First, the Good News

1) National: In the Public Interest has signed on as an anchor partner organization to the Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington D.C. & to the Polls, taking place Saturday, June 29th, 2024, Third and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is hosting this historic gathering of poor people, workers, and their allies to demand that candidates for public office in 2024 support a moral public policy agenda that includes living wages, voting rights, and other essential policies that lift from the bottom. The June 29th Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington D.C. & to the Polls will launch outreach to 15 million poor and low-wage infrequent voters ahead of the 2024 U.S. elections and beyond.

2) National: Earlier this month, In the Public Interest, the Network for Public Education, and the Partnership for the Future of Learning released the report, “How Community Schools are Transforming Public Education.” Last week, Jeff Bryant, the lead fellow of The Progressive’s Public Schools Advocate project and a writing fellow and chief correspondent for Our Schools, a project of the Independent Media Institute, drew from that report for a piece he wrote for The Progressive. In the article, republished by ITPI courtesy of the author and The Progressive, Bryant placed community schools in the context of populist approaches to education.

3) National/New Podcast: Are you pressed for time but still keen on following what’s going on at the National Labor Relations Board and the broader picture of labor rights? Well, there’s a great new podcast and NLRB tracking project, NLRB Edge. Matt Bruenig is using AI to keep track of the thousands of current issues and cases, which can be overwhelming to do by anyone not devoting full time to it. To find out about the project listen to this episode of the American Prospect’s Left Anchor. Bruenig, Ryan Cooper, and Alexi the Greek discuss the goals of the podcast plus some huge cases that could blow a hole through labor relations law and regulation. [Audio, about 60 minutes]

4) National/Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State Conference of the NAACP has come out against the new school voucher program. “The NAACP explained in their letter how these types of voucher programs take funds away from public schools and divert them to privately or religiously-owned institutions. ‘The proposed legislation supporting the PA School Vouchers/Scholarship Fund seeks to redirect taxpayer funds from public schools to private institutions, potentially depriving public schools of crucial financial resources, perpetuating the widening gap of inequality in Pennsylvania public schools, and further depriving marginalized students of their fundamental right to free and appropriate public education.’ The biggest promoters for the PASS voucher program include Pennsylvania’s richest billionaire, Jeffrey Yass, a network of right-wing think tanks and former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Pennsylvania House Democrats defeated a push to include the $100 million voucher program in last year’s budget and they are getting ready to do the same in the upcoming budget.”

5) National: The Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Co-Director, Eileen Appelbaum, explains how Elizabeth Warren’s new bill makes private equity’s death grip on hospitals a crime. “Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced the Corporate Crimes Against Health Care Bill. This new legislation will empower state Attorneys General and the US Attorney General to claw back funds and impose civil and, in the case where a patient dies, criminal penalties on a PE firm and related financial actors whose financial engineering activities drove the health care organization to financial ruin. Senator Warren’s Corporate Crimes Against Health Care bill will curb the use of financial engineering strategies that endanger the integrity of the U.S. health system. It will curb abuses that I and other researchers investigating the financialization of America’s health system have identified. It will protect the right of patients to the best care possible, of professionals and frontline workers to adequate staffing and time with patients, and of communities to accessible health care.”

For the international picture, read this report. For further reading, also check out PESP’s Private Equity Labor Scorecard(November 2023). “Private equity-owned companies employ over 12 million workers in the U.S., a substantial and expanding workforce segment.”

6) New Hampshire: Expansion of school vouchers has been killed in the House. “During the debate, Rep. David Luneau, D-Hopkinton, noted 95 percent of children participating in the program were either in private or religious schools, or homeschooling, not in public schools, when the program began. So the state, he said, was subsidizing parents who had long ago decided to put their children in private schools, not facilitating a change by low-income families. And he said the House has not been interested in preventing fraud by putting guardrails on the program, even as the Department of Education has obstructed an investigation by the Legislative Budget Assistant’s office.” [Sub required]

7) New Jersey: An email message from Julie Larrea Borst, Executive Director of Save Our Schools NJ, and Community Organizing and Board President of the NJ Community Schools Coalition: “Hi everyone, The NJ school voucher bill was withdrawn this afternoon. On behalf of the many advocacy groups in NJ who lent their voices to killing this bill, THANK YOU to all of you – your experience, advice, the many studies, reports, articles, and general support! All of it much appreciated. Julie.”

