Privatization Reports Highlights
- Ohio voters reject anti-democratic, anti-choice ballot initiative
- P3s go to college
- Are prevailing wage rules P3s-killers?
1) National/Ohio: Ohio voters have overwhelmingly beaten back a Republican effort to weaken the democratic ability of citizens to amend the state constitution and secure reproductive rights in the constitution. The American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner sees it as a possible turning point. “The Republican grand strategy, quite apart from Trump’s efforts to become dictator, has been to push issues that are at odds with the views of most voters, and then prevail by destroying democracy. They have done this via voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering, rigging courts, having red-state governors countermand the preferences of citizens in blue cities, and by restricting reproductive rights. But that strategy may have just reached its limits.”
2) National/Hawaii: In the aftermath of the deadly and devastating firestorm that destroyed Lahaina and caused massive death and destruction, the public and governmental agencies are stepping up to provide assistance. To help Maui fire victims, here’s how you can donate. Here’s a link to the Maui Food Bank. Here’s what they do.
Khara Jabola-Carolus says “over one-third of Lahaina’s population was Filipino, and a huge portion of the missing & displaced are Mexican. Many are the workers who serve you on your Maui vacation. Out of fear, they won’t apply for federal relief even if eligible. Donate because private aid is their only hope. (…) If you want to fund relief *and* equity, please donate to: Our Hawai’i [and the] Hawai’i People’s Fund.”
In the longer term, rebuilding Lahaina and West Maui will be a huge and costly undertaking. “It will take time to know the full extent,” Governor Josh Green (D) said. “But it will be in the billions of dollars without a doubt.” The destruction of electrical infrastructure is likely to prolong efforts to rebuild the town, officials said. “Also delaying recovery is the fact that Maui is a less populous island in a remote island state. Robert Fenton, FEMA’s Region 9 administrator, likened the Maui fire to wildfires such as a 2018 blaze that destroyed much of the town of Paradise, California. He said the scale of destruction reminded him of the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. But a major difference, he said, is the ability to respond. On the mainland, he said, it’s possible to quickly ‘muster 3,500 dump trucks’ to move rubble. ‘I just can’t do it here,’ he said.” (See also item #20.)
3) National: Donald Cohen, executive director of In the Public Interest, joined Ben Chin of the Maine People’s Alliance’s Beacon podcast to discuss privatization and how we can fight it. [Audio, about a half hour]
4) National: In the Public Interest Writing Fellow Jeremy Mohler says Community Schools, Not Conservative Politicians, Expand ‘Parental Rights.’ “The truth is that public schools from the suburbs of Tampa, Florida, to Oakland, California, are listening to parents about their children’s needs in and out of the classroom, and it’s working remarkably well. These schools are using what’s called the ‘community school’ approach. Community schools are public schools that offer a range of support for students’ well-being to make sure they are healthy, well-fed, safe, and in the best position to learn. They also intentionally listen to parents about what students need to thrive, whether it’s dental services or more streetlights.”
5) National: The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a final rule to modernize the Davis-Bacon Act. “The final rule provides greater clarity and enhances the [Davis-Bacon and Related Acts Regulation] regulations’ effectiveness in the modern economy. These updates strengthen and streamline the process for setting and enforcing wage rates on federally funded construction projects to make sure that federal government infrastructure investments are also investments in U.S. workers.” See also The American Prospect’s recent report on How Project Labor Agreements and Community Workforce Agreements Are Good for the Biden Administration’s Investment Agenda.
6) National: Local Progress has released a new resource to help local elected officials and organized communities lead with our shared values by Using Federal Funds for Racial and Economic Justice. The report says we must “Build long-term local government capacity instead of furthering privatization. Federally-funded infrastructure and clean energy projects give local governments the opportunity to expand public control of our infrastructure instead of handing control and economic benefits to private entities. The [Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)] provides a unique opportunity for local governments to take on clean energy projects themselves by extending investment and production tax credits to government entities for the first time through the IRA’s direct pay provision. Local governments should resist privatization and build local government capacity whenever possible and should carefully evaluate privatization deals before entering into them, especially given the potential for loss of democratic control, loss of public revenue, and reduced community input.”
