September 30, 2013


Private lobbyists collecting public pensions is illegal gift. State and local pension funds face unfunded liabilities ranging from $3 trillion to $5 trillion, according to various reports. This is a well-known problem and many states are trying to address it. But did you know that many of these desperately underfunded public pension plans have been providing pensions to private citizens who do not perform any work as public employees? Denver Post

Giant Leaps for Space Firms Orbital, SpaceX. A successful launch and a separate in-orbit rendezvous on Sunday, both funded largely with corporate dollars, are accelerating what amounts to the privatization of NASA’s current human spaceflight efforts. Wall Street Journal

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of the award-winning, has launched, a web resource devoted to helping taxpayers identify the corporations seeking to privatize public services in their communities: including their schools, roads, prisons, drinking water, court systems, and more.

Sen. Feinstein’s Husband Reaps Profits from Post Office Closings. The post office is being savaged for thinly-disguised political reasons, including the enrichment of a few select individuals. Investigative journalist Peter Byrne says California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum, is one of those profiting mightily. AllGov

NY: Charter School Blues. Charter schools have enjoyed a privileged position in New York City under the Bloomberg administration, which has given the schools free space in city buildings to help the fledgling sector grow. Now, charter school operators are grappling with a potential game-changer: If Democrat Bill de Blasio is elected mayor, they would almost certainly have to pay rent. Wall Street Journal

PA: Wealthy donors move schools decision-making behind closed doors. Not as a cautionary tale, but as a roadmap for the privatization of public education. This is a city that shows what can happen when dollars and decision-making move into private hands — and behind closed doors. Despite standing amidst the ruins of city public schools, they like what they see: an opportunity to remake public education according to their own design.  Philadelphia City Paper

LA: Ploof: Privatizing schools not in our best interests. Though Louisiana’s public school system overall has not received high marks nationally, the move under the Jindal administration to privatize our state’s school system has been to the detriment of our children’s education. In stating this, I am not blind to the fact that our public education system is not the perfect system due to bad policy. However, transitioning the school system to a market model is not the solution. Hammond Daily Star





September 27, 2013


Fukushima Shows Catastrophic Potential of Privatizing Nuclear Power. The possibility of a global nuclear catastrophe as a result of the ongoing crisis at Fukushima is not only a real threat to untold lives in Japan and around the world, it is a model example of why nuclear power of any sort should not be privatized — and should only have limited uses within governmental programs.  Truth-Out

Diane Ravitch Rebukes Education Activists’ ‘Reign Of Error’. Some charter schools are exceptional; some charter schools are doing a great job. Many charter schools do worse than the local public school. NPR

MI: State panel approves pact for privatized prison meals. The state moved a step closer to privatized prison meals Tuesday with the preliminary approval of a $145 million deal with professional services giant Aramark.  The Detroit News

MI: Prison privatization still questionable – opinion…Apparently The News’ editorial board did not do this brief research, or chose to ignore it, when deciding to endorse prison privatization for the Sept. 16 editorial, “Privatizing can trim state prison costs.” Private prison operators are notorious for sealing contracts under one rate, only to tack on fees or raise costs later. This was one of many problems at the GEO-operated Baldwin youth prison closed in 2005. A Michigan Auditor General’s report found the state could have been running the facility for much less. The Detroit News

TX: Buy your way out of congestion: I-30 HOV lanes being replaced by toll lanes….It was one of the last bureaucratic steps needed to open a toll lane on a federal interstate highway. However, it will be done with a twist. The toll lanes, scheduled to open in 2015, will feature “variable pricing,” with rates that change depending on congestion. Fort Worth Star Telegram

CA: Union members balk at outsourcing work at LA-owned garages. Drawing union opposition, Los Angeles transportation officials are pursuing a plan to hire private companies to manage two dozen city-owned garages. Los Angeles Daily News

OH: TRAC Approves Nearly $3 Billion For Future Road Projects. “We are going to be as creative as we can be in terms of public private partnerships, leveraging the assets that we have, sponsorships, making sure that our designs are practical but inexpensive as possible while accomplishing what we want to do,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray after the TRAC vote.…. Wray said within eight years there will need to be a national debate about how to continue funding road projects either through gas taxes, toll fees and or private sector financing.


