May 16, 2014


Ted Mitchell, Leader in Privatization Movement, Confirmed as Undersecretary of Education. One of the nation’s leaders of the privatization movement, Ted Mitchell, has been confirmed by the. u.S. Senate as Undersecretary of Education, the second most powerful job in the U.S. Department of Education. Mitchell most recently was CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund, which collects millions from philanthropies and venture funds and invests the money in creating charter chains and for-profit ventures.

Public-Private Partnerships Key to US Spaceflight Future, Experts Say. The future of United States space travel will involve significant governmental cooperation with private industry, according to a panel of spaceflight experts.

Interstate Tolling Proposal Is a Bad Idea | Commentary. . . Beyond this shuffling of funds, tolling an existing interstate for any reason is difficult to justify on principle. Interstate construction and maintenance has been funded through fuel taxes since the system’s inception in 1956. Requiring drivers to pay a new toll in addition to a gas tax is paying for the same road twice. Tolling existing interstates for road revenue is not a new idea. Congress passed the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program in 1988, creating a pilot program for designated states to toll existing interstates. To date, none have successfully done so, largely due to the recognition of tolling’s negative effects and significant public opposition. Most recently, both Virginia and North Carolina proposals to toll Interstate 95 were shelved and Missouri I-70 tolls never got off the ground. The lesson from these ill-fated pilot projects is clear — tolling existing interstates is a bad idea.  Roll Call

 IL: Feds Charge Chicago Official Over Red Light Camera Bribes. The fallout from the red light camera bribery scandal in Chicago, Illinois could mean ten years in prison and $250,000 in fines for those involved. The US attorney for the Northern District of Illinois on Tuesday filed charges against John Bills, the Windy City’s deputy transportation commissioner, because he allegedly took bribes from Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian firm that until recently ran Chicago’s red light camera program. Redflex allegedly paid Marty O’Malley, a friend of Bills, $2 million to be a consultant on the program that netted the firm $124 million over the life of the contract. According to the indictment, the “consultant” bought a $177,000 condominium in Gilbert, Arizona that Bills used on nearly two dozen occasions between 2008 and 2012. He also bought a 2000 Mercedes CLK 320 convertible for Bills and covered $643,000 worth of personal expenditures and debts for the city official.

LA: To save time and money, let’s privatize the Louisiana Legislature: Opinion . . . In recent years, Jindal has turned over Louisiana’s public hospitals to private entities. He’s privatized the state’s Medicaid program, as well as the management of medical benefits for state employees. Beyond health care, Jindal has diverted a substantial portion of the state’s elementary and secondary education budget to fund private-school vouchers and charter schools. By slashing the higher education budget, he’s virtually turned the state’s colleges and universities into semi-private institutions that subsist primarily off tuition and student fees. He’s handed over driver’s license renewals to a private company. He has even privatized budget cutting, paying the consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal $5 million to develop ideas for cutting state spending by $500 million. As recent experience has shown, however, privatizing government doesn’t automatically improve anything except, of course, the bottom  lines of the corporations that capture lucrative government contracts. The Times-Picayune