Want to find out how to use these tools locally? Join Local Progress on September 28 at 11:00 AM PT / 2:00 PM ET for an overview of how local elected officials can steer federal funds equitably to their communities. Local Progress’ National Convening is September 6-9 in St. Louis (registration is now closed).
7) National: Journalism is a public good and should be publicly funded, writes Washington and Lee University Prof. Patrick Walters in Scientific American. Walters says “a growing chorus of voices is now calling for government-funded journalism, a model that many in the profession have long seen as problematic. The U.S. government first started subsidizing journalism when it began offering postal subsidies to newspapers in 1792. Governmental support for the press has since continued, notably with the development of a massive public relations infrastructure at federal and state agencies in the 19th and 20th centuries. In his 1998 book Governing with the News, scholar Timothy E. Cook noted that in this system, ‘government workers are paid by public funds to help generate the news.’ There have also been more direct efforts, especially when Congress established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1967.”
8) California: After a grassroots campaign led by a grade-school anti-racist activist, the Central Unified School Board has renamed James K. Polk Elementary School in Fresno to Central Elementary School. The Fresno Bee reports that “Central student Malachi Suarez, 11, who spearheaded the movement to rename Polk Elementary, said the board didn’t listen to him and all those who supported what he started.” Flashpoints interviewed Malachi Suarez. [Audio, at 5:40]
9) Florida: A new elementary school has opened in Duval, supported by a new sales tax. “Three years after Duval County voters approved a sales tax to fund a vast school construction and maintenance program, school officials on Thursday celebrated completing a school commemorating a storied teacher and civil rights leader. The new Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary is the first public school built in Jacksonville in 12 years, replacing one with the same name that opened six decades ago in a Northside neighborhood with a history of unmet needs. Hundreds of residents, school employees and community figures came to the simple ribbon-cutting and walked the building to see how the place had changed.”
10) Massachusetts: Hooray—but. “The fiscal 2024 budget signed this week by Gov. Maura Healey contained some major policy shifts, like a mandate to make public school meals free and extending in-state college tuition to undocumented residents. But Healey has delayed one big change in state law eliminating phone charges for calls to inmates in state and county facilities. Healey delayed implementation of the change until Dec. 1, sending it back to the Legislature among several other vetoes.”
11) Missouri: Gov. Mike Parson(R) has signed legislation designed to help the state recruit and retain young talent in the workforce. There is now a brain drain of young people to New York, New Jersey and California. “The Intern and Apprentice Recruitment Act, which easily passed in the legislature earlier this year, encourages businesses to grow the number of interns or apprentices they employ. It offers companies a tax credit of $1,500 per paid intern or paid apprentice up to $9,000, or six such positions. Crucially, the tax credits only apply to newly created positions, said one of the bill’s sponsors, state Rep. Brad Christ, R-St. Louis County. ‘If you hire on average 10 interns a year, now you have to hire 11, 12, 13, up to 16 to take advantage of the tax incentive,’ he said.”
12) Vermont: Meet the first responders who saved Vermont’s archives from destruction. “At first, Trieschmann was most concerned about a collection of thousands of books from Justin Morrill, stored on the first and second stories of the building. To get the old books out safely, she reached out to a group of first responders in Vermont dedicated to rescuing one-of-a-kind archives from destruction. ‘This is why we formed, was to try to respond,’ said Rachel Onuf. She runs the Vermont Historical Records Program and she helped establish the Vermont Arts and Culture Disaster and Resilience Network in 2019, in part, in response to Tropical Storm Irene. They share best practices, hold trainings, and help manage emergency response. The July floods have kept the group busy. ‘This was our first real activation,’ Onuf said.”
13) New Contract Compliance Resource: The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that it will offer online compliance seminars in September for contracting agencies, contractors, unions, workers and other stakeholders to provide information on recent updates to regulations governing employment practices for federally funded contracts.
14) National/Oklahoma: National Public Radio has aired a 35-minute in-depth report on the legal battle around Oklahoma’s approval of sending tax dollars to a proselytizing religious school. “Joining us is Beth Wallis, Education Reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma. Also with us is Rev. Lori Walke, a Senior Minister at Mayflower Congregational UCC Church. Professor of Law and Religion at Villanova University Michael Moreland, and Director at the Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief at the ACLU Daniel Mach also join the conversation.”
