California’s new charter school regulation is already helping its credit rating

Here’s our weekly analysis of privatization in the news and in communities nationwide. Not a subscriber? Sign up.


This week’s highlights

  • Moody’s says that California’s new law tightening up regulation of charter schools is credit positive for the state.
  • We, In the Public the Interest, are taking a new direction in 2020. Well, sort of.
  • A golf course wants to privatize a bird sanctuary in public parkland so that its wealthy members can enjoy themselves.

In the Public Interest will be taking a new direction in 2020, sort ofWe’ve written about how corporate forces are taking power over the fundamentals of democracy—our voice, economy, and government. And we’ve created tools like our “10 questions” guide and helped organizations fight reckless privatization schemes. We’re going to continue to do all of that. We’re called “In the Public Interest” for a reason, and our new direction for 2020 is simple. We’re going to show what public control over public goods means and looks like—both a governing vision and practical examples from across the country.

Education

1) NationalMercedes Schneider reports that billionaire pro-charter education reformer Eli Broad has moved his Broad Center from Los Angeles to Yale University. “On December  05, 2019, the Yale School of Management announced that it “received the largest gift in its history from the Broad Foundation,”but it’s not a gift, really. It’s a purchase: the Broad Center at Yale School of Management (SOM)Broad is moving his operation from Los Angeles to Yale.

Same ed-reform story, with a facelift—and a new address that repackages the Broad ed reform push in a gloss of heightened prestige.” 

2) National: Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum reports that “Mike Feinberg, who was fired from the KIPP charter network he co-founded in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, continues to work in the charter school sphere, both nationally and in Houston. Feinberg, who has denied the allegations and sued KIPP for defamation, has worked to help start new charter schools in Texas and is also employed as a consultant by the Center for Education Reform, a D.C.-based nonprofit that backs charter schools and private school vouchers.” 

3) Alabama: “This former school is now home to bars, a tattoo parlor and a throwing-axe range,” reports Sam Prickett for This is Alabama. This is about as symbolic of the past few decades of austerity and privatization as it gets. 

4) CaliforniaMoody’s Investors Service says that California’s new law tightening up regulation of charter schools, which took effect on January 1, is credit positive for the state. The law gives traditional public school districts more power to deny charter applications. “The law comes at a time when California K-12 school districts are enduring persistent declines in student enrollment, according to Moody’s, which coupled with rising pension costs and teacher demands for higher salaries make the potential loss of state aid from enrollment declines a particular threat.” [Sub required]

5) California: The Los Angeles County school board has voted “to close an Inglewood charter school with a lengthy history of financial problems and mixed academic performance that illustrated flaws in California’s oversight system,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “A Times investigation published last year found that although the Parkers have portrayed themselves as philanthropists, they have made millions from their charter schools.  The schools paid more than $800,000 annually to rent buildings the couple own, financial documents showed. They contracted out services to the Parkers’ nonprofits and companies and paid Clark Parker generous consulting fees, all with taxpayer money. (…) Today’s Fresh Start can appeal the county’s decision to the State Board of Education. A possible appeal would most likely be heard before July, when a new law takes effect that significantly limits the state board’s power to approve charter schools that have been rejected elsewhere.” 

6) California: Writing in Labor Notes, Keith D. Brown, Ismael Armendariz, and Chaz Garcia explain how they organized a seven-day strike last February and March “that united 3,000 Oakland public school educators with parents and community against a billionaire-backed school board. (…) We borrowed from United Teachers Los Angeles—their PowerPoints, their handouts, their memes. Most important, we saw how they changed the narrative about privatization. So we started naming the billionaires like New York ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg who kept spending in Oakland school board elections to elect privatization-friendly candidates.” 

7) Florida: Diane Ravitch points us to a report from Sue Legg of the Florida League of Women Voters about what happened when Florida’s biggest for-profit charter chain took over three low-performing public schools. “Follow the money. Ka-Ching!” Legg reports that “the behind the scenes orchestrators for the takeover were Senators Manny Diaz and Anitere Flores, both of whom have close ties to Academica. Diaz is an administrator at Doral College and is Chair of the Senate Education Committee.  Flores is deputy Majority Leader for the Florida Senate and moved from being the head of Doral College to the Academica foundation.  The current Doral College president, Rodriquez,  was named to supervise the transition of the Jefferson County schools to Academica.” 

