June 28, 2013


Munching Away on the “Public Good”. The epidemic of privatization spreads way beyond Chicago, and way, way beyond parking meters. It’s seeping quickly into things like airports, health clinics and, of course, education. The corporatization of everything is squeezing the life out of crucial institutions, chewing up the concept of the “public good” and spitting it into a privatized water fountain.  Truth-Out

CA: Change in UCLA MBA program prompts privatization concerns. Concerns over privatization regularly flare up as the University of California system attempts to grow with limited state support. It is happening again, as UCLA’s nationally-recognized M.B.A. program moves to a self-supported funding model. Outgoing University of California President Mark Yudof recently approved a proposal that would cut UCLA’s prestigious Anderson School of Management full-time M.B.A program loose of state funds, UCLA announced Wednesday. Sacramento Bee

MI: Lawmakers want state to probe quality of care at Grand Rapids VA Home. Dillon and Brinks have harped on purportedly diminished care quality at the home ever since more than 140 caregiver positions there were privatized… Still, an unflattering state auditor general’s report released last month found numerous problems at the home, including the lack of an on-site, board-certified psychiatrist. The report, which largely centered on inadequate protection against financial waste, also found weak controls over inventories for pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and more.  The Grand Rapids Press



June 27, 2013


NJ: NJ Turnpike contract drops ‘snow bonus,’ ‘productivity bonus,’ other perks. Under the threat of privatization, about 100 Turnpike toll supervisors and another 150 or so unionized maintenance and administrative employees have worked out an agreement with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority that eliminates contract perks that left the authority the target of a critical state comptroller’s report three years ago.  The Star-Ledger

CA: Financial misdeeds sinking Oakland charter school.  A high-performing charter school is one step closer to closing under the weight of an audit showing its former director broke the law by paying himself $3.8 million from school funds for construction and rental services.  San Jose Mercury News

NY: Mayor Bloomberg’s Legacy: Dismantling Our Communities’ Social Services Infrastructure.  In El Barrio/East Harlem alone, we are seeing four parcels of NYCHA land being considered for luxury development (including one where a busy community center operates), the sale of a Human Resources Administration Multi-Service Center, the closure and unclear fate of the East Harlem District Public Health Office building, and the tearing down of a school serving over-age and under-credited youth to make way for more luxury housing. These are not just buildings and parcels of land; they represent direct services to the El Barrio/East Harlem community. Mayor Bloomberg has made privatization a hallmark of his administration, which has been most salient in his administration’s rampant contracting out of municipal services. But in this final year, we are watching as this agenda goes into overdrive in an effort to have the next administration inherit as many of these projects as possible, when it might be too late to stop them. The net effect of these proposals is a dismantling of the local social service infrastructure that is so vital to low-income communities like mine.  Huffington Post

TN: A new firm is taking over Davidson County’s privatized child support enforcement. But those same officials say the track record of the previous two companies that ran the agency — Maximus, headquartered in Reston, Va., and Policy Studies Inc., which Maximus purchased in 2012 — shows why privatization remains a problematic solution to government bureaucracy. Neither company lived up to its promised potential, says Davidson County Juvenile Court Magistrate Scott Rosenberg…. Some critics even claim that federal dollars meant to spur child-support enforcement only exacerbate the problem. Why should a company work harder to collect, they argue, when the government offers money to address the problem of low collection rates? Doing the job well, theoretically, could put the company out of a job. Those are some of the issues facing the agency as YoungWilliams prepares to assume control. For critics of Maximus in particular, July 1 cannot come soon enough.  Nashville Scene

NC: Bill that revamps N.C. Commerce gets preliminary OK. SB 127 is tied to Gov. Pat McCrory’s plans to privatize the state’s economic development efforts through changes to the Commerce Department, a reorganization of the regional partnerships and, potentially, the establishment of a state venture capital fund. The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area

NC: Idiocracy comes to life in the mentality of Gov. Pat McCrory. After rejecting Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, a decision that will cost the state an estimated 26,000 health care jobs, McCrory wants to turn Medicaid administration over to private companies that will take their profits off the top. Privatization is how Mike Easley’s administration wrecked mental health care in North Carolina. But why learn from history? The Independent Weekly