Ian Millheiser, Vox’s legal correspondent, writes that “the Supreme Court is taking a wrecking ball to the wall between church and state. The Court’s Republican majority has ground the Constitution’s establishment clause down to a nub. (…) The Court’s Republican-appointed majority appears as unconcerned with this problem as it is with the problem of taxing secular citizens to pay for religious education. The future of religion in the United States, in other words, is unlikely to involve police officers breaking into people’s homes to arrest them for skipping church. But it is likely to include far more government funding of religious activity, far more proselytizing by teachers, coaches, and other government officials who wield authority over children, and many more monuments to Christianity—all paid for by your taxes.”
15) National: “The Newest Form of School Discipline: Kicking Kids out of Class and into Virtual Learning,” says the Hechinger Report. “Lawyers and advocates across the country say that the practice of forcing a student out of the physical school building and into online learning has emerged as a troubling—and largely hidden—legacy of the pandemic’s shift to virtual learning. Critics charge that these punishments can deprive students and their families of due process rights. Students risk getting stuck in deficient online programs for weeks or even months without the support they need and falling behind in their academics. Sometimes, there is no system in place for tracking how many students are being punished this way or how many days of in-person classroom learning they are forced to miss.”
16) National/New Hampshire: Facing a public backlash a New Hampshire school board has put off a decision on granting credit for a free online “course” by PragerU, a private video mill that serves as “a gateway to explicit right-wing content.” Here’s a sample of a PragerU video, along with commentary.
The day before the meeting, New Hampshire House Democrats put out a statement saying “Prager U is a dangerous organization spreading misinformation and teaching incorrect history. The NH State Board of Education should reject any attempt to bring Prager U to NH when they meet tomorrow.”
17) National: At a recent LaborFest, a panel discussion was held on the privatization of education. Participants included Madeline Mueller, chair of the music department at City College of San Francisco (CCSF); Jack Gerson, retired Oakland teacher & OEA Bargaining Committee/CTA Delegate; Rick Baum, AFT 2121 part-time Political Science Teacher at CCSF; and Carol Lang, AFT PSC CUNY College, Delegate to PSC. The meeting was sponsored by Higher Education Action Team HEAT at San Francisco City College. [Video, an hour and 42 minutes; dozens of other videos on school privatization are at the link].
18) Georgia: A conflict between the governing board of a charter school and its superintendent “has resulted in the school not meeting state legal requirements in the final year of its two-year probationary charter contract with the State Charter Schools Commission. (…) Operational and financial issues still persist. More than a week into the school year, the governing board had yet to approve the fiscal year’s budget or the official school calendar. Bumpus said the board violated the Georgia Open Meetings Act when it met without public notice June 30 and approved new nine-year term limits for Kelly and Lewis. Though term limits for Kelly and Lewis expired in 2019, both have remained on the board.”
19) Michigan: Eastpointe Community Schools voters passed a $36.4 million bond proposal last Tuesday that will be used for improvements at facilities across the district, including Eastpointe Hight School. “Projects are scheduled for all nine buildings in the district, including four elementary schools, Eastpointe Middle School, Eastpointe High School, the Early Learning Center, the Alternative Center, and the operations and transportation building. Bond dollars will be used for safety and security improvements, facility upgrades and technology updates. That includes everything from roofing to heating and cooling to playgrounds.”
20) National/Hawaii: Questions have been raised about the possible role of power infrastructure in the Lahaina fire disaster. “No cause for the fire has been determined,” the New York Times reports, “but experts said one likely possibility was that active power lines that fell in high winds ignited the wildfire that ultimately spread to Lahaina. Scrutiny grew over Hawaiian Electric, the state’s largest utility and the parent company of the power provider on Maui. As wildfires on Maui have grown in size in recent years, some residents have urged the power company and state regulators to help prevent electrical equipment from making things worse. But Hawaiian Electric made wildfire prevention its lowest priority in a state regulatory filing in April. ‘There should have been a requirement for them to cut off power,’ said Jennifer Potter, a former member of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. She said she had fielded numerous calls from residents on Maui, long before this week’s fire, about the need for a stronger wildfire prevention strategy. ‘Wildfire mitigation has taken a back seat in utility planning,’ she said. After the major fires of 2017 and 2018 in California, the authorities there mandated power cuts at times of heightened fire danger. No such action was taken in Maui despite the increasingly frequent wildfires.”
