January 24, 2013


In 2013, debt collection is big business — really big

Consider it the privatizing of justice. Instead of investigating bad-check complaints, prosecutors simply pass them along to Corrective Solutions. The company then uses official DA letterhead to threaten jail time if consumers don’t pay up. Corrective Solutions also runs the “voluntary” financial-accountability classes, and prosecutors get a cut of the profits while barely lifting a finger. Unfortunately, the entire system runs on a one-size-fits-all presumption of guilt. No one’s bothering to investigate whether the check writer was working a scam or merely suffering from a momentary lapse of mathematics.  WestWord

MD: Maryland Considers Photo Ticket Reform

Lawmakers in Maryland are considering legislation to rein in the use of photo enforcement. In the past few months, a series of embarrassing revelations have cast doubt on the legality and accuracy of speed camera citations, including the admission that more than 5 percent of photo ticket recipients in Baltimore were likely innocent. Supporters of the technology in Annapolis are now scrambling to save a program that has lost credibility in the public eye. Montgomery County and other jurisdictions have been paying their camera contractors on a per-ticket basis, even though state code section 21-809 unambiguously states “the contractor’s fee may not be contingent on the number of citations issued or paid. TheNewspaper.com

MI: Survey shows Michigan lawmakers and residents don’t see eye to eye on education reform

Many Michigan lawmakers see school choice and online learning as keys to improving the state’s education system, but a yearlong survey of Michigan residents released Tuesday shows a disconnect between what lawmakers want and what the public wants….Instead, survey participants say Michigan schools will improve by giving teachers more support, strengthening requirements to become a teacher, boosting early childhood education programs and holding educators more accountable. Livingston Daily

PA: Lottery privatization: Corbett’s administration sales pitch falls short for some lawmakers at House hearing

Despite the administration officials’ best efforts to sell the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee on the benefits of a 20-year contract with Camelot, lawmakers who spoke voiced an uneasiness about this change for the lottery. Some lawmakers’ questions exposed other worries ranging from the reliance on people’s desire to gamble to fund social programs to fears that Camelot’s business plan focused around broadening to participation would result in college students being targeted. PennLive

PA: Teachers’ pension plan funds privatization of PA lottery

Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan put up the $150 million cash and $50 million in credit to back UK-based Camelot Global Services that enabled Camelot to drive competing bidders Gtech and Tatts out of the picture. Philly.com

NJ: Privatize emergency dispatch? South Jersey officials, company weigh in

A Central Jersey town’s decision Tuesday night to privatize its police dispatch service has made history and highlighted an impassioned debate over the wisdom of taking emergency services out of the public sector. NJ.com

DE: House panel releases port privatization bill

A Senate bill giving the General Assembly veto power over privatizing operations at the Port of Wilmington has cleared a House committee. Member of the economic development committee voted unanimously Wednesday to release the bill for consideration by the full House.  San Francisco Chronicle

MI: Court records show how union’s fight against privatization at Grand Rapids Veterans Home failed

More than 140 unionized caregivers at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans were given layoff notices this week, the culmination of a months-long battle against a plan by the state to privatize the jobs…. Contracted caregivers, union leaders argued, receive lower pay and fewer benefits than state-paid, unionized caregivers, and therefore were not as dedicated to their jobs. State officials dismissed such claims, and said privatizing the jobs would save $4.2 million annually. The ultimate undoing of the union’s fight against privatization are spelled out in state court documents, which show a legal challenge brought by veterans home resident Anthony Spallone was dropped in December 2012.  The Grand Rapids Press

NE: Regents won’t consider health center privatization Friday

University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials, who had hoped to bring the proposal before the regents during their regular meeting on Friday, still are negotiating with Bryan Health, regents Chairman Tim Clare of Lincoln said. “They (university officials) pulled it because they did not have the information or had not completed their negotiations to be able to give us adequate information as to where things are,” he said.  Lincoln Journal Star