8) Virginia: The Washington Post’s Lauren Kaori Gurley says “BIG win for labor in Virginia today: 27,500+ workers in Fairfax County Public Schools—the ninth-largest school district in the country– have voted to unionize. @AFTunionsays it’s the largest union victory for the public Sector in 25 Years.”

9) International/Think Tanks: The Private Equity Stakeholder Project (PESP) reports that researchers have launched an  update to a database of top private equity energy portfolios. Amanda Mendoza, senior campaign and research coordinator of the PESP, says “The Private Equity Energy Tracker finally does what private equity firms refuse to do themselves: disclose their energy portfolios to the public. Private equity firms consistently limit disclosure of the extent of their energy portfolios to their investors and to the public. We hope that pension funds and other investors finally have the tools to realize the frightening risks their capital faces when exposed to these private equity-owned fossil fuel companies. These top private equity firms intentionally want their fossil fuel investments to remain shrouded in secrecy, but with the new Energy Tracker, the hidden risks of PE’s dirty investments are showcased for the world to see.”


10) National: In a letter to the editor of The Washington Post about an article on the use of vouchers for private education, Glenn Harris, president of Race Forward and a board member of the Philanthropic Initiative on Racial Equity, says, “An alternative headline for the article on taxpayer funds going to religious schools might have been: “Vouchers allow billions of taxpayer dollars to be used to expand school segregation.” Even before the “modern voucher movement” referenced by The Post, vouchers gained serious momentum as a tool to help White families leave public schools after the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. And today, school vouchers continue to function as an effective tool to expand segregation and weaken our democracy.”

11) California: Amid campus turmoil, a San Diego charter school has placed a top official on leave. “The shakeup comes after school leaders weighed the possibility of closing their high school campus earlier this year amid student enrollment declines and financial problems. Earlier this year, the school was facing a $2 million budget deficit. Board members ultimately voted to keep the high school campus open. As inewsource previously reported, the challenges have sparked criticism from community members, who in turn launched a petition calling for Bagby and then-board President Gary Rubin to step down.”

12) California: A charter school has sued Oakland Unified to avoid closure. “According to Oaklandside, the school’s reading scores went from about 32% in 2022 to 40% in 2023 and scores for Black and low-income students also increased, but math proficiency dropped from 25% to 12%.In the lawsuit, North Oakland Community Charter School states that it fulfilled the requirements to remain open and that Oakland Unified is violating the state’s education code by circumventing the normal charter revocation process. A spokesperson for the school district told Oaklandside the district does not comment on pending legal matters.”

13) North Carolina: Children’s Village Academy in Kinston is to close at the end of this month. “More than 80 percent of the charter school’s 150 students are economically disadvantaged and nearly 100 percent are African American, school officials said.” The Rocky Mount Telegram reports that “the N.C. Charter Review Commission recommended the charter not be renewed, and on June, 3, an N.C. State Board of Education panel concurred. ‘We have heard for the first time at this meeting, a comprehensive plan to fix problems,’ state board member Jill Camnitz said at the meeting. ‘However, given the long history of issues that could have and should have been addressed, at a minimum over the past two years, this panel can not in good faith base a recommendation on assertion and promises of changes to come.’”

