March 12, 2014


IN: Australia’s IFM Investors to pay $5.7 billion for Indiana toll road. IFM Investors of Australia agreed to pay $5.725 billion to buy the bankrupt operator of a 157-mile (253 km) toll road in northern Indiana, the investment fund said in statement. The road operator, ITR Concession Co LLC, put itself up for sale when it filed for bankruptcy in September after it was unable to support its $6 billion in debt. In 2006, Indiana agreed to lease the highway to ITR Concession for 75 years in return for $3.8 billion, a record for a road privatization deal. IFM will assume the responsibility for contract to operate the road, according to court documents. Reuters

CO: A failed experiment in privatizing. . . 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. Colorado Springs Independent

MS: Troubled Water, Part I: Explaining Jackson’s $91 Million Siemens Contract. . . The water meter upgrade project, under way now for two years, was the single largest expense in a $91 million contract inked with Siemens Industry Inc., a division of European multinational conglomerate Siemens AG, in fall 2012. On Friday, Feb. 13, city officials halted all new meter installations when a Department of Public Works employee found a water meter calibrated to read gallons instead of cubic feet, which could make a water bill more than six times larger than it should be. Some want to terminate the contract outright. Jackson Free Press

NV: Lawmaker calls privatization of youth prison a failure. . . On Tuesday, state officials began removing the 43 juveniles from Red Rock Academy after dissolving the $11.5 million contract it had with Rite of Passage to operate the prison. The Red Rock Academy was the state’s only maximum security juvenile corrections center. It has been beset by problems throughout its 15-year history. This is the third time the state has closed the facility. Reno Gazette Journal

IA: IA House in full support of privatizing gun permit holders. A bill about the typically polarizing issue of firearm rights passed through the Iowa House of Representatives on Tuesday without any debate. The legislation has several parts. One of the largest components says personal information of gun permit holders will no longer be public record. KTIV

NJ: Protesters slam Christie policies at Statehouse rally. Trina Scordo, executive director of New Jersey Communities United, said the governor puts the needs of Wall Street ahead of the people of New Jersey. “Public schools continue to be taken over by charters and private money is funneled to private charter schools as opposed to making sure that public schools are solvent,” Scordo said. “He also just cut a sweetheart deal with Exxon that puts certainly the needs of Exxon ahead of the needs of those communities that were damaged by that deal.” Protesters from Camden and Newark say state-appointed public schools superintendents are not listening to residents’ concerns.

CA: Letter: For-profit option worsens our underfunded libraries. If present levels of service are too burdensome — that is, they present an unbearable tax load — what do these county officials think will happen to that service once private enterprise takes over? The aims of any profit-oriented business are to cut costs, including payrolls, and cut services to whatever minimal levels employees and the community will tolerate, in order to maximize profits. A commercially successful library system, properly run to serve investors, must necessarily pursue those ends, which would be achieved, again necessarily, at the expense of the people whom a public library system is intended to serve. Introducing the profit motive into what most aware observers see as an already underfunded system can only worsen it — by imposing the fees, charges, penalties and reductions in service required to make it pay. The Bakersfield Californian