- The Problems with Vouchers
- Are the water privatizers back in Baltimore?
- Vigilance required to keep Social Security secure
1) National: Jamal Whitehead, the lead class lawyer in a landmark backpay suit against the GEO Group, a private, for profit prison corporation, is headed for the federal bench. “Whitehead’s trial experience includes serving as lead class counsel for over 10,000 detained individuals at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. The suit resulted in a jury award of $17.3 million to the class for backpay owed by the private-prison giant GEO Group, who operates the Northwest Detention Center.”
Sen. Patti Murray (D-WA) strongly backed Whitehead’s confirmation. “Our federal bench should be filled with judges who are committed to justice and who reflect the diversity of the communities they serve—which is why I am thrilled for Jamal, his family, and the Western District of Washington state,” she said. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said, “We celebrate the Senate’s confirmation of Jamal Whitehead to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. He brings vital and underrepresented experience to the bench, including defending the rights of people who have experienced disability discrimination and workplace discrimination. He also joins the extremely small number of federal judges known to be living with a disability, and he will be the only Black judge actively serving on the Western District of Washington.”
2) National: On March 1, 2023, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Administrative Law Judge Michael A. Rosas issued a decision finding Starbucks had violated the National Labor Relations Act hundreds of times to affect workers’ organizing efforts through “egregious and widespread misconduct demonstrating a general disregard for the employees’ fundamental rights.”
NLRB reports that “his decision requires Starbucks to—among other remedies—reinstate unlawfully fired workers and, if they are unable to return, instate qualified applicants of the union’s choice; reimburse workers for consequential harm they suffered as a result of Starbucks’s unlawful conduct; union access and equal time to respond; post a notice electronically, including on all forms of social media, and at all U.S. stores and with an explanation of workers’ rights; bargain with the union; reopen an unlawfully closed facility; conduct ongoing training; and have Starbucks Execs Howard Schultz and Denise Nelson read the Notice to Employees and an Explanation of Rights or be present during a reading by a Board agent to the employees in the Buffalo-area stores. Judge Rosas also ordered a Gissel Bargaining Order at Starbucks’ Camp Road Store in Buffalo, explaining that ‘[t]he unprecedented incursion of the Respondent’s highest-level corporate executives into Buffalo-area stores was relentless and likely left a lasting impact as to the importance of voting against representation.’”
3) National/Missouri: PowerSwitch Action, a network of 21 dynamic grassroots organizations, has welcomed “our newest affiliate to the network: Missouri Workers Center! Founded two years ago, they have been bringing together low-wage, Black, white, urban, and rural workers from across the state to build power, fight racism, and win economic justice for all. Our Base-Building Manager, Rodney Brown, connected with Missouri Workers Center’s Executive Director, Jeremy Al-Haj, to talk about how they’re supporting workers, some of their recent wins, and what’s ahead for 2023 and beyond.”
4) National: “The fight against election lies never ends for local officials,” Pew Stateline says, but “state and local election officials across the country have begun pursuing strategies to combat election lies ahead of the 2024 presidential election: They’re meeting with community organizations, posting social media videos and even inviting skeptics to visit election offices in efforts to ‘pre-bunk’ falsehoods they know are coming.”
5) National: Jobs With Justice (JWJ) has launched a new series. “Jobs With Justice cultivates deep relationships nationally through the power of our network. Within this national network are dozens of organizers committed to working alongside their communities to build worker power. The new JWJ series “7 questions with…” will explore the network through the lens of JWJ organizers. While we talk a little shop, we’ll also discover what songs or albums are currently in their rotation, discuss superpowers, and more. The individual experiences of these organizers – their childhood, early movement work, and sources of inspiration–are worth celebrating. In our first episode, we visit Philadelphia Jobs With Justice to talk with organizer Pallavi Rao. Raised in Hazard, Kentucky, Pallavi joined the movement as a community organizer working with disabled coal miners suffering from black lung.”
6) National/California: The Federal Reconnecting Communities Program has announced its first grants, four of which are in California. The grants include “$680,00 for the Vision 980 Feasibility Study, which will look at reconfiguring the I-980 corridor in Oakland. It will study improving access for bikes, pedestrians, and transit, and ‘explore options for lessening the barrier, ranging from freeway removal to improvements to the crossings of the existing facility,’ according to the project fact sheet.” The city of Long Beach “will receive $30 million to help it redesign West Shoreline Drive, much of which is basically an extended 710 Freeway off-ramp and currently a major barrier and a safety hazard for local residents.”
