First, the Good News

1) National/California: In a major victory for the Huntington Beach community and democratic organizing, the public library will remain in public hands. Perhaps seeing the handwriting on the wall, Library Systems & Services abruptly pulled its bid to take over the library’s operations. The city council meeting at which the privatization was shelved was contentious, and the discussion of the library outsourcing was mixed with charges of conservative book banning. Watch the City Council hearing, which includes many powerful, inspiring comments on the public library and the fight to keep it public. [Video, about two hours].

Commenting on the victory, In the Public Interest’s Executive Director Donald Cohen said, “libraries are one of our most precious community assets. Huntington Beach finally realized they shouldn’t give it away”.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that “Carol Daus, a board member of Friends of the Huntington Beach Public Library, said she was excited that LS&S withdrew its bid. As of Tuesday afternoon, the council had received nearly 300 emails, mostly against the outsourcing of management of library services. ‘We do view it as a win,’ Daus said. ‘We won the battle. We didn’t win the war quite yet, but this is huge in terms of getting them out of the picture. We don’t need a for-profit corporation coming in and managing our library when we are managed so well, so efficiently with great staff that are loved by the community.’ Two petitions have begun collecting signatures in Huntington Beach in recent weeks. One seeks to repeal the parent/guardian children’s book review board ordinance, while a more recently launched petition seeks to put public library operations in the city’s municipal code.”

2) National/Puerto Rico: Princeton Professor Yarimar Bonilla, author of Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm (and watch the film; about 35 minutes), has written a powerful op-ed in The New York Times on how utility privatization has been a disaster for the people of Puerto Rico. “Public-private partnerships are meant to ensure accountability, but in Puerto Rico the legislature had to issue an arrest warrant for the company’s chief executive just to get basic reports. (…) No doubt, Puerto Rico’s public agencies need reform, but instead private public partnerships are maintaining the status quo. The result is a landscape of semiprivatized dysfunction—sparking power lines, roads ridden with potholes, collapsing hospitals, glitchy voting machines, a toll collection system susceptible to cyberattacks. All while costs for these services soar.”

So will vulture investors get to scoop up future revenue that could be used to fix Puerto Rico’s power infrastructure? Perhaps they will, the Bond Buyer reports. “Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board is seeking to reopen a confirmation hearing on a debt-restructuring plan for the island’s power utility after an appeals court last week ruled that bondholders have a claim to the agency’s future net revenue.” [Sub required]

3) National: For In the Public Interest’s Q & A Series, Jeff Hagan asked Sidney Shapiro and Joseph Tomain a few questions about their new book, How Government Built America.

HAGAN: What do you hope people will learn from reading the book?

SHAPIRO & TOMAIN: We hope that readers will find out how government and market interactions have defined who we are as a country. Reasonable people will disagree about the precise mix of the two, but we hope that readers will come away persuaded that we cannot achieve those values by pretending that markets alone can do the trick. When we get the mix right, good things happen in the country. The challenge is to find the right mix, which can only be done if enough of us understand the importance of government in that mix.

4) National: In the face of conservative resistance, Sen. Bernie Sanders and educators are demanding that teachers get a raise. “In America today, nearly 20 percent of public school teachers in our country are forced to work two or three jobs during the school year,” Sanders said. “Maybe they are driving Uber, maybe they are waiting tables, maybe they’re parking cars. As the richest country in the history of the world, it seems to me that we have got to do a lot better than that.” [Watch the hearing, about two hours]

5) National/California: A California labor regulator says it fined Amazon nearly $6 million for thousands of violations of a safety law that took effect in 2022. “The measure, known as the Warehouse Quotas Law, lets employees request written explanations of any productivity quotas that apply to them, as well as explanations of any discipline they may face in failing to meet the quotas. The state labor commissioner’s office said Amazon violated the law more than 59,000 times at two Southern California warehouses between October and March.”

Meanwhile, PowerSwitch Action’s Housing and Land Justice Director, Christina Rosale, says “low and moderate-income people are shut out of housing markets,” and “Amazon is directly responsible for that.” Read about the local impact Amazon has on housing in this Bloomberg story.

6) National: The Biden administration has announced final rules that codify the prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements clean energy project managers must meet to receive increased tax credits. “By meeting the Treasury Department’s labor requirements, developers can earn five times the baseline credit amount under the 2022 climate reconciliation law. The eligible credits include the renewable electricity production, clean electricity investment, and clean hydrogen production credits. While a version of these requirements was already in effect, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Podesta said on a call with reporters the final guidance ‘will give clarity and certainty to developers and the workers they employ that clean energy jobs will be good jobs.’”

