First, the Good News…
1) National: Let’s hear it for Grace Lynn.
2) National: Donald Cohen’s The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back is now in paperback. “Its reappearance allows me to reflect on why we wrote the book in the first place,” says Cohen. “The book is an argument intended to reclaim the idea of the public and reclaim our governments as tools of the public. It is a call to use public conversation and debate to define public goods, and to ensure those public goods remain under public—democratic—control. (…) As we argue in the book, privatization is primarily a political strategy—one designed to separate us from public goods, our government, and each other. And privatization is pervasive. It reaches into all corners of our lives—from the very water we drink, to the food we eat. It’s so ubiquitous, we don’t even realize it.” Stay tuned. “In our newsletter next week, we will outline several concrete ways the book can be used—by activists, labor unions, students, teachers, elected officials, candidates—and ways we can facilitate that with presentations, bulk discounts, and more.”
3) National: President Biden has vetoed a bill for the first time to protect the right of pension managers to invest working people’s money responsibly. “The tweet included a video, where Biden said he ‘just signed this veto because legislation passed by the Congress would put at risk the retirement savings of individuals across the country. They couldn’t take into consideration investments that would be impacted by climate, impacted by overpaying executives. And that’s why I decided to veto it, it makes sense to veto it.’ The Department of Labor rule was created to undo a Trump-era requirement mandating that workplace retirement-plans focus purely on financial gains. So-called ESG factors—short-hand for environment, social and governance—have grown in popularity in the finance sphere.” [Sub required].
AFSCME President Lee Saunders praised the veto. “The Labor Department’s balanced, common-sense regulation affirms the freedom of pension funds to invest in a responsible way. That means giving full consideration to factors like workers’ rights, CEO compensation, local economic development, affordable housing, and clean energy, all of which hold promising growth potential.” Meanwhile, Indiana’s public retirement system “reportedly became the first state in the country to hire the anti-ESG firm Strive Advisory, LLC and its co-founder Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate. Throughout the country, bankers associations and state chambers of commerce have pushed back against the anti-ESG proposals out of fear that state pension systems could see huge losses.”
4) National: Some good news out of the Federal Trade Commission. The agency is weighing in on artificial intelligence (AI) frauds. “Generative AI and synthetic media are colloquial terms used to refer to chatbots developed from large language models and to technology that simulates human activity, such as software that creates deepfake videos and voice clones. Evidence already exists that fraudsters can use these tools to generate realistic but fake content quickly and cheaply, disseminating it to large groups or targeting certain communities or specific individuals.” But meanwhile, the AI industry appears to be going in the opposite direction.
In related good news, there’s a new book out on problems with AI. Meredith Broussard’s More Than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech. “The word ‘glitch’ implies an incidental error, as easy to patch up as it is to identify. But what if racism, sexism, and ableism aren’t just bugs in mostly functional machinery—what if they’re coded into the system itself? In the vein of heavy hitters such as Safiya Umoja Noble, Cathy O’Neil, and Ruha Benjamin, Meredith Broussard demonstrates in More Than a Glitch how neutrality in tech is a myth and why algorithms need to be held accountable.” Broussard spoke with the folks at Tech Policy Press yesterday about her new book. [Audio, about 34 minutes]
5) National: Lawmakers are also on the AI beat, with an eye to regulation. ProPublica reports that Senators had questions for the maker of a rent-setting algorithm, and the answers were “alarming.” Heather Vogell writes that “the legislators said that publicly available information shows the software is used in pricing more than 4 million units, representing about 8% of all rental units nationwide. RealPage has so many clients it has access to ‘transactional apartment data from the rent rolls of 13+ million units,’ according to the company’s website. ‘Given YieldStar’s market share, even the widespread use of its anonymized and aggregated proprietary rental data by the country’s largest landlords could result in de-facto price-setting by those companies, driving up prices and hurting renters,’ the senators’ letter said.”
6) Michigan: Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed legislation Friday repealing the state’s right-to-work law for the first time in nearly 60 years. “According to HuffPost, unions celebrated the repeal, along with Rob Bieber, head of the Michigan AFL-CIO, who asserted ‘the state had ‘restored the balance of power’ for workers. After decades of attacks on working people, it’s a new day in Michigan, and the future is bright,’ Bieber said.”
