February 26, 2014


US Open To New Ideas on Air Traffic Control Privatization, DOT’s Foxx Says. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the government is open to ideas on privatizing the nation’s ATC system, as long as aviation industry “stakeholders” agree on making that transformation. Foxx remarked on privatization after delivering the kZSeynote speech at an Aero Club of Washington luncheon on February 25, his first major address to an aviation audience. Aviation International News

FL: Toll road opponents want Pasco commissioners to halt project. Toll road opponents filled the Pasco Commission chambers Tuesday and two dozen spoke against the proposed elevated highway in what was the first real show of force by the grassroots “Pasco Fiasco” movement.“We are just a small sampling of this community who oppose this road – and we would appreciate more opportunities to be heard,” DeShon Hodge said. The group is hoping to persuade a majority of commissioners to put a halt to the $2 billion project. The Florida Department of Transportation is negotiating with a consortium headed by the Spanish firm OHL to build and operate the four-lane toll road. Tbo.com

NJ: Parkway, turnpike toll takers fight to keep jobs…. The controversial proposal was debated Tuesday, when toll collectors, union representatives and two New Jersey lawmakers urged the Turnpike Authority’s board of commissioners to back away from the plan. The board may vote on the proposal at its April 29 meeting.  Press of Atlantic City

NJ: Aging utility systems prompt privatization talks. The Borough Council has proposed borrowing $2.2 million to upgrade sewer and water infrastructure throughout town, prompting a debate among some members about selling the Red Bank water and sewer utility.  Red Bank Hub

FL: Toll road opponents want Pasco commissioners to halt project. Toll road opponents filled the Pasco Commission chambers Tuesday and two dozen spoke against the proposed elevated highway in what was the first real show of force by the grassroots “Pasco Fiasco” movement. Tbo.com

WI: Idea of Wisconsin toll roads starting to gain support. Talk of toll roads in Wisconsin is resurfacing amid the high price of new construction and the bumper crop of potholes. WISN Milwaukee

IN: Pelath criticizes Ind. House GOP over passing up privatization review…By a party-line vote, the House majority rejected Pelath’s proposal to conduct a cost-savings review of all state contracts that involved privatization of services over the past decade and make sure that a similar study is a part of all deals made in the future….The state’s most notorious efforts at privatization have been the 75-year lease of the Indiana Toll Road to a foreign investor and the ill-fated decision to have IBM Corp. handle the lion’s share of the state’s welfare services.“We all know how the IBM affair ended: with a system so broken that even a champion of privatization like former Gov. Mitch Daniels had to concede it didn’t work,” Pelath said. …”While the toll road lease has many more years to run, the chunk of cash the state received in the deal already has run out, and the list of state and local infrastructure improvements needing to be funded remains lengthy.  Chesterton Tribune

NY: Mayor Bill De Blasio: Advertising Campaign Won’t Impact Stand On Charter Schools…The mayor, who wants to charge rent to charter schools housed in public school buildings, held firm Tuesday, saying he needs to concentrate resources on the 95 percent of city students in public schools. He took issue with the Bloomberg administration’s coddling of charter schools.  CBS Local

TN: Outsourcing proposal upsets Oak Ridge parents, teaching assistants… “To ask them to be rehired with no job security, forced to be ‘retrained’ (what better training could they possibly have than to be working beside these amazing teachers — for some nearly 20 years), fingerprinted, have a background check and with a pay cut is too sad to think about. It is degrading and insulting, and, I’m sure, makes them feel that their many years of services is at best unappreciated, but even worse that their time was not considered to be valued. Oak Ridger

NC: Editorial – If we’re going to outsource, let’s get it right first. State Rep. Susi Hamilton supports the concept of enlisting private enterprise to help recruit businesses to North Carolina, but she objects to approving sending the taxpayers’ money to a “public-private” organization without a better plan for raising the “private” dollars that are supposed to be part of the package. Her questions at a recent legislative committee meeting were on the money – state officials need to nail down more specifics before committing any more taxpayer dollars…. But the reality may be different, especially if the Honorables fail to establish adequate oversight of the new partnership’s spending and operations. That’s why it is important to slow down and get it right. North Carolina’s current economic development process has room for improvement, but it is not so “broken,” as McCrory is wont to characterize the state of state government, that it necessarily requires a total overhaul.  StarNewsOnline.com

CA: City won’t outsource parks work. Carlsbad has given up – at least for now – on its dream of saving millions by outsourcing all of the city’s parks maintenance work. … It was an uncharacteristic retreat for a city that’s been on the cutting edge of pension reform and other efforts to cut labor costs and save taxpayers money. But city officials said a potential $4 million in savings predicted two years ago by a consultant never materialized, partly because of a new state law requiring city contractors to pay workers union-negotiated rates known as prevailing wages.  U-T San Diego

