December 31, 2012


NJ: Just one bid for privatizing sales, marketing of NJ Lottery

An effort to privatize the sales and marketing of the New Jersey Lottery has drawn just one bidder. The joint venture making the bid consists of GTECH Corporation, Scientific Games International, and the largest pension fund in Canada. But the lack of competition concerns Assemblyman Vinnie Prieto, D-Hudson, budget committee chairman. “It sends kind of mixed signals to me because you would figure if it’s that attractive to somebody, you would have had multiple bidders,” he said.

OH: Auditors uncover problems at private prisons in Ohio

During the past year, unsafe and unsanitary conditions were documented by state monitors at one of Ohio’s privately-run prisons forcing the new operator to make major changes less than one year after taking control of the facility.  Dayton Daily News

WA: Privatizing liquor hasn’t brought price down

More than six months after privatization of the state’s liquor industry, the goal of lower prices has yet to materialize. In fact, prices overall took a jump immediately after the changeover and have stayed near that level since.  HeraldNet

PA: Editorial: Legislature gets seat at the table on lottery bid

Any breathing space created by the Senate hearing also lets policymakers reconsider whether it’s even wise for Harrisburg to expand its lottery offerings. Growing lottery sales could squeeze the state’s take from slot machines and table games at the casinos. And boosting the lottery to aid seniors could mean hardship for retirees struggling with their own gambling problems.  Philadelphia Inquirer


December 28, 2012


PA: Corbett officials to attend hearing on privatizing lottery

Corbett administration officials are willing to appear before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on a proposal to hire a private company to manage the $3.5 billion Pennsylvania Lottery. A spokeswoman for Gov. Tom Corbett’s Department of Revenue said Thursday that officials are happy to answer questions in any format. The hearing date was set for Jan. 14.  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PA: Corbett pushes for extension on Lottery privatization deadline

The Corbett administration says it’s trying to push a year-end deadline back by two or three weeks to decide whether to lease the operations of the Pennsylvania Lottery to a private company. The main reason the commonwealth is pushing for more time has to do with the union that represents some of the Lottery’s employees. The union is allowed to make its own counteroffer to the private bid on the Lottery, and it just got an extension, making its offer due in early January.  Newsworks

CA:  Trash Privatization Opponents Launch Petition

Although the Fresno City Council voted in favor of privatizing residential trash service last week,  it’s not a done deal yet. Opponents of privatization of city residential trash service are hitting the streets and are going door to door hoping that a petition drive will lead to a vote by the people of Fresno on the issue.  Proponents of the petition drive say they don’t want the Mayor and the City Council alone to make the decision.  KMJ Now

Helium prices soar as supplies shrink

Texas is home to the country’s only Federal Helium Reserve, a site outside Amarillo where more than one-third of the world’s helium supply is produced, and the federal government has worked for years to deplete that supply. Congress more than 15 years ago created a law requiring reserve officials to sell off their helium — therefore privatizing the helium industry — by 2015. Now a handful of congressional leaders are trying to prevent the reserve from depleting its helium supply and closing its doors.  Kansas City Star

December 27, 2012


ID: Washingtonians Coming to Idaho for Liquor

Liquor sales are on the rise in Northern Idaho, a trend officials link to the privatization of liquor stores across the state line in Washington. Washington closed its state-run liquor stores in May, prompting many people to come to the Gem State for booze. East Idaho News

PA: Report: Privatizing Lottery a Losing Ticket for PA, Seniors

As the clock ticks on a bid to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery, a new report says the deal is a bad one for the state and its seniors. Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center and study author, says the upside to the lottery being taken over by Camelot Global Services exists only from the company’s perspective. “This deal looks lousy for the Commonwealth, which would lose some of the critical funding that goes to senior programs like low-cost prescription drugs, senior centers and transportation for Pennsylvania seniors.”  Public News Service

VA: Virginia signs agreement with public/private partnership to build 55-mile section of U.S. 460

