On Nov. 21, members of the Teamsters Union and Atlanta Jobs with Justice protested Bill Gates at Georgia Tech, where the billionaire addressed more than one thousand students and faculty. The protesters called attention to Republic Services’ environmental destruction and mistreatment of employees. Gates is the primary owner of Republic Services, the second largest waste company in North America….Republic/Allied Waste earns exorbitant profits through operating greenhouse gas-emitting landfills, is profiting from fracking operations on its landfill property in Ohio, and operates a Missouri landfill that is currently on fire next to a nuclear waste site. In May, the company approved a $23 million death/disability benefit for its CEO Don Slager while 80 of its employees in Evansville, Ind. were locked out because they refused to let the company destroy their retirement. Republic/Allied Waste’s total revenues were more than $8.2 billion in 2011. It earned $149.2 million in 2nd quarter net profits in 2012, up from $46.5 million in the same period of 2011, an increase of more than 220 percent. This resulted in a 7 percent quarterly dividend for shareholders such as Bill Gates. As the primary owner of the company, Gates owns more than $2.4 billion worth of stock, or about 25 percent of the total worth of the company.
A woman jailed for nearly three months is too poor to pay-court ordered fines and fees is being held illegally, a habeas corpus petition filed this week contends…On Oct. 18, Judge David D. Watkins ordered Cash to pay $535 or spend five months in jail. Watkins also remolded Cash’s 2006 sentence to require electronic monitoring, which means an additional monthly probation charge and an $80 start-up fee. According to the petition filed by attorney John Long on Cash’s behalf, Cash doesn’t have any money. The petition further alleges that it is unconstitutional to jail someone because she is poor. The petition cites case law that prohibits incarceration in lieu of payment unless a judge first determines the person has financial resources. In effect, according to the petition, the court has shifted the financial burden onto local taxpayers. So far, Cash’s incarceration has cost county taxpayers $3,792. Cash’s petition contends Sentinel [Offender Services] has an economic incentive to have judges extend probation sentences by ordering sentences to run consecutively and stopping the clock on sentences when probation violation warrants are obtained….
State employees are flying less and Georgia taxpayers are expected to save more than $2 million a year as a result of a change in air-travel policy Gov. Nathan Deal made. Deal grounded state-owned airplanes and moved most official government air travel to charter-based services. The state moved in 2011 to begin selling its fixed-wing aircraft and contracted with three private charter companies, a change that is on track to lower state flight times by nearly 70 percent….[A]gencies still call the aviation authority to plan air travel but it contacts one of three charter companies to make it happen. The big change, however, is that agencies are now billed the full fare: an average of $1,700 per flight hour…..Three companies won bids to provide charter services: Epps Air Service Inc., FlightWorks Inc. and Inflight Medical Services International, although Gobeil said so far the state has only used Epps….
From the press release:
For years, corporations have joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for the opportunity to develop legislation that diverts public dollars into their corporate coffers. A new report by In the Public Interest, “Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets,” exposes ALEC’s extensive privatization agenda. The report details how private prison corporations, online education companies, health care corporations, and major industry players pay large membership fees to ALEC in exchange for valuable and unfettered access to state legislators. Corporations are able to work with ALEC lawmakers to craft bills that allow private control of public functions, and guarantee a steady stream of tax dollars to enhance profits.
Corporate and legislative ALEC members work together to jointly develop pro-privatization model bills, and then legislators introduce and push these bills in their state legislatures. These bills make it easier to create virtual public schools, encourage states to privatize vital health programs that help vulnerable populations, force state governments to sell public prisons to prison corporations, and help other industries take control of public assets and services.
In 2011 and 2012, ALEC model bills that sought to privatize core public functions were introduced in states across the country, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Many ALEC bills fail their first time, but examples of success expose their real goal: enhancing corporate pocketbooks with lucrative government contracts.
…Among the waste-reduction efforts put into place in the late eighties and early nineties were laws that banned sending yard waste to municipal landfills. The laws, which were passed by 24 states, have been an environmental success. In 1990, according to figures from the US EPA, the United States recovered about 4 million tons of organic materials for composting; by 2008, that number had increased to 22 million tons. Nearly two-thirds of the yard waste generated by homeowners today is diverted from landfills. The EPA has called the yard waste bans “essential.”
So why is Waste Management, the largest garbage company in the US, lobbying to repeal state laws that ban yard waste in landfills?
