May 18, 2015


Private Water Industry Says Water Bills “Have to Go Up”. I was the only member of the press present at the Southeast Water Infrastructure Summit, a gathering hosted by the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), “the voice of the private water industry.” . . . But the topic that received the most attention was the nation’s patchwork of rapidly deteriorating municipal water systems, which are estimated to need more than $1 trillion worth of upgrades. This, water executives said, not only represented a historic opportunity for their businesses, but could also be used as leverage to finally convince Americans to cough up more money for their tap water. It is the classic Shock Doctrine approach – turning a social crisis into a financial shakedown. Truthout

Support Builds For Overhauling The US Air-Traffic Control System. Lawmakers have been trying to reform the Federal Aviation Administration and the country’s air traffic control system since the 1980s. Now, a new move to privatize the United States’ air-traffic control system is gaining momentum among some airlines, unions and lawmakers. But the idea is controversial. While people can agree there’s a problem with the current system, which is outmoded, costly and inefficient, not everyone agrees on a solution. . . . The air-traffic control system is designed for a smaller volume of flight traffic and hasn’t been able to modernize, Pasztor says, “so this may be a time where you could really have a significant chance of dramatically changing the way air traffic control is administered and modernized in the Unites States. Here And Now

Charter School “Flexibility” Linked to Major Failures. Arne Duncan is calling for a 48% increase in the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) quarter-billion-dollar-a-year ($253.2 million) program designed to create, expand, and replicate charter schools—an initiative repeatedly criticized by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for suspected waste and inadequate financial controls. . . . CMD’s review of state applications for the federal charter schools program shows that, in some cases, states are rewarded precisely because they lack statutory authority to hold charter school and their authorizers accountable as these states tend to score high on one of the rubrics used to evaluate applications: “flexibility offered by state law.” But grant applications are also judged based on the degree of “authorizer accountability” afforded by the state. How does this paradox play out in practice? PR Watch

Opinion: Privatize our public lands? No way!. . . Although legal scholars have declared land transfer schemes unconstitutional and economists have pointed out that states do not have the resources to responsibly manage these lands, the idea continues to gain momentum in the highest reaches of our government. The US Senate recently signaled its support for the “disposal” of America’s public lands, and Sen. Ted Cruz is making the sale of public lands a cornerstone of his presidential campaign. Invigorated by this type of support, a Utah State politician has gone on the road to peddle the snake oil. At least two cash strapped Oregon counties – Klamath and Wallowa – have ponied up taxpayer funds to support the endeavor. Clackamas County has thrown its hat into the ring with a statement of support. Lest you be worried there isn’t big money behind the effort, Americans for Prosperity is there as well!   Regator

Senate Pilot Project Would Privatize Some Military Base Commissaries. At least five military commissaries would be privatized under a two-year pilot program proposed in a Senate version of the 2016 defense budget unveiled Thursday. . . . Congress is eyeing benefits such as commissaries, pay and retirement for ways to reduce military personnel costs — a move that has riled troops and military service groups. . . .The group Veterans of Foreign Wars came out strongly against the Senate proposal, which follows a year of debate over cuts to the stores.

CA: Library union illustrates their opposition to privatization. “The Privatization Beast” is a story of a community coming together to support public services. The beast made an appearance Saturday at the Beale Memorial Library. People who frequently use our libraries are opposed outsourcing libraries to a private company. That’s an option as county supervisors look for ways to trim the budget. “I think it’ll definitely put the word out to people that don’t really realize the negative impacts in privatization and they’ll definitely be able to get a little more information about how that’s going to effect their community,” said Jair Romero, library supporter. Kern Golden Empire

NC: As other cities protest, Charlotte leaders quietly accept terms of I-77 toll lane deal. While there has been a growing furor over the noncompete clause in the state’s contract to build toll lanes on Interstate 77, the city of Charlotte has stayed on the sidelines and hasn’t criticized the project. . . . The N.C. Department of Transportation said Thursday it’s moving forward with the project’s May 27 financial close with the developer, I-77 Mobility Partners. The controversy is over a 50-year noncompete clause that’s part of the contract. After the toll lanes are finished in 2018, the DOT would likely have to pay the developer compensation if it builds new free lanes on the highway. Charlotte Observer

NC: Pro-privatization money behind bills to boost N.C. charter schools. Charter schools have experienced rapid growth in North Carolina in recent years after state lawmakers lifted a cap limiting their numbers. Now the General Assembly is considering legislation that could boost the finances of the schools, which are public but independently run — increasingly by private, for-profit companies — and don’t have to adhere to all the regulations that apply to traditional public schools. Charters have a mixed record on academic achievement and have been shown to lead to increased segregation. Facing South

IA: Iowans rally to keep mental health institutions open. Two of Iowa’s four state-run mental health institutions are set to close in six months.Dozens gathered in Mount Pleasant today to protest the governor’s decision to privatize mental health care. . . . Protestors on Saturday had the support of Senator Thomas Courtney. He says he is pushing to change this at the capitol. “This is a mental health thing and it’s quality of care. The care here happens to be excellent and it happens to be organized labor, but the point of the matter is we need good care for Iowans who need mental health,” said the senator. If doors close, the biggest fear is that patients will wind up in prison and not get the care they need. KWQC-TV6