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