September 3, 2012


IL: Contract writing: The difference between successful privatization and a public held hostage. The city of Chicago has been dabbling in elements of so-called “privatization,” and with mixed results. There’s Rahm’s “managed competition” to help bring down garbage collection prices. There’s the Chicago skyway lease. There’s the possible future Midway sell off. There’s contracted out call centers. Most infamously, of course, there’s the parking meter deal. As the last example demonstrates, not all of the attempts have been successful. So what is the difference between successful privatization and a bad deal that holds the public hostage to private prerogative? Firstly, let’s call these activities what they are. Hiring a contractor for call centers is simply a way to get a better price. Public money is still paying for it, and only the execution has been privatized…. The difference between a good deal and a bad deal is the way the contract is written. Following below, we’ll deal with the three types of privatization mentioned above, and the difference between a good and a bad contract for each.  ChicagoNow

NY: School Choice Is No Cure-All, Harlem Finds…Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has made school choice a foundation of his education agenda, and since he took office in 2002, the city opened more than 500 new schools; closed, or is in the process of closing, more than 100 ailing ones; and created an environment in which more than 130 charter schools could flourish. No neighborhood has been as transformed by that agenda as Harlem….But in interviews in recent weeks, Harlem parents described two drastically different public school experiences, expressing frustration that, among other things, there were still a limited number of high-quality choices and that many schools continued to underperform.   The New York Times

NY: Privatizing highway work shortsighted – opinion …Three roles of government are to provide health, safety and welfare. A highway department is not a source of revenue, but a much needed service in Northern New York. To even suggest privatizing this very important service, should make everyone in the north county, not just Lewis County, concerned…Does any other county in the north country farm out its responsibility to a private firm? Not to my knowledge. Certainly cooperation among towns to contract with counties for municipal road care is a well-accepted practice. But the article also hinted at privatization. Watertown Daily Times

PA: Redding considers outsourcing REU’s customer service center…Outsourcing Redding Electric Utility’s customer service department to a call center in the Midwest would cut costs by half, say top Redding officials who on Tuesday will ask the City Council to vote on the proposal…. Two weeks ago, officials held off on presenting the plan to the council, in part because of push-back from numerous customer service representatives who voiced their concerns about the loss of more jobs in the region. The plan displaces seven workers. The move comes nearly a month after a former REU employee made accusations about corruption and bad deals.  The Record

PA: More privatizing in Philly schools feared. 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.

NE: State to lose more than $3 million for failed child welfare privatization. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services was told Friday it will lose $3.2 million in federal funds because of problems it had in privatizing its child welfare system. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Nebraska will lose the federal money because it did not get prior approval before signing agreements with some of the private contractors. Nebraska mostly abandoned its privatization effort last year when state lawmakers stepped in.  Lincoln Journal Star

CA: 10 Privatization Fact Checks: Roundup. We’ve examined a bunch of claims over the years about privatizing government services, and one of the biggest issues has been a bidding process known as managed competition. Government employees are basically pitted against private contractors to see who can efficiently provide public services like trash collection or street sweeping. ..Following our latest Fact Check about managed competition this week, we wanted to take a look back at our other fact checking efforts on the topic and outsourcing, a similar bidding process that only involves private contractors. Here’s a quick summary with links to each analysis, broken down by subject. Voice of San Diego

OH: County’s adult day care to be privatized...The agency expects the controversial move — which will eliminate 18 to 20 county jobs — to save an estimated $10 million between now and 2020, the end date for its Challenge 2020 campaign… Charli Crawford is chair of an ad hoc financial committee put together by the board last January to explore privatizaion. She doesn’t believe the dire predictions of the board or superindendent Kim Miller when it comes to DD funding. “They keep saying they don’t have any money, but I went to the (county) auditor’s office and got a date-stamped copy of DD’s account balance,” Crawford said. “They have $14 million in the bank. So I’m tired of that lie.” Crawford has a daughter who uses DD’s adult array day services and is in DD’s WorkNet program. “We are the voice of the DD community and we will be heard,” Crawford said.  Marysville News

Wall Street’s War Against the Cities. The pace of Wall Street’s war against the 99% is quickening in preparation for the kill. Having demonized public employees for being scheduled to receive pensions on their lifetime employment service, bondholders are insisting on getting the money instead. It is the same austerity philosophy that has been forced on Greece and Spain – and the same that is prompting President Obama and Mitt Romney to urge scaling back Social Security and Medicare. …Yet Wall Street strategists view this state and local budget squeeze as a godsend. As Rahm Emanuel has put matters, a crisis is too good an opportunity to waste – and the fiscal crisis gives creditors financial leverage to push through anti-labor policies and privatization grabs. The ground is being prepared for a neoliberal “cure”: cutting back pensions and health care, defaulting on pension promises to labor, and selling off the public sector, letting the new proprietors to put up tollbooths on everything from roads to schools. The new term of the moment is “rent extraction.”   Business Insider