- UAW strike stirs labor solidarity
- ITPI Report: Procurement for the public good
- Report: Public finance needed for green transition
First, the Good News
1) National: Solidarity with the UAW strike is growing by the day. “Tuesday, I’ll go to Michigan to join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create,” says President Biden. “It’s time for a win-win agreement that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with well-paid UAW jobs.”
Members of UAW 5810 and 2865 showed up in force to the SoCal UAW pickets. “There’s this deep understanding that we have to show solidarity with each other because…a rising tide lifts all ships,” said Lane Jackson Hubbard, Post-Doc organizer at UC Irvine.” And AFT President Randi Weingarten and Toledo teachers joined striking UAW workers on the picket line.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders says “UAW workers are striking for all working people. For decades, insatiable corporate greed has driven billionaires to take and take and take from hardworking Americans. It’s never enough for them, and we’re sick of it. Going back to the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike, when AFSCME and Dr. King marched with workers for fair pay and justice, we know that strikes can change the world for the better. That is why we stand with UAW in this fight, and we will continue to be by their side until they get the dignity and respect they are owed.”
2) National/Think Tanks: In the Public Interest’s latest report, “Harnessing the Power of Procurement: Issues, Considerations, and Best Practices to Advance Equity in the Contracting of Public Goods and Services,” produced in collaboration with the Local Progress Impact Lab, says it is crucial that local and state governments use an approach to procurement that drives toward equity. “While there are important questions about whether various public goods and services should be operated or provided by private entities, a traditional procurement approach can result in the privatization of services that would be provided better and more equitably through the public sector. Privatization, a key pillar of political attacks on government in the last few decades, has weakened many public goods and services and excluded an increasing number of Americans from full participation in the political and economic systems that shape their lives. Local and state governments should ensure that procurement is truly being used to solve public problems and that resulting contracts are responsive to public needs, especially for those who rely on or are most impacted by the service or good.”
3) National: The media are finally catching up to the devastating impact that the privatization of dormitories is having on the opportunity to access higher education. Business Insider ran an in-depth piece on the subject focusing on the key role that private equity firms are having in “screwing over college students.” “‘The profit-driven goals of the private sector, while not inherently bad, differ from the accessibility-focused priorities of public institutions,’ Donald Cohen, the founder and executive director of In the Public Interest and a coauthor of The Privatization of Everything, told [BI reporter James Rodriguez]. ‘They’re just different interests. There will be times when those interests may be in line, or they may be kind of in line, or they may conflict.’”
Moody’s Analytics had a piece last month analyzing the depth of the college housing affordability crisis. “In addition to housing affordability disproportionately impacting low- and moderate- income families, students returning to college over the next few weeks may encounter sticker shock as rent levels have increased over the past few years and competition over housing is greater than ever before. To explore this issue in greater detail, we are joined this week by our special guest writers Lu Chen, Mary Le, and Ricardo Rosas as we identify which metros had the greatest difference between multifamily and student housing rent growth since 2019. Lastly, with two major inflation reports released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we are also pleased to be joined by our colleague, Ermengarde Jabir, to breakdown the CPI results and in particular, examine the shelter inflation component and why it has lagged.”
4) National: The Office of Personnel Management has announced that it has completed “a multi-year effort to update a government-wide list of common skills needed for federal workers to succeed in an array of jobs at agencies, in support of the government’s broader push to institute skills-based hiring. The shift within the federal hiring process toward emphasizing applicants’ job experience and skills rather than their educational attainment is a rare piece of civil service reform to garner bipartisan support. President Biden’s OPM has continued to implement the provisions of an executive order signed by then-President Trump in 2020, while the Chance to Compete Act, a bill codifying many elements of skills-based hiring into law, has broad bipartisan support, passing the House unanimously last January.”