8) Hawaii: Where does the liability go when an accident happens in a publically-funded but privately operated charter school? This thorny question is now being confronted in Hawaii, as  Suevon Lee reports in Honolulu Civil Beat. “Waimea’s example illustrates some of the challenges students, families, and policymakers face as they try to create and navigate a public education system with separate and not always well-defined ‘traditional school’ and ‘public charter’ tracks. Meanwhile, the benefits of charter schools remain in doubt. A 2019 federal report found that, overall, charter school independence has not led to improved academic outcomes for schoolchildren. And, as we see here, charter independence certainly can complicate a school’s liability risk.” 

9) IndianaA forum on the possible creation of a charter school inside South Bend’s Washington High School was held on Saturday. “Linda Wolfson, vice president of the Community Forum for Economic Justice, said the groups are hosting the forum in an effort to address community concerns about South Bend schools negotiating an agreement with Purdue Polytechnic High School South Bend. ‘Quality education for all kids in South Bend Community School Corp. is really the issue here,’ Wolfson said.” 

10) Louisiana: Charter schools in New Orleans have been given until February 13 to show their private bus operators are meeting safety standards. NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis, Jr. “didn’t immediately say what those actions might be, but schools that repeatedly break other district rules usually get ‘notices of noncompliance.’ If the problems in those warnings aren’t resolved over time, the school’s nonprofit operators can eventually have their charters revoked, which means schools can shut down or be taken over by other charter groups.” 

11) Massachusetts: The state attorney general’s office has determined that the Saugus School Committee violated the Open Meeting Law regarding an executive session that discussed outsourcing. “The complaints dealt with a May 8 executive session in which a notice was posted for the committee to move into executive session for the purpose of collective bargaining with the custodians and the superintendent’s contract. At this executive session, the School Committee voted 5-0 to outsource the custodial duties in the Saugus Public Schools with a private cleaning company due to the substantial savings accrued that will be applied to a multifaceted plan to restore and create new educational programs and to continue impact bargaining over separation and termination on June 30, 2019.” 

The attorney general’s office has ordered the release of the minutes. “Mark Bernard, the executive director of AFSCME Council 93 that represented the Saugus school custodians, told the Advertiser the latest findings by the Attorney General’s Office mark the third Open Meeting Law violation by the Saugus School Committee in less than three years.” 

12) New Hampshire: State lawmakers on Friday again rejected federal charter school money. “This proposal calls for the addition of 20 new charter schools,” said state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-District 20. “Let’s get the charter schools that we have in place right now taken care of, make sure they’re doing their job, that they are financially able to survive.”

13) South CarolinaFirst Student’s uncertain future is clouding the Charleston County School District’s top choice to run school buses. The district “wants to pay drivers here as much as $20.50 an hour — a realization that in an era of low unemployment, drivers are demanding top dollar. But higher wages might come at a higher price and a higher risk. The district passed over longtime bus vendor Durham School Services when it announced plans to award a new, one-year bus contract to First Student Inc. for around $24.7 million—a bid some $1.5 million higher than Durham’s. Clouding the waters: FirstGroup, the parent company of First Student, faces an uncertain financial future. The Scotland-based transportation company may sell its North American school bus and transit divisions, including First Student, according to Bloomberg.”

14) Texas: A state judge has temporarily blocked the state from taking over the Houston Independent School District until she issues a final ruling on the case, “complicating the state’s plan to oust the district’s school board by March. (…) Mauzy also denied Morath the ability to strike down the injunction on appeal. The trial is set for the morning of June 22, months after the state intended to seat a board of managers. In the ruling, she said Houston ISD proved it needed the injunction because once Morath takes action to remove power from the elected board, the district would then have no recourse.” 

15) Upcoming meetings: Public education supporter and anti-privatization advocate Diane Ravitch will be at a discussion and reception with Randi Weingarten at AFT in DC on January 28 and on the following day will be at Politics & Prose bookstore in DC.

Infrastructure

16) National: One of the key public interest safeguards against damaging and badly conceived infrastructure “public-private partnerships,” such as some toll roads, is the requirement that projects pass muster on the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), which Trump is trying to gut. While strong opposition to Trump’s plan is coming from environmentalists, it should also concern public interest advocates of sound project vetting and management. E&E News reports that “an onslaught of critics have said changes to NEPA rules could be the administration’s most far-reaching environmental rollback.” Public comments are due March 10, 2020

17) Florida: JEA, Jacksonville’s public utility, has now released more bid documents connected with its effort to privatize, including those from American Water and NextEra Energy (the parent company of Florida Power & Light), Veolia, Duke Energy, and IFM Investors. The documents can be found here.

