October 16, 2012


Study: Privatized Medicare would raise premiums

Nearly six in 10 Medicare recipients would pay higher premiums under a hypothetical privatized system, with wide regional differences leading to big hikes in some states and counties, a study released Monday finds.  Boston Globe

U.S. Privatizes National Forests, Nonprofit Claims

The U.S. Forest Service lets private companies charge people for using undeveloped public lands, in violation of federal law, an Oregon nonprofit claims in Federal Court. Lead plaintiff BARK clams the Forest Service’s grants to concessionaires violates the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. BARK has 7,000 members, many of them who live near the Mt. Hood National Forest.  Courthouse News Service

OH: Ohio governor considers privatizing state turnpike

The governor of Ohio, John Kasich, has said he wants to privatize the Ohio Turnpike, a 241-mile road that stretches across the Buckeye State. “I think it’s safe to say that many residents in northern Ohio are skeptical, because they fear higher tolls and potentially more potholes,” says Trevor Brown, a professor of public policy at Ohio State. It costs $16.50 to drive the whole length of the Ohio Turnpike, from Pennsylvania to Indiana. If the state does lease it, tolls would probably go up. Marketplace.org

FL: State agency privatizes its juvenile facilities

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice will privatize its five remaining residential facilities by next year. The agency has been using prevention services to work with offenders at home and sending those considered high-risk to a residential facility. A 2004 study by Yale economists Patrick Bayer and David Pozen on privately-run juvenile facilities in Florida found a trade off in the results. Their cost-benefit analysis implied that the short-run savings offered by privatization would be reversed by increased recidivism rates. The Florida Current

WI: Majority of Wis. school districts to lose aid

The majority of Wisconsin public school districts will see less money in state aid this year. Even though state aid increased by about $32 million, the amount public schools will get will decrease over the prior year after about $158 million is directed toward private school choice programs in Milwaukee and Racine.  Gazette Extra

TX: Texas to expand I-35W with toll lanes in Fort Worth

The Texas Department of Transportation believes the best way to manage congestion on Interstate 35W in Fort Worth is to add a pair of toll lanes in each direction. The project, known as the North Tarrant Express, is being constructed by a group that includes Cintra, the Spanish toll operator that owns stake in the Indiana Toll Road. The Spanish toll operator Cintra has gotten a lot of work in Texas in recent years. The company is involved in the group that will operate the SH 130 toll road between Austin and San Antonio. That’s the one that will carry a maximum posted speed limit of 85 mph when it opens in a few weeks. Land Line Magazine


October 15, 2012


IN: Contract signed on Indiana lottery outsourcing deal

Indiana officials have signed a deal to hire a private company to manage the state’s lottery. The lottery announced Friday that it had finalized a 15-year contract for Rhode Island-based GTECH to run the lottery’s marketing, sales and distribution services. The state lottery commission voted Oct. 3 to select GTECH and work out details of the agreement. Lottery officials hope the company will boost state profits by about $2.1 billion over the contract’s 15 years.  WTHR.com

IN: New Albany will end sewer privatization

“By bringing this public utility back under public management, we will not only save taxpayer money, but we will also eliminate the outsourcing of these good-paying jobs to an outside company,” Mayor Gahan stated in the release. He said in January part of the reason he placed himself on the sewer board was to help shift the city away from privatization of the utility…. Wilkinson said he pushed for the city to end privatization of utility billing, and also supports the decision to not renew the sewer contract with EMC. Not only is it financially feasible, but the city should be able to provide more maintenance focus on the sewer system than EMC, Wilkinson said of the move.  News and Tribune

FL: Winner may make difference in new laws

The race isn’t likely to end Republican control of the state Senate, but the winner in the newly created District 14 could be the deciding vote on bills that narrowly lost in the Senate in the last legislative season. Democrat Darren Soto, 34, a two-term House representative from Orlando, opposes privatizing the state’s prisons – a bill that died in the Senate by just one vote – and said he now opposes a bill that would have made it easier for public schools to become a conversion charter school. Republican Will McBride, 40, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2006 and 2010, supports privatizing prisons and said he supports school choice and would support making it easier for public schools to convert to charter schools.  NewsChief.com

