August 31, 2012


Predatory Privatization. People for the American Way released a report looking at how, in many states who have recently seen budget crises and the rising influence of anti-government ideology among elected officials, the push to privatize public services and assets “often reduces the quality of services, burdens taxpayers and threatens democratic government.” Stories of destructive predatory privatization noted in the report include those of the selling of public parking meter revenues, privatizing prisons, privatizing public education, and even turning over toll roads to private corporations.  People for the American Way

GOP platform seeks privatization of airport security. The platform says Transportation Security Administration “procedures — and much of its personnel — need to be changed. It is now a massive bureaucracy of 65,000 employees who seem to be accountable to no one for the way they treat travelers. We call for the private sector to take over airport screening wherever feasible and look toward the development of security systems that can replace the personal violation of frisking.”  Washington Post

TX: On New Toll Road, Texans May Get to Drive 85. A speed limit of 85 mph would give the consortium led by Spanish-based toll road firm Cintra another carrot to use to draw paying drivers to its new road, generating more revenue, of which TxDOT collects a share… David Snyder with the American Insurance Association has argued that an 85 mph speed limit will not only be dangerous but expensive too.  “As the accidents pile up on 85-mph roads, so too will insurance claims,” Snyder wrote in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial last year. “That will lead to increased insurance costs.” Even Bobby LaBonte, a NASCAR driver and native Texan, told CNN last year that he wouldn’t drive 85 off the track. “We’re not trying to set speed records on the highway,” LaBonte said.  Texas Tribune

IN: Privatizing the Hoosier Lottery: Illinois has some words of warning. When Illinois took management of its lottery private last year, the company it selected promised $825 million in profit for the state.  It fell at least $55 million short, according to the company’s initial estimates. Now, GTECH Corp., the majority partner in that company, wants to run the Hoosier Lottery…Illinois’ experience with Northstar, a partnership composed of GTECH and Scientific Gaming, has been mixed. Although the company has significantly boosted lottery revenues, it did not come through on the $825 million in profit it promised the state in its first year. The performance raises questions about the path Indiana is taking in its efforts to outsource its lottery management, said Michael Jones, superintendent of the Illinois lottery. “Illinois is not something to emulate,” he said. “It’s something to learn from.” Indianapolis Star

FL: Unions get setback in Florida privatization fight. A public employee union is mulling its options after a judge refused to reopen a lawsuit challenging Florida’s plan to privatize prison health care.  A spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said on Thursday it not yet decided what to do. AFSME and the Florida Nurses Association had challenged a budget provision calling for the privatization. The nursing group did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll refused the rule last month because the budget provision expired July 1. The Department of Corrections, meanwhile, is proceeding with the privatization, contending it has other legal authority to outsource health services.  CBS News


August 30, 2012


Head to Head: Should U.S. privatize human flights to the moon – and beyond? THE ISSUE: Astronaut Neil Armstrong, 82, died Saturday. His “giant leap for mankind” on July 20, 1969, ensures his place in history as the first of only 12 men ever to walk the surface of the moon. But Armstrong’s death raises the question of whether we will ever send astronauts to Mars, or even repeat the feat of landing on the moon.  Should U.S. privatize human flights to the moon – and beyond?  Sacramento Bee

PA: Allentown council hears people pan, praise water privatization…Those against the water lease decried the inevitable rise of water bills due to privatization. Those for the lease bemoaned the financial crisis around the corner when pension payments become more than the city can endure. Former Councilman Lou Hershman asked council to not kick the can down the road like prior councils and administrations have done, but also cautioned against making a rash decision. Pawlowski has said he needs council’s approval next month to meet a deadline to finalize a deal by December. The city has had interest from nine entities looking to lease the water system.  The Morning Call

GA: Atlanta parking – opinion. Once again, the city of Atlanta’s decision to privatize parking enforcement is in the news. This time, everything from the reliability of parking meters and the accuracy of signage to the ethics of ticket writing has been questioned. In July 2009, the Atlanta City Council authorized the department of public works to enter into a contract with Milwaukee-based Duncan Solutions to enforce the city’s parking code. Between July and September that year, an agreement was worked out without council input. The agreement gave sweeping authority to Duncan Solutions to increase the number of metered spaces in the city and locate them where they pleased as long as the city received $5.5 million dollars annually.  Atlanta Journal Constitution

