June 15, 2015

 WI: This City Is Fighting Against Public School Privatization. As Governor Scott Walker’s state budget inches toward passage, parents, teachers and students are taking to the streets to oppose sections of the education budget, which include sweeping changes they say would effectively privatize many public schools while draining funding from others. . . .Diaz said he’s “worried the charters wouldn’t care for the students. MPS has to cater to every student, no matter how much help you need. When a charter comes in, they don’t have to offer that, so students will be neglected in the system, especially students with disabilities.” The parents and teachers marching beside Diaz echoed his concerns, pointing to recent cases of private schools in Milwaukee expelling struggling students after cashing their voucher checks. ThinkProgress

IN: Whistleblower says Indiana’s healthcare system risked mothers’ and babies’ lives for money. Dr. Judith Robinson says Indiana’s largest health network defrauded Indiana taxpayers to the tune of at least $100 million dollars. The claim is that IU Methodist clinics, HealthNet Clinics and MDWise all profited while providing less-than-adequate care for poor mothers—specifically ones with high-risk pregnancies. The U.S. government, with the help of Dr. Robinson, are suing. Daily Kos

VA: Virginia Motorists Fight Back Against Excessive Toll Road Fines. Toll road users who have been slapped with five-figure fines over transponder errors are hoping to convince the Virginia General Assembly to their cause. Toni Cooley and Lisa Comras are motorists who had valid E-ZPass accounts who found themselves in a high-profile legal battle with tolling giant Transurban. The Australian firm demanded over $10,000 in penalties from each when credit card errors failed to account for less than a dozen trips taken on the 495 Express Lanes outside of Washington DC. Although Virginia courts have, so far, sided with Cooley and Comras, they believe it is essential that the toll road fine statute be rewritten so that a private firm no longer has the right to set an “administrative fee” of $1000 for each alleged instance of failing to pay a $1 toll. The pair created the group Changing Lanes to advocate for reform. TheNewspaper.com

AZ: Privatizing federal lands back before board. Public land transfers would not include tribal lands, national parks or forest lands but mostly BLM lands. If transferred to state and local control, BLM land could be made available for private economic development and add to the county’s property tax revenue. Arizona and Mohave County voters rejected transferring federal lands to the state in the form of Proposition 120 in 2012 Mohave Valley

CT: Custodians cite grievances with school district as result of outsourcing. It’s been a year since the Norwalk Board of Education exercised a clause in the school custodians’ contract to outsource cleaning services to an outside vendor. School officials say the move has saved them a little over $200,000 this school year and has achieved “phenomenal” results. Custodians employed by the school district, however, say that work conditions are on the decline for them as a result. Thehour.com

IN: Opinion: Privatization needs skepticism. Then-Hoosier Lottery head Karl Browning said three years ago he could see “no scenario” in which the state could produce – on its own – the revenue and profits that a private vendor promised it could. Turns out that private firm – GTECH – couldn’t do it either. In fact, the company fell so far short of those promises that the Hoosier Lottery board on Friday revamped its contract – reducing GTECH’s financial goals significantly. In Fiscal Year 2016, for example, the company will no longer need to achieve $365 million in revenue for the state or face financial penalty. It will now be just $270 million. The Courier-Journal

OH:Ohio ignores online school F’s as it evaluates charter school overseers. It turns out that Ohio’s grand plan to stop the national ridicule of its charter school system is giving overseers of many of the lowest-performing schools a pass from taking heat for some of their worst problems. Gov. John Kasich and both houses of the state legislature are banking on a roundabout plan to improve a $1 billion charter school industry that, on average, fails to teach kids across the state as much as the traditional schools right in their own neighborhoods. But The Plain Dealer has learned that this plan of making charters better by rating their oversight agencies, known as sponsors or authorizers, is pulling its punches and letting sponsors off the hook for years of not holding some schools to high standards. The Plain Dealer

MI: New bills give and take away powers, and more. . . HB 4702-05: Require a cost study and public disclosure of the impact of privatizing state services, establish specific performance criteria for privatized state contracts, allow state workers to provide pre-privatization cost benefit analysis and prohibit bad corporate actors from being awarded state contracts. Detroit Free Press

CA: Mulligans Café May Lose Big in Privatization of Muni Links. . . Mulligans Café & Bar, which has been run by the Medina family for more than two decades, will likely become a casualty of the city’s move toward privatizing the upkeep of the golf course under a single management company, starting next year. That company would also oversee the onsite pro shop and restaurant. Santa Barbara Independent

AL: Privatization of Alabama’s liquor stores to get fresh look from lawmakers. Legislation to take the state out of the retail liquor business failed this year, but the idea is not dead. The new Alcoholic Beverage Control Reform Task Force will study the issue and outcomes in other states and report its recommendations by January. AL.com