November 30, 2012


TX: Road Tolls Proliferate as State Financing Falls Short

As public officials across fast-growing Texas look for ways to build more roads in the midst of a lack of public financing, toll revenue or investment from private firms hoping to collect that toll revenue are repeatedly emerging as the antidote. But many critics say charging tolls in Texas has shifted from an if-we-absolutely-must option to the default approach for major road projects. “The day will surely come when, if you want to get from point A to point B, you’re not going to have a choice but to get on a toll road,” State Senator John Carona, Republican of Dallas, said at a panel discussion at the Texas Tribune Festival in September on transportation financing. “Well then, suddenly, a toll is just another tax. Let’s not kid one another.” New York Times

PA: Amid objections, county rethinks plan to outsource foster care oversight

Luzerne County officials are reconsidering a plan to outsource the supervision of foster care and kinship care to private providers after hearing objections from two state representatives and a Children and Youth Services supervisor. State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston, and state Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Butler Township, are expected to address county council on Tuesday.  “I feel very strongly about doing everything I can to prevent this very bad idea,” Mundy said Thursday. Citizens Voice

PA: Privatizing lottery: Corbett Seeks To Sell It Despite Its Ace Service To Seniors

This doesn’t make sense, according to Lottery executives and its rank-and-file employees, who for years have labored to make it one of the more-successful state lotteries in the  fnation… Hughes said, “There are so many unanswered questions about this plan and how it impacts senior programs. The Lottery is a well-run, highly efficient agency, nationally recognized for its success and has been counted on to fund key senior programs for years. It should not be threatened with privatization.” In a letter to State Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser and Secretary of Aging Breian Duke, Washington expressed concerns of senior citizens around the state over Corbett’s move.  Philly Record

OH: Ohio Turnpike will see record tolls this year

The Ohio Turnpike will see record revenues of about $270 million this year, thanks to toll increases that took effect in early January. The question now is how Gov. John Kasich’s administration will opt to leverage that flow of cash. The governor’s office is expected to announce by year’s end whether it wants to lease all or parts of the turnpike operation, such as toll collection, or merge the toll road with ODOT.  Plain Dealer

CA: State Supreme Court rejects Costa Mesa’s appeal on job outsourcing

The California Supreme Court has declined to hear Costa Mesa’s appeal of an injunction that for months has blocked the city from moving forward with a plan to lay off hundreds of workers and outsource jobs.  Los Angeles Times

CA: Private information on LA ambulance users leaked

Private identity information, including Social Security numbers, may have been leaked for up to 900 Los Angeles ambulance patients as part of a multistate data breach, officials said Thursday…. The city’s decision to contract with ADPI follows a growing pattern of the city using outsourcing to increase efficiencies and save money. As part of the move, about 50 positions were eliminated at the LAFD. The decision to outsource operations was criticized at the time by Pat McOsker, head of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City. On Thursday, he said he’d warned the City Council such a breach could occur. “This is an unfortunate example of what happens when you privatize,” McOsker said. “The city isn’t able to ensure that people’s information is kept private.” Contra Costa Times

FL: Higher rates for non-STEM students bound to backfire – opinion

Pushing toward privatization: The universities are now under pressure to seek private funding for programs. But while private funds are available for the professional schools, such funds are scarce for the rest of the university. Orlando Sentinel

Ditching West Publishing Could Save Court $350K

The 9th Circuit said Thursday that it will save $350,000 over the next year by processing its opinions in-house instead of contracting that service to West Publishing.  Courthouse News

November 29, 2012


CA:  Port of Los Angeles clerical workers strike over outsourcing

Striking workers shut down the largest terminal at the Port of Los Angeles for a second day Wednesday, and the job action later widened to close three terminals at the Port of Long Beach, threatening to paralyze the nation’s busiest port complex. About 70 clerical workers struck the APM Terminals operations on Pier 400 at Port of Los Angeles on Tuesday, raising the ante in a 2-year-old contract battle over union claims that management has been outsourcing well-paid jobs out of state and overseas.   The Republic

RI: AFL-CIO to make Pawtucket a ‘battleground’ city

The Rhode Island AFL-CIO is planning a major offensive against efforts to privatize municipal departments across the state, and Pawtucket is expected to be the launching point. Valley Breeze