CA: City releases proposals for police outsourcing… City Council decided not to pursue outsourcing police services after meeting in a closed session meeting earlier this month. The meeting was held with a consultant engaged to review police outsourcing in the community. Proposals from both the County of San Mateo Sheriff’s Office and the city of South San Francisco were reviewed… Jim Ewert, general counsel of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, and Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware, said the decision to hear that matter in closed session was not appropriate. ” San Jose Mercury News


August 29, 2012


FL: Judge Affirms Dismissal of Unions’ Prison Privatization Suit. Judge Kevin Carroll of the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court of Florida on Monday dismissed without prejudice a motion by the Florida Nurses Association and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to rehear their suit on plans by the state Department of Corrections to privatize prison health services. Carroll did not rule on the merits of the suit, he simply reaffirmed the suit’s previous dismissal, but left the door open for the unions to file a new suit.  Sunshine State News

TX: TxDOT maintenance privatization not coming to Basin. After a pilot project in Harris County to privatize traditional maintenance saved $10 million on maintenance, TxDOT officials have now planned toexpand the program to perform routine maintenance on parts of Interstate 35 between Dallas and San Antonio…The program won’t be coming to Midland/Odessa any time soon, Powell said, because there’s simply not as much routine maintenance to be done as in the larger urban areas.  “Rural areas like Odessa, we already privatize some things like mowing and we have litter contracts,” he said. “If it works and we can expand the program, then it eventually could come out here.” Odessa American

NY: Who teaches in NYC charter schools? The teachers are younger than district teachers, but not right out of college.  They typically have six years of experience, less than district teachers. Their salaries are comparable to those of public school teachers. They mostly have smaller classes than those in the district schools. The students are less likely to include ELLs and special-ed than the district schools. The charters do not have the same kids as the district schools. The test scores vary. Bottom line: These schools do NOT prove that money and poverty don’t matter.  Diane Ravich

GOP targets size, cost of federal workforce. The platform also calls for “the adjustment of pay scales and benefits to reflect those of the private sector.” Presidential nominee Mitt Romney argues that federal employees are overcompensated by 30 percent to 40 percent on average, reflecting the conclusions of a study by the conservative Heritage Foundation… The platform also includes several other long-running GOP proposals regarding the federal workforce: restructuring pay to better reward “those who dare to innovate, reduce overhead, optimize processes, and expedite paperwork”; tighter enforcement of student loan and tax obligations by employees; and privatizing airport screening “wherever feasible.”   Washington Post



August 28, 2012


TX: Toll road foes try, and fail, to stop plan at monthly meeting. Toll road opponents tried again Monday at a regional transit meeting to nullify a plan that would expand Loop 1604 and U.S. 281 while also incorporating toll lanes into the projects. The effort, at the monthly meeting of the San Antonio Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization, ultimately failed. All 15 board members of the MPO who were present… voted in favor of incorporating the project…But Adkisson’s arguments were in line with those made Monday by Terri Hall, founder of the anti-toll road group Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom and a close Adkisson ally… But Hall’s complaints go far beyond procedural measures: She wants this plan, which includes toll lanes, to be scrapped in favor of one that adds expressways on U.S. 281 without any tolls… After the board vote, Hall said litigation is not out of the question: A lawyer for her organization TURF sent the MPO a letter last month threatening to seek an injunction if the board didn’t void the June 25 action. San Antono Express-News


OH: Residents speak out about leasing turnpike. About 100 people packed into a Maumee town hall meeting tonight to get the latest update and share their opinions on the ongoing debate over privatizing the Ohio Turnpike. Those who spoke out against the highway’s privatization drew heavy applause at the meeting, which was attended by U.S Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), an outspoken opponent of leasing the turnpike who also spoke at the meeting. “It’s safe. It’s well-maintained. I always know it’s going to be plowed,” said Karen Rothman, 60, a Perrysburg librarian, an audience member who spoke during the meeting. “I don’t think we should sell it [the turnpike] off, because it will not be maintained.” Tonight’s meeting was about the 80th public forum held statewide since April, 2011, as officials wait the results of a $3.4 million state study to weigh options for the turnpike’s ownership.  Toledo Blade


LA: Former LSU hospital chief knew and said too much…Cerise joined a growing list of administrators who have been fired after not following the party line drawn by Gov. Bobby Jindal… Cerise issued this statement Friday: “I was notified yesterday by Dr. William Jenkins that I will no longer lead the LSU Health System.”…Cerise repeatedly defended a hospital system the governor says needs modernizing, a.k.a. privatizing.  The Advertiser


