Here’s our weekly analysis of privatization in the news and communities nationwide. Not a subscriber? Sign up.
- A privately-funded border wall erected to support Trump is already at risk of falling down.
- Trump has nominated a fanatical opponent of public land ownership to be head of the Bureau of Land Management.
- How the coronavirus became a death sentence at a halfway house operated by the private prison corporation GEO Group.
1) National: In the Public Interest announces “Pro-Public,” a project to make government work for all of us. The path forward is clear: We must foreground and confront the deep history and impact of structural and cultural racism. We must make full-throated arguments for the role of public goods, public institutions, and democratic decision making in all communities, especially those who historically have been left out. We must expose efforts by corporations and private investors trying to take control of public goods. We must develop and support new rules and revenue generators to expand access to public services, rebalance economic power, and eliminate the corrupting influences of money on democracy. And we must spotlight the work of the public servants who matter so much to our communities—teachers, postal carriers, trash collectors, librarians, and other public workers. Sign up for the newsletter here.
2) National: Writing in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stephen B. Heintz, president and CEO of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, says for philanthropy to achieve its goals, democracy must work. “In the Venn diagram of all public goods that foundations support, democracy lies in the millionfold intersection.”
3) National: “Bargaining for the common good” should be at the center of a new strategy to rebuild labor and transform America, says racial justice, labor and international activist Bill Fletcher. Congressional Republicans are seeking to destroy the US Postal Service. “For years, neoliberal economic policy has been strangling the public sector. If nothing else, this crisis demonstrates the result: People are left to fend for themselves. (…) How about an effort to organize the entire public sector in the South and the Southwest?”
4) National: Today is the 85th anniversary of the passage of the National Labor Relations Act.
5) California: The Los Angeles school board voted 4-3 last week to cut $25 million from the L.A. School Police Department—the independent, district-run force of 400 sworn officers that patrols LAUSD campuses. “The reduction was included in the board’s approval of the district’s overall $8.9 billion budget—and while the $25 million cut from the L.A. School Police was just a small fraction of the total, it was by far the dominant issue in more than 13 hours of discussion and debate on Tuesday,” LAist reports. Reactions were divided.
The cut followed a compromise among board members. “Initially, [Mónica] García sought to immediately cut the school police budget by $35 million—a 50% cut. [Jackie] Goldberg said she couldn’t support that large of a cut, but offered a substitute motion as a compromise. García agreed, and board members Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez signed on.
“Black Lives Matter-L.A. co-founder Melina Abdullah addressed the board earlier in the day: ‘Let’s divest from school police and invest in the things that our children actually need like nurses, librarians, school social workers and smaller class sizes.’ L.A. School Police Chief Todd Chamberlain said the effects would be evident within the next two months: LAUSD will need to lay off 65 officers, close 39 vacant officer positions and eliminate the school police force’s entire overtime budget.”
6) Minnesota/Ohio/Wisconsin/National: The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners has passed a resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis. The resolution includes directing the county to “[assess] county activities in hiring, promoting staff, developing leaders, contracting for services, and giving grants with a racial equity lens.”
Cuyahoga County in Ohio, which recently passed a similar resolution, is looking to the experience of Milwaukee County, the first local government to declare racism a public health crisis in May 2019, for ideas. “In an interview with cleveland.com, [Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley] noted that his county is one of the most segregated in the nation, but said his successor and his own administration have taken steps to promote racial equity internally, and to provide equitable access to public goods and services.”
7) New Jersey: The Newark Public Library is building on its long history of service to the people of the city. “Newark Public Library offers an ever-changing mix of art, culture, entertainment, education, technology, job skills, family literacy, black history, Latinx history, women’s history, LGBTQ+, ESL, youth, family and other programs that match the needs and interests of its greater Newark community. During COVID-19, the library advanced its capacity to provide opportunities for virtual learning and sharing of resources, all accessible via a computer, tablet or smartphone. Programs were offered in English, Spanish and Portuguese and all for free.”