PA: Convention board hires consultant to explore privatizing

The board of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority has awarded a consulting-services contract to Public Financial Management Inc., of Philadelphia, to assist in reviewing responses to privatize certain functions of the center. Philadelphia Inquirer

FL: Judge hearing Fla. prison privatization challenge

A judge is hearing another challenge to plans for privatizing health care services in Florida’s prisons. Circuit Judge John Cooper is conducting the hearing in Tallahassee on whether a legislative budget panel exceeded its authority by approving the $58 million proposal. Lawyers for two unions representing about 3,000 nurses and other prison health care employees, who stand to lose their jobs, contend only the full Legislature can approve such a significant policy change. San Francisco Chronicle

FL: In outreach to large landowners, Gov. Rick Scott finds support for toll road

To make way for a proposed network of sprawling toll roads, Florida transportation officials are considering reserving tracts of remote timberlands, cattle ranches and phosphate mines from some of the state’s largest landowners.

Jeb Bush, with cash and clout, pushes contentious school reforms

But a close examination raises questions about the depth and durability of the gains in Florida. After the dramatic jump of the Bush years, Florida test scores edged up in 2009 and then dropped, with low-income students falling further behind. State data shows huge numbers of high school graduates still needing remedial help in math and reading. And some of the policies Bush now pushes, such as vouchers and mandatory online classes, have no clear links to the test-score bump in Florida. Bush has been particularly vigorous about promoting online education, urging states to adopt policies written with input from companies that stand to profit from expanded cyber-schooling. Many of those companies also donate to Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which has raised $19 million in recent years to promote his agenda nationwide.  Reuters




November 28, 2012


NJ & PA: States on treasure hunt with privatization plans – Editorial

State officials in Harrisburg and Trenton shouldn’t gamble on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey lotteries – particularly if the promised gains from planned privatization schemes prove as elusive as this week’s $500 million Powerball jackpot. Philadelphia Inquirer

DC: Audit Shows Parking Ticket Contract Mismanaged

Meter maids issue more than three tickets for every single resident of Washington, DC every year. Employees of the private contractor Affiliated Computer Services (ACS, now a part of Xerox) and other DC departments issue a total of 2.5 million citations. The revenue generated has been so substantial a report by the city’s inspector general issued November 15 suggests officials are not interested in doing anything to upset the existing system.

NY: Union threatens to sue if Onondaga County moves to sell nursing home

The union that represents workers at the Van Duyn nursing home said Tuesday it may sue Onondaga County if, as expected, the county takes the first step toward selling the 513-bed facility to a private operator. Mark Kotzin, a spokesman for the Civil Service Employees Association, said the union believes it would be illegal for the county to transfer ownership of Van Duyn Home & Hospital to the Onondaga Civic Development Corp.  Syracuse Post Standard

TX: Faculty members respond to plans for custodial outsourcing

Though the complete outsourcing of custodial positions at Texas State may take 10 to 15 years, some faculty and staff are already beginning to consider its effects… Some faculty are concerned because of the close relationships they hold with Texas State-employed custodians. Rebecca Montgomery, associate professor in the Department of History, said the same Texas  State custodian has cleaned the Taylor Murphy History building for years. “We just do not want her to be replaced with outsourced employees because we value the relationship we have with (the custodian),” Montgomery said.  University Star

TX: Dallas Museum of Art drops admission fee            ‎

The DMA announcement bucks the privatizing wave that grabbed the United States by the throat more than 30 years ago, a grim development that might finally be petering out in a generational shift.  Los Angeles Times

Jeb Bush, with cash and clout, pushes contentious school reforms           

And some of the policies Bush now pushes, such as vouchers and mandatory online classes, have no clear links to the test-score bump in Florida. Bush has been particularly vigorous about promoting online education, urging states to adopt policies written with input from companies that stand to profit from expanded cyber-schooling. Many of those companies also donate to Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which has raised $19 million in recent years to promote his agenda nationwide.  Reuters

For-Profit College Regulations Are Needed, Concede Some Industry Presidents

A Senate investigation lead by Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, revealed that students at for-profit schools take out higher-than-average student debt loads, have a poor job placement record and mostly fail to graduate — but the schools collected $32 billion in taxpayer dollars last year alone.  Huffington Post