IL: Glen Ellyn opts to stay in ambulance business. After debating whether to get out of the ambulance business, Glen Ellyn officials have decided to continue owning and maintaining its own vehicles while outsourcing staffing and billing services….A staff analysis of Kurtz’s proposal showed the village can save approximately $153,500 a year if it continues to own and maintain the emergency vehicles, as opposed to having the firm take over ownership along with the staffing and billing services. Chicago Tribune

February 25, 2014


Are private prisons better or worse than public prisons?….Somewhat surprisingly, for all the ink spilled on private prisons over the last thirty years, we have precious little good information on what are surely some of the most important questions: when it comes to cost or quality, are private prisons better or worse than public prisons?It’s safe to say that, so far at least, the political process hasn’t encouraged rigorous comparative evaluations of public and private prisons. Some states allow privatization without requiring cost and quality evaluations at all. The nineteen states that don’t privatize might, for all I know, be right to do so, but of course their stance doesn’t promote comparative evaluation.  Washington Post

The Private Prison Racket…. But while privatizing prisons may appear at first glance like yet another example of how the free market beats the public sector, one need only look at CCA’s record in Idaho—which recently cancelled its contract with CCA—to wonder whether outsourcing this particular government function is such a good idea.  Politico

Why spectrum auctions still matter….. Here’s the thing – pretty much by definition, wireless spectrum belongs to everyone, not just the people and companies actually using it at any given time. If the spectrum belongs to everyone, then companies hoping to make money off it should pay for the privilege of using a public resource. It doesn’t necessarily have to be obtained via auction, but there has to be some mechanism where still-scarce public resources are not just given away to corporate or other interests. Network World

CO: Detractors form road block to US 36 toll road proposal….The state is likely to enter into a 50-year contract with Plenary Roads Denver that would hand over operation and maintenance of U.S. 36 along the Boulder Turnpike — between Denver and Boulder — to the private consortium….Leading the concerns for citizens is Ken Beitel, spokesman for the Boulder-based Drive SunShine Institute, an alternative energy advocacy organization. He has started a petition calling for a timeout and review of the contract that already has 18,000 signatures, he said. “When you see 500 very concerned citizens in Louisville, they are concerned because you as elected officials have not read that contract, and we’re counting on you to ensure that the public interest is guarded here,” Beitel told lawmakers. The Colorado Statesman

IL: Illiana tollway’s impact discussed. Responding to complaints by local farmers, first responders and highway commissioners, an Illinois Department of Transportation representative said at a recent media briefing that a proposed bi-state tollway, once built, would affect less than one-third of existing local roads….Private investment is expected to cover the cost, estimated at $1.5 billion, of the 47-mile tollway connecting Interstate 55 southwest of Joliet with Interstate 65 near Lowell, Ind. Chicago Tribune

FL: Fla. Bill Would Protect Info In Public-Private Proposals. Building on steps Florida lawmakers took last year to expand the use of public-private partnerships in the state, a bill filed Friday in the state House of Representatives aims to address concerns about protecting sensitive corporate information in the proposal process.  H.B. 1051, filed by Rep. Ken Roberson, R-Port Charlotte, would add a limited public records exemption to state law for unsolicited proposals that private companies make to the government for collaborative projects, in which private entities finance and construct public facilities, then run and collect revenue from them for a specific period of time. Law360

WI: New Docs Suggest Scott Walker Misled Press….In the months to come, the story would blossom, with prosecutors soon uncovering reams of evidence that Walker’s County Executive staff were conducting campaign work on the taxpayer dime…. However, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review of records shows that Walker had personally instructed staff to post comments to news articles, just weeks before Wink was caught for doing just that during the work day. For example, on the afternoon of Friday, May 4, 2010, just one week before Wink was ousted for her online commenting — which Walker would later describe as an unauthorized and isolated incident — Walker urged his county staff and campaign to leave comments on a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about his plan to privatize the airport.  PR Watch

PA: The paradox that has paralyzed any change in Pa.’s liquor system, at least for now….The legislators who want to keep Pennsylvania in the liquor business want the Liquor Control Board to be more responsive to consumers and make more money for the state. The LCB says it can be more profitable if it opens more stores on Sunday, expands hours and offers more variable price points. The General Assembly would need to change the law in order for the LCB to do that. But the legislators who most want the state to get out of the liquor business don’t see any reason to expand a system they are trying to close. So — at the moment — no one has enough votes to do anything.  PennLive

PA: Letting colleges and universities authorize charter schools doesn’t necessarily mean better results: Kate Shaw ….Smucker’s proposal would bring new players into this mix by allowing nearly 100 Pennsylvania institutions of higher education to approve charter schools without review or approval of these local school boards. More specifically, major research universities could approve a charter school anywhere in the commonwealth….What is different about Smucker’s bill? The sheer number of colleges and universities that could approve new charters…. This is not an optimal policy direction for a number of reasons. The Patriot-News