21) International: Foreign Policy magazine says we’re “on the highway to climate hell. The world’s infrastructure was built for a climate that no longer exists.” The fallout from a string of climate disasters “has spotlighted how the infrastructure systems underpinning global development weren’t constructed to withstand this increasingly extreme climate reality, and what investment has been carried out has been less than helpful. (…) Yet even as these threats become more pronounced, experts say countries are still struggling to turn away from fossil fuels and build resilience into their infrastructure systems. (…) ‘We’re talking huge price tags, and we’re also talking something that has not been done systemically before,’ [Katharine Hayhoe, the Chief Scientist at the Nature Conservancy] said. ‘We’ve never had to cope with changes this fast in the entire history of human civilization, and so we’re asking people, cities, states, governments, organizations, businesses to do something they’ve never had to do before.’” [Sub required]
22) National: The Dig Presents has done an episode on the Tennessee Valley Authority: the good, the bad, the past, and the future. [Audio; about a half hour].
23) National: The White House has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that contains many detailed edits to the (CEQ) guidance for implementing the National Environmental Protection Act of 1970 (NEPA), Public Works Financingreports. “The new regulations are in small part intended to adapt to the permitting reform legislation, which Congress passed earlier this summer as part of the debt ceiling negotiations. However, many of the regulatory changes have been in the works long before that legislation was passed into law. The new regulations are now open for a 60‐day public comment window, and the CEQ is planning to host several virtual public meetings in late August and early September.” [Public Works Financing, July 2023; sub required]
24) National: A big national corporate effort to push P3s into public universities is underway. The Bond Buyer reports that public universities are taking a close look at pursuing so-called public-private partnerships to provide infrastructure and services, according to a new survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education and P3 EDU. P3 EDU is an upcoming invitation-only megaconference (September 27-29, 2023) to promote P3s to universities, hosted by the University of Colorado Denver. (See the sponsors list at the bottom of the page). Scheduled participants include many university officials as well as speakers from Deloitte & Touche, Cooley LLP, KPMG, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WT Partnership (an Australian P3 consulting company), Moody’s, Engie, Capstone Development Partners, Fitch Ratings, EducationDynamics, Ernst & Young Infrastructure Advisors, S&P Global Ratings, Adobe, and Squire Patton Boggs.
25) National/Virginia: The 10-mile extension of the 95 toll road to Fredericksburg, operated by Transurban, is to open this month. “Once the lanes open, carpoolers will be allowed to ride free, while solo drivers can use them at a cost. Motorcycles and buses can also use the lanes at no cost, the Washington Post reports. “Transportation officials say the corridor will remain a construction zone for months, including for work on an expansion at the Rappahannock River crossing that is expected to be completed next year. Median and shoulder work is also expected to continue.”
26) Maryland: Public Works Financing, the flagship monthly of the infrastructure privatization industry, has a triumphalist piece up on the coming delivery of six new schools to Prince George’s County constructed through a ‘public-private partnership.’ Rather unremarkably, PWF says “the P3 has been the subject of remarkably little criticism since the program launched, though there has been some. In February, Prince George’s County Council sent a letter to the county IG requesting an investigation into claims of wasteful spending on school construction projects, though the allegations were largely made against projects outside of the P3 contract. In June, local news ran a report covering a lawsuit against Gilbane and a Maryland‐based subcontractor claiming some unpaid labor and employment misclassification.” [Public Works Financing, July 2023; sub required]
Fox Baltimore has, to say the least, a fuller and more balanced report on the P3’s alleged wage theft woes. They also include this little peek at the politics of ‘public-private partnerships’ in the form of Maryland’s upcoming Senate race. “The outcry comes as County Executive Alsobrooks recently launched her campaign for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat, which is being vacated by long-time politician Ben Cardin. Cardin announced his retirement earlier this year, stating he will not be seeking re-election. In an interview with The National Desk, Alsobrooks’s Democratic opponent in the Senate race, Rep. David Trone, questioned why his opponent ever advocated for the P3 project in her county as worker disputes begin to mount. ‘We shouldn’t be the first in the nation to try something new. Let’s find something that’s worked somewhere else, and copy that, copy what’s good, copy what’s successful,’ Rep. Trone explained to The National Desk. Rep. Trone also provided insight into what some are alleging is preferential treatment between the P3 project contractors and his opponent.”
