First, the Good News

1) National: Here are the receipts: Corporate Bullsh*t—It’s Everywhere. In the Public Interest’s executive director Donald Cohen is the coauthor of a new book, now available in many bookstores, that’s been described as “a welcome user’s guide to maneuvering the thicket of lies that constitutes so much discourse today,” “a crucial tool to combat more than a century of corporate disinformation,” and, well, “a bathroom book.” The accumulation presented in Corporate Bullsh*t paints a more complete picture of the way corporations get their story out, truth be damned.

The authors collected scores of quotes and began realizing they fit into a half-dozen responses that are almost like a corporate version of the Six Deadly Sins (because corporations are so efficient, they don’t need all seven): it’s not a problem; the free market knows best; it’s not our fault, it’s your fault; it’s a job killer; you’ll only make it worse; it’s socialism (the quote that begins this checks this box). Once you’re familiar with this pattern, you’ll begin to recognize it as it happens.

Want to win an autographed copy of Corporate Bullsh*t? “The rules are simple: (1) Share this post (2) Reply to us with your favorite example of corporate, trickle-down B.S. from a company or politician. Submissions are due Oct. 27 & winners to be announced Oct. 30!”

2) National/Georgia: Workers with disabilities are gaining more jobs and acceptance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. “The latest government statistics show that the share of people with no disabilities working has not changed from 2014. But the share of people with disabilities has jumped to 24.2%, which represents 2 million more people working than in 2014 and 5.1 million more working than at the 2008 rate. But what happens if employers continue their push for a return to the office? And what if an economic downturn creates a larger pool of potential workers? Advocates fear that the trend could quickly reverse. ‘I think there is still some stigma about the willingness to hire people with disabilities,’ Parry said. ‘What people don’t understand is the attachment to work that the majority of people with disabilities have. They put their heart and soul into their job. Once they get through the door, they tend to be with us for a long time.’ Other Atlanta organizations also fight the stereotypes, connecting employers to people with disabilities.”

3) National: U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has criticized school vouchers. “‘The moment public schools are fully funded, we could have that conversation,’ Cardona told Chalkbeat at a Monday event in Philadelphia about career and technical education. ‘Right now, I am totally against any public education dollars going to private school vouchers.’ Cardona’s comments could underscore a political risk for Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro. His support for a state-backed school voucher program has boosted his national profile and fueled rumors he may be eyeing higher office. Yet that position also leaves Shapiro out of step with much of the Democratic Party and officials like Cardona, who has argued that vouchers are backed by those seeking to undermine public schools.”

4) National: John Oliver takes on the private interests compromising food safety—and the shortcomings of the public regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect us. Oliver “discusses the groups in charge of keeping our food safe—from the FDA, to the USDA, to, most crucially, the Association for Dressings and Sauces.”

5) National: The IRS is launching a pilot Direct File project in 13 states. “The IRS will conduct a limited-scope pilot during the 2024 tax season to further assess customer support and technology needs. It will also provide a platform for the IRS to evaluate successful solutions for potential operational challenges identified in the report the IRS submitted to Congress earlier this year. (…) “This is a critical step forward for this innovative effort that will test the feasibility of providing taxpayers a new option to file their returns for free directly with the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.”

6) California: Richard Marcantonio, a managing attorney at Public Advocates, reports in Jacobin that the Golden State just passed the first state social housing legislation in the United States. “SB 555 embeds a definition of social housing in state law and sets in motion a public process ‘to identify tools to help achieve the state’s goals for lower and moderate-income housing by creating social housing through both new production and preservation of existing units.’ The resulting California Social Housing Study, to be completed in 2026, will include recommendations to the state legislature for creating social housing at the scale needed. The legislation is the first of its kind at the state level. It reflects a growing view that private, for-profit development is failing to address the state’s worsening housing crisis — and suggests an alternative, de-commodified vision of housing based on democratic control and meeting human needs for shelter.”

7) Illinois: Naperville has been awarded more than $1.1 million in federal funding to boost its energy grid capacity. “The funding is expected to boost the capacity of Naperville’s power delivery system by more effectively using energy generated—and stored—within the city. In doing so, Naperville hopes to augment its power supply, facilitate an energy portfolio that makes the best use of clean resources available and respond faster to real-time electricity needs, officials said. The grant was awarded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program. A $10.5 billion venture, GRIP was established by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allotted $550 billion in federal funding towards roads, bridges, mass transit, broadband—and grid resilience.”