VA: Dan Casey: Privatize teachers? It could happen….It won’t happen this year or next, nor is it likely to happen in the next five years, at least in the Roanoke Valley. But sooner or later the day will come when the question is likely to be on the public agenda. Mike Stovall, a 19-year veteran of the Roanoke County School Board, says the notion is ridiculous… So I asked him: When he started on the school board in 1995, did he ever imagine he’d be faced with the question of outsourcing nurses, cafeteria workers and bus drivers? His answer was no. Yet here we are.  Roanoke Times (blog)

NY: Charter School Advocacy Group Launches Multimillion-Dollar Ad Campaign. A charter school advocacy group launched a multimillion dollar ad campaign on Tuesday, Feb. 25, to publicize the advantages of charters and defend against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to stem their growth. The mayor plans to begin charging charter schools rent and has put a hold on all charter school co-locations. A co-location involves moving a school into an existing building where another school already operates. The Department of Education has already diverted $310 million from a charter school construction fund in January.  The Epoch Times

TN: For-profit charter school operators watch TN. Out-of-state companies that bring in millions in revenue by managing charter schools have their eyes set on Tennessee, an epicenter of education reform. The Tennessean

NC: Hamilton, Catlin question Commerce privatization plans. At least two local lawmakers are urging caution as the N.C. Department of Commerce looks to privatize its job recruitment functions.  Hamilton first raised her concerns at a recent meeting of the Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee ….Hamilton said that it’s the legislature’s job to “appropriate and govern and manage the expenditures of public dollars.” She said “we (lawmakers) just can’t be expected to turn over that responsibility.” Star News


February 24, 2014


Federal Lawsuit Accuses For-Profit Schools of Fraud. “I saw students who never should have been there, students with whopping gaps in learning abilities and major psychiatric problems who were just not capable of doing the work,” said Ms. Amaya, an administrator at Harris’s Linwood campus, and then at its Wilmington, Del., campus, from 2009 to 2011. “The bosses were always like, ‘Stop asking why they’re enrolled, just get them to graduation however you can.’ ”  New York Times

In some states, gaming industry consultants double as gambling regulators. States hoping to make money quickly from legalizing gambling have few options as speedy as outside contractors, which allow them to get casinos up and running without having to hire and train a cadre of staff regulators. But letting consulting companies with deep ties to the gambling industry decide how casinos are run — and who runs them — is a significant departure from how established gambling states, including Nevada and New Jersey, do things. Regulators in states that maintain control over their own rules say the move toward privatization is unnerving. “How do you vet your consultants? If a lot of these consultants at one time or another have worked for the people that you’re in charge of regulating, at some point, you’re going to have issues with the purity of the investigation,” Illinois Gaming Board spokesman Gene O’Shea said. At least 16 states rely on private companies for major portions of casino oversight, according to interviews with regulators across the country.  Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Myth Behind Public School Failure. To truly understand how we came to believe our educational system is broken, we need a history lesson. Rewind to 1980—when Milton Friedman, the high priest of laissez-faire economics, partnered with PBS to produce a ten-part television series called Free to Choose. He devoted one episode to the idea of school vouchers, a plan to allow families what amounted to publicly funded scholarships so their children could leave the public schools and attend private ones. You could make a strong argument that the current campaign against public schools started with that single TV episode. To make the case for vouchers, free-market conservatives, corporate strategists, and opportunistic politicians looked for any way to build a myth that public schools were failing, that teachers (and of course their unions) were at fault, and that the cure was vouchers and privatization. Jonathan Kozol, the author and tireless advocate for public schools, called vouchers the “single worst, most dangerous idea to have entered education discourse in my adult life.” Yes!

Return to Lender: Postal Banking Can Bring Equity to Communities. Conservatives have increasingly dismissed the United States Postal Service as a clunky relic of old-fashioned America, with right-wing lawmakers seeking to phase it out through service cuts and privatization. Now, some progressives are trying to save the USPS by rebranding it as a financial vehicle: a place for you to pick up your mail and deposit a paycheck in one stop.  Huffington Post

The Logic of Public Services. Many a local government has learned the hard way that even water is a commodity from which to squeeze a profit once privatized, with human need an afterthought. Decades of ideology have attempted to instill the idea that the private sector is always superior to government; that government can only mismanage what is in its hands. Although attempting to flip this discredited, self-serving phantasmagoria by arguing the complete opposite would not stand up to scrutiny, either, the realm of facts and data firmly contradict the standard corporate ideology. Government after government has found that privatization was a mistake in what has become a wave of “re-municipalization” — the return of public services to public management.  CounterPunch

CA: Long Beach city workers criticize proposal to privatize street-sweeping services. Municipal workers attended the Council Chamber on Feb. 18 to voice opposition to a plan that would allow private contractor Athens Services to take over street sweeping for the City of Long Beach. The plan acknowledges that 19 full-time employees may be displaced from their jobs but does offer alternatives for the city workers affected by the change. The Council removed the item from Tuesday’s agenda and plans to discuss the matter during a meeting in March. Signal Tribune

