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.