8) Minnesota: Custodians at the University of Minnesota, a public land-grant research university, are continuing to improve and update their program. “Four to six times a year, a new batch of 10 to 20 hires go through a week-long training program at the University, including things from Human Resources to safety, asbestos and sexual harassment training. According to Michael Hofer, associate director of the custodial program at the University, trainees spend days learning how to use cleaning products through hands-on training and the use of different pieces of equipment. This hands-on training includes the use of microscopes to look at different carpet and dirt samples. Hofer said with things like coffee stains, the coffee gets coated on all the little fibers of carpet, so it is important to show trainees the impact up close. ‘You can do cleaning all your life and never see what it actually does under a microscope,” Hofer said. “We really try to bring things to life.’”

9) New York: East Harlem may get New York City’s newest Business Improvement District (BID). “A coalition of nonprofits, storeowners, residents and real estate developers have banded together in an effort to form a BID along a bustling but troubled stretch of East 125th Street. The proposal to launch an East 125th Street BID comes as the corridor faces a wave of new development and the arrival of the next leg of the Second Avenue subway in the next decade. But East 125th Street has also struggled in recent years with increasingly visible drug use and unsanitary conditions, which some residents attribute to the high concentration of facilities that treat substance abuse and mental health issues. ‘Everybody wants to see this area feel less chaotic, more healthy, more clean,’ said Carey King, director of the nonprofit Uptown Grand Central, which is spearheading the BID effort.” [Sub required]

10) Think Tanks: From the excellent science journalist Maryn McKenna: “The best anthology published in any year is out, and I am in it! Thrilled to appear in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2023 alongside many friends and colleagues. Huge thanks to edition editor @carlzimmer, series editor @jaimealyse, and @MarinerBooks.”


11) Alabama: The 2024 state legislative session looks set to focus on how so-called school choice options will be funded. “[House Education Committee chair] Collins’ largest holdout in fully committing to support the PRICE Act, she previously stated, was the lack of accountability measures included to ensure public school alternatives were adequately teaching students. Stutts has said he isn’t opposed to including means testing in his bill as a form of accountability, though for opponents of education savings accounts, any diversion of public school money to private schools is a non-starter. Opposition to education savings accounts largely exists among state Democrats, with the entire Alabama House Democratic Caucus publicly condemning what they called ‘school choice voucher schemes’ in a statement released Monday. ‘Tell your legislator that public education dollars should not be diverted to private schools,’ the statement reads. ‘We must protect and increase public education funding.’”

12) Arizona: Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) denounces the state’s unaccountable school voucher program. “The school voucher program is unaccountable and unsustainable.” Hobbs said in a statement. “It does not save taxpayers money, and it does not provide a better education for Arizona students. Instead, taxpayer dollars are funding ski resort passes, luxury car driving lessons, and pianos because partisan politicians refuse to place real limits on the program. Now, the runaway spending threatens funding for state troopers fighting drug trafficking, social workers protecting Arizona’s most vulnerable children, and doctors caring for Veterans who sacrificed their health to protect our country. I call on Superintendent Horne, Speaker Toma, and President Petersen to join with bipartisan leaders to pass accountability and transparency measures, and bring an end to this wasteful, runaway spending.” The new numbers come as reporting has shown school vouchers being used to fund pianos, ski resort passes, and luxury car driving lessons.

13) California/National: The California Teachers Association reports a surge in union organizing in charter schools. “Across the state, educators in charter schools are organizing to build power and exercising their voices to advocate for their students and themselves—and with the collective strength of a union. At one time a rarity, charter educators are increasingly overcoming union-busting practices to win unions, negotiate their wages and working conditions, and use their collective power to fight for their students. ‘Organizing, bargaining and surfacing important issues is how we show our members their voices matter,’ says Jeremy Zuniga, former government and economics teacher at Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter in East Los Angeles and president of Asociación de Maestros Unidos (and current executive director of South Bay Teachers United).”

14) Michigan/National: The University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy has “hosted the second annual Deloitte Future of Work Institute (FoWI). Undergraduate students from the Ford School and the U-M Leadership Certificate program participated in the two-day workshop to gain new leadership skills, and career tools and resources to help them adapt and thrive in a work environment with evolving technologies and drastic social shifts.”