September 26, 2013


Cyber schools flunk, but tax money keeps flowing. Taxpayers send nearly $2 billion a year to cyber schools that let students from kindergarten through 12th grade receive a free public education entirely online. The schools, many managed by for-profit companies, are great at driving up enrollment with catchy advertising. They excel at lobbying. They have a knack for making generous campaign donations. But as new state report cards coming out now make clear, there’s one thing they’re not so good at: educating kids.  Politico

Heading in reverse: Toll road debt grows to almost $19 million a mile. As the economy continues creeping along in the slow lane, drivers will probably decide against paying the toll.   As a consequence, and somewhat ironically, toll roads and bridges may become even more expensive for travelers in an effort to pay down billions in debt.   Fox News

Toll Roads Rising: Why There Will Be More Tolls Down the Road….. If these trends continue—and there’s not much reason to think they won’t—more of the country could resemble Florida, and not in terms of abundant beaches, oranges, and sunshine, but nearly ubiquitous tolls.  Fox News           

Money for roads harder to find for roads…Rob Puentes, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, said in some cases, state and local communities are also relying on corporate and philanthropic groups to solve traffic problems. Philanthropic groups, for example, helped Detroit develop its M1 rail line, while private equity firms have invested in roads and bridges that benefit the businesses they create. Columbus Dispatch           

Privatizing national lab management misguided – opinion…. A case in point: Several years ago, the U.S. Department of Energy put management of our nuclear weapons research and development labs out for bid. Against the advice of many, DOE awarded the contract for both labs (Lawrence Livermore in the Bay Area and Los Alamos in New Mexico) to a single private partnership comprising the University of California Regents, Bechtel Corp., and other private companies. This created the Holy Grail of unaccountable profiteering: Not just a for-profit monopoly, but a taxpayer-funded for-profit monopoly. San Francisco Chronicle

Does Privatization of Federal Employee Background Checks Lead to More Security Breaches? In the wake of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, the question of who performed the background check on shooter Aaron Alexis—a sub-contractor who had security clearance to perform IT work for the U.S. Navy—has given rise to a larger debate over whether such work should be contracted out to private firms. Alexis was given access to federal naval shipyards by USIS, a private company paid by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to carry out background checks on contractors.  AllGov

MI: Could Privatizing Prison Food Services Cause Backlash Behind Bars? The group that represents Michigan’s corrections officers says it worries that privatizing food services in Michigan prisons could pose huge safety risks. “You don’t mess with a prisoner’s food,” says Mel Grieshaber, executive director for the Michigan Corrections Organization. “It creates a terrible situation whenever anything is done with the food items of a prisoner, and if there’s trouble because of that food, the preparation or how it’s handled, it’s the correctional officers that have to go in there and handle the situation.”  WLNS

TX: 5 Texas charter school proposals contain striking similarities. Texas has more than 200 approved charter school operators. A new state law will allow the number to grow in the coming years…..The intention is to allow charters to be more innovative than regular public schools.That makes copying by would-be charter operators troubling, said Daniel Martin, a management professor at California State University-East Bay who has studied plagiarism. A good charter school proposal should reflect the unique needs and culture of a particular community, Martin said. “This is where the innovation is supposed to be,” Martin said. “This is not where you want to see plagiarism.”  Dallas Morning News


September 25, 2013


Private Probation Firm Illegally Extended Sentences, Judge Finds….Last week, a Georgia county judge ruled that Sentinel Offender Service had illegally extended the sentence of Mantooth and potentially thousands of others who were required to pay the firm monthly probation fees, and was illegally ordering electronic monitoring for misdemeanor offenders — prohibited by state law — while charging probationers for their own monitoring.  ThinkProgress

Movie: THE REFORMERS – The true cost you are paying for education reform. Disguised as school choice, for-profit interests are using politics, fear and expensive advertising to change what has been a great public school system for more than 50 years. Their goal is to tap into Douglas County School’s $500-million annual budget to add to their bottom line. Great for business. But good for your child’s future?

