- Network for Public Education: Freedom to Learn Pledge
- New South Wales to bring prison system back to public control
- Texas voucher news (items 18 and 19)
First, the Good News
1) National: At the conclusion of the 10th-annual Network for Public Education conference in Washington, D.C., last weekend, advocates representing over four million educators and 1,000 higher education institutions have issued a Call To Action to defend freedom in America against attacks from the extreme right wing. “The conference was primarily focused on the privatization attacks against public schools, particularly the attempts to implement private school vouchers in other states.” The American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Association of University Professors, the American Association of Colleges and Universities, and the Network for Public Education “launched a Freedom to Learn pledge, calling out the coordinated effort to push laws and rhetoric in multiple states aimed at banning books and curriculums, attacking teachers, and shaming LGBTQIA+ students, all while pushing voucher and privatization schemes to undermine and gut public education.”
2) National: Good news from Donald Cohen in this week’s ITPI Newsletter: “In July, we wrote about a new coalition, the Coalition for Free and Fair Filing, that was launching a campaign to support the creation of a free IRS ‘direct file’ program to be piloted next year, thanks to President Biden’s reinvestment to modernize the agency. In the Public Interest joined the more than 200 organizations in the Coalition for Free and Fair Filing. At the time, we said, ‘It’ll take a groundswell of demand for this common-sense public option to overwhelm the power of the tax prep industry and their allies on Capitol Hill.’ We’re happy to report that, earlier this month, the IRS announced details of the 2024 Direct File pilot, which will be available to taxpayers in just a few short months. The good news is that the arguments of the tax prep industry didn’t prevail. And, more importantly, what did prevail was the principle that public goods available to all require public institutions with the resources and capacity to serve.”
3) National: Marketplace’s How We Survive podcast is running a series of shows on the trillion dollar global private market for water resources and its implications for our future. Four episodes have already dropped, “Introducing ‘How We Survive: The Worth of Water;” “Rewriting the Rules;” “Stolen River;” and “The $80 Million Acre.”
“The Colorado River feeds us and powers our lives, irrigating millions of acres of farmland and generating billions of kilowatt-hours in hydroelectric power. Forty million people get drinking water from the Colorado River. Cities from Denver to Los Angeles couldn’t exist without it. It supports 30 Tribal Nations. But we’re using more water than the river has to give. The Colorado River has already lost trillions of gallons to rising temperatures over the last two decades. Meanwhile, rampant growth and water-intensive farming have depleted groundwater supplies. This means Western states must fundamentally rethink how water is divided up and used. In the latest season of “How We Survive,” we unpack the water crisis in the American West and investigate the solutions that could help us survive.”
4) National: Route Fifty has a useful guide on what to watch for in tomorrow’s elections. Privatization Report readers will of course be focused on Maine, where the public will determine whether to create the country’s first statewide publicly owned power company. “Two incumbent governors are trying to hold on to their seats, abortion rights are on the ballot in Ohio, and the results of legislative races in Virginia could propel a presidential campaign for Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin or relegate him to lame duck status for the final two years of his gubernatorial term.”
5) National/New York: Some good news from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Public pressure has led the FDA to ramp up its scrutiny of harmful food additives. “Last year, CSPI petitioned the FDA to ban Red 3 from foods; the additive was shown to cause thyroid cancer in rats back in 1990, just before it was banned for use in topical drugs and cosmetics. Now it seems the pressure is mounting for the agency to actually act on this critical food safety issue. Similar bills are moving through the Senate and Assembly in New York, and, as Kathleen Doheny writes for WebMD, ‘Advocates for phasing out Red Dye No. 3 and other harmful additives hope these state-based developments will spur the FDA to finally take similar action and respond to a petition requesting the ban of Red Dye No. 3.’” Pushback from the food and grocery industries will likely be fierce.
6) Michigan: In a first step to protect the public from the dangers of deceptive deepfakes (so-called artificial intelligence), the Michigan House has passed five bills to curb using such language models. Public Citizen says “it’s time for the FEC to take this step for the entire country.”
7) New York: The National Employment Law Project (NELP) says thanks to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Uber and Lyft “must pay back $328 million in #wagetheft claims to its drivers. Uber must also start paying into state #unemployment systems, bringing workers closer to the employee status they deserve”
8) Texas/National: Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider turn the microphone over to “the brilliant podcasters behind The Voucher Scam, a limited series exposing the big money push to bring school vouchers to Texas and beyond. Claire Campos-O’Neal and Nicole Abshire of the Mothers for Democracy Institute visit a rural community where the elected representative is no longer, well, representing. Claire and Nicole do a masterful job connecting school privatization with the rise of Christian Nationalism and the erosion of democracy.” Have You Heard; audio, about 43 minutes].