14) Ohio: Jim Collier reports that Ohio’s expanded vouchers are bleeding public schools that often outperform the private schools that benefit. “Private schools participating in EdChoice voucher programs are not subject to the same regulatory standards as public schools. These include standards for licensing of teachers, criminal background checks for employees, curriculum requirements, building safety codes, publicly reporting the results of state and national tests, or accepting students with special needs. The Ohio Department of Education issues annual report cards that measure the performance of districts and individual schools using five rating categories: achievement, progress, gap closing, graduation and early literacy. One in five Ohio students leave a district that outperforms the charter to which they go in all five rating categories, according to a 2022 analysis published in the Columbus Bar Lawyers Quarterly that also found that the average Ohio charter school has a lower four-year graduation rate than all but one of Ohio’s 611 school districts.”

15) Pennsylvania: “Jay-Z’s organization’s involvement in Pennsylvania’s school voucher debate raises ethics questions,” Chalkbeat Philadelphia reports. “Inside Beckett Life Center, a North Philly community center, families on Wednesday gathered around catered sandwiches and salads listening to several young volunteers laud a proposal that would pour millions of state dollars into vouchers to help them escape their underperforming public schools. It was one of 10 “dine and learn” events this month organized by Team Roc, the philanthropic arm of entertainment mogul Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, as part of the rapper’s high-profile involvement in the polarizing issue.”

16) Texas: Texas AFT says Texas Democrats united to defend public education at their 2024 state convention. “We need to elect about three more Democrats to the Texas House to defeat vouchers and defend our neighborhood public schools,” said State Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin). The Weatherford Democrat reports that “Kristian Carranza, a progressive organizer and Lujan’s Democratic opponent, said when she meets voters on block-walks, ‘the No. 1 issue at the door is public education and the voucher fight.’ She noted that the district—which covers south San Antonio and the eastern side of Bexar County—includes beleaguered districts like Harlandale ISD, which closed four elementary schools last fall amid a funding deficit. ‘For people, this is a lived reality when we talk about private school vouchers,’ said Carranza, who opposes the measure.”

In a letter to the editor of the Temple Daily Telegram, Benjamin Liles of Salado wrote, “the pernicious part of this voucher scheme is that the governor’s plan would be to use the money which would go to the public school and instead grant it to a voucher school in which the student enrolls. Also, it appears that the money from the state—my tax dollars—may go to reimburse those parents who can already easily afford to pay the voucher school tuition. As a believer in and product of the public school system, I adamantly oppose the state’s using my tax dollars to support this voucher system.”

Salado is in the district of State Rep. Brad Buckley (R), the chair of the State House public education committee. He is feeling the heat from his constituents to speak up against the prospect that school vouchers could drain millions from Texas public schools. “As much as our Rep. Brad Buckley threads a needle to not anger the governor or the far-right of what has become the Republican Party, he is the chair of Public Education and it’s time we in Bell County hear from him directly,” says Howard Arey of Harker Heights. “Can he affirm that expanding a government voucher program will not put at risk future property tax relief from Texas to taxpayers? Can he say that a voucher program expected to cost $2.3B by 2028 won’t crowd out funding to public schools? With no inflation adjustment to the Basic Student Allotment since 2019, can he tell us right now that schools are fully funded today? The House is the direct representation of the people of Texas—it’s time they heard that voice directly on an important issue.”


17) National: Julia Conley of Common Dreams writes that “with monthly inflation down to its lowest point in more than two years and heading toward the Federal Reserve’s target, the Biden administration on Wednesday celebrated ‘welcome progress.’ But an analysis from Accountable.US showed how more than 100 million people who rent their homes in the U.S. are not seeing the benefits of what one Biden spokesperson called “the great American comeback” in their housing costs, particularly millions of people whose homes are owned by corporate landlords. The government watchdog found that the six largest corporate landlord companies brought in close to a combined $300 million in increased profits in the first quarter of 2024, with the profits mostly stemming from rent hikes.”

