Monthly Archives: March 2011

Study Says Charter Network Has Financial Advantages Over Public Schools

Source: Sam Dillon, New York Times, March 31, 2011

Most charter schools receive less government money for each student, on average, than traditional public schools. But the KIPP network, one of the fastest-growing and most academically successful charter groups, has received more taxpayer dollars per student than regular public schools, according to a new study, which also noted that KIPP receives substantial amounts of private philanthropic money. KIPP officials disputed the report by Western Michigan University researchers, saying it significantly overstates the amount per student that the network receives from both public and private sources.

Suburban officials discuss sharing services

Source: Dean Narciso, Columbus Dispatch, March 31, 2011

Spurred by the desire to contain costs, a group of seven townships and cities – including Dublin, Grove City, Hilliard, Upper Arlington and Worthington – met yesterday to brainstorm setting up a joint communications center for their police and fire agencies. But some agencies that already handle dispatching for several jurisdictions weren’t invited.

Ariz. economic growth messages: Ethics, education

Source: Paul Davenport, Associated Press, March 29, 2011

Arizona Commerce Authority leaders on Tuesday put its board members on notice that they won’t tolerate self-dealing within the new quasi-private economic development agency.

Some of the business leaders serving on the board that oversees the authority then presented their own message to Gov. Jan Brewer and legislative leaders at the head-end of the table: cuts in education funding will hurt the authority’s ability to deliver jobs through corporate expansions and relocations.
Updated:
Commerce Authority head Cardon getting big raise from taxpayers
Source: Elvina Nawaguna-Clemente, Cronkite News Service, August 31, 2011
Officials say ACA teleconference call meets open meeting law
Source: Jeremy Duda, Arizona Capitol Times, September 6, 2011
(subscription required)
Arizona Commerce Authority spending $40,000 per month on new private offices
Source: Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix Business Journal Friday, September 2, 2011,

New transportation bill has public-private option

Source: Joe Vardon, Columbus Dispatch, March 31, 2011

The state can use private dollars to help pay for public road and other infrastructure projects, thanks to the $6.8 billion transportation bill that Gov. John Kasich signed into law during a public ceremony yesterday. House Bill 114, which cleared the Senate unanimously and passed along party lines in the GOP-controlled House last week, allows for a private entity to partially or fully fund construction costs for a public infrastructure project. In turn, private groups that partner with the Department of Transportation on projects can reap profits through interest payments from the state, toll collections or other user fees.

Emanuel, Preckwinkle unveil city-county committee

Source: Charles Thomas, WLS ABC-7, March 29, 2011

(CHICAGO) In an effort to cut budgets, Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle appointed a committee to look at consolidating some government services.

The six member committee will study ways one government can use the other’s services to relieve stresses on their respective budgets to end duplicate services by the county and city.

This is damning evidence of the dangers of handing control of public services to private firms

Source: Rob Edwards, Sunday Herald, 27 March 2011

A massive £4.8 billion of public money is being paid to multinational corporations to run water-works that are plagued with breakdowns and pollution, an investigation by the Sunday Herald has revealed. Internal reports from Scottish Water lay bare for the first time the scandal of contracts signed under the private finance initiative (PFI) backed by Labour and Conservative governments.

The problems at PFI plants across Scotland have been so serious that Scottish Water has been pushing to take them back into public ownership. It has also paid out more than £100 million extra to try to rectify some of the faults…According to the Scottish Water documents, the sewage plants they inherited when the organisation was formed in 2002 cost nearly £600m in capital costs. Contracts to run them cover periods of between 25 and 40 years and are costing around £130m a year, giving an overall cost to the public purse of £4.8 billion….THE private firms have defended their operations, and insisted that problems are being tackled. Saur, the £1.2bn French multinational that operates Dalmuir, said that it had made “extra substantial investments”. And the £10bn French group Veolia Water said it had invested in the Seafield plant since it took over operations in 2007.

