New mobile game based on private prisons goes viral

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

Highlights

1) NationalIn the Public Interest’s new newsletter, Pro-Public, declares that “as we wrote back in April, the answer to the crisis is the exact opposite of the anti-government ideology that’s come to dominate politics over the past four decades. Our public institutions, like local health departments and public schools, need more resources right now, not less. So, let’s do the simple thing that’s right in front of us: raise taxes on those who can afford it.” The key to Seattle’s introduction of a new progressive tax on big business? “We’ve rejected cynical attempts by outside forces to maintain a status quo that protects power brokers at the expense of the little guy,” said Councilmember Tammy Morales. [Subscribe to Pro-Public]

In the Public Interest has also released documents to aid parents, school districts and state education authorities in understanding online charter schools, including one on key questions parents should ask about online charters, and frequently asked questions about online charter schools. For more from the newsletter on a new report on the decades-long right wing assault on the U.S. Postal Service, see below.

2) California: The Partnership for Working Families has launched a fight to oppose Proposition 22, a ballot initiative designed to gut decades of protective labor and anti-discrimination law in California. Read the PWF and the National Employment Law Project report, “Rigging the Gig: How Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash’s Ballot Initiative Would Put Corporations Above the Law and Steal Wages, Benefits, and Protections from California Workers,” by Rey Fuentes, Rebecca Smith, and Brian Chen. They compare it to Prop 11, which was passed in 2018 and “was designed to exempt private ambulance companies from complying with California’s meal and rest break regulations.” (p. 25) @VoteNoOnProp22 says “BREAKING: #Doordash just got caught taking $ from local businesses while they spend millions on a ballot measure to mistreat workers for profit. Don’t let app companies buy themselves a special exemption from the law.”

3) California: San Francisco city and county Supervisor Shamann Walton has introduced the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act (CAREN Act). “Within the last month and a half in the Bay Area, an individual called the police on a Black man who was dancing and exercising on the street in his Alameda neighborhood and a couple called the police on a Filipino man stenciling ‘Black Lives Matter’ in chalk in front of his own residence in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights,” a press release for Walton’s legislation notes.

4) CaliforniaCan a longstanding “public-private partnership” be dismantled and brought back into the public sector? A court in Ventura County has paved the way for that possibility, and research on the “hows” have begun. “Ventura County officials are eyeing whether to take over management of 13 county clinics run by private medical groups, potentially shaking up the structure of a public-private partnership established decades ago. ‘We’re going to determine if it would be cheaper, more efficient to run it ourselves,’ said Bill Foley, director of the Ventura County Health Care Agency. Foley is asking ECG Management Consultants to analyze the financial and operational performance of the clinics as well as come up with a plan if the county needs to employ roughly 600 staffers now working at the clinics. The results of the $552,000 study authorized late last month by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors are due in six months.” The clinics’ staff made up of medical assistants, office workers and others “has not yet authorized the Service Employees International Union to represent them. The process for the employees to make that decision is underway, county Human Resources Director Shawn Atin said.

5) New Jersey: New Jersey Policy Perspective presented another in its series on “Building An Anti-Racist State Budget” on Thursday. “State budgets are more than just numbers and line items, they are moral documents that reflect our collective priorities and values. Join us for a discussion on ways New Jersey can begin to dismantle long-standing structural racism and inequality through this year’s budget and beyond.” Watch the video, about an hour. This Friday, NJPP’s next program will be on Rethinking Corporate Tax Subsidies, with Good Jobs First’s Greg LeRoy, NJPP’s Sheila Reynerton, Tim Sullivan of the NJ Economic Development Authority, and Julia Sass Rubin of Rutgers.

6) Update and Next Show: Songs for the Common Good, a project organized by ITPI Executive Director Donald Cohen, is going to have its next show on September 26 at 8pm ET/5pm PT. Watch the video of the first in the series, featuring Rissi Palmer and Charles Newkirk (about 40 minutes).