NC: Environment group says it will sue to stop Garden Parkway. On the heels of a successful lawsuit that has stopped construction of a Union County toll road, an environmental group said it will file a new federal lawsuit Tuesday to thwart another planned toll project – the Garden Parkway in Gaston County. Charlotte Observer


IN: Indiana University Could Follow Ohio State’s Lead on Parking Privatization…Indiana University is about two weeks away from issuing a request for proposals for a 30 to 50-year lease for parking spaces at the school’s Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses: Essentially, IU Bloomington would sell its parking facilities to a private company to get a one-time cash infusion. Then, for however long the lease lasts, the university would make annual lease payments to the same private company for use of the parking spaces.  NPROhio


VA: Virginia should take back the Dulles Toll Road – opinion… “Cheaper” is an understatement. The Commonwealth of Virginia wanted out of its obligation to fund 25 percent of Dulles Rail (about $875 million), so it gave the toll road and the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project to MWAA. The problem is that MWAA is an unelected, unaccountable body that has no incentive to operate efficiently. Now, instead of toll road users getting clipped for $875 million, MWAA intends to demand about $3.5 billion from them.  Washington Examiner


Draft Republican platform: Cut 10% of workforce, privatize TSA. The Republican Party platform calls for cutting the federal workforce by at least 10 percent, overhauling federal pay and benefits, and privatizing airport screening and possibly some U.S. Postal Service operations, according to a draft version posted online. Federal Times


Tax the Rich or Privatize the State? The Great Recession and its possible continuance has brought the issue of privatization to the forefront of American politics. But most Americans aren’t even aware that this debate is happening, because the media and politicians aren’t using the word “privatization;” instead less threatening substitutes are used to ram through a corporate agenda that aims to massively transform public resources into corporate profit. The mass privatization frenzy is the corporate solution to the budget crises occurring on the city, state, and national level — crises caused by the recession that the banks and corporations created themselves, and are now positioning themselves to benefit from again, beyond the infamous bailouts.  Counterpunch




August 24, 2012



IL: Chicago to privatize some homeless transport services. Chicago will privatize overnight transport services for the homeless and use the $1.7 million savings to reduce “youth homelessness”.  Now, the city is getting out of the “human services mobile outreach” business that includes overnight transport, well-being checks and delivery of food boxes. The job will be done by Catholic Charities, which has promised to do it cheaper.  Chicago Sun Times

CA: Berkeley private donations make it happen…Berkeley’s reliance on private funding to maintain its excellence raises the question of how public the campus really is, and echoes the chants of student protesters who point to “privatization” as the consequence of California’s disinvestment in public education. The state contributed slightly more than half of the campus budget back when Ronald Reagan was president in 1982, university officials said. When Birgeneau arrived in 2004, the state paid 28 percent, or $500 million. Today it’s $250 million, and 11 percent of the budget.  San Francisco Chronicle

“Failing Schools” Narrative a Tactic to Privatize Public Education and Destroy Unions…The philosophy underpinning both sides on education comes from a similar place – the idea that America is slipping behind the rest of the world on education, and that drastic measures must be taken to reverse that trend. Usually these drastic measures fall directly on the heads of teachers and more specifically their unions. There’s one problem with this scenario – the premise is wrong. An excellent article at Mother Jones takes issue with the idea that American education is all about “failing schools” and lower standards and backsliding on teaching our young people. In fact, Kristina Rizga takes a look at one so-called failing school and finds that, actually, it’s doing pretty well.  Democratic Underground

For-Profit College Group Fights To Keep Students In Dark On Debt. For-profit college representatives are fighting in federal court for the right to avoid telling students if they are likely to afford their debts after attending school.  In a court filing last week, a key industry trade group pushed back against the Department of Education’s attempts to make for-profit colleges disclose statistics that would indicate whether students are likely to take on huge debts they cannot repay. Preliminary data released by the department earlier this year indicates that many of the for-profit programs would be cast in a negative light by making the disclosures, which would reveal that students are shouldering massive debt burdens and are often unable to repay student loans.  Huffington Post






