May 8, 2015


Privatizing Clean Energy Development Is Putting Lipstick on a Pig. . . Privatizing clean energy development and replacing oil barrens with clean energy barrens repeats the mistakes of the past and concentrates wealth and resources into the hands of just a few. Increased concentration of wealth is poisoning our economy and our communities and a sustainable future cannot be built on this model. If Governor Cuomo has his way, New York State will be the prime example of what not to do. Huffington Post

Social Security Privatization: Then and Now. About this time 10 years ago, it was becoming clear that President George Bush’s plan to forever change Social Security by turning the program over to Wall Street was on the ropes. . . It was an incredibly risky and unpopular idea that rapidly flat-lined thanks to the overwhelming rejection by the public. Yet, here we are a decade later and conservatives campaigning for Congress and the White House are resuscitating the Bush strategy by offering up approaches to Social Security which are stark reminders that the GOP playbook really hasn’t changed that much. Huffington Post

Jails Are a Cash Cow for the Rich – Thom Hartmann. . . A 15-minute phone call that used to cost just a few bucks soon started costing as much as $17 . . .Of course, while prisoners struggled to find a way to talk to their loved ones without breaking the bank, the phone companies got – and have stayed – very, very rich. The prison phone service industry now rakes in around $1.2 billion every year. And it’s not just the phone companies that are getting rich off prisoners’ phone calls. Thanks to so-called “commissions” that can account for as much as 94 percent of the cost of a call, prison phone contracts have become a major source of revenue for state and local governments all across the country. These glorified kickbacks have also become a source of revenue for prisons themselves, and they use them to pay for the health care and food services they’re already constitutionally required to provide. Truth-Out

CT: Unprecedented Charter School Lobbying Effort Prompts Some To Ask: Where Is The Money Coming From? When the state legislature’s appropriations committee voted recently to eliminate a proposal by Gov. Dannel Malloy to fund two new charter schools, advocacy organizations that lobby at the state Capitol were ready. They had a television ad all set to air within 24 hours, aimed at getting that money back in the budget. . . . Why is so much money being spent? Experts say that investors in the charter movement include some donors who are deeply interested in educational reform and excited by the experimental, entrepreneurial approach taken by charter schools. Other backers, including some hedge fund operators, may see the chance for financial gain: there is money to be made from real estate and construction deals, in curriculum materials, and educational technology. Hartford Courant

LA: The ‘Privatization’ Agenda, New Orleans Edition. . . Don’t let the term “nonprofit” fool you. A nonprofit charter management org (CMO) can take public money, including federal grants, and draw money from private entities—including hedge funders, who are known for seeking profitable opportunities, and philanthropists who prefer charters. Since the CMO is not operated by the state, it can escape the same state oversight that traditional school districts undergo. . . . In Louisiana, I could open up a charter school and run it for three years before the state might possibly step in and close me down. All I need is to have a D letter grade at the end of three years. And the state still reserves the right to allow me to stay in business even if I don’t meet that. So, for three years, I can take state money, pay myself a huge salary, ignore the needs of kids, get an F school grade, be shut down, and shrug it off. No state money to pay back. I can even reinvent myself and try again in Louisiana or apply in another state and try my game all over again.  Education Week

NC: State parks proposal highlights the ongoing march to vending machine government. . . .Today, the folks at a local conservative think tank were only too happy to confirm the warning by distributing an essay in which they called for making North Carolina parks “pay their own way” via the initiation of an admission fee system. After that, of course, will come proposals to sell “naming rights” to state parks (get ready for “Duke Energy Park at Umstead” or “the Smithfield Foods Park on the Eno River”) and then, of course, the big kahuna: full privatization. The Progressive Pulse

NC: Demonstrators rally on I-77 overpass. Motorists shouted and honked their horns in support May 1 as they cruised past the long line of demonstrators pumping signs into the air from the median of the Catawba Avenue overpass at Exit 28 on Interstate 77. “We’re here because we’re vehemently against tolls,” said Vallee Bubak of Davidson. . . . Cintra, a transportation project developer based in Spain, has been awarded the contract to design, build and manage the express lanes. The total cost is $655 million. NCDOT and the federal government will fund approximately $88 million of the project, according to the site, while Cintra will cover the balance. Approximately $13 billion in tolls are expected to be collected on I-77 over the course of the 50-year contract with Cintra. Huntersville Herald

IL: Riot Fest and Public-Private Partnerships. . .The idea is that a municipal government is the arbiter deciding which private contractors get contracts to take on city operations. In many cases – some of the most lucrative contracts go to people who make campaign donations to the gatekeepers. Typically, those gatekeepers and gatecrashers never speak of this as quid pro quo.. . . “Due to the economic benefits Riot Fest brings to many 26th Ward businesses, the hundreds of thousands of dollars Riot Fest has donated to ward charities, our support in his re-election and, more importantly, job creation in a ward that has sorely lacked new job development, the alderman and Riot Fest have been on the same page in shining a positive light on our culturally rich and magnetic neighborhood,” Petryshyn said. Petryshyn’s honesty is not something you see from other clouted business owners in Chicago (which is probably a big factor in how they remain clouted). Huffington Post