Your weekly rundown of news and analysis about the corporate takeover of education, water, and other public goods. Not a subscriber? Subscribe here for free.
- Is it really necessary to turn to the private sector for public bathrooms?
- After a sustained grassroots campaign backed up by research and good media work, Bucks County has rejected a proposed $1.1 billion sale of its sewer system to Aqua Pennsylvania.
- “School choice had a big moment in the pandemic. But is it what parents want for the long run?” The Hechinger Report suggests many don’t.
First, the good news…
1) National/Pennsylvania: After a sustained grassroots campaign backed up by research and good media work, Bucks County has rejected a proposed $1.1 billion sale of its sewer system to Aqua Pennsylvania. “Michael Sullivan, executive director of the Warwick Township Water and Sewer Authority and regional director of the Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association, called on the BCWSA board to ‘do the right thing’ and halt the sale. ‘These critical services should remain in the public trust,’ he said.”
But the fight may continue. “‘The rejection of Aqua’s purchase offer by BCSWA is good news for now,’ said Margo Woodacre, Bill Ferguson, and Peter Mrozinski with KeepWaterAffordable. ‘But Aqua and other Big Water companies will not go away. BCSWA is too big a prize. In fact, because of Act 12, the state of Pennsylvania is open game for all corporate predators. We need action by the State Legislature now to provide long term protection for the ratepayers.’ ‘This was a backroom corporate deal from the start, and it only stopped because local residents started to ask questions, voice their concerns, and hold their elected County Commissioners who have the power to change the BCWSA’s charter accountable,’ said Ginny Marcille-Kerslake, Eastern Pennsylvania Organizer with Food & Water Watch. ‘Getting the board to see the light and slam the brakes on this terrible deal is a huge win for clean water, public input and democracy itself.’”
2) National: The National Labor Relations Board, despite being underfunded and understaffed, continues to do a great job protecting the public interest by reinforcing and enforcing workers’ rights. It has recently issued a ruling declaring that limitations on wearing union insignia in private workplaces “are presumptively unlawful, absent special circumstances that justify such a restriction,” and issued a notice of proposed rulemaking “to explicitly ground the joint-employer standard in established common-law agency principles.”
NLRB’s energetic General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, says “the NLRB is processing the most cases it has seen in years with the lowest staffing levels in the past six decades,” and is working under “unsustainable workloads.” But “help may be coming. President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal includes $319.4 million in NLRB funding, a 16% increase from its current funding. That’s not only to keep up with the current workload, but to prepare for even more expected growth. Early this year, a White House task force made numerous recommendations to promote worker organizing, many of which rely on more outreach and enforcement by NLRB staff.”
But the agency is under attack by right wing activists in Congress and beyond, Chris Lehmann reports in The Nation. “Biden and the Democrats can also preemptively fund and publicize the crucial work of the embattled NLRB, which, for all its recent successes, remains grievously overextended—one key reason [Virginia Foxx] is singling it out for administrative paralysis by oversight hearings.” If they win control of the House in November, Republicans plan on launching a full scale attack on the NLRB. [Listen to Jon Wiener’s interview of Lehmann, The Nation’s new DC Bureau Chief, on this; audio, about 35 minutes]. There’s a lot at stake: the road to higher wages and more benefits for young workers goes through unionization.
3) National: The community school model has a lot of benefits, but among the most important is that it helps communities listen to their families. In the Public Interest’s Donald Cohen explains: “Sometimes you just read or hear something that feels like a mic drop. Here’s Daman Harris, principal of Wheaton Woods Elementary in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., speaking recently to journalist Jeff Bryant: ‘We weren’t listening to our families. We started off thinking our families needed things like food assistance and English classes—providing what we assumed families in poverty need. When we started listening to our families, we found out that what we didn’t have was enough out-of-school time and activities for their kids, not enough athletics. We found out that rather than English classes for adults, parents wanted their children to learn Spanish to retain their culture. They wanted employment training for adults and more help with childcare.’ That’s it. That’s what makes the community school approach—an innovative method of public schooling that’s growing in popularity nationwide—so promising.”
