January 30, 2014


Outsourcing Probation: A Lucrative and Growing Industry. Privatization of the criminal justice system has extended beyond prisons that are run for profit and now includes probation operators making a buck off Americans who have violated the law. Quietly over the past four decades, private probation companies have gone into business in 40% of U.S. states, most of them in the South. Georgia alone has 34 businesses providing probation services. These entrepreneurs have replaced county offices that used to oversee individuals given probation instead of jail time for their offenses. But the switch from public to private probation has resulted in excessive financial costs levied on probationers, some of whom have been threatened with incarceration for not paying these companies on time.  AllGov

NSA Whistleblower Snowden interviewed on German TV. Snowden, who is 30, said that his case “highlights the dangers of privatizing government functions.” Even though he once worked directly for the Central Intelligence Agency, he was a private contractor when he assembled the trove of secret documents he provided to journalists last year. “What that means,” Snowden said, “is you have private, for-profit companies doing inherently governmental work like targeted espionage, surveillance, compromising foreign systems. And anyone who has the skills, who can convince a private company that they have the qualifications to do so, will be empowered by the government to do that. And there’s very little oversight, there’s very little review.” The Drum

Helium Shortage: Situation Update One Year Later. The Federal Helium Reserve shutdown was a consequence of the Helium Privatization Act, a law approved in 1996. At the time, there was less interest in helium production, as it was not considered essential for the defence industry anymore, and its technological importance was less relevant and understood. The situation, however, had changed dramatically since 1996, and these days helium is essential in many sectors. A lot of medical equipment, MRI and lasers for instance, require helium to keep parts of them at a very low temperature; helium is also used for electronic fabrication and aeronautics applications. Luckily, in the end the catastrophe was avoided, as a last minute solution was found. Decoded Science

PA: The Stealth Privatization of Pennsylvania’s Bridges. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has decided to sign a 40-year contract to privatize the state’s crumbling bridges, but there has been little to no media coverage of the deal and what it will mean for two generations of Pennsylvanians.  Truth-Out

IL: Emanuel defends new Chicago charter schools. Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday dismissed criticism aimed at his hand-picked school board’s decision to approve seven new charter schools after it shuttered 47 neighborhood schools last year, saying they’re two separate issues. The mayor made his first public comments on the matter since the Chicago Board of Education vote last week on charter school expansion months after the district cut $168 million from individual school budgets.  Chicago Tribune

NJ: Bloomfield council considers outsourcing engineering. The Bloomfield Township Council will consider outsourcing the municipality’s Engineering Department as a potential cost saver. NorthJersey.com

CT: LETTER: Says outsourcing will hurt taxpayers, families. There are few things more important than looking out for the health and safety of our children. Bristol parents rely on local food service workers to keep an eye out for them, to make sure they get the nourishment they need when parents aren’t present. For many children, the meals they receive at school are the only meals they receive at all. Many of these workers have grown up here and have a real stake in seeing our kids do well. That’s why news of attempts to outsource these jobs to a for-profit corporation is so unsettling.  When we outsource food service, parents are no longer in control. Instead, our kids’ health and nutrition suffer when companies cut costs by reducing the quality, increasing the fat content or removing fresh options of the food they are served, just to protect profits.   The Bristol Press



January 29, 2014


Security Check Firm Said to Have Defrauded US. The company that conducted a background investigation on the contractor Edward J. Snowden fraudulently signed off on hundreds of thousands of incomplete security checks in recent years, the Justice Department said. The government said the company, U.S. Investigations Services, defrauded the government of millions of dollars by submitting more than 650,000 investigations that had not been completed. The government uses those reports to help make hiring decisions and decide who gets access to national security secrets. In addition to Mr. Snowden, the company performed the background check for Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old military contractor who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last year.  New York Times

Obama will force federal contractors to raise minimum wage. For years, liberal groups privately – and unsuccessfully – pressed President Barack Obama to use the power of the federal government’s purse to raise the minimum wage for employees whose companies had contracts with the federal government. Last year, after Obama again failed to act, they changed strategies, launching a public campaign complete with employee strikes. It worked. McClatchy

