October 27, 2014


Md. gubernatorial candidates say they’ll reconsider ICC toll rates. The two candidates for Maryland governor told The Washington Post this week that they would reconsider the toll rates on the Intercounty Connector, the 3-year-old highway between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties that has drawn motorist complaints for high tolls. Some critics attribute the road’s relatively empty feel to the fact that many motorists don’t want to pay, or can’t afford, the tolls. Those who don’t want to pay remain stuck on the Capital Beltway and crowded side roads. Washington Post

TX: Has privatization failed Texas utility customers? Privatizers use the one-size-fits-all economic theory of “retail choice-free market competition” to promote the deregulation of Texas electric utilities. Privatizers promise that lower electricity prices and higher system reliability will follow electric utility deregulation. Privatizers’ sloganeering convinces on-the-take politicians and the unsuspecting electorate to approve their lobbyist-written deregulation rules and laws.mPrivatizers say the deregulation of Texas electric utilities is successful and other states should follow suit. This is misinformation. Relative electricity prices have increased dramatically, and dangerously lower electrical system reliability is the result of Texas electric utility deregulation in 2002. PennEnergy

KY: Mitch McConnell Reminds Everyone He Tried to Privatize Social Security. With less than two weeks to go in the Kentucky Senate race, minority leader Mitch McConnell made the unusual choice to bring up his past support for privatizing Social Security. In a speech before the Louisville Rotary Club, McConnell recalled how hard he worked to get then-President George W. Bush’s plan through Congress in 2005. The Nation

OH: Group Targets Gov Kasich For ‘Privatization’ Efforts. A national anti-privatization group has targeted Republican incumbent Gov. John Kasich over his signature policy decision, his public-private entity that replaced the state Department of Development. Gov. Kasich has defended JobsOhio on transparency and accountability for years, including in a sit-down interview recently….But a national group that tracks and criticizes privatization and outside contracting cites Kasich in a report blasting him and the governors of six other states for the outsourcing of state services, which they say has enriched private companies with public dollars. Lisa Graves with In the Public Interest notes the state auditor is now prohibited from doing a full audit of JobsOhio. WOSU Public Media

NY: Moreland Commission member surprised at interim LIPA report. A member of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Moreland Commission on LIPA said Friday that he was surprised to discover recently that an interim report on privatizing the utility excluded references to several commissioners’ early misgivings about the idea. Newsday

NY: Public Education Advocates Rally For Change. . . The speakers held the audience of approximately 200, plus others watching via livestream on schoolhouselive.org, in rapt attention for more than five hours, as they built sharp critiques of the current state of public education toward a powerful finale that featured Ravitch and Brown in a deep conversation about students’ civil rights. The panelists presented a united front in depicting the roots of the problems in education: wealthy benefactors, with little to no education experience, leading “reform” without the input of seasoned professionals. Teachers, principals, professors count themselves as troops on the ground, with significant insight into the issues within public education. They have no shortage of ideas as to how to fix them. However, it seems no one is asking them, these professionals say. Hence, Public Education Nation, which billed itself as “the voices of educators, parents and students, rather than billionaires, or those who echo their talking points,” according to education activist, NPE co-founder, and host Anthony Cody. Long Island Press

IN: Opinion – Toll Road lease was a gamble with Hoosiers’ future. If the Great Recession taught us anything, it’s that speculative trading in overly complex and risky financial products is no basis for achieving long-term economic prosperity. This raises an important question: Should elected officials emulate this approach by converting public assets like the Indiana Toll Road into financial instruments through complex public-private partnerships? The recent bankruptcy filing by the Spanish-Australian concessionaire, which won the 75-year lease for the Toll Road, strongly suggests that elected officials are entering into poorly understood agreements that will expose taxpayers to financial risk for many decades to come. Indianapolis Star

CA: California Toll Road Sells $1.4 Billion in Bonds. The operator of a struggling toll road in southern California sold about $1.4 billion in bonds on Wednesday, capitalizing on a broad decline in yields that has whetted investors’ appetite for riskier bets. Wall Street Journal

CA: State schools chief race may reverberate beyond California. . . Vogel said most troubling were the wealthy individuals who are backing Tuck, among them people who promote privatization of public schools. In the last three weeks, a group supporting Tuck has raised more than $8 million. Donors include Manhattan Beach businessman William Bloomfield, who gave $2 million; Los Angeles entrepreneur Eli Broad, who gave $1 million; and Doris Fisher, co-founder of The Gap, who contributed $950,000. Los Angeles Times

PA: State’s ‘public-private’ transportation deal will replace 53 bridges. A team of Pennsylvania-based subcontractors has three years to replace 558 structurally deficient Pennsylvania bridges, including 53 in Allegheny County. PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch announced Friday that Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners would lead the department’s $899 million Rapid Bridge Replacement Project. Philly.com