July 7, 2015

Koch Brothers Believe National Parks Should Be Privatized. While many were celebrating with their families and enjoying festivities this weekend, an op-ed was published in the New York Times that made the case that the nation need not make any new parks. His reason: we cannot maintain the parks we have now. . . . It appears that, in order to address this growing problem, the Koch brothers are interested in privatizing the park systems. The author and co-author of the Times op-ed piece both work for the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). PERC is an organization interested in “property rights and environmental organization” and funded by none other than the Kochs. Ring of Fire

IL: Chicago Skyway up for sale: Report. Looking to buy a toll road? The long-term lease of the Chicago Skyway has gone up for sale, according to Reuters. The news agency reports that Spanish toll road investor Ferrovial and Australian investor Macquarie are offering their stakes in the toll road for sale to the highest bidder. Ferrovial is the parent company of Cintra. Cintra and Macquarie leased the 8-mile toll road in 2005, paying the city of Chicago $1.83 billion for the right to collect tolls and maintain the roadway through 2104. The Chicago Skyway was profitable in 2014 with revenue exceeding expenses by about $8 million. Land Line Magazine

FL: Fewer of tomorrow’s freeways will be free. Fewer of tomorrow’s freeways will be free. In exchange, drivers willing and able to pay to avoid the traffic congestion that bedevils everyone else. Toll lanes are an increasingly common solution in metropolitan regions with limited public space or money to widen highways. One increasingly popular idea is to convert carpool lanes to let solo drivers pay for a faster ride. In the future, non-carpool lanes might also be tolled. Florida Times-Union

LA: Legislative auditor: Medicaid privatization savings hard to nail down. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature Medicaid privatization program may be saving the state money, but it’s hard to tell for sure, the legislative auditor said Monday. . . The auditor recommended that the state health agency work with the Legislature to determine whether an independent actuary should be hired to determine if Bayou Health is saving the state money when compared with traditional Medicaid. Purpera’s office found flaws in some of the cost-savings reports the state health agency provided the Legislature. . . .Legislators have questioned cost savings in the past. The legislative auditor also has been critical of the information the health agency has provided, including an initial report largely based on data provided by the insurance companies involved in Bayou Health. The Advocate

NJ: Christie and his enablers jeopardize Liberty State Park – Editorial. When we last left the clash over Liberty State Park and its right to exist without some hideous commercial eyesore vandalizing its 600 pristine acres, it was trending unfavorably for the five million annual visitors who enjoy this hallowed ground in its present form. . . . Sweeney and Speaker Vincent Prieto have surrendered, essentially, with another bill that does not remove the Park from Christie’s crosshairs. No doubt, it makes significant improvements to the present law (environmental impact mandates, a public bidding process, and one measly day of public hearings), but it still gives authority to the MRC to “implement any plans” for development under the DEP. And that, indeed, has outraged park stewards and environmentalists who have made Liberty State Park an urban monolith without the help of some shopping mall architect… But this plan creates a legitimate fear that development could face few restraints. And now that the legislative fight seems lost, the public deserves to weigh in on projects, even if they’re not as large-scale as an amphitheater. Because the way this all started, the inherent distrust – in the process, in the governor, and in the lawmakers who enabled him – is wholly justified. The Star-Ledger