PA: Don’t confuse Hollywood movie with educational reality – Op Ed

Educators such as me teach our students how to separate fact from fiction. That’s why it’s important that everyone puts the movie “Won’t Back Down” in the proper perspective. Despite a fierce marketing campaign by the film’s funders, billionaires who want to privatize public schools to benefit for-profit operators, the movie is a box-office flop. Why? Because the picture it paints of educators — and public education in Pennsylvania — just isn’t true. It doesn’t match the real-life experience most parents, students and educators have with their public schools. The Patriot-News

LA: Letter dissuades request

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive counsel suggested LSU reject public records requests for documents related to budget cuts and privatization efforts at LSU’s public hospitals, according to a letter from the LSU system’s outside counsel. The letter to LSU system President William Jenkins, obtained Friday by The Advocate, contradicts earlier assertions by Jindal administration officials that LSU decided on its own how to respond to requests to make the records available publicly. Jindal’s top lawyer, Executive Counsel Liz Murrill, reviewed the records before being released and suggested LSU use the “deliberative process privilege” as grounds to keep some records out of the public domain, the letter stated.  The Advocate

IL:  How much are your willing to pay to avoid traffic?

Officials at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning think drivers will see value in a congestion-pricing plan that the agency is recommending be implemented on new highway lanes planned on six major existing and future roadways across the six-county area. Under congestion pricing, drivers who opt to use free-flowing express lanes pay a fee, or an extra toll on the Illinois Tollway, during peak traffic periods. The price goes down when fewer vehicles are on the roads.  Chicago Tribune

Relocating Culture to Find a Solution to the Tragedy of the Commons

Is privatization a viable way to deal with global problems such as climate change that seem to stem from a tragedy of the commons? Two main problems come to mind. Firstly, the anthropocentric mindset coupled with the consumer mentality that dominates our western culture generally consider the natural world as nothing more than a bank of resources to be mined and exploited for the advancement and development of the human species (or at least for the segment of population benefitting from that mindset). According to famous naturalist Aldo Leopold, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.” When land is seen as nothing more than a commodity in the eyes of society, privatization can only lead to increased destruction. Secondly, our actions inevitably stem from the mindset behind them. Huffington Post


October 12, 2012


Ryan: Romney And I Support Social Security Privatization

In the vice presidential debate Thursday night, Paul Ryan seemed to indicate that a Romney-Ryan administration would support the idea of giving younger Americans the option to move their Social Security benefits into private retirement accounts. The Wisconsin congressman and House Budget Committee chairman talked up the concept when asked about his and Romney’s backing of President George W. Bush’s failed Social Security privatization plan. The extent of Romney’s support for privatization is questionable because his official Social Security platform calls for incrementally raising the eligibility age and lowering benefits for high-income recipients. It does not mention the privatization proposal, but Ryan’s remarks indicate that the Romney-Ryan ticket supports the principle. Two Romney-Ryan campaign spokespersons did not respond to requests for comment.  TalkingPointsMemo

Mitt Romney taps Bushies for transpo advice

But as might be expected, the team is heavy on a privatization agenda, dovetailing with the Bush administration’s flagship stances spanning different modes. That would include an attempt to privatize some air traffic controllers and Amtrak, as well as a push for more toll roads and public-private partnerships for highways. Politico

Three Reasons for the Federal Government to Support Big Bird and PBS

First and foremost, one of the main priorities of government should be support for the arts and creative education, which is at the heart of PBS’s mission. Public broadcasting is a public good, with a central principle being the provision of coverage for interests for which there is a small or missing market. In contrast, PBS is a major supporter of the only television station that reaches much of rural Alaska. Contrary to what Romney implied in last week’s debate, spending on public broadcasting has virtually no impact on the nation’s deficit, which is largely explained by Medicare and the aging of the population… This small sum represents our nation’s commitment to arts, culture, and education, and the use of television as a critical medium for connecting the public to these resources. This commitment is a key element of any developed, civilized society. To eliminate it entirely would be the beginning of an abdication of one of government’s central functions, one that endures even in times of austerity.  US News and World Report

OH: Prison Privatization Blues

A state audit of the private prison sold by Gov. John Kasich last year found the prison is only meeting 66.7 percent of the state’s standards. The report, released last week, found a total of 47 violations in a northeastern Ohio prison owned by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which the state government sold to CCA last year as part of a privatization push set out in Ohio’s 2012-13 budget. The violations noted in the Ohio Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (ODRC) audit range from staff training problems to poor food quality, with some inmates feeling unsafe due to the lack of control among prison staff.   City Beat