4) National: States and localities are upping their game on developing and circulating data on monkeypox cases, but remain behind the curve on the public health infrastructure needed to respond to pandemics. In the Public Interest’s Donald Cohen, writing in The Progressive, says “in the absence of free public testing, people must rely on private companies for a PCR test, the most accurate option. This is particularly difficult for people who are uninsured and can’t pay anywhere between $50 to $195 for a single test. That means they might not test as often or at all, which affects everyone.”
5) National: Smart cities are about more than just tech, writes Molly Bolan in Route Fifty. “Diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility—that is a thread throughout, it is not an afterthought.” Read Bolan’s interview with Metro21: Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University’s Executive Director Karen Lightman. “And so one of the mandates of the city of Pittsburgh and their partner organization, the nonprofit Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, is to make parks more equitable, and to ensure that if improvements are made in the park, they’re done equitably. But in order to make those investments, they need to understand how the park is being used. Well, how? If you do a survey, well, who’s answering the survey? Like rich white people, or people who have a lot of free time. And so that’s not necessarily your demographic if you’re trying to be more equitable. So this is a tool to help inform infrastructure improvements. And our plan is to help the city and the Parks Conservancy to better understand how the park is being used, where it’s being used, when it’s being used.”
6) California: Governor Gavin Newsom (D) observed Labor Day by signing a new bill into law that could raise minimum wages for more than half a million fast food workers. “The nation-leading bill, backed by the Service Employees International Union, only applies to restaurants with 100 or more establishments nationwide, with the exception of restaurants that operate a bakery that “produces for sale bread as a stand-alone menu item.”
Councilmembers could increase the wages to $22 per hour, representing an increase of over 40% from the $15.50 minimum wage slated to take effect next year.” Newsom’s next challenge: to sign AB2183, supported by the United Farm Workers, California Labor Federation and President Biden, which would give farmworkers the right to vote for unionization by mail instead of under the noses of their bosses.
7) Florida: City of Miami Gardens water customers have won a round in their 2018 court fight against the city of North Miami Beach’s 25% water surcharge. “The Third District Court of Appeal on July 20 cleared the way for Miami Gardens to seek refunds and damages for the three years North Miami Beach’s water system was operated privately – from May 2017 until August 2020—ruling the surcharge ‘unjust’ and ‘illegal.’ (…) In its decision, the appeals court ruled that the city water plant’s privatized status during that time curtailed the city’s ‘sovereign immunity,’ the doctrine that exempts governments from most civil suits or criminal prosecutions. In essence, the court said sovereign immunity did not apply when the city turned over the plant’s operation to a private entity and took the money. “NMB must refund the fees illegally excised, if any,” the court stated. It also authorized a trial court the discretion to award Miami Gardens treble damages and attorneys’ fees. The District Court of Appeal affirmed that North Miami Beach was within its rights to levy the 25% surcharge to customers outside its limits—as long as North Miami Beach government, rather than a private entity, was operating the plant.”
8) International: The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has been vindicated in its campaign against privatization of Nigeria power system. “Comrade [Nash] Shaibu lamented that the power sector is collapsing while the DisCos are being taken over by the banks who are allegedly taking over to recover money borrowed by the investors from their banks. Shaibu hinted further that most of the distribution network within the zone comprising Delta, Edo, Ekiti and Ondo states are begging for attention and that the equipment inherited after privatization remain same as there is no visible attempt by the company to upgrade and expand their capacities.”
9) National: “School choice had a big moment in the pandemic. But is it what parents want for the long run?” The Hechinger Report suggests many don’t. “Some politicians have seized on parental frustration with remote learning to pass school voucher laws. (…) To be sure, for as many school choice programs that emerged since the pandemic, ‘lots still failed,’ said Sharon Krengel, policy and outreach director at the Education Law Center, which has joined with other public school advocacy groups to form Public Funds Public Schools. The organization works on litigation that challenges vouchers and related programs.”