Goldman Sachs Gets Into Public Education. The corporate “ed reform” movement to privatize public education is quite lucrative – public education spending runs in the billions across the country. So should anyone be surprised that Wall Street has stepped out of the shadows to get in on the action? Wall Street has already been the funding base for Michelle Rhee and other privatizers but has always presented itself merely as trying to benevolently control people not control people to exploit them. But now Goldman Sachs is creating new financial instruments to finance public education.  Firedoglake

Study: Charter schools are improving, but performance still close to public schools. Students in charter schools fared better than those in traditional public schools in some states — including New Jersey — but a majority of charters across the United States still deliver no better education than traditional public schools in reading, and 40 percent are about the same in math, according to a new study released Tuesday by researchers at Stanford University. The Star-Ledger


June 26, 2013


MI: Privatization battle moves to Motown. As the fight over privatization of residential waste collections in Fresno, Calif., has come to an end, another one is likely to start in Detroit. Waste & Recycling News

TN: Gov. Bill Haslam defends building privatization contract. Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that while he doesn’t know what personal investments are in his blind trust, he will not benefit from the state’s office-building privatization contract with a Chicago management company in which he invested in 2010. As a candidate for governor that year, Haslam disclosed a long list of companies in which he had investments of at least $10,000, including Jones Lang LaSalle, a real-estate management and professional services company. His administration has since awarded two major contracts to JLL, first to evaluate all state-owned office space outside of the higher education system and then to take over management of all state owned and leased space except colleges and universities. Memphis Commercial Appeal

KS: Sedgwick County discusses privatizing mental health care. Turning community mental health operations over to a non-profit agency would make Sedgwick County a smaller government, but the change would be complex and could create unnecessary anxiety among staff and clients, according to an analysis shared with commissioners Tuesday….. County Manager William Buchanan ….recommends that Comcare continue under the county. “This issue came up a couple years ago. I didn’t think it was a good idea then, and I don’t think it’s a good idea now,” he said. “Having elected officials in charge instead of a private board of directors, it’s direct democracy. Otherwise it’s diffused,” Buchanan said. “No. 2, we provide superb service, so what’s the need for change?” Kansas.com

Why We Should Give a Damn About Saving the USPS. Let me be clear: Just because Congress has turned the USPS into a model of inefficiency does not mean that I support privatization (especially considering the economic impact of potentially lost jobs, and also the reliance of private companies like UPS on the USPS for delivery of non-USPS items). What it means is that we should treat the USPS like any other company that is faced with necessary changes. Let’s remove the $5.5 billion/year roadblock to let it do its job and grow. Let’s support a Congress that values a free press; that isn’t focusing on slash-and-burn techniques to save the institution, but rather gives it room to adapt; that reinvigorates the USPS’s role in American communities, rural and urban. Folio Magazine

The Next Stage in Public School Privatization: Huge Tax Credits. Past efforts of conservative groups to privatize elementary and secondary education, like vouchers, haven’t really taken off. But now Wisconsin has a crafty new plan: just give rich people great big tax credits for sending their kids to private school. Washington Monthly

New CREDO Study Shows That Charter School Quality Is All Over the Map. Sara Mead argues the real story here continues to be the enormous variability in charter school outcomes. If you think of the idea of charter schools as being roughly “let’s let people try some different ways of running schools” variability is about what you’d expect. But there seems to be systematic state-by-state variation.   Slate

Teach for America is a step toward privatizing public schools. In districts across the country, Teach for America “teachers” get their feet wet for a couple years before moving on to be hedge fund managers, directors of nonprofits, attorneys and CFOs with for-profit education companies, etc. The vast majority of TFA “teachers” do not go on to teach for a career, but merely use it as a steppingstone into another profession where they can make three to five times as much. Former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee may be the most notable example, who went on to found StudentsFirst, an aggressive school reform organization.  Boise Weekly

