Are private prison companies on the ropes? Their stocks are tanking.

In the Public Interest’s weekly analysis of privatization in the news and communities nationwide. Not a subscriber? Sign up.

This week’s highlights

  • CoreCivic may abandon its Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) structure, which has provided it millions in tax savings over the years.
  • In a now-deleted tweet, a Missouri Republican state senator demanded privatization to fix long lines at the state’s DMV offices. Another senator pointed out that they were privatized over a decade ago, thus the long lines.
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger writes about the second effort to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport: “They’re privatizing the government in order to privatize the asset.

1) National: In two landmark rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the Trump administration’s effort to eliminate protections for “Dreamers” under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy established by President Obama, and ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. For a discussion of how privatization negatively affects the LGBTQ community, see Queers for Economic Justice’s Poverty, Public Assistance & Privatization: The Queer Case for a New Commitment to Economic Justice.

Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project, who worked on the Supreme Court case, says we need to go further. “A progressive platform must at a minimum restore previous guidance establishing protections for trans students, but it cant stop there. Given the high rates of poverty within the community, investment in education must look at equalizers across the board. This means ending charter schools and gifted-and-talented programs that pull resources out of communities of color. It also means canceling student debt, affirmatively mandating inclusive curriculum, and enforcing robust requirements for inclusion based on gender identity. The goal must be to move toward an end to sex-segregation in dress, classrooms, and restrooms.” 

2) National: The coronavirus pandemic, which has heavily impacted long-term care facilities across the United States, has added urgency to the question of how our society can better deal with the issues involved. Michael Schulson of Undark magazine reports that “advocates say that these and other problems have only intensified as large companies began buying and consolidating nursing home franchises. Around 70 percent of nursing homes in the United States are under for-profit ownership, and, since the 2000s, private equity firms have purchased many facilities, hoping to cut costs and increase profits. One recent analysis, published by the New York University Stern School of Business, found “robust evidence” that private equity buyouts were linked to ‘declines in patient health and compliance with care standards.’ Then came the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Yesterday the New York Times had a very disturbing report on how “nursing homes across the country are kicking out old and disabled residents and sending them to homeless shelters and rundown motels.”

3) National: “Hours before President Donald Trump held a Saturday evening rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he gave self-congratulatory, division-sowing speech,” Common Good’s Andrea Germanos reports, “the Poor People’s Campaign offered a progressive counterpoint with a virtual social justice assembly that uplifted the stories of those suffering from poverty and racial injustice and unveiled a policy platform to spur ‘transformative action.’” Among the legislative priorities in the Poor People’s Moral Justice Jubilee Policy Platform are to close private detention centers and return private water and utilities to the public sector. [Watch video coverage of the event; about three and a half hours.]

4) California: AB 3216, a bill extending job protection and paid sick days to workers in health emergencies, passes the state assembly. “This was a great and hard-won victory for workers across the state,” said Jenya Cassidy, Director of the California Work & Family Coalition, a bill co-sponsor. “We’ve been in meetings with legislators hearing from their constituents—an airport worker who was just furloughed and needs to return to the same job when things open up to support himself and his family; a mother with a daughter who is immuno-compromised and fears returning to work without paid sick days or job protected leave; a restaurant worker who had to facetime his dying grandmother at work because his boss wouldn’t give him a paid sick day, and he couldn’t afford to take it unpaid. This bill fills a crucial need—basic support for workers in health emergencies like this pandemic.”

5) Colorado: A bill barring panic as a defense for attacking gay people has passed both houses of the state legislature and now goes to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado’s first gay governor.

6) GeorgiaThe state is seeking a moratorium on high stakes testing during the pandemic. “‘Given the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic and the resulting state budget reductions, it would be counterproductive to continue with high-stakes testing for the 2020-2021 school year,” [Gov.] Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a joint statement. ‘In anticipation of a return to in-person instruction this fall, we believe schools’ focus should be on remediation, growth, and the safety of students. Every dollar spent on high-stakes testing would be a dollar taken away from the classroom.’” 

