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It may be hard right now to think about a strategy for overturning last week’s extremist Supreme Court ruling that outlawed reproductive freedom, but Heather Booth, a veteran of the abortion rights movement, says we must. Fighting for Abortion Rights All Over Again.

Make sure you save some outrage for West Virginia v. EPA this week, says Justin Feldman of the Harvard FXB Center for Health & Human Rights. “It’s likely to not only prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse emissions, but also prevent the federal government from regulating anything at all.” Gutting federal agencies’ regulatory capacity and authority would unleash a tidal wave of privatized, undemocratic decision-making and risks to public health, public safety, responsible contracting, environmentally sound “public-private partnerships,” public education, digital and other forms of privacy, and many other things. The work of developing temporary workarounds to such drastic action by an out of control Supreme Court should also begin now, until the day when the basic, Constitutionally-grounded duty of government to provide for the public interest can be restored.

Yet amid the crisis, there is still some good news…

1) International/National: The word is getting out. “Privatisation is the god that failed,” writes The Guardian. “As an object of worship, it has proven expensive for the public and a bonanza for comparatively few investors, often overseas. And in key areas such as council housing, it has proven a singular disaster. Yet, remarkably, it is still the preferred solution of any Conservative government for everything from Royal Mail to housing association homes. Perhaps the TV pundits sounding off about rail strikes this week could direct some of their ire not at the workers but at the owners and politicians who have created such a mess of a system, marked by shoddy service, naked profiteering and a complete lack of ownership. And perhaps the Tory politicians who sounded off about taking back control could be held to account for how their predecessors left the public with so little control.”

2) National: President Biden signed modest gun control legislation into law just as the Supreme Court is gutting America’s gun lawsThe Red States will resist it, says Abby Vesoulis in Mother Jones. “Even if it passes, federal funding for the bill’s most-discussed provision is unlikely to persuade many of the 30 states that don’t have red flag laws—most of them Republican-led—to adopt them. Some of these states have repeatedly voted down red flag legislation; at least one has formally outlawed their implementation. This means the federal gun control bill, aimed at reining in the epidemic of mass shootings, could have limited impact in a large swath of the country.”

3) National: Write in Route Fifty, Andrew Feldman and Marc Margolius make the case for government leadership and the power of mindfulness. “By teaching themselves to move beyond impulsive reactions, executives can become more thoughtful—and more effective. (…) While the concept might strike some as touchy-feely, it’s a technique with proven benefits for those who manage large and complex organizations—and one that’s especially useful in a government environment where a hasty decision can face harsh public scrutiny.”

4) National: Route Fifty editor Bill Lucia reports on how one state, Idaho, prudently used its giant budget surplus. “One broad concern these days is that states will set themselves on course for a ‘fiscal cliff’ by using extra revenue that is fleeting to start up new permanent programs or add to payrolls, resulting in costs that will outlast these strong fiscal years and become unaffordable going forward. There are similar concerns that excessive tax cuts could hamstring future budgets, forcing difficult service reductions. Inflation, rising interest rates and stock market declines are stirring fears that a recession could soon arrive. Against this backdrop, Idaho made rainy day fund deposits to bring its reserve account to the maximum level allowed under state law—equivalent to about 21% of general fund revenue. This balance, Adams noted, is in line with figures in a Moody’s Investors Service analysis setting rainy day fund targets for states to weather a major recession.”

5) National: Leaders of government, labor unions, and workforce organizations convened at a “Good Jobs Summit” to discuss equity and economic prosperity. “During the event, [Labor] Secretary Walsh announced the ‘Good Jobs Principles,’ a coordinated effort with the Department of Commerce to provide employers, workers, federal agencies, state and local governments, and other advocates with a roadmap to advance the goal of quality jobs for all workers. ‘Knowledge is a pathway to the future and this administration wants to level the playing field,’ said White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mayor Mitch Landrieu. ‘Building a better America means everybody gets an opportunity. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are not just building bridges, roadways, and high-speed internet, we are building a generation of high paying jobs. This is an incredible opportunity, and we have a magnificent responsibility to get it right.’ The event was hosted in collaboration with the Families and Workers Fund, a coalition of more than 20 diverse philanthropies working together to build a more equitable U.S. economy that uplifts all.” [Watch the video of the event, about 6 hours].