IL: Chicago charter school’s religious affiliation raises questions. The school’s deep partnership with the faith-based group raises questions about how a publicly financed charter school can comply with the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, especially when both groups share some leaders. Chicago Sun-Times

IL: City Violated Open Meetings Act. A Sangamon County judge has ruled that the Springfield City Council violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act late last year with its closed-door discussion of Oak Ridge Cemetery. The council went into executive session Nov. 5 to discuss a plan to solicit proposals for private management of the city-owned cemetery, citing exemptions that allow discussion of personnel and collective bargaining issues out of the public eye. Illinois Times reporter Bruce Rushton filed a lawsuit alleging that the council’s discussion violated the law. The State Journal Register

WA: Gov. Scott Walker urged employees, aides to promote him online, emails show. The Journal Sentinel reported Sunday of one instance in May 2010, in response to a Journal Sentinel story, Walker sent an email to county aides and campaign staffers saying someone should respond to critics of his plan to privatize the Mitchell International Airport. “Someone should comment on the fact that the only way for the county to benefit from that success is to contract out operations,” Walker wrote. “Having a well performing airport increases the value that the county could receive.” Brian Pierick, boyfriend of Walker aide Timothy D. Russell, soon after posted a comment anonymously that included Walker’s language nearly verbatim, according to the Journal Sentinel.  Madison.com

WA: Booze prices. Booze prices at bars and restaurants in Washington may go up this year as multiple interests fight over rules following the voter-approved privatization of the state’s liquor system.  The Seattle Times



February 21, 2014


Privatized Government Services Lead to Millions for Corporate CEOs. Yesterday, the latest round of evidence was published by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a nonprofit organization. Its report, EXPOSED: America’s Highest Paid Government Workers, documents the not-so-pretty reality of outsourcing our public services to for-profit companies. It focuses on the salaries of corporate CEOs “Given these astronomical salaries, and evidence of higher prices, poor service, and at times outright malfeasance, taxpayers have every right to be concerned about how their outsourced dollars are spent,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of CMD, in a written statement.  Center for Effective Government

FL: Elevated road brings community together … to protest. Some members of the newly formed Pasco Fiasco group made their first public appearance during a Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting last week in New Port Richey. They included Land O’ Lakes native Sharon Ogborn, who feels the elevated road is more about accommodating commuters from other areas than it is her Odessa community. “We moved to our present home in Odessa for the country feeling and the rural setting,” Ogborn said. “It’s going to help Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.”  The Laker/Lutz News

CO: Colorado Transportation Commission gives final approval on US 36 contract. The Colorado Transportation Commission on Thursday approved a public-private partnership to extend toll lanes on U.S. Highway 36 — despite receiving 20,000 public signatures urging lawmakers to strip CDOT of the power to sign such partnerships. All that’s left is for state officials to ink the contract authorizing a private consortium, Plenary Roads Denver, to operate the toll roads and maintenance on the Denver-to-Boulder highway for 50 years. CDOT officials say the contract could be signed next week.  The Denver Channel

UT: Bill giving preference to grandkids of charter school founders heads to Senate. A bill to allow the grandchildren of charter school founders to bypass enrollment lotteries sailed quickly through a Senate committee Thursday on its way to final passage. Deseret News

OR: Liquor privatization in Washington bad for youths, new study says. A new study suggests Washington’s move to private liquor sales has had a bad effect on young people, from looser attitudes about drinking to more alcohol-related emergency room visits. The study, which is ongoing and paid for by a private foundation, could be read as a cautionary tale for efforts to expand or privatize liquor sales in Oregon. The Oregonian

ME: Maine eyes virtual charter school moratorium. A bill moving forward in the Maine Legislature would place a moratorium on virtual charter schools in the state until next year. WCSH-TV

PA: PA liquor stores still in limbo as privatization debate swirls. State Sen. Jim Ferlo doesn’t want to spend any more time or money talking about privatizing Pennsylvania’s state-controlled liquor stores. “Let’s put this B.S. privatization to bed and bury it,” the Allegheny County Democrat said, calling it “baloney” to think there’d be a better selection of wines in a private system. Though Gov. Tom Corbett isn’t counting on money from privatizing the state-controlled liquor stores to balance his next budget, the issue of privatization hung heavy over Wednesday’s state Senate Appropriations Committee meeting with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.  Pennsylvania Independent

IN: Less Money For Roads This Year In Indiana. Mike Pence wanted but collections from the state’s gas tax are down and most of $3.8 billion from privatizing the Indiana Toll Road has been spent. WIBQ



February 20, 2014


CO: Privatization opponents plan lawsuit, picket against Colorado Department of Transportation. Opponents of privatizing a part of US 36 plan a two-pronged attack on Wednesday: in the court of law and in the court of public opinion. As the board in charge of the privatization plan meets to finalize an agreement with a company called Plenary Roads Denver, an opposition group called The DriveSunshine Institute plans to both picket the Wednesday meeting and announce a lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Transportation.  9NEWS.com