November 27, 2012


For-profit colleges losing out to state schools charging less

For-profit colleges have also suffered damage to their reputations. Investigators have said the schools use high-pressure sales tactics to mislead applicants about costs and job placement, leaving them with government loans they can’t repay. Seattle Times

Global Corporations Eye The Privatizing Of Highways

These so-called public-private partnerships, or P3s, are a multibillion-dollar global business. One Swedish corporation has called the United States the “trillion-dollar opportunity” for privatized highways and other public infrastructure.  Disinformation

Writing bills, finding funds: Bush’s foundation at work

Soon after leaving office in 2007, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush launched the Foundation for Excellence in Education to “ignite a movement of reform, state by state.” A close examination of the foundation’s work, including a review of thousands of pages of email, shows the staff of two dozen has worked aggressively – if not always with immediate success – to shape public policy.  Chicago Tribune

VA: Road-building process is flawed, study contends

The state’s increasing reliance on public-private partnerships to fund major road projects needs more independent oversight and greater transparency to ensure the deals serve the public interest, according to a new report on the practice. The report, released Monday by the nonprofit Southern Environmental Law Center, said decision-making on road projects has become concentrated under the governor’s office…. The study’s author, Jim Regimbal, suggested state legislators wrest some control of the process by requiring General Assembly approval of state subsidies on each project and whenever tolls are considered. In Illinois, the legislature must approve a project before officials can seek proposals from the private sector on it, his report said.  The Virginian-Pilot

IL: Illinois Supreme Court Considers HOA Speeding Tickets

High court in Illinois hears oral arguments in dispute over whether homeowners associations may issue speeding tickets. An Illinois motorist is fighting back against his homeowners association (HOA) for pulling over motorists and issuing speeding tickets. …The HOA imposes speeding tickets that can cost between $50 and $200. Failure to stop for the HOA private security force also incurs a $200 fine for “obstructing an officer.” The fines can be imposed on homeowners, even if they did were not responsible for the alleged violation.  The

WI: Wisconsin continues to outsource wastefully – opinion

In 2011, the Governor’s Commission on Waste, Fraud and Abuse held meetings at which our association, representing public engineers, called for more accountability in state agency outsourcing of public works to consultants. We showed how state government has wasted tens of millions of dollars outsourcing more and more public projects that could be done in-house for less money. We cited numerous studies produced by state agencies, third parties and the Legislative Audit Bureau. The commission seemed to agree. But what to do about it? The Walker administration and Republican legislators answered with legislation that weakened state oversight. Instead of performing cost-benefit analyses before deciding to outsource state work, this “fix” would have permitted analysis only after consulting work was completed – like studying where the cows went after you’ve left the barn doors open.  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WI: Walker skeptical of toll roads, gas tax hike

Governor Scott Walker says he would rather not delay major road construction projects in the state, if funding can be found. Walker said he “doesn’t think there’s a big appetite for a gas tax increase” and also reiterated his opposition to the idea of toll roads in Wisconsin. The governor noted that the required federal approval would also limit any quick financial benefits from tolls. He says the idea of something like “hot lanes,” in which people pay to use a faster express lane along a freeway, might be a more viable alternative. Walker says the funding question will be considered as he prepares his budget proposal, which will be released in February. WTAQ

OH: Cincinnati to Pursue Privatizing Parking to Balance Budget

In the past, Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld voiced concerns about privatizing parking: “I’ll await more details, but it seems penny-wise and pound-foolish to forgo a steady revenue stream for a lump-sum payment. Cincinnati needs a structurally balanced budget and can’t keep relying on one-time sources. Places like Chicago and Indianapolis have seen their parking rates more than double following privatization — that’s a bad deal for citizens, and something we don’t need while we’re experiencing an urban renaissance.” Another concern is whether the city’s current parking employees will be laid off if parking services are sold.  Cincinnati CityBeat

PA: Is privatizing Pennsylvania Lottery a smart bet? Lawmakers offer mixed opinions

House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody says his position hasn’t changed about privatizing the Pennsylvania Lottery and wonders why Gov. Tom Corbett would tinker with its success. Patriot-News

PA: Union leaders to meet with state over lottery privatization

Leaders of the union representing a majority of Pennsylvania Lottery employees are questioning state efforts to privatize the program. A British company is the only bidder for the lottery, which funds efforts like property tax rebates.

