May 22, 2014


Company Bidding on D.C. Metro Expansion Hires Ray LaHood. On Wednesday morning, private equity fund Meridiam Infrastructure announced a new hire: Ray LaHood. The former U.S. secretary of transportation, who stepped down in July of last year, is joining the firm, with the title of senior adviser to Meridiam North America. . . . Thierry Déau, Meridiam’s founder, told me that LaHood will help the firm identify future markets for infrastructure investments, which the firm funds through public-private partnerships (PPPs). . . . As for projects in the American market that Meridiam is bidding on, Déau listed a few — a major new terminal at LaGuardia Airport in Queens (where Meridiam is partnering with, among others, Skanska, Tishman Construction and Parsons Brinckerhoff on the construction side, and Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Wells Fargo for financing), the Purple Line light-rail project in D.C.‘s Maryland suburbs (where they’re joining forces with Fluor for construction and engineering and one of Star America’s funds on the money side), plus a judicial facility in Indiana and roads across the U.S., including in Nevada.  Next City

The Republican Party Has a VA Problem, Too: Privatization Isn’t Popular. . . . I recall Veterans’ Day in 2011, when Mitt Romney proposed something similar, though perhaps less expensive. “Sometimes you wonder if there would be some way to introduce some private-sector competition,” he said. “Somebody else that could come in and say, you know, that each soldier gets X thousand dollars attributed to them, and then they can choose whether they want to go in the government system or in a private system with the money that follows them.” Vets condemned him immediately and he quickly reverted to the more liberal view that if demand for VA medical care exceeds supply, we should spend the money required to increase supply. . . .For every possible reason, Democrats would rather the VA failure never have happened. But as Romney and our old friend Social Security can attest, dismantling public programs and turning them over to rich private-sector donors, many of whom have worse track records, will be poorly received. The New Republic

Don’t privatize the veterans hospitals – opinion. President Obama can do himself a big political favor this month by saying simply this: “I will not privatize the VA hospitals.” That’s the bottom line for the current right-wing crusade mixing patriotic posturing with loathing of government in general and Obama specifically. We speak of allegations that a Phoenix hospital (and perhaps others) run by the Department of Veterans Affairs hid deadly delays for treatment by using secret waiting lists. . . . “We’re against privatizing the VA system,” Joe Davis, national spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars, told me in no uncertain terms. “To privatize the VA puts us on a waiting list with everyone else out in the United States.” You see, getting medical care can be rougher outside government-run programs.  The Seattle Times

VA: McAuliffe announces public-private partnership reforms. Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) says he thinks public-private partnerships for road construction in Virginia are a good idea, but they have to be win-win projects. In March, he stopped payments on the 55-mile Route 460 project from Suffolk to Prince William County. At that time, he said the state would demand transparency and competitiveness in all future public-private partnerships. On Thursday, McAuliffe said the Commonwealth Transportation Board passed a resolution to do just that and to better evaluate the public’s risk for projects delivered under the Public Private Transportation Act. Read the resolution.