10) National: Prof. David Backer of West Chester University says we need to build schools back better. “Indeed, certain sections of the Inflation Reduction Act allow for the provision of public money to direct private capital toward investment in green infrastructure, particularly in poor and disadvantaged communities,” Backer writes. “Section 138 of the IRA creates the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, the country’s first green bank, with $27 billion at its disposal. Through syndicated loans put together by groups such as the nonprofit Inclusive Prosperity Group, school districts across the country could get low-cost loans for green construction projects backed by federal dollars through a partnership of state-level green banks. So there’s no need for fiscal traditionalists to worry about ‘paying for it.’”
11) National/Think Tanks: Jennifer Berkshire takes down the Heritage Foundation’s new Orwellian “education freedom” report card. “The Heritage Foundation *education freedom* report card is a highly instructive glimpse into the upside down world that is today’s conservative education policy vision. *Accountability* is now a net drag & speech bans = freedom.” @karlschott says “As a resident of Louisiana in a family of educators to see our fine state ranked 1-10 on any education report card feels like maybe something is amiss!”
12) National/International: School budgets in the U.K. are being squeezed by rising energy and wage bills, The Economist reports. “In the year before the pandemic energy bills represented just 1.4% of costs. But that share is rising quickly along with gas prices. Schools are in wildly different positions, depending on whether they managed to lock in their energy contracts earlier in the year. Micon Meltcafe, who runs a group of academies, reports unit prices doubling from October 1st. When trying to secure new supplies, she has been told that recent renewals have been priced at double even that.”
In the U.S., “energy prices have spiked to the highest level in nearly 15 years.” School officials, already under budget pressure, are stressed out. In Scituate, Massachusetts, school superintendent Laurie Andries says “we are anticipating increased costs for utilities and transportation.” Smithfield’s superintendent Dawn Bartz says “the rising costs of classroom materials, energy, and supplies for maintenance projects has had a significant impact on our school district budget. Because fuel can fluctuate so much, it is very difficult to predict costs based upon recent years.”
13) Idaho: A librarian in Boundary County has resigned, citing a political atmosphere of extremism. “My experience and skill set made me a good fit to help the district move toward a more current and relevant business model and to implement updated policy and best practices,” Kimber Glidden said in a statement tendering her resignation. “However, nothing in my background could have prepared me for the political atmosphere of extremism, militant Christian fundamentalism, intimidation tactics, and threatening behavior currently being employed in the community. In a somewhat odd twist, the library never held the book that ignited the controversy. The same goes for dozens of other titles that conservative activists are opposed to public libraries carrying. Boundary County Library did not own them, according to Glidden.”
14) Massachusetts/National: Jennifer Berkshire says “this @j0urnalistkatie story on teachers going door to door to campaign for a tax on millionaires in Massachusetts is 1) inspiring & 2) illustrative of why the right hates teachers unions. They use their collective power to push for redistributive policies.” Why do they do it? “Rimas feels his identity as a teacher gives him credibility with voters. Because he explains the benefits of the amendment from the perspective of someone who works in public education, Rimas said, people have been more likely to trust him and support the ballot measure. ‘Overall, it’s been overwhelmingly positive and people seem to really like the idea,’ he said. ‘It’s a great opportunity to … make us the great educational place that we are already, but even better.’”
15) New York: The New York Times had a major front page story yesterday about how public funds are supporting a failing private religious school in Monsey. “The Hasidic Jewish community has long operated one of New York’s largest private schools on its own terms, resisting any outside scrutiny of how its students are faring. But in 2019, the school, the Central United Talmudical Academy, agreed to give state standardized tests in reading and math to more than 1,000 students. Every one of them failed. Students at nearly a dozen other schools run by the Hasidic community recorded similarly dismal outcomes that year, a pattern that under ordinary circumstances would signal an education system in crisis. But where other schools might be struggling because of underfunding or mismanagement, these schools are different. They are failing by design. (…) The result, a New York Times investigation has found, is that generations of children have been systematically denied a basic education, trapping many of them in a cycle of joblessness and dependency.”