15) Missouri: St. Louis school board members feel threatened after a rowdy demonstration by charter school supporters at one of its meetings. The board “also approved two resolutions, one opposing the opening of a new charter high school, Believe STL Academy, and the other disputing a $35 million federal grant awarded to charter school funder Opportunity Trust. (…) In its resolution opposing the new charter school, the St. Louis School Board cited declining population in the city and an overabundance of high schools. There are 21 district or charter high schools in the city with an average enrollment of 355. By comparison, districts in St. Louis County with similar student populations including Hazelwood, Parkway and Rockwood have three or four high schools each. ‘An additional high school located in the city of St. Louis would likely be significantly detrimental to the educational benefits of the children of the district,’ reads the resolution.”

16) Missouri: Faced with staffing shortages, more school districts in Missouri are switching to a four-day week. “The shifts to four-day weeks are attributed primarily to persistent teacher shortages and complaints about salaries. Studies have shown that teacher morale improves when the work week gets shorter, as do recruitment and retention. Parents also play a significant role in the success of any change, with some eager to have the flexibility, while others are anxious about arranging child care to cover an additional day. (..) According to Turner, making the switch is almost always about money. School districts may be able to save $50,000 or more on transportation, custodial work, cafeteria set-up and other expenses. ‘That ($50,000) may sound trivial,’ Turner said. ‘But if you’re in a tiny little school district that only has nine or 10 teachers, saving $50,000 is one teacher’s salary.’ Salaries, especially in smaller, rural districts, influence teacher retention. New teachers typically start their careers in smaller districts after college, Turner said, eventually leaving those positions for a better salary in larger cities.”

17) New York: The state legislature has approved five new charter schools. “In April, Gov. Kathy Hochul and the legislature approved a law as part of the state budget that paved the way for 14 new charter schools to open in the Big Apple’s 5 boroughs, and 8 others outside the city—22 in total. The deal was only agreed to following a grueling political fight with anti-charter teachers’ unions and their allies in the Legislature. Hochul’s initial plan would have removed a state cap of 275 within the five boroughs and allow for the reissuance of so-called ‘zombie’ licenses from shuttered schools. But Democrats who control the state Senate and Assembly rejected that proposal, following fierce opposition from the United Federation of Teachers.”

18) Oklahoma: NPR reports that “the renewal of Tulsa Honor Academy’s contract with Tulsa Public Schools was postponed again Monday after accusations of racist behavior were voiced by a TPS board member earlier this month. (…) At the TPS board meeting on Oct. 2, board member Diamond Marshall of District 2 said she became aware of racist behavior at the school. ‘The Black student union shared with me that there were a lot of racial slurs,’ Marshall said at the previous meeting. Marshall said she had been told the problem was acute enough that students felt unsafe, and staff members left the school. Urueta Pollock confirmed incidents of racism did occur in the spring semester of last year in the middle school at THA’s campus along Lakewood Ave.” See also this Fox23 news report.

19) Oklahoma: The chairman of an Oklahoma virtual charter school says he won’t sign off on contract with St. Isidore, saying it would violate the state constitution and the separation of church and state. [Video, about a minute]. The Oklahoma Attorney General has filed a lawsuit alleging that by approving the Catholic charter school the charter school board members have violated their oaths of office to uphold the constitution and “the religious liberty of every Oklahoman by forcing us to fund the teachings of a specific religious sect with our tax dollars.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union, Education Law Center and Freedom From Religion Foundation issued a statement supporting the AG’s lawsuit, saying “We applaud Attorney General Drummond for his efforts to protect church-state separation and public education in Oklahoma. The law is clear: Charter schools are public schools that must be secular and serve all students. St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School plans to discriminate against students, families, and staff and indoctrinate students into one religion. Allowing a religious public charter school like St. Isidore to operate would be a sea change for our democracy. Our clients filed OKPLAC, Inc. v. Statewide Virtual Charter School Board because they are committed to ensuring that our public schools welcome and serve all Oklahomans. The lawsuit filed today demonstrates that AG Drummond shares this commitment.”

20) Texas: The Texas Freedom Network hosted a press conference and dropped a petition with over 2,700 signatures urging state legislators to oppose voucher schemes. “The petition is in response to the Texas Senate’s advancement of Senate Bill 1 on October 12. Speakers included representatives from Texas Freedom Network, Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), Mothers Against Greg Abbott and Mothers for Democracy, Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA), Equality Texas, and Students Engaged in Advancing Texas (SEAT). ‘Voucher schemes like SB1 pose a risk not just to our educational standards, but to the principles of inclusivity and fairness that we hold dear,’ said Texas Freedom Network Senior Political Coordinator Rocío Fierro-Pérez.”