August 23, 2012


Survey shows public wants federal services.  A majority of Americans would rather see higher taxes on the wealthy before cuts are made to public services such as food safety and border security, according to a survey released Monday by a major federal employee union. “Some political rhetoric would have you believe that Americans today have an ‘austerity at any cost’ view of the federal budget,” Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a statement. “The fact is that most Americans, when asked about specific services, believe the government should invest more in providing such services.”  Washington Post

NY: Preschool Special Ed Trade Group Calls for More State Audits and Penalties.  Confronting reports of skyrocketing costs and outright fraud in New York State’s preschool special education system, a group of companies that provide services to children with disabilities is calling for mandatory new audits, clearer regulations and a strict code of conduct with tough penalties for violators. New York Times

CA: Will California Privatize Its Parks? Historic China Camp Marks Radical Change.…China Camp is in the middle of its most significant transition since it was purchased by the state in 1976, for its historic preservation. This month, the State of California transferred operational responsibility for the park to a nonprofit organization. The rangers’ pay, maintenance costs and even liability insurance will no longer be covered by the state The change amounts to a radically different model for the future of California’s park system. Cuts outlined in Gov. Jerry Brown’s May 2011, budget proposal, threatened to close 70 state parks. Since then China Camp has become one of 42 parks the state is keeping open through local arrangements. New America Media

VA: State releases proposals on port privatization.An effort to privatize Virginia’s ports attracted two major international firms, according to information released by the state Wednesday. Northern Virginia Daily

PA: Concerns over school choice advocate taking charge of Chester’s struggling schools.  IT MIGHT HAVE once seemed unthinkable: Handing the keys to a large, troubled public-school district over to a high-profile advocate for increasing privatization, including vouchers and for-profit private schools. But activists said that last Friday’s surprise announcement that Gov. Corbett had named the Rev. Joe Watkins – an MSNBC pundit who headed the Students First PAC, the pro-voucher group that’s dumped millions of campaign dollars on Corbett and other pols – as chief recovery officer to run the Chester Upland schools in Delaware County marks a tipping point. They said the choice proves that the Corbett administration is accelerating its push to privatize education in Pennsylvania and benefit charter schools like the Chester Community Charter School – managed by the governor’s largest single donor, Vahan Gureghian – at the expense of traditional public schools that are losing dollars, teachers and students.  Philadelphia Daily News

OH: Ohio Turnpike director favors using toll revenues for projects beyond the toll road.  The Ohio Turnpike director says he supports using the toll road’s revenues to pay for sorely needed transportation projects, mainly in northern Ohio. Richard Hodges’ backing of using tolls elsewhere is highly unusual and controversial – the turnpike is prevented, by law, from financing projects one mile beyond its borders. But legislators can change that law, to take advantage of the turnpike’s solid financial footing, Hodges said…. But Hodges’ comments alarm turnpike supporters, many of whom say the toll road is well-managed and should be left alone. “It’s outrageous the turnpike should fund anything but the turnpike,” said Gary Suhadolnik, a former turnpike director and, like Hodges, a one-time Republican lawmaker. “Rick Hodges has to say those things. He was put there by the Kasich administration.”  The Plain Dealer

FL: Florida’s prison privatization gamble – column.  While the community sleeps, Correction Corporation of America and its counterparts are steadily building private, profit-producing prisons. So do not be fooled by the temporary setback that occurred when the ACLU and the prison guards union forced the ultra-conservative for-profit advocates in Tallahassee to return to the drawing board. In July, the courts ruled that legislators could not privatize 29 state prisons to add to the seven already being managed for profit. However, with such a windfall profit potential, profiteers are not about to give up. They know that there is more than one way to skin a cat.  Take a trip along Route 41 leading to the Everglades and make the first left just beyond the Miccosukee casino. A ways back in those woods you will see a new construction. It is a private prison — not built by the state. It is the initial investment of a corporation but it is designed to incarcerate state prisoners. The South Florida Times

August 22, 2012


NY: NYC Controller criticizes Mayor for considering privatizing parking meters.  City Controller John Liu predicts parking rates would rise “all because of the mayor’s belief that private firms do a better job than city workers.”… The city hasn’t said whether it will sign a contract with a private company to run its 90,000 meters, acknowledging only that it is exploring a more cost-effective system. Labor officials say privatization could cost 200 union jobs.  New York Daily News

