November 14, 2012


Phony school “reform” agenda takes a beating

The media barely noticed, but voters in three states rejected the profit-driven fraud that is education “reform”.  Salon

Enrollment in Charter Schools Is Increasing

In some cities, including Detroit, St, Louis and particularly New Orleans, charter schools enroll a significant proportion of the district’s students.  New York Times

The conservative push for prison reform

Nor is this a case of corporate cronyism. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which drafts model legislation for conservative state legislatures and is a newfound supporter of prison reform, does not receive support from any prison privatization companies, and has renounced its previous support for privatization measures.  Washington Post

MI: Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept considering privatization

Dozens of Detroit residents spoke out in opposition of proposed restructuring within the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. A public hearing was held today to get the public’s input on a $48 million no-bid contract for consulting services. Residents fear that savings will come at the cost of quality and jobs, a trade-off those in attendance were not willing to make. Arguments ranged from the allegations that EMA Inc. lowers quality of water and services to the need to create jobs and not eliminate them – to the argument that the department can fix itself. WXYZ

FL:  Editorial: Florida privatization runs off the rails again

Another state agency, another privatization scheme off the rails. The account of how the Florida Division of Blind Services has failed to monitor the agency’s private vendors is just one more example for Republican Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who has been trying to bring sensible reform to the state’s privatization spree. Privatization only works well when the agency doing the hiring writes strong, service-oriented contracts and state employees provide effective oversight. Anything less is just government misfeasance.  Tampa Bay Times

PA: Hughes Questions Proposal to Privatize Lottery Management

“The Pennsylvania Lottery is an efficiently and effectively run agency that funds critical services that benefit Pennsylvania seniors.  The overall question is, why would the governor propose a privatization plan that potentially threatens to siphon off dollars intended to help seniors and pay them to a private contractor instead?” said Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny).- “The harsh reality is that moving into such a long-term contract as the governor has outlined would be the same as signing the mortgage to senior programs over to a private company for the next generation.”

NY: Suffering on LI as Power Agency Shows Its Flaws

Trying to fend off attacks on his oversight of the Long Island Power Authority, Gov. Cuomo on Tuesday established a high-level panel, called a Moreland Commission, to investigate how utilities across New York, including the authority, handled Hurricane Sandy and other storms. He also revived a proposal that he made in his 2010 campaign to combine the authority with other state energy agencies, but has not ruled out privatizing the authority. “I don’t believe you can fix it,” he said. “I believe it has to be overhauled and you need a new system.” New York Times

VA: Tolls on I-64 can’t replace a true solution for state roads – opinion

It seems every strategy to build new highways and tunnels in our region includes tolls. Now the state – never accused of showing munificence to Hampton Roads – is floating a proposal to toll Interstate 64 between Hampton and Richmond. Oh, goody. Soon enough, our transponders will activate after we exit our driveways or subdivisions; maybe even both. It’s getting ridiculous.  The Virginian-Pilot

VA: MWAA to vote on rates increases for Dulles Toll Road

The board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is expected to vote Wednesday to raise fees on the Dulles Toll Road. The toll increases, which have been expected, are needed in part to fund construction of the Dulles Rail extension. Washington Post




November 13, 2012T


TX: Texans call for boycott of first foreign-owned toll road

Today marks the first day Spanish toll operator, Cintra, starts charging Texas commuters tolls to use SH 130. San Antonio-based Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) and Austin-based Texans for Accountable Government (TAG) object to Texas’ first foreign-owned toll road, especially since SH 130 is part of the original Trans Texas Corridor TTC-35 (see it here). Though Cintra invented an innocuous sounding name, like the SH 130 Concession Company, make no mistake, a Spanish company, Cintra, controls and operates SH 130 for the next HALF CENTURY — and some say it represents a multi-generational theft of public assets.

TX:  Death revives questions about high-speed toll road

A Lockhart woman was killed on the Texas 130 toll road in what is believed to be the first fatality since the corridor’s new segment opened last month with an 85 mph speed limit. Houston Chronicle

WA: Charter Schools Narrowly Win Approval in Washington State

Initiative 1240, the measure that will allow 40 charter schools to open in Washington state, has passed.  Seattle Times

GA: Georgia Legislative Caucus to Join Lawsuit against Charter School Amendment

Georgia voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that will allow a state committee to authorize charter schools, but some legislators and educators are not dropping their fight to stop it.  Augusta Chronicle

PA: Power to the people – opinion

Citizens of Allentown should think twice before privatizing their water supply. Publicly owned utilities are accountable to the public that owns them. When you privatize them, you hand them over to an unaccountable board that cares about shareholders not the people. Look at how privately owned utilities work: PPL has allowed my family to freeze for four days after Superstorm Sandy. When I called, I was told to make alternate arrangements (on my dollar), which is the equivalent of saying, “Let them eat cake.” Being a virtual monopoly, PPL could take its sweet time restoring power to thousands across the Valley and do pitifully little to prevent a repeat of this event. Allentown Morning Call

VA:  State panel seeks ‘truth’ about the port’s finances

Against the backdrop of the possible privatization of the port of Hampton Roads, a state panel has asked the General Assembly’s oversight agency to take a close look at three recent studies of the port’s performance to make sure they’re presenting a fair picture. The request comes amid a morass of conflicting data about how the port is faring financially. The Virginian-Pilot

VA: Virginia studies toll options for I-64 from Richmond to Hampton

The Virginia Department of Transportation is studying whether to toll some or all of the lanes on Interstate 64 between Richmond and Hampton to pay for widening the corridor. Truckers can sound off on the proposal during three scheduled hearings in December or in writing through Jan. 7, 2013. VDOT has put forward three alternatives for the proposal, starting with a “no build” alternative. The other two alternatives involve tolls – one that would toll all lanes of traffic in both directions, and one that would toll only the new lanes being added. Land Line



November 8, 2012


MI: Michigan Kills Emergency Manager Law

Voters repeal a unique, controversial law that gave state-appointed officials broad powers in struggling cities and school districts. Voters repealed Public Act 4, the law enacted by the state legislature last year, which allowed the state’s “emergency managers” to take over powers held by mayors and other locally elected officials. Emergency managers could pass ordinances, sell property, and make changes to labor contracts in struggling cities and school districts.  Governing

OH: Privatized prison in Ohio gets 2nd chance at audit

State prison officials in Ohio began a two-day inspection Wednesday of the lakeshore prison that became the nation’s first privately owned state prison last year, checking on whether dozens of safety, health and security issues uncovered in a recent audit have been fixed. Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America was rebuked by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for conditions identified in a September audit of Lake Erie Correctional Facility, in Conneaut in northern Ohio. The audit report said cells were dirty, inmates lacked clean laundry and blankets and sometimes beds and pots and pans weren’t clean. It said doors were standing open and some keys can’t be found.  Business Week

Teachers Unions Notch Big Election Wins On State Education Votes

Teachers unions won several big victories in both red and blue states Tuesday, overturning laws that would have eliminated tenure in Idaho and South Dakota, defeating a threat to union political work in California, and ousting a state schools chief in Indiana who sought to fundamentally remake public education. The night didn’t belong entirely to big labor; advocates of charter schools, which are typically non-union, scored a win in Georgia and looked likely to prevail in a tough fight in Washington state.  Huffington Post