7) Montana: Think Red States are a lost cause? Think again. In Montana, people are defending their constitution and their democracy, as retired Montana Supreme Court Justice James C. Nelson reports. “The March 15 rally to defend Montana’s Constitution was a total success. This rally, in the Capitol rotunda, was sponsored by more than a dozen diverse organizations, all of whom are dedicated to preserving Montana’s Constitution for ‘this and future generations’ in fulfillment of that promise made in its Preamble and in the various rights, duties, and obligations set out in the document itself. As the Montana Supreme Court stated in Armstrong v. State, 1999 MT 261, ‘the State Constitution is a limitation upon the power of the legislature and not a grant of power to that body.’ More importantly, however, the Court also stated: ‘Montana’s Constitution, and especially the Declaration of Rights, is not simply a cook book of disconnected and discrete rules written with the vitality of an automobile insurance policy. Rather our Constitution, and in particular its Declaration of Rights, encompasses a cohesive set of principles, carefully drafted and committed to an abstract ideal of just government. It is a compact of overlapping and redundant rights and guarantees.’ These truths have been lost on the legislature commencing with the 2021 session.”
8) Puerto Rico: Is some good news on the way for Puerto Rico? Cate Long, a veteran bond researcher, says “Puerto Rico is the most aggressive tax haven in the world (and the only one to go bankrupt) and the ability of US multinationals to shelter their income there could be seriously challenged if the IRS wins against Amgen.”
9) Think Tanks/New Report/Upcoming Meeting: “National statistics and the agencies that collect and distribute them are a critical public good,” says the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, “because they provide policymakers, media, researchers, and the public with a common understanding of how the U.S. economy is faring, but the Biden administration can do more to update the statistics that federal statistical agencies produce and distribute.” The Center has released a new report, “Executive Actions to Modernize Federal Data Collection and Improve Measurements of U.S. Economic Inequality.”
Want to learn more? Then attend, either in-person or virtually, the upcoming EconCon 2023. June 8–9, 2023, in Washington, DC. “At the event,” the Center says, “experts from across the progressive movement will share what they’ve learned from recent, hard-won victories, and strategize about what’s still needed to continue transforming the U.S. economy so it truly works for all of us.” Register now.
10) National: House Republicans have passed a bill that would have the effect of banning books and putting trans kids in danger, critics say. Jennifer Berkshire, the democracy activist and opponent of school privatization, tells PBS Newshour that politicians are trying to appeal to an increasingly radicalized right-wing base, but it is losing support among others. “Whereas there was initially quite a lot of support for things like, say, reopening schools, or greater parent involvement in schools, now, more and more, as we see those demands start to translate into things like banning particular books, or focusing so much attention on trans kids in particular, you see public opinion in favor of that movement diminish. (…) For more and more Americans, the parents’ rights cause is getting harder and harder to distinguish from these unpopular book bans. And one thing that we should really remember is that there were a lot of politicians who ran on the parents’ rights cause during the midterms, and they did not do well, where you saw — we saw Republicans win when they were up for reelection when they were reaching out to the base.” [Video, about 11 minutes; Berkshire at 4:56].
The American Library Association (whose conference is coming up) says “ALA is disappointed in the House passage of HR 5, dangerous legislation that would enable book bans & censorship. But thanks to library advocates, the bill was kept to razor-thin margins. We know this bill will not pass the Senate. Advocates can help make it a resounding NO. (…) Stay tuned for ways to take action in the Senate. For now, there’s more to do to protect the freedom to read across the country. You can join the campaign to #UniteAgainstBookBans in your own community: https://uniteagainstbookbans.org.”
11) California/National: SEIU Local 99 has reached a tentative accord with LAUSD in their fight for better pay and working conditions. The strike gained wide support in the community and among teachers. One reason for this, says Jeff Bryant in LA Progressive, “is their success in 2019 at convincing the district to provide funding for converting 30 campuses to what’s become known as community schools. The community schools approach seeks to strengthen the relationships between public schools and their surrounding communities by addressing the broader needs and interests of children and families and giving students, parents, and community members more of a voice in guiding school policies and programs.”