16) Pennsylvania: Nathaniel Smith of West Chester deconstructs a bit of slippery pro-charter propaganda. “The guest commentary ‘Cyber charters offer choices in education’ (Daily Local News, Aug. 29, 2022) might be more convincing if it could be titled ‘Cyber charters offer excellent education.’ But it can’t; it talks a lot about choice but doesn’t discuss the quality of what families are asked to choose. In fact, cyber charter students perform over 20 percent below public school students on standardized tests (PA Charter Change). There are some valid reasons for students to attend cyber schools, but overall education quality is not one of them. And from the taxpayers’ point of view, there is a lot else to worry about.”
17) Wisconsin: Ruth Conniff, editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner, fills us in on the coming governor’s race, in which the big question is, should public schools be dismantled? “Michels and Evers are far apart on a lot of issues, from abortion to immigration to how the state runs elections, but one of the most profound impacts of the Wisconsin governor’s race will be the way it shapes the future of education. Michels’ ‘education blueprint’ calls for an immediate, statewide expansion of Wisconsin’s school choice program. During the Republican primary, Michels criticized his opponent, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, for not expanding Wisconsin’s school choice program fast enough under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker.”
18) National: Heat Waves and flooding are battering electricity and water systems across the U.S., says Paul Chinowsky, Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder. “After studying the issue of climate change impacts on infrastructure for two decades, with climate projections getting worse, not better, I believe addressing the multiple challenges to the nation’s infrastructure requires systemic change. Two items are at the top of the list: national prioritization and funding. Prioritizing the infrastructure challenge is essential to bring government responsibilities into the national conversation. Most local jurisdictions simply can’t afford to absorb the cost of needed infrastructure. The recent infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act are starting points, but they still fall short of fixing the long-term issue.”
19) National: US PIRG has released a 57-page “boondoggles report” exposing the misplaced priority on expanding major highways systems. As Grist summarizes these projects would harm local communities and exacerbate climate change, all while failing to solve the traffic and safety problems they claim to address. “Highway expansion harms our health and the environment, doesn’t solve congestion, and creates a lasting financial burden,” the report says. Although nearly every state has one or more highway expansion projects in the works, the authors highlight seven that would lock in polluting infrastructure and divert a whopping $22 billion away from other transportation needs. One project is the M-83 expansion, a $1.3 billion project proposed in Montgomery County, Maryland, just northwest of Washington, D.C.” PIRG recommends that public officials and advocates “use the latest transportation data and require full cost-benefit comparisons, including future maintenance needs, to evaluate all proposed new and expanded highways. This includes projects proposed as public-private partnerships.”
20) National/Maryland: Federal authorities have issued environmental approval for Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s project to widen parts of the Beltway and Interstate 270 and introduce toll lanes. “The step is a requirement for the project to receive federal funds, and it opens the way for Maryland to sign a 50-year contract to build and manage toll lanes along the congested highways. It also begins a five-month clock for opponents of the project to file legal challenges.”
“The permit comes as the project faces a critical juncture,” Public Works Financing reports. “In order to award a concession for the first phase of the managed lanes project, MDoT and the state’s predevelopment partner, Accelerate Maryland Partners (AM Partners) will need to select a design build contractor for the project and finalize a concession agreement for the first phase. That contract would then need to be approved by Maryland’s Board of Public Works (BPW), comprised of the Governor, the State Comptroller, and the State Treasurer. The timing is especially tight if Governor Larry Hogan, who has championed the project, intends to accomplish all of the above before he terms out of office at the end of this year. His replacement will very likely be Democratic nominee Wes Moore. Mr. Moore’s position on the project is not completely clear. He has variously criticized the project and stated that he is open to a traffic solution to the corridor. He has even praised using funds from the project to support transit. So, while the project may not necessarily be in jeopardy if it remains in predevelopment beyond Hogan’s tenure, its path forward is hardly clear.” [Public Works Financing, August 2022; sub required].