Education

7) NationalCharter schools from across the country have reaped over $200 million in loans/grants from the paycheck protection program, Valerie Strauss reports in the Washington Post. “Along with charter schools — which are publicly funded but privately operated — and private schools, the Post database shows that the Trump administration took a very broad view of who should receive help from the small-business loan program. Loans went to foreign-owned firms; Wall Street firms; major law firms; Kanye West’s clothing company, Reese Witherspoon’s clothing company, Draper James; Robert Kiyosaki, a best-selling author who co-wrote two of President Trump’s books; and other friends and relatives of the president, including members of the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The data released represented less than 15 percent of the total number of loans that were given, but it shows that shows that at least 120 charter schools received at least $220 million in aid from the PPP, some of them winning loans of at least $5 million. The actual amount could be more than double.”

8) National: The Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force has issued its recommendations. A paragraph on charter schools reads (p. 24): “Charter schools were originally intended to be publicly funded schools with increased flexibility in program design and operations. Democrats believe that education is a public good and should not be saddled with a private profit motive, which is why we will ban for-profit private charter businesses from receiving federal funding. And we recognize the need for more stringent guardrails to ensure charter schools are good stewards of federal education funds. We support measures to increase accountability for charter schools, including by requiring all charter schools to meet the same standards of transparency as traditional public schools, including with regard to civil rights protections, racial equity, admissions practices, disciplinary procedures, and school finances. We will call for conditioning federal funding for new, expanded charter schools or for charter school renewals on a district’s review of whether the charter will systematically underserve the neediest students. And Democrats oppose private school vouchers and other policies that divert taxpayer-funded resources away from the public school system.”

Responding to the document, Diane Ravitch writes “There is much to like in the report, proposing an agenda to reverse four years of savage attacks by Trump on the environment, on the rule of law, on government itself. (…) It contains welcome pledges of increased funding, more equitable funding, universal early childhood education, a commitment to racial integration of schools, a commitment to making higher education affordable (including tuition-free community colleges), debt relief for college graduates, and other worthy goals and policies. On the two issues where Democrats found themselves committed to Republican strategies, the panel has a mixed record.” These issues are high-stakes standardized testing and “the Republican claim that competition improves public schools.”

9) NationalTrump has suggested directing coronavirus aid away from public schools and toward individual students. “Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chairwoman of the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement that she would oppose any privatization efforts. ‘Again, the Executive Branch seems to have forgotten who holds the power of the purse,’ the Connecticut Democrat said. ‘Instead of threatening to strip funding from the children and families who need it the most, I and my fellow House Democrats are working hard to provide schools with the resources they need to safely reopen.’” 

10) National/New York: Millionaire private school magnate Chris Whittle, co-founder of the now-failed Edison charter school chain, has vacuumed up over $2 million of paycheck protection funds, the Wall Street Journal reports. “Mr. Whittle, chairman and chief executive of Whittle School & Studios, said the PPP loan went to pay staff at the network’s Washington, D.C., campus. Annual tuition and fees there top $52,000 for most grades at the school. Mr. Whittle recently postponed opening the Brooklyn site of Whittle School & Studios until the fall of 2021, citing pandemic-related construction delays.” 

11) California: United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) recommends keeping school campuses closed until the necessary conditions for safely reopening them exist. “It is time to take a stand against Trump’s dangerous, anti-science agenda that puts the lives of our members, our students, and our families at risk,” said UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz. “We all want to physically open schools and be back with our students, but lives hang in the balance. Safety has to be the priority. We need to get this right for our communities.”

In a new report, UTLA spells out what those safe and equitable conditions are. The union recommends addressing the special challenges faced by students with disabilities (“31% of all LAUSD special education students have a disability classified as moderate-severe, compared to only 16% at charter schools”). 

This includes a charter moratorium: “Privately operated, publicly funded charter schools drain resources from district schools—and many have “double-dipped” during this crisis by taking federal small business bailout loans even though state funding did not decline this school year. 70 In addition, colocation adds students to campuses when we need to reduce the number of students to allow for physical distancing.”