6) International: From the Australian Financial Review, an interesting piece on work-life balance, Meet the professionals doing a four-day week without breaking the bank. “The four-day work week is touted by some as the answer to the modern world’s work-life balance challenge. Belgium is allowing workers to request a trial of a four-day work week for six months, and Japanese electronics company Panasonic announced in January that it would allow employees to work a four-day week in a bid to improve wellbeing.” But Prof. John Quiggin, a strong opponent of privatization, warns that such policies won’t be costless. “He thinks a more plausible outcome is that a 10 per cent reduction in hours would lead to a 5 per cent reduction in output.”


7) National: As the Supreme Court further dismantles the quite originalist Constitutional separation of church and state by mandating that states pay religious schools with public money if they fund private schools, Elie Mystal of The Nation breaks down the decision. “There is no meaningful check anymore on whether conservatives will allow religious concerns to supersede secular laws. Can businesses run by religious people deny health care to women? Yes, according to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. Can religious schools use public funds to upgrade their school playgrounds? Yes, according to Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. Can the state be forced to give scholarship aid to students attending religious education? Yes, according to Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. Can religious organizations or institutions get state funds to discriminate against LGBTQ couples in adoption services? Yes, according to Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. Can houses of worship ignore occupancy restrictions during a pandemic? Yes, according to Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo. Now, the Supreme Court has ruled that taxpayer funds must be used to pay for tuition at religious schools if the state also makes taxpayer dollars available for private, nonsectarian schools.”

The Supreme Court dissenters ask “Does it mean that school districts that give vouchers for use at charter schools must pay equivalent funds to parents who wish to give their children a religious education?”

For a useful discussion listen to this brief episode of the Amicus podcast with Dahlia Lithwick [Audio, about four minutes; transcript of full 20 minute program]; and this from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, A Bad Day At The Supreme Court–And A Vow To Keep Fighting. Read the Carson v. Makin ruling.

8) National: Joel Wendland-Liu and Brandon Michael Chew report that public school privatization privileges profits over learning. “Billionaire-funded privatization schemes rely on spreading ‘critical race theory’ fantasies to propel this agenda. In Michigan, the DeVos family is financing the ballot initiative ‘Let MI Kids Learn’ to convince voters that giving money to private schools is within their best interests. Teachers’ unions have voiced concerns about the dangers this initiative and others like it pose to public education. The DeVos family and their “corporate allies have already tried numerous times to pass voucher programs to defund public schools,” said David Hecker, president of the Michigan chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.”

A few days ago the Wall Street Journal ran a piece by conservative columnist Jason Riley reporting on how Betsy DeVos is continuing her crusade against teachers and their unions by publishing a new book, “Betsy DeVos’s Mission to Rescue Teachers Unions’ ‘Hostages.’” [Sub required]. Riley, a senior fellow at the right wing Manhattan Institute, home of CRT panic-entrepreneur Christopher Rufo, says DeVos “believes the current curriculum fisticuffs over racial propaganda and sexualized early learning can only help the school-choice cause.” The Manhattan Institute gave charter school-supporting billionaire Daniel Loeb its “Alexander Hamilton Award” in 2020.

9) National/Think Tanks: At the Network for Public Education’s annual conference, the organization was proud to present the first Diane Ravitch “David Award” to honor a courageous individual. The award is in keeping with the theme of Diane’s latest book, Slaying Goliath. “Our choice as the first recipient of the David Award is a remarkable woman from Little Rock, Arkansas,” says NPE.

Her name is Dr. Anika Whitfield. Anika is a civil rights activist, a minister, and a podiatrist. She earned the David Award by fearlessly standing up to the Arkansas state government and the Walton family, which owns the state, or thinks it does. The state wants to take control of the Little Rock school district because six of its 48 schools have low test scores. The state has never demonstrated any expertise in running schools or districts. Anika has organized resistance with a group called Grassroots Arkansas. She often writes letters to the Governor and his state commissioner of education. She saw the Governor in a coffee shop and did not hesitate to go in and try to talk sense into him. She is fearless, she is persistent, and for her fight to protect public schools, she is richly deserving of NPE’s first David Award. Congratulations, Anika Whitfield.”

