September 28, 2012


Romney pledges to privatize foreign aid. Mitt Romney pledged Tuesday to shift foreign aid toward the private sector and deprioritize humanitarian aid in favor of promoting free enterprise and business development around the world. In remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative, Romney laid out his most detailed proposals on foreign aid thus far, including his plan to move foreign aid to rely more on public-private partnerships that enlist American corporations to the cause of helping the developing world. Foreign Policy (blog)

What is ‘The United States of ALEC?’ Most people have no idea what ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, is or does, but everyone should. This week, Bill Moyers is helping get the word out with a detailed look at it on PBS stations.  ALEC calls itself a “nonpartisan public-private partnership,” but this is a case of false identity. What it actually is is an organization that writes “model legislation” on a variety of topics that its membership of conservative legislators use in state after state to make new laws that promote privatization in every part of American life: education, health care, the environment, voting rights, etc.  The Washington Post

Private Prisons: Immigration Convictions In Record Numbers Fueling Corporate Profits. This spring, a group of inmates at a privately operated federal prison in Mississippi — most of them undocumented immigrants from Mexico — rose up against their guards, setting fires, taking hostages and ultimately killing one correctional officer. The riot, the latest in a string of uprisings at low-security private prisons housing undocumented immigrants, came after complaints from prisoners about “substandard food, medical conditions and disrespectful staff members,” according to a federal court affidavit filed by the FBI. The inmates incarcerated in the Mississippi prison and more than a dozen private facilities across the country are not awaiting deportation in the immigrant detention system. Instead, many are serving prison time for the crime of crossing the border, a federal offense that prosecutors are filing in record numbers as part of a government crackdown on illegal immigration.

Highway Toll Hikes Inflate Prices, Slow Recovery. As the gap between federal highway improvements and state transportation needs continues to widen, some states are quietly jacking up tolls to finance repairs, light rail projects and bridge maintenance. This tactic by the states in response to a virtual freeze on federal gasoline tax revenues and the recent five percent reduction in federal transportation funds for the coming fiscal year is having a significant impact on commerce – especially the trucking industry – and could prove to be another drag on the economy as average Americans get hit with higher fees. The Fiscal Times

The Life and Death of Schools…Ravitch sees a terrible confluence of forces at play among the reformers: policymakers who know nothing about public education, allied with organizations that expressly want to see it dismantled. She said, “There’s a tremendous push for privatization, and privatization does not bring about equity.” It’s not just charters and vouchers: The “Reform” movement is now promoting “parent trigger” bills, which – using test scores as the unexamined standards – would allow parents to take over neighborhood schools and turn them straight over to charter school companies. Unsurprisingly, right-wing bill machine the American Legislative Exchange Council has been pushing such trigger legislation in multiple states. Then there are establishment Republicans, like former Florida governor and educational businessman Jeb Bush, who are shilling hard to expand for-profit, “virtual” schools – even though many have been abject failures. The Austin Chronicle

CA: Plan to Privatize LA Zoo Stopped. The plan to privatize operations of the Los Angeles Zoo has collapsed, officials with the non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association announced Thursday. Negotiations between the zoo association and the city broke off Sept. 21 over the amount of autonomy a private non-profit operator would have in running the zoo….But in recent months, the biggest stumbling block has proven to be over control of zoo operations.  In a letter to City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana released Thursday, the zoo association said that it broke off negotiations because existing city policies and regulations made it too difficult for a private operator to function. Los Angeles Business Journal

PA: Allentown council hears concerns about water, sewer privatization … Opponents of the lease held a news conference before the meeting, holding signs that read “water is a right not a commodity.” Later they packed council chambers, groaning loudly during the presentation and applauding anti-privatization speakers. Guridy stopped the meeting on several occasions to quiet the crowd. Al Wurth, who spoke on behalf of the Sierra Club before the meeting, said the lease will be a burden to taxpayers, regardless of whether it will raise income for the city. A private water and sewer operator will raise rates to compensate for the city’s asking price, he said. “There is no income or advantage to the citizens of Allentown,” Wurth said. Seth Gladstone of Food and Water Watch called the plan “taxing through the tap.” Morning Call

NE: Colleges experience mixed results in health center outsourcing. With the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s move to privatize the University Health Center, UNL would become the only Big Ten Conference school with an outsourced health center. Outsourcing student health centers has, historically, been a big hit or a big miss at other colleges, according to several collegiate health officials. Daily Nebraskan

OH: ODRC: No More Privatizing Ohio Prisons. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) on Tuesday said it will not seek further privatization of state prisons. The announcement was made less than a week after CityBeat published an in-depth story detailing the various problems posed by privatizing prisons. Cincinnati CityBeat