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