Meanwhile, in a hard-hitting editorial, Folio Weekly is demanding that the JEA board terminate former CEO Aaron Zahn with cause, and raises questions about the role of Mayor Lenny Curry (R). “If Zahn is terminated without cause, he will be able to walk away with a severance package of more than $800,000. That would be a travesty, and it would have Mayor Lenny Curry’s fingerprints all over it. (…) Third, it appears that Zahn violated a 2018 JEA resolution that prohibited JEA executives from pursuing privatization. In light of that fact, how did JEA prepare the contracts for the financial advisers and attorneys it hired to assist in the sales process when the ban prohibiting any JEA executive from taking any step towards privatization had only been lifted the day before the contracts were signed? Either Zahn was ignorant and incompetent or he violated the resolution. In short, the JEA board must fire Zahn with cause. If it does not do so, then Curry must take the blame for Zahn’s sweetheart severance.” 

18) LouisianaThe state has signed its first “public-private partnership” deal after years of opposition from toll opponents. “The state signed a comprehensive agreement with Plenary Infrastructure Belle Chasse LLC to build the $162 million Belle Chasse Bridge and Tunnel Replacement Project Dec. 20, according to state officials. The agreement includes a 30-year maintenance and operations component after construction is completed on a fixed, four-lane bridge with a 73-foot-high vertical clearance over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway on Louisiana Highway 23. (…) Plaquemines Parish President Kirk M. Lepine said the new infrastructure is needed but not at the expense of the local community. ‘We know we have a failing bridge and we know we have a failing tunnel,’ Lepine said. ‘While I am grateful that the governor and Secretary Wilson and this community have made this project a priority we can’t ignore the fact that this project puts the burden on residents and businesses of the parish and that is unacceptable.’” [Sub required]

19) Maryland: A divided Board of Public Works has approved a compromise deal between Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and State Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) to proceed with a “public-private partnership” to expand parts of I-270 and the Capital Beltway. Franchot has announced he is running for governor. “State Comptroller Peter Franchot joined Hogan in supporting the expansion. That’s a change from last month, when the Board of Public Works meeting was canceled because the two couldn’t agree on the scope of the proposal or its associated community engagement efforts. But the third Board member, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, said she couldn’t vote for the project due to a lack of available data on its financial and environmental impacts. ‘It would be good if we could see the numbers that went into those conclusions,’ she said.” 

The Audubon Naturalist Society said “we are extremely disappointed. We consider this vote to be devastating for our region, our residents, and the democratic process. It could set us back tremendously in the fight against climate change. Public agencies have a duty to share information with the public and complete all required analyses before moving forward with a 50-year investment, such as the Hogan Highway Expansion Plan. Neither of those duties was completed before today’s vote.”

Maryland Advocates for Sustainable Transportation (MAST) has expressed concern about “highway expansion projects financed with toll revenue projections that have not been independently verified because of the financial risk. The public-private partnership (P3) model for highway projects elsewhere has often resulted in tax-payers providing regular subsidies through concessionaire contracts and shouldering the bill when tolls cannot cover the costs of the project as planned or paying penalties for permission to undertake transportation projects deemed competitive. We support the use of and improvement to existing due diligence reviews, as well as an independent fiscal and environmental analysis, to act as a check on the P3 process.”

20) Missouri: The privatization industry is reeling from the effects of St. Louis’ rejection of privatization of its large international airport. Leading articles in both The Bond Buyer and Infrastructure Investor diagnosed the defeat as above all a political matter. 

The Bond Buyer says “deep-rooted questions over whether private interests stood to gain more than the public” ultimately scuttled the project. “‘The decision not to pursue a long-term operational lease of the St Louis Lambert International Airport evidences the difficulty of airport privatization for U.S. airports,’ Fitch global infrastructure and project finance analysts Seth Lehman and Jeffrey Lack said in a report released Wednesday, ‘St. Louis Case highlights Political Barriers to Airport Privatization.’”

Infrastructure Investor, pointing to a lack of public support, said “the mayor had been in favor of the effort, and its projected $2 billion in net proceeds and $600 million of cancelled debt, but acknowledged airport public-private partnerships are not common in the US, and “being ‘first’ at anything brings inherent risk and skepticism.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger, who has indefatigably covered the privatization process, looks at some of the local activism that won the political battle, and puts the battle in a wider context of fighting poverty and blight in St. Louis. 