5) California: After decades of political and budgetary attacks on public housing, tenants are still tenaciously organizing to defend public housing, “because it works,” says Jacob Woocher. “These privatization schemes have been huge boons for the developers building new housing and collecting rents, always generously subsidized by public funds. For example, Related California—an offshoot of the massive NYC-based developer, the Related Companies—got its start in Los Angeles by redeveloping the Normont Terrace complex, the first public housing complex in the city to be demolished and privatized, and has subsequently been involved in two other privatization projects. The Michaels Organization, a for-profit corporation that is the largest ‘affordable housing’ landlord in the nation, is one of the two lead developers for the Jordan Downs redevelopment. Finance capital benefits too.”
Woocher is a tenant lawyer in Los Angeles. He organizes with the Los Angeles Tenants Union (LATU) and is the author of the must-read 10-part series, LA’s War on Public Housing.
6) Kansas/National: Leavenworth County officials have voted unanimously to halt discussions with CoreCivic and ICE over whether to convert a former private federal jail into a detention center for immigration enforcement. “The vote came after the city expressed opposition to county officials. Opposition to the idea of CoreCivic becoming an ICE facility ran the spectrum from anti-immigration sentiments about releasing ‘illegal aliens’ into the community to immigration attorneys and civil rights advocates’ concerns about the facility’s history of violence and safety issues.
When CoreCivic’s Leavenworth facility held pretrial detainees under a contract with the U.S. Marshals Service, the private jail struggled with staffing crises, rampant drug use and persistent violence. It’s being sued by a former inmatewhose lawsuit includes allegations of at least 10 stabbings in 2021 and two deaths by suicide.”
7) New York: Community Schools in Rome are reaching out to homeless students. “‘We just have a lack of real estate available and the incomes to support rent,’ Roys said. ‘I’m not sure what the solution is.’ The Connected Community Schools outreach offers hubs in many area schools where students in need can find groceries, snacks, school supplies and hygiene items. There are currently 57 area schools in the connected network that was founded and is still based in Rome. ‘The need for grocery items has been increasing,’ Roys said. “The numbers of students taking groceries home or eating meals at the hubs is on the rise.” Connected Community Schools just passed the two million-pound mark for food purchased since the pandemic started in March 2020, Roys said. Students in need are identified mainly through the schools, which give the kids ‘a warm pass off to us,’ Roys said.”
8) Oklahoma: Solidarity means jobs and a living wage. “Members of AFSCME Local 2406 in Oklahoma City have shown that when workers stand together, their communities are stronger. That’s why, when 30,000 truck drivers from Yellow Freight trucking company got laid off in August after the company declared bankruptcy, AFSCME Local 2406 members stepped up to initiate and implement a career fair for the Oklahoma City-based drivers who had been represented by Teamsters Local 866 while at Yellow Freight. The City of Oklahoma City extended 80 job offers to former Yellow Freight drivers.”
9) National/International: Hurry up and register. The Transnational Institute (TNI) is having a two day international seminar on “Global trends in education: the impact of governance structures, privatization and digitalization.” It will feature some of the leading experts on the right to education from a global perspective. The event takes place at the Institute of International Relations of the University of São Paulo (IRI-USP). “With a hybrid format, the event will be broadcasted on the Campaign’s YouTube channel (external link). To formalize your participation in person or virtually, sign up on this link. See the full program (English).
10) National/Texas: A Trump-appointed federal judge has “ruled in favor of booksellers who argued that Texas’s new law banning some books from public school libraries and restricting others through an onerous and complicated regime is likely unconstitutional in an opinion that blasted the law and the arguments the state made in its defense.”
11) California: Proposed new limits on charter schools’ sharing of campus space with district-run schools have reignited long smoldering tensions in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Los Angeles Daly News reports. “LAUSD School Board President Jackie Goldberg and Board Member Rocío Rivas are proposing that charter schools not be allowed to lease classroom space at about 346 district-run school sites in an effort to protect vulnerable Black, Latino and low-income students from what they argue are negative impacts of sharing a campus. The board discussed the proposed policy at a Sept. 19 meeting and is expected to vote on it in October. The proposal has been met with praise from several board members, the teachers’ union United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and parents at district-run schools.”