TN: TN school vouchers could include public, private school choices

As state lawmakers and members of a Gov. Bill Haslam-appointed task force consider the scope of a possible school voucher program in Tennessee, talks aren’t limited to using public dollars for private schooling. Rather, under one scenario designed to expand choice further, low-income students enrolled in struggling schools could attend higher-performing public schools across town, outside their home districts and — if need be — across county lines. Per-pupil state education funds would follow a student from his or her zoned school to their new school, private or public, wherever it might be.  The Tennessean

TX: Custodial positions to be outsourced across campus

Texas State-employed custodians will eventually be a thing of the past, as the outsourcing of these positions sweeps across campus. The university started the process of outsourcing its custodial services last summer. University Star

UT: Outsourcing of substitute teachers in Utah school districts on the rise

The Nebo School District is joining a growing group of Utah districts outsourcing substitute teachers.  Salt Lake Tribune






November 26, 2012


PA: Corbett eyes lottery privatization

On few issues are the battle lines being more sharply drawn here than the privatization of the Pennsylvania Lottery. The issue after all involves the future of a program that has provided $22 billion in revenue during the past 40 years. The Corbett administration recently took a major step on the way to privatization by seeking bids from private firms interested in managing the lottery. Democratic lawmakers are vociferous in their opposition to the idea. Citizens Voice

DE: Talk of privatizing Wilmington’s port resurfaces

Discussions of privatizing part or all of the state-owned Port of Wilmington are resurfacing after months of little movement. Two potential investors have made the reported short list as possible partners. A solicitation for the port pegged Wilmington’s future potential for cargo as high as 1.7 million containers each year by 2040. Union workers are concerned about the language of any deal. They want any deal to ensure protections for their jobs and pensions.

FL: Editorial: Another sneaky move with prisons

It shouldn’t have happened this way. But a handful of people in Tallahassee are determined to privatize Florida’s prisons, including health care services, no matter that they can’t get enough votes to pass these proposals in the Florida Legislature. Sun-Sentinel

FL: Fla. judge skeptical about prison privatization

A skeptical judge on Monday raised questions about whether it was legal for the state to move ahead with a plan to privatize nearly 3,000 health care jobs in Florida’s prisons.  Circuit Judge John Cooper spent more than two hours Monday hearing a lawsuit from three public employee unions that challenged a move by the state’s prison agency to have private companies take over inmate health care. Cooper did not rule, saying he needed more information before he can decide whether an obscure legislative panel had the authority to sign off on the privatization proposal in September. Local 10

NY: Onondaga County must not privatize Van Duyn

If you want another good reason as to why, let me tell the tragic story of how nursing home privatization recently failed the citizens of Delaware County.  Syracuse Post Standard

State by State, the Case Against Prisons Becomes Promising

Contrary to the cost reduction promises of the private prison industry, private prisons in Arizona are actually losing money – $3.5 million a year – by incarcerating their prisoners in private prisons, a new report shows. Not only are they losing money, they are contractually bound to keep prison occupancy levels at 100 percent. However, many former privatization supporters are moving away from this position in favor of focusing efforts towards a more straight forward reduction of prison population. The conservative network of state legislators, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is a leader in this effort.  Once a strong advocate of prison privatization and mandatory minimums, ALEC has abandoned their work on privatization and are now exclusively focusing efforts on pushing out model bills designed to reform sentencing laws.  Independent Voter Network

November 21, 2012


NJ: Democrats in Trenton Push New Halfway-House Rules

The measures, introduced this week, could threaten the state’s largest halfway house, in Newark, which has 1,200 beds and is run by the company, Community Education Centers. The lawmakers also want more rigorous inspections of the system and an overhaul of halfway-house contracts. The privately run halfway houses in New Jersey, many of which are as large as prisons, handle thousands of inmates annually. After a series of articles in The New York Times this year described a system that faced little government scrutiny and was plagued by escapes, violence and drugs, lawmakers responded by conducting their own inquiry into the halfway houses, including holding hearings. They said in recent interviews that they now believed that the system had gone awry.  New York Times

