October 31, 2012



Romney Stands for Privatizing FEMA

Why is politics important right now when funding for emergency disasters is paramount to saving lives in this major storm? Candidate Romney called for cuts to funding Emergency Response programs such as FEMA during his campaign which now will be vital against the Super Storm of Hurricane Sandy.   PolitcoNews

Was Ryan’s Social Security plan inspired by Pinochet?

The VP candidate’s privatization policies are startlingly similar to those implemented by the Chilean dictator. It is also the case that Paul Ryan’s Social Security privatization ideas closely track Koch Brother schemes promoted from the Koch-funded libertarian Cato Institute since 1980, over three decades ago – before Ryan had even hit puberty.  Salon

LA: Close vote looms on privatizing OGB

Louisiana House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin said Tuesday there won’t be any more delays in a vote on whether to privatize the administration of the only remaining Louisiana Office of Group Benefits insurance plan still managed by the by the state. The plan is expected to win easy approval in Senate Finance, but the vote remains close in the House, with both sides saying they have the votes to pass or block the deal.  Monroe News Star

OH: Indiana director supports Ohio’s study on turnpike leasing

Indiana’s toll road lease provided money for vital transportation projects and Ohio is wise for studying its own turnpike lease agreement, the Hoosier state’s transportation director told hundreds of Buckeye officials Tuesday. The Ohio Department of Transportation is conducting a $3.4 million study with Texas-based KPMG Corporate Finance LLC to examine the ways to maximize the financial benefit of the toll road for the state. Jerry Wray, ODOT director, said the study will be completed by mid-November and he hopes to have a recommendation to the state legislature by Jan. 1.  The Newark Advocate

NC: News poll: NC roads not bad enough for tolls

Highways across North Carolina rate a B- grade from state residents, which apparently is a high enough grade to avoid collecting tolls to speed maintenance and construction, according to a WRAL News poll released Tuesday. The roads are good enough that 47 percent of those polled say they oppose the idea of charging tolls to pay for construction or maintenance of highway that might otherwise be delayed or not completed at all. Forty percent said they would back tolls for new or improved highways, while 13 percent weren’t sure. WRAL

October 30, 2012


Romney Endorsed in Primary Debate Either Eliminating or Privatizing FEMA

Emergency management is a critical federal program, if for no other reason than because of budget constraints. If states were expected to assume the full costs of emergency management, because they are bound by balanced budget rules, the money would have to come out of education or health care or some other public service. But the federal government can generate funds for natural disasters, use its ultra-low borrowing costs, and provide them to states so they don’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul. Firedoglake

Ann Romney: We Need To ‘Throw Out’ The Public Education System

Ann Romney told Good Housekeeping magazine that the campaign issue closest to her heart is taking on teachers unions and dismantling public education as we know it. In an interview, she told the publication: I’ve been a First Lady of the State. I have seen what happens to people’s lives if they don’t get a proper education. And we know the answers to that. The charter schools have provided the answers. The teachers’ unions are preventing those things from happening, from bringing real change to our educational system. We need to throw out the system.  ThinkProgress

CA: Costa Mesa outsourcing fight could have far-reaching effects

After a court ruling favorable to Costa Mesa’s employee union, labor groups could now have the power to block municipalities from privatizing basic services such as street sweeping, which many cities have done for years, experts say. OCRegister

GA: Why take MARTA private?

The MARTA privatization debate continues today. The president of the local union criticizes management and says that going private means sending public dollars overseas and contributing to sweatshop conditions. Atlanta Journal Constitution

NY: Central Park Gets More, While the City’s Poorer Parks, Well, They Just Get By

It was a munificent gift, just superb. John A. Paulson, the multibillionaire owner of a hedge fund with income taxed at a rate less than that of most New York City schoolteachers, stepped forward and showered $100 million on Central Park…. But when officials in New York’s more distant parks plead for a little bit more, city officials suggest selling off naming rights and letting corporations slap names on basketball and dog runs. (IMG Worldwide, a sports marketing company, is overseeing the sale of these naming rights, for a handsome fee.) City officials and their quasi-public hangers-on are rather clear on the rules of this game: You smile at every crumb that falls off the plutocratic table, and only a rube shares his proceeds. New York Times

