May 31, 2013


Britain’s Largest Privatization in Over a Decade Underway. Britain is continuing plans to privatize its state-owned mail service, the largest such effort since the privatization of its railways in the 1990s. “Once again consumers will lose out when prices rise and deliveries are reduced but banks make millions,” said Mario Dunn of the CWU. On Wednesday the government announced that banking giants Goldman Sachs and UBS would be leading the efforts.  Common Dreams

FL: How Tea Party Favorite Rick Scott Helped Cook Up a Sweetheart Deal for His Florida Friends. Tea Party favorite Governor Scott got into the mix and made the 1.2 million state-sponsored insurance policies the focus of a privatization campaign—a mission involving statements that were about as accurate as his old company’s Medicare filings. Vanity Fair

TX:  Is the 85 mph SH 130 toll road a failure? SH 130 was touted as a way to ease traffic on the horribly congested IH 35 between San Antonio and Austin…. But seven months later after its grand opening, the private company that built the road has been downgraded by Moody’s. The problem is traffic.  Not enough of it. …. SH 130 Concession Company released this statement: The company procures a rating from Moody’s on an annual basis in accordance with the requirements of our financing. We are meeting our contractual obligations to operate and maintain a world-class highway. And hopefully they will. If they do not, who will be left holding the bag? Beaumont Enterprise

WI: UW education dean warns school boards that ALEC seeks to wipe them out. “The ALEC goal to eliminate school districts and school boards is a bit shocking — but the idea is to make every school, public and private, independent through vouchers for all students. By providing all funding to parents rather than school districts, there is no need for local coordination, control or oversight,” she writes in the magazine of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

PA: Black Clergy of Philadelphia opposes Pa. liquor privatization plan. Group president, the Rev. Terrence Griffith, said Thursday the measure would make it easier to obtain alcohol. That, he said, would cause a spike in underage drinking and drunken driving. “We do not want to see liquor sold on every corner in the city of Philadelphia,” Griffith said in a phone interview. “We don’t want to see more deaths in our community. We don’t want to see more alcoholics in our community.” Newsworks

NY: Suffolk aims to privatize 2 health clinics. Opponents of the plan say a private operator will cut services that they are not mandated to provide. They also have criticized Bellone for using a waiver to avoid the open bidding process and deal exclusively with Hudson River. The firm is also in negotiations to take over another two of the county’s 10 health clinics. Newsday



May 30, 2013


TX: Moody’s downgrades toll road company. Moody’s Investor Service has downgraded the credit rating of the private company that built and operates the Texas 130 toll road extension, a rating that could continue to drop unless traffic “aggressively” grows on the road in the next two years. San Antonio Express

MI: Detroit’s Davos. According to a recent Reuters article, since corporate bankruptcies have declined, investors specializing in “distressed” hedge funds have begun circling troubled municipalities, with no city “attracting more attention than Detroit.” One financial adviser quoted in the story sounded a note of caution to the would-be vultures, noting that unlike a corporation, “you can’t liquidate a city.” But apparently no one informed Mr. Orr, whose spokesman, Bill Nowling, told The Detroit Free Press that the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, including works by van Gogh and Matisse, was being listed as an asset in the event of bankruptcy. “Creditors can really force the issue,” Mr. Nowling said. “If you go into court, they can object and say, ‘Hey, I’m taking a huge haircut, and you’ve got a billion dollars’ worth of art sitting over there.’ ” New York Times

TN: Ex-lobbyist: Public education endangered. From school vouchers to charter schools, a former Tennessee Education Association lobbyist painted a verbal portrait of an endangered public education system at a recent “Lunch with the League” meeting. Oak Ridger

PA: Pa. may outsource all mental health services for inmates. About 10,000 inmates in Pennsylvania state prisons require mental health services — and those services may be completely privatized this summer.

