October 8, 2012


Debate: Are we better off privatizing water?

From the consumer’s perspective, privatization’s results have been mixed. In some cases, cities have retaken control of their water services. And not every private provider has delivered on promises of reduced rates. But to governments strapped for cash, the option is seen as increasingly attractive. Here, two policy experts exchange views on what is best for our communities. Richard G. Little is a senior fellow at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of Food and Water Watch, an advocacy group for food and water quality.  The Wall Street Journal

Serious pay at private toll operations

Chief executives of the typical public sector toll operations in America seem to be paid somewhere in the range $150k to $350k per year. We thought it was hilarious when some newspapers in the Delaware Valley reported the $175k paid to Frank McCartney as CEO of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Authority (DRJTBC) as some kind of scandalous overpayment. There are unionized toll collectors and maintenance workers who make $100k, but the threshold to trigger lefty reporters’ indignation is pretty low.  Toll Road News

FL: Fla. Medicaid program in limbo

Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature want to privatize the state’s Medicaid program, but need the Obama administration’s permission. San Francisco Chronicle

PA: Liquor board appointee expected to favor privatization           

Tom Corbett’s campaign to privatize state-owned liquor stores is expected to get a new player on the governor’s side when the Senate returns to work later this month, a Republican official said Saturday. The governor’s appointment of Philadelphia attorney Kenneth Trujillo means the governor has his first chance to see a majority of his appointees on the three-person board.  Pittsburgh Post Gazette

PA: Performing Arts charter school’s $10M hall spurs debate on privatization

Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland has taken on a daunting financial responsibility with the construction of the 9,000-square-foot Alumni Hall. That responsibility stems from financial arrangements that would be unheard of in the traditional public school world, but are increasingly common in the expanding charter school realm.  Pittsburgh Post Gazette

VA: Advisory panel backs toll rate hike on Dulles Toll Road

An advisory committee is recommending a series of toll increases on the Dulles Toll Road that will provide funding for the new Silver Line. The Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee endorsed a 50-cent toll rate increase.  Fairfaxtimes.com

MI: Lansing May Privatize School Busing

For some families, busing is the only way kids can get to and from school. It’s also expensive. The Lansing School District is spending about $5 million this school year on general education busing. District administrators are thinking about changing tha…They’re considering outsourcing the general education transportation services. With a vote from the school board, Lansing School District is now a part of the Ingham Intermediate School District Transportation Consortium. That gives them the option to use the group’s contractor – Dean Transportation. Even with potential cost savings, some parents are reluctant to go down that route. “We need to make sure that we’re not spiting ourselves by costing others a job when they take good care of our kids that are already on the buses now,” said Lansing parent Debora Dawsey.   WILX-TV

MI: Sam Zell on Detroit, unions and privatizing U-M: ‘Survival of the fittest will prevail’

Sam Zell – a University of Michigan alumnus, billionaire real estate mogul, and investor – said he would like to see U-M privatize. He made that statement after giving the keynote address Friday morning at the Zell Lurie Institute’s Private Equity Conference at the Michigan Union.  AnnArbor.com

GA: Metro Atlantans must organize to prevent privatization of MARTA – opinion

For many years now, there has been discussion at the state legislature about privatizing MARTA. In recent weeks, it has intensified. Privatization is being presented as a necessary move because of MARTA’s ongoing financial crisis…The bottom line is that the profit motive has no place in public transit. There are some necessary services that a society provides that are not designed to make a profit – fire, police, libraries, schools, and mass transit. Other funding mechanisms, including state funding, must be found to restore MARTA to its rightful place at the core of any regional system that will be developed in the future…. The Atlanta Public Sector Alliance urges all residents of Metro Atlanta to stop this take-over of public assets for the enrichment of a private few. Let’s organize for a regional transit system that is just and equitable, democratic and well-funded, with universal design to facilitate the mobility of all. Only a public MARTA can achieve these goals.  Saporta Report