June 25, 2013


To Toll or Not: Could the Feds Lift a Ban on Interstate Tolling? If Patrick Jones has his way, you could wind up paying a toll every time you drive on the interstate. If that sounds shocking, it should. Historically, tolling on the interstate has been prohibited, except for a few roadways — mainly on the East Coast — that were grandfathered in when the interstate system was created. But Jones, who leads the trade association representing toll owners and operators and the businesses that serve them, says it’s high time for a change. Governing

VA: Transurban Ditches Old Toll Road, New One Struggles. Australian toll road company dumps an old toll road in Virginia as a newly opened route struggles. Virginia’s transportation policy has been dominated by tolling. Both Governor Bob McDonnell (R) and his predecessor Tim Kaine (D) saw the use of public-private partnerships as a means of raising revenue for the state while claiming not to have raised taxes. The tolling push continues with the construction of tolling infrastructure on existing lanes of Interstate 95, even though similar projects in the state are struggling to stay afloat. TheNewspaper.com

MI: Detroit Institute Of Arts, Zoo Safe For Now, But Could They Be Sold. “Bidding the stuff off is completely ridiculous,” he said. “There are better ways of dealing with Detroit’s debt” than selling off an art collection piece by irreplaceable piece. But emergency manager Kevyn Orr, a bankruptcy expert hired by the state in March to steer Detroit away from insolvency, has made it clear that everything of value owned by the city could be up for grabs. A decision on whether to file for bankruptcy could come within weeks. In a letter to DIA officials, Orr gave notice that there are no sacred cows, even if bankruptcy means cutting the city’s soul to save it. Huffington Post

TN: Governor says state will privatize more work. Gov. Bill Haslam says he intends to continue privatizing some state government operations. A contract to have a Chicago-based company manage state office space created controversy. It takes effect July 1 and 126 General Services Department workers will be laid off….. A Davidson County judge is set to rule on a lawsuit by the Tennessee State Employees Association and individual workers who say the state violated its own requirement to help affected workers find other positions by removing a website that would let them look for state jobs.  WRCB-TV

IL: Guvs to pitch Illiana Expressway to investor types…It would run 46.8 miles from Interstate 65 just outside of Lowell in Indiana to Interstate 55 near Wilmington in Illinois…Both governors hope investors will pay the estimated $1.3 billion construction cost in exchange for a piece of, or all of, the tolls that will be collected once it opens to traffic. nwitimes.com

LA: Privatization of state insurance services on track, but savings could drop, auditor says. The privatization of Louisiana’s lines of insurance and loss prevention services, initiated in 2010, is on track to save the state millions of dollars over the next few years, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor says. But due to an increase in contract costs as well as a dependence on old data, he warned the total savings could drop by as much as 30 percent under current estimates. NOLA.com

LA: La. lawmakers question hiring Texas firm for prisoner care. Louisiana lawmakers are questioning a decison by the state Department of Corrections to hire a Texas company for telemedicine services for prisoners, rather than continuing to use the LSU health system. TheTownTalk.com

PA: Philadelphia: 4,000 Laid Off School Employees Working Their Last Days. Now that the district is grappling with a $304 million shortfall, 3,859 district employees are being laid off — most of them spending their last day on the job today. The district’s largest shedding of jobs in decades is wiping out entire categories, including school secretaries and nearly every assistant principal. Philadelphia Inquirer

PA: Liquor privatization bill reworked. The Senate Law & Justice Committee gutted the privatization bill that passed the House in March, replacing its provisions with a package that the committee chairman, Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, unveiled last week. Instead of disbanding the state’s wholesale purchasing operation, the amended bill would require studies to assess the wholesale value of the system. Where the House bill would use a formula to shutter the state wine and spirits stores, the Senate amendment would allow the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to decide when outlets would close. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PA: Groups Voice Opposition to Liquor Privatization Plan. Groups opposed to a bill that would privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania held a rally at Mercy Hospital of UPMC Monday, saying the proposal would result in a rise in first responders’ workloads. 90.5 WESA