PA: Pa. unveils $34B, 20-year bid to privatize lottery

The Britain-based company that runs the national lottery in the United Kingdom is pledging to produce more than $34 billion in profits over 20 years if it wins a contract to manage the Pennsylvania Lottery, Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration said Tuesday as it moves toward privatizing the state’s $3.5 billion system. The administration said it will weigh the offer by Camelot Global Services, which it said is good until Dec. 31, and is the only one it said it will receive after two other companies that it would not identify dropped out.  San Francisco Chronicle

PA: Dem plans bill to require privatization approval

A state lawmaker from western Pennsylvania plans to introduce a bill requiring legislative approval for privatizing government programs that would include the Pennsylvania Lottery, according to a news release last week….DeLuca questions whether private management could do as well as the success achieved by the lottery under public management and said no governor should take such “unilateral action” without legislative consultation and approval, according to the release. Central Penn Business Journal

CA: Mayor: Privatize waste or lose cops

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announced today that she will give her recommendation at the next city council meeting in favor of a local franchise taking over the city’s residential solid waste collection…. If the city doesn’t get revenue from another source, the police department is where cuts could be made.  Fresno Business Journal

MI: Detroit City Council urged to reject water department contract

Dozens of residents said the contract would lead to privatization of one of the city’s most important possessions, and union leaders and other activists said the city was effectively signing over control of a crucial public service to outside, private entities. Detroit Free Press



November 20, 2012


Water Industry Outlook: ‘The Time Is Ripe’ for Water Privatization

The privatization of the nation’s water industry is set to explode in the next five years, according to the findings of a recent survey. And what the next three to five years hold, according to the results, is a surge in privatization and public-private partnerships in a quest to capitalize on the resource. As Jerome Devillers, Head of Water Infrastructure/Project Financing at WeiserMazars stated bluntly in a release, “Our study shows the time is ripe” for water privatization.  Common Dreams

Facing Rates Of $17 For 15 Minutes, FCC Takes Up Regulation Of Prison Phone Industry

This industry is so profitable because prison phone companies have state-sanctioned monopolistic control over the state prison markets, and the government agency with authority to rein in these rates across the nation has been reluctant to offer meaningful relief. Prison phone companies are awarded these monopolies through bidding processes in which they submit contract proposals to the state prison systems; in all but eight states, these contracts include promises to pay “commissions” — in effect, kickbacks — to states, in either the form of a percentage of revenue, a fixed up-front payment, or a combination of the two. Thus, state prison systems have no incentive to select the telephone company that offers the lowest rates; rather, correctional departments have an incentive to reap the most profit by selecting the telephone company that provides the highest commission.  Think Progress

Fla. judge skeptical about prison privatization

A skeptical judge on Monday raised questions about whether it was legal for the state to move ahead with a plan to privatize nearly 3,000 health care jobs in Florida’s prisons. Circuit Judge John Cooper spent more than two hours Monday hearing a lawsuit from three public employee unions that challenged a move by the state’s prison agency to have private companies take over inmate health care. Cooper did not rule, saying he needed more information before he can decide whether an obscure legislative panel had the authority to sign off on the privatization proposal in September. Business Week

NY: SUNY Buffalo buries controversial Shale Institute

SUNY Buffalo has decided to shutter the Shale Resources and Society Institute in response to criticism of its funding and the independence of the scholarship it produces. …Reports released under the institute’s aegis include a study that examined Pennsylvania’s fracking history and compared its enforcement actions with New York’s proposed regs (such as are known at this point). Its conclusion: Most of the negative incidents in Pennsylvania would have been prevented under New York’s proposed rules…..Considine’s research has been underwritten by the drilling industry. The institute later was forced to clarify that the report wasn’t “peer-reviewed” in the technical sense of that term.  Albany Times Union

PA: Corbett stresses pension crisis in 2013 agenda

Corbett presented a broad outline of his agenda for 2013, saying his chief priorities are addressing the pension crisis, privatizing state liquor stores, and combating the high cost of college. ” Philadelphia Inquirer




November 19, 2012


FL: Privatizing of Prison Health Care Leads to 2,000 Layoffs in Florida

Nearly 2,000 state workers are being displaced from Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s administration because of the nation’s biggest outsourcing of prison health care. “Due to the outsourcing of this function, your position will be deleted,” reads a dryly worded dismissal notice from the Department of Corrections, sent to 1,890 state employees in the past two weeks. The Department of Corrections signed a $230 million contract with Corizon Healthcare of Nashville to provide all health care in central and north Florida prisons and is negotiating contract terms with Wexford Health Sources of Pittsburgh to take over health care in nine South Florida prisons for $48 million a year.  Miami Herald

