October 26, 2012


Public or Private: The Fight Over the Future of Water

In an article published Oct. 24 in Nature, Fredrick Kaufman, author of Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food, describes what he calls “Wall Street’s thirst for water” — the push to turn water into a commodity like food, with the same instruments that produced the mortgage-backed security collapse and 2008 financial crisis. At risk, says Kaufman, are the 80 percent of humanity already threatened by water shortages and everyone who depends on a stable, affordable supply of life’s essential ingredient.  Wired

Voters in Three States Take on Traffic Cameras

The issue of red light cameras and speed cameras is heating up at the ballot box. Residents in in five cities in California, Texas and Washington state have battled for the right to have a say in whether automated ticketing machines are installed in their community. The November 6 results could raise to 25 the total number of municipalities nationwide that prohibit cameras…..Elsewhere, photo ticketing companies and city leaders fought the ballot measures at every step of the way. In League City, Texas, Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia turned to the courts in an attempt to thwart the vote. City officials did succeed in re-writing the text of the initiative so that the ban would not take effect until 2014. As a result, campaign mailers recently hit residents’ mailboxes targeting the councilmen who support Redflex.  The Newspaper

Head of major university group weighs in on university leadership crisis

Hunter R. Rawlings III, president of  the Association of American Universities speaks on the leadership crisis at the Univ of Virginia and across universities: ….We must recognize that the more universities divorce themselves from the state financially, intellectually, and culturally, the more they precipitate the malign trend towards the privatization and instrumentalization of education in this country. Thomas Jefferson created a vision of public higher education as an indispensable component of democracy. He was right to do so, and now that practically everyone needs a college education to be a contributing citizen, it is more important than ever. As many governors and legislators make the case that higher education is not a public good, but a private interest, we aid and abet that argument by using the language of privatization ourselves. I think we should be making the most cogent case possible for our public universities to be truly public.   Washington Post

There Are Better Way Than Parent Trigger to Improve Education – opinion

Parent trigger laws pretend to meet the very real need for more and better opportunities for parents to work alongside teachers and other community members to help improve schools. But often these laws put forward charter schools as the solution—despite the lack of evidence that charters as a whole outperform traditional public schools, and without providing for real and lasting parent and community participation in reform. In doing so, they take some of our most important local institutions out of the public sphere and entrust them to private charter management organizations that lack transparency. And we advance a larger agenda of privatization that threatens to undermine hard-won victories in the areas of civil rights, workers’ rights, and good government.  U.S. News & World Report

CO: Pinnacol Assurance holds off on privatization push

Pinnacol Assurance’s privatization effort is on hold until at least 2014, said Ken Ross, president and CEO. The state-chartered workers’ compensation insurer, which writes policies for 57 percent of the state’s businesses, caused controversy during the 2012 legislative session. First, it announced it wanted to privatize itself despite business leaders’ skepticism. Later, Pinnacol revealed it spent $3.5 million on legal, lobbying and public relations efforts. Negative reaction to that spending caused Pinnacol to shut down its efforts to buy its way from under state control. Denver Business Journal

FL: Tolls upon tolls? Florida’s Turnpike express-lane plan gets nod

A plan to add variable tolls to part of Florida’s Turnpike — already a toll road — was put into a higher gear on Thursday. With a 12-1 vote, Miami-Dade commissioners, mayors and other elected county officials…endorsed a plan to add variable toll express lanes to segments of the Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike….But Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, who was the only one to vote against the project, said the plan was unfair to commuters. “They are taking away a regular lane from the commuters,” Barreiro said. “It’s a toll within a toll and I don’t like that concept. It takes from the regular commuters who are already paying a toll. It’s like double taxation.” Miami Herald ‎