7) Idaho: An “education savings” voucher bill died in the Idaho House on Thursday, partly due to the courage of several Republican members. Idaho Education News reports that “McCann and Lanting both said for every email supporting ESA legislation, they receive five opposing it…. Rep. Mark Sauter, R-Sandpoint, said voting for the legislation would be equivalent to voting against his constituency. Others expressed concerns about the program’s potential for ballooning costs and lack of accountability for tax dollars. ‘These are the hard votes we make,’ said committee Chair Julie Yamamoto, R-Caldwell, before calling for a final vote.” Sen. C. Scott Grow (R-Eagle), says “I have absolutely no clue what the dollar amount is on this.”
Rep. Soñia Galaviz (D-District 16) says “our focus must remain on funding our public schools. Be assured, we will see another ESA voucher bill surface this session.” In the past couple of years, a cross-partisan grassroots campaign to build support for public education, Reclaim Idaho, has made deep inroads in conservative Idaho, demonstrating that no corner of the country is unshiftable.
8) International: The Public Service Association of New South Wales, Australia, reports that a under a new Temporary Workforce Transition (TWT) initiative, around 15,000 temporary teaching and support staff will be eligible to transition to permanent employment this year. School staff will shortly have access to the details of the eligibility criteria for permanency and how the process will operate over the next 12 months.” But “the PSA has reviewed the current draft criteria and determined that there are still too many deficiencies in the current draft proposal.”
9) National/Illinois: The choice for the next Chicago Mayor has come down to Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas—a former CTU organizer vs. a school privatization enthusiast. Education Week reports that “while their conflicting stances on crime and policing have garnered the most attention, the rivals’ education priorities also represent starkly different sides of the national education debate, with Johnson firmly allied with the city’s teachers’ union and Vallas championing school choice. In addition, Vallas or Johnson will become mayor as the city reverts to an elected school board. Chicago was one of the first major U.S. school districts to come under mayoral control—a popular education reform measure in some of the nation’s biggest cities in the 1990s and 2000s.” [Sub required]
The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) commented on Johnson’s runoff:
“In five weeks, Chicagoans will make history too by electing a teacher and committed labor leader to the city’s highest office. The IFT is excited and proud to support Brandon in the runoff. He is the only candidate who has led multi-racial coalitions to defend neighborhood schools from privatization, reduce high-stakes standardized testing, and expand access to state funding. Brandon understands that every student—regardless of their race, income, or zip code—deserves a fully resourced, high-quality education, from PreK-16.
“Paul Vallas would be a disaster for public education, union workers, and Chicago residents. During Vallas’ tenure at CPS, he oversaw what would become a model for conservative education policy around the nation, which includes increased standardized testing and the privatization of public schools through charters and magnets. As CEO of the Philadelphia and New Orleans school districts, he decimated public education.”
10) Arkansas: The denunciations of Arkansas’ new voucher bill are pouring in thick and fast. Bill Kopsky, executive director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, says “Gov. Sarah Sanders and the vast majority of Republican lawmakers now own the Arkansas education system. For our kids’ sake I hope SB294 works out, but the evidence suggests it won’t. We are mortgaging our future on a failed strategy of private school vouchers that will leave us without the resources to invest in anything that would actually help students. People are not going to forget how this gamble works out. Ignoring all advice to slow down, have an informed debate, engage some experts, gather data, listen to concerns and build some consensus, they have plowed ahead. Proponents of privatization passed sweeping changes to our public education system in record time and with limited meaningful input.”
The Arkansas Times reports that “another hint that not all is on the up and up is here: Robert Brech, the DFA administrator who assured House members the budget numbers work and maybe he’ll show them how later, used to be the lead attorney for the Arkansas Public School Resource Center, the Walton-funded nonprofit that promotes charter schools. Brech didn’t mention that yesterday as he defended the financial feasibility of throwing $175 million or more in new public spending at privatized ‘school choice.’”