VA: Australian Tolling Firm Defends US Toll Road Failure. An Australian toll road company is getting defensive about its investment in an underperforming toll road in Virginia. Located just outside Washington, DC, the state and federal authorities poured hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds on what was supposed to be a showcase for public-private partnership innovation. Transurban charges up to $10 for a short 13-mile trip high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on the Capital Beltway, a proposition that far fewer motorists than expected have found worthwhile. Though the firm collects an average of $64,000 per day from drivers, this amount is well below projections. Transurban CEO Scott Charlton defended the plan with investors in a conference call last week.  TheNewspaper.com

FL: Broward school district may pay $1.5 million tab for charter schools’ errors. A state of Florida audit that uncovered sloppy paperwork at some Broward schools could force the district to absorb a $1.7 million budget penalty – even though it was charter schools that had the most serious audit findings. Miami Herald

NJ: NJ Legislators Plan Hearings into Christie Plan to Privatize Newark Public Schools. “Let me assure you I will be calling for an investigation into the operation of the Newark district,” Rice said at the close of a two-hour hearing in Newark City Hall about the so-called “One Newark” plan that would close, transfer to charters, redesign or otherwise “repurpose” more than a third of the schools in the state’s largest city. dianeravitch.net

UT: Bill: Study privatizing Utah State Park golf courses. The way Utah State Parks director Fred Hayes sees it, Rep. Kay Christofferson is asking for a mulligan. Christofferson, R-Lehi, this week introduced HB145, which would require the state to hire a golf course consultant to help determine whether Utah State Parks should privatize its four courses. “We did this study two years ago and the report showed that private can’t operate any better than we can,” Hayes said. “We feel like we are doing a good job. This is a little frustrating.” Salt Lake Tribune

IN: More gripes, worries about Illiana Expressway. More than 300 people showed up Wednesday night in Wilmington for the eighth public meeting on the proposed Illiana Expressway, a toll road that would connect Interstate 57 near Wilmington with Interstate 65 near Lowell, Ind. Opponents far outnumbered supporters at the hearing. Those whose property lies in the path of the tollway talked with staff from the Illinois Department of Transportation, while others perused detailed maps of the preferred route, interchanges and closed roads. Many questioned the need for the 47-mile highway. SouthtownStar

IN: Senate panel votes to stop annuity privatization plan. A House-approved measure halting the privatization of a state annuity program for retired government employees, including teachers, cleared a Senate committee Wednesday 9-0 and advances to the full Senate. nwitimes.com



February 19, 2014


ID: Idaho gov orders police to investigate CCA prison. Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has ordered the state police to conduct a criminal investigation of understaffing and falsified documents at a private prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). The governor made the decision — a reversal of his previous stance — on Tuesday after meeting with Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. Otter wrote in a letter to Idaho State Police Col. Ralph Powell that after reviewing the available information, including an audit completed by the forensic auditing firm KPMG, he now believed the public would benefit from a formal criminal investigation. Businessweek

GA: Senate passes bill to privatize foster care, adoption. Georgia senators Tuesday voted to approve a bill that would privatize the bulk of the state’s child welfare services, including foster care and adoption…. Critics said the bill does not address the real flaws in Georgia’s system that led to recent high-profile child deaths.The changes are contingent on the state receiving a funding waiver from the U.S. government, which currently restricts how federal money can be used to care for foster children.   Atlanta Journal Constitution

CO: Boulder Turnpike privatization plan rips off Colorado, says advocate behind lawsuit. “The privatization of U.S. 36 will present a large financial cost to Colorado taxpayers,” maintains Ken Beitel, clean energy analyst and DSI spokesman. “Hundreds of millions of dollars in toll revenues on U.S. 36 will be drained out of Colorado to provide profits for Goldman Sachs and the Australian toll road developer the Plenary Group.” Westword (blog)

IL: How to avoid another bad parking meter deal – opinion. In a joint investigation with Fox 32 Chicago, we learned that Edison Park has been besieged with parking tickets written by the company that manages Chicago’s more than 36,000 meters. Customers visiting neighborhood businesses have been slapped with tickets minutes after their meters have expired, or when they briefly gambled with unpaid meters during quick dashes in and out of stores. But they have nowhere to turn because the city bargained away their right to exert any influence over meter management, maintenance and enforcement…. Emanuel, as we’ve said before, can take a big step by giving the Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance a full hearing before the City Council and the public. The PTAO, as it’s sometimes called, might not be a perfect ordinance, but its intent is good — to ensure that every privatization proposal is studied carefully and deliberately, and taxpayers get ample opportunity to weigh in at public hearings. Chicago Sun-Times

