Corporations could soon be allowed to create their own local governments

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Highlights

1) National: In the Public Interest has issued a new policy brief, Restoring and Reimagining Investment in Public Water. We reviewed the existing research and found that:

  • Many U.S. water systems are aging and need lots of work to ensure they meet health, safety, and environmental standards. The federal government has dropped the ball. 
  • Federal support for water infrastructure has declined 77 percent in real terms since its peak in 1977.
  • Private water corporations often cut corners to reduce operating costs, harming water quality or service quality, or both.
  • Many of the systems that need the most investment serve marginalized, low-income communities, many of which are communities of color.

This is why the Biden administration and Congress must increase federal investment in local water systems. Luckily, legislation being discussed—the Water, Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act—would do just that.

2) National: Current and former FDA officials are pushing President Biden to restore FDA’s regulation of laboratory-developed tests. “Luciana Borio, former acting chief scientist at FDA, called on the Biden administration to roll back former HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s attempt to privatize review of laboratory-developed COVID-19 diagnostic tests, stating that private companies do not have the same robust systems to manage conflicts of interest or all the information necessary for an adequate review that are available to FDA. ‘The last administration hurt the American public when it declared that FDA did not have the authority to regulate laboratory-developed tests,’ Borio stated in written testimony before the House Energy & Commerce health subcommittee (on Feb. 3). President Joe Biden’s White House declined to comment on whether Biden will reverse Azar’s move. Congress could also ultimately weigh in. Medical device experts expect Congress to pass legislation developing a framework for [laboratory-developed tests] regulation in the next four years.” [Sub required]

3) National: The House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy has released an important report summarizing baby food testing data submitted by four companies (Beech-Nut, Gerber, Happy Family, and Earth’s Best), finding that ‘baby foods are tainted with dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury.’ These heavy metals are widely recognized as harming children’s brain development. EDF’s Tom Neltner outlines some next steps:

  • Identify, evaluate, and promote best practices to reduce heavy metals in food, including regular testing of products and ingredients.
  • Ensure that any voluntary consensus standard embraced by the Baby Food Council and industry effectively drives down levels of heavy metals in baby foods and has oversight parents can trust.
  • Advocate for FDA to translate the science showing the cumulative risks posed by these heavy metals into meaningful standards that it enforces.
  • Support efforts to hold FDA accountable and push the agency to better protect children from toxic chemicals in food.

4) Maryland: Why are the poor in Baltimore facing such crushing energy burdens? Agya K. Aning of Inside Climate News has investigated, and traces it all back to deregulation. “While in 1999 Maryland law prompted the creation of the retail energy suppliers as a means of lowering energy costs, [Laurel Peltier of the Fuel Fund] said, a regulation change a decade later shifted the risk of nonpayment away from the third-party suppliers over to utilities from which they purchased the power they sold. This guarantee that the retailers would be paid even when their customers defaulted gave them great incentive to charge higher rates, according to a 2018 study Peltier co-authored.” 

But “meanwhile, just last week, the bill Peltier co-wrote aimed at granting relief to people in Jenkins’ predicament gained traction in the Maryland General Assembly. If passed, it would become illegal for third-party suppliers to charge their customers receiving state energy assistance higher rates than the utilities they buy their power from, like BG&E.” The bill is sponsored by Delegate Brooke E. Lierman (D).

5) Nevada: Will corporations be allowed to set up their own local governments by laundering them as “innovation zones”? Engadget.com says, “Once you get past the tech angle, Governor Sisolak’s Innovation Zones aren’t all that different from the company towns that were a major feature of the American landscape before the 1920s. Historically, many of those were plagued by poor governance, with local residents eventually becoming disenfranchised by what they saw. And it’s not like we haven’t seen modern iterations of the idea already. You only have to look to Alphabet, its Sidewalk Labs subsidiary and the Quayside neighborhood it had planned to build in Toronto, Canada to find a more recent example. That project stalled in part over concerns on how Sidewalk Labs would manage the data it planned to collect through the development.” 

6) Texas: The Texas AFT interviewed Alejandra Lopez, president of San Antonio Alliance, one of the largest public sector unions in Bexar County. “I taught elementary school up until the point I was elected president in June of last year. It’s been a wild ride since. How did you get involved with your local union? I got involved largely through immigration work. When President Trump was elected, and given the communities that we work in, [past San Antonio Alliance President] Shelley Potter recognized that there was going to be an increased threat to undocumented students and their families. She mentioned that to me, saying if that was something I wanted to work on, then I should come to the meeting. So I did.”

