Your weekly rundown of news and analysis about the corporate takeover of education, water, and other public goods—and about the people fighting back. Here’s a direct link to this blog post. Not a subscriber? Sign up.


First, the good news…

1) National/DC: Howard students are demanding that the university cut its ties with Corvias, the contractor whose so-called public-private partnership with the to maintain student housing, they say, has been a disaster. In the Public Interest Communications Director Jeremy Mohler maps out the wider significance of this issue for the proposed federal infrastructure bill—which is chock full of “public-private partnerships” language and requirements, such as Value for Money Analysis. “What’s particularly alarming,” he writes, “is that the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act currently being debated by Congress essentially incentivizes P3s. We really need to be on the look out for foolish privatization proposals in our states, cities, and school districts.” 

More on Corvias playing P3 hardball during the COVID pandemic from the Privatization Report August 2020: “The privatization of student housing at the University of Georgia has blown up in its face, illustrating once again the loss of public control that can come with poorly executed ‘public-private partnerships.’ ‘The University System of Georgia is experiencing what I would call extortion at the hands of the company to which it outsourced the construction and operation of its dormitories,’ writes author John Warner in Inside Higher Education. ‘This process involved the creation of debt that the USOG agreed to secure through student housing fee revenue. Corvias, the company that took over the operations of the dorms, made it clear to the USOG that it would be collecting that money whether students were present or not. (…) Here we have a clear example of leverage, perhaps the most powerful form of leverage—a threat over money, lots of money. I would call this a scandal, except it’s all in the contracts the institutions signed of their own free will. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t make us angry, though.’ For more details and background see this thread by Corey Goergen. For John Warner’s deep dive into the crisis in privatized student housing, see his other article in IHE.

Just this March, the Associated Press reported that the United Campus Workers of Georgia found Corvias emails showing the company cut maintenance during the pandemic. “Emails obtained by a campus workers’ group show that a contractor who runs dormitories at eight public universities in Georgia laid off workers and cut back on maintenance over the summer, raising questions about whether the company was violating its contract with the University System of Georgia at the same time it was complaining of financial stress.”

2) National: Writing in In These Times, Donald Cohen, executive director of In the Public Interest, says Postal Banking Is Finally a Reality in (Some of) the United States. The American Postal Workers Union (APWU), after being pushed by numerous community groups, “launched the Campaign for Postal Banking in 2015 and organized years of rallies and days of action to make the program a reality. APWU also delicately negotiated with Postal Service management to enact the pilot, as reported by the American Prospect. By offering banking services,” Cohen writes, “USPS is choosing to use public power to make a real difference in many Americans’ lives, rather than leave us to compete against each other in private markets.”

3) National: Donald Cohen also takes on the sometimes difficult responsibility to talk about good things and good people in government. “It’s important to recognize public servants. There’s lots of them and mostly we have no idea what they do and how it affects us – individually and collectively. If we don’t understand nor recognize their contributions, then we’re leaving the field to the anti-government message machine. Sometimes we even inadvertently help it along because there’s plenty of public things that aren’t working well, that are controlled by racists or narrow corporate interests or that simply don’t have enough resources to do anything but fail to deliver for millions who need public support and services.”

So, he says, “I’m going to keep pointing to positive examples of public things. And I’ll point out when public things are failing to live up to their public purpose. What I’ll try to do, as we say, is critique the public institution without discrediting the idea of public things.”

4) National: In an important legal victory for human rights and for holding private, for-profit prison industry contractors accountable for wage gouging from exploited detainee labor, a jury says the GEO Group must the pay minimum wage to immigrant detainees. “A federal jury in Washington has found that private prison operator GEO Group Inc. (GEO.N) violated state minimum wage requirements by paying $1 a day to immigrant detainees who participated in work programs. After a trial that lasted nearly three weeks, the jury in Tacoma, Washington, handed down a verdict for the plai ntiffs in consolidated 2017 lawsuits against GEO by a class of detainees and the office of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.”

“This multi-billion dollar corporation illegally exploited the people it detains to line its own pockets,” Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement. “Today’s victory sends a clear message: Washington will not tolerate corporations that get rich violating the rights of the people.” The wage law violations span more than 15 years, according to Ferguson’s office, Mother Jones reports. 

