June 2, 2008

Trend towards water privatization
PA: Turnpike lease: read the fine print – opinion
Ill. Senate ok’s lottery privatization
MD: New rules revisit an old debate
FL: Public cool to plan to privatize toll road
CA: Republican reps. want toll road extended
WI: Security firm raided for writing phony parking tickets
NY: Fancy restaurant in NYC’s union square?
SC: Councils might lose power over private sewage plants

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News Summaries
Trend towards water privatization
A privatization trend has swept the water utility industry recently as
more municipalities – which control the majority of the nation’s water
suppliers – mull selling off assets for an infusion of cash. Already
American Water serves more than 1,600 communities throughout 20 states.
CNN Money
PA: Turnpike lease: read the fine print – opinion
The proposed contract to privatize the Pennsylvania Turnpike is
available on the Internet, but most people won’t read one word of the
686-page document. Not only is its length intimidating, but it begins
with 21 pages of specialized definitions, such as "compensation event,"
cross-referenced to other parts of the contract. Might as well post a
Keep Out sign. But average people can — and must — understand this
document and its potential impact on life in Pennsylvania for the next
75 years. It is about far more than leasing the turnpike and paying
higher tolls to generate billions of dollars for road repairs. When
"compensation events" happen, money can flow the other way — from the
taxpayers to the turnpike contractor. But even more important, leasing
the turnpike could restructure Pennsylvania government. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ill. Senate ok’s lottery privatization
The Illinois Senate has approved a major gambling expansion that would
include a casino in downtown Chicago. The expansion would help pay for
a major construction program to build new roads, bridges and schools.
The Senate also approved another part of the construction program —
privatizing the state lottery. Chicago Tribune
MD: New rules revisit an old debate
New federal transportation rules scheduled to stop the Maryland Transit
Administration’s $10 bus rides to and from park-and-ride lots to
Orioles games starting tomorrow are based on a philosophical argument
made nationally by private bus companies that they should not have to
compete for special-event business with publicly subsidized buses.
According to state transportation officials, tougher enforcement of
national rules by the Federal Transit Administration would force
limitations on the services public transit agencies can offer if the
services compete with private firms. It would be enforced with
financial penalties for those who violate the rules. In Maryland, that
means no more $10 express service to Orioles or Ravens games or to next
year’s Preakness, though regularly scheduled transit routes would be
unaffected. Baltimore Sun
FL: Public cool to plan to privatize toll road
The Florida Department of Transportation is looking for a private
company to lease the 78-mile section of I-75 that connects Southwest
and Southeast Florida.The private company would operate and maintain
the road for 50 years or more. The state would still own it. The
bidding process is still in the early stages, but residents in Collier
and Broward counties are not enamored with the idea. Miami Herald
CA: Republican reps. want toll road extended
U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is one of eight congressmen who asked the
U.S. Secretary of Commerce to overrule the California Coastal
Commission’s rejection of an extension of the 241 toll road through San
Onofre State Beach. Huntington Beach Independent
WI: Security firm raided for writing phony parking tickets
Police raided the office of a local security firm and the home of its
owner on Wednesday after a number of people reported they received
official-looking parking tickets that weren’t issued by police. In
search warrants filed Thursday in Dane County Circuit Court, DeForest
Police Sgt. Jim Pertzborn wrote that people were confused by the $25
and $50 parking tickets issued by Metropolitan Private Police and left
on cars in business and residential parking lots. The Wisconsin State Journal
NY: Fancy restaurant in NYC’s union square?
Save Union Square 2008, a group of concerned New York residents, has
taken up the fight to stop privatization of a historic portion of
Manhattan’s Union Square. Last Wed., they began holding weekly events
to raise opposition to plans by the city and private interests to
convert the historic Pavilion at the north end of Union Square from a
children’s indoor playground and community space into a private,
upscale restaurant. The Village Voice
SC: Councils might lose power over private sewage plants
The Legislature is considering a bill that would strip regional
councils of governments of their authority to prohibit privately owned
sewage treatment plants. The legislation could clear a path toward
developing rural areas with no sewer lines, like Awendaw and parts of
Johns Island. Opponents say amendment violates Clean Water Act.
The Post and Courier
Three quarters of the U.S. intelligence budget now goes to outside
contractors. As investigative reporter Tim Shorrock notes in this
valuable (and angry) book, Spies for Hire, contractors have long had
the run of the Pentagon and CIA, working hand in hand on projects
ranging from reconnaissance satellites to Predator drones. But Shorrock
persuasively shows that the business has changed dramatically in recent
years, beginning even before the Sept. 11 attacks set off a homeland
security gold rush. Washington Post