10) Arizona: The state House of Representatives has passed a measure, with only Republican backing, allowing school vouchers to be extended to all 1.1 million Arizona students who attend private schools, including religious institutions. “Chants of ‘Shame’ reportedly filled the House chamber when voting was completed on Wednesday as dissatisfied community members voiced their disapproval. Concerns about misappropriations of school funding fuel the outrage as well as the potential for blurring between the traditional barriers between church and state. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to allow two families in Maine to use public funding to help pay for tuition at Christian schools, so there is considerable concern here in Arizona and across the nation about tax dollars being used for secular education. It is possible that a bill like HB2853 could open the door for similar litigation.”

11) Iowa: Bruce Lear of Sioux City denounces what he calls “the cancer that’s killing public schools.” Lear has been connected to public schools for 38 years. He taught for 11 years and represented educators as an Iowa State Education Association Regional Director for 27 years until retiring.” He writes, “Gov. Kim Reynolds is running against public schools in Iowa. Our private school governor has made private school vouchers her priority and she will continue to push this issue if reelected. Her school voucher scheme, which would have provided 10,000 Iowa children with a publicly funded voucher failed in two sessions because rural legislators, mostly Republicans, realized it would leave many rural areas a school desert. It would drastically underfund community schools with no private school within driving distance. Forty-two of Iowa’s 99 counties have no private school available.”

“Iowa already spends $100 million a year to support private schools and home schooling. Her plan would add another $55 million in private school aide, and according to the Legislative Services Agency, the Reynolds scheme would siphon an additional $79 million a year from public school funding. This translates into a per pupil loss for public schools of $275.93 if the governor pushes the same plan as she tried to jam through twice. For example, the Sioux City Community school has an enrollment of 14,868 students. The loss would be a total of $4,102,527.” [Sub required]

12) New YorkLake Placid is preparing to launch its community schools program. “There’s already a Community Schools program in the Massena school district, and in the neighboring Saranac Lake Central School District. SLCSD’s five-year-old Community Schools program — spearheaded by district Community Schools Liaison Erika Bezio — collaborates with 22 local organizations to help provide students and their families with food security, transportation, medical services and health insurance. The program even offers assistance with paying bills when family finances are tight. Now, the Lake Placid Central School District wants to provide those same services to district students and their families. The LPCSD Community Schools program is set to be fully in place by the next school year.”

13) Oklahoma: The co-founders of Epic Charter Schools were charged Thursday with wrongfully pocketing millions of taxpayer dollars and spending money intended for students on political contributions and personal expenses. “An attorney representing Brock, 40, said his client denies any wrongdoing. Legal counsel for Harris and Chaney could not be reached Thursday afternoon. (…) The 10% management fee generated more than $69 million for Epic Youth Services since 2013, an OSBI agent reported in a 50-page affidavit detailing the allegations behind the charge. Of the $69 million, Harris individually received over $24.8 million. Chaney earned more than $23.2 million, and Brock was paid $7.1 million, the OSBI agent reported. Investigators allege Harris, Chaney and Brock cost taxpayers $22 million by engineering a “complicated criminal enterprise” through their management of charter schools.”

Tulsa World reports “they were booked into the Oklahoma County jail Thursday and were released on $250,000 bond each that evening. Their tactics are alleged to have included faking invoices to justify payments to EYS, relying upon public school employees to do the work their company was paid for and wielding ill-gotten funds on political lobbying and campaign financing to remove obstacles in state law or on lawyers to silence critics with lawsuits.”