5) National: The Intercept reports that The Rolling Jubilee Fund, launched in 2012 as an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, “canceled $3.2 million in probation debt as “an act of solidarity” amid the Covid-19 pandemic.” Hannah Appel, co-director of the Debt Collective, “said the group’s bail tool came out of California organizing they got involved with in 2017, which was focused on other financial penalties from aggressive policing.”

6) NationalStarbucks Workers United has announced that “Partners WIN labor board decision! Today the NLRB ruled in favor of partners and will allow us to vote store-by-store. With this decision, we will now have the ability to win the first unionized Starbucks in the U.S., ensuring our right to organize.”

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported that “the board said employees at three separate Starbucks stores in Buffalo, N.Y., can hold union elections in November in a new ruling. That means that workers need only a majority of votes cast at a single location to form a union. The company had argued that employees at all 20 Buffalo-area stores should vote in a single election. If the effort is successful, the stores would be the first of Starbucks’ 8,000 company-owned U.S. stores to unionize. The Seattle coffee giant opposes the unionization effort.” 

7) National: The annual National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit kicks off in Tampa this week. Check out the participants, schedule and register. [Several sessions will be livestreamed]

8) National: The Project on Government Oversight is applauding moves on Capitol Hill and in the media to rein in conflicts of interest in the judiciary. Read their testimonyRead the Wall Street Journal article. [Sub required]

9) New Hampshire: State officials slowly “are releasing the names of police officers who have been fired, suspended, quit while under internal investigation or faced other disciplinary actions that have put their certification in jeopardy. Late last month, the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council released the names of 13 officers who faced job actions over a four-month period. (…) The release was in response to requests under the New Hampshire Right-to-Know law by the New Hampshire Union Leader and ACLU-New Hampshire.”

10) Oregon/National: “In southern Oregon, the famous Rogue Wolf Pack has continued to evade the aerial gunships that have decimated the Lookout Mountain Pack, rearing at least four yearling pups, which were spotted on a trail camera near Fort Klamath,” Jeffrey St. Clair reports. (Unfortunately, a Trump-era change in federal law to allow states to manage their wolf populations has allowed Idaho to decimate its wolves.)

11) Virginia: Transit advocate Ben Ross reports that “Hampton Roads Transit offers free fares all day on Election Day. Anywhere that parking is free at all polling places, this should be required.” 

12) International: Global efforts to launch a concerted counterattack on longstanding neoliberal efforts to hollow out the public sector have reached a new stage. On Monday of last week, Civil society organisations and movements “launched a landmark manifesto calling for a renewed approach to public services, such as education, energy, food, health and care services, housing, social security, telecommunications, transportation, waste collection and disposal, and water and sanitation, to address the ecological, inequalities and other crises the world is currently facing. This manifesto was developed collectively over the past 10 months by dozens of civil society organisations and individuals through a series of meetings, regional workshops and online consultations. The COVID-19 pandemic has cast into stark relief the consequences of decades of privatisation and commercialisation of services essential for human dignity. The ongoing impacts of the pandemic intersect with the two other major challenges the world is facing: high and rising inequalities and the climate and ecological crisis, which threatens to push 120 million more people into poverty by 2030.” [Watch the two-hour video discussion Enough is Enough: the Future is Public—Reclaiming Public Services for a Just Recovery]. 

The Future is Public notes that “the Audit  Chamber of  the Autonomous  Community  of Madrid has found that health services delivered in PPP schemes are six times more expensive than health services delivered by the public sector. This represents an excessive cost to the local Government, and as a consequence public authorities have demanded the revision of the PPP agreements with private entities.”

13) International: Writing in Jacobin, Tatu Ahponen says Finland’s public childcare system puts the rest of the world to shame. “This is proof that the welfare state and society and culture do not work against each other; rather, they work in tandem. Like so many other parts of the welfare state, day care provision is today a cause for all parties, not just those on the Left. It has, in a word, become normal. Like my child, I went to a day care myself in the 1980s. Other day care attendees today will have not only parents but grandparents who also went to day care. All of us have benefitted from this universal day care provision—and so will future generations.”            