8) New Mexico/National: Route Fifty looks at a new Albuquerque program “to create a new, civilian-led department to handle 911 calls for people who need help because they are intoxicated, homeless, on drugs or in a mental health crisis. Instead of police responding to these calls, the city wants to create a new agency that will send out social workers, housing counselors, and violence prevention specialists. ‘We’ve placed more and more issues on the plates of officers who are not trained … to be a social worker, or to be an addiction counselor … when they’re just answering a call,’ Keller said. ‘We should have trained professionals do this, instead of folks with a gun and a badge.’” Proposals to create alternative public safety departments using social workers have appeared in cities like Los Angeles, Portland, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
9) Pennsylvania: Urging U.S. Senate passage of the HEROES Act supporting states and municipalities, Steve Mullen, the director of AFSCME District Council 89 in Harrisburg, says COVID recovery relies on funding public service heroes. “There is a direct tie between funding public services and pandemic recovery. The people who provide clean water, safe roads, strong schools, fully staffed hospitals and much more are essential to fighting this pandemic and re-opening our economy. We can do neither if we lay them off.” Polling shows overwhelming public support for the idea.
10) Virginia: Despite the fact that the Washington County Public Library and its four branches remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, library staff are finding innovative ways to serve the community. “‘It’s been funny. We’ll have people knock on the library door and do a little happy dance outside the door or wave to the circulation staff. Our patrons are really happy to have materials again and to have that connection. And we’re happy to be back in service. Libraries serve. That’s why we’re here,’ [said public services librarian Sally Jones]. ‘Libraries have always adapted to remain relevant. This is just another way for us to serve. If you’re at home and not going out as much as usual, it’s a good way to get materials now. We plan on having the curbside assistance as one of our long-term services.’”
11) Washington: A Seattle City Council committee votes up a new tax on the city’s largest businesses that could generate more than $200 million a year for city services. “Today we voted on a major structural change in how we finance public services,” South Seattle rep and co-sponsor Tammy Morales said about the passage. “Throughout this renewed budget conversation, I voiced my strong desire to see a sizable progressive revenue package that begins to address the enormity of the issues our city faces.” A vote by the full council is scheduled for today.
12) Washington: The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners has approved a policy plan for next year that will provide affordable housing program funding. “The annual Coordinated Grant Application cycle will issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) for HOME funds and a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for CDBG funds.”
13) International: In July, August and September, workers around the world are organizing a series of programs around the theme Unions Standing Together: A World To Win. The series will kick off this Thursday. On August 20 there will be a session titled Towards A Public Future. “Unions understand that the multi-dimensional crisis set off by the coronavirus presents our movement with opportunities to organize for a “public future”—one that establishes an economy that puts need before profit, advances equality and can tackle the existential dangers of climate instability and ecosystem collapse. This session will help us prepare for the Assembly’s thematic discussions and frame the issues that are to be explored.” On August 25 there will be a session on Defending and Restoring Vital Public Services: Health, Education, Post and Transport. [Register here]
14) International: Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf holds out hope that the world will snap out of its decades-long anti-government stupor. “This time must be different,” Wolf says. “Above all, government is back, as is a desire for competence. Anti-government politicians have been able to turn their own failures into an argument: who would trust a government run like this? But those with eyes can see that it does not have to be like this. The contrasts between Angela Merkel’s Germany and Donald Trump’s US or Boris Johnson’s UK are just too glaring. Maybe this disaster will bring one benefit: we will find not just that government is back, but that the demand for sensible government run by competent people is back.” [Sub required
15) National: The National Coalition for Public Education has denounced the Supreme Court ruling in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue Case that opens the door for taxpayer dollars to go to private and religious schools. “This damaging decision delivers a serious blow to public education,” the statement says. “During the Trump Administration private school voucher advocates like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have been unable to push an unpopular federal voucher program through Congress, even when there were Republican majorities in both chambers. But now the Supreme Court has opened the door for voucher proponents in states to aggressively pursue the diversion of taxpayer dollars to private schools—schools that can pick and choose who they educate and are not accountable to taxpayers. Now more than ever, as our country tries to rectify our history of racial injustice, we need to invest in our public schools that welcome all children and unite our communities, not in private schools that further divide us.”
American United for Separation of Church and State says “the Supreme Court’s Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue decision corrupts the foundational principle of church-state separation, just as Citizens United corrupted the political process. The separation of church and state is a fundamental American value that protects religious freedom for all. This court has overturned decades of precedent in an effort to privilege certain religious beliefs and have them dominate our civic life.”
16) National: Trump is seeking aid for private schools in the next stimulus bill, according to an outline of the plan obtained by McClatchy. “The White House is seeking to have 10% of the amount that Congress approves for state and local educational agencies set aside for the grants. Trump will also seek approval of $5 billion in federal tax credits for businesses and individuals who donate to the scholarship programs.”