FL: Close look shows state GOP was just badly out of touch

While the Legislature declared war on the welfare state and those collecting unemployment, its actions also targeted our public employees. During the 2010, 2011 and 2012 sessions, bills were introduced to privatize prisons, potentially putting thousands of corrections officers out of work with no proof of any cost savings; to drastically change healthcare and pension benefits for existing state employees; to tie teacher pay to student performance with no regard to the makeup of the classroom and with no funding source to offer merit pay; and to dictate to our police and firefighters what they can contribute to through a check-off on paychecks.  Sun-Sentinel

TX: Getting There: For roads, free can also mean late

So this is the math: We can have toll roads, which toll drivers in perpetuity and cost more upfront — since contractors, looking at the financial risk involved with those penalties, tend to submit higher construction bids — but that are completed quickly. Or we can have roads with no tolls that are built much more slowly and at a lower cost with tax dollars. On the one hand, that trade-off has cost commuters an extra year of going through stoplights at U.S. 290 and MoPac. But on the other hand, they’ll never pay a toll to drive over those bridges when they’re done. That might be good math.  Austin American-Statesman

TX: FBI probes Dallas County IT contract, payments to County Commissioner

A $43 million computer outsourcing contract that created a costly mess for taxpayers has come back to haunt longtime Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. Price got large sums from his political consultant, Kathy Nealy, while she received payments from an IT firm he was instrumental in hiring, FBI agents say. The contract is linked to the FBI’s criminal investigation of Price, who cast the deciding vote for Schlumberger Ltd.’s bid for the county’s business.  Dallas Morning News

NJ: Not happy with JCP&L after Sandy, towns explore starting their own power utilities

Several municipalities have looked into creating their own public utilities after JCP&L took weeks, in some cases, to restore power lost because of Hurricane Sandy, officials from Madison and Butler said. Officials from the two Morris County towns have said their residents got electricity back days after the storm because they operate their own utilities. The officials also said employees and elected representatives from neighboring towns asked them how they could start their own municipally-run power services.

CA: Toll jolts Los Angeles motorists

But one of the symbols of the American freeway — Interstate 110, which runs, or rather crawls, across central Los Angeles — is free no more. At precisely 10 p.m. Nov. 10, motorists faced a toll of up to $15.40 for the privilege of driving an 11-mile stretch of express lanes between Gardena and downtown Los Angeles. This is the first toll in the history of Los Angeles County, a passage, as it were, and a jarring experience for a part of the country that has long celebrated the primacy of automobiles, not to mention the first syllable of the word “freeway.” “I’ve been living here my whole life,” said S. Masani Jackson, as she waited on a 30-person line to buy the transponder required to enter the exclusive lanes. “And I have never had to pay for the 110 Freeway. It’s ridiculous.”  Bend Bulletin

Wall Street Uses the Third Way to Lead Its Assault on Social Security

Third Way, lobbyists for and from Wall Street who are leading the effort to enrich Wall Street by privatizing Social Security, was created by Wall Street to fool some of the people all of the time. Third Way is run by a man who Laursen terms an “acolyte” of Pete Peterson.  Peterson is a Republican, Wall Street billionaire who has two priorities – imposing austerity on America and privatizing Social Security.  Privatizing Social Security is Wall Street’s unholy grail.  They would receive hundreds of billions of dollars in fees and ensure that their firms were not only “too big to fail,” but “too big to criticize” if they could profit from a privatized retirement system. Truth Out

Looking Beyond Hurricane Sandy

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the media documented the vulnerabilities of metro-New York’s underlying infrastructure of electrical power, roadways and fuel delivery. Many people suffered and died as a consequence of widespread system failures. One component of the infrastructure that took it on the chin was the telecom system, especially wireless services. Telco service disruptions were reported in 158 counties and 10 states stretching from Maine to Virginia….The long-term crisis facing America’s communications system is rooted in the telco and cable companies’ effort to deregulate and privatize the public network. Their efforts are aimed at ending communications services as a public utility and turning it into a pay-for-usage private service. This strategy is designed to increase telecom corporate profits. The consequences of this strategy are alarming: it will end net neutrality and an open Internet, erode services for poor and rural Americans, and further compromise the nation’s long-term economic prospects.  Counterpunch