The hype and reality of ‘school choice’. As for public charter schools, here’s the bottom line after several decades of experimentation: Some are great, some are horrible, most aren’t any better than traditional schools, and the push for charters is decimating neighborhood school systems and helping to privatize an education system that should remain public. As researcher Matthew Di Carlo said in this blog post: There is a fairly well-developed body of evidence showing that charter and regular public schools vary widely in their impacts on achievement growth. This research finds that, on the whole, there is usually not much of a difference between them, and when there are differences, they tend to be very modest. In other words, there is nothing about “charterness” that leads to strong results. Washington Post (blog)

CA: Labor protests Postal Service privatization amid deal with Staples. Bearing blue T-shirts and banners stating “Stop Staples! The U.S. mail is not for sale!” 70-plus protesters from the United States Postal Service Union, along with members of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Union of Healthcare Workers, today rallied outside the Staples store on Van Ness Avenue in opposition to USPS’s “Retail Partner Expansion Program” that began in November. The pilot program is seen as stripping jobs from postal workers and starting down a road to the privatization of the post office.  San Francisco Bay Guardian

TN: Contract May Fall Below ‘Expected’ Savings By Tens Of Millions. When you hear the word “expected,” that may not really mean expected. So says the company that got a multimillion-dollar contract from the Haslam administration to outsource the management of state buildings…. But recent projections provided by the Haslam administration show they’re only counting on savings of $33.4 million during the five-year contract. That’s about a third of what JLL had said could be “expected.” “This is bait and switch — plain and simple,” said Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis. “We paid them to be the experts, to be the experts to advise us. Now you are telling us you were not experts, you did not know what you were doing. Give us our money back.”  NewsChannel5.com

NJ: Newark Teachers Battle Governor’s School Privatization Agenda. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie aims privatize Newark’s school system by closing public schools and promoting charters—but a growing rank-and-file caucus within the teachers union is organizing members to resist. They’re holding weekly pickets, dressed in black, and packing the school closure hearings to protest. Labor Notes

NJ: Congressman’s letter: I have concerns about privatizing NJ Turnpike toll operations. “Two years ago, toll collectors, under the threat of privatization of their jobs, agreed to a union contract that substantially lowered both their wages and benefits, which has resulted in a 30 percent reduction of their standard of living. Full-time jobs that previously supported a family — $50,000 and $60,000 a year — became jobs that pay $35,000 and $40,000 a year….Stable middle-class jobs were essentially eliminated. Now, the same workers through Administrative action are threatened again by layoffs and privatization that could negatively impact nearly 800 jobs.” — U.S. REP. ALBIO SIRES  The Jersey Journal

GA: Private sector always most efficient? No, not hardly. Georgia officials seem intent on clearing the way to privatize some or all of the state’s foster-care system, at least in part by utilizing faith-based organizations. While I can see advantages to that approach, I can also think of reasons to be wary…. State officials are and should be accountable directly to the public. Private entities — whether profit or non-profit — are first accountable to someone else with other priorities. Which leads us to …Privatizing core government functions ought to be done with extreme caution. If you want to privatize accounting or human resource functions at DFCS, it might be a money-saver. But taking care of Georgia children whose parents cannot or will not care for them is a core government responsibility.  Atlanta Journal Constitution

OH: Ohio Appeals Court Green Lights Class Action Suit Over Photo Tickets. Last Thursday, the state’s second highest court gave the green light for a class action suit against Cleveland’s red light camera and speed camera program. Janine Lycan sued in 2009 after she received a $100 ticket from Affiliated Computer Services (ACS, now Xerox) that insisted she was responsible for the citation because she was the vehicle owner. Lycan countered that she does not own the car, she leases it. Cleveland’s ordinance did not contemplate that possibility. Recognizing the legal peril it was in, the city council changed the ordinance immediately after the suit was filed. TheNewspaper.com













January 28, 2014


Redflex Bribery Scandal Spreads Nationwide. Local Officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee and Washington received gifts and other financial incentives intended to encourage them to do business with Redflex.  TheNewspaper.com

Costs of Privatization Hidden in Plain Sight. Privatization is often sold as providing higher quality services and infrastructure at lower cost. In fact, important costs are regularly overlooked. In other words, services and infrastructure have been privatized, even though keeping them public is the better choice. Chicago’s experiences with privatization make a textbook case for not deciding to privatize without carefully identifying costs. By failing to do so, Chicago has found itself locked into bad deals that will last for three to four generations.   Truth-Out