7) National: Teachers in the South are going union, reports Harold Meyerson in The American Prospect. “There are still some in labor who adhere to the syndicalist belief that state power and the political action required to win it merely distract unions from their real goal of organizing workers. That certainly never made sense in the case of public-sector employees, and that of private-sector employees, too. The changed law resulting from Virginia Democrats’ 2019 electoral victories, and the changed rules for private-sector workers that have been implemented by President Biden’s NLRB appointees, make very clear that unions have to organize workers and help organize political electoral victories, too, if they are to really win collective bargaining for the nation’s workers. As the teachers and school bus drivers in Fairfax County can readily attest.”

8) California: The California Supreme Court has removed a sweeping anti-tax measure from the November ballot that opponents claimed would have been catastrophic for local government budgets. “The high court found the measure to be a far-reaching revision of the state constitution and “because those changes would substantially alter our basic plan of government, the proposal cannot be enacted by initiative,” California Supreme Court Associate Justice Goodwin Liu wrote in the 74-page opinion. The ruling handed down Thursday came on a 7-0 vote from the high court.”

9) International/National: Bloomberg reports that U.S. unions can use new and emerging European supply chain lawsaimed at cracking down on labor violators to grow their ranks. “Under the German supply chain law, the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control can take action against employers with at least 1,000 workers in the country. About 4,000 businesses currently fall under the law, according to Moody’s. They include German automaker Volkswagen AG, which recently voted to unionize in Tennessee, and Daimler Truck AG, whose North American subsidiary reached a labor agreement with the UAW last month, both meet that criteria. Violators can be fined up to €8 million or 2% of their annual revenue. The EU Parliament approved a directive in April to expand a similar policy to all 27 member states, which will have to write and implement their own laws.”


10) National/Arizona: Arizona is sending taxpayer money to religious schools—and billionaires see it as a model for the U.S., CNN reports. “Arizona was the first state in the country to enact a universal ‘education savings account’ program—a form of voucher that allows any family to take tax dollars that would have gone to their child’s public education and spend the money instead on private schooling. A CNN investigation found that the program has cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than anticipated, disproportionately benefited richer areas, and funneled taxpayer funds to unregulated private schools that don’t face the same educational standards and antidiscrimination protections that public schools do. Since Arizona’s expanded program took effect in 2022, according to state data, it has sent nearly $2 million to Dream City and likely sapped millions of dollars from Paradise Valley’s budget.”

Discussing the CNN report, MSNBC’s Ja’han Jones says, “this is precisely why parents, teachers and education activists were so outraged that Roc Nation, the media company owned by rap mogul Jay-Z (aka Shawn Carter), announced plans to promote a school privatization program in Philadelphia that would spend public funds on private school vouchers. Those plans are supported by far-right, Trump-supporting billionaire Jeff Yass (pictured with Carter at a ritzy event here). Yass is a major investor in TikTok who is also a major proponent of the school privatization agenda. He’s named in the CNN article, alongside Trump-era Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Jimmy Haslam (the Trump-supporting owner of the Cleveland Browns), as the uber-wealthy supporters behind the push to funnel funds to private (often far-right) Christian schools. This effort to infuse American education with Christianity may not be as obvious to the public as placing the Ten Commandments in classrooms. But it’s arguably far more effective and enduring.”

11) California: The California Teachers’ Association has published a really impressive list of actions that CTA locals have taken to promote community schools since a week of action in April.

12) Nevada: The State Public Charter School Authority (SPCSA) has approved the closure of a troubled charter school and moved to terminate the charter of another school that’s been open for less than a year. Eagle Charter School “owes taxpayers $837,000. It’s money Eagle received last year from the Nevada Department of Education after it projected to have 306 students enrolled by August. But Eagle’s enrollment was only about half that. Eagle did eventually get up to 300 students through the course of the school year. But rather than pay back the overpayment to DOE, Eagle is accused of spending the money. Two months shy of celebrating a year, the State Public Charter School Authority voted to terminate Eagle’s charter.”

