October 2, 2012


NJ: Lawmakers seek to tighten rules on public contractors

State lawmakers hoping to strengthen scrutiny on contractors privatizing government services moved forward with a measure to make vendors deliver savings, while also tightening rules on cost-cutting…Madden urged lawmakers to find a “balance” between two different concerns: that governments determine that private contractors provide services which are really less expensive, while also blocking the contractors from simply paying their workers less than state employees would earn in pay and benefits. The newly combined proposal means vendors with contracts worth $250,000 or more would have to show they could provide services at lower cost than government could through use of innovation and streamlining, not just lower pay. Bidders for those state and local government contracts would have to provide payroll estimates to back up that claim, under the bill…Unions for state workers who might lose work to a private company would have a chance to review and revise their own cost estimates during an agency’s search for bids for cheaper services. NorthJersey.com

NC: GOP, environmentalists mount fiscal challenges to DOT toll projects

Republicans have scheduled a showdown this week in their push to kill the $650 million Mid-Currituck bridge, a toll project long favored by coastal Democrats to speed the beach drive for tourists who visit North Carolina’s northern Outer Banks…Meanwhile, environmental lawyers are mounting a broad challenge to the state’s way of justifying the need for major toll roads and bridges.….. Mid-Currituck would be North Carolina’s first big public-private partnership venture, planned in concert with a private consortium that hopes to turn a profit by collecting bridge tolls for 50 years. “I think the Currituck project smells of political cronyism,” Sen. Bill Rabon, a Brunswick County Republican and Senate Transportation chairman, told the Road Worrier. News & Observer

MI: Detroit workers striking in defiance of federal court order: ‘We’re not going anywhere’

Striking water department workers continued to picket Monday afternoon despite being ordered back to work by a federal judge…”We are fighting to stop the contracting out of over 80% of our jobs… The workers have been demanding better staffing, training and equipment to improve water quality for years, and management has always lent a deaf ear. Now, with the disingenuous claim of ‘environmental protection’ they are simply union busting and privatizing.” Workers from the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant walked out and began picketing Sunday, protesting a planned 81 percent reduction in the city’s Water and Sewerage Department. A federal judge this morning ordered the striking water department employees back to work, but union attorneys plan to challenge ruling, arguing that U.S. District Judge Sean Cox himself caused the labor dispute. A spokesman from Mayor Dave Bing’s office praised the court ruling in a news release. “It is imperative that there be no interruption in the service or an impact on the quality of water provided to our citizens or any negative impact on the environment,” said Bing’s Chief Communications Officer Bob Warfield.  MLive.com

VA: Should Virginia Put Its Port On the Auction Block?

Largely out of sight in the Northern Virginia media, there has been a controversy raging in the Hampton Roads area about the privatization of Virginia’s Port. Governor McDonnell is very passionate about privatizing government functions. Everyone is familiar with his effort to privatize the state liquor stores. He has also announced multiple efforts to privatize Virginia’s roads by selling tolling rights to foreign investors for I-95, US 460 and a new tunnel between Portsmouth and Norfolk. Patch.com

CA: Union threatens lawsuit over plans to outsource REU’s call center

A labor union representing employees at Redding Electric Utility’s customer service department has filed a grievance, warning of a lawsuit if the city tries to outsource the call center. The city has until Oct. 8 to respond to Service Employees International Union’s letter dated Sept. 19, which argues Redding is breaking the labor contract by considering outsourcing jobs to a private company and transferring the call center workers to other city departments… Cutty said outsourcing issues are cropping up throughout Northern California. SEIU’s attorneys are involved in six different cases, he said. “Outsourcing mat be cheap in the short-term but in the long-term, it may be more expensive,” he said. “Once you privatize, what drives you are the profits … not the services.” Record-Searchlight

Education Profiteering; Wall Street’s Next Big Thing?

The end of the Chicago teachers’ strike was but a temporary regional truce in the civil war that plagues the nation’s public schools. There is no end in sight, in part because — as often happens in wartime — the conflict is increasingly being driven by profiteers. The Real News Network (blog)