“Due mostly to [Montgomery County’s] term limits law, the council that takes office in December is expected to have dramatically different views on the toll lanes than the current panel,” reports Maryland Matters. Based on their responses to candidate questionnaires, [Ben Ross, head of the Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition,] believes that seven of 11 council members will lean against the project in its current form, a potentially important shift if the next council has the new governor’s ear.”
In any event, in a wider sense does this $5 billion, 50-year boondoggle make sense? Not to PIRG (see previous item) nor to Michael Scepaniak of Cockeysville. “The zoning along the I-270 corridor in Montgomery County amounts to an uninterrupted, homogeneous sea of single family detached homes. For most of those homes, there are no nearby businesses or employers, as the zoning forbids them. As such, in order for anyone to live in those homes, an automobile is essential. Instead of adding lanes to I-270, reform the land use and development practices so that residents don’t have to travel by automobile to accomplish anything and everything. Allow for commercial and business properties to be peppered throughout that residential sea. Allow for those detached homes to gently densify up into duplexes or by encouraging the construction of accessory dwelling units. Reduce or eliminate parking minimums. If your bathtub is just about ready to overflow, you don’t build yourself a bigger bathtub. You turn off the spigot.”
21) Mississippi: The Jackson water crisis, caused by a combination of hideously exploitative outsourcing and contracting, contract nonperformance, environmental racism in the Deep South, exploitative public works financing, and the impact of human-made climate change, is receiving national and international attention after years of neglect. For a ground level view of the crisis and how it developed, see the terrific three-part series by Nick Judin in the Mississippi Free Press here,here, and here.
The conclusion is worth quoting in full: “Perhaps there is no city quite like Jackson, in Mississippi nor anywhere else in the U.S. But the historical currents that drove its water system further and further from solvency are not unique, and so far, not changing. [Dr. Aaron Packman, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northwestern University] asserts that the federal disinvestment in the 1980s amounted to a lack of trust in municipalities to manage federal money, one that has persisted ever since. ‘The real objective is to maintain a functioning, safe water system. There’s a huge disconnect, and it reflects a political philosophy—an ideology,’ Packman told the Mississippi Free Press. ‘I do think it has really equated to, and until recently, still equated to just letting people suffer.’”
The crisis has opened a new chapter in the battle between the public and private interests as the state’s governor says “privatization is on the table.” In the Public Interest’s Executive Director Donald Cohen, citing Judd Legum’s exposé on the role Siemen’s played in creating the disaster and profiting from it, says that would be a mistake. “Now, if you’re a regular reader of our work, this should sound familiar. Corporations that are hired to deliver or support public services often cut corners in an effort to provide fewer resources while maximizing profits. But it’s crucial that we don’t let the fact that privatization played a role in Jackson’s water crisis get lost in the mix. Because, right now, the Mississippi state government is considering just that. ‘Privatization is on the table,’ said Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, at a press conference earlier in the week. News recently broke that the state is in talks with an unnamed company to take over management of Jackson’s water system. This would be a horrible move. Flat out horrible. As Food & Water Watch has found, privatized systems typically charge 59 percent more for water service than public systems. Jackson is a poor city in the poorest state in the nation. Its residents don’t need to be paying higher water rates, especially with inflation at historical levels.”
False promises of cost savings and greater efficiency by privatizing and outsourcing companies have been around for decades, as has research documenting the profiteering these false promises conceal. Let’s hope Jackson and other cities are not forced to fall for that again. With some solidarity, they have the capacity and will to resist it, and to “build more autonomy and people power in the city.”