NOAA Climate Research Funding Could Be Gutted Under New Bill. A bill being drafted in the House could potentially undermine the climate science research activities and the oceans programs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It also would open up the weather satellite sector, which has been a troubled area for NOAA in recent years, to more privatization. Huffington Post



May 29, 2013


GA: Privatizing parks may mean charging for more services. Five Georgia state parks, including two in north Georgia, will be soon be completely managed by private, for-profit firms. The Florida-based Coral Hospitality will manage the properties. The state will still own the parks, which are now run by the Department of Natural Resources….. State officials say the move is a financial necessity. The plan may involve charging for services that are now free. Access North Georgia

CO: Boulder City Council urges caution in privatizing parks services. Boulder should be careful about privatizing parks and recreation services and not forget community expectations for additional athletic fields and other parks facilities, City Council members said Tuesday. The Daily Camera

IL: Privatizing Education in Chicago. The Chicago Board of Education voted last week to close 50 of the city’s public schools as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to save more than $500 million, or half the district’s deficit.…. Diane Ravitch, assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush, a historian of education and best-selling author of more than 20 books, says the move shows that people “have come to accept the idea that closing schools is a reform strategy.” …“This is not about saving money,” Ravitch told “Democracy Now!” on Tuesday. “It’s not about giving kids a better education, because there’s solid research that shows that most of the kids who moved in from a closed school to another school, there was no change at all for them. This is really about a privatization movement that’s underway across the country, and I think that Rahm Emanuel wanted to be the biggest, the baddest and the boldest by closing the most schools.”   Truthdig

LA: LSU privatization deals approved for 4 hospitals. The LSU Board of Supervisors has approved contracts to privatize four more of its public hospitals, in agreements  still missing key financing details.  The Republic

NY: New York City Public Libraries Attack Alert. By generating budget shortfalls for state and local governments, the financial crisis has given people like mayor Bloomberg the opportunity to make cuts to popular social services like libraries. Why is FIRE interested in budget cuts? Because they reduce money needed for maintenance and thus make the library system appear too large for the city to handle (they also reduce public services, thus making them less popular). The Brooklyn Public Library, for example, has “a $230 million backlog of deferred maintenance, barely dented by the $15 million annual allotment of capital funding.” NakedCapitalism

TX: Fort Worth Floats Idea of Privatizing Water Services. In March, the city of Fort Worth appointed a task force to see whether the city might save money by putting some of its water services in public-private partnerships. City officials say nothing has been decided, but experts are already weighing in on the issues that cities could face if they privatize some of their water services and the kinds of opposition that could emerge from residents. Texas Tribune

TX: Threats to Privatize Neighborhood Schools Continue. The private interests pushing to take over neighborhood are still hard at work at the capitol trying to attach pieces of their agenda to other bills that are still alive in the legislative process. One example is SB 1718, the so-called “achievement district” bill authorizing state takeover of neighborhood schools rated low-performing and handover of those schools to private charter operators. One attempt already has been made—and thwarted—to add that bill to another, unrelated piece of legislation since it was killed as a stand-alone bill in the House Tuesday night. More such attempts can be expected to revive defeated measures on the privatizers’ agenda. Texas AFT

May 28, 2013


LA: Privatization review bill shelved by Louisiana Senate committee. A bill requiring a more thorough review of privatization plans was shot down by a Louisiana Senate committee Monday. The measure, opposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, had already received unanimous approval of the state House.

LA: Louisiana government is making itself off limits to the public: Opinion. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s aides recently fought and defeated efforts to repeal a broad public records exception — passed at Jindal’s behest in 2009 — that keeps hidden documents related to the governor’s “deliberative process.” Various state departments improperly invoke that deliberative process exception to shield records. Jindal has even extended the exception to LSU, a dubious practice that allowed university officials to withhold records about state hospital budget cuts and the university’s privatization plans for those hospitals.

IL: Aldermen steam over Emanuel’s parking-meter deal. Lots of questions are raised as the City Council opens debate on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed revisions to the city’s parking meter lease. But mayoral aides say they’ve done the best they can. A mini standoff continued at City Hall Friday, as a group of aldermen raised new questions about a plan that Mayor Rahm Emanuel says would improve the city’s controversial parking meter lease deal. Mayoral aides asserted the deal is as good as Chicagoans are going to get.