9) Texas/National: In an important piece in StreetsblogUSA, Kevin DeGood of the Center for American Progress lays out the case for why states should never control their own environmental review processes. “Yet this clearly destructive mega-project sailed through the federal environmental review process with flying colors due to a regulatory loophole known as ‘NEPA assignment’ that empowers TxDOT to approve its own environmental review work. And until Congress closes this loophole, Texas and the seven other states with NEPA assignment will continue to green-light harmful projects, leaving advocates for a more sustainable and balanced transportation system with little recourse.”
10) International/Australia: The state of New South Wales is insourcing its prison system. “After years of campaigning against the privatization of prisons, the Public Service Association of NSW has warmly welcomed the state government’s announcement that it will bring all the state’s prisons back into the public system. The PSA has long argued that privatised prisons result in unsafe conditions for prison officers, poor outcomes for prisoners, and heavy costs to the taxpayer. PSA General Secretary Stewart Little said it was excellent that the government had recognized the privatisation of prisons as a policy failure. ‘As our union said from the very start, privatising prisons is a fundamentally stupid idea,’ Mr. Little said. ‘You can’t squeeze a profit from a prison unless you cut corners on safety, on wages, and on rehabilitation. Time and again we have seen private operators understaffing their prisons to save on wages, which means more assaults on prison officers and more prisoner on prisoner violence.”
11) International/United Kingdom: Plans by private rail operators for the mass closure of railway ticket offices in England have been ditched after the government intervened following a public backlash, the Financial Times reports. “The industry has been subsidized by the taxpayer ever since privatisation in the mid-1990s but it was in effect fully renationalized during the pandemic as part of a government bailout, leaving ministers in full control of its finances.” One commenter on the story writes, “Finally, some recognition that one of the crucial roles of government is to protect minorities—often vulnerable minorities—from being trampled by the powerful and/or the greedy!” [Sub required]
12) Arizona: A charter school in Maricopa is planning a major expansion. “Legacy this week earned the top honor of an A grade in its annual report card from the Arizona Department of Education. The K-8 charter school pushed its grade up from a B last year. The charter school’s enrollment is maxed out at 1,320 students, except for kindergarten, principal Susie Pries said.”
13) Arkansas: A remarkable op-ed in the Arkansas Times by Gwen Ford Faulkenberry, an English teacher, recounting her experience of being asked to talk about the impact of recent voucher legislation on the economy before a group of Arkansas businesspeople. “The big economic question no one can answer is how the state will fund it in years to come. My prediction is we will be like other states implementing this ALEC-generated cookie-cutter legislation; for example, Arizona, where the cost of vouchers this year is $345 million more than originally projected. I guess we could always raise the taxes we just lowered–twice–on our wealthiest citizens; though I doubt that will happen under current administration. Perhaps a new tax on businesses? The economic outlook is bleak, but it is really the purpose behind vouchers that disturbs me most. What attracts business? This is a legitimate question. Even more important, I believe, are these: What do we do with our money? What is our legacy? What is American? Arkansan? What is right? If it is really about kids, there is only one way all kids are served, and vouchers isn’t it.” [Sub required]
14) Montana: The state board of education has received applications to set up charter schools across the state. “As of its Nov. 1 deadline, the Montana Board of Public Education has received applications from more than a dozen public school districts seeking to establish 26 distinct charter schools across the state. The proposals were submitted under a new law passed earlier this year that allows for the creation of public charter schools governed by existing public school boards, and for the most part put forward charters that would operate out of existing school facilities. Board members will begin their review in the coming months with the goal of finalizing its approval or denial of each by March.” [Sub required].
“For some background, two education bills focused on charter schools passed in the Montana 2023 legislative session. HB 562 would allow anyone to propose a community choice school, select their own oversight board, and receive public tax dollars, but be permitted to disregard many of the rules established for public schools such as teacher certification,” Arlene Walker-Andrews reports in The Missoulian. “This bill is currently being litigated. HB 549 allows anyone to propose a public charter school and receive public tax dollars, but the school would be accountable to the locally elected boards of trustees and would adhere to the standards outlined in Article X of the Montana Constitution.”