November 16, 2012


ID: Gangs, Private Prison Company Allegedly Partnered Together

A new lawsuit brought by eight inmates of the Idaho Correctional Center alleges that the company is cutting back on personnel costs by partnering with violent prison gangs to help control the facility. Court documents and an investigative report issued by the state’s Department of Corrections show how guards routinely looked the other way when gang members violated basic facility rules, negotiated with gang leaders on the cell placement of new inmates, and in one instance may have even helped one group of inmates plan a violent attack on members of a rival gang.  Think Progress

IL: Chicago Passes Austerity Budget with Little Debate—But More Than Usual

What was notable was that three aldermen did vote against the budget and one, Robert Fioretti, spoke in strident terms about how cuts and privatization could hurt regular people. Last year’s budget passed unanimously despite deep job cuts, the closure of six union-staffed mental-health clinics, the privatization of primary-care clinics, and other public-service cuts.  “We may not be generating the headlines of the parking meters,” Fioretti said, referring to the debacle when former Mayor Richard M. Daley leased the city’s meters to a private company, “but we are eliminating middle-classes jobs. For what result? What do we say to our constituents who are sold out, to the dedicated employees of mental health centers, to the police officers who are not seeing vacancies filled? … This helps the city in the long run how?”  In These Times

IL: Aussie Traffic Camera Company In Turmoil Over Shareholder Revolt, Ethics Investigation

Australian investors angry at the recent performance of Redflex Traffic Systems let management know by issuing a “first strike” Wednesday against the photo enforcement firm’s compensation plan. …Just one day before this year’s meeting, Redflex issued a statement informing investors that the Chicago, Illinois Inspector General was conducting an investigation into allegations of corruption related to the city’s red light camera contract with Redflex — the largest automated ticketing contract in the world. Last month, Chicago announced it excluding Redflex from bidding on the forthcoming speed camera contract after learning about a breach of the city’s ethics rules.  The Newspaper

NJ: Retailers form group opposing a privatized lottery

Citing a potential shift in lottery sales from Main Street retailers to big-box wholesalers and online platforms, a coalition of small retailers and unionized workers has launched a grassroots campaign opposing the Gov. Chris Christie administration’s plans to privatize the state lottery. NJBIZ

VA: Authority Overseeing Airports, Toll Road, Repeatedly Warned over Contract Deficiencies

The agency overseeing the region’s two major airports and managing construction of the $5.6 billion Dulles rail project was warned repeatedly over the past 10 years that it was improperly The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, already under fire for such ethics abuses as taking Super Bowl tickets from contractors, issued several large no-bid contracts that violated federal transit policy, according to reports and audits.  Washington Post

VA: Virginians favor fixing roads; paying for it is another matter

Virginian voters oppose, 57 percent to 38 percent, putting tolls on parts of Interstate 95 in the commonwealth to pay for that work, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. Virginians are even less keen on higher gas taxes. Given the choice between that and tolls, voters prefer tolls 56 percent to 32 percent. The Quinnipiac survey found that Virginians oppose privatizing the state’s port operations, 40 percent to 34 percent.  Washington Post

OH: Ohio PIRG questions turnpike proposal

As the state nears the end of a study into how it can wring billions out of the Ohio Turnpike, a consumer advocacy group Thursday questioned whether such a deal makes sense and how it might be structured. The Ohio Public Interest Research Group questioned whether such a deal might include a clause, as Indiana’s did, that might prohibit improvements to nearby public roads seen as competition. “If it is structured like that, projects like that could definitely be in jeopardy,” said Tabitha Woodruff, Ohio PIRG advocate and co-author of the report. The issue of a noncompetition clause was one of several posed by the group as ODOT prepares to release the results of the study conducted by Texas-based KPMG Corporate Finance LLC by the end of the year.  Toledo Blade

FL: Privatization hearing postponed

A Thursday court hearing for a case filed against the state’s privatization of prison health services was rescheduled for Monday morning so attorneys could have more time presenting oral arguments. Tallahassee Democrat ‎           