7) Illinois: The state’s Limited Worker Cooperative Association Act, which came into effect at the beginning of this year, is already having positive effect. It has been taken advantage of by, for example, ChiFresh Kitchen, a new worker-owned commercial kitchen cooperative on the West Side of Chicago. “Bryant and Britt met while incarcerated, as were all five founding worker-owners of ChiFresh Kitchen. On Monday, the worker-owned cooperative delivered its first meals as a business, to Hope House in the nearby North Lawndale neighborhood, as part of COVID-19 relief efforts. Those first deliveries marked the culmination of a year and a half of organizing, business planning, legislative advocacy and fundraising. Being structured as a worker cooperative means the founders share equally in the management of the business as well as in the economic benefits—but those aren’t the only benefits they have in mind.”

8) New York: Isiah James, a candidate in tomorrow’s crowded Democratic primary field for Brooklyn’s Ninth Congressional District, has made repealing the Faircloth Amendment a centerpiece of his campaign. The Faircloth Amendment limits the building of new public housing units. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has introduced the Homes for All Act, which would dramatically expand the public housing stock in the U.S. and guarantee housing as a human right.

9) International/National: The UK-based The Institute for Government has released a 56-page report saying that returning outsourced services to the public sector could improve quality and reliability. “Interest in what is often called ‘insourcing’—which we define as government bringing services under greater control, either by bringing them fully in-house or by establishing a wholly or jointly owned organisation to manage them—extends across the political spectrum, and is found in different layers of government and public bodies, including the NHS. It is particularly strong in local government, where services were first contracted out in the 1980s and procurement is most prevalent.* Labour- and Conservative-led local authorities are bringing a range of services back in-house, including cleaning, housing repair, highways maintenance, waste collection, IT and social care.” [Government Outsourcing: When and How to Bring Public Services Back into Government Hands

Education

10) National: In an in-depth article, The New York Times’ Erica L. Green reports that charter schools, some with billionaire benefactors and backers like Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, are tapping coronavirus relief. “Parents and researchers in Oakland have tracked about $19 million awarded to charters in the Oakland Unified School District. A report released Monday by In the Public Interest, a policy and research group that scrutinizes the privatization of public goods, found that 70 percent of the district’s 43 charter schools had accepted the funding. Combined with federal relief funds available to all public schools, the report says, the district’s charter schools would receive at least $23 million in federal funding, which breaks down to an average of nearly $2,000 more per student than traditional schools. 

“‘We have money for small businesses, we have money for schools. And when they’re using both of these sources for the same need, it’s doing a real disservice to the community,’ said Clare Crawford, a senior policy adviser at the research group. The report was done in partnership with a parent group, Parents United for Public Schools, whose members aggressively tracked the Paycheck Protection Program funds. The group’s co-founder, Kim Davis, came across the charter funding by accident while on a charter school meeting held on Zoom, and said she was “stunned.” “Virtually all schools in Oakland are doing GoFundMe because someone lost their job, and in part, it’s because their business did layoffs and didn’t have P.P.P.,” Ms. Davis said.”

11) National: The pandemic-induced collapse of the American economy has led to a boom time for private, for-profit colleges as nonprofit schools face daunting financial pressure. “Few of the largest for-profit colleges operating primarily online have track records to justify the optimistic advertising pitches,” reports the New York Times. “Some have put students deep in debt while posting dismal graduation rates amid a history of investigations by state and federal agencies, including many that have led to substantial financial settlements. (…) At Capella, only 11 percent of undergraduates earn a degree within eight years, according to the most recent federal statistics. At Strayer, graduation rates range from 3 percent at its Arkansas campus to a high of 27 percent in Virginia. Fewer than a third of students at Perdoceo campuses graduate within eight years. The company’s schools were recently barred from receiving G.I. Bill money from new students after the Department of Veterans Affairs found that they had used sales and enrollment practices that were ‘erroneous, deceptive or misleading.’”

12) NationalJennifer Berkshire of the Network for Public Education asks “How did cops end up in schools in the first place? @HaveYouHeardPod travels to 3 cities & back 6 decades to find out. Thanks to @MatKautz@louismercer@JudithKafka & some fab Boston students for helping us tell this complex, important story.” Here the link to Jennifer’s podcast. [Audio, about 35 minutes]

13) CaliforniaBullis Charter School in Los Altos “has been awarded $2 million in forgivable loans through a federal relief program meant to help struggling small businesses pay employees and other big bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. (…) The East Bay advocacy group In the Public Interest, which has long been critical of the proliferation of charter schools in California, released a report this month finding that Oakland charter schools received a combined $19 million in funding through the federal relief program. The group describes the use of PPP funds as a case of ‘double dipping’ on public funds for the same purpose.” 