MI: DIA’s art collection could face sell-off to satisfy Detroit’s creditors. The once unthinkable is suddenly thinkable. Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is considering whether the multibillion-dollar collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts should be considered city assets that potentially could be sold to cover about $15 billion in debt…. Liquidating DIA art to pay down debt likely would be a monstrously complicated, controversial and contentious process never before tested on such a large scale and with no certain outcome. The DIA is unusual among major civic museums in that the city retains ownership of the building and collection while daily operations, including fund-raising, are overseen by a nonprofit institution. Detroit Free Press

PA: Pa. lawmaker: Don’t privatize prison service. A number of Pennsylvania state legislators are opposing a Department of Corrections plan to outsource mental health services at 27 state prisons, saying it could put prison workers and communities at risk. The state could contract out as many as 187 positions now filled by Department of Corrections employees to save money and improve services, according to corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton. The positions include licensed psychologist managers, licensed psychologists, and psychological services specialists.

NY: Reducing Some City Parks to the Status of Beggars. Those who defend privatization are candid. Ask about inequity and they talk of commodities; the emerald brilliance of Central Park draws tourists. The High Line is a brooch in the luxury transformation of Chelsea. As for Flushing Meadows? When told that partisans hoped to transform a homely asphalt-ringed fountain into a grass-edged lake, John Alschuler Jr., co-chairman of the Friends of the High Line, offered an exasperated sigh. In his day job, he lobbies to place a U.F.O.-size professional soccer stadium in the midst of that Queens park. Cities, he said, no longer pay for parks properly. Such exuberant hopes will not be realized in my life, he said, or that of my child. Find a corporate sponsor, he suggested. So condescension passes as realism. New York Times

NY: Lawsuit Accuses the City and Lincoln Center of Privatizing a Public Park. A handful of New York residents and environmental activist groups are suing the City of New York, the Parks Department, and Lincoln Center over the use of Damrosch Park, a 2.44-acre park on the Upper West Side. The lawsuit claims that the city has effectively, but illegally, handed over management of the park to Lincoln Center, and that the events the performing arts center holds there — including the iconic Fashion Week — have taken over the space and rendered it unusable for the public.

NY: Governor proposes privatization of LI’s utilities. Following months of deliberation regarding the future of the Long Island Power Authority, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed legislation that would privatize Long Island’s utility operations.

CA: Malibu beaches? There’s an app for that. Environmental writer Jenny Price has spent years helping the public find its way to beaches disguised as private property. She has partnered with Escape Apps to create the Our Malibu Beaches smartphone app, designed to steer beachgoers to entryways that often hide behind trees, padlocks and fake “Closed for repairs” or “No parking” signs.,,, “You have these miles of beachfront in Malibu. It’s one of the most egregious examples of privatization of public space in Los Angeles.”

Los Angeles Times

May 24, 2013


54 nations, including the US, agree to expand private development of toll roads. Ministers from 54 nations on Thursday opened the door to worldwide expanded private development of toll roads, rail lines and other projects… But the declaration of support for so-called public-private partnerships also raises many questions about whether corporations will yield too much control over public roads – or whether public entities could be exposed to financial risks in these agreements.  Fort Worth Star-Telegram

IL: Report: Daley’s Staff Sensed Parking-Meter Woes. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s staff was aware of major problems with the city’s parking-meter privatization deal in 2010 — a year and a half before the costly issues publicly surfaced, according to hundreds of pages of documents released Wednesday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration….. As early as May 2010, in the second year of the 75-year meter-privatization contract, Daley aides questioned Chicago Parking Meters’ disability-parking reimbursement claims, the newly released records show. Over the next three years, the company demanded nearly $56 million for the free disability parking — an amount fueled in part by able-bodied drivers using relatives’ placards, or fake or stolen ones, to avoid paying escalating meter costs. Chicago Defender

IL: Diane Ravich: Chicago School Closings: The Largest in US History. Never in U.S. history has a local school board–or any other board, appointed or elected–chosen to close 49 public schools. Never. That’s what the Chicago Public Schools did yesterday…..He is wantonly destroying public education. He is punishing the teachers’ union for daring to strike last fall. He will open more charter schools, staffed by non-union teachers, to pick up the kids who lost their neighborhood schools. Some of them will be named for the equity investors who fund his campaigns. Diane Ravitch’s blog