12) California: A northern California charter school group’s debt has been downgraded to junk, reports The Bond Buyer. “Charter school revenue bonds issued for northern California-based Summit Public Schools were downgraded three notches to Ba3 from Baa3 by Moody’s Investors Service and their outlook was revised to negative from stable. The rating change affected $22.6 million in charter school revenue bonds sold by the Redwood City-based charter school system. ‘The downgrade to Ba3 reflects the material, unexpected operating deficits at the Summit Public Schools Home Office and closure of the Summit Denali middle and high schools,’ Moody’s analysts wrote March 13. ‘Liquidity could face further weakening without significant adjustments to Home Office operations.’” [Sub required]
13) Florida: Is classical art too “woke” for classical charter schools? After a lesson on Michelangelo’s David sculpture, a Tallahassee charter school principal lost her job. “On the surface, the controversy over teaching about the Italian Renaissance sculpture seems to conflict with the charter school’s mission,” says Education Week. “The Tallahassee Classical School focuses on ‘training the minds and improving the hearts of young people through a content-rich classical education in the liberal arts and sciences, with instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue,’ according to its website. The website also asserts that ‘reform of American public education, to be successful and good, must be built on a foundation of classical liberal arts learning.’ Michigan-based Hillsdale College provides curriculum, training, and resources for the school as well as for other public schools through Hillsdale College K-12 support.” [Sub required]
14) Illinois: Writing in The Tribe, Elizabeth Todd-Breland, author of A Political Education: Black Politics and Education Reform in Chicago Since the 1960s, weighs in on the Chicago mayor’s runoff election on April 4. “Historian David Labaree notes that for most of U.S. history, public education was understood as a public good, necessary for democracy and equality, benefiting everyone in the community. Former middle school teacher and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson’s public education vision supports this. Former schools chief Paul Vallas’s public education vision supports the idea of public education as a private good—’school choice,’ sorting students for individual gains as consumers. These political traditions and ideas have a history. (…) We can’t return to the failed privatization policies of the past. Brandon Johnson is the only candidate in the mayoral race proposing an education reform that we have not yet actually tried in the history of this country—investing in a democratic vision of fully funded public schools as a public good, equitably available to all, to benefit the many, not the few.”
15) International: In a deep dive into a private network of schools, the fruit of six months of research, Neha Wadekar and Ryan Grim of The Intercept report on Bridge, the largest for-profit primary education chain in the world, which received support from multilateral ‘development’ institutions. “Then, in March 2022, the World Bank’s financing arm—the International Finance Corporation—quietly divested from NewGlobe, the parent company of Bridge International. No announcement was made. No reason was given. Just a short disclosure in small print at the bottom of a portal that reads, ‘Update: IFC has exited its investment in NewGlobe Schools, Inc.’ Among locals and within the global network of civil society organizations that work on development projects, rumors swirled that the dark side of Bridge’s success may have played a role—specifically, a series of abuse and neglect allegations in Kenya that had caught the eye of a Nairobi-based human rights group, the East African Centre for Human Rights, or EACHRights, as well as the internal watchdog at the World Bank, known as the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, or CAO.”
16) National: Food & Water Watch reports that “Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) each introduced the WATER Act, a comprehensive bill to expand access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water. The Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability Act has 72 cosponsors across both chambers of Congress and is co-led in the House by Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA).”
Alexia Leclercq of PODER said “I cannot emphasize how harmful water privatization is for marginalized communities. For 12,000 residents in Hornsby Bend/Austin Colony it’s meant high prices and frequent brown water because private companies don’t have an incentive to maintain or improve their water infrastructure; their goal is to create profit for their shareholders. It is critical that local governments have the funding and ability to buy out private water companies who are failing at their job and provide residents with clean water. This is just one example why the WATER Act is so important.”
17) National/Texas: Back to the future with high tech company towns? Elon Musk is dreaming again, this time about building his own private corporate town. “And not just dreaming. In September, Bastrop County, Texas, outside Austin, approved the construction of Project Amazing, a subdivision of 110 modest homes on land owned by Mr. Musk that is to be called Snailbrook. Banners hanging from the (solar-powered) street lamps declare, “Welcome / Snailbrook, Texas / Established 2021.” Several of Mr. Musk’s companies, including Tesla, have factories nearby, and he reportedly has been spreading the word that he wants to build a community for his workers.” And what about democracy? “Building outside an existing town means Mr. Musk gets to be in charge, which has long appealed to rich people who don’t want to be restrained by democratic checks and balances.”