PA: Pension shenanigans – letter to editor. Why is the governor in such a hurry to privatize our pensions? Answer: His millionaire friends are simply salivating at the chance to put billions of dollars into their 401(k) and 403(b) programs. Then they can mismanage it, squander it and outright steal it. Do recent events on Wall Street and in these types of retirement programs ring a bell with anyone? Pittsburgh Post Gazette

IA: State received 2 bids for sale of Iowa Communications Network. The state of Iowa received two bids for the lease or purchase of its statewide communications network – and they both came from the same company….It’ll be up to the governor on whether to pursue a contract for privatizing the network, but any deal will have to be approved by the state Legislature. The Iowa Communications Network, created by the Legislature in 1989, is a fiber-optic network that reaches all 99 Iowa counties and provides video conferencing, telephone communications, data and Internet services to government agencies, schools, libraries and hospitals. Des Moines Register

ME: Amid Turmoil, Maine Legislature Fails to Ban Privatization of Charter Schools….One veto was of a bill that would have required all charter schools in the state to be nonprofit. NPQ has been tracking this argument for a while, demonstrating that there are a number of ways in which private organizations are taking public tax dollars. This bill, which was backed by as many as 97 legislators but was still four votes short of the number required for the override, would have ensured that taxpayer dollars intended for the education of students in the state would be used for that purpose, not for the profit of a few individuals. Non Profit Quarterly

NJ: New Jersey Signs Lottery Privatization Contract. New Jersey has become the third state—after Illinois and Indiana—to privatize the management of its state lottery. Under the 15-year contact, a private manager will take over the lottery’s marketing and sales functions  in exchange for an upfront . payment of $120 million and a contractual commitment to generate over $1.42 billion in additional net income for the state, relative to in-house operation. Budget & Tax News

OP-ED: When Education Is a Business. But what is happening to higher education today, as it undergoes a corporate makeover, is considerably less amusing. The sharply reduced government funding for public universities, the replacement of full-time faculty with low-wage, rootless adjuncts, the rapid development of mass, online courses for academic credit, and the increasingly pervasive corporate presence on campus all indicate more concern for the business-defined bottom line than for intellectual growth. Future satirists of university life will be hard-pressed to stay ahead of the emerging reality. HuntingtonNews.net


June 24, 2013


OK: Outgoing Okla. prisons chief warns of inmate hike…. The private prison lobby is an influential one at the state Capitol, and many lawmakers support shifting more inmates into private facilities, a concept Jones refused to endorse. “Just because something is legal doesn’t make it ethically and morally right,” Jones said after the meeting. “Sometimes it’s easy to privatize people that don’t have a voice, and it’s easy to privatize the disenfranchised of the world who don’t have a voice. Sometimes there’s a conflict of ideologies there.” Jones also warned that giving too much leverage to the private prison industry could pose problems for the state down the road.   San Francisco Chronicle

FL: State hopes to privatize more work release centers. The leaders of Florida’s prison system believe work release is one of the best ways to help inmates succeed in the outside world. But funding the nation’s third-largest prison system has been challenging in recent years given state budget woes. To save money, the state has turned a quarter of Florida’s 32 work release facilities over to private operators, such as Goodwill Industries-Suncoast. Six more could become private by year’s end — saving taxpayers $4.4 million, according to Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews.  Tampabay.com           

NC: Chiefs oppose ABC police outsourcing. Police Chief Jose Lopez and another local lawman have weighed in against a potential move by the county ABC Board to outsource the job of inspecting bars, restaurants and stores that sell alcohol. Durham Herald Sun

OH: Ohio prisons system announces privatization of meal services for $28 million. Ohio is turning over the feeding of its approximately 50,000 prison inmates to a private company in an attempt to save $14 million annually in the face of looming budget deficits. Daily Journal