IL: Brown: Are Chicago Housing Authority changes common sense or attack on poor?….They argue CHA could best serve the need for public housing by preserving the developments that have so far been spared the wrecking ball… “The model of demolition of public housing, followed by privatization is not a model that has worked,” said Leah Levinger, executive director of the Chicago Housing Initiative. Levinger is also among those raising a red flag about hints of major policy changes in the Plan Forward, most prominently the possibility of “term limits” for public housing residents. Chicago Sun-Times

NY: Court rejects union’s effort to block sale of Onondaga County’s Nursing Home. The legal challenge was filed earlier this year by the CSEA, which represents more than 400 workers at the nursing home on Onondaga Hill….The union had also argued the Legislature exceeded its authority by abolishing the Van Duyn workforce in the county budget…. “We still believe privatizing the nursing home is very detrimental,” he said.

NY: Ulster County Executive Michael Hein calls for privatizing adult mental health. Ulster County Executive Michael Hein on Thursday unveiled a plan to outsource mental health services for adults to the same not-for-profit agency that has provided adult mental health services to Dutchess County residents since 1996. Kingston Daily Freeman

LA:  Opinion: Hospital privatization costing state…[T]he financial costs to Louisiana to implement privatization are mounting daily it seems, and many millions of this debt will be annually recurring costs. Take, for example, the additional $13 million that the state will incur to pay off the recent bond sale to fund LSU health care facility construction projects. And the additional $42 million to privatize the six southern Louisiana LSU-managed hospitals according to a review by the Legislative Auditors office. Shreveport Times

WI: Opinion: Expansion of school vouchers will dismantle public education. According to Murphy’s Law, if you tinker around with something long enough, it will eventually break. That describes the governor’s and certain legislators’ proposal to expand school vouchers in Wisconsin. If passed, it will become another major setback for public education. What a 1-2 knockout punch — cuts to funding for education followed by the expansion of school vouchers — it could be. Wisconsin State Journal

May 23, 2013


 PA: DOC taking bids, considers privatizing department of prison system. Could a section of state correctional institutions become private? That’s the debate among the Department of Corrections right now. …The Department of Corrections might privatize mental health services throughout its prison systems. A $91 million contract with MHM Correction Services is set to expire at the end of August. The company has been providing mental health services statewide since 2009. The employees under the contract are DOC employees and include psychologist managers, psychological services specialists and associates. Statewide, it employs about 190 people.  WJAC Johnstown

PA: New special interest comes to PA liquor privatization party. A new special interest is asking for a seat at the table after the state legislature’s actions threaten the finances of its members. The Liquor Store Real Estate Owners Association is the latest opponent to liquor privatization. The group is comprised of property owners who have lease agreements with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

PA: Will lawmakers trade booze for new highway money? As we noted on Sunday, the chances for a booze privatization deal before the June 30 deadline are looking increasingly remote, what with all the opposition in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

ME: Maine toll highway study law repeal voted. The Maine Senate has given final approval to a bill that repeals a requirement for a feasibility study on the proposed east-west highway…The resolve removes a requirement that the state Transportation Department conduct a feasibility study on the $2 billion project. The proposal calls for a 220-mile, privately run toll road connecting New Brunswick and Quebec via Maine. The Legislature last session appropriated $300,000 for the study, but the study was suspended due to insufficient information about the project. WGME

IN: Pence Wants Public-Private Partnerships To Fund Rest Of I-69. The governor says finding public-private partnerships for the road’s final stages from Martinsville to Indianapolis ranks ahead of almost all other road projects when it comes to allocating an additional $200 million a year given to the Indiana Department of Transportation in the recently-passed state budget…. But when a reporter suggested the governor didn’t directly answer a question about whether the road would be paid for in part by tolls, Pence was cagey. Indiana Public Media

