April 28, 2015


Report: Millions of dollars in fraud, waste found in charter school sector. A new report released on Tuesday details fraud and waste totaling more than $200 million of uncovered fraud and waste of taxpayer funds in the charter school sector, but says the total is impossible to know because there is not sufficient oversight over these schools. It calls on Congress to include safeguards in legislation being considered to succeed the federal No Child Left Behind law. Washington Post (blog)

Obamacare repeal efforts, Medicare privatization support waning. While a series of successive defeats may have tempered the resolve of many Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a small group of conservatives is pushing a new approach to fast track such efforts. And with a presidential election less than 18 months away, Republicans are reportedly losing their appetite to join Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) call to privatize Medicare. McKight’s.com

FL: The bad: Toll-road nonsense – opinion. If you had to sum up the history of Central Florida’s toll-road agency, it would look like this. Political cronies get appointed … tolls get raised … scandal ensues … repeat. That’s why we destroyed the old toll-road agency. So far, the newly reformed agency has been working. But now there’s a proposed scheme to take us back to the bad old days and replace elected toll-board members — who answer to voters — with more political appointees. The move comes from Tampa Republican Rep. Jamie Grant, who filed a bizarre, unrelated amendment that would punish elected officials who try to regulate ride-sharing companies such as Uber by removing them from the expressway board and replacing them with gubernatorial appointees. . . . Grant claims he’s simply trying to promote “free markets” and “transportation innovation.” (And here’s something rich: Uber’s lobbying firm, Ballard Partners, employs disgraced former legislator Chris Dorworth — the guy at the center of the most recent expressway scandal.) Orlando Sentinel

NJ: Liberty State Park group to hold ‘picnic protest’ in May. We hope people come to have picnics or just to hang out to make the statement that Liberty Park is for picnics, not privatization,” said Sam Pesin, president of the Friends of Liberty State Park. The concerns of the park’s large scale commercialization have arisen in recent months. Gov. Chris Christie recently signed a bill into law called the Hackensack Meadowlands Agency Consolidation Act, whose main purpose is to combine the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission into a new agency.  NJ.com

VA: Bonds to be Called for Cancelled Virginia Toll Road. The Route 460 Funding Corp. of Virginia plans to use extraordinary redemption provisions to call $293.3 million of revenue bonds now that the state has terminated the project. Bond Buyer ($)

OR: Laid-off school bus driver wins Oregon court ruling over outsourcing. Four years after losing her job to outsourcing, bus driver Stephanie Hicks will get a second chance to challenge the Central Point School District’s decision to lay off its own employees and hire a private contractor. The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled April 22 that the Medford-area school district violated state law by using an inadequate and improper process for evaluating potential cost savings. The ruling overturns a decision by the Jackson County Circuit Court and orders the lower court to reconsider the case “consistent with this opinion.” OregonLive.com

FL: Florida Town Sues Red Light Camera Vendor. Getting out of a red light camera contract can be difficult. Officials in Brooksville, Florida found this to be the case after a looming voter revolt encouraged the city council to scale back the automated ticketing program. Even though a local judge’s intervention to blocked a citizen-led referendum on the cameras, the city last week decided that it had to file a lawsuit against Sensys, a Swedish-controlled camera vendor, to bring automated ticketing to an end. TheNewspaper.com

MA: Boston School Bus Drivers Battle Racism and Privatization. . . The recent squeeze of the Boston School Bus Union is nothing new to Veolia. According to a recent report by local organizers, in the sector of transportation “Veolia has waged anti-union campaigns against bus drivers from San Francisco, Phoenix, Baltimore and Denver…refusing to honor the terms of union contracts, completely ignoring pre-established grievance and arbitration procedures. Since the arrival of Veolia in Boston, bus drivers’ wages, benefits and working conditions have only worsened. Veolia’s corporate strategy of divide and conquer includes union busting and worker intimidation.” (bostonschoolbus5.org) Dissident Voice

PA: Why Pennsylvania and Philly try to privatize the public things. Privatizing state-run services to outside corporations can bring in a fast influx of cash for ailing governments and can remove thousands of employees from future pension programs to save money down the road. But it’s a fix of the quickest sort: The cash brought in from selling them off runs dry, and less public support means, ultimately, less accountability and much less transparency. Here’s some of the services in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania that *could* be sold off to private companies, and what that might mean for the government and for you. Billy Penn

PA: Public education key issue in Philly mayoral race. . . The other front runner is former state senator Anthony Hardy Williams. While Williams, who is African American, comes from a family prominent in local Democratic Party politics, as a state senator he has supported the legislative efforts seen by many as designed to privatize and undermine Pennsylvania’s public education system. Williams has not shared this recent history in his publicity and advertising. The Williams campaign is heavily supported by the Susquehanna Group, an investment organization which has been a big contributor to the notorious Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. It has been widely rumored that Susquehanna is interested in turning public services into for-profit investment enterprises. Local media sources have reported that Susquehanna has given at least one million dollars to the Williams campaign.  People’s World