7) Think Tanks: What is the relation between governing for the common good and the rule of law? Bloomberg says the conservative law movement faces a reckoning over the post-Trump future. “Beyond Eastman, some conservative lawyers are uneasy about the participation by 17 Republican state attorneys general in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results and the roles of Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who objected to Congress’s certification of the presidential election results and called for an investigation into fraud. Marisa Maleck, an attorney in Washington who’s involved with the Federalist Society, who describes herself as a Mitt Romney Republican, said Hawley and Cruz’ actions were ‘particularly damaging’ because their legal bona fides lent legitimacy to election fraud claims that had no merit.” 

8) Think Tanks: Scott Horton interviewed Patrick Jaicomo on the issue of “qualified immunity” for law enforcement personnel.

Education

9) National: “Now they love her.” Even The Financial Times sees the significance of the late Karen Lewis’ work: “The CTU was one of the first US unions to popularise bargaining for the common good. When teachers in WV, CA and CO went on strike in 2018 and 2019, and there were walkouts and rallies in another seven states, all wore CTU red as they advocated for better pay, more respect and the value of public education in the face of privatisation.”

10) National: Diane Ravitch shares the story of a teacher who worked for the for-profit K12 Inc. virtual charter chain and regrets it. “A teacher responded to this post by writing the following comment on this blog,” Ravitch writes. “Indeed, ‘It IS worth pondering why and how the Democratic Party abandoned its longstanding belief in equitable, well-resourced public schools as a common good.’ As a newly credentialed secondary school teacher in California, my first (and, to date, last) full-time “public school” employment occurred at CA Virtual Academies, a subsidiary of K12, inc. (now a.k.a. Stride). (…)I am incredulous, especially in light of COVID-19’s inevitable effect on public education, that the federal government allowed for-profit corporations K12, inc. and Pearson Education to develop and mass distribute their Virtual Academies and Connections Academies across the nation over the past decade or so primarily at the tax-payers’ expense without at least also developing a state-sponsored and US Education Department “owned” Virtual School program as well.” 

11) ArizonaRepublican lawmakers are aggressively pursuing passage of a racially biased school voucher bill. “There’s a lot wrong with this bill, but the worst is the fact that rather than focus on supporting low-income students of color, many of whom are already eligible, SB1452 will make many more middle- and high-income white students eligible for taxpayer-subsidized vouchers, exploiting the impoverished communities in favor of further subsidizing the tiny fraction (as few as approximately 5%) of Arizona families choosing to home-school, private and parochial schools. Greater Phoenix Leadership, Southern Arizona Leadership Council and Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance, representing more than 200 CEOs across Arizona, have made it clear that they are against the expansion of vouchers in Arizona and have voiced support for our public education systems, from early childhood to higher education.” 

12) Florida: The Sun-Sentinel blasts the new school voucher bill in an editorial. “Districts thus need resources and reassurances from Tallahassee. Instead, they face another expansion of state-financed vouchers for private schools. Vouchers siphon money from traditional public schools. (…) Voucher supporters have been politically savvy, making low-income, minority students the face of the program. But the privateers’ real ambitions always have been clear—and never more so than this year.” 

13) New Hampshire: A Hampstead resident writes in to the Eagle Tribune to support a bond issue to fund public education infrastructure and avoid outsourcing. “For years, the administration has been very creative making existing building space work, but we are at a point where decisions may need to be made to outsource some special education services or some children’s education because of building limitations. Why vote ‘yes’ now? Interest on bonds is at an all-time low. The cost for the project is not going down if Hampstead votes “no” this year. The need for this project will still be there but the costs will grow. If we need to outsource any services or education, there will be new annual costs. School Board members are working on all avenues to get state funding to help offset the costs.” 