VA: County school bus outsourcing a non-starter. “There’s really not a reason to outsource.” For months the Roanoke County School Board has heard from parents, bus drivers and even students begging them not to outsource. The board announced last year intentions to explore privatizing as a potential ay to cut costs and put out a request for proposals in the fall. Roanoke Times

AZ: Bills would expand state program that funds some students’ private education with public money. A House committee on Monday approved one of two small expansions of a voucher-like program that allows students to use public funds for a private education.  Greenfield Daily Reporter

MI: Michigan prisoners leave cells in protest over meals. About 200 prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe left their cells and demonstrated Monday over their food — two months after the Department of Corrections eliminated 370 state jobs and privatized its food service.  Detroit Free Press

NJ: New Jersey taps rest areas in bid for more revenue from toll roads….A bill making its way through the Statehouse directs the toll roads to develop plans for more commercial, business or retail ventures at the rest areas. They have 12 months to submit their ideas to the governor and Legislature once the bill becomes final. Lawmakers see the rest stops as a potentially lucrative source of transportation funding – one that would allow them to raise cash without imposing a tax increase or jacking up tolls. Press of Atlantic City

The American Public School Under Siege. A feature of the Obama presidency has been his campaign against the American public school system, eating way at the foundations of elementary education. That means the erosion of an institution that has been one of the keystones of the Republic.  Huffington Post



February 17, 2014


The 4 Most Profound Ways Privatization Perverts Education – opinion. Profit-seeking in the banking and health care industries has victimized Americans. Now it’s beginning to happen in education, with our children as the products. There are good reasons – powerful reasons – to stop the privatization efforts before the winner-take-all free market creates a new vehicle for inequality. At the very least we need the good sense to slow it down while we examine the evidence about charters and vouchers.  Alternet

CO: Seeds of dispute over US 36 management deal planted in past… The deal calls for Plenary Roads Denver — which has offices in Australia, Canada and Singapore — to collect all revenues from the toll lanes currently being built in each direction of the turnpike. Existing general-purpose lanes on the highway will be widened and will remain free for motorists. The pact, which was released to the public on Friday, has drawn fire from residents along the corridor and some lawmakers, who see it as being full of pitfalls for taxpayers. “Are we this cash-strapped that we hand over authority of our roadways to a private firm?” State Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, asked last week during a joint session of the legislative transportation committee. Denver Post

FL: Editorial: Slow down rush to private Pasco toll road. The Florida Department of Transportation keeps moving forward with a private group’s plan to build and own an elevated toll road in southern Pasco County even as some county commissioners are reconsidering their support and opposition builds among local residents. Privately built and operated toll roads are not in the public interest. Pasco residents and public officials should press Gov. Rick Scott’s administration to slow down and develop its own highway plan for accommodating more traffic along the State Road 54/56 east-west corridor.  Tampa Bay Times

IN: Foes ready to fight Illiana tollway at hearings this week…. The plan is for the $1.3 billion tollway to be built through a public-private partnership in which a private company would build and operate the tollway. That leaves its foes fearing that tolls will be excessive to cover the debt incurred — and meaning that its traffic will be much less than projected. The toll is estimated at $11 to travel the entire length — nearly four times more than other regional toll roads, Armstrong said. Besides taking much productive farmland, the tollway will pollute the Kankakee River and private wells and adversely affect habitats at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, which at one point comes within 75 feet of the highway, opponents said. The Environmental Law and Policy Center filed a lawsuit in July with Open Lands, the Sierra Club and the Midewin Heritage Association against the federal government, contending that the demographic forecasts used to justify the need for the tollway are inflated. SouthtownStar

NY: Résumé fibber now a principal at charter school. Brooklyn charter-school principal Lewis Franklin Thomas III has been booted from education jobs in three other cities after a string of résumé falsehoods — which were first exposed in Cleveland in 2005 after he claimed he was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity but couldn’t do the handshake, the education news site Chalkbeat reported. New York Post

PA: Toll privatization plan draws local push-back. Weeks before a proposal to privatize toll collections on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway is considered by the state Turnpike Authority, some South Jersey officials are expressing opposition to it. The Gloucester County freeholders and Monroe Township Council members have adopted resolutions against the proposal to hire a contractor to oversee manual and E-ZPass collections. Philly.com

IN: Editorial: Lessons of welfare debacle apply in school voucher debate. Here’s the takeaway from an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling in the state’s suit against IBM, the lead partner in a $1.3 billion deal to administer welfare services: “In the most basic aspect of this contract – providing timely services to the poor – IBM failed,” wrote Chief Judge Nancy H. Vaidik…..The results should be foremost in lawmakers’ minds as the privatization push continues, particularly with the important business of education. The General Assembly continues to expand Indiana’s private-school voucher program, siphoning nearly $135 million away from public schools in just three years. When problems arise, they won’t be concentrated within one giant corporation, but failure by even a handful of voucher schools will result in harm to students. The case for negligence will be even tougher to prove. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