In response, the American Federation of Teachers “accused Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of attempting to exploit the pandemic to advance her privatization agenda. ‘It is telling that, after spending more than three years doing nothing to help the public schools that 90 percent of children attend, Betsy DeVos races to divert resources into private hands 48 hours after the Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza,’ Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement, referring to the high court’s ruling Tuesday that religious schools cannot be excluded from taxpayer aid programs.”
17) National: Writing in The Nation, Mary Retta makes the case on the unequal impact of online learning. “In anticipation of virtual learning continuing this fall and possibly well into next year, the ACLU is calling on Congress to address inequities among low-income students, students of color, disabled students, and others whose needs are not being addressed through current remote learning strategies. On May 14, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote to Congress demanding that it provide several billion dollars in funding toward equal remote learning access and privacy protections for K-12 students as part of the phase 4 Covid-19 relief package.”
Retta also points out that “in addition to Internet and technology concerns, the ACLU’s letter to Congress addressed the need to protect student’s privacy during online learning. Many have expressed concerns over the surveillance tactics that third-party video applications such as Blackboard and Zoom have employed on users.”
18) California: Palisades Charter High School, which double-dipped into the government trough to supplement the money they are diverting from public schools with funds from this PPP program, let go essential staff. “Ignoring the reason for their $4,606,000 windfall, the governing board of Pali voted this month to lay off five members of their staff and reduce the hours for 18 other employees. Even as students throughout the country struggle to transition to distance learning, these cuts included an IT Tech assigned to helping parents, students and teachers navigate the technology needed in this new learning environment. They also eliminated a Tutoring Center Coordinator whom a member of the public and a board member credited with ‘helping hundreds of kids pass classes and graduate from Pali during e-learning.’ A Library Media Technician, Copy Clerk, and Office Assistant will also join the unemployment line in 60 days.”
19) Indiana: Rebecca Rifkind-Brown of American United for Separation of Church and State reports that Indiana Catholic schools could crack down on LGBTQ students while pulling in taxpayer dollars. “Officials with the Catholic Archdiocese have implemented policies that will effectively ban transgender students from attending parochial schools in central and southern Indiana – even though many of its schools are receiving taxpayer support under Indiana’s voucher program. This new policy was enacted at the beginning of the month and was influenced by a document released by the Vatican in 2019 that declared being transgender antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
20) Louisiana: On July 4, students, parents, teachers, alumni and supporters, organized a march to bring awareness to racial biases and discrimination in Lusher Charter School, which is named after Robert Mills Lusher, a segregationist and Confederate who served as Louisiana schools superintendent. But the marchers want more than a name change at the charter school. “Rising Senior Daniel Porea marched with his mom, Alnita, who says it hurts to see her son in the same fight she was in nearly 50 years ago, afraid of what sort of daily indignities he’ll face at school. ‘My son should not have to worry about the color of his skin in order to be educated,’ said Alnita Porea.” The Orleans Parish School Board (which oversees Lusher) said they would consider renaming some New Orleans schools at the board’s next meeting, set for July 30. In 2017 Advocates for Arts-Based Education Corporation, which runs Lusher, was the subject of an NLRB decision in a case brought by United Teachers of New Orleans, Local 527, LFT and AFT.
21) National: The House has passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, but the bill is expected to face “near certain death” in the Senate, says the New York Times. “‘President Trump ran on the issue of infrastructure,’ said Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon and lead sponsor of the bill, noting the bill’s cost was smaller than the $2 trillion figure Mr. Trump endorsed in April. Mr. DeFazio has said his plan applies ‘the principles of the Green New Deal,’ because it includes strategies to try to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, it would authorize grants for local communities to invest in ‘low- and zero-emissions’ forms of transportation, including public transit, walking and biking.”
The bill, which includes an expanded use of Private Activity Bonds, is supported by the municipal bond industry. “Separately, the LOCAL Infrastructure Act introduced by Stabenow and Wicker to bring back tax-exempt advance refunding is a recognition that state and local governments depend now more than ever on affordable financing during the pandemic, said Emily Brock, director of the Government Finance Officers Association’s federal liaison center.” [Sub required]
22) National/DMV: People are driving less and skipping the toll roads, leaving less money for local projects, reports the Washington Post. “The industry’s losses, which by estimates will exceed $9 billion nationwide, are prompting public and private toll operators to tap their reserves, delay capital projects and cut jobs. (…) Traffic on the 95, 395 and 495 Express Lanes hit a low in April when it was down by 80 percent, according to toll operator Transurban’s most recent trading update. Through mid-June, average daily traffic was at about 60 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The company declined to provide revenue data in advance of its semiannual report due in August. Express lane tolls, which fluctuate based on traffic, also remain well below pre-pandemic averages. On the 495 Express Lanes, the average toll was $2.50 in mid-June, down from $5.40 in early March.”