VA: Va. gov. says U.Va. unlikely to privatize.In a report made public earlier this month, the Public University Working Group on campus suggested that the school move toward privatization, weaning the school from state funding and state control. But Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who appointed many of the current Board of Visitors members, says it’s not likely to happen. “Thomas Jefferson would roll in his grave if he thought U.Va. was going to go private because he believed in a welcoming, world-class public education system,” McDonnell says.  WTOP           

IN: States will seek private investors for Illiana Expressway. Indiana and Illinois have reached an agreement in principal on how to construct and finance the Illiana Expressway, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation. Each state’s department of transportation plans to issue its own request for qualifications for its portion of the 47-mile toll road this fall as the next step in enticing private investors to help pay for the road, according to INDOT.           

IL: Chicagoland: Illinois Lottery Commissioner Attempted to Drive the State Game to His Former Company. Fox 32 in Chicago reports on Illinois lottery superintendent Michael Jones, who the station has found to be steering government contracts to the company he owned until his appointment to the state lottery. The decisions look corrupt on their face. The year after Illinois privatized its lottery, it reaped $100 million more in state revenues. PJ Media

IL: Perspective: An ordinance to protect city taxpayers. The Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance will require a City Council committee hearing on any proposed public-private partnership to evaluate its full cost, weigh the benefits and determine whether the deal is in the best interest of the city. The ordinance also requires that any city department considering the privatization of any part of its operations must conduct a cost-effectiveness study, demonstrate greater than 10 percent projected cost savings, and show that the economic benefits of privatization outweigh the public’s interest in continued city operation of the service.  Chicago Tribune

IL: Chicago’s Public Employees Want New Contract With Fair Wages, Privatization Safeguards. Chicago public employees picketed downtown Tuesday, calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to settle a new union contract with AFSCME Council 31 that includes decent wages that keep up with inflation…. “Any company should want to pay their employees fair wages but the transparency with the privatization, it’s really a huge issue, because what (the mayor) is basically trying to do is sell off the city of Chicago,” said Nicole Herron, who’s worked in the city’s finance department for 18 years. “If he does that, we lose a huge part of the middle class and lower-class people who make up a bulk of the city.”  Progress Illinois

IL: City spent $3.5 million on failed Midway privatization deal. Privatizing Midway Airport could have left Chicago with $500 million — even after debt was retired — to shore up city pensions and build infrastructure projects. Chicago Sun-Times

FL: Scott’s prison-privatization promise falls short. And a chunk of that is specifically because of the stalled effort to privatize health-care … But Scott’s larger goal of privatizing prisons has not been achieved. Orlando Sentinel


September 24, 2013


Does profit motive affect security clearance investigations?….Returning to the question of conducting the investigations, should that continue to be done by private companies, with their obligation to make money, or federal employees, whose obligation is to serve the people and their government? The background investigations provide the information that agencies need to determine who gets security clearances to work on military bases and in other sensitive government facilities. For the largest government employee union, long wary of contractors doing the government’s work, the answer is clear. Washington Post

Congress Fuels Private Jails Detaining 34000 Immigrants… Since 2009, when then-Senator Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat, inserted a change into the Homeland Security Department’s annual spending bill, federal immigration officials have been placed in the unusual position of operating under a statutory quota on how many people to hold behind bars. Congressional Republicans have been defending it ever since. “People are being kept in detention — in many cases for weeks or months at a time — without consideration for the individual circumstances,” said Denise Gilman, co-director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas law school in Austin. “This is being done at a tremendous financial cost to taxpayers and a tremendous human cost to families.”  Businessweek

The Debt Vise Tightens…One reason Moody’s continues to have a negative outlook for the US toll road sector is the weak and uneven pace of the economic recovery. Bacon’s Rebellion

TX: Fort Worth To Hold Public Meeting About Privatizing Water Dept. The City of Forth Worth is holding a public meeting at city hall Tuesday night to get input about privatizing its water ….Fort Worth had hoped to find some big money savings when it appointed a task force to look into privatizing its water department. But, documents supplied to the task force suggest the city would save money by keeping control of water system.  CBS Local

PA: Corbett asked to end rumors of link between Pa. liquor privatization, transportation funding. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa is again asking the administration to announce there is no effort to keep transportation funding hostage in order to pass a liquor privatization bill, or vice versa. The GOP House Majority Leader agreed that it falls to Corbett to disconnect the two items.