Ride along with Jim Hightower as he riffs on Elon Musk’s Ecological Paradise.
18) National: Airport debt levels are worrying some officials and lawmakers as they look toward developing airport infrastructure. “Despite an influx of infrastructure spending, the nation’s airports are being squeezed by the costs of servicing existing debt and the need to modernize their operations. The challenges were laid out in detail during a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization hearing held by the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Thursday. ‘There’s $30 billion a year need in airport infrastructure development,’ said Kevin Dolliole, director of aviation at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. ‘The AIP program and PFC airport revenues equate to about $13 billion a year so, there’s still a big gap.’” [Sub required]. It would not be very surprising if the airport privatizers, who have been beaten back in recent years, start pouring in with big expensive “P3” offers.
19) National: Wall Street is whining that, because of Biden’s infrastructure bill and American Rescue Plan, private corporations have lost power to and become increasingly dependent on the public sector. The Wall Street Journal says, “When liberals look back on the Biden presidency, they may hail its greatest accomplishment as ushering in a new era of corporate government dependency. Without fail, and no matter the industry, the administration has hooked businesses on Washington handouts while attaching conditions that put taxpayers and consumers on the hook for leftist policy preferences.”
So, who are these corporate weaklings who are being rolled over? The poor little pharma industry. “The Biden administration is now trying to co-opt the pharmaceutical industry. In December the administration solicited ideas from private industry on how to boost biotech manufacturing in the U.S., including suggestions for financial incentives. The administration has set a goal of boosting the manufacturing speed of 10 common therapeutics tenfold in five years.” [Sub required]
20) National: Ever wonder whether the private infrastructure sector has the kinds of information resources that enables them to run rings around public decision-makers? Well, here’s an ad in The Bond Buyer touting their wares. Of course, AI is the secret sauce. “Gain early warnings on material changes in muni obligors. Bitvore analyzes unstructured data from 60k+ unique sources of data and extracts valuable risk, opportunities, and ESG intelligence for credit analysts and portfolio managers. Isaac Johnson discusses how Bitvore maps insights down to the CUSIP level to save time and money. >>For more information and to request a complete demo of the ESG Muni data , click here.” [Sub required].
21) California/Federal: California is looking to the federal government to cover its fresh bullet train shortfall. “But it’s unclear whether federal support, if it materializes, would be sufficient to overcome the tough economic environment, political opposition on state and federal levels, and constantly rising costs that dog the nation’s largest infrastructure project. The California High-Speed Rail Authority, which oversees the project, this month released a project update, the most comprehensive report since December 2021. The news was grim, showing major cost increases coupled with a 25% dip in projected future ridership. (…) The authority blamed global inflation, increased project scope, and ‘an enhanced contingency for risk’ necessary to meet federal guidelines for the cost increase, and stagnant California population growth and post-pandemic work-from-home trends for reduced ridership projections. The cost escalation makes it more important than ever that the feds step up by providing grants from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, authority officials said.” [Sub required].
22) Illinois: The state government has taken a leading role in upgrading railroad crossings. “More than a dozen railroad crossing projects are planned in Greene County over the next five years. The Illinois Commerce Commission on Friday announced its five-year Crossing Safety Improvement Program for Fiscal Years 2024-2028. More than $476 million from the Grade Crossing Protection Fund (GCPF) and Rebuild Illinois (RBI) is planned to be spent on improvements at 424 crossing locations statewide. (…) Upgrading pedestrian crossings, flashing warning devices, and other critical safety infrastructure is a no brainer for keeping Illinoisans safe while they traverse rail tracks,” said ICC Commissioner Michael Carrigan. “Over 7,000 miles of track makes our state’s rail system the second largest in the nation, and the Grade Crossing Protection Fund is an essential tool for keeping these railways safe for all who use them.””
