November 19, 2012


FL: Privatizing of Prison Health Care Leads to 2,000 Layoffs in Florida

Nearly 2,000 state workers are being displaced from Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s administration because of the nation’s biggest outsourcing of prison health care. “Due to the outsourcing of this function, your position will be deleted,” reads a dryly worded dismissal notice from the Department of Corrections, sent to 1,890 state employees in the past two weeks. The Department of Corrections signed a $230 million contract with Corizon Healthcare of Nashville to provide all health care in central and north Florida prisons and is negotiating contract terms with Wexford Health Sources of Pittsburgh to take over health care in nine South Florida prisons for $48 million a year.  Miami Herald

FL: Close look shows state GOP was just badly out of touch

While the Legislature declared war on the welfare state and those collecting unemployment, its actions also targeted our public employees. During the 2010, 2011 and 2012 sessions, bills were introduced to privatize prisons, potentially putting thousands of corrections officers out of work with no proof of any cost savings; to drastically change healthcare and pension benefits for existing state employees; to tie teacher pay to student performance with no regard to the makeup of the classroom and with no funding source to offer merit pay; and to dictate to our police and firefighters what they can contribute to through a check-off on paychecks.  Sun-Sentinel

TX: Getting There: For roads, free can also mean late

So this is the math: We can have toll roads, which toll drivers in perpetuity and cost more upfront — since contractors, looking at the financial risk involved with those penalties, tend to submit higher construction bids — but that are completed quickly. Or we can have roads with no tolls that are built much more slowly and at a lower cost with tax dollars. On the one hand, that trade-off has cost commuters an extra year of going through stoplights at U.S. 290 and MoPac. But on the other hand, they’ll never pay a toll to drive over those bridges when they’re done. That might be good math.  Austin American-Statesman

TX: FBI probes Dallas County IT contract, payments to County Commissioner

A $43 million computer outsourcing contract that created a costly mess for taxpayers has come back to haunt longtime Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. Price got large sums from his political consultant, Kathy Nealy, while she received payments from an IT firm he was instrumental in hiring, FBI agents say. The contract is linked to the FBI’s criminal investigation of Price, who cast the deciding vote for Schlumberger Ltd.’s bid for the county’s business.  Dallas Morning News

NJ: Not happy with JCP&L after Sandy, towns explore starting their own power utilities

Several municipalities have looked into creating their own public utilities after JCP&L took weeks, in some cases, to restore power lost because of Hurricane Sandy, officials from Madison and Butler said. Officials from the two Morris County towns have said their residents got electricity back days after the storm because they operate their own utilities. The officials also said employees and elected representatives from neighboring towns asked them how they could start their own municipally-run power services.

CA: Toll jolts Los Angeles motorists

But one of the symbols of the American freeway — Interstate 110, which runs, or rather crawls, across central Los Angeles — is free no more. At precisely 10 p.m. Nov. 10, motorists faced a toll of up to $15.40 for the privilege of driving an 11-mile stretch of express lanes between Gardena and downtown Los Angeles. This is the first toll in the history of Los Angeles County, a passage, as it were, and a jarring experience for a part of the country that has long celebrated the primacy of automobiles, not to mention the first syllable of the word “freeway.” “I’ve been living here my whole life,” said S. Masani Jackson, as she waited on a 30-person line to buy the transponder required to enter the exclusive lanes. “And I have never had to pay for the 110 Freeway. It’s ridiculous.”  Bend Bulletin

Wall Street Uses the Third Way to Lead Its Assault on Social Security

Third Way, lobbyists for and from Wall Street who are leading the effort to enrich Wall Street by privatizing Social Security, was created by Wall Street to fool some of the people all of the time. Third Way is run by a man who Laursen terms an “acolyte” of Pete Peterson.  Peterson is a Republican, Wall Street billionaire who has two priorities – imposing austerity on America and privatizing Social Security.  Privatizing Social Security is Wall Street’s unholy grail.  They would receive hundreds of billions of dollars in fees and ensure that their firms were not only “too big to fail,” but “too big to criticize” if they could profit from a privatized retirement system. Truth Out

Looking Beyond Hurricane Sandy

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the media documented the vulnerabilities of metro-New York’s underlying infrastructure of electrical power, roadways and fuel delivery. Many people suffered and died as a consequence of widespread system failures. One component of the infrastructure that took it on the chin was the telecom system, especially wireless services. Telco service disruptions were reported in 158 counties and 10 states stretching from Maine to Virginia….The long-term crisis facing America’s communications system is rooted in the telco and cable companies’ effort to deregulate and privatize the public network. Their efforts are aimed at ending communications services as a public utility and turning it into a pay-for-usage private service. This strategy is designed to increase telecom corporate profits. The consequences of this strategy are alarming: it will end net neutrality and an open Internet, erode services for poor and rural Americans, and further compromise the nation’s long-term economic prospects.  Counterpunch

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