Hurricane Sandy and a National Infrastructure Bank

Hurricane Sandy’s blow on New York represented a direct hit on lower Manhattan and Wall Street – the epicenter of global finance, peopled with master financial planners. Yet here is an irony: “Wall Street,” notes infrastructure expert Michael Likosky, “continues to build Chinese, Middle East and North African, Indian, and other nations’ infrastructure and pipelines. It needs to do more at home.” With a national infrastructure bank of the type endorsed by President Obama and many top fiscal experts, there’d also be a strong spur to attract big financial capital pools now on the sidelines.  Citiwire



November 15, 2012


IL: Mayor Emanuel ensures parking meters remain in private hands

There’s a major reason Chicago hasn’t been able to get rid of its street parking privatization deal: because Mayor Rahm Emanuel has fought to keep it in place. That’s the gist of a ruling Tuesday afternoon by a Cook County judge, who found that the 75-year privatization agreement may be “a bad deal” but can’t be declared illegal as long as the city claims to be benefiting from it. At issue was a 2009 lawsuit filed by attorney Clint Krislov on behalf of the IVI-IPO, a public-interest group. The suit argued that the deal illegally privatized the government’s right to set parking and traffic policy and restricted the options of future city officials.  Chicago Reader

IL: Chicago Mayor Planning First Step to Privatize Water

It’s hard to build a case against the 34 water call employees. They perform a vital service, answering calls and providing information about water bills. No one’s accused them of malingering. In fact, fewer people are doing more work as the staff is cut and calls increase—no doubt thanks to Mayor Emanuel’s hike in water and sewer fees this year. However, Emanuel claims the city will save $100,000 by farming out the service to NTT while drastically cutting down waiting times and improving service at the call center. He says he doesn’t know how much NTT will pay its employees or whether they will have health benefits.  PDAIllinois

IL: Emanuel has open door for corporate execs, record shows

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has opened the door to his City Hall office for a steady stream of investment bankers, venture capitalists and international consultants in his intense search for private solutions to some of Chicago’s biggest public problems…. One of his top advisers, Lois Scott, headed a financial consulting firm that represented companies entering government privatization deals. And since taking office, Emanuel has had many meetings with experts who are offering solutions to such problems for other governments. Chicago Tribune

AZ: ACLU-Idaho says private prison company may be violating settlement in 2010 federal lawsuit

The organization sent CCA a letter last week detailing its concerns about safety at the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise. The settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union stemmed from a 2010 lawsuit the organization filed on behalf of inmates at the prison, contending the CCA-run facility was so violent that inmates called it “Gladiator School.” CCA firmly denied the allegations, but the two sides reached a deal requiring staffing and safety changes at the prison.  Washington Post

CA: Public-private partnership for construction of Long Beach courthouse despite report

State and local officials have lauded the concept of a public-private partnership as an innovative, cost-effective way to build the new Gov. George Deukmejian Courthouse, but the concept may not have been the best approach, according to a recent study. The Legislative Analyst’s Office…. oncluded that the state Administrative Office of the Courts did not use clear processes and appeared “to have selected projects not well suited for” a public-private partnership. The report also stated that studies comparing the costs of projects under different options “were based on several assumptions that are subject to significant uncertainty and interpretation, and tended to favor” public-private partnerships.  Contra Costa Times

TX:  $4 million boathouse to be built at White Rock Lake

The project is a private-public venture between the city and Dallas United Crew, a coed high school rowing team…Under the deal, Dallas United Crew would raise the money to build the boathouse, which would be on the northeast part of the lake. No city money would be used. The city would own the building and earn 10 percent of the rowing club’s revenue, an estimated $150,000 over the course of a 20-year contract. There’s an option to renew the lease in 10 years. Some residents…worry that the deal represents a step toward privatization of the lake, a city park. Dallas Morning News

TX: Helium shortage could threaten Houston’s Turkey Day parade

Under the 1996 Helium Privatization Act, the land management agency has been charged with selling off the remaining supply of helium on federal lands as private industry and overseas production plants take over the role of helium extraction. Houston Chronicle

LA: More state workers laid off in past four months than in any year of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tenure

Since the fiscal year began on July 1, 967 state employees lost their jobs and the state is set to shed more than 2,000 more positions as the effects of cuts to hospitals and the privatization of state services go into effect later this year.