TX: Fewer drivers using pay highway. Public records requested by the Southside Reporter in October were finally released via email last week, showing that the total number of drivers headed both north and south on those two segments dropped from 402,915 in November 2012 to 360,865 in September 2013, the last complete month released by TxDOT. That’s a 10.4 percent reduction in use…. Chris Lippincott, a representative of SH-130, the private company that manages the toll road and shares its profits with the state, cautioned that segments 5 and 6 might be experiencing less usage because they aren’t as accessible…. San Antonio Express

IN: Gary-Chicago airport board OKs privatization deal. The Gary-Chicago International Airport Authority has approved a privatization deal giving a Virginia company exclusive rights to develop real estate on and around the airport for the 40 years and gives its subsidiary a 10-year contract to run the airport with up to 30 years of extensions. Washington Post

WI: ‘Not For Sale’: Educators and Parents in Milwaukee Score Victory Against Privatization. A recent Milwaukee school committee decision sends a strong message to public school students, parents and NEA educators: When you show up, when you use your collective voice and flex your union muscle on behalf of students, you  can make a difference for schools and students.Last week, after hearing from more than 50 public-school supporters during more than two hours of testimony, a Milwaukee School Board committee decided to drop privately run charter schools from the list of options for school improvement in Milwaukee. If approved by the entire school board, this would mean Milwaukee public schools on the state’s “not meeting expectations” list — there are currently 48 in the city — could not be privatized in the name of school “reform” and in the interest of private profiteers.  NEA Today

NJ: NJ Moves to Privatize Toll Collectors [POLL/AUDIO]. The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has scheduled a public hearing Tuesday on a plan to privatize toll collectors on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. New Jersey 101.5

PA: Bethlehem school board tables vote on outsourcing substitute teachers. The board unanimously agreed with Director Angela Sinkler that it needed to spend more time reviewing a switch to Substitute Teacher Services and communicate with the district’s substitutes. The board will revisit the issue at its Feb. 10 meeting.  LehighValleyLive.com

MI: Ypsilanti to sell low-income housing sites for $980K to public-private partnership. The transfer and sale will assist with the $27 million demolition and rebuild of the 80-unit Parkridge Homes site, as well as the redevelopment of several scattered sites throughout Ypsilanti…. The city council approved the first reading of an ordinance to transfer and purchase last week.  MLive.com

January 27, 2014


Outsourcing of Navy SEAL Training May Have Led to Fatal Accident and Lawsuit. The U.S. government’s penchant for contracting out services to the private sector even extends to live-fire training exercises for the military’s elite warriors—sometimes with fatal results…. During training at the Lake Cormorant, Mississippi, facility, Ghane was fatally wounded when a bullet pierced his chest just above his body armor. He was standing inside a so-called shoot house that was supposed to be protected by bulletproof walls. But a naval investigation of the incident found the building was not designed or built according to established standards. The walls of the shoot house were less than half as thick as required by the Pentagon. Ghane’s mother, Narjess Ghane, sued Mid-South for wrongful death.  AllGov.com

Stopping the Privatization of American Public Higher Education. The federal government’s investment in student aid is substantial, yet the productivity of these dollars is not maximized to make college affordable for all students attending the nation’s public colleges and universities. The end results are decreasing college affordability, increasing student debt, and a quickening state-to-student cost shift in who pays for a public college education. One underutilized strategy for reducing the need for tuition price increases is to do a better job leveraging existing federal dollars to incentivize states to invest more in their public colleges and universities. Huffington Post

WV: Union officials question privatization proposal. Union officials are questioning Senator Brooks McCabe’s proposal to privatize psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes now operated by the state…. Jamie Reston, chief steward for UE Local 170, the West Virginia Public Workers Union, and a long-time employee at William R. Sharpe Hospital, said the hospitals are often a last option for people after private facilities have refused them. “Throwing these folks to the mercy of the private sector will likely subject them to an uncertain future,” Reston said. “We wouldn’t consider handing over our veterans’ nursing home to private interests. Why abdicate our duty to elderly, disabled and committed citizens?”  Charleston Gazette