MI: Moms Gather to Protest Student Assault by Bus Employee

After FOX 17 obtained a video shot on a bus showing an employee of the transit company assaulting a student, mothers gathered in protest outside Galesburg-Augusta Elementary, while cars drove by honking in support….Like many others at the protest, Andrea thinks the privatization of the bussing was a bad decision for the school. “Bring our community back together.  Bring our community back to driving the bus, the person that drove me when I went to Galesburg, the ones that I want to drive my children.” The schools bus drivers who were laid off when the school agreed to contract with a private company are also upset. They were let go this past summer after more than 10 years of driving with the school. “It’s a private company so I think the community is not part of the school district anymore,” Tammy Hoffman, Former Bus Driver and union member.  Fox17



October 11, 2012


OH: Ohio decides against privatization of more prisons

Ohio became the first state to sell a state-owned penitentiary to a private prison company earlier this year…. Corrections Corporation of America recently issued offers to buy prisons to 48 state governors, pitching it as a solution for indebted states. However, in order for CCA to buy the prisons, the governors would have to agree to keep those prisons at 90% capacity. The ACLU asserts that privatization would invite even more state debt, which taxpayers would be stuck with financing for at least twenty more years. The ACLU of Ohio hopes that the ODRC will also decide not to privatize prison services including food and healthcare…According to Brickner, Ohio is beginning to move toward reform for its overcrowded, congested prison system. A move toward prison privatization would have a different goal: the corporations behind privatization have financial interests is making sure that prisons stay full.  Guardian

TX: Spanish Company Signs 50-Year, For-Profit I-35W Toll Deal

The Texas Department of Transportation on Wednesday signed a 50-year deal with a Spanish company to add private, for-profit toll lanes along Interstate 35 north of downtown Fort Worth — a stretch of highway considered the most congested in the state…. The deal is with NTE Mobility Partners Segments 3 LLC, which is a subsidiary of Cintra, a Spanish company that builds similar toll roads around the world, including several in North Texas. Critics such as state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, say Texas is selling its future. “I’m against toll roads,” he said. “But I’m even more strongly against privately owned toll roads, and that’s what we’re confronting here. And frankly, the way it’s being presented is, ‘My way or the highway.'” “We shouldn’t be exporting our local transportation dollars to Spain,” he said. NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

TX: Opening date announced for 85-mph toll road

A Central Texas toll road boasting the country’s fast speed limit will open to traffic Oct. 24….Those speeds have garnered praise but also raised safety concerns. Some truck drivers and trucking companies have said they can’t safely drive at speeds that high. The new Texas 130 segment is the state’s first public-private toll road: the state owns the road and right-of-way, but a private consortium owned by Spain-based Cintra and San Antonio company Zachry American Infrastructure funded the road’s construction. Their joint venture, the SH 130 Concession Company, will pay for the road’s ongoing maintenance and operations for 50 years, according to a lease with the Texas Department of Transportation. The company and the state will share the toll revenues.  San Antonio Express

WV: Privatizing roads becomes issue in governor’s race

When the issue of privatizing some state services came up during Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Republican challenger Bill Maloney took different roads. “Privatizing roads is something people have looked at in other states,” Maloney said. “There’s a lot of things we need to look at that the private sector could probably do better.” While Tomblin called the state’s privatization of workers’ compensation insurance a success, he was reticent about privatizing other state programs or services. “There are a lot of things government does best,” he said. Asked to elaborate on Maloney’s position on privatizing state toll roads, Maloney campaign manager Seth Wimer instead issued a statement saying in part, “We’re most interested in privatizing Earl Ray Tomblin. That is our top priority.” Charleston Gazette

More People Are Riding Amtrak, But Republicans Pledge To Cut Funding

Amtrak, the federally-subsidized passenger rail that runs across the country, experienced a 3.5 percent jump in ridership last fiscal year, with a total of 31.2 million passengers taking the train. More people rode Amtrak trains last year than any time since 1971. But despite the growth in rides (and the subsequent jump in profits, as revenue from tickets grew 6.8 percent), the Republican party sees Amtrak as an unprofitable venture, and called in their platform to privatize it entirely, a move that would likely cut off train service to rural Americans who don’t live on high-frequency train routes. ThinkProgress