18) National: On public-private partnerships, the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) has approved a task force’s direction, scope, and proposed plan to develop implementation guidance in the form of a Technical Release and to continue conducting training and outreach. See the new FASAB Newsletter, p. 4. Here’s the full text:

“Public-Private Partnerships

The majority of members continued to agree with the task force’s direction, scope, and proposed plan to develop implementation guidance to assist preparers and auditors with complying with the SFFAS 49, Public-Private Partnerships, disclosure requirements. Specifically, the majority of members decided to expose a proposed Technical Release comprising sample Q&As and a flowchart. The purpose would be to help address implementation challenges with applying the risk-based characteristics and harmonizing required SFFAS 49 disclosures to SFFAS 47, Reporting Entity, and SFFAS 54, Leases.

Nevertheless, members made the following key points:

  • Disclosures should be reviewed before developing guidance.
  • Concerns regarding reporting challenges specific to remote risk and cash flow estimates should be addressed.
  • The Board will learn what specific impediments exist regarding P3 risk reporting by issuing an exposure draft.
  • Case study illustrations may be best communicated as non-authoritative guidance.
  • Training and outreach may be better venues to address the complex issues contained in some of the case studies.
  • Case study complexities could raise a myriad of questions best addressed via FASAB’s technical inquiry process.

Staff plans on briefing the Accounting and Auditing Policy Committee (AAPC) in May and presenting the draft Technical Release for review in accordance with the Board’s direction.

If you are interested in joining this implementation work group or know someone who might be interested, please contact Mr. Domenic Savini. Visit the public-private partnerships project page to learn more. Point of Contact: Domenic Savini, savinid@fasab.gov.”

As the FASAB newsletter was out of date when released, readers may want to review the agenda and briefing materialspresented to the policy committee in May. Minutes have not been posted by FASAB at press time.

19) Kansas/Missouri: Fortune magazine reports on a revival of the rivalry between the two states, this time based not on slavery but on proposed public money for private interests. “A 170-year-old rivalry is flaring up as Kansas lawmakers try to snatch the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs away from Missouri even though economists long ago concluded subsidizing pro sports isn’t worth the cost. The Kansas Legislature’s top leaders endorsed helping the Chiefs and professional baseball’s Kansas City Royals finance new stadiums in Kansas ahead of a special session set to convene Tuesday. The plan would authorize state bonds for stadium construction and pay them off with revenues from sports betting, the Kansas Lottery and additional tax dollars generated in and around the new venues. (…) Decades of research have concluded a pro sports franchise doesn’t boost a local economy much, if any, because it mostly captures existing spending from other places in the same community.”

20) Pennsylvania: “With water bills on the rise, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission voted in favor of an order to bring more transparency and review procedures to water privatization,” WHYY reports. “In 2016, state lawmakers passed Act 12, which created a process to determine the value of a public water system including its assets, expected revenue and potential repair costs. The process has led to high-dollar acquisition deals. As a result, the state has seen nearly two dozen public water systems sell off assets to for-profit companies. Since then, customer rates have jumped in some places. In Chester County, New Garden Township rates have risen upwards of 90%. Critics of the law believe it incentivizes for-profit water companies to lure municipalities into inflated deals for public water and wastewater systems—and then turn around and recoup their purchase price through rate hikes.”

So, are lawmakers going to do anything about it? Ginny Kerslake, the Eastern PA Organizer for Food & Water Watch/Food & Water Action is still waiting. “Pennsylvanians Democrats, Republicans & unaffiliated alike agree that water & sewer privatization does nothing but enrich corporate executives & cost ratepayers hugely. Now we just need leadership in either party to have the courage to put Repeal Act 12 bill forward for a vote.”

21) Puerto Rico: Privatization—the “libertarian” gift that keeps on giving. Suki’s Mom says, “350,000 without power in Puerto Rico during a heatwave as a consequence of the US occupation imposing the privatization of the energy grid on Puerto Ricans. Some have already died, & more death is inevitable—repairs will not be made until July.”