Meanwhile St. Louis construction executive Bob Clark has another explanation. “What went wrong? I thought the process from the very beginning was questionable, if not toxic. There were a bunch of privatization consultants for the city that didn’t understand the value. Using New York investment bankers. As it turned out, they were afraid to make diversity a part of the equation because they were afraid it would scare off European investors.” Clark now wants the process to be opened up—but is clear on who must be in charge: “Any process will have to be inclusive and take into account diversity, union issues, airlines. This has to be led by the business community.” [Sub required]. Right on cue, the St. Louis NAACP, which promoted privatization during the battle over the future of Lambert Airport, has now joined with the Carpenter’s union to demand the revival of the privatization process.

Efforts are now underway to create a regional airport authority that would take over operation of the airport while leaving ownership in the hands of city, “but the collar entities could share in profits, which would then be reinvested into the airport.”

For an extensive bibliography of news and other sources on the airport privatization battle, see Mary Ceselski’s privatization news feed

21) Pennsylvania: The state department of transportation is moving ahead with the construction of a new Amtrak station in Middletown, but without a “public-private partnership” to develop station property. “Keystone Connections withdrew from the station plan in late 2018, saying according to a PennDOT spokesman that “revenues generated by potential commercial development and parking fees” at the station would not be enough to support private development costs and to cover ongoing operating and maintenance expenses.”

22) International: The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller, will be focusing his 2020 report on privatization and the human rights to water and sanitation. “The thematic report to the General Assembly will be presented in October 2020, and for the preparation of this report, the Special Rapporteur plans to consult as many stakeholders as possible and is seeking input from States and non-State actors by distributing a questionnaire.”

23) Think tanks: Writing in the Journal of Business and Social Review in Emerging Economies, Mohammed Aliu Momoh and John Emeka Ezikemake of the University of Lagos make the case for infrastructure investment. “The argument for investment in infrastructure and its implication for economic development have attracted a robust discourse. This paper adds a voice to the significance importance of the subject matter by examining the theoretical arguments for infrastructure investment. We further developed a framework, which explains the need for investment in infrastructure and its flow both as input for recycling and input for further production as a final output for consumption. The study shows that no one individual can provide infrastructure but rather all the activities of the various industries sit on a platform from which payment for its use is shared amongst all users. It concludes that investments in infrastructure are not just one off events but planned to achieve a robust economic development.”

Criminal Justice and Immigration

24) NationalVice reports that CoreCivic has placed an ICE detention center captain in Nevada on leave as it investigates possible neo-Nazi ties. “Travis Frey, 31, is currently employed as a captain at the Nevada Southern Detention Center, which is run by private prison behemoth CoreCivic and contracted with ICE. Frey joined Iron March in 2013, and posted at least a dozen times between 2016 and 2017 while he was working as head of security at a CoreCivic jail in Indianapolis, which was also authorized to house detainees on behalf of ICE. The archives of the now-defunct website were leaked online in November, offering a glimpse into the early organizational efforts driving the modern, international white nationalist movement.”

25) ColoradoGEO Group has given notice that it will close the 650-bed Cheyenne Mountain Re-entry Center on March 7. “The decision sent the department scrambling for places to house the soon-to-be displaced inmates and may mean that some offenders find themselves sleeping on prison floors, said Dean Williams, executive director of the Department of Corrections. (…) The company decided to close the prison after Gov. Jared Polis identified the facility for closure in his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. In an emailed statement, GEO Group spokesman Brian Miller said the company struggled to recruit and retain staff after the budget proposal.” CBS Denver reports that “as part of the budget process, CDOC proposed phasing out offenders at CMRC and re-opening two towers of Centennial South (CCF-S) in Canon City to house offenders. The CCF-S facility closed in 2012 and is not currently in operation. In a statement, a spokesperson for Polis said the governor hopes to work with the legislature to open the newly built, but never used, state facility.”

26) MarylandSanctuary DMV and other grassroots groups have scored a major victory in the fight to keep a private company and a financially strapped town, Sudlersville in Queen Anne’s County, from setting up an ICE detention center. “The vote on a new ICE jail in #Sudlersville was POSTPONED because *nobody* approved! This amazing win lets us keep fighting. HUGE props to town residents who spoke out, all of you who took action & our tireless partners @jayfalstad, @CongActionNet, @ACLU_MD & many others!”Sanctuary DMV says the private prison company ICA runs “the heinous #Farmville #VA ICE jail. Farmville has been cited for withholding medical treatment & many more abuses.” For more see here.