11) Florida: The right wing ideological purge has begun at New College and across the state. “The school will disband the Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, which is responsible for diversity initiatives. The office’s four staff members will be moved to other new or unfilled administrative positions, saving the school an estimated $250,000 per year. It was the first trustees meeting for Richard Corcoran, the former education commissioner and Florida House speaker who became New College’s interim president on Monday. The vote came as DeSantis and Republican lawmakers are pushing to remove diversity, equity, and inclusion offices throughout the state college and university systems. Legislators have already begun to file bills to accomplish that aim during the session that begins Tuesday.”
12) Florida: Writing in Sarasota Herald-Tribune, guest columnist Carrie Seidman says “I’m sure I am not alone in being stunned by the compensation package approved at a recent special meeting of the New College of Florida board for Richard Corcoran, appointed as the school’s interim president following the Jan. 31 ouster of Patricia Okker.” Corcoran “was awarded $699,00 in annual salary—more than double Okker’s compensation—as well as more than $200,000 annually in housing and car allowances and retirement compensation. He could also receive a bonus of up to 15% of his annual salary for achieving certain goals.”
13) Florida: With Tallahassee “poised to bleed billions from public classrooms through a sweeping expansion of private school vouchers,” The Sun Sentinel lays out some of the problems this will bring:
- If a private school wants to teach children that Jesus rode dinosaurs and call it geography, the state has no say.
- If a private school wants to expel an honor-roll child for being gay, that child is out of luck.
- If a private school wants to teach students in a building rife with code violations, students will just need to bring buckets on rainy days. Or fire extinguishers.
- If a private school wants to hire teachers with a criminal background, or teachers repeatedly fired from previous jobs, or teachers who have no training in teaching, who in the state has the authority to stop them?
- If a private school abruptly closes mid-year, who takes care of the students?
The answer? No one.
14) Iowa: Members of the public are directing their ire at Republican politicians who voted for private school vouchers. “Several members of the audience voiced their displeasure with Costello for his vote on the legislation and other Republican-backed bills they consider to be harmful to public education and children. Amy Stickrod gave a lengthy address, noting that the private school vouchers will cost Iowa taxpayers $900 million over the next four years and $345 million after that. She reminded Costello that the vast majority of Iowans opposed the legislation according to multiple polls and communication sent to state legislators.”
To make matters worse, administration of the program has been privatized. “The governors’ office did not respond to a question about how much the company would be paid. Opponents of the ESA program have questioned whether using a third-party vendor to administer it would create costs higher than the estimates provided by legislative analysts and the governor’s office. Critics also pointed to issues with transparency in other states’ programs where ESA funds were misused by educational companies and parents.”
15) Massachusetts: Westborough school bus drivers, who picketed last week about their quest for a contract with the town’s school bus provider, are being supported by a petition drive. “Your Westborough bus drivers are looking for support to bring NRT back to the table to negotiate a fair and equitable union contract and need your help to do so. (…) The time to act is now. If this union contract is not negotiated, the Westborough school bus drivers are prepared and ready to strike, leaving hundreds of students without a way to get to school safely, if at all. By signing this petition, you are showing that your bus drivers, the ones who care about your child’s safety and wellbeing, are important. By signing, you are supporting that these bus drivers are crucial to the safety of your children, and their education.”
The background: “In 2021, a federal judge ordered bus provider NRT Bus, Inc. to recognize and bargain with the Westborough bus drivers’ union, Worcester-based Teamsters Local 170. That ruling came after the National Labor Relations Board found that NRT did not bargain in good faith after taking over the Westborough contract from bus provider First Student. But since that ruling, the drivers have not been able to solidify a contract with NRT, according to the union.”
NRT Bus is part of Beacon Mobility. Ion Analytics has reported that “Beacon Mobility, an Audax Private Equity-backed operator of buses for schools and other specialty uses, is in the second round of a sale process with financial advisor Morgan Stanley, said three sources familiar with the situation. The Southborough, Massachusetts-based company has EBITDA of around USD 200m, said two of the sources. All three sources added that Beacon could fetch a 9x to 10x EBITDA valuation if a deal is struck.”
16) Ohio: Hat tip to Jennifer Berkshire, who points out that the same Republican lawmaker, Sen. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin, Dist 26), who is now blocking parental consent for child labor was also the lead sponsor of a bill that would prohibit Ohio from regulating home schooling.