October 29, 2012


LA: Traffic Camera Company Sues Client Over Cash

The sheriff of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana petitioned a federal judge last week for more time to answer the charges leveled by a red light camera company. Redflex Traffic Systems in August had filed suit demanding Sheriff Newell Normand hand the Australian firm a check for $8 million. Redflex is irate that its photo ticketing contract was swept up in a parish government corruption scandal two years ago. A new set of government leaders intent on cleaning up the parish decided on January 27, 2010 to suspend the red light camera program.  TheNewspaper.com

NC: Asheville residents get say on water

City voters will get their say this election on the question of whether the city should sell or lease its water system. But the question of whether the results of the referendum matter may be harder to answer than that of what they will be. Defeat of the referendum would be construed as a sign that city residents do not approve of the idea of transferring the water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District, an independent government agency. But City Councilman Jan Davis is one of many people who wonder whether the referendum’s outcome will impact the General Assembly’s consideration of whether to give control of the water system to MSD. Republicans may move ahead with the idea regardless of what city voters say if they continue to control both houses of the legislature next year, he said.  Citizen Times

CA: Rocklin Charter School Shuts Its Doors Amid Controversy

Six weeks into the school year a charter school in Rocklin is closing its doors. Four hundred kids were told Friday that their school would close, and Tuesday was their last day. But many parents say the Horizon CEO is making up false excuses for why he’s closing the doors at Horizon’s Accelerated Learning Academy campus. Fired-up families were fuming even more Tuesday over what many consider a lame excuse for the shutdown. “They get between $5,000 and $7,000 in funding (per student),” parent Shauna Borchers said. “That’s $2.4 million in funding, and he’s going to tell me we can’t stay here and can’t find a building and safety issues? Get a new building. Get some police. Stop it. That’s not the truth.”  CBS Sacramento

Burden for rebuilding infrastructure may fall to states

Washington’s failure to come up with a long-term funding plan to repair the nation’s faltering transportation system is shifting the cost of critical infrastructure repairs to state and local taxpayers, according to Standard & Poor’s Rating Services. “The burden to finance infrastructure projects will fall more heavily on local government entities or users in the form of higher rates or tolls,” the financial analysts said this past week, “and some important construction could simply be deferred.” Washington Post

Sandy and Politics

On the other side of the ledger, we do have Romney on record as saying privatize FEMA. He did not quite say that FEMA was “immoral,” as some are writing. He said the debt to future generations caused by government spending on projects such as FEMA is immoral. The Daily Beast



October 26, 2012


Public or Private: The Fight Over the Future of Water

In an article published Oct. 24 in Nature, Fredrick Kaufman, author of Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food, describes what he calls “Wall Street’s thirst for water” — the push to turn water into a commodity like food, with the same instruments that produced the mortgage-backed security collapse and 2008 financial crisis. At risk, says Kaufman, are the 80 percent of humanity already threatened by water shortages and everyone who depends on a stable, affordable supply of life’s essential ingredient.  Wired

Voters in Three States Take on Traffic Cameras

The issue of red light cameras and speed cameras is heating up at the ballot box. Residents in in five cities in California, Texas and Washington state have battled for the right to have a say in whether automated ticketing machines are installed in their community. The November 6 results could raise to 25 the total number of municipalities nationwide that prohibit cameras…..Elsewhere, photo ticketing companies and city leaders fought the ballot measures at every step of the way. In League City, Texas, Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia turned to the courts in an attempt to thwart the vote. City officials did succeed in re-writing the text of the initiative so that the ban would not take effect until 2014. As a result, campaign mailers recently hit residents’ mailboxes targeting the councilmen who support Redflex.  The Newspaper

Head of major university group weighs in on university leadership crisis

Hunter R. Rawlings III, president of  the Association of American Universities speaks on the leadership crisis at the Univ of Virginia and across universities: ….We must recognize that the more universities divorce themselves from the state financially, intellectually, and culturally, the more they precipitate the malign trend towards the privatization and instrumentalization of education in this country. Thomas Jefferson created a vision of public higher education as an indispensable component of democracy. He was right to do so, and now that practically everyone needs a college education to be a contributing citizen, it is more important than ever. As many governors and legislators make the case that higher education is not a public good, but a private interest, we aid and abet that argument by using the language of privatization ourselves. I think we should be making the most cogent case possible for our public universities to be truly public.   Washington Post