14) Idaho: The Idaho Public Charter School Commission has put three of its schools on notice regarding their finances. But revisions are in store for the commission’s accountability model. “The revisions would ease up and streamline performance expectations for more than 60 charters under the commission’s purview.”

15) Massachusetts: Massachusetts Peace Action had a panel discussion on Public Schools at a Crossroads. Panelists included Lisa Guisbond, Executive Director of Citizens for Public Schools; Merrie Najimy, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association; Zac Bears, Executive Director of PHENOM, the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts; Suzie McGlone, Boston Public School teacher; Carol Doherty, newly elected State Representative and past president of the MTA. [Video, about an hour]

16) Missouri: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that more than $6 million has been paid out to four St. Louis charter school operators in coronavirus relief funds through the SBA. “Critics charge that charter schools are essentially ‘double dipping’ because they also received CARES Act funds for public schools through the U.S. Department of Education. The paycheck protection money ‘was really intended for businesses that couldn’t function anymore because of COVID-19, for places like a barber shop,’ said Carol Burris, executive director of the New York nonprofit Network for Public Education.”

The Post-Dispatch also reports that State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released an audit of charter schools, “reporting that their sponsors, typically universities, are inconsistent in their oversight and that school board members may not be adequately trained, which can lead to school closures. About half of the 30-plus charter schools and networks that have opened in St. Louis since 2000 have been shut down for academic or financial failure, including the 400-student Carondelet Leadership Academy this spring.”

17) Pennsylvania: The coronavirus pandemic has shed more light on the failures of cyber charter schools, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “With the anticipated loss of revenue facing school districts due to COVID-19, now, more than ever, the Pennsylvania legislature must grab the bull by the horns and reform the way cyber charter schools are funded. Cyber charters may be a great fit for some highly motivated, self-disciplined students, or those with very involved parents or guardians. But generally speaking, cyber students are not learning, and taxpayers are paying twice what they reasonably should, with the excess funds taken away from all of the other students remaining in a school district when a parent chooses to send their child to a cyber charter.”

18) Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia Tribune reports that charter schools in the city will be facing major problems when the schools reopen. “When school re-starts this fall, Philadelphia’s 87 charters must not only develop their own safety plans, but also implement every detail themselves. While District schools have the support and oversight of District leaders and departments, the charters will have minimal outside oversight from state and local officials. It will be largely up to charter school communities—families, staff, board members, and supporters—to ensure that their schools respond effectively.” 

19) South Carolina: The State reports that a decision is coming soon in a charter school lawsuit against the South Carolina High School League, the organization that rules and regulates school athletics in the state. “Private and charter schools that are members of the S.C. High School League are seeking a temporary injunction that would prevent recent amendments from going into effect for the 2020-21 school year, which begins on July 1. The amendments approved in March by the High School League are related to school-to-school transfers and athletic eligibility rules. The lawsuit filed against the High School League alleges that recently amended rules ‘intentionally and illegally discriminate’ against the league’s private and public charter high school members.”

20) TennesseePastors for Tennessee Schools take issue with false claims that Governor Lee’s new voucher program will help poor children by removing them from so-called failing schools. “A large body of peer-reviewed research concludes that vouchers don’t improve student achievement. In fact, studies show that students who accept vouchers for private schools perform noticeably worse than students who remain in public schools,” the pastors write. “Education Savings Accounts will not help Tennessee’s students, but they will hurt our local, neighborhood schools. Instead of investing in a new voucher law that has already been ruled unconstitutional (and that became the focus of an FBI investigation for corruption), we hope our Governor and state leaders will invest in our neighborhood schools. Our local schools open their doors to all children and serve those with the greatest needs, including many who would be quickly rejected by most private schools.” 

21) International: In a discussion with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and writer-activist Tariq Ali of the effects and political ramifications of the global coronavirus epidemic, noted author Arundati Roy comments on the devastating impact of the pandemic on education, singling out the Modi government’s “privatization of everything” in India, including the “onlinization of education” that is going to leave millions of underprivileged children behind in a country where most people have no access to the internet. [Video, at 20:30; full video about an hour]