21) Texas: Emmy nominated reporter Mariza Mendoza says vouchers could change the educational landscape in Texas. “The issue of school vouchers in Texas is complicated. So we took questions about the debate to Dr. Scott Dittloff, a political scientist at UIW. He says the debate is difficult. ‘If we move people out of that public school, we don’t have any of that control,’ says Dr. Dittloff. He thinks funding another school system will significantly weaken local community schools and existing charters. ‘We’re going to have more and more in the public school system that is responsible for people that have greater need and greater cost,’ says Dr. Dittloff. Senate Bill 1 sets aside tax dollars for parents to get up to $8,000 for sending a child to private school.”

22) Texas: ReformAustin reports that State Rep. Harold Dutton Jr. (D-Houston) failed to report money he got from a school voucher group. “According to an ethics complaint filed by one of Dutton’s constituents, Patrick Young, Dutton received $9,187.26 in in-kind contributions from Texas Federation for Children in 2020. In addition, Dutton benefited from $19,437.65 in direct campaign contributions from the PAC. In none of his 2020 filings did Dutton disclose the support. Texas Federation for Children is the state branch of the American Federation for Children, which was formerly run by Betsy DeVos, who served as Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump. The group has been a strong proponent of using taxpayer dollars to pay for tuition at private, mostly religious schools. Stacy Hock, who serves as a board member of the far-right Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), is one of the biggest donors. Oil billionaire Tim Dunn has also funded their activities. It’s a web of conservative dark money donations dedicated to the privatization of public education, according to the Texas American Federation of Teachers.”


23) National/Florida: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited a station on the privately-operated Brightline rail service and praised the ‘public-private partnership.’ “So far, the federal government has issued five grants to Brightine for safety improvements, including $15 million to help expand to Tampa as the company looks to connect cities across the country. ‘Is private transportation the new frontier?’ Hussey asked. ‘I think it’s a “both and,” Buttigieg said.”

24) National: Will short termism in the U.S. treasuries bond market affect infrastructure investment? Will it affect municipal bonds? Bloomberg outlines the trends. “‘We have to deal with a different buyer base for Treasuries,’ said Priya Misra, a portfolio manager at JP Morgan Asset Management. ‘The marginal buyer of Treasuries will be asset managers. And that will mean more volatility since these buyers will be more price and flow sensitive. Foreign central banks had to invest their reserves and banks had to invest their deposits. But asset manager demand is a function of inflows and performance of different asset classes.’” [Sub required]

25) New York: Voters will be deciding on whether to extend a 60-year-old amendment that allows local governments to exclude sewage facility construction from constitutional debt limits. “State Sen. Monica Martinez and Assemblyman William Conrad, the sponsors of the proposed amendment in the state Legislature, explained the intent of the exemption was to allow local governments to benefit from a state sewer construction assistance plan. In later years, the exclusion helps municipalities fund sewer facility projects. ‘Local government finances continue to be strained by the need to repair or replace aging sewer infrastructure,’ the sponsors wrote. ‘Indeed, the urgent need for improvements and upgrades to municipal sewer facilities is well documented as an ongoing concern for local governments.’”

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (D) says “the need and rationale for the debt exclusion cited in 1963 and in each subsequent extension remains relevant and valid today. Local government finances continue to be strained by the need to repair or replace aging sewer infrastructure. Indeed, the urgent need for improvements and upgrades to municipal sewer facilities is well-documented as an ongoing concern for local governments.”

26) Pennsylvania: The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority will replace about four miles of water mains in Pittsburgh’s Brighton Heights and Squirrel Hill South neighborhoods, the Pittsburgh Tribune reports. “The authority said it has secured a $37.3 million funding package from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority for the project to replace aging and undersized water mains. (…) PWSA also will replace any lead service lines encountered as part of the replacement work at no cost to the customer, the authority said in a statement. ‘With continued support from the PennVEST Board, Governor Shapiro, state leaders and the city of Pittsburgh, PWSA can effectively extend the useful life of our water distribution system while minimizing the impact to ratepayers,’ said Ed Barca, PWSA’s director of finance.’”

27) Puerto Rico: Four highways are to be privatized to pay off Puerto Rico’s debt to Wall Street. “The announced deal doesn’t need legislative approval and is expected to be executed Dec. 14. The Puerto Rico Public Private Partnerships Authority picked a firm, Albertis Infraestructuras SA, that already operates two Puerto Rico highways and a bridge. Albertis will operate the additional four highways under the name Metropistas, which it uses to operate the existing Puerto Rico toll assets. The HTA will supervise the new concession, according to the governor.” [Sub required]

28) Texas: The Austin City Council is ready to move ahead with two design, engineering and construction contracts for its new Austin Convention Center. “Funding for the expansion is coming from the city’s portion of Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue, with convention center staff saying none of the revenue from the public/private partnership component of the project is needed to cover the costs of the project. Council members’ questions involved the four-year timeline during which the center will be completely closed—instead of using a phased approach that would have extended the construction over seven or eight years.”