5 crazy things Paul Ryan actually believes

Before even his own party shot his plan down, Paul Ryan was very explicit about wanting to privatize Social Security. Ryan has called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme,” and when George W. Bush was president, Ryan pushed a privatization agenda that was even too extreme for Bush.  Had Ryan succeeded, Social Security would have been bankrupted by the recent financial crash.  Yet despite this and broad public opposition, Ryan has continued to advocate privatization while insisting that his plan’s broad lack of popular support is due to marketing problems, not flaws with the plan itself.   Still, most Americans oppose changes to Social Security and actually support raising taxes to keep the program solvent for future generations.  Salon


October 10, 2012


Transparency Outsourced as U.S. Hires Vendors for FOIA

At least 25 federal agencies are outsourcing parts of the FOIA process. The contractors, sometimes using workers with security clearances, are building FOIA software, corresponding with requesters, redacting documents and recommending what information should be withheld…. “I’m very troubled by this example of offloading responsibility,” said Paul Light, a public service professor at New York University. “Once you put this in the hands of the contractors, you lose a degree of control in terms of goals like open government. That’s the real downside of it.” Bloomberg

Revisiting Privatization in Intercity Rail

Smith suggests that with privatization, Amtrak could radically improve its efficiency. The biggest problems with the rail agency, he argues, are related to low worker productivity. Despite Amtrak’s privately motivated interests that I pointed out above, much of its labor rules remain affected by politics and can be altered by Congressional action. Are we willing to accept reducing the influence of democratic actors in agency decision-making? It would mean restructuring labor agreements — reducing the income and health benefits that unions have fought for decades to acquire — and firing huge numbers of workers (a third in the case of JNR’s privatization). If privatization slashes the number of workers needed to do the same job, rail in the U.S. could indeed become profitable, since most of Amtrak’s costs are labor related. For the transportation public, that could produce cheaper ticket prices and fewer subsidies. But it means, fundamentally, that we are bringing private companies in to do the dirty work that the government is politically incapable of doing.   The Transport Politic

OH: Jobs Ohio: Behind the Curtain  – editorial

Mark Kvamme will step down this month as JobsOhio’s president and interim chief investment officer. Governor Kasich hired him in 2011 to privatize Ohio’s economic-development efforts. The former California venture capitalist has not disclosed why he’s leaving. That’s hardly a surprise, given the cloud that obscures public scrutiny of most of the inner workings of the agency. The lack of transparency that surrounds the job-creation agency remains troubling. While it waits for the liquor money, JobsOhio is funded in part by secret corporate donors. Ohioans have no way of knowing what influence or favors those donations might buy. When JobsOhio gains control of liquor profits, the money — and how it’s spent — will be removed from public view. The agency doesn’t have to share how it determines how much of a return on investment is enough. That, it says, is a trade secret. Even Republican lawmakers question the agency’s focus on short-term gains. Toledo Blade

NY: Charter pre-school coming our way

Two weeks ago, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced that Educare would be coming to Brooklyn next fall. A birth-to-five program that serves at-risk kids, it’s become the darling of politicos from Obama on down, not to mention billionaire philanthropist George Kaiser, who’s funneled millions into Tulsa’s three Educares, as well as a growing number of schools around the country…Standards, accountability, privatization. Sound familiar? The Head Start community is sweating this big-time, worried about the siphoning off of public funds to create a new “charter preschool movement.” But what about the children? What about equity? How level is their playing field? These are tough questions, especially for those of us who believe that early care and education must be a public good, one that should have robust government support. Huffington Post

NY: Madison County seeks to outsource mental health outpatient services

A near-unanimous decision Tuesday by the Madison County Board of Supervisors will move forward the outsourcing of the ADAPT program. All but Smithfield Supervisor Rick Bargabos voted in favor for privatizing the outpatient substance abuse and mental illness evaluation and treatment program. The program, which is not mandated by the state, has run at a deficit in recent years by as much as $89,174 and as little as $10,906. The move to privatize follows a trend the county created last year with the outsourcing of its home health care and long-term home health care agency. Oneida Dispatch