13) North Carolina: The Charlotte Observer reports that “a charter school with Republican political ties and a focus on a ‘classical’ education could circumvent traditional state approvals and open in a few months if OK’d by state lawmakers. Trinitas Academy is the only school that meets five detailed conditions lodged in a provision of a 271-page state budgetintroduced this week allowing an unnamed charter school to expedite its opening. The five criteria include: a 2024 application, in a county projected to grow at least 25% between 2020 and 2030, in the state’s largest metropolitan area, that the county’s public school district has enrollment under 25,000 students and occupancy in a pre-existing, fully furnished school facility purchased from a local school board.” The Network for Public Education’s Carol Burris says“the point of the review is to make sure the school can survive. This is a serious taxpayer investment and there needs to be oversight.’”

14) North Carolina: Elizabeth Paul and Mary Ann Wolf of the Public School Forum of North Carolina ask are vouchers school choice or schools’ choice? “With this decision, state lawmakers are choosing to send hundreds of millions of dollars per year to private and religious schools that can practice discriminatory admissions policies, and do not have to share what they teach or how their students perform. With the increase in taxpayer funds being diverted to private schools in the name of expanding ‘school choice,’ we must consider: how can parents and caregivers be sure that the schools they are choosing are adequately preparing their children to be well-rounded students who are prepared for a successful career and life? And what if the private schools they choose don’t choose them back?”

15) Texas: ProPublica has run a sprawling story, co-published with the Texas Tribune, suggesting that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) may be about to grasp his goal of ending Texas’ status as “the largest GOP stronghold without pro-school voucher legislation.” They report that “the primary challenges drew millions in contributions from national groups and billionaire donors like TikTok investor Jeffrey Yass, a Pennsylvania voucher advocate who poured $6 million into Abbott’s campaign. A Texas affiliate of the Betsy DeVos-funded American Federation for Children spent more than $4 million attacking incumbents, and the federal Club for Growth political action committee said it coordinated with another PAC to spend about $8 million on ads targeting Texas voucher opponents. Allison lost to a challenger who received more than $700,000 in support from Abbott’s campaign.”

While doing a reasonable job of reporting on right wing money and support for Abbott’s drive, including the right wing Texas Public Policy Foundation (for more on TPPF read here), they do not report on the Democratic side of the story (or even quote one), which, as readers of Privatization Report know, is that enough seats can be flipped in the November elections to again block the voucher billionaires and Abbott.


16) National: As a massive heat wave affects much of the U.S., states are scrambling to keep up. But even as power grids struggle, questions are arising about usage and conservation. AI is certainly straining the grid. Added to the mix is a report that “Californians alone use more power playing games and heating their pools than entire countries in Africa. That has to change.” The Washington Post says private interests are on a quest for a “miracle solution.” So what is the role of the public sector in all this?

17) National: Writing in The American Prospect, Maureen Tkacik explains How an “Algorithm” Turned Apartment Pools Green—a terrific article on the role of private equity in using formulas to drive enormous rent increases while slashing maintenance and destroying affordability. “Back at the Chronos portfolio, the waiting game keeps tenants in purgatory. Online reviews note that one complex’s pool has been closed for two years, trash is collected only sporadically at all of the properties, and cars are routinely stolen and smashed at night. In January, the mortgage was modified, not to reduce the mortgage payments so management can afford to perform routine maintenance but to replace the old management company, Indio Management, with a new one that gets even worse reviews.”

18) California: Should the state be able to buy single-family homes to address the affordable housing crisis? “The California Association of Realtors agrees not to oppose a constitutional amendment to reduce the voter approval threshold for housing bonds. In exchange, the measure will not apply to single-family homes. Some housing advocates are angry about the carve-out. A November ballot measure to make it easier for local governments to borrow money for new infrastructure and affordable housing will likely include a big exception, preventing that money from being used to buy single-family homes. That’s thanks to a last-minute deal hammered out between a top legislative Democrat and the state real estate lobby.”

LAist has the backstory. “Last year, Davis Democratic Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry pushed through the proposed amendment to the state constitution that would lower the electoral bar that local infrastructure and housing bonds need to clear. Currently, that threshold sits at a heightened two-thirds majority of voters. Aguiar-Curry’s proposal, which had failed to get out of the Legislature three times until last session, would bring that figure down to a more attainable 55%. Though the amendment passed last year, it left some implementation questions unanswered. Two bills—ACA 10 and AB 2813—were introduced to do that tweaking. That set of a fresh months-long round of negotiations.”