12) CaliforniaA San Diego charter school has rescinded its layoff plans, pointing to anticipated state money. “Some teachers had criticized the layoffs as an attempt to end their recently formed union. (…) Gompers has been embroiled in a union fight since 2018. The teachers association has yet to sign a contract and has alleged retaliation, bad-faith bargaining and other issues. A separate group of the school’s teachers is seeking to remove the union. Nearly all teachers who received layoff notices last month were union supporters, a San Diego Education Association spokesperson previously told inewsource. Gompers leaders had maintained the cuts were necessary and said decisions were based on seniority.” 

13) FloridaPitbull’s charter school in Miami has nabbed at least one million dollars in federal aid under the SBA’s paycheck protection program.

14) Louisiana: The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board has rejected the applications of four charter schools. “In her recommendation to deny Pasadena, California-based Pathways in Education, which operates 10 alternative high schools across the country, Blunschi pointed to the poor performance of its two schools in Shreveport, which both have F academic letter grades. The School Board adopted a policy last year that charter groups with schools already operating in Louisiana need letter grades of at least a C to get approved for a new school in Baton Rouge.”

15) MichiganThe State of Michigan is suing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, saying a federal rule unfairly limits public schools from getting COVID-19 relief funds. Attorney General Dana Nessel “said DeVos has decided to use this public health crisis as another opportunity to advance her personal privatization agenda. The attorneys general of California, the District of Columbia, Maine, New Mexico, and Wisconsin joined Nessel in filing the lawsuit. ‘Instead of sending relief money to the students most in need as required under the CARES Act, she has abused the Department of Education’s rule-making power to redirect money to private schools. At a time when Michigan schools are facing an unprecedented crisis, every single child deserves the chance to succeed. But, yet again, Secretary DeVos has decided to tip the scales in favor of private schools, leaving the State’s public-school students behind.’” 

16) Minnesota: Millions of dollars of federal aid went to elite private schools in Minneapolis. “The Breck School led all area prep schools with approvals for between $5 million and $10 million in PPP funds. The Blake School, St. Paul Academy and Summit School, and Minnehaha Academy each landed access to between $2 million and $5 million through the PPP. The loans are forgivable if certain conditions are met, chiefly using the bulk of the money for payroll.” The Minneapolis Public Schools were already facing a nearly $20 million deficit before the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial collapse.

17) New York: Albany-area private and charter schools have raked in million of dollars in PPP federal aid. “16 schools received PPP loans of over $350,000, including several prominent schools such as Christian Brothers Academy, The Doane Stuart School and Woodland Hill Montessori. Emma Willard School—a private girl’s boarding and day school in Troy—was the only area school that received more than $2 million in PPP funding, to support a reported 168 jobs. Emma Willard received a $2.2 million PPP loan to ‘ensure the retention of our full faculty and staff,’ the school said in a statement. ‘As we work to navigate the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, our most important task is to take care of our people—our faculty, staff, and families.’ All PPP loans of at least $2 million will be audited by the federal government.” 

Kipp Tech Valley Charter School: Received between $1 million and $2 million. As federal money pours in to private and charter schools to keep teachers on payroll, the public school system is laying off teachers due to the COVID-19 crisis.

18) North CarolinaDozens of charter and private schools in the Raleigh and Durham area have scooped up federal aid through the SBA’s paycheck protection program. One received at least $5 million. “Topping the list as the only school with a reported loan range of $5 million ton $10 million is the Duke School in Durham, an independent preschool through eighth grade institution. According to the data, the loan supported 150 jobs. Three other Durham Schools were reported as receiving between $1 million and $2 million, including Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill, Carolina Friends School and Central Park School for Children. In total, the Durham schools were responsible for retaining just under 400 jobs.” [Sub required]

19) OhioPrivate and charter schools in the state are getting millions in relief from the federal government while public schools are getting cuts. “In total, the Capital Journal identified 220 schools in Ohio that received PPP funding. The possible range of the combined funding is between $95 million and $232 million. This money went to a variety of schools. Many are religious institutions, such as Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School in Dayton, which received between $1-2 million. The list includes many charter schools, such as the chain of Horizon Science Academy locations in more than a half-dozen cities which took in millions of dollars.” Public schools “are still searching for funding relief after $300 million was cut by Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration in early May as the coronavirus pandemic began to impact state revenues.” 