23) National/Texas: Can a private company backed by private financing exercise the power of eminent domain and seize your property? Apparently it can, according to a Texas appellate court which ruled in May that the private developers of the proposed Dallas-Houston high speed rail line can do so. Project opponents have already notified the Texas Supreme Court they are appealing the ruling. Their petition review is due July 22. [Sub required]. This one should be a full employment program for the lawyers. Takings law anyone?
Public Works Financing, the flagship journal of the infrastructure privatization industry, has a front page story on the Texas Central HSR project in its current June issue, which is heavy on high speed rail stories, apparently a favored sector now that many project ideas have been shelved because of the coronavirus economic collapse and political paralysis in Washington. PWF stresses that the proposed railroad line, which will be able to whiz businesspeople from Dallas to Houston in just 90 minutes (the hoi polloi must drive 4 hours to get there), says it will rely completely on private finance.
This line seems to be wearing a bit thin already, though, since the project’s backers are already seeking taxpayer dollars, while PWF itself says “a portion of the financing may also come from the Federal Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) program.” Would this taxpayer financing be better spent on a high speed rail line in Texas than on urban mass transit or commuter lines in far more densely populated regions? If the project, once built, sees its traffic models—which partly rely on Uber and Lyft traffic recovering so they can provide a feeder system—fail, will this “privately financed” deal come to taxpayers with their begging bowl?
The project, which has attracted fierce opposition from some quarters, still needs to obtain its environmental (NEPA) clearance, an issue which could be somewhat moot since Trump has been trying to gut NEPA on a supposedly emergency basis due to the economic crisis. In any event, the company has weighed in with a hefty Environmental Impact Statement. But even if it jumps over all of these hurdles, is the project bankable? “That journey isn’t over, and there will likely be many challenges for the project ahead,” says PWF editor Michael Bennon.
24) Georgia: The Supreme Court of Georgia has put its stamp of approval on public borrowing for private profit. “The Supreme Court of Georgia says it would indeed be ‘sound, feasible and reasonable’ for a city development authority to issue up to $1.25 billion in bonds and forego tax money to finance the construction of a private, mixed-use development downtown.
In a unanimous ruling except one justice not participating, the court OK’d a complex deal that would see a city authority borrow money in several steps to help pay for private reconstruction of up to 15 blocks in the Gulch as ‘Centennial Yards.’ The bonds would be paid off with “infrastructure fees” paid by Gulch businesses, once they open, in lieu of sales taxes. (…)
“The ‘intervenors’ are four Atlanta residents involved with the ‘Redlight the Gulch’ campaign. The campaigners have long said that between this bond deal and another one involving property taxes, the city is giving away more than it’s getting back in public goods like affordable housing and job training for young Atlantans; and that they doubt retail sales in the Gulch would make enough money to pay off the bonds.”
Among Redlight the Gulch’s concerns: “privatization of streets and sidewalks in the heart of Atlanta.”
25) Missouri: In a must-read article in the St. Louis American, 15th Ward alderwoman Megan Ellyia Green tells the real story of what happened at the June 29 Board of Aldermen meeting, which sent the privatization of St. Louis Lambert Airport to a November referendum—and refused to close The Workhouse, a medium security institution that houses 92 people.
On the privatization debate, “We spent the next seven hours continually being gaslit and talked over, seeing our calls for a vote on privatization co-opted and twisted into something it is not. The public should weigh in on the future of our assets. That’s not what BB71 does. The privatization vote bills that both Alderwoman Cara Spencer (D-Ward 20) and I have sponsored in the past requires that the final lease agreement for privatization that is approved by the Board of Aldermen be voted on by the public before it goes into effect. This means that the public would know all of the details of a lease agreement and be able to make an educated decision on whether this is a good deal for the city.
“Board Bill 71, on the other hand, requires that the city enter into a yet-to-be-defined contract to privatize airport operations. That contract would have been negotiated and approved in 30 days, and the public would not weigh in on that contract through a public vote before it goes into effect. We know that, especially in these types of contracts, the devil is always in the contract details.”
