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