OH: Who benefits from more, bigger development deals?…Gov. John Kasich has replaced the Ohio Department of Development with the essentially private corporation JobsOhio as the primary state agency for retaining and attracting business. The governor insists the state needs to operate “at the speed of business” to compete for its share of development activity. JobsOhio officials say — but haven’t shown — that private companies will walk away from a deal rather than be forced to reveal too much of what they consider proprietary data. So JobsOhio has largely kept taxpayers in the dark about what it’s doing with its chief source of revenue: the $125 million or so in annual profits from state government’s liquor monopoly, which back the bonds the company issues. Absurdly but effectively, the governor and General Assembly have defined these profits as private money rather than the public assets they are. That has helped keep State Auditor Dave Yost from performing a full audit of JobsOhio on taxpayers’ behalf. Ohioans still don’t know how well JobsOhio really is doing at creating jobs and recruiting employers. Toledo Blade

NJ: Lottery privatization deal reached in NJ. New Jersey has signed a contract to outsource part of its lottery operation and has collected $120 million from the vendor as part of the deal, state officials announced Friday. Vineland Daily Journal

LA: Legislators questions impact of privatization on women’s health care. Much of the women’s health care provided at LSU’s hospital in Bogalusa will continue after its takeover by a Catholic-affiliated group, but no birth control services or abortions will be done, hospital executives said Friday. The exceptions based on religious reasons caught the attention of some members of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget as the legislators reviewed the agreement allowing the private group to take over the public hospital.  The Advocate

LA: Texas firm hired for Louisiana prisoner telemedicine care. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s push to privatize the university-run hospitals and clinics includes contracting with a Texas company for telemedicine for Louisiana prisoners.Telemedicine lets doctors give remote checkups through a video hookup and other electronic communications. That can shrink the costs of prisoner transportation and lower safety risks.  Shreveport Times

NE: NU regents reject health center privatization plan. The University of Nebraska Board of Regents rejected a 36-year contract Friday with Bryan Health to operate and build a new home for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s student health center…. On Friday, five of the eight regents voted against the proposal, as well as all four student regents, whose votes don’t count toward the vote total.  Journal Star

Bill Moyers: The United States of ALEC: Privatizing America One Statehouse At A Time. In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it. Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, “United States of ALEC — A Follow-Up” explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.  OurFuture.org

Robert Kennedy Criticizes Privatization of Water at World Environment Forum. Privatization is currently the most troubling issue we face in relation to water. That is the opinion of Robert F. Kennedy Jr…”Water ought to be a right for all human beings,” asserts Kennedy. He believes that free market capitalism is the best solution, but it must be managed with a social interest, otherwise future generations will have to pay for our mistakes and excesses. And he insists: “We should encourage a more rational use of water, but we cannot restrict the use of water by the poorest people through pricing.”   PR Newswire

Fighting more forest fires will come back to burn us. “Privatization has changed firefighting, and not for the better,” says Rich Fairbanks, a former fire planner for the U.S. Forest Service and one-time foreman of an elite “hot shot” crew. Private companies supply everything from helicopters and bulldozers to caterers and mobile shower facilities for the fire camps. Most don’t get paid if they’re not actively fighting a fire; consequently, they lobby at the local, regional, and national level to fight as many blazes as they can. “There’s a lot of money to be made in fire suppression,” says Crystal Kolden, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Idaho who focuses on wildfire. “Contractors are very good at playing on the public’s fear of large wildfires. Those private entities … have an incredibly powerful lobby in Washington, D.C.” Salon

June 21, 2013


How Privatizing Leads to Crony Corruption. The intelligence brouhaha and Snowden fiasco — how could this guy have been hired, given his high-level classification, paid $122,000 a year, and gain access to areas expressly off-limits for someone at his level? — should make us focus on the bigger issue, and bigger problem, here. We have vastly over-privatized, and in the process lost control over swaths of important policy areas while allowing unaccountable and even outlaw behavior to expand. And we have created areas where crony capitalism can meet crony government to create crony corruption that cheats all taxpayers. The Atlantic

Driving declines could challenge toll roads. Americans are driving less, and that means less revenue for toll road operators such as SH130 Concession Co., according to a study by Fitch Ratings. The conclusion could mean trouble for toll routes — including Central Texas’ State Highway 130 — which was built by Spanish company SH130 Concession and its parent company Cintra. The road reportedly cost $1.3 billion, and the company will maintain and operate it for the next 50 years to recoup the cost. Austin Business Journal