MD: Maryland Audit Finds Thousands Of Inaccurate Speed Camera. Motorists in Maryland have been receiving tens of thousands of illegal and inaccurate photo radar citations. According to an audit report performed on behalf of the city of Baltimore, upwards on ten percent of speed camera tickets issued were bogus. That represents a doubling of an earlier admission by the speed camera operator Xerox that the error rate was 5.2 percent. Other jurisdictions have run into similar problems. Baltimore eventually dumped Xerox over the problems, but it hired URS Corporation to perform an independent review. The resulting report, completed last April, was withheld from the public and was obtained by the Baltimore Sun newspaper.  TheNewspaper.com

CO: Butterfield: ALEC’s half-century contract on US 36. Fifty years, 60 years, 20 years, they all last longer than most marriages. But in a few days Colorado’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) will sign a 50-year contract for the management of the Boulder Turnpike and its toll lanes, affecting transportation planning options from here to central Denver. The long term contract is the fruit of a trend around the nation, decried by many, to invent “public private partnerships” also known as P3’s, following a grand design crafted by former Colorado State Rep. Glenn Vaad, in the eagle nest of committee meetings he chaired with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Yes, the same ALEC that writes pro-corporate model legislation with active state legislators, and yes, the same Glenn Vaad who’s just been appointed to serve on Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission (but is not yet approved by our senate).  Daily Camera

GA: Law may privatize foster care. Stakeholders are weighing in on a legislative proposal with the governor’s support that would establish a fully integrated private-public partnership for some child protective services, including foster care…..The Georgia legislature began discussing a proposal in November to establish the private sector role in the state’s foster care system, and Gov. Nathan Deal announced in January he would pursue that agenda. Gainesville Times

NY: Charter-school board members donating to Cuomo’s re-election. Supporters of a charter-school network in Mayor de Blasio’s cross hairs are pouring big bucks into the campaign coffers of Gov. Cuomo, a friend of charter schools…Contributors aren’t shy about their reasons. Cuomo backs charters, and de Blasio’s anti-charter rhetoric scares them.  New York Post



January 24, 2014


OH: Ohio Turnpike hires firm owned by Yankees, Dallas Cowboys to market naming rights. The Ohio Turnpike has hired a prominent sports marketing firm to help it raise money in a way that would be a first for a U.S. toll road: by selling naming rights to its service plazas, bridges and perhaps even the 241-mile highway. A team from Legends Sales & Marketing, owned by the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, will spend three or four months sizing up the turnpike and designing a plan to sell long-term naming rights on its facilities. It could begin marketing them by spring. Plain Dealer

LA: Insight: Hospital Privatization Fodder for Legislative Session and Governor’s Race. A recent report by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana concludes that with the privatization of the charity hospital system, Louisiana’s safety net is being reinvented. WWNO

MI: Lansing passes on privatizing bus fleet. At a meeting packed with bus drivers and their supporters, the Lansing school board Thursday passed on its chance to privatize transportation for the 2014-15 school year. About a dozen people spoke against privatization during public comments. Lansing State Journal

FL: Auditors say 5 charter schools in the red. Five charter schools in Broward County ended last school year in “deteriorating financial condition,” spending more money than they took in, district auditors said Thursday. Sun-Sentinel

NJ: Toll takers continue to fight for jobs. Toll collectors on the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike are raising money and reaching out to political leaders as they continue their campaign against plans to privatize their jobs….Union leaders fear privatization will lead to more job losses and wage cuts in an already shrinking workforce. Local 194 lost 150 jobs and accepted $22 million in concessions in 2011 as part of an agreement with the parkway and turnpike’s operating authority to forestall privatization at that time, McCarthy said.  Press of Atlantic City

January 23, 2014


Groups urge Congress to reject poultry inspection outsourcing plan. The American Federation of Government Employees has joined with food and worker safety groups in calling on Congress to reject a budget proposal from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to implement a new poultry inspection system during fiscal year 2014. AFGE and the other groups also are urging Congress to restore the $11.73 million budget cut that would eliminate FSIS inspector positions.  High Plains Journal

IN: Proposal would expand public-private partnerships. Private firms may soon be able to build, abolish, or repair state facilities – and also operate them. Current law allows private firms to partner with the state to build or operate highways, rail lines, or bridges. The projects could involve the private firm giving the state an upfront sum in exchange for future toll revenue. Or they could make other financial arrangements that give the private companies a profit. Under Senate Bill 225, authored by Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, the facilities would not be limited to transportation. Firms could construct correctional, mental health, regional health and some communications facilities. Indianapolis Business Journal

