March 17, 2014


Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science. As government financing of basic research has fallen off precipitously, philanthropists have stepped in, setting personal priorities and raising questions about science research for the public good.  New York Times

Federal Privatization and the Expensive Philosophy of the Circular A-76 Process. It might be thought that, if any work in America is inherently governmental and requires such tight governmental control that it cannot be privatized, it must be the military. However, history shows otherwise. From the British use of Hessian soldiers during the American Revolutionary War up to today’s use of defense contract workers, there is a long tradition of using private contractors in the military. For example, in recent years, military housing has been privatized, with not particularly good results. The second Iraq War was awash with contractors, who were paid billions of dollars and were part of a system of cronyism and corruption.  Truth-Out

VA: Virginia transportation secretary suspends work on toll road from Suffolk to Petersburg. The road was a priority of former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration. But when Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe took office earlier this year, his administration began reviewing how the project should proceed because of well-known issues involving streams and wetlands along the route that could prevent it from securing permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said the suspension of contract and permit work is needed so the Virginia Department of Transportation can be sure it will get the necessary approvals before moving forward with the highway. Daily Journal

NY: Why NYC mayor is getting unfairly bashed over charter schools. The level of discourse over New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision not to allow several charter schools to co-locate in the buildings of traditional public schools has reached a hysterical pitch. Washington Post (blog)           

VT: Vermont Senate votes for ban on privatizing schools. The Vermont Senate has voted in favor of a two-year-old ban on privatizing public schools. The move comes as the town of Westford considers the possibility of turning its public elementary school into a private one. The Senate voted 19-0 on Friday to ban public schools from ceasing operation so they can become independent until the ban ends on July 1, 2016, according to published reports. The bill also requests a study of the constitutional and legal consequences of such changes. The report from the education secretary is due in January 2015. Brattleboro Reformer

IN: Commentary: Public-private partnerships, profit and public service. Rep. Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, says outsourcing management of the Indiana Toll Road has been a huge mistake. Bauer, the former speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, says the money Indiana collected for leasing the toll road to a private consortium for 75 years now is gone with more than 65 years remaining on the lease. . . .He says that the problem with outsourcing is that it introduces a new factor into the public service equation. He says that people pay taxes so that government can afford to provide certain services and that the taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay anything more than what those services cost. He says that outsourcing brings in companies and people who want to make a profit from serving taxpayers and that breaks down systems of accountability and opens the door to corruption.  The Statehouse File