June 9, 2008

IN: Legislators offered free ride
NV: Gov’s skewed priorities – editorial
PA: Leasing turnpike; take next exit – editorial
MA: Time to cross that bridge?
GA: Mayor pushing garbage privatization
NJ: S. Orange looking to outsource crossing guards
Senate votes to privatize its failing restaurants
Pundits wanted

[click on ‘continued reading’ link for articles]

News Summaries
IN: Legislators offered free ride
Only days after cash tolls nearly doubled on the Indiana Toll Road, the
private company that manages the road had a money-saving offer for
state lawmakers: a free ride. Most legislators said no thanks. Indianapolis Star
NV: Gov’s skewed priorities – editorial
In an effort to pare funding for state services even more, Gov. Jim
Gibbons says he is considering hiring a private company to administer
part or maybe all of Nevada’s mental health services. The whole notion
of privatizing the state’s mental health system is a terrible one that
Gibbons has been pushing since last year. Private companies are in
business to make a profit, and it would be naive to think a corporation
would provide the necessary resources for mental health services if
that meant cutting the company’s bottom line. A similar experiment with
the state women’s prison a few years ago was a stunning failure because
the company was unable to provide adequate medical care, among other
things. The bottom line is that state government should not be
outsourcing its responsibility to provide vital services to its
residents. Las Vegas Sun
PA: Leasing turnpike; take next exit – editorial
While the governor deserves high praise for pursuing a long-term
solution to fixing the state’s crumbling roads and bridges while
supporting mass transit, he’s offering too rosy a traffic report on the
turnpike deal. Better for Pennsylvania would be the far less drastic
plan to add tolls to I-80 – with discounts carved out for local users
of that highway. State officials will get more mileage out of that
plan, while steering clear of the turnpike lease hazards. The biggest
problem with handing over the already well-maintained turnpike to a
private vendor is that the state’s financial return may be a good deal
less than advertised. The Philadelphia Inquirer
MA: Time to cross that bridge?
One Boston watchdog says privatizing the city’s bridges should be back
on the table. In a 1993 report, the Boston Municipal Research Bureau
recommended that the city put the drawbridge operation out to bid,
targeting the division as one area the city could save money. Boston Herald
GA: Mayor pushing garbage privatization
It’s not unusual for local governments to privatize garbage collection,
as Mayor Robert Reichert wants for Macon. A 1999 state survey conducted
by the Georgia Municipal Association indicates that of 301 cities
responding, 141 had privatized residential garbage collection. It was
the municipal service that was outsourced most frequently. Macon.com
NJ: S. Orange looking to outsource crossing guards
Three times a day, beginning at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m., Joan
Valent is at her post at Scotland Road and Raymond Avenue in South
Orange, making sure school children get safely across the street. But
come September, she and the other 24 guards in town may not have jobs.
Village officials are considering privatizing the positions that pay a
maximum of about $20 an hour and less than $15,000 a year. "They want
to get rid of the crossing guards and outsource our jobs to a private
company," Valent said. "They (village trustees) didn’t tell us. And
they didn’t have the decency to tell the parents." The Star-Ledger (Newark)
Senate votes to privatize its failing restaurants
Last week, in a late-night voice vote, the Senate agreed to privatize
the operation of its food service, a decision that would, for the first
time, put it under the control of a contractor and all but guarantee
lower wages and benefits for the outfit’s new hires. Washington Post
Pundits wanted
I have a bit of a problem with making all roads toll roads or, even
worse, privatizing them anyway. The events of the last century have
gone something like this. Empowered by the automobile those with the
wherewithal have moved ever farther from city centers. That means that
either they must commute to their work or they must move their work to
their homes in the suburbs. If they elect to do the latter their servants,
employees, and contractors must commute to them. Increasing the costs
for the servants, employees, and contractors will make life harder for them
without changing the behavior of those who’ve moved out to the far
‘burbs much. The Glittering Eye