There Are Better Way Than Parent Trigger to Improve Education – opinion

Parent trigger laws pretend to meet the very real need for more and better opportunities for parents to work alongside teachers and other community members to help improve schools. But often these laws put forward charter schools as the solution—despite the lack of evidence that charters as a whole outperform traditional public schools, and without providing for real and lasting parent and community participation in reform. In doing so, they take some of our most important local institutions out of the public sphere and entrust them to private charter management organizations that lack transparency. And we advance a larger agenda of privatization that threatens to undermine hard-won victories in the areas of civil rights, workers’ rights, and good government.  U.S. News & World Report

CO: Pinnacol Assurance holds off on privatization push

Pinnacol Assurance’s privatization effort is on hold until at least 2014, said Ken Ross, president and CEO. The state-chartered workers’ compensation insurer, which writes policies for 57 percent of the state’s businesses, caused controversy during the 2012 legislative session. First, it announced it wanted to privatize itself despite business leaders’ skepticism. Later, Pinnacol revealed it spent $3.5 million on legal, lobbying and public relations efforts. Negative reaction to that spending caused Pinnacol to shut down its efforts to buy its way from under state control. Denver Business Journal

FL: Tolls upon tolls? Florida’s Turnpike express-lane plan gets nod

A plan to add variable tolls to part of Florida’s Turnpike — already a toll road — was put into a higher gear on Thursday. With a 12-1 vote, Miami-Dade commissioners, mayors and other elected county officials…endorsed a plan to add variable toll express lanes to segments of the Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike….But Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, who was the only one to vote against the project, said the plan was unfair to commuters. “They are taking away a regular lane from the commuters,” Barreiro said. “It’s a toll within a toll and I don’t like that concept. It takes from the regular commuters who are already paying a toll. It’s like double taxation.” Miami Herald ‎


October 25, 2012


For-Profit Colleges Get Schooled

As consumers wise up about education spending, for-profit colleges are getting schooled. Institutions such as Apollo Group Inc.’s University of Phoenix, DeVry Inc. and Washington Post Co.’s Kaplan—who only a few years ago reported double-digit student gains on a regular basis and posted hundreds of millions in profits—now are hemorrhaging students. They are facing increased competition from nonprofit and state schools and growing skepticism about the value of a high-cost education. Just last week, industry bellwether Apollo said it would close nearly half of its brick-and-mortar locations to save on overhead.  The Wall Street Journal

AZ: Proposition would give Arizona authority over federal land

A proposition before voters in less than two weeks would, if passed, give Arizona officials control over federal lands within the state. Prop. 120 would change the state Constitution to declare the state‘s authority and jurisdiction over its air, water, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources on public federal lands with the exclusion of Native Indian tribal land. Opponents say that the proposition would give the state legislature control over federal forest, national parks and wilderness areas possibly to sell off to private interests. The sponsor of Prop 120 also supports uranium mining in the Grand Canyon watershed. Mohave Valley News

GA: Gwinnett at center of charter amendment fight

In the highly contested fight over the charter school amendment, Gwinnett County is ground zero. Republican Gov. Nathan Deal headlines the amendment’s backers, who are pushing to re-create a state commission with the authority to approve charter schools that have been previously denied by local boards of education. Opponents, including GOP state School Superintendent John Barge, say that charter school applicants already have an avenue of appeal through the state Board of Education and that the amendment would create a new state bureaucracy that could siphon money away from traditional public schools.  Atlanta Journal Constitution

TX: Texas opens first 85-mph highway in US, but trucks may shun it

A new 41-mile (65-kilometer) stretch of toll road between San Antonio and Austin is now open with an 85-mph (137-kph) speed limit, the highest posted speed limit in the United States. State transportation officials hope that the speed limit will be an incentive for motorists to pay the roughly $12 toll to drive on the 90-mile (145-km) road.,,,But some 18-wheel trucks, many of which are hauling items manufactured in Mexico to plants in the United States, may not be keen to take to the new road, according to Darrin Roth of the American Trucking Association. Many trucking companies prevent their vehicles from going faster than 70 mph or 75 mph, he said, and fuel consumption goes up exponentially as speeds increase – potentially cutting into company profits.” For truck drivers to be on a road where other motorists are going 85 or even more, they just don’t feel safe,” Roth said.  Yahoo! News ‎




October 24, 2012


FL: License tag privatization plans put on hold

Plans by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to privatize the state license plate tag distribution system went back to the drawing board after county tax collectors around the state raised concerns. Tallahassee Democrat