CA: Assembly moves to rein in ‘abuse’ of government outsourcing. A package of bills introduced in the state Assembly aim to break apart a perceived culture of abuse in government outsourcing to private-sector businesses. The bills are part of a greater movement among states to stop contracting out in cases when the work is seen as better suited for public employees — an effort largely organized by the nation’s largest public services employees union, AFSCME.  AFSCME Privatization Update

UT: Lawmaker: Time to roll back special break for Utah charter schools. Rich Cunningham is trying to roll back special treatment the state has given to charter schools for nearly a decade that he says has resulted in schools popping up in ill-advised areas and causing clashes with neighbors and endangering students. Salt Lake Tribune

IL: Protesters stage sit-in over Wauconda 911 outsourcing. Protesters staged a sit-in at the Wauconda police department to challenge a proposal to shut down the village’s 911 center and outsource dispatching to Lake Zurich…. “There’s no asking or caring about what the residents and voters want,” Knigge said Saturday in a phone interview. “It’s just being shoved down our throats.”  Daily Herald


February 14, 2014


Elizabeth Warren’s Postal Banking Idea Has Big Public Support, New Poll Finds. Expanding post office services to include banking was recently explored in a report by the Postal Service inspector general, and is backed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) as a way to bring affordable basic banking services to low-income neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods are often ignored by banks and served only by check cashers and payday lenders that charge high fees. According to the new poll, 44 percent of Americans said they would favor the Postal Service offering basic financial services like bill-paying, check-cashing and small loans. Thirty-seven percent said they were opposed, and 19 percent said they weren’t sure. Huffington Post

IN: Court: Ind. owes IBM nearly $50M in welfare fight. The Indiana Court of Appeals says IBM Corp. failed to deliver its part of a deal to privatize the state’s welfare system, but the company is still entitled to nearly $50 million in fees that the state agreed to pay, the Indiana Court of Appeals found Thursday…. The state and the Armonk, N.Y.-based company sued each other in 2010 after then-Gov. Mitch Daniels canceled the $1.3 billion contract that set up call centers for clients and largely automated parts of the state welfare system, leading to a hail of complaints. “In the most basic aspect of this contract — providing timely services to the poor__ IBM failed,” the court said in the 2-1 opinion. Regardless, the state owes IBM nearly $50 million in agreed-upon fees, the judges said.  Wall Street Journal

IN: Retirement privatization could cost workers millions. Battle lines are being drawn over a plan to privatize part of Indiana’s public retirement system. Supporters say failing to take action could end up costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. But, critics say it would also leave thousands of public employees facing a new set of retirement risks. WISH

FL: Elevated toll road losing support among Pasco commissioners…..Commission Chairman Jack Mariano told members of the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization he’s received emails from people opposing the toll road and none supporting it. “I think I’ve seen a lot of public input already,” he said. “Why go through this whole process when we know our people are telling us we don’t know it’s the right thing.”… If built, FL54 Express would be Florida’s first privately built and operated toll road.  The Tampa Bay Tribune

LA: Health firms make privatization pitches. In an overheated Holiday Inn banquet room Thursday morning, business leaders made pitches for privatizing a $2 billion slice of the state’s health care business. The Advocate

WA: Feds drop demand that could privatize mental-health care. The federal government has backed off a demand that Washington state change how it administers mental-health care, a reversal that removes the possibility of one of the largest privatizations of services in state history.  The Seattle Times

OH: Cincinnati Mayor Shuns Parking Privatization Deal. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley unveiled a plan for the municipal parking system that would keep the asset under city control as an alternative to a controversial proposal to lease it to the local port authority for an upfront cash payment.  Bond Buyer($)

WI: Tollways create road to a worse Wisconsin – oped… Why does there seem to be extra government funding (when in reality there isn’t) for property and income tax cuts, but not enough to keep public roads free? One reason should be evident by now: The Wisconsin Republican Party (like many Tea Party-oriented congressmen) has pledged to privatize government services where it can, and at the same time ensure that supply-side economic policies are enacted, regardless of whether the government has the funds to do so. The privatization of public roads by converting them into toll roads is just another example of this phenomenon. UW Badger Herald

CT: Mayor’s analysis of water pollution control should be in the open – to the editor…..Stratford residents are right to be concerned, if not suspicious, when they hear that it may be foreign-owned Aquarion corporation that will be calling the shots when it comes to sewer system rate increases. We are, unfortunately, accustomed to important decisions being made in the dark of night, by caucus, and then ratified by rubber-stamp actions of the Town Council, whose own leadership dismisses the need for public discussion since the votes are already in the bag. Stratford Star




February 13, 2014


CO: Angry residents voice concerns about public-private deal for US 36 tolls. It was a heated public meeting in Westminster Wednesday night where the Colorado Department of Transportation held a public meeting just days before it finalizes a controversial contract for privatization of toll lanes and maintenance of U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder…. Officials from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) defended the terms of a private, 50-year contract…“This is a meeting that should’ve been held 18 months ago, so what do we do?” one man told CDOT. Another said “I would actually not like to give something up until I’m almost 80.” kdvr.com