27) Mississippi: The chronic underfunding of the state’s jail system by conservative state lawmakers has led to appalling conditions, PBS Newshour reports. [Video, about five minutes]. “In a single week, five people incarcerated in Mississippi jails have died at the hands of other inmates. The deaths have highlighted a system in dire condition, suffering from staffing problems and deteriorating facilities. Jerry Mitchell, founder of the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, joins William Brangham to discuss funding challenges, lack of oversight and inmate overcrowding.” Meanwhile, the state has just signed an agreement with CoreCivic to run its Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility. “The new management contract commenced on January 8, 2020, and has an initial term of ninety days, which may be extended for up to two additional ninety-day terms upon mutual agreement.  The contract allows the State to utilize additional beds at the facility based on their evolving needs and available capacity.” 

28) Tennessee: A new 234-page state audit is calling for increased oversight of state prisons, including private prisons. The audit says (p. 5), “Although the results of annual inspections provide management a basis to evaluate state and CoreCivic facility performance and to establish a basis to reward CoreCivic facilities, the department’s overall annual compliance percentage scores do not provide a clear measure of correctional facility performance.”

Public Services

29) NationalConservatives are plotting to destroy the postal service by using specious arguments, says Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times. “Yet there’s a more fundamental flaw in the argument, voiced by the task force, that the USPS is on an ‘unsustainable financial path.’ That might be so if it were a private company, but it’s not. It’s a government service, and among the virtues of a government service is that it shouldn’t have to turn a profit—the service it provides to all citizens no matter where they live can’t be done profitably. But why should it? This is a concept that never seems to sink into the heads of the service’s critics. The result is that they’re led to some absurd and obnoxious conclusions. At the outset of the Trump administration, his Office of Management and Budget produced a report openly advocating privatization. (…) The Postal Service, despite the decline in letter volume, still knits the country together. The dimmest of dim bulbs in Congress recognize that in their heart of hearts. That’s why they so seldom show the gumption to shut rural post offices down. If there’s a government service that should absolutely not be ‘run like a business,’ it’s delivering the mail. Treating universal mail service as something that must compete profitably with commercial carriers or die is a dumb and anti-democratic idea, and conservatives should just drop it.” 

30) California: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has proposed that with prices spiking through the roof, California should manufacture its own generic drugs. “The proposal, part of the new state budget Newsom is expected to send to the Legislature on Friday, would authorize the state to negotiate contracts with drugmakers to manufacture selected prescriptions on behalf of California. Such a disruption of the pharmaceutical industry, proponents say, would leverage the state’s massive market to increase competition and lower generic drug prices nationally.” 

31) California: Members of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works have grilled Waste Management over its practice of mixing trash and recycling. “Board President Kevin James said the video—showing the driver of a smaller pickup truck pulling into a driveway to haul recyclable materials, which are then lifted into the larger dump truck—depicts actions akin to a ‘conspiracy.’ ‘That demonstrates a level of intent that is very alarming to me,’ James said. ‘You could call it fraud because we have a program … its name is RecycLA. Everyone knows what this program is about. Customers are paying additional funds for the added benefit of recycling that has known benefits across the region, really across the nation.’ James said it wasn’t negligence or an accident but that the drivers participated to intentionally violate the contract terms.” 

32) FloridaBushnell dumps Waste Management. “Ald. Brent Glisan, who was part of the committee that entertained the bids, took a tour of Area Disposal’s advanced recycling center, which recently underwent significant upgrades. But it was the company’s willingness to give the city regular recycling reports that made its offer stand apart from its competitors. ‘It will verify that we’re receiving the service that we’re paying for,’ Glisan said.” 

33) Iowa: The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa health officials “are withholding $44 million from an insurance company that provides health coverage to Iowans under the state’s privatized Medicaid program, pointing to unresolved issues with payments to health providers.” The state auditor says that data provided by the Department of Human Services on the privatized program is unusable. “The state’s contract with the managed care organizations (MCOs) that operate the state’s Medicaid system requires that data are provided that can be used to determine the quality of care. The auditor’s report says DHS should enforce the contract and require more useful numbers.” Meanwhile Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, feeling the heat from the public and service providers, says she is considering unspecific legislative action to pressure insurers.