Infrastructure

22) National: Competing plans top invest in national infrastructure are taking shape. Trump’s expected $1 trillion plan is already meeting resistance in the Republican-controlled Senate, which has scuttled several of his initiatives, made infamous by regular stillborn “infrastructure week” rollouts. The Democratic plan, calling for $1.5 trillion of investment, has significant green and renewables components, and is targeted at creating jobs. “Peter DeFazio, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, warned that it will be essential for Congress to foster new job creation to help the economy recover from the pandemic. ‘We are going to need a lot of jobs, a lot of jobs aren’t coming back,’ DeFazio said. ‘And we’re going to be in something that looks a lot more like the Great Depression than the Great Recession.’ More than 45 million Americans have filed for unemployment at some point during the pandemic and 20 million Americans are still receiving benefits.” The Financial Times holds out some hope of an eventual bipartisan deal, but says Democrats haven’t been briefed yet on the White House plan, which it expects to be rolled out “in the coming weeks.” [Sub required]

23) LouisianaThe Slidell government is continuing to negotiate with Pennsylvania-based Inframark LLC on a “public-private partnership” deal to run the city’s water and wastewater treatment operations. In May the city council authorized the mayor to open negotiations, although two members of the council expressed concerns. “Pichon and Vanney raised questions about the proposed contract with Inframark before voting against the plan last month. ‘Our employees are our biggest asset, and we are essentially giving them to Inframark,’ Pichon said. ‘If we decide not to go back with Inframark (in 10 years), we have no employees, and we start from zero.’ Vanney said it is not uncommon for companies to take over operations of other companies with a promise that no employees will be dismissed. ‘Three months later, the game changes’ and employees are laid off, he said.”

24) Missouri: “Thank you @STLNFS [St. Louis Note for Sale] for stopping by today with a birthday cake celebrating the 100th anniversary of St. Louis #Lambert International Airport! Thank you for working to protect the public’s interest and prevent the privatization of @flystl,” writes St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green

But the airport’s future is under a cloud. In a must-read piece, veteran St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger has shone a light on the anti-democratic and shady maneuvers behind the recently relaunched effort to privatize the airport. The new proposal, Messenger writes, “creates new trust funds run by committees controlled by [Mayor Lyda] Krewson and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, both supporters of privatization. There is no guarantee the money has to be spent where proponents are arguing it will go, such as to redevelop the city’s north side, only that if Krewson and Reed’s hand-picked committees can’t agree on how the money is spent, that the proceeds could be used to replace the city’s earnings tax, if voters ever approve getting rid of it. Meanwhile, city Comptroller Darlene Green, who has been an opponent of privatization, is written out of the city charter’s traditional checks and balances, as is the Board of Aldermen.” 

Attorney Mark Pedroli says “the charter is the constitution of the city government. The privatizers don’t want to abide by the constitution, so they drafted a radical exception. This exception not only removes the legislature from the process, but it also targets specific elected officials and removes them from the process, too. In essence, they’re privatizing the government in order to privatize the asset.” But “only if voters let them get away with it,” Messenger says. 

There’s more. “Brown apparently thinks voters will be fooled by the involvement of the city branch of the NAACP, and the Carpenters Union, just like he thought they would be when he tried to pull a similar stunt while pushing the failed Better Together scheme that fell apart for many of the same reasons the airport privatization effort did, mostly a lack of transparency and failure to shoot straight with voters or taxpayers. The Carpenters Union was an investor in one of the bidders on the previous privatization effort that didn’t make the cut right before Krewson pulled the plug on the process. That bidder, Oaktree Capital, is back in the mix, according to the new ballot initiative. Both the NAACP and the Carpenters Union have been vocally supportive of privatization.” [Sub required]

25) Pennsylvania/Revolving Door News: Former Speaker of the state House of Representatives Mike Turzai, an adamant proponent of privatization, has been hired as general counsel by a subsidiary of Aqua America Inc., a Pennsylvania water privatization company and major Turzai donor. The subsidiary is Essential Utilities Inc., a water, wastewater and natural gas corporation. [Read their 10-K and Proxy Statement]

26) Puerto Rico: Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! have helped blow the whistle on Puerto Rico’s proposed privatization deal for its electrical grid. They interview Ingrid Vila Biaggi, president of CAMBIO, a Puerto Rico-based environmental nonprofit, and former chief of staff for the commonwealth. She co-authored a new report with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis on the deal, and is advocating its cancellation. [Read the report, Is Puerto Rico’s Energy Future Rigged? Examining the New $1.5 Billion Fortress-PREPA Deal].