NJ: N.J. may privatize parts of state lottery operation. New Jersey wants to outsource some of the functions of its state lottery. The state is requesting proposals from private companies to manage the lottery sales, marketing and development of its games… Analysts are concerned that the state would have to share lottery revenue with a private operator. That’s the down side to outsourcing some lottery operations, says Patricia McQueen, a gambling industry analyst. “No private company is going to come in if they can’t make money at it. So you’re basically sharing whatever profits the lottery is generating with somebody else,” she said. “Yes, you’re getting money up front. But then you’re obviously giving up some over the years because obviously those companies want to make money.”  Newsworks

PA: Pa. ethics panel investigating three Liquor Control officials. The state Ethics Commission has launched an inquiry into allegations that three top officials at the Liquor Control Board accepted gifts and favors last year from vendors and other businesses with an interest in liquor regulation.  Ethics Commission officials have interviewed at least five employees of the LCB, most of them in the last week, about the allegations contained in a confidential report completed in March by the Inspector General’s Office and forwarded to Corbett administration officials. Philadelphia Inquirer

PA: Charter schools drain much needed funds – opinion.  Charter schools drain precious resources from our already cash-strapped public schools, which increases the cost of educating those who remain at traditional district-run schools. Moreover, studies show that nearly half of Pennsylvania charter-school students perform significantly worse than students at district-run public schools. But school privatization is big business, and some of the big businesses behind it in our state are also contributors to Corbett. Not-for-profit charter schools are often controlled by for-profit companies, which charge large management fees that come out of the public’s pocket.

Proposal to privatize Social Security rears its ugly head again. Despite two major stock market crashes since 2000, the idea of privatizing Social Security is creeping back into public debate via the presidential campaign. Los Angeles Times

School vouchers make a comeback amid concerns about quality. Across the country, vouchers have resurged in a big way over the last two years—both as a form of school choice and a political lightning rod. Republican governors in Louisiana, Indiana, New Jersey and other states have championed them as a solution to the challenges besetting public education. More recently, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney joined the chorus, saying he hopes to turn an eight-year-old voucher program in Washington, D.C. into a “national showcase.” …Much of the debate over vouchers centers on whether they should exist at all (partly because the term is so combustible, many politicians have opted for the milder term “scholarship” to describe new programs). But in states like Louisiana and Wisconsin, where vouchers are already a fait accompli, policymakers are just as divided over how much government regulation participating private schools should face.   NBC News


School Choice Is the Tip of a Titanic Iceberg. Privatizing Social Security, regressive tax plans, reduced regulation, smaller government, systematic attacks on labor unions, reduced support of public secondary and post-secondary education — all of these things are intended to move from America’s historic social contract to bare knuckles individualism. Though the Romney/Ryan Randian lens, collectivism is weakness — nanny state, welfare dependence, affirmative action, wealth redistribution — that throttles the great engine of prosperity, which is driven by noble individual effort and pure merit. For several hundred years our nation has refined an elegant balance between the promise of individual opportunity and our obligation to one another.  Huffington Post


August 21, 2012


NY: Goldman Sachs Looks to Turn a Profit on Program to Fight Recidivism. Earlier this month, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the first-ever “social impact bond” in the United States. The bond, between the city of New York and investment giant Goldman Sachs, will finance a behavioral treatment program for incarcerated adolescents on Rikers Island. Unlike a traditional revenue bond, a social impact bond will pay a dividend only if the target outcomes are met—in this case, that the recidivism rate among the youth treated falls by 10 percent. If it does even better, Goldman Sachs will turn a small profit—with the city footing the bill. The Nation

NE: Privatization fails: Nebraska tries again to reform child welfare.… Nebraska isn’t the only state to try privatizing its child welfare system. Florida and Kansas, to differing degrees, launched such efforts in the recent past. But the Nebraska experiment serves as a cautionary tale for any public system considering outsourcing, especially those dealing with the welfare of vulnerable people…Across the board, lawmakers, foster parents and child advocates now say Nebraska’s privatization effort failed because it was ill-conceived, rushed, and inadequately funded. They also say often the caseworkers hired by the private companies had caseloads that were too heavy and in many cases did not have enough training to deal with the complexities of the welfare system.  Center for Public Integrity

PA: Opinion: Allentown City Council should reject water, sewer lease plan.…Although Allentown’s main objective would be to obtain a large concession fee to meet the pension costs by leasing the right to our water and sewer systems, the idea that the fee is low-cost or free money is based on a misconception. Any upfront payment that the city would receive is an expensive loan that the community will have to repay through their water bills. For taxpayers, a water system lease merely shifts the burden from one biller (the city) to another (the private company), and the private operation tends to be more expensive than the public operation. According to Food & Water Watch, of the 10 largest known sales of municipal water or sewer systems to for-profit companies, water bills in these communities had nearly tripled on average after 11 years of private control.  The Morning Call

