September 24, 2012


CA: LA’s pension reforms may jeopardize privatization plans. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s pension reform proposal released last week could put plans to privatize the Los Angeles Zoo and the Convention Center on hold. While the mayor and Council President Herb Wesson say they remain in support of moving ahead with both proposals, the plan to bring in a private manager for the Convention Center was delayed again last week. And the proposal to have the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association take over operation of the zoo has remained stuck in the city bureaucracy with no movement in sight.  Los Angeles Daily News

IN: Hoosier Lottery Privatization Up For Debate. The State Lottery Commission could choose a private vendor to run the Hoosier lottery at a public meeting Wednesday. In a statement, lottery executive director Karl Browning said the commission wanted to test the market to determine if a private company could maximize revenues for the lottery in ways the state couldn’t.  But Browning stressed that if the commission wasn’t satisfied with the bids, they could decide not to privatize at all.  Lottery officials declined to be interviewed prior to Wednesday’s meeting.  Indiana House Democrats have criticized the effort, charging that privatization of the lottery won’t be fiscally helpful in the long run and will lead to cuts in services and rising fees. Indiana Public Media

WA: Some winners, some losers in liquor sales privatization. The increasing cost of liquor has been one of the more obvious changes after June 1, when the state handed the reins of liquor sales to private companies as required by Initiative 1183. The average price paid for spirits was up 12.4 percent in July compared to the same month last year, said Mike Gowrylow, spokesman for the state Department of Revenue. What the state doesn’t know is if people decided to buy more expensive liquor. Bellingham Herald

TX: With 85 mph toll road coming, Central Texas town hopes for new business. Speed in the form of an 85 mph Texas 130 tollway extension opening as soon as next month. And the potential speed of development, fed mainly by the tollway, in a quiet county of 38,000 up to now mostly bypassed by the Central Texas population boom. Community leaders believe the four lanes of Texas 130 will spur growth — despite what is expected to be a charge of about 15 cents a mile to drive on it. The tollway, which will link Lockhart to Austin to the north and will provide a much faster route to San Antonio to the south, has drawn the attention of a handful of developers, but no dirt has turned yet.  The Statesman

TX: Efforts to stop hospital privatization continue. As GEO Care’s proposal to privatize Kerrville State Hospital reaches the final stages of review before being sent to the Legislative Budget Board, those who oppose the bill make efforts to convince the state agency’s commissioner to reject it first.  “I think it’s significant that there’s quite a large amount of opposition to what is happening,” Grassroots Leadership executive director Bob Libal said. Kerrville Daily Times

FL: 408 is ‘cash cow’ of toll system. In much the same way retailers depend on Christmas sales for survival and profits, most of the 105-mile toll road system surrounding Metro Orlando would not exist without the money generated by State Road 408… The 22-mile-long road, the second ever built by the agency, brings in 41 percent of the tolls, or more than $108 million during the 2011 fiscal year. About $158 million was collected on the remaining 83 miles of the system. Take the 408 out of the mix and there would not be enough tolls coming in to cover the debt the expressway incurred to build and maintain the system. And forget about adding new roads, such as the planned 25-mile, $1.66 billion Wekiva Parkway that would complete the beltway around Metro Orlando.  Orlando Sentinel

FL: Court Approves Detaining Motorists at Toll Booth. A family of drivers — Joel, Deborah and Robert Chandler — filed suit last year arguing they were effectively being held hostage by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the private contractor in charge of the state’s toll road, Faneuil, Inc….. The judges found it was reasonable for Fanueil to set regulations for use of the road — including the types of acceptable payment. The court decided that drivers implicitly agreed to those conditions by choosing to use the toll road. “The Chandlers have not alleged that they were forced to pay their tolls with large-denomination bills, thereby subjecting themselves to whatever delay was caused by completion of the Bill Detection Report,” the court ruled. “They chose to pay their toll with large-denomination bills. Nor have they alleged that they asked to withdraw the large report-triggering bill in favor of a smaller delay-free bill and were denied that opportunity.”

OR: Risks exist in the privatization of mental health care – opinion…A group home is essentially a small business with the proprietor’s income based on the number of clients in the beds. Losing a client because of his/her bad behavior reduces that income — and clients are difficult to replace. So there is an economic incentive to look the other way when rules or even laws are broken. Reporting every incident is bad for business. I am far from an expert on mental health care, but I hope the real experts are aware that the growing privatization of mental health care is not without risk.  OregonLive

The Yoking of Virtual Schools and Market-Based Reforms. If you love the promise and potential of online learning, but you aren’t a big fan of the privatization of American education, then you have a dilemma on your hands. In the years, ahead, the two phenomena are going to be ever more closely entwined. That said, if you love the promise and potential of online, and you love privatization, then you’re in luck, because the advocates of these two movements have yoked themselves together.  EdWeek