The Senate race will likely pit Alsobrooks, Trone, and Will Jawando against one another for the Democratic nomination. P3’s, a hot topic in Maryland because of the disastrous record of the Purple Line P3 project, may get a further jolt when the new governor, Wes Moore (D), announces what delivery method he will choose for the Baltimore Red Line, a project canceled by former Governor Larry Hogan (R), which Moore has revived.
27) Texas: Well guess who’s coming after taxpayer dollars to finance their proposed multibillion dollar railroad project? Why it’s the railroad company Texas Central, wooing Amtrak’s billions. “When Texas Central first pitched the plan in 2012, the price tag came in at $10 billion, which the company pledged would be entirely privately funded. Estimates have since ballooned to at least $33 billion and the company acknowledged it would seek public support, including a possible $12 billion federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program loan. The company’s status has been in flux since last year when CEO Carlos Aguilar left and the board disbanded. Also last year the company won crucial support from a Texas Supreme Court ruling that it had the power of eminent domain.” [Sub required]
28) International: A Different Bias explains why sewage dumping in Britain shows privatization has gone too far. [Video, about 12 minutes].
29) National: Unchecked Growth. The ACLU has an update on how the Biden administration is doing on the issue of private prison corporations and immigration detention. Some bullet points:
- The Number of Immigrants Detained Under the Biden Administration Continues to Grow
- The Biden Administration Increasingly Relies on Private Prison Corporations to Detain Immigrants: Nine Out of Ten People in ICE Detention Are Now Held in Private Prison Facilities
- Private Prison Corporation Revenues from ICE Have Skyrocketed
- The Biden Administration Has Failed to Reverse the Trump Administration’s Expansion of Immigration Detention, As Abuses in ICE Detention Continue
The GEO Group’s earnings call was last Tuesday. Listen to it or read the transcript at this link.
30) National: The U.S.’s billion-dollar EV bus program can’t keep up with demand, but the largest EV bus maker just filed for bankruptcy. What’s the problem? “Proterra has failed to turn a profit on its core electric bus manufacturing operations, as well as the drivetrain, battery and EV charger businesses it launched over the past five years, he said. Proterra’s cost of goods sold for the first quarter was $86.1 million, even greater than its revenue, which ‘means that Proterra loses money on every bus it sells,’ he said.”
31) National/Louisiana: Demands for the closure of LaSalle Corrections’ for-profit Winn Detention Center are getting more urgent. “An ICE detention center for migrants in Louisiana that has been the subject of years of complaints about inadequate medical care, filthy accommodations and mistreatment of detainees has failed to remedy the issues in the year since immigration officials said the facility would improve living conditions and scale back the number of people who can be housed there, advocates and asylum-seekers said,” NBC News reports. The Vera Institute of Justice says “People detained in the ICE detention center in Winn Correctional Center are subjected to undrinkable water, threats of solitary confinement and limited access to medical care. This inhumane abuse needs to end. The detention center at Winn must be closed.” For more on LaSalle listen to The Whistleblowers podcast.
32) New Jersey: Do so-called public-private partnerships save money? Well, here’s a story that indicates that that depends on whether or not they have to pay prevailing wages. If they don’t, the cost comes down at the expense of workers and their families. “The cost of the borough’s new police and fire headquarters has gone up by a third because the state Department of Labor has ruled the contractor must pay prevailing wages which could amount to $100 per hour. The cost of the new building, at the corner of Gaston Avenue and High Street, has jumped from $31 million to $42 million. That has forced the Borough Council to approve an annual $400,000 increase in the 40-year lease-purchase agreement with FDS Somerville for the long-awaited facility to consolidate the county seat’s police department and fire companies under one roof. That will bring the annual cost of the 45,000-square-foot building to more than $1.6 million, Colin Driver, the borough’s director of economic development, told the Council on Monday.” [Sub required]
So now we have numbers because of media reports such as this one. But how many ‘public-private partnership’ project proposals make it clear they are bidding low because of wage gouging before communities sign on the dotted line, and how many low bids have been embedded in the cost quotes where nobody can see them? When the decisions are made, are public sector comparators included in the decision-making process?