17) Texas/Florida/National: For those who haven’t been following the weird intricacies of debates between far right supporters of Trump vs. DeSantis, the question of whether school vouchers should be paid to undocumented immigrants is becoming a hot button issue. “Well, what’s your side Florida GOP on issuing school vouchers for all the illegals?” said one Trumpie on Breitbart. Gov. Abbott (R), who also harbors presidential ambitions, has staked out his position as a way to differentiate himself from DeSantis: write a law denying undocumented kids the right to a public education.
18) Virginia: The Free Lance-Star reports that “Spotsylvania County Public Schools’ new chief of staff [Jon Russell] will be ‘responsible for general staff administration and serving as the legislative liaison for the school division,” according to a job description provided last month by the division.’ Russell seems to have had a peculiar idea of legislative liaison in the past. “According to the Culpeper Star–Exponent, Culpeper Democrats called for his resignation after he posted “Patriots have breached the barricades at the U.S. Capitol” to his personal Facebook page as the riots unfolded.
Oh, and he’s a former employee of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC): “In 2016, Russell worked for the American City County Exchange, a program of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is an organization of conservative legislators and business representatives that drafts model state-level legislation focused on removing regulations and reducing taxes. ALEC also advocates for school choice and school privatization by drafting legislation that supports charter schools, voucher programs, tax credit scholarships, homeschool and education savings accounts, according to its website.”
19) National: An accounting discrepancy is holding up federal infrastructure spending under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. “The problem’s origin occurred sometime between fiscal years 2003 and 2005 when the accounting systems used by the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation were merged somewhat unsuccessfully. (…) The discrepancy has already resulted in a freeze on pre-IIJA contracting authority that went into effect in October 2022. FHWA’s plan includes a review of individual transactions that happened between 2004-2005. (…) The discrepancy in obligation and spending figures was discovered in 2018 by FHWA. They compared the two balances and found that according to FMIS the total amount of un-obligated highway contract authority apportionments held by state and local governments was $3.7 billion higher than the total shown in Delphi. An accounting firm combed through the files and found $200 million in errors which brought the number down to $3.5 billion.” [Sub required]
20) National: Public Works Financing, the house organ of the “public-private partnership” lobby and industry, has graciously cried uncle on the successful startup of construction of the replacement $3.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge project. It “is finally moving ahead, but not as a P3.” The loss of their fight to replace the bridge using a P3 model was one of the most devastating blows to the road privatization industry and its politicians in the past decade. But now, due to the Federal infrastructure bill, it is being built as an all-public procurement. A bit of churlishness in the tail of PWF’s piece, though: “To the victor belong the spoils.” [Public Works Financing, February 2023; sub required]. This does not mean that public involvement and transparency aren’t important. The “progressive design-build” model being used is going to come under a lot of public scrutiny, as it should.
21) National: “After Republican complaints, DOT abandons [its] attempt to discourage highway construction,” Politicoreports “The Biden administration is giving up its effort to push states to use a large chunk of their new infrastructure money in ways that match Democrats’ climate goals, such as fixing existing highways rather than building new ones. The Federal Highway Administration issued a new policy memo on Friday that rescinds previous language it had sent to states in December, which had urged them to use money from the 2021 infrastructure law on ‘fix it first’ programs. The December 2021 guidance drew the ire of Republicans, who accused the administration of going beyond the law’s requirements in telling states how to spend the money. ”
22) National: They’re back. “Social impact bonds,” now called “social bonds,” are again being pushed by private finance. For details see In the Public Interest’s report, “Social Impact Bonds: Overview and Considerations.”
23) California: How much should California spend to build up public transit? CalMatters takes a brief look. “To get more riders on public transit, you need more service. But to fund additional service, you need more riders. That’s the conundrum transit agencies have long encountered. The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the state’s workforce and the end of federal funds put some agencies in an even more difficult financial position—and the governor’s proposal to cut or delay $4 billion in transportation and transit funding doesn’t help. So how does California invest in public transit for the future to support commuters and low-income riders, attract new users and reduce its carbon footprint?”
24) Maryland: Are the water privatizers up to their old tricks again in Baltimore? Area residents are concerned that another effort to privatize the water system may be afoot. The last one was defeated at the ballot box. “The task force would review the findings of a 2021 consultant’s study; examine other existing models to improve management, operations, and worker recruitment; and look into funding for capital planning, expansion, and maintenance. Committee members asked the leaders whether this is a step toward privatization. The leaders said it’s not. Some residents expressed concern about the lack of public participation and who gets to be on the task force. “We are concerned that the bill, as written, will have disastrous effects on low-income and Black residents,” said David Wheaton, an economic justice policy fellow at NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Rianna Eckel, with Food and Water Watch, said she is concerned about “the rushed timeline, no requirement for public participation.””