14) Rhode Island: The Rhode Island Senate overwhelmingly approved a three-year moratorium on new charter schools and charter expansions. “The 30-to-6 vote Wednesday night followed a passionate debate that pitted critics of charter public schools, almost all Democrats, against a handful of lawmakers who say charters offer parents a successful alternative to failing public schools.” Sen. Ryan Pearson “argued that the latest charter expansion would have a devastating financial impact on the sending districts, as much as $92 million in lost tuition. The funding or per pupil expenditure ‘follows’ the student from his or her original district to the charter school. ‘Two weeks ago,’ Ryan said, ‘I asked Providence for a plan’ to explain how the district would make up for an estimated $80-plus million in lost tuition. ‘Fourteen days later, that plan has not arrived.’ School choice, he and others said, costs money.”

15) Tennessee: The Memphis Business Journal has published a useful list of Memphis-area charter school operators

16) Utah: A North Ogden charter school has reversed its decision to let students opt out of Black History Month. Renée Graham of the Boston Globe says the school “should also learn that history without accountability begets more trauma, not unity. That lesson has already been lost on many GOP senators who, like their counterparts in the House, care less about democracy than about dominance.” But Andrea K. McDaniels of the Baltimore Sun writes, “even as police brutality and COVID-19 have forced the country to face structural racism and inequities built into the very fabric of the country, there is a backlash on portraying an accurate depiction of American history and the ugly treatment of African Americans over time.” 

17) West Virginia: A bill that would increase the number of charter schools allowed in West Virginia has been sent to the House floor. “The measure would give parents several options, including using public funding to send their children to private schools. Educators and Democrats argued that the proposals are driven by outside interests that will steer money away from public schools.” 

18) Revolving Door NewsKIPP Texas has added a former San Antonio ISD official, Vanessa Segovia Barry, to its executive suite. The company’s CFO, Jaideep Hebbar, is a fellow at Eli Broad’s Broad Center at Yale SOM.

Infrastructure

19) National: Last month, Rashida Tlaib and fellow Michigan congresswoman Debbie Dingell reintroduced the Emergency Water is a Human Right Act, “which would mandate a national moratorium on shutoffs and create a $1.5bn fund for states and tribes to use for struggling low-income households to ensure taps stay on during the pandemic. ‘People are getting public health guidance to wash their hands for 20 seconds but don’t have running water. I am their lobbyist. I don’t have corporate experience but I have their stories and the human impact on their lives and I’m trying to bring this to the attention of President Biden and Vice-President Harris.’”

For more on water as a human right as a global issue, see Daiva Repeckaite, “Water Futures: the Latest Battleground in the Defence of the Fundamental Right to Water.”

20) National/Utah: As water levels drop in Lake Powell, hedge funds are eyeing increasingly scarce water resources, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. “Privatizing water resources has long been the dream of libertarian-leaning think tanks, and publications from the Financial Times to Forbes have referred to water as ‘the next oil.’ If geopolitical conflicts and vast swaths of the global economy in the 20th century were driven by fossil fuels, some analysts predict a repeat in this century with a different commodity. Partners at Water Asset Management (WAM), a New York-based hedge fund that invests in water around the world, have been involved with Western water since the 1990s. But as the situation in the basin grows more dire, WAM has grown increasingly vocal about the need to reform the system in the Colorado River Basin, where rising temperatures linked to the burning of fossil fuels are leading to reduced runoff. Average flows have diminished by 18% over the past two decades compared to the previous century, a trend known as the Millennium Drought.” 

21) California: L.A. Metro has released a recommendation to contract with two private sector teams for pre-development work on the Sepulveda transit corridor project. “After contracts are awarded, Metro will review both proposed concepts as part of its environmental review process starting this fall. Public input is a critical component and will be solicited and collected for all alternatives studied during the environmental review period.” 

22) California: A large Canada-based utility service company, Liberty Utilities, is proposing to construct and operate a Moss Landing desalination plant using brackish water from wells at the mouth of the Salinas Valley. “In response to questions about the privately-owned project’s ability to comply with the county’s public desal ownership rule, Adamson said she had previously discussed that with county attorneys when she was at Deep Water Desal. She told The Herald those discussions were around the county’s previous consideration of an amendment to the public ownership ordinance clarifying the need for demonstrated desal expertise. County officials have previously announced they don’t intend to enforce the public ownership requirement on California American Water’s proposed desal project citing the state Public Utilities Commission’s declaration that its oversight authority exceeds the county’s.” [For more on Liberty Utilities see #24 below].