23) Wisconsin: By deadlocking a series of votes, Republicans have blocked the State Building Commission from recommending any of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ $3.8 billion in proposed state building projects. “‘It’s a Republican power grab,’ Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Somers, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after Thursday’s meeting. ‘Look, we have a lot of worthwhile projects out there, and we have a lot of surplus money. Republicans say this (surplus) is only one-time money. Well, guess what? These projects are (built with) one-time money. Now’s the time to fix our infrastructure when we have a state surplus.’ (…) Rep. Jill Billings, D-La Crosse, said the state has a process to give projects the green light in March as opposed to later this spring. She said projects receiving approval on the typical timeline provides a sense of surety to the institutions and donors involved. ‘Now everything is up in the air again so they have to continue advocating in the Capitol for their projects,’ she said. ‘This is not the norm.’”
24) National: Last week we reported on a major case that, some argue, threatens to upend the ability of public libraries to lend books, especially in electronic format. Well, Publishers Weekly reports that a federal judge has decided in favor of four publishers in the long-awaited copyright case Hachette v. Internet Archive. “The ruling stands as an unequivocal, potentially fatal blow to the practice of controlled digital lending, which Internet Archive officials appeared to acknowledge in a statement on Friday afternoon. ‘This decision impacts libraries across the U.S. who rely on controlled digital lending to connect their patrons with books online,” the Internet Archive statement reads. “It hurts authors by saying that unfair licensing models are the only way their books can be read online. And it holds back access to information in the digital age, harming all readers, everywhere,’ Of course, there is also the appeal process, which Internet Archive officials vowed to pursue.”
25) National: “I know” President Biden is rock solid on Social Security privatization, says Max Richtman, writing in The Hill. Richtman is president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and former staff director at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. “This is the opposite of the Republican approach, which is to cut and privatize Social Security, if not for current beneficiaries, then for future generations. While Republicans might not call their proposals ‘cuts,’ that’s exactly what raising the retirement age to 70, means testing, adopting a more miserly COLA formula, or privatizing the program would do. Republicans are on the record with these proposals—no matter how much they deny it.”
26) National: The Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute, in association with the American Federation of Government Employees, has released a comprehensive report “on the urgent struggles of thousands of VA employees, and how they threaten to impede the future of America’s best healthcare and benefits systems.” [“Disadvantaging the VA: How VA Staff View Agency Privatization and Other Detrimental Policies”] Suzanne Gordon, the report’s lead author and a Senior Policy Analyst at VHPI, says “For years, dedicated VA employees have been asked to do more with less. Our report amplifies the voices of these frontline health care providers and benefits claims processors whose essential role has been undermined by costly, wasteful, and ineffective outsourcing under three different presidential administrations.” Gordon is the author of Wounds of War: How the VA Delivers Health, Healing, and Hope to the Nation’s Veterans.
27) National: In her new column at Teen Vogue, Alice Wong says the “unwinding” of Medicaid coverage will be difficult for disabled Americans, and leave more people uninsured. “I’ve been on Medicaid since I turned 18. It has been a lifeline because it provides personal-care services that allow me to live in the larger community rather than in a private facility. For many Americans, though, Medicaid coverage is now at risk. Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, states will resume redetermining eligibility for all Medicaid enrollees on April 1. That means an estimated 18 million people may lose their coverage in the next 14 months, including some people who enrolled during the pandemic, according to a report from the Urban Institute.
“Like the White House’s plan to privatize COVID treatments and vaccines, Medicaid coverage is another public health emergency measure that’s been deemed no longer necessary. In early 2020, Congress enacted a rule that barred states from dropping people from Medicaid, thus ensuring access to health care during the pandemic. But now the government will allow the number of uninsured people to soar in an ‘unwinding’ process that could have major consequences.”
28) National: Should the government use AI? The folks at Radical AI go into it. “How does the government use algorithms? How do algorithms impact social services, policing, and other social services? And where does Silicon Valley fit in? In this episode we interview Shion Guha about how governments adopt algorithms to enforce public policy. Shion is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information at University of Toronto. His research fits into the field of Human-Centered Data Science, which he helped develop. Shion explores the intersection between AI and public policy by researching algorithmic decision-making in public services such as criminal justice, child welfare, and healthcare. Full show notes for this episode can be found at Radicalai.org.”