26) New Jersey: Obscure language in the state budget has reopened the door to the privatization of Liberty State Park, which citizen activists successfully fought off over the past few years. “The wording could clear the way for private development in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., a crown jewel of the park system that has been eyed for decades by developers. Liberty National, an exclusive private golf club where the original initiation fee was about half a million dollars, has been pressing for years to expand into a nearby section of the park.”
The New York Times reports “one of the golf course’s owners, Paul B. Fireman, the founder of Reebok who sold his company to Adidas for $3.8 billion, and his family are generous campaign donors, contributing about $420,000 to Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey between 2009 and last year, state records show. ‘A couple of paid lobbyists along with a couple of legislators got in special language for a guy who owns a golf course,’ Ms. Weinberg said in an interview.”
27) Pennsylvania: Norristown Opposed to Privatization Efforts is organizing “to overturn Ordinance 20-11, passed by Norristown Council to privatize a public water utility, our sewer system. The ‘sale’ is actually an $82 million indebtedness to Aqua PA financed by residents via higher future rates.” Woody? – Black Lives Matter – says “We need 1500 signatures to get this on the ballot! Municipalities in PA are increasingly considering privatization of their water, and sewer systems. As businesses shutter, and evictions increase, tax revenues will fall. Long-term, this will spell disaster for PA’s water supply.” The petition drive started on Saturday.
28) Pennsylvania: PennDOT is accepting unsolicited public-private partnership proposals until July 31.
29) Texas: SH 130, the privatized toll road that has faced serious problems in the past, has a new gimmick to stave off major headaches stemming from the drop in traffic during the pandemic, which is getting even worse in Texas right now. “Drivers traveling on the Texas 130 toll road can now sign up to earn points toward cash rewards. The new Fly 130 Rewards Program, which is run by SH 130 Concession Co. LLC, the organization that maintains the tollway, is the first of its kind in Central Texas.” However, “some environmental advocates worry about the effect of further promoting car use in the face of climate change. Bay Scoggin, director of TexPIRG advocacy group, said that while this rewards program likely will not notably increase the number of cars on the road, it still matters what is financially incentivized.”
30) International: Despite rumors to the contrary, the British government is not going back to “public-private partnerships,” Infrastructure Investor reports. “For people hoping for a rehashed version of PFI, [Prime Minister Boris] Johnson came down on the side of those—many of whom sit on the opposite bench to him—who have long called the [Private Finance Initiative] scheme a ripoff. ‘It’s time now not just for a new deal but for a fair deal for the British people,’ he declared. ‘We can do all this now, partly because of the prudent management of the economy in the last 10 years, but also because we’re planning to invest now, when the cost of borrowing allows it and when the returns are greatest.’”
32) Job Opportunity: The Eno Center for Transportation is seeking a policy analyst.
Criminal Justice and Immigration
33) National: In a disturbing in-depth article, The Intercept’s Liliana Segura recounts how the coronavirus became a death sentence at a Geo Group halfway house. “In operation since the 1990s, the Leidel Center was previously run by Cornell Corrections, which was acquired by GEO Group in 2010. The private prison company’s expansion into reentry services has become a growing part of the its business plan. Today, the Leidel Center is one of 45 halfway houses under GEO Group’s Continuum of Care division, which sells everything from reentry to drug treatment to counseling services to state and federal government. Fifteen of GEO’s halfway houses have contracts with the [Bureau of Prisons]. GEO Group has long been accused of mistreating those in its care.”
34) National: A federal lawsuit against CoreCivic has been filed by a woman who claims she was raped shortly before being released from an immigrant detention facility in Houston hours before she was deported to Mexico. “While in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, the plaintiff said she and two other women were taken from their dorms and sequestered to a small room. That’s when the woman said three immigration officials entered the room, hit the women in the face, used brutal force and raped each of them, the suit alleges.” [Read the 61-page filing]
35) National: Corizon, the prison healthcare company, has been bought by a rather obscure private equity firm, the Flacks Group, for undisclosed terms. “Miami-based Flacks Group specializes in the “operational turn-around of under-utilized companies,” according to the release. The firm employs more than 7,500 people and has more than $2.5 billion of assets under management. ‘With this investment in Corizon, we at Flacks Group have demonstrated our ability to respond quickly and make major investments in companies that have strong prospects but face complex operating environments,’ Michel Rybkin, Flacks Group managing partner, said in the release. ‘We believe in the Corizon Health mission and support management’s plans for excellent service and profitable growth.’” Corizon was previously owned by Beecken Petty O’Keefe, another private equity group.
