February 4, 2015


TVA Avoids Privatization. For many months President Obama has been looking to privatize TVA. Now, after releasing Monday’s budget, it looks like he is softening his stance. WTVC

The growing gap between the wealthy and everybody else – Opinion. Private clubs and restricted lounges come with monthly dues that approximate mortgage payments for some of us. San Francisco and Manhattan are becoming velvet- roped cities. The Daily Advertiser           

Tolls impede the American spirit of the open road. Jack Kerouac would weep, were he alive today. The author famous for making road trips a rite of passage would be shocked to find how tolls, tickets and traffic fines are being used as revenue enhancement schemes and an extension of the American surveillance state. Equipment World Magazine

VA: House considers safeguards on public-private transportation deals. A bill to take the public risk out of public-private transportation deals is due before the House of Delegates for a final vote, while a companion bill to overhaul Virginia’s transportation funding formulas is scheduled for debate. Roanoke Times

CA: Controversy Heats Up Over DA Outsourcing Proposal. Controversy continues to swirl around a DA proposal seeking to outsource background investigations, with Orange County’s chief prosecutor irked over questions about a lack of disclosure regarding a longtime work relationship between the vendor and a top DA official recommending the contract. VoiceofOC

OH: NKY group demands Kasich apologize. A group fighting to keep tolls off the Brent Spence Bridge is demanding that Ohio Gov. John Kasich formally apologize after his latest critical comments about Northern Kentucky leaders. Northern Kentucky United launched an online petition Friday morning, hoping to get 2,500 signatures to pressure Kasich to apologize for verbal jabs he took this week at Kentucky state lawmakers who do not support using tolls to fast-track construction of the $2.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge project. . . Kasich isn’t backing down from his aggressive push to get the Brent Spence Bridge project done and has no plans to apologize. Cincinnati.com

MS: LOOM: Single benefactor giving education privatization edge at Capitol. Well-funded privatization forces are gaining ground in their efforts to privatize Mississippi’s public education system, a move that would hand state tax dollars and our children’s futures to unaccountable for-profit, virtual, and private schools. Mississippi Business Journal (blog)

TX: Don’t railroad our neighborhoods. A high-speed rail line linking Houston and Dallas sounds like a good idea. But as they say, the devil is in the details. Texas Central Railroad, a recently-formed private company, is proposing to build such a link with funding obtained largely from Japanese banks, and has applied to the Federal Railroad Administration for permission to do so. The nine candidate routes examined so far have been winnowed down to two. Unfortunately, the last stretches of these routes run directly through Houston residential neighborhoods.   Houston Chronicle

February 2, 2015


TX: In Texas contracting, failure is an option. Yet the questionable no-bid contract awarded to the Austin tech firm 21CT for Medicaid fraud detection software is just the latest chapter in Texas’ troubled adventures in outsourcing. . . . For two decades, Texas has pursued a wave of privatization of public functions with the belief that corporations could save taxpayer money while improving the delivery of essential government services. But multiple contracts representing billions in public dollars have blown up in the state’s face, leading to lawsuits, ethics investigations, wasted funds and frustrated Texans. The pattern that emerges is one of famously business-friendly Texas repeatedly fumbling its efforts to hold the businesses it hires accountable. Fort Worth Star Telegram

OH: Gov. John Kasich wants to add teeth to charter school oversight rules and let charters seek local tax levies. Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal Monday would offer charter schools in Ohio two new potential funding sources — a $25 million facilities fund and the ability to seek local tax levies from voters — while putting a greater focus on charter school sponsors, or authorizers, as a way to improve school quality. Kasich’s proposals, to be unveiled Monday afternoon, will put increased pressure on the sponsors — agencies that help create and oversee the charter schools — to be better at that task. cleveland.com

OH: Governors stump for tolls on Brent Spence Bridge.The governors of Kentucky and Ohio held a press conference Wednesday to promote tolls to fund the replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge that carries Interstates 75 and 71 across the Ohio River. As OOIDA and anti-toll groups have already pointed out, tolls would not just pay for bridge construction and maintenance, but also guarantee profits to a private investor. Land Line Magazine

NY: Group says Cuomo’s education reforms don’t ‘cut the mustard’. The Alliance for Quality Education on Friday issued a point-by-point rebuttal to the governor’s education agenda, criticizing his proposals to change the teacher evaluation, lift the cap on charter schools and offer a tax credit for donations to private schools. “In a moment of rhetorical flourish designed to justify his entire agenda, he called the current teacher evaluation system ‘baloney,’ but his own agenda simply does not cut the mustard,” said a statement from the organization. . . . The group also panned the governor’s other proposals including lifting the charter school cap. The organization said a proposal to make sure charter schools aren’t “cherry picking” the best students from public schools won’t be enforced even if enacted. It said a $100 million tax credit for contributions to private schools would be a giveaway to the wealthy and takeover of failing schools by private outside entities won’t work without funding. The Alliance for Quality Education concluded that market-based reforms don’t work in education. PostStar.com

LA: Prison privatization might save Baton Rouge money, but is there a higher cost?. . . Several council members say that having an outside, private company build and operate the parish prison is something the city should at least look into, particularly in light of how much money it could save. But the privatization of prisons is controversial: While communities typically want to see fewer citizens imprisoned, the business model of a private prison relies on keeping people locked up. And in East Baton Rouge, where the sheriff has the ultimate say on how the prison is operated, it could be a tough political challenge for the city-parish and sheriff to make a change that drastic and relinquish control over the facility. NOLA.com