October 9, 2012


OH: Ohio Turnpike Privatization Plan Advances

Ohio Gov. John Kasich reportedly expects to unveil a privatization plan for the Ohio Turnpike within the next 30 days. Kasich has talked about privatizing the 241-mile turnpike, one of Ohio’s most lucrative assets, since taking office, saying it could generate up to $2.4 billion. It’s one of several proposed public-private partnership plans aimed at raising cash for the Buckeye State. ..KPMG LLP is advising the administration on the deal… Kasich’s announcement comes a week after the Ohio Supreme Court dealt a blow to his plan to advance a long-stalled plan to privatize its liquor distribution system as part of a $1.5 billion plan. The top court last week announced it would not take up the state’s lawsuit, sending it back to the lower courts. The legal process delays a plan for the newly created non-profit entity JobsOhio to sell $1.4 billion of bonds to take over the liquor distribution system. The proposal had called for $500 million of the proceeds to be used to plug a deficit. The Bond Buyer

CA: How Gloria Romero Became The Face Of Prop 32

New York University Research Professor of Education Diane Ravitch, who has followed the lobbying efforts of DFER since its inception in 2005, is blunt about Romero: “She’s working for Wall Street hedge fund managers. That’s where her interest lies.” Indeed, DFER is the brainchild of Whitney Tilson, founder of the hedge-fund firm T2 Partners – an LLC that, like other hedge fund contributors to DFER, is conveniently exempted from Prop. 32′s proposed donation restrictions. In a 2010 New York Times interview about charter schools, Tilson suggested that privatized education was a potentially lucrative investment target for Wall Street. Huffington Post

LA: Teachers: Don’t let Gov. Jindal sell the Office of Group Benefits!

Despite an outcry from thousands of public servants, Governor Bobby Jindal seems determined to sell the State Office of Group Benefits to a private company. OGB manages the health insurance of some 60,000 current and retired public employees, including teachers and school employees in a number of school systems. It is one of the best-run and scandal-free operations in state government. In fact, it has built up a surplus of some $500 million over the past few years. Please click this link to learn more and tell members of the Joint Budget Committee to vote NO when they are asked to approve privatizing the Office of Group Benefits.  Louisiana Federation of Teachers

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


October 5, 2012


NJ: Privatizing Ambulances Saved Money, Lost Lives

Privatizing emergency services could have saved a few dollars but there is no accounting for lives lost in the three years since Diaz turned responsibility for the city’s ambulances to Raritan Bay Medical Center, which itself was “hemorrhaging money,” according to hospital president Michael D’Agnes in November 2008. NJ TODAY

NE: Morale falls for UHC employees

And although many students are unaware of the health center’s privatization, or of what privatization even means, the university has asked UHC staff, as well as the students on its health center review board, to “keep quiet” about the issue, according UHC officials. UNL leaders have sought privatization for the health center because they want a new building, but don’t have the money to fund its construction on 21st and Vine streets. University administration said privatization was its only option because it didn’t want to raise student fees. Bids for a new health center are expected Friday.  Daily Nebraskan

VA: Hundreds turn out to hear port-operation proposals

A public hearing drew a standing-room-only crowd Thursday, where port stakeholders and other citizens got their first chance to weigh in on the idea of turning the operation of the Virginia Port Authority’s terminals over to a different company…Most spoke in support of the current operator, a few backed APM, and some simply raised concerns or expressed a need to learn more. The port-privatization issue has become increasingly controversial since the state’s May 23 announcement that APM was interested in running all of the Port Authority’s terminals for 48 years, in a deal APM says could be worth up to $4 billion to the state in current dollars.  The Virginian-Pilot

NY: Legislature looks to privatize Onondaga County nursing home

The county’s Ways and Means Committee has approved funding for Van Duyn through next year, but their goal is to privatize it by selling it to nursing home operator, Upstate Services Group. According to legislators, part of the problem has been state funding. They say the funding formula hasn’t been updated in over a decade. They’ve been filling the gap using a rainy day fund, but that money has now run out.  Officials say plans must move forward or eventually it would bankrupt the entire county.  YNN




