sports teams. The New York Times
LA: Worse than Katrina?
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is on a path to finish the job Hurricane
Katrina started, destroying the public infrastructure that served,
however imperfectly, poor and working-class New Orleans residents. With
Jindal’s blessing, the majority of New Orleans schoolchildren are now
lab rats in a massive conservative experiment in private and charter
school education. More than half of the 79 public schools that have
been reopened since the hurricane — there were 128 schools before
Katrina struck — are now charter schools. On top of that are the 63
private and parochial schools operating in the parish, which Jindal
wants to support through a $10 million voucher plan. In an article on
New Orleans charter schools in The Washington Post this week, Leigh
Dingerson, education team leader for the Center for Community Change in
the District, called the result "a flea market of entrepreneurial
opportunism that is dismantling the institution of public education in
New Orleans." Campaign for America’s Future
NY: NYC pavilion protest
Members of the tongue-in-cheek troupe Billionaires for Bush wore
tuxedos and evening gowns and held signs reading, “Privatize the Park”
and “More Cars Less Park.” This display of performance art calling
attention to the purported privatization of Union Square Park space
opened with the anti-consumerist activist Reverend Billy acting as
master of ceremonies. The Villager
MA: Schools pays for food provider’s losses
An audit by an outside company shows the Haverhill schools paid their
private food service provider $200,000 this year to cover the company’s
financial losses caused by increased food and utility costs. The Eagle Tribune
MI: Contract averts privatization
Privatizing noninstructional services has been averted now that a
three-year contract has been approved between the Manchester Community
Schools Board of Education and the Manchester Educational Support
Personnel Association. The Ann Arbor News