12) Illinois: SEIU Local 73 has filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General under Open Meetings Act “after Local 73 Vice President and UIC Worker Lavitta ‘Vee’ Steward was denied an opportunity to testify in front of the Board of Trustees during their July 20 public meeting. Last summer, Local 73 filed a federal lawsuit against the University of Illinois after the Board of Trustees denied workers at Champagne-Urbana the right to speak at a Board meeting. ‘Civil Service Jobs used to empower the community. They used to uplift Black and brown working-class families and provide economic stability. But today, UIC has over 800 vacant civil service positions that are supposed to be represented in our bargaining unit. How is that? That ain’t right.”
13) Iowa: School districts and local governments are having to deal with new restrictions imposed by Republican lawmakers on bond elections. “Until now, cities and school districts in Iowa had two to three times per year in which they were allowed to hold bond elections. Now, those elections may only be held one time per year, in November. (…) The biggest concern for the Iowa Association of School Boards comes down to the fact that there’s a 60% threshold for approving bond issues — and most that fail do so by a very small amount, according to Emily Piper, a lobbyist with the association. Under the new law, districts will have to wait an entire year before they can resubmit to voters. ‘For a growing school district, for a school district that has really pressing needs with respect to rehabbing old buildings, if the bond issue doesn’t pass, it’s going to delay their ability to move forward,’ Piper said.” [Sub required]
14) New York: SUNY Potsdam wants to cut the following degree programs because it can’t find $9 million to plug a budget hole:
- Art history (BA)
- Arts management (BA)
- Biochemistry (MS)
- Chemistry (BA and BS)
- Dance (BA)
- French (BA)
- Music performance (MM)
- Philosophy (BA)
- Physics (BA)
- Public health (BS and MS)
- Spanish (BA)
- Theater (BA)
Meanwhile, “Governor Hochul will also eliminate the regional cap on the number of charter schools in New York City and authorize the reissuance of charters due to surrender, revocation, termination, or non-renewal.”
15) South Carolina: An administrative law judge has ordered a Florence charter school to cease and desist from operating. “The district said in court last week that PYA has between $800,000 to $1.2 million that doesn’t belong to them, but to the taxpayers of Florence because their charter has been revoked. The judge appointed a receiver to investigate how much money has been spent and on what.” ABC15NEWS reported that “Florence 1 Schools revoked Palmetto Youth Academy’s charter on June 30 for a number of reasons, including low student performance and too many uncertified teachers.”
16) Texas: Battered by budgetary competition from charter schools and declining enrollment, the San Antonio and Plano school districts are considering closing 19 schools. “With lawmakers gearing to tackle public education issues again in a few weeks, there is a chance that school districts might receive an influx of cash soon. It’s unclear whether changes to the funding system would help Plano and San Antonio ISDs prevent school closures. (…) Now the question is whether lingering bitterness between the House and the Senate following Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial and acquittal will further sour any hope of good-faith negotiations between the chambers over school vouchers and funding. ‘We need to start off with the reality that school choice was already rejected multiple times by the Texas House,’ said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University. ‘Now, any desire that the House might have had to work with the Senate and the governor was obliterated on Saturday with the acquittal of Attorney General Paxton.’”
17) Wisconsin: We must stand up to school privatizers for the sake of Wisconsin’s kids, says Christian Phelps, the Wisconsin Public Education Network’s director of digital organizing and communications. “Let’s make 2023-24 the school year that Wisconsin finally stands up to the privatization lobby, uniting to put pupils before profit and democracy before disinformation. Visit WisconsinNetwork.org/Accountability to learn more about how this works, and then share that information to help everyone around us understand it, too. It should be politically unviable to expand a scheme that lines the pockets of lobbyists and profiteers, starves our public schools, and fails to produce meaningful results. We can make it so. We don’t have to agree on everything, but let’s agree on this: Only an accountable, well-funded, high quality public school system can protect the lives and freedoms of all kids.”