PA: House Majority Leader slams federal school policy in Philly visit. U.S. REP. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, …came to Philadelphia to slam federal education-funding policy and to call out U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for a lawsuit the Department of Justice filed last month against the state of Louisiana. ….”Are political leaders so out of touch that they can use a school system in crisis as a backdrop to peddle a school privatization scheme?” Weingarten asked.

MI:  State plans to start privatizing prison food service Oct. 1. Gov. Rick Snyder says his administration will consider objections raised by a Republican senator and others to a bidding process that led to a state decision to privatize food services for its 45,000 prisoners, but he hopes the protests are not merely attempts to delay action.  Port Huron Times Herald

IN: Unions: State Shouldn’t Privatize Public Employees’ Pensions. AFL-CIO Indiana President Nancy Guyott says adjusting to market conditions through privatization means public employees will lose more than they need to. Indiana Public Media

CA: RAD public housing privatization: Stealing our last acre and our one remaining  mule …“Can you guarantee there will be housing for low, low income people, ’cause many of our folks are low, low income?” The inquiry from San Francisco Public Housing Commissioner Patricia Thomas was tentative, her voice building power with each word. San Francisco Bay View


September 23, 2013


Feds may privatize air-traffic control. There’s no firm plans as of yet, but Bloomberg noted sides that had previously opposed privatization — including a national organization of pilots and an air-traffic controllers union — aren’t as stridently against it anymore. Pittsburgh Business Times (blog)

6 shocking revelations about how private prisons make money. Imagine living in a country where prisons are private corporations that profit from keeping their beds stocked at, or near, capacity and the governing officials scramble to meet contractual “lockup quotas.” Imagine that taxpayers would have to pay for any empty beds should crime rates fall below that quota. Surprise! You already live there.  Salon

PA: Pa. Auditor General Calls For Changes In Charter Schools. The abuse of public money is spotlighted in the indictment of former Pa. Cyber Charter School head Nick Trombetta. CBS Pittsburgh

ID: Oversight needed for public-private land deals. Last year the Idaho Department of Lands swapped out the University of Idaho Science Campus at McCall, which it managed as part of the state endowment lands used to generate money for public schools.…. The McCall property was estimated to be worth $6.1 million, and maybe it was since, after the Idaho Falls firm IW4 LLC obtained it, the property was flipped to another buyer for $6.1 million. However, the buyer was the University of Idaho, a state agency. So you could say the state sold the property to a private buyer for $6.1 million, which paid in the form of another piece of property, and then bought it back for $6.1 million. Or you could say IW4 LLC used the state to convert its Idaho Falls property into $6.1 million rather than just sell it to a cash buyer themselves. Idaho Press-Tribune

AZ: Tennessee Company Takes Over Highway Rest Stops, Now Looking For Advertisers. Arizona has begun privatizing its 25 highway rest stops this month.  The companies taking over management of the places where an estimated 9.3 million people per year stretch their legs, “use the facilities”, or take a quick nap are going to maintain the areas and monetize them by attracting advertisers. Tucson Citizen

VA: Va. Beach: No toll money for road maintenance. The state’s public-private deal with Elizabeth River Crossings requires the private company to maintain the roads for 58 years. The state contributed about $420 million to the project, but toll revenue will pay for some maintenance costs, Layne said…. Virginia Beach’s position is basically that it’s unfair to toll someone to cover maintenance costs for a road when that user is also paying taxes to support the state’s highway maintenance operating fund, Farmer said.  The Virginian-Pilot

NV: Cracks appear in private-public partnership behind proposed new dorms at UNLV….However, UNLV’s private partners, faced with skittish investors, want the university to become “more involved” in financing the project, which has ballooned in cost since it was unveiled a couple of months ago.  Las Vegas Sun