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Thursday that the state has reached a commercial and financial close with U.S 460 Mobility Partners (a partnership of Ferrovial Agroman S.A. and American Infrastructure) and the Route 460 Funding Corp. of Virginia to finance, design and build a new 55-mile section of U.S. Route 460 in southeastern Virginia. Project development will begin immediately for the $1.4 billion roadway, the governor said, with the bulk of the money for construction ―$1.1 billion ― coming from public sources. Some opponents of the project are questioning the amount of public funding spent on a road that is expected to have between 5,000 and 6,000 vehicles per day.  Virginia Business

VA: Toll rates on Dulles Toll Road to rise

The cost of a one-way trip on the Dulles Toll Road will rise by 50 cents starting Jan. 1. The Washington reports that the cost of a one-way trip for cars will go up from $2.25 to $2.75. That means commuters who rely on the road daily will pay about $260 more in 2013.  WTOP



December 26, 2012


PA: Rendell tied to consultants on lottery privatization

As Gov. Tom Corbett considers whether to hand the reins of the Pennsylvania Lottery over to a British company, he’s been getting advice from a firm with ties to his predecessor.  Former Gov. Ed Rendell is a senior adviser to Greenhill Partners, which stands to make millions if Corbett signs off on a private management agreement with the North American subsidiary of The Camelot Group, which runs the National Lottery in the United Kingdom.  The Morning Call

IL: Skyway’s sky-high tolls

At $3.50, the Chicago Skyway is among the most expensive tollways in the nation. And that’s going to remain true heading into 2013. On Jan. 1, tolls on the north-south bridge will increase by 50 cents for a grand total of $4…. “I use that way for work to get to Chicago and I’m outraged,” said Northwest Indiana resident Justin Hauser. The Indiana Toll Road and the Skyway are run by the same privately-held consortium based in Madrid, Spain. The Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road are operated by the same consortiums of Cintra Infraestructuras, S.A. (Cintra), Macquarie Atlas Roads, and Macquarie Infrastructure Partners.   WBEZ

RI:  Privatization of Higher Ed Violates State Constitution

Excessive administrative spending is but one of many results of nationwide privatization of public education.  Particularly distressing in this context is the root cause of this development, namely the decline of the fraction of the URI budget that comes from the Rhode Island general revenue, a percentage that has dropped from 60% in the 1950s to less than 10% currently. Privatization has resulted in an explosive increase in tuition.


December 24, 2012


CA: California cities’ outsourcing plans face uncertainty

Cash-strapped California cities will think twice about outsourcing work to companies to cut costs after a state court blocked one city’s ambitious plan to hand several services to the private sector. The state’s Supreme Court last month backed an appeals court decision against the City of Costa Mesa’s outsourcing plan, which garnered national attention when a city worker jumped to his death from the roof of the city hall after being fired.  Reuters

PA:  Anti-gambling lawmaker says privatizing Pennsylvania Lottery ‘will create more questions than answers’

A key anti-gambling legislator has cautioned Gov. Tom Corbett against accepting a bid from a British firm to manage the $3.5 billion Pennsylvania Lottery without addressing lawmakers’ concerns. Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, said in a letter to the Republican governor on Thursday that he is concerned that Camelot Global Services will usher in a gambling expansion that could hurt families, and added that such a gambling expansion requires lawmakers’ approval.  PennLive

IL: Chicago Clinches Title For Nation’s Highest Parking Meter Rates

For Chicago motorists, the start of 2013 brings the fifth consecutive year of parking meter rate increases, further ensuring the Windy City retains its title for the nation’s most expensive meters. Just four years ago, most parking meters were just a paltry 25 cents per hour. On Jan. 1, downtown parking meters will jump 75 cents an hour, moving from the current $5.75 per hour to $6.50 per hour…. In December 2008, the Chicago City Council approved a privatization deal put together by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley which leased the city’s metered parking spaces to a private firm for $1.16 billion dollars.   DNAinfo