23) Illinois: Another small pubic utility has been gobbled up by the private water industry. “Illinois American Water has acquired the Concordia Water Cooperative’s water distribution system, which is situated in an unincorporated area west of Belleville near Millstadt.” 

24) New York: Gov. Cuomo announces that the state Department of Public Service “will look into the feasibility of municipalizing New York American Water, the privately owned utility whose service and water bills have long been decried by Nassau County customers.” Rory Lancman, special counsel for ratepayer protection, “will oversee the study, which is set to be completed by April 1. The proceeding will include a series of virtual hearings at which residents and elected officials can offer public comment. In an interview with the Herald, Lancman said the state’s study will consider whether municipalization of all or part of NYAW’s system would be feasible and more beneficial for ratepayers. This comes after advocates called on the DPS to reconsider a proposed sale of American Water Works’ New York operation to Liberty Utilities, another private entity, which was announced in November 2019. The department is currently reviewing the details of the $608 million deal.” 

25) Pennsylvania: Writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Madeline Weiss, an environmental justice organizer for Our Water Campaign and Erika Strassburger, a member of Pittsburgh City Council, say Pittsburgh residents “deserve public water, not corporate lies.” In response to a new offensive by the private, for-profit water industry to privatize the city’s water, they say “private water corporations often cut corners to reduce operating costs, negatively impacting water or service quality, or both. It’s laughable to tell people in Pittsburgh that the best way to fix their water system is to privatize it. Following Veolia’s management, the private water corporation walked away with millions of dollars, while the city and residents were left to pick up the pieces. When everyone saw what Veolia did, there was a social movement to prevent water from being privatized again just a few years ago. From community members to the mayor, Pittsburghers agree that our water is not for sale.” 

26) Pennsylvania: Law360.com reports that Pennsylvania American Water has targeted “DuPont, 3M and many other polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, manufacturers with a lawsuit that was removed to Pennsylvania federal court Thursday, seeking cleanup costs tied to the so-called forever chemicals and accusing DuPont of illegally spinning off its PFAS business to dodge liability. In a 28-page complaint, PAWC argued that the chemical companies have created a public nuisance by selling PFAS-containing products without warnings and forced it to spend money and resources investigating and remediating the nonbiodegradable, toxic PFAS from the state’s public water supply systems.” [Sub required]

Criminal Justice and Immigration

27) National: A devastating new GAO reports finds that federal officials have wasted millions of dollars on unused space in immigration detention facilities operated by private, for-profit companies, and questions the propriety of the contracts with these companies. It recommends actions needed to improve planning, documentation, and oversight of detention facility contracts. Are these contracts then valid, one might ask? Another question is whether GAO’s suggested solution— “guaranteed minimums,” i.e. bed quotas—could make the situation worse, as research by In the Public Interest indicates.

From the report: “ICE has a process for obtaining new detention space, but it did not follow this process for most of its recent acquisitions and does not have a strategic approach to using guaranteed minimum payments in its detention contracts and agreements. From fiscal year 2017 through May 11, 2020, ICE entered into 40 contracts and agreements for new detention space. GAO’s review of ICE’s documentation found that 28 of 40 of these contracts and agreements did not have documentation from ICE field offices showing a need for the space, outreach to local officials, or the basis for ICE’s decisions to enter into them, as required by ICE’s process. Until ICE consistently uses its process, it will not have reasonable assurance that it is making cost-effective decisions that best meet its operational needs. ICE has increasingly incorporated guaranteed minimum payments into its contracts and agreements, whereby ICE agrees to pay detention facility operators for a fixed number of detention beds regardless of whether it uses them. However, ICE has not taken a strategic approach to these decisions and has spent millions of dollars a month on unused detention space. Planning for detention space needs can be challenging, according to ICE officials, because the agency must respond to factors that are dynamic and difficult to predict. A strategic approach to using guaranteed minimums could help position ICE to balance these factors and make more effective use of federal funds.”

Clearly Congress needs to weigh in on this. 

