May 28, 2014


Group: $12.3B water bill ‘opens door for privatization’. A group that advocates for increased spending on public water infrastructure projects said Tuesday that a $12.3 billion port and waterways funding bill that is expected to be signed soon by President Obama will “open the door to water privatization.” . . . The Boston, Mass.-based Corporate Accountability International’s Public Water Works! campaign said Tuesday that the bill was less promising than it appears because it includes a provision that is designed to boost public-private partnerships called the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, however. “We are alarmed by the implications of this bill, which would open the doors to an increase in water public-private partnerships in the U.S. and effectively subsidize water privatization,” CAI Public Water Works Campaign Director Erin Diaz said in a statement. The Hill (blog)

Detainees Are Slave Labor in Private Prisons. Last year, at least 60,000 immigrants worked in the federal government’s nationwide patchwork of detention centers — more than worked for any other single employer in the country, according to data from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. The cheap labor, 13 cents an hour, saves the government and the private companies $40 million or more a year by allowing them to avoid paying outside contractors the $7.25 federal minimum wage. Some immigrants held at county jails work for free, or are paid with sodas or candy bars, while also providing services like meal preparation for other government institutions.  Blue in the Bluegrass

PA: Group Says 1000+ Signed Petition Against Privatization of Philly Gas Works. About a dozen local activists delivered petitions today to members of City Council, urging the lawmakers to oppose Mayor Nutter’s plan to sell the Philadelphia Gas Works. “It will bring nothing but hardship and misfortune to the people of Philadelphia,” said Madeline Schikomba of South Philadelphia, one of eleven community activists distributing reams of petitions signed by what she said were residents who fear the fallout of a PGW sale. CBS Local

LA: Contract review bill killed. For the second year in a row, the Louisiana Senate Finance Committee killed legislation that would require review and oversight of contracts that would privatize services provided by state government. “It’s hard for us, as representatives, to go back home and tell our constituents that we didn’t review the contract and we’re 100 percent sure that it’s going to be saving us money,” said state Rep. Kenny Havard, R-Jackson, moments after the Senate Finance Committee voted 7-3 Tuesday to reject House Bill 128. The panel deferred a similar bill by Havard last year on a vote of 8-2. HB128 focused on the large contracts of more than $5 million that would, for example, replace the state workers running a prison or hospital with managers from a private company, Havard said. Havard said he wasn’t surprised because Gov. Bobby Jindal’s staff had lobbied against the legislation.  The Advocate

KS: Privatization initiative offers window on Kansas government. Soon after Gov. Sam Brownback’s inauguration, his then-chief of staff David Kensinger sat down for a private meeting with his recent lobbying firm partner, Matt Hickam; a Cabinet secretary, Rob Siedlecki; and a Brownback campaign contributor seeking to expand his company’s business in Kansas.. . . But at least one person in the meeting recalled feeling uncomfortable about it all.  “It appeared to be a meeting for the contractor to sell himself to the governor’s staff. No other contractor was sitting at the table. Was that the point? It was uncomfortable in that one contractor had the ear of the governor’s top staff, made the sales pitch, and no other contractors were invited or in attendance,” said the person, who requested to be unnamed, citing fear of possible retribution for speaking about it.

TX: Power shift in Texas election to benefit anti-toll cause. It was another great night for the anti-toll cause in Texas. Today was the Republican primary run-off election and voters toppled the incumbent David Dewhurst, replacing him with tea party favorite State Senator Dan Patrick for the powerful Lt. Governor seat. . . . Under Dewhurst’s leadership, Texans experienced a massive shift away from an affordable gas tax funded freeway system to a reliance on tolling (just about everything that moves). The Perry-Dewhurst regime brought us the Trans Texas Corridor, quick take eminent domain, tolling existing freeways, handing our public roads to private toll corporations who charge Texans 95 cents a mile to drive, and using gas taxes and a host of public money to subsidize and guarantee the loans on toll roads. (blog)