25) New Mexico: The state House has passed legislation permitting so-called public-private partnerships. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. “The bill has not yet been assigned to a Senate committee. The Legislature has 14 days left in its session. The bill would allow the state, its political subdivisions and other public bodies to enter into P3s and sets up a structure for future legislation to broaden outside of the areas of transportation and broadband.” It is unclear if Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) will support the bill. “New Mexico has tried repeatedly to pass P3 legislation but it’s usually died in the Senate.” [Sub required]
26) International: How much of a role did privatization play in the disastrous train wreck in Greece? A lot, say protestors. “Thousands of workers and youth have protested daily in Athens outside the headquarters of Hellenic Rail, Greece’s privatized rail network, and the parliament building. More demonstrations have been held in many of Greece’s main town and cities. Around 5,000 gathered at Hellenic Rail Friday, with the word ‘murderers’ daubed on the building. The protests are a repudiation of the New Democracy (ND) government and the media’s attempts to solely blame human error by a station master in the city of Larissa, begun within hours of the disaster. Greece’s rail network is unsafe, damaged by years of budget cuts, understaffing and then privatization. The country is the only one in the European Union (EU) which does not have a national automated train protection system in place.”
For a good short report on this listen to Marketplace Morning Report’s interview with Greek opposition leader Yanis Varoufakis, who was finance minister when the EU triggered its austerity and privatization program for Greece. The Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, or DiEM25, that Varoufakis helped found, has said that as far as the Greek train wreck is concerned, “the EU has blood on its hands.” “Erik Edman, MeRA25’s spokesman, laid out the hypocrisy of the EU after it symbolically lowered its flags to half-mast to pay tribute to the victims of the train crash. ‘The architects of the permanent impoverishment of the Greek state and the disastrous privatization of its public property, are lowering their flags today,’ Erik wrote. ‘The EC [European Commission] were the brains behind the haphazard privatization that forced the Greek state to sell the entirety of its national railways to the bankrupt (!) Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane for—I kid you not—a measly 45 million euros.’”
27) International: Port workers in Port Sudan are on strike to protest privatization. “On Monday and Tuesday, seaports workers staged protests to reject the privatization of the Green Harbour terminals, during the visit of the ministers of Finance and Transportation to Red Sea state. There was a significant security presence at the Coral Hotel in Port Sudan where the ministerial delegation participated in a blue economy workshop. Abboud Sherbini, a ports trade union leader, told Radio Dabanga that the protests aimed to send a message about the workers’ rejection of privatizing the Green Harbour terminals to the acting ministers of Finance and Transportation. He said that the new general manager of the Green Harbour, Captain Mohamed Mukhtar, agrees with the demands of the workers.”
28) National: “They’re baaaack: The privatizers are coming for Social Security–again. Despite its popularity, the program is never safe from conservative attacks,” says In the Public Interest Executive Director Donald Cohen. “Never? Perhaps. The 60 Plus website is now taking pains to assure older Americans that privatization is not in the works. ‘Don’t worry seniors: there is no such plan,’ it claims. With the cyclical nature of attacks such reassurances do not feel very reassuring, and defending Social Security requires vigilance. We still need to be watchful about once-extreme conservative ideas becoming mainstream—perhaps even more than ever now.”
In addition, a new blockbuster report has detailed the ways in which Medicare is being privatized even without the machinations of conservative politicians.
But DeSantis’ support for privatizing Social Security has apparently not survived its first contact with reality.
“‘Ron DeSantis says GOP will not ‘mess with Social Security,’ as Democrats and Donald Trump slam his past support for privatization’ via Steve Contorno of CNN—DeSantis distanced himself from his past support for privatizing Social Security and raising the retirement age as potential future political foes seize on his previous ideas for the popular retirement program. ‘We’re not going to mess with Social Security as Republicans,’ DeSantis told Fox News. ‘I think that that’s pretty clear.’” Stay tuned.