NJ: NJ toll collectors to hold fundraiser to fight plans to privatize. Toll collectors in New Jersey are asking for money to keep their jobs. Members of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Union Local 194 will hold a fundraiser in Trenton today. The local is collecting cash to fight against proposals to privatize toll collections and increase automation of toll collections on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.  NJ.com

CO: Privatizing the Boulder Turnpike – deal expected next week. While the controversy over the rapid privatization of Colorado public highways continues to escalate, a seemingly secretive fifty year contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars, known as the US 36 “Concession Agreement” is due to be signed next week without public input or legislative approval. Cherry Creek News

IL: Audio: Drawing The Line On Providing Local Services. Privatizing government services is a recurring topic in an era of tight budgets. From lottery systems to garbage pick-up, agencies have explored ways to save money. In some cases, turning over ownership of roadways has been discussed. That debate is happening in a northern Illinois community. Northern Public Radio WNIJ

NE: State auditor: Nebraska has 30 days to repay nearly $22 million after child welfare experiment blunders. Federal officials are demanding Nebraska repay nearly $22 million because of errors made during the state’s experiment with privatizing child welfare…. In the letters, the officials said Nebraska did not properly account for federal foster care dollars during the two fiscal years ending June 30, 2012…The issue dates back to the contracts that the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services signed with private child welfare agencies in November 2009.  Omaha World-Herald

FL: Tampa Commission to discuss outsourcing homeless services. Commissioners are considering a plan to outsource homeless housing – after problems with the county’s own program…. Today, commissioners will decide whether to sign a $1.1-million contract with Metropolitan Ministries. If approved, it will officially make that organization the county’s provider of emergency housing for homeless families and women.  Bay News

FL: Union decries Broward school facility outsourcing deal. The Broward school district has officially hired a private company to handle its construction-related projects, eight months after laying off more than half of its own workers… But the Broward Teachers Union, that represents the laid off employees, decried the decision, claiming the district was simply replacing workers at a much higher cost.  “The URS people are doing the exact same work of the laid off people,” said Steven Feldman, a BTU official. Sun-Sentinel (blog)



January 22, 2014


GA: Georgia’s Debtors’ Prisons Belong in a Dickens Novel. The main piece from Cook is titled “Spotlight Falls on Private Probation Companies Over Fees, Supervision,” and it tells the story of how one state has outsourced its probation services to private companies, the executives of which have huge financial incentives for charging as many people as much as possible for “services” that would keep them out of jail. The result is a form of  the statewide “debtors’ prison” you’ve probably read about in Dickens (whose father, incidentally, spent time in such a prison).  The Atlantic

WV: Who Owns West Virginia’s Water? A Cautionary Tale. The West Virginia chemical spill is a cautionary tale for communities all over the country where multinational companies are coming in and buying up municipal water utilities to manage people’s drinking water supply for profit. And there are factors beyond groundwater pollution by the coal industry that are driving those trends, such as systemic under-investment in public water systems by federal, state and local governments, and the rapaciousness with which private companies, aided by political favoritism and lobbying, are pursuing expansion of their influence, customer base and profit margins. Grist

KY: Parks Privatization Bill Filed In KY House. Two West Kentucky lawmakers are supporting a bill that would let the state lease public land for private development. WKMS

CA: Jerry Brown’s budget calls for more state workers, less job outsourcing. After several years of tamping down the size of California’s state bureaucracy, Gov. Jerry Brown is ready to grow it again.  The State Worker

LA: DOTD considering ads as new revenue stream. Motorists soon may see an explosion of advertisements plastered on state roads, bridges and rest areas in Louisiana’s latest bid to raise cash during lean times….. DOTD officials are seeking pitches from consultants who would oversee a campaign to open sponsorships to ferries, ferry terminals, toll plazas, rest areas, highway signs, traffic camera feeds, unique roads and bridges, scenic areas, buildings and even vests worn by state transportation workers.  The Advocate