28) National: Business Insider reports that ICE has no plan to vaccinate 13,860 immigrants in its custody against COVID-19. “When Insider contacted the Kern County Public Health Department, a spokesperson said the facility had been in touch about becoming an approved vaccine provider. Asked about any plans to vaccinate immigrants there, she said, “You would have to ask the facility.” But GEO Group — which has reported at least 358 COVID-19 cases at its California ICE facilities since the start of the pandemic, according to ICE data — declined to comment on vaccination plans at its facilities, and pointed Insider back to the health department. The private-prison operator said “the timing of vaccine distribution to staff, inmates, and detainees is presently being directed by the local and state health departments.” It shared a list of its general COVID-19 protocols such as testing, cleaning, and air filtration, but directed follow-up questions about the vaccine to ICE, which did not comment on the facility.

29) National: CoreCivic held its earnings call on Thursday, reporting a decline in revenue as a result of the coronavirus. Much if the call was taken up with executive discussion of what it was doing to protect inmates and staff from the virus, which can be read in the transcript. However, there was an interesting exchange at the end of the call which gives us some insight as to how the private prison industry is positioning itself going forward.

Here’s the full exchange: 

“M. Marin: I have a question about the transition to-date. So the transition, does that [indiscernible] post deleveraging action? Does that in any way open the door to potential new revenue streams for company or opportunity for new revenues coming? Thank you.

Damon Hininger: Yes. Thank you for question. This is Damon. So the short answer is yes. As you know with a REIT, there are some restrictions on what you can or cannot do as a publicly traded REIT. So, we do think now being a C Corp, again, we were C Corp once upon a time too before 2013. It could open some opportunities to where we provide not only the real estate and maybe the services for certain solutions.

So for example, I mentioned earlier, the new project in Kansas that has a very large infirmary unit again, largest actually unit in the state of Kansas serving their correctional institution or correctional system. There could be a case where we can maybe do a medical kind of oriented solution for certain jurisdiction, maybe that’s an infirmary, maybe that’s a mental health or substance abuse type facility. So, it gives us greater flexibility of providing kind of healthcare related services that we weren’t able to do as a REIT.

Anything you would add to that David?

David Garfinkle: There were restrictions under the REIT rules that prohibited certain business activities. Obviously, we were focused on the real estate aspects of the business. But without those limitations, certainly the sky’s the limit on non-real estate related businesses, perhaps in adjacencies to the corrections market that could be available to us. So those are things kind of in the R&D stage at this point, but we’re starting to identify some opportunities.”

30) National: Worth Rises executive director Bianca Tylek and Eunice Cho, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU National Prison Project, joined Brian Lehrer for a discussion of the history of private prisons in America and where Biden’s executive order falls in that story. [Audio, about 30 minutes]. And don’t forget to check out Worth Rises’ Prison Industry Curriculum, “a free, public, self-study course about the prison industry and the fight to build a future without it. Enroll today, download the syllabus, start studying, and join us every week this Spring for a webinar, discussion group, and more!” 

31) National: Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) has reintroduced of the Justice is Not for Sale Act. “‘For too long, private prisons and detention centers have benefited from lucrative government contracts and taxpayer dollars to profit off the pain and suffering of others,’ Grijalva said in a statement to NBC News. Grijalva’s legislation would go further than President Joe Biden’s Jan. 26 executive order, which phases out private prison contracts and instructs the Justice Department to decline to renew private prison contracts. Biden’s order does not address privately operated immigration detention centers as Grijalva’s bill does. While only about 8 percent of imprisoned people were held in private prisons, 81 percent of people in immigration custody were held in privately run or -operated detention centers, according to a report last year by the American Civil Liberties Union.” [Bill text of H.R.8008 of 2020]

32) National: In an episode of the podcast Citations Needed last week, Patrice Daniels, an activist currently incarcerated in Joliet, Illinois, discussed “how US media’s general indifference to Covid inside prisons makes ‘riots’ inevitable.” [Audio, about an hour]. The late great journalist James Ridgeway, who died on Saturday in Washington, had this to say about prison reporters: “I’ve been a reporter for 60 years, and nothing has inspired me more than these incarcerated journalists who get the story out despite enormous obstacles. Juan Haines has continued to report (mostly from solitary) throughout the COVID outbreak at SQ, even when he himself got sick.”

33) Alabama: Alabama is making one of the largest public expenditures in its history—on building new prisons, Liberation reports. “On Feb 1, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed lease deals with one of the country’s largest private prison companies, CoreCivic. The company will be building two new prison facilities in Alabama’s Escambia and Elmore counties. The state of Alabama is leasing the two prisons for a 30-year term to CoreCivic, which will own and maintain the prisons. A third lease agreement for a new prison in Bibb county is still in negotiations with another company, BL Harbert. Construction is likely to begin in 2022.