33) National: Chris Edelson, an assistant professor of government at American University, says Republican anti-government attacks can be a campaign strategy for Biden. “The Biden ad suggests an alternative approach: seizing on overwrought Republican anti-government rhetoric as an opening for presenting an effective case for Biden and the Democrats in 2024 that contrasts their approach with Republicans’ cynical view of government. Greene’s critique of government as a sinister force somehow leading the country to some vaguely understood “socialist” future suggests that Republicans stand for a libertarian scheme that minimizes the role of government. Of course, like the rest of Greene’s critique, this is not, in fact, true. Authoritarian Republican tactics when it comes to reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ Americans, and even library books have nothing to do with freedom.”
34) National: What do Americans think about the respective roles of government and the private sector in the future of space exploration? Pew has done an opinion survey. “Most Americans continue to believe that the U.S. space agency NASA has a critical role to play, even as private space companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are increasingly involved in space. Overall, 65% of U.S. adults say it is essential that NASA continue to be involved in space exploration, the survey finds. A smaller share (32%) believe that private companies will ensure enough progress is made in space exploration, even without NASA’s involvement.”
35) National: The Congressional Research Service has put out a new report on Artificial Intelligence: Overview, Recent Advances, and Considerations for the 118th Congress. “Numerous federal laws on AI have been enacted over the past few Congresses, either as standalone legislation or as AI-focused provisions in broader acts. These include the expansive National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act of 2020 (Division E of P.L. 116-283), which included the establishment of an American AI Initiative and direction for AI research, development, and evaluation activities at federal science agencies. Additional acts have directed certain agencies to undertake activities to guide AI programs and policies across the federal government (e.g., the AI in Government Act of 2020, P.L. 116-260; and the Advancing American AI Act, Subtitle B of P.L. 117-263). In the 117th Congress, at least 75 bills were introduced that either focused on AI and ML or had AI/ML-focused provisions. Six of those were enacted. In the 118th Congress, as of June 2023, at least 40 bills had been introduced that either focused on AI/ML or contained AI/ML-focused provisions, and none has been enacted.”
36) National: Market failures are driving a crisis in cancer care, Dr. Julie Gralow, the chief medical officer and executive vice president of the Association for Clinical Oncology, reports in Barron’s. “We need to solve this crisis. While drug shortages are an issue around the world, the problem is especially acute in the U.S., where generic drug prices are often lowest. Currently, there is no national protocol for what to do when drugs are in short supply, but there should be. We should start by developing and maintaining a more comprehensive list of essential drugs—including drugs that have been or are known to be at risk of shortages—and using this list to create a national reserve of essential medicines. The Food and Drug Administration should use the full extent of its authority to mitigate shortages and increase supply chain transparency.” [Sub required]
37) National/Texas: The Environmental Protection Agency has overruled Texas’ plan to reduce haze from air pollution at national parks, Inside Climate News reports. “NPCA and other environmental groups are pushing state and federal regulators to take aggressive action to eliminate air pollution at national parks through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Haze Rule. Issued in 1999 under the Clean Air Act, the rule calls for state and federal regulators to work together to improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas. (…) In July 2021, Texas submitted its updated implementation plan to the EPA. But in April 2023, the EPA announced that the plan’s first phase was inadequate because it did not include the best available technology for reducing sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. The agency proposed a new strategy for Texas that would require six coal plants, all major contributors to haze, to reduce their emissions of sulfur dioxide.”
38) International: The right wing Polish government has announced it will be holding a national referendum on privatization. “‘For us, the voice of normal Poles is decisive. The voice of foreign politicians, including Germans, is of no importance, that is why in key issues we want to appeal to you directly, in a referendum,’ [Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław] Kaczyński said. ‘You decide whether the wealth of generations will remain in Polish hands,’ he said. Critics denounced the referendum as hypocrisy. Some noted that the ruling party, known by its Polish initials PiS, has itself sold off state assets, including part of the state oil company Lotos, on terms viewed as unfavorable to Poland.”