AZ: Arizona County Dumps Speed Cameras As Ineffective. Speed cameras did nothing to improve safety on the roads of Pima County, Arizona so county supervisors decided earlier this month to cut ties with American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the for profit company in charge of the program….Collision rates may not be the only factor motivating supervisors. “When the program went ‘live,’ an initial controversy existed when the vendor (ATS) billed for the entirety of the ‘initial’ tier of citation essentially creating a ‘minimum’ threshold amount for which the county was responsible regardless of the quantity of citations actually paid,” Pima County Sheriff’s Captain Karl Woolridge explained in a memo. The county eventually escaped the mandatory minimum charge, but officials were not pleased with the attempt to extract more money from the contract. TheNewspaper.com

IL: Protesters sleep outside CPS HQ to oppose charter school expansion. Near subzero temperatures were sure to test the mettle of about 25 protesters who planned to sleep on the sidewalk Tuesday night in the Loop before attending a school board meeting in the morning to oppose the expansion of charter schools. Susan Garza waved a cardboard sign that read “Stop Privatizing Chicago.” She later planned to curl up and sleep on it alongside her fellow protesters, many of whom were comrades from the Chicago Teachers Union.  Chicago Sun-Times

Union says spending bill pushes privatization of airport screening. A provision in the $1.1 trillion spending bill President Obama signed on Friday has stirred concerns about privatization of airport security. The appropriations measure prevents the Transportation Security Administration from using federal funds to hire more screeners if the total number would exceed 46,000 employees. That, combined with a push by some lawmakers for greater use of private-sector screeners, has drawn criticism from the union that represents TSA officers.  Washington Post (blog)



January 17, 2014


Staples’ selling postal products without USPS workers stirs fears of privatization. The largest postal employee union and a U.S. senator say the pilot also is a step toward privatization of the USPS, an assertion the postmaster general vehemently denies. Washington Post

House forms special panel on public-private partnerships. Transportation leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives have formed a special panel that will focus on public-private partnerships in transportation and other infrastructure. OOIDA urges truckers to stay in contact with lawmakers on the issues, as many public-private partnerships involve tolls or the leasing of public infrastructure to the private sector. Land Line Magazine

IN: Indiana lawmakers mull 5-year delay in annuity program privatization. The board of the retirement system, which oversees $28.6 billion, wants to shift management of the account to a third-party manager that would use a market-based rate of return that now would be 4% to 4.5%; currently the ASA is managed in-house with an assumed 7.5% fixed rate of return. System officials have said maintaining internal management with the higher rate of return would increase the retirement system’s liabilities. Pensions & Investments

IN: Gary/Chicago Airport Privatization Deal Readies For Takeoff. The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority on Monday put itself on course to approve a 40-year privatization deal for the airport in as little as two weeks. On a 5-0 vote the Airport Authority accepted an ordinance including agreements with Aviation Facilities Co. Inc., known as AFCO, of Dulles, Va., to operate and manage development at the airport. The authority set a public hearing on the ordinance for Jan. 27. AviationPros.com

IL: Privatization ordinance – opinion. In November of 2012, 32 of Chicago’s 50 aldermen sponsored the Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance to ensure that the complete financial and contractual terms of privatization agreements are available to the aldermen and the public before a vote on the transaction.   A year has passed and this ordinance has not been brought to the full City Council for consideration, despite majority support.  Chicago Tribune

RI: Members of RI legislative panel say tolls won’t be part of revenue stream for bridge, road upkeep. The General Assembly formed the commission after a public outcry against tolls on the newly built Sakonnet bridge between Portsmouth and Tiverton. After the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority announced plans last year to charge a toll, the legislature responded by banning tolls altogether. But lawmakers then changed course and put in place a 10-cent toll after learning that if a toll were not charged when the bridge opened, federal rules would prevent a toll from ever being charged.  The Providence Journal

NH: Finance Committee rejects proposal to outsource Nashua sewer billing. While projections showed the city could save close to $40,000 per year by outsourcing its billing services to Pennichuck, committee members were worried about the potential ramifications for customer service and the city’s ability to track its finances. Nashua Telegraph



January 16, 2014


Infrastructure 101: The Evolution of Building Big Things – Part 2: Adverse Events and Privatization Consultants. The boilerplate language makes the contracts easier to draft, but “easier to draft” does not mean easy to read or understand. In fact, infrastructure privatization contract language is unnecessarily hard to read. It may be that the contract drafters like to use legalese. The downside of the contract language is that people who do not work in the privatization industry, but who will be affected by privatization, will not understand the meaning and effects of the contracts.  Truth-Out