14) West Virginia: West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Randy Yohe reports that state education leaders say the Hope Scholarship Program takes kids and money away from public schools. In a statement West Virginia’s Superintendent of Education Clayton Burch and the state school board said the Hope Scholarship diverts funding from public schools and that makes it unconstitutional. “Burch and other state leaders are named in a lawsuit, Beaver vs. Moore, requesting the court halt the unconstitutional diversion of public funds from public schools authorized by the West Virginia Legislature in the Hope Scholarship Program. (…) Families will spend their Hope Scholarship funds directly through the Education Market Assistant (EMA) platform with participating education service providers and vendors for qualified educational expenses, including but not limited to the items listed below…”


15) National/International: At the launching of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment yesterday in Germany, President Biden pledged to include gender as a central category for infrastructure investment. “These strategic investments are areas of — critical to sustainable development and to our shared global stability: health and health security, digital connectivity, gender equality and equity, climate and energy security. (…) When women and girls have the ability and the opportunity to participate more fully in those societies and economies, we see positive impacts not only in their communities but around the board—across the board. We have to increase those opportunities, though, for women and girls to thrive, including practical steps to make childcare more accessible and affordable as we continue the vital work to protect and advance women’s fundamental rights. The United States is committing $50 million over five years to the World Bank’s global Childcare Incentive Fund. This public-private partnership supported by several G7 partners will help countries build infrastructure that makes it easier for women to participate equally—equally—in the labor force.”

16) NationalInfrastructure tops the list of mayors’ concerns for the second year in a row, Route 50’s Daniel C. Vock reports. “The renewed interest in infrastructure comes as local governments prepare to apply for and manage billions of dollars of new federal money being distributed as a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which President Biden signed late last year. The opportunity gives city leaders a chance to take care of long-neglected facilities and to imagine new projects. More than a third of mayors discussed their infrastructure plans at length during their annual speeches, according to a National League of Cities analysis of 60 speeches delivered between October 2021 and April 2022.” [Read NLC’s State of the Cities 2022 report]

17) New JerseyPleasantville has ditched its plans to privatize its sewer system by conceding it for 39-years to a private equity outfit, Food & Water Watch reports. “The 4-3 vote represents a remarkable turnaround after months of organizing by community groups opposed to the privatization deal.  “The original memorandum of understanding would have transferred control of the operation, management and financing of the sewer collection system to Bernhard Capital in exchange for $15 million upfront. Advocates had raised concerns with contract provisions that could have led to unexpected rate increases as well as with the approval process. (…) ‘This is a huge victory for democracy in South Jersey. This privatization scheme was a horrible deal for Pleasantville residents,’ said Food & Water Watch senior organizer Kate Delany. ‘It would have gouged residents with excessive sewer rate hikes to profit a private equity firm. We applaud the City Council and the community organizations who stood up to this financial firm to protect their essential wastewater system. Responsible public provision is in the best interests of the public.’”

18) New Jersey: Outrage and disappointment pour out over plans to privatize parts of Liberty State Park. Previous plans to do so have been defeated after citizen campaigns, but this year developers and their politicians have come back with a sweetened offer of more money. Writing in to, Maureen Dillon says “I urge The Jersey Journal to publish the contact information for the Hudson County’s New Jersey state representatives. We need to call these people and voice our dissatisfaction with this idea.” Angelo Estrada a former school administrator and professor in Jersey City, says, “As a citizen and voter, we must hold our politicians accountable for the decisions which they have made supposedly in our own best interest. Can you believe that these politicians are in favor of privatization and commercialization of Liberty State Park and are going against the will of the majority of people, not only from Jersey City, but also New Jersey?”

The Hudson County view reports that “the fact that the legislation doesn’t specifically have language that would limit privatization/large-scale commercialization and/or protect Caven Point [has] led to many activists calling for amendments ahead of the vote by the full legislature.”

Criminal Justice and Immigration

19) National: The private prison industry has shifted its emphasis to immigration detention and deportation contracting in order to pad its bottom line, Open Secrets reports. “Early in his term, President Joe Biden signed an executive order barring the Department of Justice from renewing existing contracts with for-profit prisons. Many activists and prison reform advocates hoped this signaled the beginning of the end of private prisons in America. But the private prison industry instead shifted focus to a different form of for-profit detainment: private immigration detention centers. This shift toward immigrant detention, which is now estimated to be a nearly $3 billion industry, comes at a time when for-profit prison companies have spent tens of thousands of dollars donating to politicians who support border security and immigration enforcement policies that would increase the number of detained immigrants in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement facilities.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that although the Biden administration had instructed ICE agents to focus on immigrants who were considered a threat, a judge’s order means millions more could now be targeted for deportation. “A vast majority of undocumented teenagers are graduating high school this year without protection from deportation and the ability to legally work.”