NE: City looks to privatize parking. For now, the job of writing parking tickets, running parking garages and emptying coins from meters belongs to city employees. But by September, at least some of those operations will likely be in the hands of a private company. Omaha World-Herald

LA: Questions continue over deals to privatize public hospitals. Four LSU hospitals, including those in New Orleans and Lafayette, change from public to private partner operations Monday, but details of those and other hospital agreements remain under question. Members of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget on Thursday pressed for information about budget commitments amid their complaints about incomplete documents and a sketchy bullet point presentation of “significant” changes to the New Orleans and Lafayette agreements.  The Advocate



June 20, 2013


FL: West Palm mulls privatizing redevelopment; some residents question the how and why. The city’s plan to privatize its Community Redevelopment Agency went public today with CRA director Kim Briesemeister portraying the move as an efficiency measure for the city, not a boon for her private company. Palm Beach Post

NY: NY State to privatize Long Island utility, freeze rates – Gov Cuomo. New York lawmakers announced a deal on Wednesday to privatize utility operations on Long Island and revamp the Long Island Power Authority, a state-owned New York utility company that was criticized for its response during last year’s Superstorm Sandy. The deal, announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo, includes a rate freeze through 2015. Reuters           

KS: Brownback donor’s company gets child support contract. A Mississippi company run by one of Gov. Sam Brownback’s donors was awarded a contract to administer Kansas child support services last week, two years after the state hired one of the firm’s former employees to head up the child support division….The company’s CEO, Robert Wells, and his wife, Pam Wells, both gave maximum $2,000 donations to Brownback’s campaign during the 2010 primary cycle. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said the contract had the appearance of an insider’s “pay-to-play” deal. “In my opinion, they looked at Brownback as a guy who supports the idea of privatization of government services,” Hensley said. “But to me it’s readily apparent there was also an intent to get the business. I think it’s beyond ideology.”  Topeka Capital Journal

LA: Privatization backed for LSU’s Bogalusa hospital. Another LSU hospital privatization contract with missing financial details received approval Wednesday from the university system’s Board of Supervisors, this one to turn over management of the rural Bogalusa hospital next year. San Francisco Chronicle

PA: Three key questions about PA’s newest liquor privatization proposal. The long-awaited state Senate liquor privatization plan was unveiled Tuesday, leaving lawmakers with less than two weeks to get a bill to Gov. Corbett’s desk. Philly.com

June 19, 2013


VA: A Va. judge’s transportation roadblock. Judge Cales decided that a plan to have a private developer toll users for $2.1 billion in tunnel upgrades in crowded Hampton Roads is unconstitutional. Only the state has the power to tax and that’s what tolls really are, Cales ruled. If his ruling holds, a number of critically important highways that involve privately operated facilities, such as parts of Interstate 495 in Northern Virginia, Route 895 near Richmond and a proposed $1.3 billion toll road from Petersburg to Suffolk, could be affected. State contracts for all of them could be voided. If so, it would be a huge defeat for Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and earlier governors who have made good use of the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995 to push ahead with highways that the tax-averse state otherwise was too short of money to build. Washington Post

How Wash. fared when state stores died. Access to spirits exploded, with the number of liquor licensees going from under 400 to almost 1,500. Liquor sales rose. Prices went up, too – thanks to new taxes that were part of the referendum. Some voters grumbled that they missed the fine print. While the state is struggling with billion-dollar budget deficits, its revenue from post-privatization liquor sales has climbed at a pace that exceeded projections. Customers have flocked to stores across the border in Oregon and Idaho, where liquor always cost less but is now even cheaper by comparison. Fears that privatization would cause a spike in alcoholism and alcohol-related crimes have not been realized – aside from an uptick in shoplifting. Even so, Julia Dilley, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, said, “We think alcohol consumption has increased.” She is collecting data to see if alcohol-related hospitalizations and traffic crash rates have changed. Philly.com

PA: Beer muscles on display in senate liquor privatization bill. Those facts played out Tuesday when a Republican state senator unveiled his long-awaited plan to privatize liquor sales in a way vastly different and much slower than the two-year proposal favored by Corbett and the Republican-controlled House. Allentown Morning Call