But Council Member Alison Alter “said she and others will need to see more detailed financial information on the project as the design and initial construction planning moves forward, along with an explanation of how the revenue generated by the public/private partnership will flow back to the city. ‘We in the public need to understand sort of how many other buckets of costs beyond these two (contracts) we’re talking about in terms of the magnitude, even if you don’t have the specific numbers you can share. We’re already over a billion dollars with what we’re authorizing here, and that’s assuming that the (construction manager at risk) contract is actually for building out the convention center.’”

29) International/Think Tanks: Food & Water Watch reports that “a new report from Northeastern University’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy details how U.S. water policy and infrastructure discriminate against Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. (…) We know that water and sanitation are essential to life and health. We all have a right to safe, affordable water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning. However, in the U.S., whether you have safe, affordable water tightly maps onto your community’s race, income, and immigration status…

“This issue entered the national spotlight in summer 2022; a water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi cut off clean water for more than 100,000 residents. The crisis shone a light on how the city has long failed to deliver safe, affordable water for its majority-Black residents. In a new report with Northeastern University’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) and allies, we detail how the U.S. is failing to ensure the right to water equally.” The report, Drinking Water Access and Affordability & U.S. Compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was prepared for the 139th Session of the Human Rights Committee, Geneva, October 9–November 3, 2023.

Public Services

30) National: U.S. Right to Know and food policy expert Marion Nestle are warning about conflicts of interest in the  HHS/USDA 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. “Nine out of 20 members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee have conflicts of interest with food, pharmaceutical, or weight loss companies or industry groups with a stake in the outcome of the guidelines, according to a new report published today by the nonprofit public health research group U.S. Right to Know. An additional four members had possible conflicts of interest. The report found that Abbott, Novo Nordisk, National Dairy Council, Eli Lilly, and Weight Watchers (WW) International had ties to two or more DGAC members.”

31) National: Critics are warning that the U.S. Postal Service is still threatened with privatization. “Our terrible conditions do not result from the Post Office’s debt and even less by managerial “incompetence” or “glitches” in new evaluation systems. They are the intended product of a vast restructuring program called “Delivering for America,” whose aim is to dismantle the post office and prepare the way for its eventual privatization.”

32) National: “Tis the Season to be bombarded with tempting offers for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans,” writes ecowyoming on DailyKos. “I’ve read that many of you are happy with your MA plans, good for you, and I hope you stay happy.  The rest of you should know that MA plans are a path to privatization of Medicare.  MA Plan providers make offers that sound too good to be true.  However, they limit provider choice, and may raise premiums in later years when it’ll be harder for subscribers to get back into traditional Medicare with a medigap policy. Social Security Works has been trying to protect Social Security and Medicare. They had a virtual event today to raise funds for a new ad (the ad starts at around 5:48 in this YouTube link). I encourage you to watch the whole presentation if you want an in-depth discussion about the Medicare versus MA, however, Social Security Works also has this handy facts sheet.  From the Social Security Works email sent to today (Oct 19, 2023).”

33) National/Think Tanks: Have a look at the Project on Government Oversight’s excellent testimony prepared for a hearing of the Veterans Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The hearing was scheduled for last Thursday but has been postponed. Here it is: Testimony of Joe Spielberger, Policy Counsel, before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, on “Trust in Transparency: Holding VA Accountable and Protecting Whistleblowers.”

34) California/National: Writing in LA Progressive, Dr. Ana Malinow reports that corporate profiteering in Medicare is increasing, but has tenacious opponents working in the public interest. “Seniors and people with disabilities on Traditional Medicare can celebrate the passage of Assembly Joint Resolution 4, which puts California on record opposing the ‘value-based’ payment scheme ACO REACH (Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health) and corporate profiteering in Medicare. Passage of the resolution is a David versus Goliath victory for grassroots activists, seniors, and people with disabilities fighting to protect Medicare from privatization by health insurance companies, private equity, and venture capital. In California, the small group Movement to End Privatization of Medicare, along with the larger California Alliance for Retired Americans, worked with California state legislators to pass a resolution opposing ACO REACH, a ‘value-based’ payment program out of the Innovation Center.”