Criminal Justice and Immigration

27) National: Red lights are flashing at CoreCivic, and all eyes are on the GEO Group. The Nashville Post reports that CoreCivic may abandon its Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) structure, which has provided it millions in tax savings over the years. The private, for-profit prison company is under serious pressure, having seen its share price tumble a whopping 17% after it suspended its dividend payout. “At the market prices we have experienced for our debt and equity securities, capital has become increasingly expensive,” CoreCivic’s CEO Hininger said last Wednesday. “We are examining whether other approaches may improve our growth prospects and long-term shareholder returns, while also improving our credit profile and long-term cost of capital. Alternative corporate structures could allow the company flexibility to allocate the company’s substantial free cash flow to the highest returning opportunities which could include debt repayment, prudent return of capital to shareholders, or funding attractive growth opportunities.”

Reuben Gregg Brewer of Motley Fool provides some detail. “The crux of the issue is the REIT structure, which allows companies to avoid corporate-level taxation but requires them to pass at least 90% of their taxable income on to shareholders. Although that removes the issue of double taxation and leads to large payouts for investors (who must treat the dividends as regular income for tax purposes), it leaves REITs almost totally reliant on the capital markets to fund their growth investments. CoreCivic’s stock has been languishing at low levels and its bond prices have been weak, too, so its cost of capital has been relatively high. This explains why it’s considering dropping the REIT structure.” 

Is GEO Group next? “The problem is that, until The GEO Group comments on its intentions, investors will have no indication about what its plans might be,” writes Brewer. “Uncertainty is in the air for the time being, and that increases risks for income investors who count on the dividends this REIT regularly throws off.” Then of course there is the issue of criminal justice reform hanging over the heads of the private prison companies.

28) NationalGEO Group’s blundering response to the pandemic has helped spread coronavirus in halfway houses, the Intercept’s Liliana Segura reports. “As national attention turned from the coronavirus to the protests over racist police violence following the murder of George Floyd, Covid-19 has continued to spread across federal prisons and halfway houses, including those run by GEO Group. With the BOP continuing to transfer people from prison to halfway houses across the country throughout the pandemic—and with many states currently experiencing a resurgence of cases—the risk is far from over.” 

29) National/ArizonaAbolish Private Prisons has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Phoenix “to challenge the constitutionality of prison privatization. It represents five individuals in private prisons, the Arizona State Conference of the NAACP, and a purported class including everyone placed in private, for-profit prisons by the State of Arizona. (…) ‘Using a person’s incarceration to generate corporate profits is a form of slavery,’ says John Dacey, Executive Director of Abolish Private Prisons. ‘A profit-motivated criminal justice system also conflicts with individual rights that are protected by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution.’” [View the filing here]

30) FloridaThe South Bay Correctional Facility operated by the GEO Group is a coronavirus hotspot, “where 176 prisoners, or 1 in 11 prisoners, have the virus and also 60 staff. 866 inmates are under medical quarantine.” 

31) Nevada/Arizona: Nevada is testing all of its inmates for COVID-19, but a group in an Arizona private prison run by CoreCivic has been left out. “The situation has been concerning for Las Vegas attorney Nick Shook, who unsuccessfully tried to get a client released from the private prison on the basis of his risk for contracting COVID-19. He argues that if the company were to detect a large number of inmates with the illness, they would start losing government contracts. ‘They have incentive to test as few people as possible,’ he said.” 

32) International: Nearly half of the public in the United Kingdom don’t trust the private outsourcing company Serco to deliver England’s coronavirus track and trace program. “The poll comes after Serco was hit by a wave of scandals including slashing eviction periods for asylum seekers from 21 days to just 14 and changing the locks to their homes. The company was handed a £1 million fine for this just months before being put in charge of the track and trace system.” Testing had been outsourced across government departments leading to criticism that it was fragmented, causing delays in delivering tests. “The Department of Health has seized back control of the Government’s much-criticized coronavirus testing system in an apparent admission that it was failing to achieve the world class standards pledged by Boris Johnson.(…) The move has meant that the NHS is only now re-launching its tendering for at-home tests and so will not have a contractor on board until mid-August, according to an investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ).” 