September 20, 2013


Toll Roads Rising: Why There Will Be More Tolls Down the Road. We are living through what one transportation expert calls a “renaissance in tolling.” What that means for American drivers is that they’ll face higher and higher tolls on roads, and more toll roads period. TIME

Privatization fetishists resist reform, costing cities millions. Now a proposed law in Chicago, backed by a coalition of community groups and unions, could slow the selling off of everything city-owned not already nailed to the floor. The Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance (PTAO) is designed to help prevent abuses of privatization, and avoid the kinds of deals negotiated in the past that were intended to help close budget deficits but turned out to be massive boons for corporations and Wall Street while losing long-term revenue for the city. Salon

Privatization driven by corruption. The Chicago parking meter debacle. I want to just add this. Given the immensely favorable deals that governments — federal, state and local — give to their private “partners,” how can crony corruption and kickbacks not be a part of it. For example, consider just this via Rich Perlstein, on the sale of revenues from Chicago parking meters to a consortium led by Morgan Stanley and including the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Abu Dhabi.  AMERICAblog

Privatizing the Postal Service is a Bad Idea, and the UK Has Proof. If the United States were to privatize the postal service like Britain has done, the government would first have to invest billions of dollars into making the postal service appear as a viable, competitive business. This would likely be unpopular with both parties. PolicyMic

AZ: Governor Brewer, Personal SuperPAC Benefit From Company Privatizing Arizona Rest Stops. The week that a major Request for Proposals went out to privatize the state’s highway rest areas, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was hosted in Tennessee and her personal Super PAC received contributions and underwriting from the Tennessee company proposing the public-private partnership. Tucson Citizen

LA: Louisiana Governor Looks to Privatize all State Senior Care. Louisiana’s governor is making a push toward a complete privatization of health-care programs, including those that span senior care within the state. “Jindal’s administration has already transferred most of the state’s 1.4 million Medicaid recipients to six privately owned insurance companies,” the report states. “The administration also has moved people with behavioral health issues, such as mental distress and substance abuse, from state-run programs to care managed by a private company.” Senior Housing News

OR: Protesters on ropes dangle from Oregon Capitol dome. Protesters hung from ropes 100 feet off of the Oregon Capitol dome Thursday morning to protest the privatization of Oregon forest lands. Two protesters hanging on the west side of the dome held a sign that read, “Kitzhaber’s Legacy: Privatizing The Elliott Forest – Clearcutting For Profit.” The protesters are members of a group called Cascadia Forest Defenders.

VA: No to privatization – opinion. In the midst of dwindling state funding for Virginia’s public universities, a University of Virginia panel proposed that the school transition from public to private…. There was a time when Virginia funded 43 percent of the College’s operating budget. That time has long passed. And it’s easy to understand why: There is a broad national trend of decreasing state investment in public universities, and a weak economy means less tax revenue for states. However, we as a nation still believe that education is important, so much so that the number of college applications is skyrocketing. If we are serious about education, public funding for higher education ought to be a priority. The slow death of the “public” aspect of public universities does not bode well for the education of our populace. The Flat Hat



September 19, 2013


This week in privatization — they really do have a bridge to sell you. Investors that failed to privatize Social Security under the Bush administration and who got badly burned in the crash of 2008 are looking to get their hands on public property at bargain prices. AMERICAblog (blog)           

Walton Foundation hires New York charter school leader. The Walton Family Foundation, which is spending tens of millions to promote charter schools, school vouchers and destruction of teacher unions and conventional public school districts that have them, is adding a high-profile New Yorker to its bureaucracy. Marc Sternberg, senior deputy chancellor of the New York City Department of Education under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is going to work for the Waltons as director of the “K-12 Systemic Education Reform Focus Area.” He was in charge of charter school development in New York. Arkansas Times (blog)           

PA: Will Phila. be the graveyard of public education?… Ravitch devotes an entire chapter to Rhee, labeling her “the quintessential corporate reformer.” Rhee’s policies are thin, many aren’t working yet remain popular with many politicians. Rhee believes we’re throwing too much money at the problem. Ravitch counters there are not nearly enough funds for the schools and too much is wasted on testing. Rhee advocates for teacher merit raises, and uniform standards for evaluating teachers. Ravitch counters that standardized testing rewards competition, not collaboration, among teachers. Instead, she favors school peer review and principals who are master teachers.