35) Maryland: Writing in the Baltimore Banner, Ben Conarck points to a report on the legal gymnastics and thorny history of Maryland’s correctional health care provider. “Earlier this month, a prisoner at medium-security state-run facility on the Eastern Shore filed a pro se lawsuit against YesCare, the private company responsible for providing medical care in state prisons and Baltimore jails. On a piece of yellow legal paper, and despite only having a seventh-grade education, Calvin C. Murray scrawled out in painful detail how he had suffered a mild stroke at Eastern Correctional Institution due to a heart rhythm disorder, one that left him partially paralyzed for six days, according to his lawsuit. YesCare’s response, Murray asserted, was to give him 600 milligrams Ibuprofen. ‘I’ve been under so much stress wondering if I am going to have a heart attack or stroke and [it] has made my PTSD worse,’ Murray wrote in his complaint. ‘Basic medical care has been violated. I believe [it] is malpractice putting profits over patients.’

Murray’s lawsuit is one of more than a half-dozen that have been filed by Maryland prisoners in federal court against the company this year alone, according to court records. Among the other complaints: a prisoner not receiving medication for his seizure disorder, another with an untreated lipoma, and a prisoner who suffered from a condition called deep vein thrombosis but was not given treatment. The medical malpractice lawsuits routinely lobbed at the company are an all-too-common occurrence, according to a new report by The Private Equity Stakeholder Project released Tuesday on the private-equity-backed YesCare that details its controversial legal maneuvers and its history of performing poorly in its many contracts with jails and prisons across the country.”

Read PESP’s new reports, Privatized prison healthcare seeks profit at patients’ expense, and Private equity-owned YesCare dodges liability with “get-out-of-jail-free card.”

36) North Carolina: What impact does school bond issuance have on the taxes low income people have to pay? A lot, say many Mecklenburg County residents. “Ricky Woods, pastor of First Baptist Church-West, wrote in an op-ed published Monday in The Charlotte Observer the tax hike from the bond would cause ‘the largest Black resident displacement since the Brooklyn neighborhood was demolished for an urban renewal project in the 1960s.’ Woods, Dennis Williams, the pastor of Faith Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, and Jordan Boyd, the pastor of Rockwell A.M.E. Zion Church, were co-authors of the op-ed, writing: ‘Beginning in March, members of the African American Clergy Coalition, including me, began lobbying CMS and Mecklenburg County officials not to place a bond before voters in this election cycle—to no avail.’”

37) International/Canada: A nursing shortage is driving privatization, some say. “The actual picture of what is happening on a national scale remains oblique, as pointed out by Joan Almost, a highly respected professor in the faculty of nursing at Queens University. She voices concerns everyone shares—the escalating costs these agencies charge, the shifting dynamics within hospitals, and the growing list of players stepping onto this playing field. In collaboration with the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Almost is engrossed in an intensive study to illuminate the staggering use of agency nurses and the mechanisms steering these companies. Despite offering a quick fix to staffing issues, agencies levy an exorbitant hourly fee that is two to three times higher than what a staff registered nurse (RN) earns. Added to this are the costs of travel, rental, and “finder” fees, further inflating the fiscal burden on the healthcare system.”

38) International/United Kingdom: The outsourcing of leisure services will lead to cost-cutting and huge price hikes,public service workers unions are warning. “Representatives of GMB, NIPSA and UNITE are adopting a united front against proposals before Ards & North Down District Council which threaten to hand over leisure services to the private management company Serco. The unions highlight the poor track record of the controversial company and warn that experience in Belfast City Council where leisure services have been outsourced have been a huge hike to user charges and attacks on workers’ rights through introduction of a two-tier workforce.”

Everything Else

39) National/Think Tanks: The Washington University Prison Education Project (PEP) “held a panel discussion on the public health crisis posed by mass incarceration in Missouri and the United States on Oct. 16. PEP was established by the University in 2014 and offers college degrees to inmates in two Missouri Prisons. It graduated its first class in 2019. The event, which focused on the growing public health crisis in prisons, was part of the Gephardt Institute’s Civic Action Week and featured three panelists: George Putney, PEP Alumni and current student in the Brown School, ML Smith, Founder and Director of the Missouri Justice Coalition and Co-Director of Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty, and Ella Siegrist, a PEP Instructor and PhD student at the University. In Missouri prisons, access to healthcare is a major issue and, tied with an aging inmate population, death in prison has become a pervasive issue.”

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