22) International/United Kingdom: Bloomberg reports that some Thames Water lenders could lose up to 40% of their investments. “Ministers and government officials have sought to play down the chances of Thames being taken into public ownership any time soon, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration pressing it to resolve its financial difficulties alone and without taxpayers footing the bill. Yet internal government planning under the title ‘Project Timber’ has considered the possibility of the utility being nationalized, according to a person familiar with the plans. That outcome would see some bondholders, in particular smaller share creditors to Thames known as category B bondholders, take a “haircut” of 35% to 40% on the value of their loans, the person said. The majority of bondholders would face smaller losses of 5% to 10% under the plans, they added. The Guardian first reported the plans Thursday.”

It gets worse. Thames is one of six private water companies that are now being sued for up to £1.5billion in a class action lawsuit over sewage discharges. “The suit claims that the water giants have underreported the number of sewage pollution incidents they are responsible for, which in turn led to the overcharging of customers.” So when will Rishi Sunak get off the pot, if ever?

Public Services

23) National: After decades of EMS privatizations (long advocated by the usual snake oil salesmen) and insourcing by frustrated municipalities, “a full 23% of Americans have chosen not to call an ambulance when they needed one because of the cost — according to a new YouGov survey,” More Perfect Union reports. YouGov says, “Due to the costs of ambulance rides and the number of people opting out of using ambulances, a federal committee in 2023 proposed closing the loophole in the No Surprises Act and putting a $100 cap on the cost of ambulance rides. This idea has support from a majority of Americans. Slightly more Democrats (79%) than Independents (67%) and Republicans (74%) would support the proposal. Even more Americans would support a law requiring insurance to pay for an ambulance (84%). Like with the proposed $100 cap, requiring insurance to pay for ambulances has more support among Democrats (91%) than Republicans (80%).”

Meanwhile, the privatization industry is boasting that the private market for ambulance services will nearly double from 2023 to 2029 from $14 billion to $26 billion.

24) National: Writing in Counterpunch, Heidi Gerard calls for more support for addiction recovery. “I now run a non-profit organization that focuses on moms and children in need of support related to addiction—whether that means finding a home, escaping domestic abuse, transitioning out of prison, or regaining custody. We provide wrap-around services so that the whole family is treated—not just one symptom. We get some government funding, but it’s woefully small compared to the need. Nationally, about 2.5 million people aged 18 and older had an opioid abuse disorder in 2021—and nearly 300 people died of overdoses every single day. Yet only 36 percent of those experiencing addiction received any treatment at all.”

25) National: Kevin DeGood of the Center for American Progress warns that the Heritage Foundation’s Trumpian dystopia Project 2025 would increase costs for commuters, defund transit maintenance, and undermine economic growth. “Chapter 19 of this far-right blueprint attacks the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). First, the author calls for the elimination of funding for the FTA’s core programs, which provide critical funds to local transit authorities for essential maintenance work. In fiscal year 2024, for example, the FTA provided local transit agencies with more than $14 billion. The author writes that continuing to fund the FTA’s core programs—which collectively helped residents take more than 7 billion trips in 2023—is akin to ‘throwing good money after bad.’ But that’s not all. The blueprint also proposes eliminating funding for the FTA’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program, which helps transit authorities expand their systems and improve overall service. In fiscal year 2023, the CIG program provided $4.2 billion to local authorities…

“Funding from the FTA is part of a long-standing and essential partnership between Washington and local transit agencies. From Philadelphia to Los Angeles, Albuquerque to Minneapolis, public transit is a vital component of the country’s modern transportation system. It provides affordable, safe, and efficient mobility to millions of Americans every day. Ending FTA funding would be a radical and detrimental break with this highly successful federal-local partnership.”

26) California: Tomorrow is the big day when the Huntington Beach City Council decides whether or not to hand over its cherished public library to a private, for-profit company backed by private equity. The Orange County Tribune reports that “according to the agenda, the council may either reject proposals or begin negotiations and ‘continue the meet and confer process with labor groups. Direct staff to return to the city council for consideration of the potential agreement.’ City documents show four prospective bidders which include:

  • David Rebd of Huntington Beach;
  • Deltek of Herndon, Virginia;
  • EveryLibrary Institute NFP, Illinois;
  • Library Systems & Services, Riverside, California.