IN: Indiana Public Schools Wage Unusual Ad Campaign To Keep Students From Leaving For Private Schools In Voucher Program.  Struggling Indiana public school districts are buying billboard space, airing radio ads and even sending principals door-to-door in an unusual marketing campaign aimed at persuading parents not to move their children to private schools as the nation’s largest voucher program doubles in size. The promotional efforts are an attempt to prevent the kind of student exodus that administrators have long feared might result from allowing students to attend private school using public money. If a large number of families abandon local districts, millions of dollars could be drained from the state’s public education system…The Indiana voucher program, passed by the Legislature in 2011, is the biggest test yet of an idea sought for years by conservative Republicans, who say it offers families more choices and gives public schools greater incentive to improve. But school officials worry about the potential loss of thousands of students, especially those from the middle class, and the state money that comes with them.  Huffington Post

OR: Editorial: Privatizing ambulance faces major problems. It has been proposed that privatization of a portion of the local ambulance service be considered. The Community  Public Safety Advisory Committee has been presented such an option by the local air ambulance company. It is good that this proposal will spark a committee discussion of the state of ambulance service countywide, but privatization of ambulance service raises some serious questions for the committee and the public to address.  Herald and News

Democrats target Ryan on Social Security. Democrats are eagerly renewing their fight against privatizing Social Security now that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. It was a fight that did not go well for the GOP when President George W. Bush pushed the idea in 2005.  In his 2010 “Road Map for America’s Future,” Ryan proposed a plan to allow younger workers to divert more than one-third of their Social Security taxes into personal accounts that they would own and could will to their heirs.  Philadelphia Inquirer

Privatizing Public Schools. Private firms see the opportunity and are increasingly traversing into the public school system. Venture capital transactions in the K-12 sector skyrocketed to a record $389 million last year, from just $13 million in 2005, according to Reuters. The deals represent an effort to outsource items like math and special education to private firms. A number of districts, such as Philadelphia’s public schools, have also hired private consultants for advice on improving their systems. Yet the privatization trend is wrought with controversy. Firms see K-12 education as a profitable field, while educators are torn between whether the influx of equity will optimize learning or limit educational autonomy.  Huffington Post


August 20, 2012


CA: Ruling halting outsourcing in Costa Mesa is upheld.  An Orange County appellate panel has upheld a lower court’s ruling halting Costa Mesa officials from laying off city employees and outsourcing jobs to private companies. The decision announced Friday by the Fourth District Court of Appeals affirms a Superior Court ruling on a preliminary injunction in favor of the Costa Mesa City Employees’ Association. The union filed suit last year, arguing that the city’s plan to outsource municipal jobs violates state law and the union contract. In March 2011, the City Council majority approved the jobs plan in a drastic move to plug a $15 million budget hole.  Last June, Superior Court Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann issued the injunction blocking the city from outsourcing to the private sector. The city appealed that decision to the Fourth District Court.  Sacramento Bee

IN: Privatizing infrastructure, like Cline, brews a political battle.  If the response from local and state officials to the apparent resolution of the Cline Avenue Bridge quandary is any indication, the issue of replacing free roads and bridges with tolled infrastructure is likely to divide Hoosiers for years to come. Gov…. Mitch Daniels said toll bridges and toll roads are going to become a lot more common in Indiana and the United States in the future… Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, who is running to succeed Daniels in the governor’s office, shares Daniels’ positive opinion on using public-private partnerships to build new infrastructure…Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg said he is willing to discuss greater use of public-private partnerships, but said the Cline Avenue Bridge should have been immediately rebuilt as a free bridge. NWITimes

PA: Philadelphia to sell gas utility in 2 years. The city of Philadelphia said on Friday it could sell its public natural gas utility in two years now that it has hired nearly a dozen professional firms to work on the deal. The city has discussed privatizing the Philadelphia Gas Works – the largest municipally owned gas utility in the United States – for some time. The utility generated an estimated $805 million in revenue in fiscal 2012.  Reuters