The total cost for the three prisons is estimated to be around $3 billion dollars that will be paid for by the public. Ironically, the people of Alabama have been kept in the dark about the prison deals that they will be paying for. The negotiations between the Ivey administration and Alabama Department of Corrections commissioner Jeff Dunn, who has been mediating the deals, had been kept confidential.”

34) Colorado: Denver is struggling to transition out of its use of halfway houses operated by private prison companies, but is persisting. “What drives the demand for community corrections beds, Mauro said, is the number of people exiting the prison system. Right now, approximately 350 beds are occupied, based on the need to reduce capacity during the pandemic. While Mauro added he would “never say never,” he explained that the group living amendment was a long-term solution that would allow additional providers to come into the community corrections system, and allow providers to modify their facilities to keep up with demand. But it was not something designed to deliver relief by June.” 

35) Maryland: Maryland lawmakers “heavily debated a bill concerning ICE detention centers on Wednesday, including testimony from a previous detainee who spoke about her experience in a Maryland center.” CBS reports that “The Dignity Not Detention Act would prevent the state’s detention centers from renewing existing contracts with ICE or private prison companies and prevent the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency from coming into Maryland in the future to build new detention centers. Additionally, under this bill, SB0478 and HB0016, if ICE is planning to build any new detention centers in Maryland, the public would be informed.”

36) VirginiaAn inmate has died at the GEO Group facility in Lawrenceville, which was the subject of heated controversy when a measure to ban private prisons in Virginia was rejected by politicians who reportedly received campaign contributions from the company.

Public Services

37) NationalPressure is mounting on the Biden administration to do something about Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s continuing efforts to hobble the venerable U.S. Postal Service with a possible eye towards privatizing it. “The new details of DeJoy’s plan came as a growing number of Democratic lawmakers and outside progressives are urging Biden—who by law cannot fire the postmaster general himself—to take the forceful step of terminating every sitting member of the postal board and filling it with officials committed to preserving and strengthening the USPS as a public service. Postal governors, who can remove the postmaster general with a majority vote, must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which Democrats narrowly control. (…) Alternatively, Biden could fill the three vacant governor spots on the postal board; combined with the two Democrats currently on the board, three Biden-appointed governors would give Democrats a majority. But as Slate’s Aaron Mak and Mark Joseph Stern wrote last week, that more cautious approach has potentially significant limitations.”

38) Oklahoma: Oklahoma medical organizations are suing to block Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) from privatizing Medicaid. “They argue that the Oklahoma Health Care Authority proceeded with the plan without the legislative approval required to fund the proposal. ‘Converting the lions share of the state’s Medicaid system to one primarily administered not by the agency, but rather insurance companies, is a matter of great public interest, especially in light of the acute health care challenges associated with the current pandemic already confronting citizens and medical providers,’ the lawsuit asserts.” 

39) International: Naomi Lightman and Lorian Hardcastle of the University of Calgary are calling for closer scrutiny of private long-term care facilities in Alberta. “Across Canada, private institutions have fared substantially worse than public LTC facilities during the pandemic. For example, 83 per cent of LTC deaths in eastern Ontario occurred in private institutions. Similarly, in Alberta, most of the hardest-hit facilities have been for-profit, such as the McKenzie TowneSouth Terrace, and Extendicare Hillcrest continuing-care centers. The troubling disparities between public and private LTC institutions are hardly surprising. For-profit entities have incentives to prioritize their obligations to shareholders over residents. This leads to corners being cut, e.g. ‘watering down the soup,’ as well as lower staff-to-resident ratios (particularly at night when inspectors or family are less likely to be present), poor building maintenance and custodial care, and inadequate access to PPE. Private institutions also tend to employ less qualified staff due to lower pay. For example, in B.C., private institutions paid less to employees and spent less on resident care during the pandemic.” 

Everything Else

40) National: The federal government is spending billions of dollars to combat the coronavirus. You can explore who the U.S. is buying from, what it’s buying and how much it’s paying at the splendid ProPublica Coronavirus Contracts page.

Photo by brionv.