14) International/Think Tanks: Phil Mattera over at Good Jobs First Has announced that just in time for the COP-26 international climate conference Violation Tracker UK has arrived. “Violation Tracker UK is the first wide-ranging database of enforcement actions brought against companies by government regulators in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It contains more than 60,000 cases involving issues such as financial misconduct, workplace abuses, environmental offences and anti-competitive practices. Modeled on the U.S. Violation Tracker, it combines cases resolved since 2010 from 40 regulatory agencies. Violation Tracker is produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First.” For instance, check out the details on G4S having to pay £44,400,000 for fraud last year.


15) National@RWwatchMA asks “What is the school privatization lobby’s interest in DOJ’s response to National School Boards Association, which was to delineate in a memo between protected speech and unlawful threats and harassment”? The national board was intimidated by Sen. Grassley (R-IA), who recently doubled down on his support for Trump. The Idaho Capital Sun reports that “the National School Boards Association is walking back its letter to President Joe Biden asking for federal help for school board members who have been harassed and threatened over masking requirements and discussions of race in public schools. The shift came after Republican members of Congress led by Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley raised strong objections to a Department of Justice investigation that was launched in response to the association’s letter.”

Read the six-page NSBA letter: “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) respectfully asks for federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation. Local school board members want to hear from their communities on important issues and that must be at the forefront of good school board governance and promotion of free speech. However, there also must be safeguards in place to protect public schools and dedicated education leaders as they do their jobs.” 

16) National: Writing in Capital & Main, veteran labor journalist Mike Elk explores the divide between unionized and non-unionized public sector workers. “It’s very much easier for private contractors to union bust because they’re not democratically accountable,” says Donald Cohen, founder of In the Public Interest and co-author of the new book “The Privatization of Everything.”

“In general, local government workers’ weekly earnings are 14.1% lower than that of similar private sector workers, but the gap is much larger for public sector workers who have no or weak bargaining rights,” writes Elk. “Union leaders like Jackson of the ATU say they are seeing new momentum for organizing following the pandemic. In places like Savannah, Birmingham, and DeKalb County, Georgia, bus drivers have gone on wildcat, sometimes illegal strikes that improve their working conditions.” 

17) National: A new study by the Education Law Center (ELC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center finds that funding for public schools across the South continues to lag far behind the rest of the nation, a failure that is having an outsized impact on students of color and students living in or near poverty. “The impact of unfair school funding in the South is deeply rooted in the region’s history of racial segregation, which continues to influence education politics and policymaking and can be seen in the proliferation of private school vouchers and resistance to culturally responsive and inclusive teaching. This history means that Black and Latinx students and those living in or near poverty—groups that are overrepresented in public schools throughout the South—are more likely to bear the consequences of poorly resourced public schools. 

18) National: The U.K.’s FirstGroup, the former parent of U.S. school bus privatization company First Student, “is poised to complete its withdrawal from the U.S. market after agreeing a deal to sell its Gre yhound inter-city coach business—more than two years after it was first put on the market.” The sale “comes more than two years after FirstGroup first moved to reduce its presence across the Atlantic. In December 2019, it revealed that it had appointed advisors to explore options for its First Student and First Transit businesses following pressure from activist investors. A sale process for the two businesses was formally launched in March 2020, and they were then sold to EQT Infrastructure, a private equity group, in a deal worth $4.6 billion (£3.3bn) in April this year. FirstGroup said the disposal would allow it to return around £365m to shareholders during the calendar year.” Germany’s Flixbus will now own Greyhound.

19) Louisiana: The Center Square, a pro-privatization group, reports that a new study from the University of Arkansas analyzing public school funding across 18 cities claims charter schools on average are underfunded compared with traditional public schools

20) Michigan: Forces in the school privatization movement are worried that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI), a continuous target of far-right extremists, will veto their pro-voucher bill. She likely will do so, since “‘the bill would reduce state revenue by as much as $500 million in the first year it was effective, with the potential for the revenue loss to increase 20% per year in later years,’ states an analysis conducted by the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency.” 

21) Minnesota: After sticking it out for weeks, the head of a charter school that lost massive amounts of school money in a hedge fund ploy is finally resigning. “The Hmong College Prep Academy board said in a posting on its website that it plans to vote on Christianna Hang’s resignation. Her letter was submitted days after the state auditor’s office determined that the school failed to follow state law and its own policies when it invested $5 million in the hedge fund. State Auditor Julie Blaha says her office was not assigning blame to anyone for the school’s losses.” 

