Category Archives: Infrastructure

Rebuilding Downtown From the Ground Up

Source: Susan Diesenhouse, New York Times, April 5, 2011

QUINCY, Mass. — Barring a catastrophe, few cities get the chance to totally rebuild their downtowns, from the sewer lines deep underground to the sidewalks, buildings, parks and lighting above. But an unusual public-private partnership is allowing this city of 91,000, first settled in the early 17th century and famed as the hometown of the Adams presidents, to try to do just that.

The city has approved plans to raze most of its 50-acre center and replace it with $289 million in new infrastructure and $1.3 billion of new private housing, retail, offices, entertainment, hotels and parking. The private builder, Street-Works Development of White Plains, will pay for the public improvements upfront.

Once Street-Works installs the utilities, roadways, parking and landscaping; builds a number of new buildings and leases 50 to 75 percent of the space, the city will assume responsibility for the infrastructure bill by selling general obligations bonds. Some income from the property will flow to the city to cover interest on the debt, amortize the principal and generate extra money for city coffers.

Crumbling Infrastructure, Crumbling Democracy: Infrastructure Privatization Contracts and Their Effects on State and Local Governance

Source: Ellen Dannin, Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy, Vol. 6, Winter 2011

From the abstract:
Key arguments for privatizing public infrastructure range from providing money so cash-strapped governments can fix crumbling infrastructure and build much needed new infrastructure to shifting future financial risk from the public to a private contractor. The reality, though, is far different. Provisions commonly found in infrastructure privatization contracts make the public the guarantor of private contractors’ expected revenues. Indeed, were it not for provisions that protect contractors from diminution of their expected returns, the contracts would be far shorter and much less complex. An effect of those contract provisions is to give private contractors a quasi-governmental status with power over new laws, judicial decisions, propositions voted on by the public, and other government actions that a contractor claims will affect toll roads and revenues. Giving private contractors such a role may well violate the non-delegation doctrine that bars private entities from exercising power that is inherently governmental.

This Article examines the operation and effects of three provisions that are commonly found in infrastructure contracts: (1) compensation events; (2) noncompetition provisions; and (3) the contractor’s right to object to and receive compensation for legislative, administrative, and judicial decisions. The operation of these provisions gives private contractors power over decisions that affect the public interest and are normally made by public officials and subject to oversight, disclosure, and accountability–none of which apply to private contractors. The existence and operation of these provisions have gone virtually unexamined and undiscussed. Rather, discussions about infrastructure privatization have been narrowly focused on tolls, reflexive pro- or anti- private or public provisions, and spending or investment decisions on up-front payments.

Finally, this Article places infrastructure privatization in the larger context of funding and building infrastructure for the future. It identifies and critiques substantive and procedural issues that must be resolved if we are to have the high quality infrastructure necessary to meet this nation’s needs and further its goals and if we are to achieve those goals by an open and democratic process.

The Changing Face of Infrastructure: Public Sector Perspectives

Source: KPMG, Feb. 2, 2010

 

…. The survey strongly supports the increased involvement of the private sector, which is likely to help in delivering additional infrastructure more effectively. Increased private sector involvement is not a total solution and the public sector should also bear responsibility for how it leverages the private sector to best add value.

The Push to Privatize PEMEX

Source: By Jessica Pupovac, In These Times, May 12, 2008

Deputies from Mexico’s revolutionary Democratic Party (PrD) were protesting an initiative to privatize the state-run oil company Petroleos mexicanos (Pemex) on April 14.
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Halliburton is licking its chops at the prospect of Mexico’s state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos going private.

Petróleos Mexicanos, or PEMEX, withstood a tsunami of privatizations of formerly state-owned companies in the late 1980s and ’90s. But now, with pro-business President Felipe Calderón in office, the effort is being revisited — and the Mexican left is coming out en masse to defend the 70-year-old company, a long-time source of national pride and a symbol of Mexican sovereignty.