IL: Cleveland’s charter school growth a cautionary tale for Chicago

Ohio school ratings released last week show most charters that serve disadvantaged students in Cleveland have not matched Citizens’ success, and almost a third of those schools got D and F grades from the state.….[A ]fter nearly 15 years, they have yet to turn around the struggling district — which got an F in the state ratings. Cleveland’s experience could be a cautionary tale for cities like Chicago that want to accelerate private-sector reforms for public schools. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing an aggressive expansion of charter schools. The district has proposed adding 60 charter schools over five years, which would increase the share of charters to about a quarter of all public schools in Chicago.  Chicago Tribune

OH: Lawmakers prepare bill requiring bigger public role before turnpike outsourcing

Reps. Matt Lundy of Elyria and Ronald Gerberry of Austintown said Tuesday they’re preparing legislation that would require the state Turnpike Commission to hold four public hearings within three months of any proposed outsourcing of turnpike operations or maintenance. Lundy said Ohioans in communities all along the Turnpike — which stretches 241 miles across northern Ohio from Pennsylvania to Indiana — are outraged at not being consulted on Gov. John Kasich’s plans to potentially privatize the tollway.  The Republic

CA: Parent-Trigger Case Ends with Charter Taking Over Struggling California School

The election was the state’s first vote for a charter school under the law, which gave parents the power to petition for such charter conversions, staff overhauls or other sweeping changes at low-performing schools…. But some school officials and parents expressed concern that only 53 ballots were cast in the charter election. Although the school has about 400 families with 610 students, only 180 parents who signed the petition for a charter campus during the campaign last year were eligible to vote under the parent-trigger law.  Los Angeles Times

KY: Kentucky Spirit files lawsuit alleging state provided faulty Medicaid data

Steve Beshear’s administration rushed to privatize Medicaid management last year and, in its haste, provided incorrect cost information to the bidders, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Franklin Circuit Court.  Lexington Herald Leader

TX: As toll road opens, a question lingers: is 85 mph safe?

The Legislature, based on a law it passed last year, thought driving that speed — a higher limit than any other road in America — will be safe, or at least sufficiently safe to justify the time savings and other economic benefits it could bring to drivers and the state. That includes a $100 million payment to the Texas Department of Transportation (tied to the higher speed limit) from the company that built the tollway, will operate it and will pocket the toll revenue for the next 50 years. But some traffic safety experts say that when a speed limit is increased, drivers typically go faster; that when speeds increase there are more accidents; and that more people die in those accidents because of the greater forces involved.“We have decades of study and data, and conclusive evidence, that people do respond to speed limits no matter how high they’re set,” said Richard Retting, a widely published traffic safety expert and vice president of the New York-based engineering firm Sam Schwartz Inc. “We just have to learn that there is no free lunch when it comes to high speed limits. And the price we pay is higher speeds and a higher fatality rate.”  Austin American-Statesman

October 23, 2012


LA: Talk About the South: Jindal faces setback

Viewed as a done deal by many political watchers, the Office of Group Benefits, a successful state employee-run insurance program, was to be privatized…on Thursday. The vote was cancelled on Wednesday…Why is the governor dead set on privatizing the Office of Group Benefits? Not to save money. Instead, it is being done to raid a $500 million fund, not that he’s against privatizing state services just for the hell of it. Though insurance premiums may go down at first, the private insurance provider for the PPO insurance program will soon raise the premiums. This will cause taxes to go up, state workers and retirees to pay higher premiums, and the quality of health care to go down. Who cares about the details? It’ll help Jindal ingratiate himself with a major insurance company such as Blue Cross-Blue Shield. Throw a little bone to his backers, and they’ll remember him come election time with direct campaign contributions and PAC money. Hammond Daily Star

MI:  Mayor Bing to Detroit City Council: Work with me to help our city

He said the city’s hiring of a private company to manage the Detroit Department of Transportation has brought some improvements — transit advocates say they’ve seen little if any — but he wants to put a new contract out to bid to more fully privatize DDOT’s operations to further cut the city’s annual bus subsidy. Detroit Free Press