Since 2009, Missouri, Florida, and Georgia have re-written their laws governing yard waste in landfills. In two of those states – Florida and Georgia – Waste Management played a prominent role in pushing to overturn the yard waste bans. Earlier this year, Waste Management made an effort, unsuccessful so far, to rewrite Michigan’s yard waste law….
…Figures gathered by the National Institute on Money in State Politics illustrate the point. From 2003 to 2012, Georgia and Florida were among the top five states for Waste Management’s political giving…. Mark Woodall, a veteran statehouse lobbyist for the Georgia Sierra Club, says that in addition to its suddenly aggressive campaign contributions, Waste Management won votes by making donations to charities known to be legislators’ pet causes…
Why Doesn’t Your City Have Curbside Composting? Two words: Big Trash.
Source: Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones, September 10, 2012
The city stands to save $500,000 a year by privatizing its solid waste collection services, and City Manager Bill Weeks says some of that money will go toward make the city look better…. The city reached a deal last month with Waste Management for weekly curbside pickup of garbage, weekly yard trash pickup and a comprehensive recycling program. The city will pay Waste Management $715,000 a year….
Four times, the city of San Diego has pitted city workers against private companies in a competition for the continued responsibility to provide an essential city service. All four times, the city workers have proved that they as U-T San Diego put it last week provide taxpayers with the best bang for their buck.…
….A significant share of the city’s general fund budget – $176 million in the past year – goes to pay private contractors and consultants.
In fact, the next service on Mayor Jerry Sanders’ “managed competition” auction block – street and sidewalk maintenance – is already substantially outsourced. The city’s fiscal year 2012 budget shows $43.6 million spent on contracts in the transportation and stormwater department, compared to $38.4 million for employee wages and benefits. Much of that contract expense is for major street resurfacing projects…..
…The top two reasons city managers bring privatized work back in-house, according to a survey by the International City/County Management Association, are unsatisfactory service quality (61 percent) and insufficient cost savings (52 percent). For example:
– Evansville, Ind., took back control of its water and sewer system from a private operator in 2010, for an estimated savings of $14 million over five years.
– Atlanta dissolved its water system contract 16 years early because of mismanagement and poor service under a private company.
– A Pennsylvania study this March found the state could save $78 million by insourcing school bus services.
– Locally, the San Diego Unified School District has saved $1 million a year since bringing bus services in-house in 2010.
– The San Diego Community College District has saved at least $900,000 a year by insourcing its IT management….
With budget cuts hitting law-enforcement agencies across the country, residents increasingly are taking matters into their own hands by joining town watches or hiring private security firms to help keep their neighborhoods safe….Stokes said 20 neighborhoods in Atlanta and at least four in Detroit have hired private guards. News reports show that many other cities including Chicago and Boston also have hired private security forces. Some of the guards are off-duty police officers….Private guards are cheaper than public police. On average, private security guards earn 47 percent less than sworn officers, Hakim said. Former military or police officers who serve as private guards earn 30 percent less…. Besides hiring professional private security, residents are volunteering for town watches to help local police combat crime…
The privatization of public goods and services turns basic human needs into products to buy and sell. That’s more than a joke, it’s an insult, it’s a perversion. It generally benefits only a privileged group of businesspeople and their companies while increasing inequality and undermining the common good.
Various studies have identified the ‘benefits’ of privatization as profitability and productivity, efficiency, wider share ownership and good investment returns. These are business benefits. More balanced studies consider the effects on average people, who have paid into a long-established societal support system for their schools and emergency services, water and transportation systems, and eventually health care and retirement benefits. These studies have concluded that:
— Most privatization programs appear to have worsened the distribution of assets and income, at least in the short run….
…Unlike traditional voucher programs, which award taxpayer money directly to students to attend private schools, tax-credit programs give individuals or corporations a break on their yearly bills if they contribute to organizations that award private school scholarships to students….
… Yet the tax-credit models also have many detractors, who describe them as vouchers in disguise, and say that estimates of cost savings are speculative and likely exaggerated. Critics also say some states’ programs lack transparency, and include loopholes that can allow families and private schools to game the system, at a cost to taxpayers.
Despite those concerns, the programs continue to grow. Ten states have laws on the books allowing tax-credit scholarships, and at least 17 others have considered proposals to create them this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures….