Chicago just took a huge step towards closing the door on irresponsible sales of public assets and reckless outsourcing of public services. Last week, the city council passed an ordinance that mandates real public review of large privatization deals and increases transparency and contractor accountability.
The Privatization Transparency, Accountability and Performance Ordinance (PTAPO) is a significant move by Chicago’s leaders to ensure meaningful accountability to the city’s taxpayers and working families.
Unfortunately for Chicagoans, the rules weren’t in place a decade ago, when then-Mayor Richard M. Daley leased the Chicago Skyway toll bridge to an Australian-Spanish private consortium for 99 years. The bridge has since become one of the most expensive toll-per-mile roadways in the U.S.
But Daley’s lease of the city’s parking meters to Wall Street in 2008 is the ultimate example of privatization gone wrong. Chicago sold the meters to Morgan Stanley at least $1 billion under their value,
As America’s heartland prepares for another frigid winter, low-income families in Iowa are also bracing for a significant change. That’s because private companies are scheduled to take over management of the state’s Medicaid program the first of the New Year, a shift Iowa’s governor is calling “modernization.”
Governor Terry Branstad says that concerned Iowans “should not be afraid of change,” but private management could make it harder for almost 600,000 people—about 22 percent of the state’s population—to get the health care they need.
The Des Moines Register says the current state-run program “spends less per person than the majority of other states, while still providing comprehensive coverage.” Why jeopardize that? A chaotic transition, diminished services or reduced coverage could threaten low-income families and people with disabilities.
But Iowans still have a say. The federal government has to sign off on the transition,
Like many states in the “tough on crime” era, Minnesota is struggling to reduce overcrowding in its prisons and jails. For now, the state’s government is paying counties to house over 500 incarcerated people that its prisons can’t hold. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the notorious private prison operator, says they have a long-term solution for Minnesota.
But Minnesotans, backed by the criminal justice reform movement sweeping the country, are responding with “No thanks!”
CCA wants to reopen the shuttered Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, MN, and lease space to the state. They deny they’re lobbying in Minnesota, but a politically connected lobbying firm, Goff Public Affairs, is pushing state officials to reopen the prison. That would be a costly mistake for both moral and economic reasons.
The company has a long rap sheet of cutting corners for the sake of profit,
Last month, the Los Angeles Times released a terrifying confidential roadmap for privatizing L.A.’s schools that was produced by billionaire Eli Broad. Broad plans to raise and spend $490 million to create enough privately operated charter schools to house half of the city’s public school students.
The “Broad Plan” is an ambitious, all-sided assault on public schools, potentially funded by money from a who’s who of the nation’s billionaires, including the Walton heirs, Elon Musk, and Steven Spielberg.
Broad’s strategy is to compete directly with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for what he calls “market share,” by more than doubling the number of charters already in the city. Diane Ravitch writes that Broad wants to “decimate the remaining public schools by draining them of students and resources.” Former LAUSD board president and state Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg calls it a plan to “privatize and destroy public education.”
Just imagine what these resources—which are in the Broad Plan budget—could do for L.A.’s existing public schools:
You wouldn’t hand your laptop to a hacker, right? Well, the Senate could make a move just as foolish. They’ll soon vote on nominations to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Board of Governors and the nominees include a longtime advocate for postal service privatization and a lobbyist for the payday lending industry.
The Internet has changed how most of us communicate, but mail remains a central part of our communications infrastructure. A public postal service supports democracy and commerce by providing affordable mail service to everyone, rich or poor, in all areas of the country. It also nurtures marginalized communities by providing access to good jobs and career advancement.
Despite being under attack, including by the absurd requirement to “pre-fund” the next 75 years of its retiree health benefits in a 10-year span—a demand not made of any other federal agency or any well-run private company—the USPS has remained a vibrant public service.