22) International: The Australian Financial Review reports that “former ACTU secretary and Linfox Group director Bill Kelty has slammed the excessive returns earned by toll road operator Transurban while proposing a new framework for infrastructure investment.” Kelty has accused Transurban of “exploiting government stupidity.” With a new Labor government in place, Mr. Kelty “said there should be a new framework for major infrastructure, with all projects first cleared by Infrastructure Australia and only going to tender if there is bipartisan political support. He said participants in tenders would include industry super funds and possibly special enterprise bargaining agreements for the companies building the infrastructure. ‘It would remove the nonsense of political risk and reduce the market price,’ he said. ‘What is wrong with super funds spawning more road-building companies with separate EBAs to create competitive forms of bidding for effective road building and financing? There would be more than one major road builder. It would make infrastructure projects more competitive with other comparable parts of the world.’” [Sub required]
23) International/National: With a large percentage of infrastructure investment going into electricity grids, is the myth of an electricity market helping or hurting the battle against global climate change and economic development? Prabir Purkayastha goes deep in When Market Fundamentalism Overcomes Common Sense: Myth of Electricity Markets. “This steep rise in electricity prices is the other side of the story of the so-called market reforms in the electricity sector over the last 30 years. The cost of electricity is pegged to the costliest supply to the grid in the daily and hourly auctions. Currently, this is natural gas, which is why electricity prices are rising sharply even if it is not the primary source of electricity supply to the grid. This is market fundamentalism, what the neo-classical economists call marginal utility theory. For those interested in its history, this was Augusto Pinochet’s electricity sector reform in Chile. Milton Freedman, assisted by his Chicago Boys, was the guru of Pinochet’s reform. That electricity price should be based on its “marginal price” even became a part of Pinochet’s Constitution in Chile. The Chilean reforms led to the privatization of its electricity sector, which was the objective of the reforms.”
24) National: A Supreme Court “sleeper” case could inflict “enormous damage” on America’s “most vulnerable,” says journalist Kate Riga. “Riga reports, ‘There’s a sleeper case on the Supreme Court’s docket that could blow a gaping hole in the social safety net and give states leeway to neglect or end care for tens of millions of the most vulnerable Americans.… And it’s not just Medicaid, though the program enrolling nearly 90 million Americans is the biggest one at risk. This case could leave all of those who depend on federally funded, state-administered programs—think SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, or WIC, which helps low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children buy food—without any recourse, should states stop providing the benefits they’re required to give. The echoes of Dobbs are eerie.’”
25) National: Can government contract out rulemaking to private, for-profit entities, or is that an inherently governmental function? “Because rulemaking is a form of agency policymaking, however, agencies must ensure they do not contract out responsibility for deciding policy matters, making value judgments, or exercising discretion on behalf of the federal government. Such responsibilities are considered inherently governmental functions under federal law. Agencies should also exercise heightened caution before contracting out other tasks that are closely associated with an inherently governmental function. Caution is needed to help ensure that contractors support, rather than supplant, agency decision making.”
26) District of Columbia: Is it really necessary to turn to the private sector for this essential public service?
27) Pennsylvania: Trump-backed Republican Senatorial candidate Mehmet Oz is out to privatize Medicare, The Lever reports. “Oz bills his own health care plan as ‘Medicare Advantage for All.’ Such a program could move seniors and most Americans into private insurance plans that have been raising premiums and denying roughly one in ten medical claims, according to a recent government report finding that the plans frequently refuse to cover services required by Medicare. To pay for his privatization plan, Oz has proposed a 20 percent payroll tax, which would ultimately transfer money from workers to the Republican Party’s private insurance donors that have been reporting record profits while jacking up premiums. In other words, Oz himself wants to increase taxes on lower- and middle-class Americans to fund his own version of a corporate-run, universal health care system—one that could come with high patient costs, continued barriers to care, and a windfall for the health insurance industry.”
28) Texas: Hays County is committing millions to outsourcing inmates to a private detention center. “Hays County has inmates in eight different counties across the state, some as far as 363 miles away. County Judge Ruben Becerra said the County spent about $80,000 on outsourcing inmates last week alone, and $3.7 million this year. Now, the County is adding another deal worth up to about $17 million over the next three years to send inmates to a private detention center—LaSalle Corrections West in Haskell County. Community advocate Eric Martinez said that housing inmates in other counties denies them the ability to meet with their lawyers as much as they should.”