29) National: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) has introduced legislation to combat private equity in American health care. “Private equity and consolidation in our health care system lead to worse outcomes and higher bills for patients,” Jayapal said. “Health care is a human right and the care people receive shouldn’t be determined by an investor’s bottom line. My HOT Act will shine a light on the dangers of private equity in our health care system and move us toward accountability for providers and patients.” Congresswoman Jayapal “has been a longtime advocate for stopping the privatization of our health care system. Last month, she led 70 lawmakers in calling on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement reforms to Medicare Advantage (MA) to improve health care for seniors and people with disabilities.”
30) Illinois/Correction: Last week we misidentified the home state of Jackie McGrath, the 2023 candidate for the Barrington Area Public Library Board, in Illinois, for a 2-year term. McGrath says one of the reasons she is running is to protect the public library from corporate privatization, mentioning Library Systems & Services. Thanks to a reader for alerting us to the difference between Bloomingdale, Illinois and Bloomington, Indiana.
31) Massachusetts: WBUR reports that “Unions at UMass Amherst are crying foul over a plan by the university to privatize the jobs of more than 100 employees who work in fundraising. The employees work for the university’s advancement office. UMass wants them to move to a private foundation. The move means employees would lose their union benefits, including future contributions to state pensions. In a statement UMass officials have said the move is necessary to comply with state law. ‘This process is solely driven by legal and regulatory compliance requirements,’ the statement reads. But Brad Turner, who is the co-chair of the Professional Staff Union in Amherst, said that’s only because of changes the university is making to fundraising at UMass. ‘These positions are state work,’ he said.”
32) Missouri:, “Repeating Kansas’ catastrophic tax-cut-mania is a crumbling road to nowhere for Missouri,” says The St. Lois Post-Dispatch in an editorial. “When the Legislature and Gov. Mike Parson last year slashed Missouri’s personal income tax rates even as the state continued to underfund education, health care, infrastructure, and more, it looked like the height of misgovernance. But now the Missouri House has outdone itself, passing a measure to slash the corporate tax rate as well, with an eye toward eliminating it completely. It would ultimately cost the state more than $1 billion a year. Kansas has already tested the two-dimensional economic theory driving this recklessness: that lower taxes automatically bring jobs, replacing the lost revenue with economic growth. What is now known as ‘The Kansas Experiment’ is synonymous with fiscal disaster.” [Sub required]
33) Missouri: Missouri edges closer to outsourcing more state operations to private companies, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. “Two months after officials awarded a $45.7 million contract to outsource food service in the state prison system, lawmakers late Thursday inserted language in the proposed state budget to allow a similar privatization move at the Department of Mental Health and the state’s nursing homes for military veterans.”
But are the so-called cost-savings being made on the backs of public service employees? “Budget documents show the average daily cost of food for residents of its treatment centers has risen from the $9 range to $10.79. ‘Increased costs have severely eroded facility expense and equipment budgets and make it difficult to meet the federal government requirements and special dietary needs of the population served,’ budget documents note. By contrast, Aramark’s contract with the prison system calls for an average price per meal of about $1.77, which equates to less than $6 per day. (…) Officials say private companies are often less expensive because it saves the state on benefits and pension costs. But privatization of taxpayer-funded programs hasn’t always gone smoothly. Last year, Mississippi dumped its multimillion dollar contract with Aramark, which was accused of serving rotten and spoiled meals to inmates. In 2015, the state of Michigan ended a three-year contract with Aramark amid reports of meal shortages, maggots in kitchens, and other issues.” [Sub required]
34) National: The Biden administration is reportedly considering reinstituting immigrant family detention[LC1] . What could possibly go wrong?
35) Ohio: Why are public officials easier to prosecute than private, for-profit corporations? Ken Silverstein explains in Forbes. “At issue is an Ohio law calling for a $1.3 billion rescue package to tax every electricity consumer and direct the money to bail out FirstEnergy’s former nuclear operations. The bribes helped pass that law and defeat a voter initiative. Former House Speaker Larry Householder and former Ohio Republican Party Chair Mathew Borges got convicted last Thursday. The FBI testified that Householder took home about $514,000 while Borges got $366,000. They are out on bond, saying they will appeal their cases.”
Image: Photo by Renato Torii