IL: Emanuel Moves Forward With Midway Privatization

Emanuel cited the parking meter deal as Exhibit A for why and how a possible deal to privatize “the world’s busiest square mile” will be different this time. Chicagoist

LA: Analysis: LSU getting out of the hospital business

The Board of Supervisors has agreed to privatize operations of its public hospitals in New Orleans, Houma and Lafayette, including the $1 billion New Orleans hospital under construction with state and federal money dedicated after Hurricane Katrina…. The governor chose the privatization path without talking to lawmakers, LSU hospital officials or health care leaders.  NECN

DE: State chamber of commerce supports Wilmington port privatization

The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce supports a plan to privatize thestate-owned Port of Wilmington. Rich Heffron with the DSCC tells WDEL-AM that privatizing all or part of the port is necessary to complete a project to build a pier and cargo-handling facilities on the Delaware River.

Privatization or Public Education?

Helen Ladd and her husband Edward Fiske are distinguished observers of American Education. Ladd is a Professor of Economics at Duke University. Fiske was education editor of the anew York Times. Together they describe a fork in the road for our nation’s public school system. Will we continue towards free-market privatization or will we revitalize public education? This is what they see ahead as the risks in the privatization agenda. DianeRavitchBlog


December 21, 2012


PA: Corbett may hold hearings on privatizing the state lottery

Gov. Tom Corbett says he is considering holding public hearings on his administration’s effort to hire a British firm to manage the state lottery.  Pittsburgh Post Gazette

PA: Corbett discloses trips paid by businessman

Tom Corbett has recently disclosed that he took trips in 2011 worth more than $2,300 that were paid for by a Pennsylvania businessman who gave generously to Corbett’s campaign and serves on Corbett’s privatization council. The Herald-Mail

IL: Emanuel moves ahead on Midway privatization, aldermen not so sure

Mayor Rahm Emanuel moved ahead Thursday on testing the privatization market for Midway Airport — with a 40-year lease, profit-sharing for taxpayers and safeguards against consumer price-gouging — but there’s political turbulence ahead. Aldermen are still gun-shy about the steep schedule of rate increases tied to controversial deals that privatized 36,000 city parking meters and the Chicago Skyway.  Chicago Sun Times

SC: Anderson County to privatize inmate health

The county which is located along the Georgia border, has decided to turn in the responsibility of its inmates to Southern Health for a yearly payment of $574,860. Reports suggest it will save the county $20,000 in annual savings. Under the arrangement physician visits would be cut in half although the jail would have nurses on duty 24 hours a day.

Plain Talk: Privatization is no panacea

When a government official or a bureaucrat does something foolish or wastes valuable resources or unnecessarily spends taxpayers’ money, there are news stories about it. When defense contracts come in way over budget, it makes the news. When a government official holds a meeting at a lavish resort, it hits the press, as it should. With rare exceptions, they can’t hide their mistakes or misdeeds. That’s not usually the case in private business. Although the mistakes are just as rampant, just as wasteful, just as irresponsible, it’s much easier to sweep the problem under the rug without anyone except the insiders knowing about it. There is no free press serving as a watchdog on private business, as is its function with government. Capital Times


December 20, 2012


PA: Challenges to lottery privatization plan add up for Corbett

With challenges mounting to the proposed privatization of the Pennsylvania Lottery’s management, Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration is trying to counter negative publicity and make the case that a British firm’s $34 billion bid is the best option to satisfy growing demand for state services for the elderly.  Tribune-Review

PA: Editorial: Why the rush on Pa. lottery privatization?