Public Services

33) National: Writing in The New Republic, Jason Linkins says “Don’t Just Save the Postal Service. Reinvent It. The USPS could be the government at its best, if politicians gave it a chance.” He writes, “But we shouldn’t stop at merely providing the USPS with the $89 billion it has asked for. Rather, this is a moment when we can revitalize the agency and use it to restore our faith in America. The good old post office doesn’t have to simply be the place where we send letters. For millions of unbanked Americans, it can be a place where checks are cashed, bills paid, and loans provided. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky plan. From 1911 to 1967, post offices were the venue for postal banking and a vital lifeline for those hit by the Great Depression; it can serve these needs again. Bern­ie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand have all backed postal banking. 

“We can dream even bigger. The post office could be the place where Americans come to navigate the federal bureaucracy, an all-in-one kiosk for quick answers from human beings in a face-to-face setting. Whether it’s getting government-provided health insurance sorted out, or learning about available federal grants, the post office of the future would make things a little easier—after a visit, you’d tell your loved ones, ‘I talked to a guy; we took care of it.’” 

34) Illinois: The Rock Island County board has decided to sell off the county-run nursing home, ending 181-years of county involvement in caring for the sick and aged. “The center was initially listed for $19 million, that figure represents the debt the county had related to the nursing home. That price dropped to $4 million. The board say COVID-19 played a role in the drastic price drop. ‘Nursing homes are a hotbed of COVID activity, so unfortunately that offer for $6 million didn’t pan out.’”

35) Louisiana: African-American sanitation workers in New Orleans have been out on strike now for over a month. “They receive no benefits while making only $10.25 per hour to pick up garbage in the hot sun,” Scalawag reports. “The coronavirus pandemic played a big part in our strike. After everything that’s going on, we’re still getting looked over,” says Jernard Taylor, who has worked for Metro Service Group, the private waste company, for 11 years. 

“During the second week of the strike, Metro Service Group replaced the striking workers with state work-release prison labor through another private company, Lock5 LLC. These incarcerated workers would have been paid even less than the striking hoppers at $9.25 per hour. Even more outrageously, Lock5 LLC is legally entitled to 64 percent of their pay, to cover their own expenses. During the second week of the strike, Metro Service Group replaced the striking workers with state work-release prison labor through another private company, Lock5 LLC. These incarcerated workers would have been paid even less than the striking hoppers at $9.25 per hour. Even more outrageously, Lock5 LLC is legally entitled to 64 percent of their pay, to cover their own expenses. (…) Once Lock5 LLC found out they were being asked to bring in [prison] workers because of a labor dispute, they pulled out of the deal—but according to the striking workers, Metro is still using replacement workers.”

36) Missouri: Republican State Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (R) scores an own goal on Twitter when he denounces long lines at the DMV and demands privatization. State Rep. Peter Merideth (D) helpfully points out that it was privatized over a decade ago, thus the long lines. “You also might want to remember this particular problem the next time your party pushes for more privatization, or pushes for a photo ID requirement for voting, or fights against voting by mail.”

37) NebraskaA complaint has been filed against Test Nebraska, a “public-private partnership,” for a lack of COVID-19 testing accessibility. “Several groups have complained it’s not inclusive enough and doesn’t account for challenges faced by Nebraskans with disabilities.” 

38) International: Pascale Robinson of We Own It, the British anti-privatization campaigning group, reports in Tribune on how National Health Service privatization contributed to the PPE scandal. “Our government and the organisation that manages equipment supplies, NHS Supply Chain, knew this pandemic was coming from January 2020 at least. But as We Own It’s new report—‘Privatised and Unprepared’—exposes, privatization of health and social care procurement played a key role in undermining the government’s response to the pandemic. It was a central part of the story in the preventable catastrophe of PPE shortages, and a part which has been barely discussed in the media.”

Everything Else

39) New York: The Associated Builders and Contractors, the New York State Builders Association, the Capital Region Chamber, the New York Federation for Independent Business and more than a dozen others business and construction groups are urging Gov. Cuomo to suspend the state’s public safety regulations on building scaffolds. “Those who support the law say it protects workers. State and federal legislators, business lobbying groups and chambers have been trying to reform the Scaffold Law for years to no avail.” 

40) International: Second Thought, a YouTube channel “devoted to the things in life worth thinking about,” has a new segment on the privatization of space. “If we don’t speak up now, we’ll enter a period of inequality we cannot yet begin to fathom. Outer space should benefit all humankind, not just the very richest corporations and individuals.” [Video, about 10 minutes; further information]

41) New Resource: The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, which deals with issues such as “public-private partnership” disclosure requirementshas launched a YouTube channel.