19) Louisiana: The Pelican State has moved to ban responsible investing. “Under Republican leadership, Louisiana has joined the red state battle against environmental, social and governance policies with the country’s latest state-level law that bans doing business with corporations, including bond underwriters, deemed to be unfriendly to the gun industry. Gov. Jeff Landry, a Republican who took office in January, has long advocated against ESG issues during previous roles as state attorney general and Congressman. Last week he signed into law Senate Bill 234, which the Legislature passed in 2021 but was vetoed by former Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, who had warned it would raise bond financing costs for local and state entities.” [Sub required]

20) Montana: Senate Republican candidate Tim Sheehy failed to disclose his role at the extremist Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), “a property rights and environmental research nonprofit that has a history of advocating for privatizing America’s federal lands and rolling back environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act.

Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL and wealthy businessman who is running against three-term incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), joined PERC’s board in 2022, according to the organization’s filings with the IRS. But he failed to include his position at the think tank in his campaign financial disclosure, in violation of Senate rules, HuffPost has learned.”

For more on Sheehy and PERC, see this column by the great George Ochenski—a longtime Helena resident, environmental activist and Montana’s longest-running columnist—in the Daily Montanan. “To put it somewhat more simply, PERC believes that private land ownership results in better conservation of those lands under the theory—and it is a disputable theory — that if you own the land and resources, you take better care of it due to its investment value.  This has long been their across the board approach to land, water, endangered species and resource extraction. If one wanted to dispute that theory, it certainly wouldn’t be difficult to do, particularly in Montana where checking the list of Superfund sites left behind by private industries and owners bears indisputable evidence of the myth that private ownership means better conservation of those resources. (…) In Montana, that can mean anything from degrading rangeland by putting more livestock on it than it can sustain to, as in Plum Creek’s sad history, leaving behind stumpfields filled with noxious weeds on their vast private—once public—land holdings.”

21) Pennsylvania: The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania will consider “whether the state should permit private companies to acquire public water and sewer systems even when a deal is likely to increase costs for consumers,” Peter Hall reportsin the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. “‘The net impact, the dollar impact, by all these acquisitions in total, is about $100 million a year that ratepayers are paying more than they otherwise would have,’ Pennsylvania Consumer Advocate Patrick Cicero told the Capital-Star. ‘There’s significant harm, financial harm to consumers.’

The Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA), which is a legislatively established independent agency that represents consumers in utility issues, challenged the PUC’s approval of Aqua PA’s proposal to purchase the East Whiteland Township wastewater system in 2022. A Commonwealth Court panel of three judges agreed with the consumer advocate, finding that the PUC incorrectly found that the benefits of the deal outweighed the harms to the public, namely the potential for higher sewer fees. The PUC, Aqua PA and East Whiteland Township asked the state Supreme Court to review the decision and on Friday, it issued orders granting their requests.”

Public Services

22) National/Think Tanks: Why do our communities need school lunches and need to protect the jobs of our public service workers who provide them? The Food Research and Action Center has a webpage on the benefits of school lunchand a report on why they are important. But increasingly, school lunch provision and the jobs of providers are becoming big business, threatening their quality and availability. See “The big business of school meals” by Jennifer E. Gaddis. “Big corporations and food service companies are making millions of dollars from public school meal programs, often to the detriment of students and their health.”

23) National: AFSCME welcomes the Public Service Worker Protection Act. “The bipartisan proposal, introduced last Friday by Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-Pa.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), seeks to expand the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to include public sector workers under its defined protections. In doing so, it would help improve workplace safety for millions of public service workers. ‘Every worker, regardless of what they do or whom they work for, deserves to be safe and healthy on the job,’ AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a press release. ‘Yet, 23 states actively exclude public service workers from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) coverage, leaving nearly 8 million front-line professionals in public safety, health care, sanitation, education and more exposed to dangerous working conditions.’ Saunders also pointed out that the injury rate among state and local public sector workers is much higher—81% higher—than that of their counterparts in the private sector.”

24) National: Government Executive reports that “House Republicans, typically an ally of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, are moving legislation that asks the U.S. Postal Service to reverse course on some key elements of its efforts to overhaul its operations. The lawmakers voiced their concerns in a report on the fiscal 2024 Financial Services and General Government spending bill, which the House Appropriations Committee approved on Thursday. The language added to the growing chorus of discontent on Capitol Hill with DeJoy’s signature Delivering for America plan and continued the pressure he is facing to change course.”

Democrats are urging President Biden to move quickly to install two new members on the Postal Service Board of Governors. “Last October, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) asked the head of the Postal Service’s accountability unit to launch an investigation into the impacts of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year austerity overhaul plan. Critics argue the plan is ultimately a privatization scheme championed by Republicans including former President Donald Trump, the 2024 GOP front-runner. DeJoy donated at least hundreds of thousands of dollars to Trump’s 2016 campaign prior to his appointment. A Thursday statement from [Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.)] office took aim at the USPS chief.”