OH: City manager signs lease to privatize parking system. Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. signed the parking lease Tuesday for the outsourcing of the city’s parking system….The plan would lease the city’s parking meters to Port Authority for the next 30 years, and lease city-owned parking lots and garages for up to 50 years. Despite all this, several council members have expressed that city administration should reconsider the deal.   FOX19

LA: LSU hospital deal questioned. The Louisiana Civil Service Commission notwithstanding, the state may not yet be out of the woods with its plan to privatize nine of 10 LSU hospitals and clinics that provide medical care for the state’s poor and uninsured. Tri Parish Times

IN: Get ready to pay more! Indiana Toll Road rates going up. The ITR Concession Company, which owns and manages the Toll Road under a 75-year lease agreement, is raising rates for all 7 levels of axle vehicles. For example, a passenger car will pay $9.70 to travel the Toll Road from end to end…But drivers want the brakes put on any rate hike, no matter how small, after recent spikes in gas prices. “It’s kind of ridiculous,” said Brian Garbrecht, a driver of Illinois. “We’re already paying so much for gas, and tolls are already expensive as it is.” WSBT-TV

FL: Pines, charter school teachers reach deal. More than 300 teachers won’t be losing their jobs and parents and students don’t have to fear that the day-to-day operations of the city’s charter system will be privatized — at least for another two years. The agreement between the Broward Teachers Union, which represents the Pines teachers, and the city says all teachers will give up last year’s raise and will be paid according to the Broward County Public Schools pay scale resulting in a pay cut for two-thirds of the teachers. The city agreed not to contract with a management company to operate the schools for at least two years.  Sun-Sentinel




June 18, 2013


Private prison’s shocking treatment of mentally ill sparks lawsuit. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF), alleging shocking human rights violations against mentally ill and special needs prisoners by the private, for-profit facility. Intended to provide safe and humane treatment for the state’s seriously mentally ill prisoners, EMCF is described as dangerous, filthy, and  “operating in a perpetual state of crisis where prisoners are at grave risk of death and loss of limbs” with little to no medical or psychiatric attention. Washington Times

Defenders of Public Spaces Take Inspiration From Turkish Protests. “The privatization of the public realm, through the growth of ‘private-public’ space, produces overcontrolled, sterile places which lack connection to the reality and diversity of the local environment, with the result that they all tend to look the same,” Ms. Minton wrote in a report for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. “They also raise serious questions about democracy and accountability.” Campaigners lament the growth of gated communities and closed malls, which in many areas have replaced open streets and public markets, as well as the proliferation of private security guards and CCTV monitoring. New York Times

Put the Spies Back Under One Roof – Op Ed. And if the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs are unlawful or unconstitutional, as many Americans (including myself) believe, does it make any difference whether the work is done by a government analyst or a private contractor?  It does. Here’s why. First, it is dangerous to have half a million people — the number of private contractors holding top-secret security clearances — peering into the lives of their fellow citizens. Contractors aren’t part of the chain of command at the N.S.A. or other agencies and aren’t subject to Congressional oversight. Officially, their only loyalty is to their company and its shareholders. New York Times

Contractors Account for 22% of Defense Dept. Workforce, but 50% of Workforce Costs. Despite claims that hiring private contractors instead of government employees yields greater efficiency and lower costs for taxpayers, information emerging from the across-the-board federal budget sequester suggests that privatization yields higher costs at the expense of taxpayers, but big profits for contractors. As government agencies try to implement the budget cuts in ways that do the least damage to their work, they—and we—are learning more and more about the inefficiencies of private contractors.  AllGov

AFGE praises lawmakers for retaining ban on outsourcing DoD jobs. Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia offered an amendment to the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would have lifted the moratorium on the A-76 privatization process. The amendment failed yesterday evening by a vote of 178 to 248, with 55 Republicans joining 193 Democrats in voting to keep the outsourcing ban in place. “This amendment would have opened up the outsourcing floodgate at DoD, costing even more civilian jobs that have been subjected to arbitrary cuts for years,” Cox said. PR Newswire