OH: Mayor Cranley introduces new Cincinnati parking plan. Cranley and city council’s new majority ran against previous Mayor Mark Mallory’s parking privatization plan that included turning over the city’s meters and garages to a private operator, Xerox.  WKRC TV Cincinnati

OH: Yost examining three charter-school sponsors. State Auditor Dave Yost is investigating three charter-school sponsors, including two that oversaw schools that spent millions and then abruptly closed last fall…. Yost announced the review yesterday after opening it three weeks ago. He said it was prompted by a series of stories in The Dispatch that detailed an unprecedented string of 17 charter-school failures in 2013. That information left Yost “scratching my head,” he said. Columbus Dispatch

AR: Charter School Pulls Creationism Workbook. A public charter school organization with a campus in Little Rock says it has pulled science workbooks amid allegations it promotes creationism over evolution.  Slate

IA: Regent: New consultant to mull some privatization. Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says a consultant will consider whether to privatize non-essential university enterprises such as golf courses and power plants. KCCI Des Moines

February 12, 2014


CO: Controversial, privatized toll lanes coming to U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder… E-mails have been circulating this week criticizing the Colorado Department of Transportation for pushing the deal through without a lot of transparency. CDOT argues that’s untrue and says the state board, called High Performance Transportation Enterprise, signed off on the deal months ago….”It’s outrageous,” said critic Ken Beitel, a clean energy analyst with the Drive Sunshine Institute. “It could be up to a $28 round-trip during rush hour.”  The Denver Channel

MN: As big cities privatize bus shelters, Minneapolis moves them to government control. Despite resulting revenue loss, city will end deal with CBS Outdoor over maintenance complaints. It will shift oversight to Metro Transit…. The end of the longtime agreement with CBS Outdoor follows complaints about the upkeep from lingering graffiti, loose glass and a “nightmare” shelter with missing panels, rust and faded scribblings.  Minneapolis Star Tribune

WI: Wisconsin: State Senator Reveals Covert Plan to Privatize Public Education. Senator Kathleen Vinehout revealed a plan hatched behind closed doors to close 5% of thestate’s schools every year and turn them over to private corporations. Diane Ravitch’s blog

FL: Bush-era voucher program could gain more cash with sales tax jolt….The program is opposed by the Florida Education Association and many school boards, including Palm Beach County, which say it directs tax dollars that should go to public schools into private schools and the companies that run them. The program has flourished under the direction of Tampa equity fund manager John Kirtley, chairman of Step Up for Students, the non-profit that administers the scholarships. Palm Beach Post

FL: Florida Legislative Report Pans Red Light Camera Safety. Revenue from red light cameras in Florida has more than tripled in the past year, from $38 to $119 million, but a report by the state’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability found no commensurate jump in traffic safety….According to the study, some jurisdictions made no profit from the cameras after the state took its cut and red light camera vendors, primarily American Traffic Solutions, walked away with half of the proceeds. The lack of local profit is not an issue, as reducing accidents is the stated goal for the majority of red light camera programs in the state.  TheNewspaper.com

IL: Gov. Candidates Support Private Money for Public Infrastructure. The Republican candidates for governor agree that using private investment for public infrastructure may be the best way to complete large road construction projects in the state. KMOX.com

NJ: NJ educators react to resignation of Education Commissioner Chris Cerf…. Cerf announced yesterday that he will join his old boss, former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who is now CEO of Amplify, an education technology firm in New York City. Cerf, who served as Klein’s deputy from 2006 to 2009, will lead Amplify Insight, a division that the company says provides professional and consulting services to teachers and administrators. He led the state’s effort to reach a deal with the teachers union for teacher tenure reform, has been a strong proponent of charter schools and has backed reform efforts in Newark and Camden.  NJ.com

MO: Hope Academy Charter School loses UMKC sponsorship over low student achievement. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Hope Academy Charter School in Kansas City, Mo., will lose its sponsorship with the University of Missouri- Kansas City at the end of the 2013-2014 school year…. . Last fall, members of DESE’s Charter School Office made an unannounced visit to the school and found falsified attendance records and instructional activities that did not meet state standards.  KSHB

The Difference Between a Farmer and a Global Chemical Corporation. We are witnessing a strange, though remarkably predictable public discourse, where State lawmakers claim that those “truly serious about supporting local farmers” must abolish Counties’ rights “forever,” and transnational corporations call themselves “farmers.” Legislators attempt to contort the “Right to Farm” into a mechanism for chemical companies to evade health and environmental concerns, as water grabs by these same companies undermine the actual rights of farmers…. Farmers’ rights to innovate, share and save seed, and cultivate the agricultural biodiversity upon which we all depend is also supplanted by the new corporate rights to privatize what has always been considered “common.” Huffington Post