Spending utility ratepayer money: Not always linked to services, decision process inconsistent

Source: City of Portland, City Auditor’s Office, Audit Services Division, Report 398, March 30, 2011

An audit of the Bureau of Environmental Services’ and Water Bureau’s use of ratepayer money.

The budgets of the Water Bureau and BES are almost entirely supported by utility rates, fees, and bond proceeds. The combined capital and operating spending of the two bureaus will be approximately $478 million in FY 2010-11. The Water Bureau supplies domestic water to residents of the Portland area and serves approximately 900,000 people. BES provides sanitary sewer service to approximately 576,000 residents, numerous commercial and industrial facilities, and several wholesale contract customers.

While the vast majority of spending is directly related to water and sewer services, the audit found that some spending of ratepayer money is not consistent with the planning, budget, and rate setting process, and it is not always clear how these items are directly related to providing water and sewer services. Without following the rigorous and comprehensive public budget process required of all City bureaus, the use of ratepayer money may not be transparent to the public or support utility-related purposes. The City’s budget process is designed to allow open discussion of spending priorities, and in doing so, it creates a public record of City decisions, helps to hold decision-makers accountable, and fosters the public’s confidence in City government.

Hospital Deals Are Abundant, And Not Always Welcomed

Source: Christopher Chung, Shasha Dai and Beina Xu, Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2011

RegionalCare Hospital Partners, which signed a letter of intent to buy a Rhode Island hospital in February, has made an unsolicited offer to run Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Wyoming. RegionalCare, backed by Warburg Pincus LLC, is one of several private equity-owned chains seeking to expand….Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn., spent about five years looking for ways to deal with its capital constraints, as well as the future pressures health-care reform could bring. After an arduous process, it finally found its answer in LHP Hospital Group, which provides capital and expertise to non-profit hospitals and is backed by CCMP Capital Advisors and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board….Cerberus Capital Management LP-owned Steward Health Care System LLC made a $1.1 billion offer to buy troubled Miami-area public hospital operator Jackson Health System, which provides indigent and charity care. Steward didn’t get a response to its non-binding letter of interest to the hospital’s oversight commission, the Public Health Trust.

Walker’s budget would end mandate on studying contractor costs

Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel Blog, March 29, 2011

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal eliminates a state law requiring state agencies to study the costs and benefits of outsourcing work. Current law says agencies must compare the costs of having private contractors do work costing more than $25,000 against what it would cost to have state workers do the job. Speaking to members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee Tuesday, Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said that the law was cumbersome and required an analysis of contractor costs to be done even in cases where state workers couldn’t do the work.

Related:
State’s outsourcing cost-benefit law targeted
Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, March 29, 2011

Legislature wants to privatize prisons, probation officers

Source: Marc Caputo, Herald/Times, March 28, 2011

The Legislature wants to hand over control of prisons and probation services to private companies. The Senate’s plan is the most extreme and unexpected. In what could signal a massive private takeover of public prisons, the Florida Senate quietly slipped language into its newly proposed budget Monday that seeks to give corporations the chance to run correctional facilities and probation services in 18 counties

The move — which could shift nearly $600 million to private firms — surprised prison guards, their unions and even the head of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee, Mike Fasano, who said his committee was opposed to the idea of privatizing prisons when it was proposed by Gov. Rick Scott’s aides….

…The budget language doesn’t appear to favor any one vendor although a leading contender is GEO Group, whose healthcare arm, GEO Care, has contributed at least $126,000 to state parties and candidates since 2009.

The House’s proposed budget, released Friday, takes a far more measured approach to privatizing probation and prisons. It calls for a private operator to run the facilities and services in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Those two counties are included in the Senate’s plan, which seeks to privatize services all the way north to Manatee County.
Updated:
Budget will package health-care, prison privatization in South Florida
Source: Orlando Sentinel, May 3, 2011
Corrections chief: Private prisons, Whoa Nellie!
Source: Darryl E. Owens, Orlando Sentinel, June 15, 2011