Section 6 of Article X says “Text of Section 6: Aid Prohibited to Sectarian Schools. (1) The legislature, counties, cities, towns, school districts, and public corporations shall not make any direct or indirect appropriation or payment from any public fund or monies, or any grant of lands or other property for any sectarian purpose or to aid any church, school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other literary or scientific institution, controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect, or denomination. (2) This section shall not apply to funds from federal sources provided to the state for the express purpose of distribution to non-public education.”
15) New Hampshire: A rigorous new report finds that new state education rules have lowered standards and opening the door to privatization. Christine Downing, a 30-year education veteran, insisted that teacher feedback be included, “and then gathering that feedback herself, which she has now published in a new report. ‘When you start looking down in the details, this is a complete dismantling of public schools as we know it in New Hampshire,’ she said.
The state contracted the National Center for Competency Based Learning, led by Fred Bramante, to create the new rules. Downing’s report found that proposed updates to the state’s education rules would lower the standards schools are legally required to meet, while opening the door to privatization. It raised concerns about education being moved increasingly online, which Downing said could lead to more programs like a recently approved controversial PragerU financial literacy course. Educators were also worried the rules could bolster other controversial programs, such as the voucher-like Education Freedom Account program that allows eligible families to spend public school funding on private education or supplies for homeschooling.”
16) Ohio: A statewide conversation on Ohio’s ongoing privatization of education funding is needed, says the editorial board of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s daily newspaper. “The General Assembly’s decision this year to greatly expand eligibility for private school vouchers—costing taxpayers more than a quarter-billion dollars and counting—has awoken many Ohioans to a process ongoing for years: the slow but gradual switch in Ohio taxpayer dollars from public schools to private and parochial ones. Ostensibly, this was to improve parental choice and give kids in failing schools more options. That’s how it started. But the eye-popping amounts should prompt a closer look and broader conversation with all Ohioans about the implications of this change. Especially since the private and parochial schools getting these larger sums are not subject to the same requirements of transparency about outcomes, spending and nondiscrimination, or the need to accept all applicants, as public schools are.”
17) Pennsylvania: A charter school board has ignored public transparency rules as it votes to shut down the school. “After listening to parents’ impassioned pleas to keep the school open, the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter board voted Thursday night to close the school after the 2023-24 year. But the vote does not appear to be legal; it happened in executive session, after more than 50 parents, students and community members were told to leave the school. Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act stipulates that votes must be taken in public.”
18) Texas: Writing in the Longview News-Journal, John D. Foster reports that the push for school vouchers in Texas has hit a brick wall. “Those efforts were countered by thousands of emails and phone calls and dozens of opposition rallies featuring coalition members. But Abbott has called a special session to enact a voucher plan despite warnings that opposition to vouchers is only increasing among House members like Rep. Jay Dean of Longview.
The [Texas] Observer interviewed two of the coalition leaders to explain the reasoning for opposing school vouchers, Charles Luke and the Rev. Charles Johnson. Here are excerpts from that published interview…”
19) Texas: The San Antonio Report says the other victims of the school voucher fight are teacher pensions. “Not much has been said about how privatization would harm people like me, one of the hundreds of thousands of retired teachers across Texas receiving a pension from the Texas Retirement System (TRS). Any voucher scheme that diverts taxpayer dollars to private schools will have a negative impact on retirees like me. (…) Consider this, too: If vouchers were to pass, the remaining public school teachers likely would be paid less because of the dollars leaving the public school system. If teachers are paid less, the fixed percentage of their salary that they contribute to TRS is also less. This would compound the negative effect that stagnant teacher pay has had on the pension system. The more expansive the voucher, the more extreme the negative effects will be.”
20) International/Canada: Custodial workers in Alberta (CUPE 40) have been demonstrating for better wages. They haven’t had a pay increase in eight years.
21) National: House Republicans have proposed slashing $4 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “‘Basically, everything is taking a pretty significant hit,’ said Nathan Gardner-Andrews, chief advocacy officer for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, which represents 350 public wastewater and stormwater agencies. Funding for state and local governments will again be targeted next week when the House is expected to pass a separate bill that will cut spending on the departments of transportation and Housing and Urban Development, or THUD, by $26 billion or 28%. (…) The House measure also called for cutting funding for brownfields by $20 million or by about a fifth. Funds for reducing diesel emissions would also be cut by $105 million.”