25) National: “Last week, the Partnership for Public Service “launched a new Protecting Democracy webpage which highlights our efforts to protect the merit-based, nonpartisan civil service and includes resources for people working across sectors to rebuild trust in government.” The Partnership says, “The backbone of our federal government is the more than 2 million career civil servants who work in communities across the country to make our nation safer, healthier and more prosperous. These are the people who care for our public lands, ensure our food and water are clean, help veterans and seniors access their benefits, protect public health, provide disaster relief and keep us safe when we travel. Our democracy depends on their commitment to the public good, and our nation is stronger because of their experience and expertise. Yet mounting efforts to politicize the federal workforce put the safety and security of the country at risk. Instead of enabling our government to work better, these proposals would strip it of expertise and weaken the ability of career federal employees to provide vital public services.”

26) New York: Gothamist reports that “library officials are blaming the air conditioning problems on $750,000 in deferred maintenance costs exacerbated by Mayor Eric Adams’ recent budget reductions, and warn that more unplanned closures are likely on the horizon.” Civil rights attorney Scott Hechinger says, “claims he doesn’t have budget to keep NYC public libraries open, [but] NYC Mayor Eric Adams is gifting his $11 billion NYPD with a new, quarter billion dollar play space.” They say, “After budget cuts, NYC’s libraries can’t fix broken air conditioners amid heat wave.”

27) New York/Think Tanks: The Center for New York City Affairs has produced a report, “Public Transportation Subsidies and Racial Equity: A Case Study of the NYC Ferry and Fair Fares,” by Prisca Agombe and George Sweeting. “This report is a case study of how city government policy and budget choices relating to public transit subsidies have differential effects on New York City communities by race, ethnicity, and income. It compares public subsidies for various public transportation services in New York City, focusing on the New York City’s Fair Fares program for low income riders using the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) New York City subway and bus systems, and the NYC Ferry service. It also compares the demographic characteristics of those likely to benefit from each. Our analysis shows that NYC Ferry, which provides commuter waterborne service, has a much deeper per-trip subsidy than Fair Fares, with those subsidies going disproportionately to higher income and White commuters. It is a dramatic example of how seemingly neutral transportation policy can have disparate racial and income effects.”

28) Nevada: Thousands of additional Nevada state employees have filed for an AFSCME union election. “Unit C employees include Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) services technicians, family support specialists at the Department of Welfare and Support Services (DWSS), engineering techs at the Department of Transportation (DOT), library techs at all Nevada System of Higher Education institutions, and others. ‘An election is the quickest way to certify our bargaining unit. We’ve gone four years without a union contract, and it’s time we take our seat at the table with our fellow state employees,’ said Jackie Bertot, a DMV services tech and an AFSCME member. AFSCME Local 4041 is the largest union for Nevada state employees, representing thousands of state workers across all agencies.”

All the Rest

29) California: The California Workplace Safety Board has approved heat protections for indoor workers—but if you live or work in prisons you’re out of luck. “The board of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health first passed indoor heat rules in March. However, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration blocked them over concerns about costs to prisons and other state entities. The amended rules, which stand to impact about 1.4 million workers and 196,000 establishments, need final approval from the Office of Administrative Law to take effect. And after Thursday’s vote, Cal/OSHA board chair Joseph M. Alioto Jr. requested that the office expedite that step.” The regulations would apply to “workplaces such as warehouses, schools and kitchens. Employers will need to cool work spaces or adjust tasks or schedules to reduce risk of heat illness when temperatures or the heat index reach 87 degrees Fahrenheit (30.5 Celsius)—or 82 degrees (about 28 Celsius) where workers wear restrictive attire.”

30) Washington: Should the Spokane County Health District privatize opioid treatment services? They are looking for input. “After attending the Thursday town hall, resident Jeff Beaulac said he had “mixed feelings” about the proposal. ‘Based on what I have heard so far today, I would be against it. I believe for privatization to work, there needs to be a good plan in place, and I haven’t heard one today. I understand this is early in the process, but I’d want to know what kind of oversight would exist to ensure clients are not treated as just a revenue source,’ Beaulac said, noting he previously worked with impacted populations in the community. In her presentation, Thompson did note that ‘transparency’ is an advantage of a government institution.”

Related Posts