36) National: Writing in Counterpunch, Bianca Sierra Wolff of the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice and Lisa Knox Centro Legal de la Raza say “ICE is Leaving Immigrants to Die in Detention, and Retaliating When They Speak Out.” They write, “In an attempt to shed light on these horrific circumstances, immigrants in detention in California have launched coordinated hunger strikes, calling attention to their plight, the death of their fellow detainees, and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. These acts of heroic resistance have been coordinated with and supported by community members, advocates and organizers.
In response, ICE and their for-profit henchmen have undertaken a vicious campaign against activists in detention, retaliating against them with acts of violence and seeking to delegitimize their words and actions in the press. This includes using pepper spray against detainees who have peacefully protested or refused to sign a legal waiver in order to obtain masks, as well as threatening those who have taken part in hunger strikes.”
37) National: ICE, a major contractor with private, for-profit prison companies, just became even less transparent. “On June 11, the administration classified ICE as a “Security Agency,” according to a memo signed by Albence and dated June 26. This new designation puts ICE employees in the same category as high-level intelligence officials, and blocks from disclosure information that is typically public, such as name, job title, and salary. The memo was provided to The Nation by an ICE official on condition of anonymity.” Will this spin the revolving door between these companies and ICE even faster?
38) National: CoreCivic reports $25 million in profits as COVID-19 infects more than 2,500 inmates. “Some inmates and employees still say they don’t feel safe from the new coronavirus inside CoreCivic facilities. Two workers at a CoreCivic facility in California claimed in a lawsuit that the company didn’t provide staff with proper protective equipment and that their job duties made it difficult to avoid contact with other people.” According to Reuters, in 2019 a bar of Dove soap cost $2.44 in CoreCivic’s Stewart Detention Center in Georgia and about a dollar at Target.
39) National: A privately-funded border wall erected to support Trump is already at risk of falling down.
40) Illinois: The City of Chicago has awarded a contract to provide for contact-tracing, generating privatization concerns. “Matt Brandon, former secretary-treasurer of SEIU Local 73 and now president of Communities Organized to Win, strongly disagreed. Brandon argued the city’s decision to ‘privatize’ contact tracing would lead to lower-paid, part-time jobs. “We know what happens when private contractors get money. They cut the salaries down. And they make most of the work part-time. We don’t want that to happen,” Brandon said before joining a coalition of groups urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to halt ‘illegal outsourcing,’ as they called it. ‘This will be the first time in the United States that contact tracers are not headed by the state or municipal department of public health. It’s a violation of state law, for one thing. And we don’t think a private contractor has the same interest as our public health department. We also believe this is an opportunity for the city to begin to rebuild all of the infrastructure of public health that’s been taken out of our communities over the years.’”
41) International: Privatization is polling at rock bottom in the U.K. The Canary reports that “just 15% of the public supports the involvement of private companies like Serco in the coronavirus (Covid-19) test and trace program.”
42) National: As part of his slash-and-burn deregulation crusade, Trump is trying to end the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, which tries to bring fair housing practices to the largely white suburbs. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor says Trump is “going all in on racism as his only election card.”
43) National/Revolving Door News: Trump has nominated a fanatical opponent of public land ownership to be head of the Bureau of Land Management. William Pendley has a 17-page recusal list.
44) National: The use of military contractors shrouds the true costs of war; Washington wants it that way, a study says. “Many of the contractors killed were foreign nationals. That has led to a double exploitation of using foreign workers for dangerous jobs and paying them less than U.S. employees earn, said Heidi Peltier, a Research Fellow at Boston University and part of Brown University’s Costs of War Project. ‘It hides the human cost and makes war more politically palatable,’ Peltier told The Washington Post.”
45) Think Tanks: G. William Domhoff, author of the widely influential Who Rules America (1967) has a new (2019) book out with more tools for corporate power analysis. The Corporate Rich and the Power Elite in the Twentieth Century: How They Won, Why Liberals and Labor Lost is “framed within three historical developments that have made this domination possible: the rise and fall of the union movement, the initiation and subsequent limitation of government social-benefit programs, and the postwar expansion of international trade.”
46) International/Think Tanks: An interesting webinar from law/lobbying firm DLA Piper on how corporations are preparing for Global Class Actions Arising from COVID-19. [Video, about an hour and a half].