22) National: Cities are pressuring railroad corporations to fix bridges that are in a dangerous condition, The Wall Street Journal reports. “When Kraham was on the Binghamton mayoral campaign trail in 2021, he heard from residents who were worried about the safety of dilapidated-looking bridges. On a call with the railroads in 2022, Kraham said they told him that they needed more details of the conditions of individual bridges before they could act. The February derailment in Ohio compelled him to respond to residents’ concerns more quickly, he said. Later that month, the city announced plans to complete bridge inspections and sought support from New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Marc Molinaro for its efforts.” [Sub required]
23) National/New Book: There’s a new book out that sings the praises of the infrastructure in our communities that we often take for granted or don’t even notice. “As Chachra explains in her essential book, How Infrastructure Works: Inside the Systems That Shape Our World, you are living in the lap of luxury without realizing it. All the difficult work of collecting fuel and water is taken care of invisibly, and you can traverse great distances – on the road or online – in very little time. The great gift of our infrastructure is that it gives us agency over our lives, liberating us from everyday drudgery. Chachra argues that access to the grid has become a political right; indeed, many local governments will not allow heat and water to be shut off, even when customers can’t pay. The problem is that when our infrastructure works, we never think about it. We don’t vote on our infrastructure every two years, and we don’t honor our utility workers as guardians of our lives, the way we do first responders. We forget the importance of maintaining and caring for it, leading to disasters like bridge collapses, blackouts and floods from overtopped dams. With climate change threatening many of our cities and towns, this needs to change, and fast.”
24) Maine: A proposal on the ballot tomorrow would buy out power companies to create a public option. “The two companies serve the vast majority of customers in Maine, meaning over 96% of households would be covered by the new utility, dubbed Pine Tree Power. This kind of public market share would be a first in the US: Just one state, Nebraska, serves all of its customers with public utilities, but the largest public power provider there serves about 28% of the population. CMP, Versant and their allies have spent over $31.5 million in opposition to the measure, compared to the $945,000 the grassroots campaign, Our Power, has spent in favor of it, according to the Maine Ethics Commission. Lucy Hochschartner, deputy campaign manager of Our Power, said taking over the existing private providers is necessary to increase the responsiveness of electrical providers to consumers.” [Sub required]
25) Maryland: Food & Water Watch warns that the new Baltimore Regional Water Authority proposal would soak ratepayers. “The consultants estimate that, depending on a future legal analysis, a new authority could need to refinance existing debt at a cost of $370 million to $725 million. Other costs include yet-unquantified retirement benefit transition costs and lease payments. In Detroit, the new authority paid $344 million in pension contributions to ensure the city met its promises to its workers, and an additional $976 million in lease payments over the term of the deal.
These additional costs could deepen the city’s water affordability crisis, which disproportionately affects Black Baltimore residents. A report by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund found that water bills in Baltimore exceeded two percent of median income (which is the affordability threshold for water) in 131 of 200 census tracts—108 of which were majority-Black.”
26) Michigan: The top state officials during the Flint water poisoning will skate free. “‘Our disappointment in the Michigan Supreme Court is exceeded only by our sorrow for the people of Flint,’ the prosecution team said. The prosecution team said Tuesday that it expects next year to release ‘a full and thorough report’ detailing its efforts and decisions.” Read the NRDC’s report on the disaster.
27) International/Canada: Ontario is to launch an infrastructure bank with $2.2 billion. The bank will have “a mandate to help build major projects in affordable housing, health care and transportation. (…) The bank’s initial focus will be on sectors including long-term care facilities, energy, housing, municipal infrastructure and transportation. The idea is to use the government cash to reduce the risk of certain projects, attracting more private capital.
The new agency will operate at arm’s length from the government, led by a board of directors that will appoint a management team to make investment decisions.”
28) International/Philippines: Newly-installed Metropolitan Cebu Water District board of directors chairman Melquiades Feliciano says he is not keen on the privatization of the water utility. “It’s just not in my brain anymore.”
29) National: The Cornell Chronicle reports that “the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has created a system in which Wall Street actors and insurance conglomerates have increasingly extracted large profits at the expense of Medicare, its patients and taxpayers—according to a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) co-authored by a Cornell professor. Privatized senior care offered by Medicare Advantage insurance plans has led to higher costs for Medicare and is a drain on the Medicare trust fund, according to the report, “Profiting at the Expense of Seniors: The Financialization of Home Health Care,” authored by CEPR co-director Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt, the Alice Cook Professor of Women and Work in the ILR School. The study also finds that these plans diminish the amount and quality of care provided to patients.”