20) National/Think Tanks: A new 149-page report is out on prison labor. The ACLU and the University of Chicago Law School Global Human Rights Clinic have published Captive Labor: Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers.

The report lists numerous for-profit companies using prison labor in the U.S. (pp. 44-45). “Incarcerated workers are under the complete control of their employers, and they have been stripped of even the most minimal protections against labor exploitation and abuse. From the moment they enter the prison gates, they lose the right to refuse to work. This is because the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which generally protects against slavery and involuntary servitude, explicitly excludes from its reach those held in confinement due to a criminal conviction. More than 76 percent of incarcerated workers report that they are required to work or face additional punishment such as solitary confinement, denial of opportunities to reduce their sentence, and loss of family visitation, or the inability to pay for basic life necessities like bath soap. They have no right to choose what type of work they do and are subject to arbitrary, discriminatory, and punitive decisions by the prison administrators who select their work assignments. U.S. law also explicitly excludes incarcerated workers from the most universally recognized workplace protections. Incarcerated workers are not covered by minimum wage laws or overtime protection, are not afforded the right to unionize, and are denied workplace safety guarantees.”

21) Georgia/National: In an SEC filing on Friday, CoreCivic reported that it may be selling its 1,978-bed McRae Correctional Facility to the state. From the filing: “In connection with its potential purchase of the McRae Facility the Georgia Building Authority authorized the lease of the McRae Facility to CoreCivic for up to four months, which will allow CoreCivic to continue to service the McRae Contract through its expiration later this year. CoreCivic anticipates the sale, and temporary lease-back, of the McRae Facility to be completed during the third quarter of 2022. The sale of the McRae Facility is subject to, among other things, the negotiation of a definitive purchase agreement and a definitive lease agreement with the Georgia Building Authority.” The 8-K also reported that CoreCivic’s board has approved $150 million in share buyback from its stockholders.

Public Services

22) National: The municipal bond market is warning about a possible revenue decline due to remote working because of the tax effects (i.e., days you work and where). This could become a credit risk, say analysts. “In affirming its negative outlook on Kansas City, Missouri, Fitch Ratings cautioned that based on increased remote work, it anticipates a slow recovery in payroll taxes — the city’s largest source of general fund revenue. The narrative continued with Bloomberg Intelligence strategist Eric Kazatsky’s observation that “a handful of cities in Ohio, such as Cincinnati and Toledo, that rely heavily on income taxes could also see weakness in their revenue streams from remote working and potentially be subject to a downgrade.” The cautionary sentiment ironically came shortly on the heels of JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s begrudging acknowledgment that ‘working from home will become more permanent in American business.’” [Sub required]

23) National: The Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute reports that a new study has been published on the “Hidden Work” associated with VA outsourcing. “The study highlighted three disturbing findings of what the authors describe as ‘cross-system use,’ a term preferred by JAMA reviewers who objected to the more accurate term ‘outsourcing.’ (In describing the study’s conclusions, we’re using ‘outsourcing.’) They are as follows:

  1. Outsourcing requires ‘extensive care coordination by VA staff members and clinicians to facilitate care outside the VA and the tendency of veterans and their non-VA clinicians to rely on the VA to fill gaps in this care.’
  2. Veterans and their families must do a great deal of ‘hidden work’ in order to make outsourcing viable. This includes ‘efforts of veterans and their family members to navigate the referral process, and to serve as intermediaries between VA and non-VA clinicians.’
  3. Outsourcing of veteran care to the private sector places a significant ‘strain on the VA system.’ This is not only because outsourcing involves negotiating a ‘challenging referral process,’ but also because ‘cross-system care has stretched the traditional roles of VA staff and clinicians and interfered with VA care processes.’”