18) International/U.K.: Wired reports that U.S.-based Palantir is favored to win a $595 million National Health Service contract, but activists and doctors worry about its controversial ties to cofounder Peter Thiel, the military, and US border control. “‘We just think Palantir is a completely inappropriate partner,’ says Hope Worsdale, a spokesperson for Just Treatment, which campaigns against privatization in the health service. ‘We think those things Palantir was involved with are counter to the values that underpin the NHS.’ (…) As the service looks for cost-saving ‘efficiencies,’ the public worries that privatization is coming, and with it, an American-style system of costly insurance that takes basic health care out of the reach of millions. Polls show that the British public is not totally against private companies working within the NHS system—60 percent believe there is a role for them if they do not push up costs. But only 2 percent of people favor total privatization. (…) Giving a private company access to that data could, some critics of the contract say, be a forerunner of more substantial privatization, and a step toward a future for the NHS that many in the UK say is not what they want. ‘Palantir is not only the emblem of what privatization in the NHS might look like,’ says Jeni Tennison, executive director at Connected by Data, a group that campaigns for individual data rights, ‘but also an emblem of the kind of database state and the growing datafication of our lives and our lack of control over that.’”
The National Pensioners Convention, the campaigning organization for older people in the U.K., says Stop Palantir’s NHS data takeover!
19) National: The housing crisis is thwarting recruitment for nature-based infrastructure projects, Inside Climate Newsreports. “Even when local governments, nonprofit groups and indigenous tribes can drum up the funding to take on these projects, they are stymied by a major obstacle: People who can do the work can’t find a place to live. ‘Housing!’ the planning expert Juli Beth Hinds yelled recently in her kitchen while watching a PBS NewsHour television segment on Living Breakwaters, a coastal resilience project in Staten Island. The veteran NewsHour journalist Jeffery Brown had just asked Kate Orff, a renowned landscape architect, why more people weren’t putting similar nature-based solutions into practice across the United States. Orff pointed out some of the obstacles, like deciding which jurisdiction controls what, in mapping out large-scale projects that cross boundaries. But Hinds, who works on land-use and water-resource policy, knows that housing can be an equally important piece of the puzzle. All too often, she said, planners cannot hire people for nature-based projects when affordable places to rent or buy are scarce to nonexistent.”
20) National: “America Is Draining Its Groundwater Like There’s No Tomorrow,” reports the New York Times. “Many of the aquifers that supply 90 percent of the nation’s water systems, and which have transformed vast stretches of America into some of the world’s most bountiful farmland, are being severely depleted. These declines are threatening irreversible harm to the American economy and society as a whole. (…) One of the biggest obstacles is that the depletion of this unseen yet essential natural resource is barely regulated. The federal government plays almost no role, and individual states have implemented a dizzying array of often weak rules. The problem is also relatively unexamined at the national scale. Hydrologists and other researchers typically focus on single aquifers or regional changes. All of this helps enable and reinforce practices that have drained aquifers, such as growing water-intensive crops like alfalfa or cotton in dry areas and overreliance on groundwater in fast-growing urban areas.” Read the rest of the 10-part series.
21) National: When is $64.5 billion not enough money to solve an urgent problem? When that problem is broadband access. “Biden administration officials have said the new program, coupled with other federal and state funding, would be enough to finally reach everyone who lacked high-speed internet access. But some state officials and industry analysts remain wary and have raised concerns about whether the funds will achieve all of the administration’s goals. In part, that’s because of the sheer cost of deploying broadband infrastructure in rural and sparsely populated areas. It can be expensive to lay fiber-optic cable when homes are spread far apart and terrain challenges make it difficult to dig in the ground. Labor shortages could further drive up construction costs and delay projects. There are 8.5 million “unserved” and 3.6 million “underserved” locations across the country, according to Federal Communications Commission data.” The main problem is that there isn’t enough money to attract bidders. But is this the best financing model?