FL: Fred Grimm: Rush to privatize is all about bucks. Our governor was deeply offended by a burst of unkind aspersions after an insurance company that didn’t exist 11 months ago finagled a $52 million deal out of the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Company. Miami Herald

FL: Amid series of complaints at Medical Examiner’s Office, city considers privatizing. The Mayor’s Office began a review of the Medical Examiner’s Office for possible privatization in about August 2012 as one solution to deal with issues in the office. By that time, the city had heard complaints for about a year that included staffing shortage, staff retention, perception of fairness among staff, overall efficiency and facility maintenance.  Florida Times-Union

FL: Pembroke Pines to contract with Charter Schools USA to manage schools. Parts of the city’s nationally recognized charter school system may be privatized as early as this week and more than 300 teachers could lose their jobs. Students, parents, and teachers fear that this change will lower the quality of education at the schools. But city officials say Pines doesn’t have enough money to keep the A-rated schools open and that privatizing parts of them is the only solution.  Sun-Sentinel



June 17, 2013


Private Preschools See More Public Funds. Across the country, states and districts are increasingly funneling public funds to religious schools, private nursery schools and a variety of nonprofit organizations. New York Times

Growth of intel outsourcing no secret, but now Congress taking notice. While the average American may have been surprised to learn a 29-year-old civilian could tap into secret government files while drawing a paycheck from a for-profit firm, there is nothing new or unusual about it. Last year, 483,236 private contractors had top-secret security clearances, compared to 791,200 government employees, according to a report by the office of the Director of National Intelligence. Another 582,542 contractors had the less-stringent confidential security clearance, compared to 2.7 million government workers, the report said.  NBCNews.com (blog)

PA: Philadelphia Closes 23 Schools, Lays Off Thousands, Builds Huge Prison. The Philadelphia public school system has been a target for school reform and Charter-enthusiasts for the past few years, and several figures (including the mayor) have defended charter schools as a viable replacement to the entire public school system. The school closures, which (of course) disproportionately affect schools in poor and minority neighborhoods, will force students to venture far outside of their own neighborhoods to attend their closest school. Charter schools in Philadelphia have been plagued by scandal and corruption, have no requirement to admit any student and can dismiss a student at any time. Still, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter defended them during an awkward appearance on MSNBC where he defended the cuts.  Gawker

VA: Creditors to take over operation of privately run, state-owned toll road. Creditors are taking over operation of a privately run, state-owned toll road that has failed to generate enough revenue to cover its debt payments. Washington Post

IA: State leaders to explore privatizing data network. After decades of building out, paying for and grossly underutilizing the statewide fiber-optic data system, officials now are formally exploring their options for privatizing it in hopes of realizing a greater return on an investment that now exceeds $280 million.  Des Moines Register

FL: Florida Gets Federal Approval To Privatize Medicaid. The federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has given full approval for Florida to essentially privatize its Medicaid program. Under the agreement, healthcare companies will have to spend a set amount of money directly on patient care. WSFU

LA: Gov. Jindal gets what he wants from the LSU Board of Supervisors: Opinion. Pity the hapless members of the LSU Board of Supervisors. They are esteemed members of their professions and respected in their communities. But to serve on this board, Gov. Bobby Jindal apparently demanded they surrender their independence and self-respect. It seems they do his bidding about whom to hire and fire. They remain quiet as he decimates the university’s budget. They eagerly comply with his program to relinquish the state’s health care system to corporations. In other words, Jindal says, “Jump.” They respond, “Yes, sir!” Let’s review the dismal record.  NOLA


MI: Editorial: Put money in real education reform, not privatization. “Choice” remains code for privatization, and the governor’s friends on the foundation (which by the way is not really a foundation and has no affiliation with Oxford University as its name might imply) are no friends of public education. The act, a voucher plan, would allow students to take their public money to any private vendor. It would allow charter schools to have selective enrollment and to charge tuition. And it would further decimate public schools in poorer districts, forcing students to attend schools away from their communities, for which their learning would ultimately suffer. Battle Creek Enquirer