CA: Environmentalists sue over OC toll road extension. Environmentalists filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to block the extension of a toll road in southern Orange County, five years after widespread public opposition stopped a similar project. San Jose Mercury News


May 22, 2013


Shocker: Republicans Fight Obama Plan to Privatize the Hugely Popular, Cheap Energy Source of the TVA. Obama’s scheme to sell off the Tennessee Valley Authority gets push-back from Tennessee Republicans who know the benefits of a publicly-owned facility. AlterNet

FL: New State Budget Shrinks Government Workforce. The size of state government continues to shrink under Gov. Rick Scott. The state budget that goes into effect in July eliminates thousands of government jobs….. “My understanding is we have the lowest number of state workers per capita in the country”, Scott said. “I’m proud of that.” The cuts will be felt throughout the state. Most of them are in the Department of Corrections, where positions in health services are being turned over to private vendors.   WGCU News

FL: Broward School Board votes to privatize school construction work. Without knowing what the final price tag will be – but with the hope of restoring credibility to school construction projects – Broward School Board members on Tuesday approved privatizing most of the district’s long-troubled facilities department. Miami Herald

MA: State House News — State privatization law faces changes in budget talks. Lawmakers are once again contemplating loosening the strictures of a law that governs whether state services can be privatized, which one of the law’s chief backers said would return the state to the hands-off governin style responsible for Big Dig construction problems. Wicked Local

NJ: N.J. rejects union protest of lottery privatization, allowing contract to advance. New Jersey rejected a formal protest filed against its decision to privatize part of the state lottery, officials said Tuesday.

NC: Big $$$ Behind NC Privatization Bills. Same old story in North Carolina as elsewhere: big money from reactionary millionaires funding the theft of public education. American Federation for Children is based in Michigan. It supports vouchers.

CA: Measure G Signs Stolen; For And Against Cry Foul. Measure G, which seeks Fresno voter’s approval to privatize the city’s residential trash pickup, is causing people on both sides of the measure to cry foul, both sides are claiming signs are being stolen out of people’s yards. KMPH Fox 26

LA: LSU Hospital Privatization Plan Running Out of Funds. The privatization plan surrounding Baton Rouge-based Louisiana State University Health Care Services Division and LSU Health – Shreveport is entering choppy water, as outsourcing contracts for three of the hospitals will use up 94 percent of the plan’s dollars. Becker’s Hospital Review



May 21, 2013


PA: Pennsylvania township scammed in streetlight deal. The consulting company Municipal Energy Managers, of Lackawanna County, Penn., took $165,488 in payment from the city of Richland, Penn., but never rendered the services promised, according to local police. In February 2009, Richland officials paid the sum up front to Municipal Energy Managers. The company was to facilitate the transfer of ownership of 160 streetlights from PPL, an electric and utility holding company, to the township. Municipal Energy would then be tasked with maintaining the lights as well as install energy-saving equipment on them according to local newspaper, The Intelligencer. However, no progress was ever made. Municipal Energy’s owners, Patrick Joseph McLaine, 66, and Robert J. Kearns, 49, never contacted PPL to begin the transfer. “They took $160,000 and essentially did nothing,” Richland police sergeant Mike Kisthardt told The Intelligencer. American City and County

PA: PA Senate Democrat frowns on linking transportation with liquor privatization. Attempts to link the needed repair of Pennsylvania roads and bridges to Gov. Tom Corbett’s privatization of the state’s liquor system is a distortion of important legislative priorities, state Sen. Minority Leader Jay Costa said Monday. Speaking at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon at the Harrisburg Hilton, Costa, D-Allegheny, said House Republicans want to bind the fate of needed transportation funding – popular in the senate – to the liquor privatization effort the House backed earlier this year.

PA: Lottery privatization pursuit continues. Despite a trajectory that shows Pennsylvania Lottery profits on course to break the past year’s record-breaking performance, Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has not abandoned its effort to privatize the lottery’s management. Patriot-News

NJ: Bill creating new standards for privatization contracts passes NJ Assembly. A bill imposing new requirements on privatization contracts is heading to Governor Christie’s desk after passing its final legislative hurdle today. The bill would outlaw new contracts that rely on increasing fees or cutting services to save money. It would require the state to demonstrate any savings came from increased efficiency or other improvements that would not diminish services.

