Archive for the ‘Privatization’ Category

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (February 17-23, 2014)

Monday, February 24th, 2014

PRIVATIZATION

Opinion: Private Capital for Public Works; A bipartisan move in Congress seeks investors for American roads, ports and bridges.” By Felix Rohatyn and Rodney Slater. Wall Street Journal. February 20, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 15-21, 2011)

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

PRIVATIZATION

Los Angeles to hand over animal shelter to nonprofit group; The Los Angeles City Council, in another move to privatize some longtime city functions, voted to turn over management of a Mission Hills animal shelter to Best Friends Animal Society.” By Kate Linthicum. Los Angeles Times. August 17, 2011. In another move to privatize some longtime city functions, the Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to hand over management of a Mission Hills animal shelter to a nonprofit group. Under the plan, Best Friends Animal Society will provide adoption and spay and neuter services at the Northeast Valley Animal Care Center, built three years ago for more than $19 million but never fully staffed because of budget cuts. The deal with Best Friends costs the city nothing and will save the lives of thousands of animals that would otherwise be euthanized each year, according to Brenda Barnette, general manager of the Department of Animal Services. But the plan has its critics, including some who said they wished the city had been more transparent in its selection of an operator. Best Friends, a national animal rescue group that has been active in L.A. for more than 20 years, was the only nonprofit to apply for the contract. Several other animal groups have said they wished they had been approached by the city to make a bid to manage the shelter. “We don’t know what their proposals would have been,” said City Councilman Richard Alarcon, the only council member to vote against the plan. “Something smells wrong.” Jake Miller, an animal care technician at the East Valley Animal Shelter in Van Nuys, said he thinks Best Friends is a good organization but shouldn’t be running a taxpayer-funded facility.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (May 9-15, 2011)

Monday, May 16th, 2011

PRIVATIZATION

A costly treasure; Dedham to vote on privatizing operation of Endicott Estate.” By Johanna Seltz. Boston Globe. May 15, 2011. Altogether nearly 80 community groups use the town-owned mansion throughout the year, as well as numerous private wedding parties that rent the Colonial revival house and lawn from May to October. The approximately 2,000 runners in the annual James Joyce Ramble 10K started and ended at the estate earlier this month, and Dedham High School will have its graduation there later this spring. But despite the steady use and revenue potential, the Endicott Estate costs the town about $400,000 a year — a drain that local officials want to stop. To that end, Town Meeting will take up a proposal tomorrow to consider bringing in a private management company to run the operation at the grand estate. “If I’m not spending that $400,000 [on the Endicott Estate], I can use it to support other areas of the budget,’’ said Town Administrator William Keegan, who’s pushing the proposed change. “It’s a lot of money, and that’s why we’re addressing it. If [the estate] loses some money we can live with it, but to the extent we can make it more self-supporting, we need to look at alternatives,’’ he said. Keegan stressed that any new arrangement would allow the public access to the 25-room building and surrounding 21 acres — a requirement of Katherine Endicott’s will when she left her property to the town in the 1960s.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (January 24-30, 2011)

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

PRIVATIZATION

States Let Private Sector Seal Deals.” By Conor Dougherty. Wall Street Journal. January 29, 2011. Some cash-strapped states have identified another job they want to shift to the private sector: economic development. A number of governors are working to turn their development offices into some form of nonprofit private entity, a move that would transfer the task of giving out state grants, tax breaks and other economic incentives from the hands of government. The idea, which has as much to do with economic philosophies as with saving money, is mainly gaining ground in states with Republican governors, including Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Arizona. “It’s a matter of greater flexibility and the ability to act more like a chamber [of commerce] rather than a state agency,” said Wisconsin’s new Republican governor Scott Walker, adding that private groups are better equipped to create jobs and attract companies. As tax revenue has shriveled in recent years, cities and states have moved to privatize various operations, such as state-run liquor stores, local libraries and parking meters. Seven states, including Michigan and Florida, already have some form of private group filling the economic-development role. Critics say handing this power to a private entity can create conflicts of interest, because the nonprofits usually have boards made up of public officials and private business leaders. This can create conflicts as these boards help steer tax breaks and incentives. Also, in many cases private economic-development agencies aren’t subject to the same standards for public disclosure as government agencies, even though they receive government money. In Ohio, where newly elected Gov. John Kasich has proposed dissolving the state’s Department of Development and creating an entity called JobsOhio, lawmakers have pushed to increase disclosures and allow the state’s inspector general to investigate the proposed entity.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (April 12-18, 2010)

Monday, April 19th, 2010

PRIVATIZATION

Strapped City Cuts and Cuts.” By Leslie Eaton. Wall Street Journal. April 13, 2010. Like many American cities, Colorado Springs one is strapped for cash. Tax collections here have fallen so far that the city has turned off a third of its 24,512 street lights. But unlike many cities, this one is full of people eager for more government cutbacks. The town council has been bombarded with emails telling it to close community centers. Letters to the local newspaper call for shrinking the police department and putting the city-owned utility up for sale. A commission is studying whether to sell the municipal hospital. Another, made up of local businessmen, will opine on whether to slash the salaries and benefits of city employees. Almost a decade ago, voters imposed strict limits on how much the city government can spend. Last November they turned thumbs down on a property-tax increase, despite warnings from city officials about a projected $28 million shortfall requiring at least a 10% cut in an already shrunken budget. And so, faced with dwindling revenues, intransigent voters and widespread distrust of government, this city of 400,000 has embarked on a grand experiment: It is trying to get volunteers and the private sector to provide services the city can no longer afford.