It’s getting worse, Public Citizen reports: “Medicare Advantage coverage denials have skyrocketed. Why? They’re using AI to predict when to cut off payment for treatments. We repeat, AI. Not a doctor. Recommendations by AI often go against basic rules for what Medicare must cover. This should be a national scandal.”
30) National: With a possible government shutdown looming on November 17, Bloomberg reports that House lawmakers worked feverishly over the weekend to try and set up a deal with the Senate to get an extension until January 15. Should that fail and the government shut down, shock waves would go through the economy and such things as the collection of government data would be interrupted. WAMU’s DCist news outlet recently reported that low wage federal contractors are bracing for the impact of a possible shutdown. “The federal government relies heavily on contractors; by one estimate, there are roughly three contract employees for every federal employee. In the District and surrounding suburbs, thousands of these contractors are low-wage workers who keep Congress and federal agencies fed, cleaned, and safe at the office. Many of these workers are deeply concerned about what a shutdown will mean for them and their families, given the hardship they faced just five years ago.”
31) National: Trump has gotten hysterical about losing to the American Federal of Government Employees (AFGE) over his illegal firing of some VA employees, Steve Early and Suzanne Gordon report in Counterpunch. “As reported by the Federal News Network on July 31, thousands of fired workers will be eligible for either reinstatement or back pay, at a total cost estimated “to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.” Hundreds of former employees “who the VA and AFGE mutually agreed were terminated for grievous misconduct will not be eligible for return to work,” the VA announced. ‘This agreement will allow VA and AFGE to move forward and focus on what matters most: delivering world-class care and benefits to veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors,’ said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. ‘Union employees are the backbone of VA’s workforce, and we are proud to support them.’” Republican presidential hopefuls have made increasingly hostile, even violent, threats against public employees.
32) Missouri: People in Missouri prisons say food went from bad to worse when Aramark took over. “Lawsuits and broken contracts with correctional food service providers around the country cite maggots, unpaid labor and inappropriate staff relationships. In January, Gov. Mike Parson signed the state to a five-year, $45.7 million contract with nationwide food and concessions provider Aramark. Its subsidiary Aramark Correctional Services serves 450 correctional facilities nationwide. (…) Aramark is also responsible for supplying cleaning and sanitation supplies. But prisoners who spoke with The Beacon said they are scarce in their facilities. At the Jefferson City prison, the water and ice machine is broken with water running on the ground. ‘Where the ice and water comes out, it’s moldy and it smells,’ Johnson added. ‘It’s disgusting.’ Antwann Johnson, another prisoner in Jefferson City, questioned where the money was going after he heard that the kitchen had to get cleaning supplies from another division of the building. ‘Where is the funding going?’ Antwann Johnson said. ‘Sometimes we don’t even get adequate chemicals to clean these places and sanitize things properly.’”
In 2022, Aramark CEO John J. Zillmer received $13,324,828 in executive compensation, which divided by 365 days comes to $36,506.37 a day. According to the Kansas City Beacon, “under the Aramark contract, taxpayers spend $5.31 per prisoner per day for food and staffing.”
33) Washington/Revolving Door News: Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries has hired a former Library Systems and Services LLC executive as its new executive director.
34) Wisconsin: Milwaukee community members are demanding a people’s budget for the county. “On Monday, October 30, the County Board of Supervisors held their annual public hearing to discuss the proposed 2024 county budget. One of the proposals within this budget was an increase to the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) of $7 million. Although people attended the public hearing to discuss a wide range of issues, such as taking into account the safety of Milwaukee County Transit System’s drivers or better accessibility for the disabled community within the county, the majority of public testimonies demanded increased spending for public goods and services rather than continual increase to the MCSO. ‘That money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is our communities. As you chip away at our communities, you harm people,’ said Pearl Foster, a social worker in Milwaukee, highlighting that an increase in the MCSO’s budget would harm other programs funded by tax dollars. This excessive funding of policing institutions at the cost of peoples’ ability to live with dignity is an issue that plagues most municipalities across the U.S.”
35) International/Australia: Another government consulting disaster story bubbles up from down under. “Four consultancy firms that were paid more than $40m to audit quality and safety in aged care homes have had reports rejected because they did not meet the standard required by the federal government. The aged care quality and safety commissioner, Janet Anderson, has told a Senate inquiry the firms were ‘held to account’ for their work and that there is an ongoing review about whether to rely on them as heavily in the future. Last financial year, the federal government outsourced more than two-thirds of aged care audits to external consultants due to workforce challenges, which prompted an official review to warn this posed a ‘significant risk.’ The four consultancy firms contracted to audit aged care homes were KPMG, SAI Global, RSM and HDAA. Since 2021, these firms have been paid more than $40m for this work, which includes conducting interviews and searches at aged care homes.”