MA: Audit: Mass. nonprofit overcharged state. A nonprofit organization that contracts with Massachusetts to provide services to residents with autism and other developmental disabilities should repay nearly $350,000 in state funds that it used improperly to pay staff, Auditor Suzanne Bump said Monday. The amount included more than $138,000 to the May Institute’s president and chief executive officer, and nearly $211,000 for wages to 10 management staff during the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years, according to the audit.

CA: California May Create a Two-Tiered Community College System. Jonathan Lightman, executive director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, contends the fees are equivalent to privatizing public education. “It’s an unequivocal threat to the idea of fairness and academic democracy that the community college system has held since its inception.” Opponents say the bill establishes a fast-track system that gives an extra advantage to those with money. It makes “access to core classes dependent on students’ capacity to pay.” Yahoo! News

WI: Legislators To Decide Reach Of School Voucher Programs  – Audio. Legislators may soon decide the fate of Governor Scott Walker’s controversial plan to expand taxpayer-funded school vouchers. The expansion has been a divisive issue, especially in the communities that would be directly impacted…. But Steve McNeal, superintendent of the Beloit Public School District, has a much different take on the proposed expansion. “The only thing that the voucher program has done is lined the pockets of many people that are into the privatization of education. It’s increased taxes in local municipalities. It has really kind of been a deterioration of public funds towards public schools.” Wisconsin Public Radio News

The Next Stop in Public Transportation. Riders of public transportation are used to ads by now. Indeed, if you’re a regular bus or subway user, chances are pretty good you’ll see an advertisement at your stop, on the exterior of your vehicle and once again on its interior — all before even grabbing a seat. Sometimes, it may seem like the only way to escape it all is by closing your eyes. But in some places, that might not even be enough anymore because the latest trend in transit advertising is audio commercials. Transit Advertising

May 20, 2013


FL: Florida Adopts Legislation on Public Private Partnerships…. [T]he Legislature has, this session, passed Bill CS/CS/HB 85 expanding the Florida P3 statute to allow the finance/build/operate model to be used in a broad range of projects outside of transportation.  The National Law Review

NC: Legislator opposes I-77 tolls.  “When you’re driving down a road that you already paid for, you shouldn’t be taxed again with a toll,” State Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, told members of Widen I-77, a Lake Norman-area citizens group fighting the state’s $550 million toll road plan. Charlotte Observer

NY: Opinion: Privatization broke mental health care in Dutchess County. The privatization of mental health-care services as well as the marked reduction of support services available to those with serious psychiatric disturbances have led to a mental health system that is broken and often unsafe. For example, high-risk individuals (such as those who have made a recent suicide attempt or who have been grossly unable to function in the community) flow from hospitals and partial hospitalization programs to privatized clinics, where they are seen every two to three weeks (sometimes every four weeks) for half-hour sessions. At these clinics, staff leave frequently because the pay is low and the caseloads are staggering, and patients have to either begin again and again with new therapists or are lost in the “system” at these times — not receiving care until the next crisis. Poughkeepsie Journal

NY: Cuomo’s Energy Czar Defends Near-Privatization of LIPA Over Alternatives. The Cuomo administration’s top energy official defended a plan that would all but privatize the Long Island Power Authority, arguing that a competing proposal to restructure it as a fully municipalized public utility would be unwieldy and could perpetuate political meddling. City & State

LA: Analyst says funding gap for LSU hospital deals. The first three LSU hospital privatization deals appear to use up 94 percent of the funding Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration set aside for eight such arrangements, budget analysts told senators Friday. The assessment of the Legislative Fiscal Office, a nonpartisan office that evaluates budget proposals for lawmakers, worried several members of the Senate Finance Committee who are combing through the $25 billion budget proposed for the 2013-14 fiscal year that begins July 1. “I’m extremely uncomfortable,” said Sen. Sherri Smith Buffington, R-Keithville, after hearing the financial analysis. Jindal is seeking to privatize the operations of most LSU-run safety net hospitals that care for the poor and uninsured and that train many of Louisiana’s medical students. Seattle Post Intelligencer

PA: So what’s up with liquor privatization? Dead? Mostly dead? Yet with less than six weeks to go before the June 30 deadline to pass a new budget, getting booze privatization over the goal line remains a frustratingly elusive goal for the Corbettistas and some are saying that it chances might be dead for the spring.

