February 13, 2015


An experiment in privatizing public land fails after 14 years. . . The Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian think tank, is of that opinion and has developed models to replace federal agencies with private interests. What many people don’t know is that Congress implemented one of the Cato Institute’s ideas in 2000, on the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico. For some critics of the federal government, this was the experiment in land management that would signal the end of the BLM and Forest Service in the West. The Cato experiment in New Mexico, however, failed, chewed up by the friction between monetizing the “services” that landscapes provide — recreation, timber, grass, wildlife — and fulfilling citizens’ expectations for public access and protecting natural resources. For example, New Mexicans had very little tolerance for paying high fees to visit public property that had already been paid for using federal Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars. High Country News           

New Alliance Takes on Corporate Push to Privatize the Post Office. CWA and more than 60 other labor, public interest, faith, community and civil rights organizations have formed the Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service. Communications Workers of America

NY: Report Faults Charter School Rules on Discipline of Students. Most of New York City’s charter schools have disciplinary codes that do not meet either state or federal requirements, according to a report by a children’s advocacy organization that is to be released on Thursday. New York Times

NY: UUP pushes back against efforts to privatize SUNY hospitals. The president of the United University Professions, Frederick Kowal, weighed in against the governor’s budget this week, testifying at a joint legislative budget hearing that it “continues a trend of the state’s disinvestment in public higher education.” Of particular concern to UUP and other public employee unions is the budget’s weakening support for SUNY’s public hospitals. “Once again,” Kowal said, “the governor is attempting to privatize our SUNY hospitals by allowing corporations to own and operate these facilities.” Albany Times Union (blog)

TX: New commissioner spotlights toll authority. . . Shea, who took office last month, is hoping to install a “watchdog” to look out for environmental and social justice concerns on the board of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which has been tasked with building the controversial Texas 45 Southwest project. Her efforts are drawing backlash from the mobility authority, which Shea has said is dominated by real estate and development interests….Shea, who co-founded the Save Our Springs Alliance in 1992, has led the charge against the road, which is planned to be built over the environmentally sensitive Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, potentially harming endangered species populations and topographical features such as caves. Austin American-Statesman

NC: MNPS Audit Looks for Savings Through Outsourcing, Raises Questions About Charter Costs. The audit focused on seeking private contractors for some or all of the district’s nutrition, transportation and energy programs as well as some facilities management, saving between $2 million and $13 million per year, beginning in year two. In an official response from management, the district plans to hire an in-house energy manager and implement a comprehensive energy management program, but keep the jobs with MNPS instead of an outside firm. MNPS rejected some of the audit analysis on transportation and nutrition programs, arguing that the audit started with flawed assumptions. Nashville Scene

SC: Firestorm of protest hits Columbia city council over possible privatization of privatization of city water, sewer. In fiery speeches to Columbia city council members, more than a dozen Columbia residents Tuesday night denounced any effort by council to allow a private company buy or lease the city’s water and sewer systems. “Water is the new oil,” Howard Duvall told council members at a regular meeting, stressing that profit-minded companies have only one goal – to tap into the city’s lucrative revenue streams. “Companies are accountable to shareholders –not consumers,” Elaine Cooper told council. Like many in the audience, she wore an anti-privatization badge. Hers said, “NO!” over the image of a water faucet. The State

PA: Pa. Senate Democrats to counter liquor privatization plan….Wolf unequivocally disagrees with the concept of privatization, and instead supports expanded Sunday hours and opening state stores inside supermarkets. Tribune-Review