It would be understandable to push privatization of the lottery if Pennsylvania had been doing a poor job managing it. There are certainly things government does not do well. This newspaper has been critical of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. But by just about any measure, our state’s lottery is pretty good.  The Patriot-News

IN: Indiana’s rocky road to welfare reform

In 2006, Gov. Mitch Daniels privatized the management of the welfare-benefits system with a project led by IBM….It was, by Daniels’s own admission, a failure. Critics accused him of ignoring the lessons of a failed privatization effort in Texas. People were wrongly denied benefits and documents were lost, according to a lawsuit the state filed against IBM. Daniels canceled the IBM contract in 2009…. This July, a Marion County judge awarded $52 million to compensate IBM for cancellation of the contract, castigating the state for “misguided government policy” and IBM for “overzealous corporate ambition.” In an interview, Daniels said the current, revised system – a public-private hybrid – is a success.  Reuters

NC: Toll road pits saving time versus spending money

The completion of North Carolina’s first toll road means area drivers have to balance the cost of driving on the new highway against a savings in time and money, officials say.



December 19, 2012


WA: State privatizing more driver testing

The Washington Department of Licensing says more schools and training programs will take over driver testing next year. Drivers who pass the test go to a state office for their license. The Legislature outsourced the testing to reduce wait lines.  KOMO

NY: County employees’ union launches campaign to keep Maplewood nursing home

The union representing Saratoga County employees vowed Tuesday to actively campaign to keep Maplewood Manor as a county-owned nursing home…. Assalian said the union wants residents of Saratoga County to seriously consider the effects of the privatization.  The Saratogian

Can Public Education as We Know it Survive?

By and large Americans have found ways to strike a balance between these two objectives. Public schools have served as engines of upward mobility for millions of individuals, including waves of immigrants, while driving economic growth by providing an educated workforce. By emphasizing private interests almost entirely at the expense of public ones, the private vision, with millions of dollars behind it, threatens to undermine this historical balance.  Huffington Post

December 18, 2012


PA: Lawsuit filed over effort to privatize Pa. lottery

State employees union and seven Democratic lawmakers filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court on Monday seeking to stop the state from privatizing the management of the lottery, saying Republican Gov. Tom Corbett doesn’t have the authority to make such a move…. The lawsuit claims the Lottery Act of 1971 doesn’t give the governor the right to privatize the lottery without approval from the Legislature.

FL: Scott names insider as Florida prison secretary

…. Another judge last year ruled the Legislature improperly tried to privatize entire prisons in South Florida through the state budget. The Senate then rejected a stand-alone bill to accomplish the same thing. “I’m all for doing things in ways that we can do them cheaper,” Crews said. “What I’m not willing to do is to sacrifice the safety and security of our officers or the inmates.” He said he didn’t want to speculate on whether privatizing entire prisons throughout a region would imperil safety and security.  San Francisco Chronicle

MD: Speed Camera Company Admits 5.2 Percent Error Rates

Over the past two decades, advocates have argued the main advantage of a speed camera is that the machines never lies. …In Baltimore, Maryland last week a leading speed camera vendor made the unprecedented admission that the technology frequently lies, but obvious examples of false readings slipped through the process due to “human error.”  Photocopy giant Xerox, which recently acquired Affiliated Computer Services, has been rocked by accusations that motorists who diligently observed the speed limit were nonetheless receiving photo radar tickets in the mail. Xerox had no choice but to conduct a review under heavy pressure from local politicians.

MA: Massachusetts Virtual Academy Students Falling Behind

Students at a privately operated online school that is costing Massachusetts taxpayers almost $2.5 million a year are falling far behind other students in the state based on their assessment-test scores, and half of them are quitting during the academic year or failing to return the next year….. Twenty-five percent dropped out last year, and, each fall, another 20 to 30 percent do not come back. The results come at a time when legislators are considering allowing up to 10 online schools to operate across the state, which could enroll as many as 19,000 students. New England Center for Investigative Reporting

New USDA rule would speed poultry-processing lines, worrying inspectors

The proposed rule would allow companies to speed up production lines from 35 birds per minute per inspector to 175 per minute, a five-fold increase. It also would cut hundreds of federal inspector jobs and turn over much of the responsibility for spotting defective or diseased birds to plant employees…. He and other union officials say his health troubles underscore the urgency of their longtime fight against the USDA’s proposed rule, which they believe will make chicken less safe for consumers by semi-privatizing poultry inspection.   Kansas City Star