22) National/Think Tanks: We can’t rely on private finance to fund a just transition, says Advait Arun of the Center for Public Enterprise. “The world urgently needs financing for renewable energy, infrastructure, public transit, land restoration, and much more to face the storm of climate change,” writes Arun. “But these necessary capital investments in the green transition face real barriers, such as a high cost of capital or slow land acquisition. Policymakers, their critics, and investors alike are right to worry about these financial and regulatory obstacles. (…) Policymakers promote “mobilizing private finance” as a solution that mutually benefits common people and investors. Achieving this requires the state to shoulder the costs as well as the investment risks; this is the logic of financial derisking, which operates chiefly through loan guarantees, blended finance funds, securitization structures, and project preparation services. Critics argue that these forms of financial derisking socialize investors’ risks while allowing them to reap profits, accelerate the privatization of public goods across emerging markets, and place the private sector in the drivers’ seat of the green transition. But it’s unclear if investors can actually finance all the world’s unmet financing needs. Is it technically possible? Examining the decision-making priorities of institutional investors reveals the limits of the rhetoric surrounding the mobilization of private investment: the institutional investors expected to drive global capital expenditure are ultimately concerned with how green projects like renewable energy fit into their overall portfolios.”
23) Florida: The Tampa Bay Rays have announced plans for a $1.3 billion ballpark in St. Petersburg. If approved, the team will pay $700 million, and the city and county will split $600 million. “Those agreements with Welch and Pinellas County administrator Barry Burton require approval by the City Council and County Commission, which Auld said they are confident of getting. They hope to break ground around this time next year. (…) The biggest question is why the Rays would build a new stadium on essentially the same site when attendance has lagged for much of their first 26 seasons. Team officials cited that concern repeatedly in making several attempts to get a new stadium built in Tampa and even pursued a radical plan to split home games between Montreal and Tampa. (…) Both the County Commission and the City Council will discuss the agreement at October meetings but won’t likely vote until early 2024, with the city process including the more complicated redevelopment agreement. (…) The Rays have been exploring different ways to cover their $700 million share — “more than we would have expected,” Silverman said — which could include financing or selling equity in the team to investors, a process that Sternberg told the Tampa Bay Times on Sept. 8 has also led to inquiries and offers to buy the team, potentially at a premium price approaching $2 billion. (…) One change from the original plan was to increase the number of affordable housing units 40%, from 859 to 1,200.” [Sub required]
24) New Jersey: The American Dream Mall, partly financed by municipal bonds, is facing major red ink—a $245 million loss—The Bond Buyer reports. “The mall, developed with help of [a] large public financing package, reported a loss four times bigger than the $60 million reported in 2021, the mall’s first full year of operations following the pandemic. The statement reports $34.3 million of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, on $183.2 million of revenue, a $10 million increase from 2021. But the positive EBITDA number is crushed by $49.9 million of real estate taxes, the payments in lieu of taxes that backstop one of the tax-exempt bond issues sold to fund construction. A further $181 million listed as finance expenses, $10.56 million of management fees and $15 million of depreciation are among the items driving the bottom line into the red.” [Sub required]
25) International/Canada: In a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star, Kate Chung, a Toronto resident, took issue with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s assertion that housing is not a primary federal responsibility. “The federal government is responsible for all military housing, Indigenous housing, and administering the National Housing Act via the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The federal government has signed multiple UN Declarations on the right to housing, the rights of persons with disabilities, and more. Parliament passed the National Housing Strategy Act in 2019, which recognizes housing as a human right. Tell me how housing is not a primary federal responsibility? While other levels of government have responsibility too, this passing of the buck from one level of government to others must stop. Canadians need housing now. Let’s bring back the co-op housing program and the non-profit housing programs, and get affordable accessible housing built. We need homes, not investment vehicles.”