29) National: The great Nicole Porter of The Sentencing Project joined Rattling the Bars’ Mansa Musa to discuss their new campaign to fight mass incarceration, ‘50 years and a wake up.’ “And we hope that through this work, through this public education work that the Sentencing Project is embarking on with national organizations around the country and also state and local organizations around the country, that we really shape a narrative that can help push the conversation in a new direction so that we can challenge the last 50 years of mass incarceration, and then identify specific solutions that move us forward over the next 50 years,” says Porter. [Also on video, about 21 minutes]
30) National/California: Immigrant detainees have been on a hunger strike at two privately-run ICE detention facilities run for profit. “In December, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health fined the GEO Group, the private prison company that operates Mesa Verde and the Golden State Annex, $104,510 for six violations of state codes at the Golden State Annex. Minju Cho, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, told NCR that in response to the labor strike, “ICE and GEO reacted with an intensity that belies the idea that [the voluntary work program] is actually voluntary. If it were truly voluntary, then folks could choose to stop participating in it at any time without consequence.” The ACLU is part of a coalition that is supporting advocacy efforts led by detained people.”
31) National: Privatizing Medicare is the wrong way to go, says Joshua Freeman, MD. “The insurance plans known as “Medicare Advantage” are incorrectly named. They are not Medicare and they may offer little or no advantage. They are a form of private insurance, cost Medicare a lot of money, and in some situations can indeed hurt you.”
32) New Jersey: A successful unionization effort by EMS workers in Bordentown has led the municipality to try to privatize the service. “But township EMS employees have protested the possible outsourcing. The township has received one bid after advertising for a service contract. But officials delayed action on a contract until its March 27 township committee meeting, pending further review and discussion with Bordentown City officials. (…) The request for proposal was made last summer, almost immediately after EMS employees unionized.”
33) Pennsylvania: Michael Lamb, a candidate for county executive of Allegheny County, has staked his campaign on his solid record of fighting privatization. “As Controller, I proudly fought against privatization of our parking authority. As your county executive, I will stand against the privatization of detention facilities and water and sewage systems. Private means for profit, and that is unacceptable.”
34) Texas: Under a Community Benefit Agreement, a group of Black churches in Denton have received $10,000 checks from an apartment developer, but are still cut out of the development process because they do not have historical designation from the city. “‘We didn’t know about it,’ Logan told the Record-Chronicle. ‘We heard about the Railway apartments [in the fall of 2022]. [The city] had changed the zoning, and we didn’t know about it.’ This lack of awareness also relates to the official historic status of the churches gathered on this Saturday morning at Mt. Calvary. None of them have ‘designation status’ from the city of Denton, despite the Texas Historical Commission’s markers at St. James AME Church and St. Emmanuel Baptist Church and the city’s historic landmark one at Pleasant Grove Baptist.”
35) National: A new report has debunked the pharmaceutical industry’s claims that mRNA vaccines were developed by private industry rather than the public sector. “A new peer-reviewed study published in a major medical journal should put to rest the pharmaceutical industry’s ‘false narrative’ that its own investments were responsible for the rapid development of mRNA vaccines to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The study, published in The BMJ on Wednesday, estimates that the U.S. federal government has invested at least $31.9 billion in the development, production, and purchase of mRNA coronavirus vaccines—a finding that the People’s Vaccine Alliance said undercuts pharmaceutical companies’ attempts to take credit for the innovations that made the lifesaving shots possible.” [Report]
36) National: Prominent legal scholar Michael Dorf takes on the absurdities of the new Republican attacks on responsible corporate behavior. “So what is the Republicans’ solution? Do they say that the free market should decide? Or do they say, perhaps, that they have discovered some indirect and heretofore unknown government subsidy that they want to take away from those do-gooder companies? No, the Republicans have now said that companies should be prohibited from making their own decisions, if such decisions take any account of environmental, social, or governance concerns.”
37) Florida: The Tampa Bay Times reports that Hillsborough County government notified “1,150 former employees who worked for the county in 2022 that they may have received incorrect W-2s. The county already was the subject of recent complaints from its employees who say they were not fully paid before the holidays. Private vendors have also complained the county was taking too long to pay them. ‘It’s affecting everything. Morale is down. It’s issue after issue after issue,’ said Chaz Hicks, a steward for the county employees’ union, Local 167 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. A Jan. 31 letter to past employees contained this piece of advice: Don’t file your federal tax return until you receive an amended W-2 form.”