24) CaliforniaCustomers are reporting snags amid Republic Service’s rollout out trash pickup in Carlsbad. “Since Republic Services launched on March 27 in Carlsbad, hundreds of residents have complained to both the city and the waste removal company about various issues. Customers have reported waiting weeks and sometimes months to receive their new trash and recycling carts, only to receive the wrong size. And some have still not received their new bins. According to Republic, the rollout is scheduled to continue until the company begins service on July 1. The Carlsbad City Council selected Republic last year in a controversial decision to replace Waste Management, which did not bid to service residents and city facilities for the next 10 years. Jamie Wood, the city’s environmental services manager, said at one point, the city asked Republic to pause its rollout as complaints piled up.”

25) Mississippi: The City of Petal is accepting proposals to privatize its Public Works Department. “Mayor Tony Ducker said one of the benefits of privatization is that it would take some of the pressure off the city as far as health insurance rates. ‘Our (Public Employees Retirement System), we pay 17.4 percent on that, which kind of hurts us,’ he said. ‘And we’ve noticed over the last year or so that we’re losing people that are going into construction and other jobs that are just able to pay more. So the privatization could be a good thing for some of the employees, because they would get a pay increase.’ (…) Current employees of the department would get first dibs on jobs with a new company, if privatization were to happen. ‘This isn’t something that should cost anybody employment, and there would be a few positions that (the city) would need to retain as well,’ Ducker said.”

26) Oklahoma: Oklahoma is pushing forward with Medicaid outsourcing. “After a contentious battle in the state Legislature last year, Oklahoma is moving forward with its plans to outsource its Medicaid program despite concerns from some who fear it will harm rural health outcomes. Senate Bill 1337 allows Oklahoma to outsource services from SoonerSelect—the state’s new managed care plan—to private medical insurers. Senate Bill 1396 brings federal dollars to the state to pay for the privatized plan, according to Norman Regional Health System…

“Those opposed to the managed care plan approved by legislators this year fear it could delay health care for rural residents. Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, was one of the 10 senators who voted against SB 1337. He said Oklahoma’s rural access will be ‘decimated’ because it pushes the state ‘into a failing experiment.’ Standridge, a pharmacist, runs two pharmacies that received a combined $3.4 million from 2017 to 2020, a Transcript investigation found. ‘Like the actor that goes to the plastic surgeon hoping to come out like Tom Cruise, the Medicaid system in Oklahoma will look like Mickey Rourke when these companies are done,’ Standridge said in a statement Thursday. ‘As other states try to roll back some of these huge giveaways to insurance companies as it costs their states billions, insurance companies defraud their states by the billion.’”

Everything Else

27) NationalRight wing tech billionaire Peter Thiel has invested in a megafirm, Struve, “a firm that aims to rival megafirms like Vanguard and will buy large stakes in companies and push them away from environmental, social, and what the group describes as political agendas that the hurt the bottom line.” So, what is he going to do with all that power if he succeeds?

In March, right wing Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal alleging that companies trying to adhere to responsible global climate change policy were somehow violating antitrust law. So bottom feeders like Thiel and Brnovich are trying to operationalize a sort of evil twin version of the “administrative state” to attack ESG initiatives. “The biggest antitrust violation in history may be in plain sight,” writes Brnovich. “Wall Street banks and money managers are bragging about their coordinated efforts to choke off investment in energy. It’s nearly impossible to raise money to explore for oil and gas right now, and we may all be experiencing rising energy costs because of this market manipulation. (…) As attorney general of Arizona, I have a responsibility to protect consumers from artificial restrictions on production. That’s why I’ve launched an investigation into this potentially unlawful market manipulation. The resources of hard-working Arizonans should never be compromised in the name of spurious political activism, especially if that activism is a coordinated conspiracy that allocates markets in violation of the law.” [Sub required]

For more on Brnovich’s longstanding ties to Corrections Corporation of America (now CoreCivic) in Arizona, see Beau Hodai’s report, A Case Study on CCA’s Web of Influence in Arizona: Mark Brnovich. Open Secrets reports that Brnovich, who is currently running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona against Sen. Mark Kelly (D), has received campaign donations from CoreCivic’s PAC.

Photo by Raffaella.

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