22) New York: After struggling with First Student’s inability to attract sufficient bus drivers, some schools within the Syracuse City School District will have their start and dismissal times altered for busing purposes. “Alicea said the district has been seeing about 500 kids arriving late for the start of class every day due to buses.” 

23) reports that “Not only are there more candidates running for school boards in Ohio this year, but they are also spending more on their campaigns. And it’s difficult to find out exactly how much more. Follow the money. That’s the mantra from reporters and good government groups who are trying to understand more about candidates for office. But sometimes, it’s not that easy. (…) That’s Feucht, speaking in a video on YouTube about the help she received from training provided by the group, FreedomWorks. It’s an organized national group that, according to its website, ‘exists to build, educate and mobilize the largest network of activists advocating for the principles of smaller government, lower taxes, free markets, personal liberty and the rule of law.’”

24) Ohio: A new bill would expand school vouchers, now set at about 35,000 Ohio students, to every student in the state. “Opponents of the backpack bill argue it would siphon public dollars to private organizations, and the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy on School Funding plans on challenging the bill in court.” 

25) Rhode Island: The national Amalgamated Transit Union has given Local ATU 16 permission to strike against First Student, the private, for-profit school bus corporation. “The message came after drivers rejected a tentative agreement reached between First Student and Union leadership for the second week in a row. (…) Andrew Arsenault, a member of the executive board and negotiation committee for the union, told the Beacon last week that drivers want to be guaranteed more hours in their new contract. He explained that before the pandemic school districts conducted in person classes about 180 days a year. If a school day was canceled due to inclement weather or another reason it would almost always be made up. But now with distance learning there is uncertainty from year to year how many days drivers will be paid and also if they may lose any days when the School District opts to go with distance learning on a particular day for a myriad of reasons.”

26) West Virginia: “Privatizers control the new state charter school board,” reports Diane Ravitch. “A regular commenter on the blog, known as Chiara, reports the composition of West Virginia’s new board for authorizing charter schools. The legislature endorsed new charter schools in a state that has never had them. Several of them will be for-profits. Two will be virtual charters. There are three other entities that can authorize the privately run schools that are publicly funded.” 


27) National: After a tumultuous week of political wrangling over the fate of the infrastructure and social benefit bills, Congress continues to work the process in the midst of widespread disappointment over what has been jettisoned from the latter bill and thus whether it’s worth voting for the former. Thus President Biden jetted off to Europe without a done dealwhile Republicans unanimously celebrated the paralysis. 

But the administration continues to stress the positive. “While Buttigieg indicated Sunday that a vote on both bills was close, he did not say whether some of progressives’ unresolved issues, such as negotiating lower drug prices and paid family leave, would make it into the spending plan. He also wouldn’t say whether he could guarantee that House Democrats will pass both bills this week, instead reiterating that it’s ‘the closest we’ve ever been.’”

So for now, the path ahead remains unclear. “One lawmaker said as many as 40 Democrats are prepared to vote down the infrastructure bill if an agreement with Manchin and Sinema is not reached. And a statement from the Progressive Caucus reaffirmed that a number of members in that group wouldn’t vote for the infrastructure measure without stronger assurances.”

But should the logjam break, it is worth thinking about the battles that lie ahead. In an incisive piece this summer, Adolph Reed  warned that “it’s not clear whether even [Biden’s] much touted infrastructure proposal will result in an expanded sphere of public goods or will only fatten up public infrastructure for the private sector to butcher.” As noted above, a key part of the answer will be how the issue of Value for Money is resolved, which will be a long term process. On this vital subject see the new issue brief by In the Public Interest, Issues and Considerations for Value for Money Analyses.

28) National: Although the House refused to pass the infrastructure bill out of concern that conservative Democrats could tank the companion social benefits bill [see details], they did pass a highway bill extension. “Progressives have tied their support for that bipartisan bill, which would reauthorize federal highway programs for five years, to a larger package of Biden’s domestic priorities, including child care and climate change. The extension would allow the government to sustain highway and transit programs through Dec. 3. Even before the House voted 358-59 to extend the authorizing law, the Senate agreed by unanimous consent to deem the measure passed, once it gets to the Senate, if it’s identical to a Senate version.”