TX: 85-mph toll road to open Wednesday

A 40-mile stretch of a Central Texas toll road is slated to open Wednesday, and officials and residents will be watching to see how fast traffic goes – and whether the state’s drivers can handle the extra speed…. Jeff Gibeaux, a civil engineer in Lockhart who expects to take Texas 130, said he considers it a certainty that some drivers won’t be satisfied at 85. “I think people will routinely pass me going 100,” Gibeaux said. “Regardless of the speed limit, there’s always going to be people who want to go past it.” KENS 5 TV

CA:  Orange County Board Rejects Controversial 405 Toll Road

Orange County Transportation Authority board members voted 10-6 Monday not to add toll roads in an attempt to ease traffic on a busy stretch of the I-405 freeway. KTLA


October 22, 2012


OH: Privatization will mean higher fees on turnpike

Tolls on the Ohio Turnpike would rise under any plan to privatize the northern highway, but state officials noted it is no different than what is happening on the road now. The Ohio Department of Transportation on Monday presented an update to the Ohio Turnpike Commission on the $3.4 million study being conducted by Texas-based KPMG Corporate Finance LLC.   Mansfield News Journal

FL: Tax Collectors Fighting Tag Privatization

The state’s Highway Safety Director outlined the plan to centralize tag distribution two weeks ago. ..But privatizing would likely raise the cost of a tag by two and a half dollars in at least 16 counties that don’t charge an add on fee for distributions. Paying more is something Alex doesn’t want to do. “Yeah, my speeding ticket was 288 and then this fee was 80 and the fee for not having it was 123 so that’s 500 dollar day”, says Stefanowitz. Capitol News Service

FL: Charter school companies, online learning outfits try to wield influence in Tallahassee

His school management company, Charter Schools USA, has doled out more than For-profit education companies are becoming serious players in lobbying the Florida Legislature. In the current election cycle, charter school companies, school management firms, online learning outfits and for-profit colleges have lavished more than $1.8 million to statehouse candidates, electioneering organizations and political parties, according to a Miami Herald review of Florida campaign finance data. Most of the money went to Republicans, whose support of charter schools, vouchers, online education and private colleges has put public education dollars in private-sector pockets. Tampabay.com

IN:  Report Labels Indiana Toll Road an Intergenerational Cash Transfer

A College of William and Mary professor believes the toll road public-private partnerships currently in vogue among transportation bureaucrats may end up costing the public a great deal of money in the long run. TheNewspaper.com

IN: Controversial policies spark challenge in Indiana school superintendent race

“Everything is tied to the privatization of schools — the high-stakes testing, the A-to-F grades, the charters, the takeovers, the vouchers, even the teacher licensing pieces. They’re all tied to the one political agenda of privatizing schools.”  Courier Press

IN: Hoosier Lottery: Privatization bids now online

The Hoosier Lottery has now placed recent bids to privatize certain functions online, and is working to reduce the amount of information redacted in the information from the winning company. The move came after The Journal Gazette reported Wednesday that huge portions of the two bids were blank or shielded from public view, and that the documents were not available to citizens online. The final agreement between the Hoosier Lottery and GTECH Indiana, LLC – which won the contract – also was made public. In the previous story, Gov. Mitch Daniels said he would talk to the lottery about making as much information public as possible. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

NE: Emotion, concern at student health center forum

Emotional students concerned about losing their inexpensive health care aired their frustrations Thursday. The Association of Students of the University of Nebraska hosted the town hall meeting, which featured three university administrators answering students’ questions about the privatization plan. One of those administrators, James Guest, the health center’s director, called the university’s process for seeking a private provider Thursday a “flawed process.” Lincoln Journal Star

Conservatives Attack US Post Office to Break the Union and Privatize Postal Services

The US Postal Service has been under constant assault for years from conservative Republicans who aim to eviscerate the strongest union in the country. Under the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, USPS must fully fund retiree health benefits for future retirees—including the retirement packages of employees not even born yet. No other organization, public or private, has to pre-fund 100 percent of its future health benefits. Thus, the post office’s oft-reported nine-billion-dollar deficit is largely a result of government-imposed overpayments.  Project Censored