113th Congress to tackle transportation priorities

Lawmakers will tackle a long-delayed water resources bill, navigate rail issues ignored last session and consider another attempt to privatize the oft-maligned Amtrak. Politico


December 17, 2012


VA:  Controversy surrounds Va. plan to build $1.4 billion toll road

…. The traffic projections — so low that the state got no takers when it twice tried to sell the project to investors in exchange for toll revenue — have leaders from some more heavily traveled parts of the state fuming. “It is absolutely criminal that this amount of money would be spent on a worthless road carrying 5,500 cars a day,” said Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), noting that the Dulles Toll Road carries about 100,000 vehicles a day. “I have subdivision streets that carry more traffic than this.” …..[A] private company will be paid to design and build the road. The state hopes to sign a final agreement with Ferrovial Agroman and American Infrastructure — operating as the consortium 460 Mobility Partners — in the next week. Design and right-of-way work would begin in 2013 and construction in 2014. The road would open in 2018. Washington Post

OH: Bill would limit outsourcing for state-funded projects

State Representative Denise Driehaus (D – Cincinnati) and State Representative Connie Pillich (D – Cincinnati) testified today to gain support for their “Hire Ohio” legislation, House Bill 342. By creating “Hire Ohio” provisions to limit outsourcing for state-funded projects, HB 342 encourages projects to be located in Ohio, utilizing Ohio workers, and creating new jobs that would otherwise go to different states and countries. HB 342 will strengthen working and middle class families by keeping them employed and bringing jobs back to Ohio instead of being outsourced.  The Cincinnati Herald

CA: Santa Ana will consider privatizing at zoo

The financially struggling city will seek proposals early next year for a private entity to take over Santa Ana Zoo operations. Orange County Register

PA:  Union members and senior citizens organize to sound off against outsourcing lottery

A newly formed coalition of union members and senior citizens are launching a Protect Our Lottery campaign to keep the operation of 41-year-old Pennsylvania Lottery in state hands. “Seniors across the state are concerned about Gov. Corbett’s risky scheme to privatize management of the lottery – and rightly so. There have been no public hearings. Lawmakers in both parties are frustrated because they don’t have all the facts so they can make an informed decision,” said Jean Friday, President of the PA Alliance for Retired Americans, in a news release.  “The Corbett administration owes it to every Pennsylvanian to open this process up and allow the public and our elected lawmakers to participate.”  Patriot-News

PA: Opinion: Lucrative lottery doesn’t need a fix

I’m no fan of the lottery; I see it as a regressive tax on the poor. But love it or loathe it, the lottery is a model of efficiency and transparency. “We’re a pretty good barometer of complaints,” Auditor General Jack Wagner said of his office. “We get virtually no complaints about the lottery.” Asked state Treasurer Rob McCord: “If it’s not broke, why fix it?”  Yet that is precisely what the Corbett administration hopes to do, and very soon. The governor wants to privatize the lottery by awarding a lengthy, potentially lucrative contract to the only company that offered a bid: Camelot Global Services, a British multinational owned….Why does the governor want to do that? Because Camelot promises to double lottery profits by 2033. Philadelphia Inquirer

CA: Ill-Conceived Southern California Toll Roads Struggle to Survive

Twelve years after the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) unsuccessfully begged the state to buy its beleaguered private toll road system, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer is launching an inquiry into whether they are financially viable. Bonds used to build the roads through Southern California’s San Joaquin Hills have been downgraded by Wall Street to junk, and those for the Foothill-Eastern corridor to a notch above. Multiple waves of refinancing have increased their cost and delayed a final payoff by a decade. The tolls have tripled and the roads are vastly underused.  AllGov

LA: Southeast La. Hospital privatization approved

The Times-Picayune reports the board approved the privatization plan Wednesday with a rare split vote after hospital employees and advocates begged commission members to reject the proposal to protect the jobs of those currently working there. Opelousas Daily World