29) National: The municipal bond market and its lobbyists are very disappointed that key provisions in the Build Back Better legislation have been cut out in the latest round of downsizing. “Advance refundings, a new version of taxable Build America Bonds, an expansion of bank-qualified bonds and an increase in private activity bond issuance aren’t in the latest bill. ‘Never been more disappointed,’ Emily Swenson Brock, director of the Government Finance Officers Association’s Federal Liaison Center, said in an email on Thursday. ‘Bonds are out entirely in the framework.’ The new BABs would have helped municipalities to finance much-needed new infrastructure, said Brock. ‘Jurisdictions across the country really thought this was our time.’”

30) IndianaThe privatized Indiana Toll Road says it will achieve carbon neutrality in twenty-nine years

31) Maryland: The Maryland Board of Public Works votes on Wednesday on spending $45 million more taxpayer dollars for a politically connected toll-lane support contractor, says the Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition. Transit advocate Ben Ross says “Gov. Hogan turned down Treasurer Nancy Kopp’s request for $100,000 to do an independent financial and legal review of the state’s P3 agreement with Transurban before it was approved. But no problem finding $45 million for this contractor?”

32) Nevada: The  Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority’s (RTAA) Purchasing and Materials Management Division is currently accepting sealed Request for Proposals from qualified respondents from qualified  parties to serve as the owner/operator to finance, design, build, market, operate and maintain state-of-the-art airside and landside de dicated cargo facilities at Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO). All sealed RFPs for Development of Airport Site for Air Cargo Facilities 21/22-02 shall be opened on 2:00 PM, local time, January 19, 2022. 

33) New Jersey: Peggy Gallos, executive director of the Association of Environmental Authorities, says privatization of Bound Brook’s sewer system is a risky deal. “If voters look closer, they will see how expensive the deal will be. The $5 million cash payment is not a windfall. The buyer, New Jersey American Water , will likely ask state regulators for permission to recover the full purchase price in rates in addition to a 7% return on investment. Regulators will allow [New Jersey American Water] to ‘recover’ every penny of the $11 million of capital spending in the rates Bound Brook sewer users pay—with a likely 7% return on investment. Rates will stay stable—for a few years.” 

34) New Jersey: In a reversal of the usual scenario, two Republican commissioner candidates are calling out Democratic Commissioner Joe Derella for supporting privatization of the Cumberland County Utilities Authority (CCUA), which they say would result in layoffs and dramatic rate increases. “‘On your next trip to Wawa or WalMart, keep an eye out for Derella,’ said Tony Romero. ‘If you see him, ask why he’s refusing to take a public position on opposing the CCUA privatization-rate increase scheme before and after Election Day.’”

35) New York: Syracuse is selling an historic government building

36) Pennsylvania: Last Monday PennDOT held a virtual public meeting to discuss the I-83 South Bridge Project. Watch the video, or read the transcript

37) Pennsylvania: Yesterday was the deadline for submission of P3 proposals to PennDOT. Stay tuned.

38) Puerto Rico:  Writing in Labor Notes, Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, president of UTIER, the Puerto Rico Electric and Irrigation Industry Workers Union, says “privatization has dismembered the electrical system’s workforce in a transparent attempt to break up our union. LUMA was not required to hire employees of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA)—the public company whose assets were privatized. Nor did LUMA comply with the existing collective agreements between PREPA and its unions. Instead, LUMA offered reduced benefits and job protections.” 

What can people do to help? “Sign the petition from LabourStart supported by 30 million members of the Public Service Workers International.” And “the office of Southern Arizona Representative Raúl Grijalva is going to be conducting a hearing on the LUMA contract next month, but this process needs to develop into a Congressional investigation if it is going to have consequences.”

Ben Norton spoke with Ángel Rodríguez Rivera, president of the Puerto Rican Association of University Professors, about how “the U.S.-imposed privatization of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid in a neoliberal public-private partnership has caused chronic blackouts, while executives at LUMA Energy make huge salaries.” [Audio, about an hour]

39) International: A rebellion among Conservative MPs has forced the British government to do a partial U-turn on regulations governing private water companies’ pumping raw sewage into rivers. [Video on river sewage in the UK; about five minutes]

Criminal Justice and Immigration

40) National: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, who has taught in the prisons of New Jersey, spoke for an hour on America’s prison system at the Chicago Humanities Festival. His new book is Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison. “A haunting and powerfully moving book that gives voice to the poorest among us and lays bare the cruelty of a penal system that too often defines their lives.” 