Two groups have been circulating petitions to put the concept before the electorate; a survey of about 400 voters by Orange County labor unions claims that 67 percent opposed the concept with 17 percent in favor. Huntington Beach library employees are represented by the Teamsters’ Union.”

27) Pennsylvania/National: Regular readers of the Privatization Report are familiar with numerous reports of misdeeds, particularly in prisons, of the giant food services company Aramark. Well, Aramark is now the target of a huge strike in and around Philadelphia by stadium and other service workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 274. Aramark strikers staged as sit-down strike in Philadelphia last week over pay and health benefits that attracted huge public attention and even prompted an appearance by the legendary Fat Cat, a somewhat politer version of New York’s famous Scabby the Rat.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “at least 45 union demonstrators were taken into police custody after they sat down in the middle of Market Street near 24th, close to Aramark Global Headquarters, in a ‘civil disobedience’ protest. Unite Here represents about 4,000 workers across the region but may be best known for those who serve food and beverages at the three big sports venues in South Philadelphia, where it’s trying to secure better pay and health benefits.”

The Inquirer says more may be coming. “Organizers said to look for Fat Cat at future events. And that he might come with a friend. ‘Everybody knows the rat,’ Brown said. ‘The Fat Cat is like the level before that.’”

28) Think Tanks: What does it look like happened here?

29) Think Tanks: Brookings is trying to save the P3 baby from being thrown out with the bathwater of privatized inherently government functions. It’s prime example? The privatized military housing experience.

All the Rest

30) National: How bad might it get in a year from now? If you’re inclined to avert your eyes, don’t. Invest 90 minutes or so to read cover to cover this issue of the New Republic on what fascism would look like. “Every counterrevolution needs disciplined cadres,” writes Ruth Ben-Ghiat. “Project 2025 is readying a civilian army of bureaucrats to transform U.S. government. During Mussolini’s regime, policymakers and ideologues debated how to form a new political elite inculcated with fascist values. Orbán has his Mathias Corvinus Collegium Brussels, founded in 2022 to train far-right thinkers and managers for Hungary and Europe. Trumpism has its little-known Presidential Administration Academy, which aims to groom ‘Political Appointees to Be Ready on Day One’—when the cascade of counterrevolutionary executive orders will presumably commence. The academy’s civil servant training is in ‘Conservative Governance,’ but the intent of vanquishing the ideal of an apolitical civil service and jump-starting the counterrevolution by firing thousands of nonloyalists hews to the history of fascism.”

31) Arizona: Major cuts are coming to roads, adult education and other public services—but not to school vouchers. “The Auditor General, Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Board of Executive Clemency, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Child Safety would see a reduction in their budgets by around 3.45% in the 2025 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The Office of Economic Opportunity, State Board of Equalization, Arizona Navigable Stream Adjudication Commission and Board of Tax Appeals have the highest percentage reductions in their budgets with up to 4% cuts. The agencies least affected are the Department of Economic Security, the Land Department, the Office of Tourism and the Department of Water Resources seeing reductions of 1% or less.”

What are the priorities of the Republican-controlled legislature? “‘There are huge concerns with this budget, both in the way that the budget proposes to save money and in the way it proposes to spend it,’ Democratic Rep. Analise Ortiz said in a conversation with the Arizona Mirror. One of the most ‘glaring issues’ Ortiz has with the budget is how it would use money the state receives from a lawsuit against the makers of opioids who were found partially at fault for the opioid crisis. In the proposed budget, $75 million from the fund would be transferred to the Department of Corrections.” The state attorney general says that is illegal.

32) International/Mexico: The Mexican elite is having a case of the vapors about the progressive victory in the elections, the Financial Times reports. “A wealthy woman in Mexico City told friends it was time to ‘move to the house in Houston,’ while another business leader said his WhatsApp chats were marked by a mood of ‘collective suicide.’” [Sub required]

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