26) International/U.K.: Britain is in the midst of a controversy over whether or not the government should go through with a multibillion-pound northern leg of a high speed rail line (called HS2). A group of potential private investors is demanding answers, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is pumping the brakes on the project. “Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Huntare poised to delay the northern phase of HS2 by up to seven years as part of a bid to scrap the project in the long term,The Independent understands. The prime minister and chancellor will meet this week to decide the fate of the high-speed rail project, with an announcement expected before the Tory conference in Manchester next weekend. The government is expected to say that work on the railway north of Birmingham will be delayed in order to move costs into a future parliament—kicking the project into the long grass.” This has produced consternation in the north, even among a Tory major donor who’s threatening to pull funding from Sunak’s Conservative Party if HS2 is scrapped.
27) National: The possibility of another government shutdown is looming, and extremist Republicans are clowning around with distractions. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says a shutdown would immediately cut off funding for food safety inspections and air traffic control training, for example. Government Executive has published “Your guide to pay and benefits during a shutdown.”
28) National: Veteran public administration expert Donald F. Kettl has weighed in on promises by far right Republicans to gut the federal workforce should they win the White House next year. “You might think that the initiative to convert career civil service employees to political appointees might have died at the end of the Trump administration. You’d be wrong. As the 2024 presidential campaign gets into gear, conservatives are playing a short game to bring that plan back. But there’s also a long game in the works to change the rules of the civil service, which would radically transform the constitutional balance of powers. It would be a huge mistake to underestimate either gambit.”
29) National/Texas: The private, for-profit prison company GEO Group, not satisfied that it has stretched the bounds of credulity by claiming sovereign immunity for itself, is now demanding that it owes no sales taxes because it’s an instrumentality of the government. Will they next demand that the judges they appear before hand over their robes to GEO’s legal department to act as an instrumentality of our third branch of government?
30) National/Texas: In case you were wondering whether GEO Group is the only private prison company with chutzpah, now comes Corizon, deploying a legal tactic that even the Wall Street Journal describes as “a legal tactic for cleansing businesses of litigation through bankruptcy.” Regular readers of the Privatization Report will be quite familiar with the blizzard of cases that have been directed at Corizon over the years for a variety of alleged misdeeds, but now the company has apparently changed its name and shed the corporate entity that is allegedly exposed to liability.
The Marshall Project picks up the story. “There are more than 100 people like Arther, who argue the medical care they received from Corizon while they were incarcerated was negligent, or worse, and are now dealing with the fallout of the company’s complicated bankruptcy. Attorneys last month announced they had reached a tentative settlement deal in the bankruptcy and expected to bring the terms to the court next week, but the details won’t become public until that happens. Until then, the people who sued Corizon are left to wonder what compensation they’ll receive, if any. That’s because Corizon, a company that provided healthcare in prisons and jails across the country, moved most of its debts to a new company called Tehum Care Services that then declared bankruptcy, in a controversial corporate restructuring known as a ‘Texas Two-Step.’ Then, Corizon executives created another company to do business under a new name—YesCare—a move that critics say could allow Corizon to minimize its liability. In fact, YesCare inked a contract worth more than $1 billion in Alabama, even as Corizon’s creditors may be left empty-handed…”
“But there are big questions about whether Tehum really is insolvent, or, as its creditors allege, is instead taking advantage of the bankruptcy system to avoid paying its debts. A recent article by Business Insider revealed a tangled web of companies—including both YesCare and Tehum—co-owned or managed by a small, secretive group of people who would benefit if the bankruptcy goes ahead. In a lawsuit, a former Corizon executive who was forced out called the merger ‘an old-fashioned bankruptcy fraud scheme—taking assets and avoiding liabilities, while draining coffers into their own pockets,’ Business Insider reported.”
