March 24, 2014


Editorial: ‘Private’ toll roads lead to good fortune only for the boodlers. Toll roads are all the rage with those who expect to get rich with deals called “innovative” public-private partnerships. The idea of tossing a coin into a basket for the privilege of traveling on a road is a stale and frayed idea that only seems fresh. It’s a crony idea that gives off more than a whiff of corruption. Consider what’s happening in Virginia. As Gov. Bob McDonnell was leaving office, his suitcase stuffed with goodies collected from his “admirers,” he auctioned as many of the state’s roads as he could find to foreigners willing to buy them. Now taxpayers are even paying for the advertisements needed to make those foreign investors rich.  Washington Times

CA: California Contracts With Private Prisons To Alleviate Overcrowding. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ruling that condemned California for prison overcrowding, which was leading to the deaths of at least one inmate per week. . . Gov. Brown hoped to implement long-term solutions that would “help inmates become productive members of society and make our communities safer,” but he has turned to a solution that may very well exacerbate, rather than solve, California’s mass incarceration crisis: privatization.  Neon Tommy

GA: Georgia’s Push to Privatize Foster Care Fails. A push to privatize the child welfare system in Georgia failed in the final hours of the state’s legislative session Thursday. The bill, which was introduced by the state senate in February, aimed to begin contracting out most child welfare services — like adoption and case management — to private agencies by the summer of 2017. . . . But the momentum to privatize the system worried some child welfare advocates in the state, who said the talks were happening too fast, too soon. Full privatization of the foster care system has been rolled out in states like Nebraska and Florida, but not without criticism. In Nebraska, a Youth Today story found that privatization has been largely characterized as a failure after the state’s leading child services agencies withdrew their contracts due to financial reasons.  Youth Today

IN: Lake Station EMS workers protest privatizing ambulance service. Medics from the Lake Station Fire Department picketed Saturday along Fairview Avenue in protest of the city’s move to privatize its ambulance service. Almost two dozen part-time paramedics and EMTs will lose their jobs with the city.

TN: TN state park hikers share views on privatizing. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation started looking into the possibility of privatizing state parks when they filed a request for information to potential contractors in February. . .Fisk University student Quin Gathers said that, while she understood some of the financial benefits of the state contracting out park management, she was skeptical there would be that much money saved. “It’s a park,” she said. “If the state wants to save money, there’s got to be a better way to do it.” Nashville resident Vincent Anderson was supportive of privatizing the parks, if only because he believed companies could manage better than governments. For many, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered before they decide what to think about it.   The Tennessean

PA: New proposal ditches privatization for modernization of state liquor sales. The effort last year to get the state out of the booze business went flat… But with a budget deficit looming heavy on the minds of state lawmakers, there is a new push to shake things up. And a new proposal to modernize — not privatize — Pennsylvania’s state store system is likely to do just that.. . .The proposal, which would give the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board the ability to open more stores on Sundays and flexibility to set prices, contrasts greatly with previous legislation to sell the state stores to private business. Lancaster Newspapers

NY: From de Blasio, Gentler Words About Charter Schools. For weeks, Mr. de Blasio had been locked in a battle with advocates of charter schools, who were denouncing him around the clock in a $3.6 million advertising blitz. The results were beginning to show: His education agenda seemed rudderless, and his popularity in polls was slipping. So on Sunday, Mr. de Blasio struck a conciliatory tone, acknowledging missteps and emphasizing common ground. New York Times

LA: Plan would place toll road around Baton Rouge. . .”Hopefully it would get a lot of trucks from going through the middle of town because they will have a way to get around,” Foil said. However, the effort faces huge financial and political obstacles. The initial price tag is unclear. Estimates range from $700 million to $1 billion. The undertaking also hinges on finding a private firm willing to enter into a public-private partnership, build the road, then rely on tolls to repay the costs, plus a profit. Finding a private company to do the work may be a daunting task, especially because no such mega projects have been erected that way in Louisiana.  The Advocate