From the press release:
A new report on Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA), under which billions of taxpayer dollars are being spent and decades of substantial tolls imposed, warns that the Act lacks adequate safeguards to protect the public interest. While the number of PPTA projects has risen sharply, allowing private entities to partner with the state or localities on transportation projects, the report details how the PPTA has centralized decision-making, limited information given to the public, and often resulted in deals that allow private entities to earn high returns with little risks.
The report, An Analysis of the Virginia Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995, provides a comprehensive analysis of the PPTA. It was prepared for the Southern Environmental Law Center by Jim Regimbal, a consultant with Fiscal Analytics, Ltd. and a former staff member to the Senate Finance Committee who has over 30 years of experience in state policy analysis. The report examines the PPTA’s history and process, and highlights two recent PPTA projects for in-depth analysis (the I-495 Express Lanes in Northern Virginia and the Downtown Tunnel/Midtown Tunnel/MLK Extension in Hampton Roads). The study also analyzes the substantial policy issues the Act raises and offers practical recommendations for reform.
… We have a primer in today’s paper on predictive coding, a general term that refers to computer programs that use algorithms to determine whether documents are relevant to a case. The first thing you need to know is that, since February, at least two courts have blessed the use of such programs in civil cases….
See also: Judges Replacing Lawyers with Machines for Some Tasks
Source: John Richards, LegalMatch blog, June 27, 2012
…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….
…The [Virginia] project pipeline list includes both well-established transportation projects that are candidates for P3s as well as new transportation concepts under consideration. The eight established candidates include improvement projects along the I-95, I-64 and I-66 corridors and expansion of the Port of Virginia. The list of 14 conceptual projects includes truck parking facilities and electric car charging stations at rest areas, privatization of parking facilities, and advertising/sponsorship opportunities…..
….Another cheerleader for transportation public-private partnerships, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, was touting their benefits during a visit of to Washington last week. In 2006, Indiana contracted with the private sector to have them operate the Indiana East-West Toll Road for 75 years in exchange for $3.8 billion, which the state used to create Major Moves, a plan to fund other infrastructure projects in the state…..
…In addition to dangling the Ohio Turnpike to investors as part of efforts to cut costs and produce new revenues, state transportation officials are also looking into paying private contractors to plow snow, fill potholes and maintain I-270 in central Ohio and the stretch of I-71 between Columbus and Cincinnati, The Columbus Dispatch reported this week….
When it comes to solving transportation problems across the commonwealth, Gov. Bob McDonnell appears ready to abandon Virginia’s paralyzed legislature and partner exclusively with the private sector. That is, perhaps, the best explanation behind his administration’s reliance on the state’s Public-Private Transportation Act to refurbish, expand or build much of the infrastructure critical to the free flow of goods and people in Hampton Roads. … Last week, McDonnell signaled he had no intention of altering course or consulting with the 140 lawmakers elected to the General Assembly. The governor recommitted to considering a series of public-private projects, including the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, Interstate 64 on the Peninsula, Interstate 95, even operations at the Port of Virginia. The big news was a proposal to transform lanes reserved for high-occupancy vehicles on Interstate 64 into high-occupancy toll lanes…..The priority in the next session should be repeal or amendment of the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995.
From the press release:
A new research report released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to outsource traffic enforcement to red-light and speed camera vendors….The report, titled “Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead; The Risks of Privatizing Traffic Law Enforcement and How to Protect the Public” finds that approximately half of states have enabled the use of automated traffic law enforcement. Municipalities in these states contract with private companies to provide cameras and issue citations to traffic violators. Citizens have often objected to privatized forms of traffic enforcement and many municipalities have found themselves in legal trouble when they attempt to change or update these contracts. Traffic engineering alternatives, such as lengthening yellow lights, are often the best way to reduce injuries from red-light running. However, those solutions too often get ignored because contractors and sometimes municipalities are more focused on increasing revenue from tickets….
See also: Summary
The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled Spotsylvania’s School Board erred in not awarding its custodial contract to the lowest bidder two years ago.
As a result, the School Board voted this week to change providers, effective July 1. Professional Building Maintenance Inc. of Stafford County provided the lowest bid for school cleaning services in spring 2010 but was not awarded the contract.
Instead, it went to SSC Service Solutions Inc., a Knoxville, Tenn.-based company that operates under the same corporate umbrella–Compass Group North America–as the Spotsylvania schools’ food service provider, Chartwells School Dining Service…. Documents filed in the case show that PBM’s bid of $1,794,809 annually was $249,721.68 lower than SSC’s bid for one year. That would amount to a savings of about $1.25 million over five years.
Virginia is considering privatizing its sole facility fully devoted to treating sexually violent predators, but the two companies in the running have a history of multimillion-dollar legal settlements and illicit behavior that includes a charge of “deliberate indifference” to sexual misconduct between staff and youths at a facility.
The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is evaluating proposals from private prison-operating companies GEO Care Inc. and Liberty Healthcare Corp. to take over the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Burkeville because of an increase in the number of offenders and concerns about costs….
…The firm is betting on a vibrant market for privatized infrastructure assets that are set to change hands. Of the major U.S. infrastructure deals completed in 2010 and 2011, 64 percent were transactions in the secondary market, according a February report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Macquarie has also proved successful in bidding for the few new assets on the market.
It was behind the largest U.S. infrastructure deals of the last two years — a $2.1 billion project to build and operate commuter rail lines to Denver International Airport and a $1.7 billion upgrade of a tunnel between the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth in Virginia….