41) National: The Intercept reports that “medical and security staff at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center violated numerous agency rules when dealing with a detainee with mental illness, according to an internal agency investigation.” They have the receipts. “The use of solitary confinement in ICE detention centers has been subject to extensive scrutiny. In 2019, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Intercept, and other news organizations published an investigation based on thousands of internal documents demonstrating the agency’s widespread use of solitary confinement. A watchdog report in 2019 found that some 40 percent of detainees in ICE solitary confinement had mental health issues.” 

42) Virginia: Health care inside the Arlington County jail will no longer be provided by a controversial for-profit company, Corizon. “Arlington renewed its contract with Corizon last year, an agreement t hat could have extended through 2025. That was before the death in custody of Darryl Becton, a 46-year-old D.C. resident. Late last month, a man named Antoine Smith—who according to his LinkedIn profile worked for Corizon as a nurse—was criminally charged with falsifying a patient order in connection with Becton’s death.” 

Public Services

43) National: Food & Water Watch asks “What happens when meat corporations are allowed to be their own safety inspectors? In this case, privatization means E. coli contamination.” 

44) Michigan: Legislation that would allow private insurers to manage Michigan’s Medicaid services for behavioral health care advanced in the Michigan Senate last week, extending out full implementation of the reforms until 2030. “Detroit-based Meridian Health, Aetna Better Health—the Medicaid managed care arm of Aetna Inc.—and the Michigan State Medical Society also are in favor of the legislation,” according to Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R).

But “leaders among Michigan’s existing county-level community mental health agencies have been vehemently opposed to privatization of their management services. In a guest column in Crain’s this week, Robert Sheehan, CEO of the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan, said the bills would ‘do real damage’ to Michigan’s ‘nationally recognized public mental health system.’ ‘(The bills won’t) integrate mental health care and physical health care, as the sponsors claim, but simply move taxpayer dollars to private insurance companies,’ Sheehan wrote. ‘Real health care integration occurs where the client/patient receives their care.’”

45) Mississippi: The Mississippi Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) hasreleased a report titled “An Evaluation of the Privatization of Child Support Enforcement by the Mississippi Department of Human Services.” Among the issues, “the report gathered by PEER showed that MDHS did not procure CSE and call center services in an effective manner between 2015 and 2021. They were contracted with YoungWilliams from 2017 to 2021, however they determined YoungWilliams could not be held accountable for its performance due to the insufficiency of the contract.” [Report]

The Clarion-Ledger reports that “counties under the direction of the department of human services outperformed the privately run counties in four of five major categories: Establishing paternity, collecting current and past due payments, and court satisfaction. Privately run counties were better at generating child support orders.”

46) Mississippi: The City of Jackson has issued an RFP for garbage pick up. A copy of the evaluation schedule can be found here.

47) Ohio: A so-called Public-Private Partnership is being set up for Cedar Point amusement park and fees are going up.

Everything Else

48) National: In litigation that could have an important effect on government contracting rules, 10 Republican attorneys general are suing the federal government over its authority to impose vaccine mandates on contractors. 

49) New York: Citizens and media group testified in favor of having public meetings take place in person after dependence on virtual sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers are weighing changing the state Open Meetings Law. “The Legislature voted last month to temporarily amend the Open Meetings Law and allow public bodies to hold municipal meetings via telephone or video conference through Jan. 15, 2022, provided meetings are recorded and later transcribed for the public. The measure was passed as part of an omnibus bill extending the statewide eviction moratorium through the same date. ‘I may not ask you to renew it in January 2022,” Acquario said. “Counties are not asking to convert to remote operations. It’s always best to be in person and the public being able to attend in person.’ 

50) International: As the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) opens in Glasgow, accompanied by a wave of media coverage and debate on needed governmental action and the public interest, it is worth reviewing Elliott Negin of the  Independent Media Institute’s report on how “Despite Cutbacks, ExxonMobil Continues to Fund Climate Science Denial.” 

51) International: Are there public goods in outer space? Writing in Space Review, Dennis O’Brien asks “Is outer space a de jure common-pool resource?” The Economist is also exploring the frontiers of public-private property, looking at the role of private space stations—this one owned by the large government contractor Lockheed Martin.

Photo by Mark Kent.

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