October 4, 2012


IN: Indiana panel approves lottery outsourcing deal

The commission voted 3-0, with two members absent, to approve a 15-year contract with Rhode Island-based GTECH that is expected to make $1.7 billion in profit over five years — a $500 million increase over state projections. GTECH already provides and maintains vending machines for the Hoosier Lottery. In exchange for running the lottery’s marketing and other services, GTECH will be paid a management fee that hasn’t yet been determined as well as a share of the lottery profits. The state received $188 million in lottery proceeds last year….Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones criticized Indiana’s search for a private lottery manager in August, saying Indiana officials didn’t seem to have learned from Illinois’ problem-plagued lottery outsourcing effort. New Jersey and Pennsylvania also are researching whether to outsource their lotteries. Businessweek

MI: Detroit Workers Fight Back Against ‘Union Busting,’ Privatization Plans

The battle over the privatization of public water services is playing out in Detroit, as water department workers now risk losing their jobs as they continue a strike over what they see as a “union busting and privatizing” plan by the city. Wastewater workers in the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) who are members of AFSCME Local 207 began their strike on Sunday, in violation of a state law that prohibits strikes by public employees, over the city’s plan to sign five-year, $17 million contract with private corporation EMA Inc. which would eliminate over 80% of DWSD jobs.  Common Dreams   Video here Truthout

NJ: Democrats Struggling to Push Ahead With Privatization Bill

Among other things, the legislation would require public agencies get a fiscal analysis before they contract for more than $250,000 with a private vendor to take over services. Subsequent performance would be subject to a state audit, which could lead to penalties or even loss of the contract for failing to produce promised savings. The bill also would require that private vendors pay “comparable wages” to public employees and give hiring priority to those laid off because of the privatization. A hearing on the measure before the Senate Labor Committee earlier this week quickly broke along partisan and ideological lines. …Several speakers mentioned the pending Lottery privatization, pointing out that the governor is not promoting it on the basis of potential savings, but increasing revenues. “Our members could perform the duties that this private company will go out and do, however they’ve been shackled” by departmental regulations, said Bob Purcell, a representative of the CWA local representing some state workers. He and other speakers identified GTEC, the company that provides lottery machines, as the frontrunner for the new contract. While it has U.S. headquarters in Rhode Island, it is a subsidiary of the Lottomatica Group of Italy. “It seems to be ironic that last year a bill went into place to require state workers who live in Pennsylvania and New York to move into New Jersey to keep their jobs . . . but the profits from that contract will go to a foreign country.”  NJSpotlight

TX: State rejects bid to privatize psychiatric hospital

The Department of State Health Services has rejected a bid by Geo Care to privatize Kerrville State Hospital. Last year, legislators told State Health Services it had to solicit proposals from mental health providers that wanted to run one of the state-run psychiatric hospitals. Those proposals had to show that the bidder could run the hospital for 10 percent less then its current budget. Boca Raton-based Geo Care was the only company to submit a proposal. Its bid was to run Kerrville State Hospital.

But the state has rejected Geo Care’s bid. Geo Care is a private company that runs mental health hospitals and prisons across the county. Its proposal alarmed mental health advocates because Geo has come under fire for its care of both patients and prisoners. The protests grew louder this year when the American-Statesman reported that State Health Services had fined Geo Care more than $107,000 for violations in a psychiatric hospital that the company runs for Montgomery County. Austin American-Statesman

IN: IU Employees Fear Losing Jobs Over Privatized Parking

Some unionized workers at Indiana University say they are worried about losing their jobs if the school decides to privatize its parking operations. In a short period of time, Indiana University officials could issue a request for proposals which would seek a trade: a private firm gives a large lump sum of money to the school in exchange for running IU’s parking operations for years to come… But that worries Communication Workers of America Local 4730 President Ed Vasquez. “The burden is that once you start doing all these privatizations I think there will be an impetus to start privatizing other services throughout the campus,” he says. “This provides a lot of anxiety for a lot of staff.”  Indiana Public Media

VA: Virginia port officials to hold public hearing on privatization proposals

Virginia Port Authority officials are holding a public hearing on proposals to privatize some of the Port of Virginia’s operations. The hearing is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at Nauticus in Norfolk. Three private entities and the port’s current operator, Virginia International Terminals Inc., have submitted proposals to the state. The Republic