KS: Privatization proposal is sketchy. Should Kansas privatize services for the intellectually and developmentally disabled (ID/DD) population? The issue brought a lot of heat this past week….Deborah Auger of the University of Delaware surveyed the results of these privatization policies. Her bottom line: In order to work, the contracting process must be aggressively overseen by well-trained government employees with real authority. If done well, such policies may mean consumer choice, more opportunities to stay at home and cost savings. If done poorly, they can be a disaster. Auger documents a long train of abuses: payments to providers that provided no care in Massachusetts, a private juvenile care facility in Colorado closed for gross mismanagement, a mental health system with no qualified oversight in Arizona, and $4 million stolen by employees of a New York group home for the mentally ill.

Ed Tech, Privatization And Plunder. It would be easier for me to maintain my optimism if not for some ugly facts, like the recent cynical moves from the Florida legislature. “In 2011, the Legislature made it a requirement for all high school students to complete at least one course online, creating a guaranteed market for online learning services,” explains the Miami Herald, and now the other shoe is dropping as the state cuts back per-pupil funding for the publicly operated Florida Virtual School while creating opportunities for private businesses.  InformationWeek


May 17, 2013


PA: Pennsylvania Senate Narrows Privatization Focus. Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett’s push for total privatization of the state’s wine and spirits retail monopoly appears to be on ice, with state senators suggesting they could support some loosening of alcohol retail restrictions but not a mandatory sell-off of the state’s retail and wholesale infrastructure. Shanken News Daily

TX: Texas House kills local review of public-private projects. The Texas House has killed a provision, at the urging of Gov. Rick Perry, that would have required public-private development projects on state land to go through local zoning. Austin American-Statesman

TX: New tricks? ‘Availability payments,’ a public private partnership in sheep’s clothing. The argument by proponents is that payments to the private entity are only made if money is appropriated or ‘available,’ and that it does not constitute a debt to the state. However, this ‘tool’ puts ALL Texas taxpayers on the hook for repayment of the project. Whether it’s a toll project and revenues are inadequate to repay the obligation or debt to the private company, or a non-toll project, taxpayers are obligated to re-pay the private entity, presumably with interest. Just because the debt is off the balance sheet, doesn’t mean taxpayers are not obligated to pay it.

VA: Court decision clouds future of Virginia toll roads. One circuit court judge’s opinion that tolling in the Hampton Roads area is unconstitutional may place future public-private partnerships in Virginia in peril. Watchdog,org

LA: Bill halting Louisiana public hospital privatization tabled. A resolution immediately ceasing the state’s move toward privatizing its public hospitals was voluntarily deferred in a House committee Tuesday.

NY: Cuomo’s Energy Czar Defends Near-Privatization of LIPA Over Alternatives. The Cuomo administration’s top energy official defended a plan that would all but privatize the Long Island Power Authority, arguing that a competing proposal to restructure it as a fully municipalized public utility would be unwieldy and could perpetuate political meddling. City & State

NJ: Privatization Cost Analysis & Call Center Bills Released From Assembly Committee. The bill requires cost analysis for the privatization of contracts, among other pro-worker provisions.  The New Jersey State AFL-CIO testified in support of the bill which passed mostly on party lines….A-3775 (Wagner / Eustace), which concerns call center outsourcing was also released from the Assembly Labor Committee and supported by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO.  NJ AFL

MD: Another City Forced To Refund Illegal Photo Tickets. Hagerstown, Maryland announced Wednesday that it would refund 808 illegally issued speed camera tickets. Brekford Corporation mailed the citations between the end of December and January using three automated ticketing machines that failed to meet the certification requirements of state law.