NH: Pension Privatization Update: House Committee Scopes Out Firms. Today, a legislative committee investigating pension privatization issued a request for information from companies that manage retirement funds. After pension reform legislation failed to pass last term, House Speaker O’Brien requested that a committee convene over the summer to craft new legislation for next term. The committee will likely propose to move all new public employees to private, defined contribution plans — like a 401(k). ..The idea is to gradually move the state away from the public pension system which is currently facing a $4.2 billion dollar unfunded liability.   State Impact

NJ: Camden schools enlist private firm to supply substitute teachers. Board members this week approved a $1.2 million contract with Source 4 Teachers, a Cherry Hill-based firm that says it makes 4,000 substitutes available to more than 100 school districts. The firm also has two offices in Florida and a third in North Jersey… Al Driggins, who represents the city’s substitute-teachers union, suggested newcomers may lack the experience needed in local classrooms.  “WeA work in an urban environment,” Driggins said. “We have some children and conditions that make education very challenging. You have to as subs come in and be prepared for any situation that comes up.”  It takes time to hone and apply those skills, Driggins said. Courier-Post

Privatization Leading to a Shortage of Helium.  A shortage in helium is going to ruin some celebrations…not just parties either, but some age old traditions…. Nebraska’s 70-year tradition of releasing red balloons into the air after the first touchdown of every game has been put on hold and the reason, according to Purdue chemist Greg Michalski, boils down to privatization. Michalski says a government storage facility that was started in the 1920’s when blimps were strategically important, was closed down, but uses for helium continued. In the 1990’s the helium storage facility became a budget cut, and the helium sold off, driving prices down, and causing helium producers to end production because it wasn’t worth the expense.

August 17, 2012


PA: Convention Center moves toward privatized management‎. In a surprise move praised by leaders of the city’s hospitality industry and labor unions, the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority board has voted to investigate privatizing certain functions of the center. Philadelphia Inquirer

NJ: Editorial: Is privatization winning gamble? Gov. Chris Christie is playing the numbers, looking to hit it big by privatizing the New Jersey State Lottery… Good idea? It’s hard to say without a lot more information. Unfortunately, the state Lottery Division and Gov. Chris Christie haven’t been providing much of it. And the governor’s timetable for moving ahead with privatization is moving at a breakneck pace. The current timetable calls for handing over operations of the nation’s eighth-largest lottery as soon as March. What’s the hurry? The governor owes it to the people of New Jersey to adequately explain the move and answer questions about the process… If the lottery isn’t broken, why fix it? Presumably, under a privately managed lottery, players could see more games, reward programs, online play and additional places to buy tickets. But why couldn’t the state expand programs on its own?  Asbury Park Press

MO: Akin: Privatize student loans. Since a Republican primary debate in April, U.S. Senate hopeful Todd Akin has asserted federal involvement in student loans is the equivalent to the “stage three cancer of socialism.”.. “I don’t think the government should be in the student loan business,” Akin said. “Go back to where we were a couple years ago and let the private lenders do the student loans.”.. McCaskill, on the other hand, has touted her support of minimizing the private sector’s role by favoring direct lending from the federal government, essentially ending a private bank’s role in the process, PoliticMo

MO: Kansas City looks to outsource KCI buses. The move would eliminate city jobs for 58 drivers of the blue and red buses at the airport. It would also displace eight management employees, along with 18 vacant positions. Standard Parking said it will try to hire as many of those people as possible, although nothing is guaranteed. The Kansas City Star

OH: County commissioners oppose state’s plan to privatize highway rest stops. The Athens County Commissioners are crying foul over a plan to lease rest areas in Ohio, including two in Athens County. ..The commissioners not only criticized the plan itself for creating undue competition with local businesses, but the timing of the plan as well. “You have a public comment meeting on June 25, 2012, and are having a mandatory bidders meeting three days later,” the commissioners wrote June 26 to Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray. “Where is the time to react to and include public concerns?” …The commissioners also called into question a requirement of a $50,000 letter of credit for those responding to the request for proposals, matched with a July 20 submission time. They said that this doesn’t allow for adequate time for evaluation and submission by many people.  Athens News

TX: After violations, state rejects firm’s bid to expand foster care. Austin-based nonprofit Lutheran Social Services of the South has lost its bid to privatize foster care in South Texas, state officials say, because of a history of problems at its Laredo, Garland and Richardson operations….Staffers, among other things, have routinely failed to properly oversee foster homes, conduct background checks on families and protect youth from abuse and neglect, the letter said.