All this as the Financial Times reports that consulting firms are freezing starting salaries in a bid to shore up profits. “‘It is the hangover after the party,’ said Fiona Czerniawska, chief executive of Source Global Research, a consulting sector analyst. Faced with declining customer demand in some areas of their business, and pricing pressure across the board, consulting firms are trying to shore up profits by curtailing hiring and holding down pay, she said.” [Sub required]
36) International/Canada: Privatization of Alberta’s medical labs has been an absolute disaster, with the system flipping back and forth between public and private ownerships for years. “Doctors and researchers say a series of U-turns on privatizing laboratory services in Alberta has short-changed patients facing delays in diagnosis and treatment, creating chaos that offers lessons for other parts of the country. In Alberta, responsibility for lab testing at facilities outside hospitals switched between public and private hands several times over nearly three decades. Last year, the United Conservative Party (UCP) government privatized the province’s community lab services in a deal with Dynalife Medical Labs. Within months of the long-planned takeover, lab testing backlogs for patients grew onerous. In August, the province announced all of its labs would be brought back under the government-owned Alberta Precision Labs (APL) by the end of 2023. (…) Now, Alberta’s auditor general is investigating what went wrong with the abandoned plan. But in the meantime, physicians and patients say they’re looking for stability, transparency and quality care.”
37) International/India: Other countries are taking note of these government consulting scandals and poor performance, e.g. in India, where Gopi Karunakaran does a deep dive in The Leaflet on consulting and outsourcing. “The history of such advisory services to governments by global consulting firms is riddled with failures, bad advice, influence peddling and collapse of government special skills and knowledge built over the years. This article aims to prove that the experience and history of consulting firms and their interventions in countries that have sought their help have been met with unmitigated disasters. It also sets out reasons why involving such firms is detrimental to the country and prejudicial to national interests. The foremost question is this: Do strategy firms truly produce the best outcomes? Many scholars in business, academia, and journalism have long argued that the real value of consulting is difficult to ascertain and, hence, consulting firms are mainly concerned with creating the impression of value.”
38) National: The U.S. Forest Service wants to allow carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects on national forest land, according to a new proposed rule it published Friday. “Some environmental groups opposed the rule, arguing it would amount to the privatization of public land. ‘Our nation’s forests should not be a dumping ground for polluters,’ said Jim Walsh, policy director of the environmental group Food & Water Watch. Some CCS projects in the U.S. are facing obstacles securing access to geological storage sites where captured carbon dioxide could be sequestered for hundreds of years. Regulators in North Dakota in August denied a permit application from Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions, which hopes to store as much as 18 million metric tons of carbon dioxide there as part of its multi-state CCS pipeline, due to concerns about the project’s impact to residents and the environment. The state is reconsidering Summit’s application.”
39) Ohio: Who will look after the money if voters decide tomorrow to privatize Cincinnati’s only railroad? The answer is rather murky, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. “Who’s in charge of the money and will safeguard against wasteful spending? Sixteen financial institutions – including Cincinnati’s own Fifth Third – have applied for that job, city officials revealed to The Enquirer. Two other firms are also based locally: FEG Investment Advisors in Downtown and Sycamore Township’s Ascension Wealth Management. The other 13 firms are: Callan; Clearstead; Cook Street Consulting, Inc.; John W. Bristol & Co., Inc.; Marquette Associates, Inc.; Meketa Investment Group; NEPC, LLC; Northern Trust; PFM Asset Management; Segal Advisors; UBS Financial Services, Inc.; Verus Advisory, Inc.; and Wilshire Advisors LLC. The latest disclosure by the city gives anxious voters additional details as they head to the polls for the Nov. 7 election.”
40) Tennessee: Guest columnist Claire Brown, an Episcopal priest writing in The Tennessean, says rejecting federal education money could worsen child hunger. “I was alarmed when the news came recently that leaders in the Tennessee legislature have appointed a panel to determine whether our state can reject $1.8 billion in federal funding for education, which pays for free and reduced lunch programs in our public schools. (…) I can confidently assert that in our rural county in East Tennessee, where almost 20% of children experience food insecurity and hunger, a refusal to accept this funding would take food out of our kids’ mouths.”