The Internet turns into a toll road. This business argument has major repercussions. If the ruling stands, the Internet could fundamentally change, and not for the better. Service will evolve into a toll road with movies, music and other high-traffic commodities costing more. A website that doesn’t want to pay extra for quick connection will be shafted with slower service. It won’t be the open, accessible Internet any more.  San Francisco Chronicle           

Privatizing the Public Good. The FCC’s effort to reclassify the Internet as an “information” services was part of Bush-era policy to privatize online services. CounterPunch

FL: Florida Isn’t Apologizing For Lax Oversight At Abusive Youth Prisons. The head of Florida’s juvenile justice department defended her agency’s oversight of private prison contractors before a state Senate panel on Wednesday amid allegations of violence and mistreatment inside the nation’s third-largest juvenile corrections system. A Huffington Post investigation published in October detailed a legacy of abuse at prisons operated by the for-profit firm Youth Services International and other companies run by its founder, James Slattery. YSI does the bulk of its business with Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice and has continued to win multi-million dollar contracts over the last 17 years, despite a mounting record of problems.   Huffington Post

IN: Firms Eye P3 for New Illiana Tollroad. Six firms have responded to Indiana’s request for qualifications to partner with the state for the $1.3 billion Illiana Corridor toll road connecting Indiana and Illinois. Bond Buyer

MI: State officials probe union complaints on prison food workers. Michigan Corrections Organization President Tom Tylutki said the union has “multiple examples” of improper conduct by workers of the new private contractor. Aramark recently took over food service for the sprawling prison system — formerly run by union-member state employees — as part of cost-saving measures to keep in check the $2 billion corrections budget. The Detroit News


January 15, 2014


IN: House panel votes to block annuity privatization plan. State lawmakers took a first step Tuesday toward halting a plan to privatize the supplemental annuity payment available to retired state and local government employees, including teachers…. State Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, a member of the committee, said privatizing annuity sales would make it harder for retirees to know how much money they’d have to live on.   nwitimes.com

MI: Union says untrained Aramark workers threaten Michigan prison security. An employee of contractor Aramark Correctional Services has been caught having sex with an inmate and prisoners who work in kitchens are getting easier access to knives, less than six weeks after state employees were laid off and prison food services were privatized, the head of the union representing corrections officers says in a letter to the department director. Detroit Free Press

GA: Foster fix pace criticized. A plan to put private organizations in charge of Georgia’s approximately 7,000 foster children is moving too fast for some child advocates who want more study before overhauling the system….Melissa Carter, director of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University’s School of Law, said the waiver will give the state more flexibility on how it spends foster care dollars, but privatization isn’t the only way to make changes. “There is not consensus from anyone who would be impacted in Georgia’s child welfare system that this is the right strategy to pursue,” she said. “The pace makes everyone anxious.”  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

NY: NYC’s charter clash is in session. High test scores fueled their rise, but the Bloomberg administration’s move to hand them classrooms, libraries and cafeterias that had belonged to district schools pitted parent against parent. Now the once-mighty charters have fallen sharply out of favor. Mayor de Blasio, siding with the critics who charge the charters’ success came at the expense of public schools, has vowed to charge them rent, threatening their ability to survive. But charter schools won’t go down without a fight.  Daily News

CA: Newport Beach May Privatize $100000 Lifeguards. “The escalating cost of pensions, especially public-safety pensions — of which lifeguards are part — is putting more pressure on cities,” Coleman said by telephone. “If this continues, we’re going to see more and more cities outsourcing these functions.” Bloomberg

TSA warned: Shape up or ship out. Members of a House panel threatened Tuesday to privatize more airport screening unless the Transportation Security Administration improves its treatment of travelers. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said he plans legislation “one way or the other” to privatize all federal screeners within two years. He would leave TSA in charge of gathering intelligence, setting standards and running audits. “If you come to Orlando airport or Sanford airport, what is going on is almost criminal to American citizens, the way they are treated,” said Mica, head of the Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on government operations, which held a hearing on private screeners. “This is the mess we’ve created.”