Is this another privatization miracle of the market? Let’s not get lost in the legalese, and let’s get serious. Many of these cases are over people who suffered gravely over the alleged failures of a company to provide adequate medical care while they were incarcerated and in dire need. If the prison companies are now claiming they are the “instrumentalities of government,” doesn’t that work in the other direction too? The question is are the various levels of government—and the human beings that sit in those chairs—who contract out what are inherently governmental functions not responsible, by the very act of privatization, for the misery and damages they cause?
31) California: In a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times this summer, Barbara Richardson of Huntington Beach, a former children’s librarian for the Huntington Beach Public Library. says of a plan by the Mayor Pro Tem to restrict books from anyone under 18 without a parent present, “Who gets to decide what’s obscene when the library only orders books that have been positively reviewed by reliable sources? Unless, of course, this will all just be an excuse to privatize the city’s library system.”
32) International/Canada: A major demonstration is taking place in Toronto today at Queen’s Park outside the Ontario Legislature to protest the Ford government’s plan to privatize the province’s public hospitals. The Ontario Health Coalition says:
“Make a major show of strength to set the tone for the reopening of the Ontario Legislature. We are not going away. We are unalterably opposed to the privatization of our public hospitals. We paid for them. We built them. They do not belong to the Ford government to run them into crisis, gut their core services and privatize them.
We demand that the Ford government:
- Stop the privatization of our public hospitals
- Stop creating a crisis in our public hospitals by underfunding them, cutting and closing services, and trying to roll back wages of nurses, health professionals & support staff,
- Expand the use of existing ORs in our public hospitals, and
- Expand capacity in our public hospitals & restore closed services.”
33) National: What are the ten biggest government consulting firms? What different types of government consulting are there? Dawn Pamulaya has a rundown in GOVCONWire.
34) National: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not part of President Biden’s Climate Corps. E&E News’ Kevin Bogardus and Emma Dumain ask, why not? “The White House announced Wednesday the creation of the American Climate Corps, which will place 20,000 young people in careers centering on addressing global warming in the program’s first year. Six agencies will sign a memorandum of understanding to implement the new initiative. EPA, despite being the tip of the Biden administration’s regulatory spear against greenhouse gas emissions, is not one of them. For now, the premier environmental agency does not have the existing resources to draw upon like its brethren in the federal government. The Agriculture, Interior, Energy and Labor departments and NOAA already have service programs up and running within their organizations. AmeriCorps, a service program itself, will be tasked with serving as the climate corps’ coordinating hub. Unlike those agencies, EPA doesn’t have that infrastructure in place.” [Sub required]
35) Missouri/Federal: The FBI is reportedly looking into whether the top Republican in the Missouri House tried to force the use of a private company to manage constituent information when the regular public website was available. “The FBI investigates public corruption, surveilling federal, state and local governments. A spokeswoman for the agency declined comment. Nine months ago, the House revamped the software legislative offices can use to contact constituents and assist them when they reach out to their representatives. The redesign came after a working group of legislative staff spent months developing new features in an effort to make it more user friendly. A Washington, D.C.,-based company called Fireside promised to provide a web-based program to replace the system at a cost of nearly $400,000 a year.”
36) West Virginia: “There are only two majority-black towns in West Virginia. One of them, Institute, was left out of a state regulatory plan earlier this year to tighten limits on cancer-causing chemicals,” Jeffrey St. Clair reports.
37) International/Guatemala: Small farmers are standing up against agribusiness’ move to seize their common heritage. “Dozens of Guatemalan small farmers protested on Wednesday against the possible approval of a bill they call the ‘Monsanto Law,’ an initiative that, according to them, threatens the ‘ancestral heritage of indigenous seeds, corn and other foods.’ ‘We reject this initiative because it seeks to privatize our seeds, which have been the heritage of our grandparents for more than 8,000 years,’ Paulina Caal, a member of the National Network for the Defense of Food Sovereignty (Redsag), told EFE.”