October 19, 2012


IN: Professor: Gov. Daniels’ Indiana Toll Road lease burdens future generations

The funds from the Indiana Toll Road lease provided a short-term, politically easy win for Gov. Mitch Daniels and his allies, to the long-term detriment of future generations. At least that’s what John B. Gilmour, a government and public policy professor at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, contends in a paper recently published… Gilmour starts his paper likening such leases to debtors in the Middle Ages saddling their children with their debts. “Today, happily, laws shield children from intergenerational debt collection. No laws stop governments, however, from borrowing and shifting the cost of repayment to future generations. This can be a very attractive strategy for politicians who wish to provide costly benefits to contemporary voters without imposing any costs on them. One means of accomplishing this feat is the long-term asset lease. “ Indy Star

IN: Company Claims Lotto Commission Mishandled Privatization

The Indiana Lottery Commission is facing a legal protest from a company called Scientific Games over the state’s handling of the bid process during the commission’s recent choosing of a new vendor for the Hoosier Lottery. Scientific Games claims in their protest that the commission did not properly evaluate both its bid and the eventual winning bid from a company called GTECH.  Indiana Public Media

IN:  Indy Mayor pushing for public-private partnerships for city parks

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is pushing a new initiative aimed at improving the city’s parks through public-private partnerships.  Fox 59

PA: Pa. Legislature Wraps Up With No Action On Liquor Store Privatization

Pennsylvania lawmakers have wrapped up another two-year session without action on privatizing liquor sales. That may not bode well for supporters of the idea.  CBS Philly

PA: Oped: Privatization Madness: Now Private Companies are Collecting Our Taxes

This tax privatization business is sure nice work if you can get it. And Berkheimer got it because the professional association of CPAs in the state lobbied the Pennsylvania state legislature heavily in 2009 to get a law passed mandating (got that? mandating!) that all townships in each county in the state get together and hire one organization to collect all their taxes. My county, Montgomery County PA, which opposed the bill, hired Berkheimer.  So did a lot of other counties. The company, created expressly to capitalize on the new law, has 17 offices dotted around the state according to their website, to collect the taxes for hundreds of towns, school districts and other local entities. How much are they getting paid in total for all this “work”? That would be hard to ascertain. The company is private, and is not subject to any sunshine laws.  Oped News

IL: Corruption at Red Light firm threatens Chicago contract

As the Tribune first reported, Redflex spent $910.71 on a luxury two-day stay in 2010 for John Bills, the Chicago official in charge of the red light camera contract. Redflex did announce it had implemented anti-bribery classes for its employees to prevent further ethical lapses — two years later. Chicago’s Department of Procurement Services was not impressed. “I understand that Redflex has stated that it has taken steps to train employees to protect against similar misconduct in the future,” Chief Procurement Officer Jamie L. Rhee wrote. “While I commend Redflex for any actions it may have taken to mitigate the misconduct that occurred, I want to be very clear on what Redflex did not do: notify the city of the incident in any kind of timely manner. It appears that Redflex disclosed the incident to the city only after it realized that the story was going to appear in the newspapers.”  TheNewspaper.com

NY: Students organize protests against tuition increases, privatization

A group of SUNY-New Paltz students are rising up against ever-increasing tuition and their belief that the SUNY/CUNY system is becoming increasing less public and more privatized.  New Paltz Times

CA: California ‘parent trigger’ passes court test

The petitioning parents scored their latest victory in Victorville Superior Court on Friday, when Judge John Vander Feer ruled that the Adelanto School District must let them press on with plans to convert Desert Trails into a charter school, effective fall of  2013. The judge’s decision reinforced a July 18 ruling by another judge who found the district couldn’t use the signature withdrawals to quash the charter petition.  NBC News

VA: Board approves financing for US 460 toll-road project

The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the financing arrangements Wednesday to make the $1.4 billion U.S. 460 toll-road project a reality. The state anticipates finalizing the deal with US 460 Mobility Partners, the project’s design-build consortium, in December, officials told the state Transportation Board. Richmond Times Dispatch

Predator Military Contractors: Privatizing the Drones

[T]he extent to which today’s contractors are involved in maintaining and operating the U.S. premier robot system, aerial drones, will likely come as a surprise to you. It certain did to me after reading the article, “Drone-Sourcing? United States Air Force Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Inherently Governmental Functions, and the Role of Contractors,” published last month in George Washington University’s Federal Circuit Bar Journal…”And, most importantly, if private contractors are supporting UAS missions, are they performing tasks that should be reserved exclusively for government personnel?”  Huffington Post