IN: State of the Schools…. The superintendent railed against state leaders working towards the privatization of public education. “Our state, Indiana, is front and center of this fight to privatize and basically smear the reputation of our public schools,” he said. “Our public schools and our students are achieving at a high level. Make no mistake, Indiana is a battleground state in the effort to privatize public education. “Millions of dollars are being pumped into our state to promote charter schools, vouchers and other efforts to move education into a for-profit arena.”  Warrick Publishing

MI: Senator: ‘Flawed’ bidding process led to privatization of prison food service. A Republican senator told the Civil Service Commission on Wednesday that a flawed bidding process led to the state’s decision to privatize food service for 45,000 Michigan prisoners and eliminate about 370 state jobs.  Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, said he voted in favor of seeking competitive bids for the food service but now believes the Michigan Department of Corrections was at a competitive disadvantage when its costs were compared to prices submitted by Philadelphia-based catering giant Aramark.  Lansing State Journal

NY: Many LI school districts privatize pre-K programs. Long Island school districts have been steadily privatizing their prekindergarten programs, a move they say saves them money and preserves early childhood education that could be the target of funding cuts. Districts can go to private contractors because pre-K is not mandated by the state Department of Education. It’s a much less expensive option than using public school employees. Staffers of private organizations are paid about one-third of what schoolteachers get, said Dana Friedman, director of the Plainview-based Early Years Institute.  Newsday




September 18, 2013


IL: No Deal Is a Big Deal for Chicago…. The mayor did the right thing, so credit where credit is due, but the taxpayers can’t rely on his actions alone every time the city considers selling off public assets. The public needs to know that transparency and accountability are the law of the land, regardless of Mayor Emanuel’s — or any future mayor’s — change of heart, political calculations or individual judgments.  A group of Chicago alderman led by Roderick Sawyer is proposing the Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance (PTAO) to ensure these principles are applied fully in every proposal to outsource public assets and services. The proposal would ensure that these deals are fully evaluated in public -to decide if a specific deal advances, or hurts, the city’s public interest over the long run.  Huffington Post

LA: Jindal looks to privatize elderly, developmentally disabled health care. Gov. Bobby Jindal has begun work on privatizing the last big chunk of health-care programs still being run by state government. His aides are setting up the process of hiring private concerns to manage programs that care for the elderly and developmentally disabled. It’s the last major group of programs still directly under the $7 billion-plus state Medicaid program, which provides health insurance for roughly a quarter of Louisiana’s population. The Advocate

LA: Anxiety ‘unbelievable’ for employees at Pineville’s Huey P. Long Hospital ….“Their anxiety is unbelievable,” said state Rep. Herbert Dixon, D-Alexandria. “Huey P. Long closing is going to be a major transition for us. Hopefully this (cooperative endeavor) agreement is going to be one that continues health care for all our citizens.” The state has announced plans to close the charity hospital, shifting services provided there to three clinics to be operated under a cooperative endeavor plan with Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital and Rapides Regional Medical Center, both in Alexandria.  Alexandria Town Talk

OH: Privatizing Cincinnati’s Retirement System — A Bad Deal for Retirees….The ironically named Cincinnatians for Pension Reform, the people behind the ballot initiative to degrade city workers’ pensions, is a group of tea party leaders from outside Cincinnati and Ohio (Paul Jacob, the president of the Liberty Initiative Fund is one). We’ve seen this before and we’ll see it again, privatizers and the wealthy 1 percent elite trying to force the middle class to gamble their economic security in retirement on the roulette wheel of the stock market.  Huffington Post

WI: Plain Talk: Whatever happened to the public good?… But now the tea party core wants to “privatize” everything so that government can be starved. Let’s sell off state property, Gov. Walker and the Legislature say. Let’s promote private schools. Let’s make museums and parks pay for themselves by privatizing their operations. But once you starve government, the less it can do for the “public good.” When schools decay and public services deteriorate, it’s the middle and lower classes who suffer. Instead of everyone pitching in based on their ability to pay, the wealthy can buy their own services and the hell with everyone else.  Capital Times