34) New MexicoPrivate industry “continued to pull prospective workers away from the New Mexico Environment Department in 2019, hampering the agency’s ability to regulate drinking water, hazardous waste and other environmental concerns,” the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee reports. “SPO’s [State Personnel Office—ed.] 2017 compensation report shows salaries of New Mexico state employees are, on average, 9.1 percent lower than they are for the comparator market” (p. 83).

35) International/National: Hundreds of thousands of unionized workers and students took to the streets in India in a strike against privatization and to demand a rise in the minimum wage. “Modi’s government has said it plans to sell firms, such as Air India and Bharat Petroleum Corporation, asserting they have made losses for years, as it prepares its next annual budget. In 2019, however, Bharat Petroleum reported net profits worth more than $1 billion.” The struggle against privatization of educationand of hospitals, is also spreading across the country of 1.3 billion people. Pittsburgh UNITED has weighed in with its support

Everything Else

36) NationalWould the privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac undermine the sustainability of the Federal Housing Administration, which provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories? This seems to be one of the items under discussion with Trump administration officials. According to American Banker, Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria “raised the possibility of the FHFA entering a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure that there wouldn’t be any overlap between the GSEs and the Federal Housing Administration. ‘There really is a commitment here to make sure … they aren’t competing in a manner that harms both of them,’ he said. ‘I believe that that undermines the sustainability of FHA.’” [Sub required] 

37) National: Fitch Ratings finds the U.S. public finance sector (USPF) in reasonably healthy shape, with all sectors stable. This should support prudent public initiatives in infrastructure and public services going forward. “The majority of ratings across Fitch’s USPF portfolio continue to be solidly investment-grade, with a median rating of ‘AA-’ and almost half of the portfolio within one notch of the median (between ‘AA’ and ‘A+’). Ratings in the U.S. state, local government, housing, and water and sewer sectors remain on the higher end of the rating spectrum (‘AAA’ and ‘AA’ categories), while ratings in the hospital, higher education, public power, and transportation sectors are more dispersed across investment-grade categories around the ‘AA’ and ‘A’ categories. The life plan communities sector has the highest share of below investment-grade ratings (26%), followed by higher education at 7% and hospitals at 6%.” [Fitch Ratings 2020 Outlook: U.S. Public Finance, January 3, 2020]

38) New Jersey: A golf course wants to privatize a bird sanctuary in public parkland so that its wealthy members can enjoy themselves. “It’s really just an obscenity.” On January 11 a demonstration and rally was held.

39) International@IvoValkenburg says “dry rivers in #Australia often not result of drought, but a man-made disaster around privatization of #water. A major issue in #Australia, often left out in political debate, or media, but so much connected to #AustralianFiresHear Bruce Shillingsworth.”

Governing for the Common Good (see more about this project here)

40) National/International: Jason J. Czarnezki of Pace University School of Law has written a dissertation promoting green public procurement. “GPP then attempts to serve as an effective environmental regulatory tool in a mode of alternative environmental governance allowing public institutions to create both public and private markets for more environmentally friendly goods, creating a model for environmental progress that bridges the gap between traditional environmental law and private environmental governance.”

41) National: In a policy reversal, more local and state officials are pressing for federal action to ensure that low-income residents could stay on Medicaid when they go to jail. “A bipartisan coalition of county sheriffs, commissioners and judges are now lobbying federal lawmakers to change a long-standing policy and let pretrial detainees retain coverage while in custody. The National Association of Counties and the National Sheriffs’ Association, which are supporting the effort, estimate that it would cost the federal government in excess of $3 billion a year. ‘Just because you’ve been in jail for a short period of time, that shouldn’t automatically knock you off the [Medicaid] rolls,’ David Davis, the Democratic sheriff of Bibb County, Georgia, told Stateline. ‘You then have to go through enrollment all over again.’” 

42) California: On January 1, California became the first state in the country to require implicit bias training for all healthcare professionals, judges, attorneys, and public-facing court personnel. “Implicit racial bias is so ingrained in American society that it shapes not only the actions of individual decision-makers, such as former Officer Dean, but the policies of entire institutions. Why did the Fort Worth Police Department dispatch the equivalent of a SWAT team to follow up on a medical call? Why is our criminal legal system so focused on punishment and not rehabilitation?”