October 18, 2012


TN: Charter School Flap Escalates

Tennessee education officials withheld $3.4 million from Nashville’s school district after the city barred a charter school from opening in an affluent neighborhood, in a fight that highlights the growing tension over the expansion of such schools…. Until this year, only low-income students or those in low-performing schools were allowed to attend charter schools in Tennessee. But a change in state law last year cleared the way for any child to enroll. The Nashville school board had twice rejected the Great Hearts application, saying the proposed school would enroll students only from middle- and upper-income communities in West Nashville and, therefore, harm the system’s efforts to diversify schools.  The Wall Street Journal

IL: Parents air grievances about privatized school bus service

Since literally the first day that Auxilio Services of Cincinnati took over transportation services for Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools, parents have experienced major problems, residents told the Galesburg school board at a standing-room-only meeting meeting Monday. Kalamazoo Gazette

TX: The price of privatization – Jim Hightower

In 2005, the Republican governor and legislature in my state of Texas drank deeply from the cup of privatization theory, resulting in Accenture Inc. getting a nice contract to show its corporate prowess in handling food stamp applications. Accenture computers and consultants arrived, and 2,900 state workers exited. After months of bumbling, Accenture botched the job so badly that the state’s sheepish officials had to fire the corporation and give the program back to the state. But — oh! — one little problem. Those 2,900 fired workers were gone. Having moved, taken other jobs, or just gotten fed up, most weren’t coming back…  Prior to privatization, the Texas food stamp program won national praise for its efficiency. Now it’s a mess — and hungry people are paying the price.  Boulder Weekly

Five Factors That Will Determine Whether TIFIA Benefits Transit

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study this summer observed that TIFIA has heavily tilted toward “large, high-cost highway projects…A closer look at the GAO data shows an even stronger highway slant. In 2010 and 2011, transit received only 16.6 percent of TIFIA assistance and most of this money was for short-term loans that were quickly retired. It’s not hard to see how private investors would view toll roads as more likely to generate profit. Projects with indirect costs borne largely by society may have a leg up compared to those that require subsidies. Streetsblog Capitol Hill

Garbage firms dig around for growth

Waste management companies can’t make people throw out more garbage, but they can try and coax more municipalities to contract out household waste collection and ensure that more of it ends up in private facilities. That is a potential $8 billion opportunity …”Municipalities that increasingly face fiscal constraints may want to privatize, in other words sell off their landfills, garbage trucks and staff,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Vance Edelson. Politics also plays a big role. Big municipalities are wary of laying off perhaps thousands of workers and facing off with unions if waste management is privatized, analysts say. Still, privatization is not a new concept in the $50 billion U.S. garbage industry. Three decades ago, more than 75 percent of collection and disposal of trash was managed by municipalities, said Waste Business Journal. But the garbage industry has found it tough to get contracts from larger cities, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. Some, like New York City, have privatized only a part of the process.  Reuters

CA: SAN BERNARDINO: Refuse outsourcing hits bump in road.

Virtually the same council members who in August voted in favor of contracting out part of trash collection service to bring in cash for the bankrupt city, voted on Monday to table the proposal. They didn’t say why.  Press-Enterprise

NH: Prison privatization faces an uphill battle

The plan to privatize New Hampshire’s prison probably won’t be approved by the Executive Council this year — and will have a foe in the corner office next year, no matter who wins the gubernatorial race – putting the privatization process in jeopardy.  New Hampshire Business Review

IL: Black aldermen criticize Chicago’s outsourcing plan

Several African-American aldermen took aim Tuesday at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to outsource telephone customer service jobs at the Water Management Department, saying the effort would have an unfair impact on black employees.  Chicago Tribune

LA: Lawmakers delay vote on privatization

What promises to be a close legislative committee vote on the proposal to privatize the remaining Louisiana Office of Group Benefits insurance plan has been postponed by the House Appropriations and Senate Finance chairmen. Opponents such as state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, said they believe the vote was postponed because the administration doesn’t have the votes to approve it. Jackson said she has been lobbying colleagues for weeks to oppose the transfer and believes she has gained traction. “They don’t have the votes,” she said. “What you’re seeing now is legislative independence coming forth. We’re showing that we’re not just a rubber stamp for the governor. We’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to do, which is acting as a check and balance for the executive branch.” Jackson said the administration hasn’t proven to her that the move would save $20 million annually, and she opposes what she said would be more than a $70 million payment to Blue Cross from the OGB surplus to administer the PPO.  Monroe News Star