People Who Get Rich Privatizing Academia Explain Why it’s a Good Idea. Weill Cornell Medical College last week accepted $100 million from the Weill Family Foundation to help “translate research breakthroughs into innovative treatments and therapies for patients.” More precisely: A college dean who also served on the board of a big-pharma firm while it defrauded Medicaid, bribed physicians, promoted off-label use of anti-psychotics and sent a library full of FDA regulations out with the garbage allowed one of the subprime mortgage crisis’s chief engineers to buy $100 million worth of the school.  PolicyShop (blog)

Diane Ravitch’s new book takes education myths to task. If I were to create art to decorate the cover of Diane Ravitch’s new book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, it would include an illustration of Diane Ravitch, sledgehammer in hand, smashing a brick wall with the words “Education Reform.” We would see bricks falling down with words on them such as Race to the Top, Arne Duncan, NCLB, vouchers, Gates Foundation and standardized assessments.  DesMoines Register


September 17, 2013


USDA’s Reckless Plan to Privatize Food Safety. The government limits line speeds so that plants can’t push for more profits at the expense of worker and food safety. And it stations inspectors in slaughterhouses to make sure sick animals don’t become part of the food supply. That might change. Under the pilot program used in five hog processing plants for over a decade, the government reduced the number of USDA inspectors. The companies hired some of its own inspectors to replace the USDA ones. And line speeds increased by 20 percent.  PR Watch           

Colleges Clash with Towns over the Cost of Public Services. With increased financial pressures on municipalities across the country, as well as on places of higher learning, town-versus-gown squabbles over Pilot payments — an acronym for payments in lieu of taxes — are increasingly common and often contentious.  New York Times

TN: Labor unions oppose privatizing TVA. Organized labor may have backed President Obama, but America’s biggest unions don’t like the idea he floated in April to consider selling the Tennessee Valley Authority. Chattanooga Times Free Press

PA: Corbett’s stalled liquor privatization plans revving up again. With the Legislature scheduled to come back to session next week, sides again are lining up for and against Gov. Tom Corbett’s stalled plan to sell the state liquor store system and open up beer sales. Capitol Ideas

PA: Likely LG Hopeful Morganelli Takes Aim at Liquor Privatization. Potential Democratic lieutenant governor candidate and current Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli held a press conference this morning at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg to discuss Gov. Tom Corbett’s liquor privatization plan. Morganelli opened his remarks with an anecdote about a 19-year-old who lost control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, killing himself and two 18-year-old passengers….Through this anecdote, Morganelli explained his opposition to Corbett’s liquor privatization plan, which he said will lead to an unsafe access to alcohol by young people. PoliticsPA

OR: Washington-style liquor privatization would hurt Oregon revenue. Privatizing liquor sales in Oregon would put a crimp in state revenue and “shut out” a growing craft distillery industry, the chairman of the state liquor agency told a panel of lawmakers Monday morning.

WI: Private schools against school accountability bill. Private schools participating in the new voucher program voiced their opinions against a bill that would hold the schools accountable for poor student achievement.  UW Badger Herald

IL: Make way for Ventra as technology, privatization displace CTA workers. After months of build-up, the new system premiered last week. Coming a few days after Ventra’s launch was another announcement  – the elimination of 149 positions at CTA. About one-third of the jobs the Chicago Transit Board voted to remove will become redundant because of Ventra. Instead of administrators or managers employed by CTA dealing with the current payment system, the fare collection system has been outsourced to the San Diego-based Cubic Transportation Systems. ChicagoNow (blog)

NJ: Newark charter school contract with K12 Inc. shows influence of for-profit companies in public schools…. New Jersey law allows for-profit companies to play a big role in public schools. One thing they can’t do is run the place. But charter school experts and one lawmaker said it’s sometime hard to tell if the rules are being followed, and K12’s involvement with Newark Prep is one of those instances. Hunterdon County Democrat