Tim Hogan: Privatization of our public lands

Having just returned from a splendid autumn backpack in the Hunter Fryingpan Wilderness in Colorado, I was particularly discomfited by the recent article on privatization of our public lands (Feds push for privatization of U.S. forest campgrounds, Sept. 28).  While claims of American exceptionalism are often over-blown during an election, it is fair to say our public lands in western North America are an exceptional legacy of our cultural heritage. For some of us, the shameless rush to cash in on their bounty is reminiscent of the money changers in the temples. Daily Camera


October 3, 2012


TX: Poll results reflect a few surprises from a red state

The poll also measured whether Texans would be willing, or not, to pay more in taxes for a number of proposals. The majority responded that they would be willing to pay increased taxes for construction of new schools, additional art and music instruction, increased pay for school staff and teachers, and investing in physical education classes and high tech equipment. They also believe water rights should be public, instead of owned by individuals, and they would be willing to pay more in tap fees to ensure the state’s water needs are met.  Dallas Morning News

WI: Abele wants to ‘revolutionize’ county government, privatize more

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele unleashed his inner wonk Tuesday, touting his 2013 budget as preserving services and freezing property taxes and extolling his long-term aspirations for overhauling county government… He promised to aggressively pursue privatization ventures… “I’m not here just to run the ship, I want to revolutionize what government can be,” Abele told an audience at a Milwaukee Rotary Club luncheon. …He declined to say what services he’s considering for outsourcing. Gov. Scott Walker, Abele’s predecessor as county executive, pressed for privatizing food service, housekeeping, building security and even the airport. Each issue provoked strong opposition, but Walker eventually won on food service and housekeeping. Walker’s unilateral move to privatize courthouse security was reversed by an arbitrator. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (blog)

OH: Mark Kvamme Abandons Sinking JobsOhio Ship

…Kvamme moved to Kasich’s staff and quickly began developing what would become known as JobsOhio: a private development organization that would replace the Department of Development.  JobsOhio would be funded with state money but would not have any of the transparency or accountability requirements of a state agency.   Kvamme was eventually appointed to lead JobsOhio and, since taking over, has been fighting to get that state money in the form of liquor revenue, which he planned to bond out to pay the state a fee and keep the rest for operating JobsOhio. Again, the constitutionality of JobsOhio’s funding plan was challenged by ProgressOhio. …We wondered out loud what Kasich might possibly do next, but I don’t any of us guessed this:  Mark Kvamme, the guy who came up with the brilliant idea for a private development organization funded with state money,  just announced he’s leaving JobsOhio to start his own venture capital firm. This can not be good news for what the Dispatch called the ”centerpiece of the administration of Gov. John Kasich”. PlunderBund

FL: Lifeguards hired as public employees, Private Contractor fired

Remember when 18 year old lifeguard, Tomas Lopez, was fired by the private contractor, Jeff Ellis Management for rescuing a drowning man outside the Management companys contracted section of beach in the City of Hallendale Beach, FL?   Recently the role of the contractor and the Lifeguards have reversed themselves. Good paying full time lifeguard jobs and 3 part time jobs were filled by the City to patrol and protect beach goers. These are much better paying jobs the what the contractor offered.   Video Link portraying the new hires with short story availabe here.   Daily Kos

Postal Service privatization: New York magazine takes delivery into its own hands

News this week that the U.S. Postal Service has defaulted on a second $5.6 billion benefits payment — the second miss in two months — is sure to reawaken a debate among think tanks such as the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation that USPS should be privatized.  Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has blamed Congress for not taking action on the proposals USPS has put forth over the past year, as they recess until after the November elections, saying, “Absolutely, we would be profitable right now.” New York magazine, thanks to increased postage costs with declining service, has decided to experiment with its own kind of delivery privatization: door-to-door delivery by hand in Manhattan.  Washington Post Blog

Deconstructing the PMSC Frame

But privatization of military tasks is inextricably linked to our conception of the free enterprise system and over the past few decades we have been conditioned to accept, in Tarzan-like terms — you: big bureaucratic, wasteful, inefficient, free spending, government apparatchik; me: lean, mean, outsourced, cost-effective, fighting machine..So, most of us willingly drank the neoliberal Kool-Aid, at least until the economy started melting down. But since then people have been expressing doubts about both neoliberal economics and privatization. Are they right to do so? Possibly, according to an article published earlier this year.  Huffington Post