29) International: CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador, which represents more than 1400 healthcare workers in the Canadian province, is calling on Premier Furey to retract his statements and rule out privatization. The four conservative Atlantic premiers, along with Ontario’s Premier Ford, have announced their idea of bringing in privatization in healthcare, instead of dealing with the recruitment and retention crisis. “‘One of the government’s fundamental jobs is delivering good public services for all. Handing over this responsibility to private corporations means he does not want to meet his basic job requirements as premier,’ said Sherry Hillier, President of CUPE NL. ‘Privatization will not solve staffing issues. It simply drains workers from the public sector to the private sector, moving people around instead of bringing more people in it. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul,’ she added.”
30) International: Canadian Blood Services has signed a secret privatization deal. “The 15-year contract with global plasma corporation, Grifols, will allow the corporation to develop a US-style paid plasma system in Canada and give privatization another foothold in the Canadian health care system. This move goes against the core principles on which CBS was founded. Blood is a public resource, donors should not be paid, and none of the blood operators’ duties should be contracted out to others. CUPE is calling on the Canadian Blood Services CEO Graham Sher, its board members, and the provincial health ministers who fund the CBS to stop this reckless privatization deal.”
31) International: We Own It, the British anti-privatization campaigning group, is calling on the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, to stop the sell off of Channel 4, one of Britain’s main networks. “Liz Truss’ NUMBER ONE priority must be to deal with the UK’s out of control energy bills, not selling off C4!”
32) National/California/Missouri: It seems right wing think tanks are adding an armed component to their tired free market shtick. Perhaps they’re going to enforce bans on critical economic theory? From Sherrilyn Ifill: “This effort is aided by the Claremont Institute (where Trump atty John Eastman is a Sr. Fellow) which launched last year a new ‘Sheriffs Fellowship.’ Why a fellowship for Sheriffs at a right-wing think tank you ask? Here’s an excerpt from a fundraising letter. Take this seriously.”
While we’re on the subject of privatized policing, check out this ProPublica piece on how rich people in St. Louis have developed private police forces. “Under department rules, officers have the same authority when working for these companies that they have while on duty, one reason their services are in such demand. They can investigate crimes, stop pedestrians or vehicles and make arrests. And the police department requires that they wear their police uniforms when they’re working in law enforcement or security in the city, creating confusion about who they’re working for. The result is two unequal levels of policing for St. Louis residents and businesses. Low-income and minority residents do not have the resources to hire police through a private company, and the department has struggled to provide patrols in parts of the city that suffer high rates of violent crime.”
33) National: Veteran journalist Gene Lyons picks up the scent on the developing class war between plutocrats and fisherfolk. “Meanwhile, out in Colorado, an 81-year-old fly fisherman with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics has filed a lawsuit to prevent the state government from turning public rivers into private, members-only enclaves. Roger Hill told the Times that he can remember when gaining access to his favorite pools and rapids wasn’t a problem. As long as he was friendly and asked permission, the elderly angler said, he had no problems. ‘Nobody ever said anything,’ he said. All that has changed with Colorado’s rapid population growth, as outsiders with money moved in, and what some call ‘amenity ranches’ proliferated. ‘Along sections favored by trout and Mr. Hill,’ Howe wrote, ‘“No Trespassing” signs sprouted up as real estate developers bought and subdivided the adjacent land.’”
34) Think Tanks: PowerSwitch Action has the goods on how major corporate landlords are contributing to the nation’s housing crisis. “They buy up existing apartment buildings and develop them into more expensive properties, too often at the expense of current tenants and surrounding communities. Many corporate landlords also shell out millions of dollars to lobby politicians and fight against tenant protections like rent stabilization, eviction moratoria, and more. Even now, as the housing crisis worsens and inflation forces people to choose between paying rent and buying groceries, corporate landlords are putting profits ahead of people.”
Photo by Throne Labs.