20) PennsylvaniaDozens of private and charter schools in the Philadelphia area received federal aid from the SBA paycheck protection program. “The recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program loans range from exclusive private schools on the Main Line like the all-girls Agnes Irwin and Baldwin schools, and the George School in Newtown, where tuition for boarding students tops $63,000, to the Independence Mission Schools, a network of Catholic schools in Philadelphia that laid off 180 teachers and staff this spring. The list also includes charters like Chester Community Charter, Franklin Towne Charter High School, and Mastery Charters, whose funding streams from home school districts have not been disrupted by the coronavirus. The loans to charters drew immediate criticism, based on the schools’ status as publicly funded but independently run organizations. Despite the financial pressures brought on by the pandemic, Pennsylvania school districts are obligated to keep paying charters.”

21) PennsylvaniaThe ex-CEO of Lehigh Valley charter school has “pleaded nolo contendere to theft by deception on July 2 in Lehigh County Court, according to court records. With his plea, Eitner accepts conviction as though a guilty plea had been entered but does not admit guilt.”

22) Tennessee: The Tennessee Supreme Court “has decided not to intervene in the legal battle over school vouchers in the state. The decision effectively blocks an education savings account program from beginning in the 2020-21 school year.”

23) Wisconsin: Diane Hendricks, “the Beloit billionaire caught on film in 2011 urging former Gov. Scott Walker to make Wisconsin a ‘completely red’ ‘right-to-work’ state, has a new project—a charter school that will focus on serving low-income students in her adopted hometown.”  But Clinton Anderson, vice president of the Beloit City Council, says “she’s now trying to dismantle public education. It feels like Act 10 coming back,” referring to the documentary film clip in which then-Gov. Walker told Hendricks that Act 10—which ended most collective bargaining rights for public employees—would ‘divide and conquer’ unions, Anderson says, ‘This is part of “divide and conquer”—disband public unions and then siphon more dollars away from the local school district.” 

24) Think Tanks: The Shanker Institute has complied a blog series on Teaching and Learning During a Pandemic.

Infrastructure

25) National: Despite its recent recovery from a disastrous March, the municipal bond market and the public services and infrastructure it supports face critical challenges. “Convention centers, sports arenas, shopping malls and hotels financed with tax-exempt debt will be stressed as restrictions on public gatherings continue. Airports, mass transit, ports and toll roads will also face challenging times the longer people are not permitted to or are reluctant to travel. The same is true for hospitals unable to benefit from lucrative elective surgery. The longer containment of the virus is not achieved, the greater the financial stress on these sectors.” [Sub required]

26) National: Robert Kuttner, the co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, takes Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth to task for doing the water privatization industry’s bidding and inserting an industry-friendly provision into HR2, the Democrats’ infrastructure bill. “In the House, the offending language was inserted by Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, whose state is home to water privatization companies, and Richie Neal of Massachusetts, the industry-afflicted chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. And in the Senate, oddly, the companion measure, drafted by the water privatization industry, is sponsored by Tammy Duckworth. Joe Biden take notice.” 

Kuttner says “the progressive alternative is adequate funding for all necessary things public. Privatization is a logical enough ploy for Republicans—both ideologically and to reward industry allies. What in hell are Democrats doing supporting this stuff?”

27) NationalA wave of delays and cancellations is hitting the transportation sector as state and local governments make spending cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Bond Buyer reports. “Per the budgeteers we’ve talked to and state and local officials, effectively one of, if not the first area that’s going to get cut on the state and local level is going to be infrastructure projects,” Brookings’ Adie Tomer tells The Bond Buyer. [Sub required]

28) NationalPushing back against the pave-it-all road lobby, Shoshanna Saxe of the University of Toronto and Kristen MacAskill of the University of Cambridge call for careful planning and intelligent project selection. “That means that a first step should focus on job creation, but without saddling it to shortsighted, status quo projects we will later regret — highways, for example. The same goes for projects that emphasize technological infrastructure, which risks becoming rapidly obsolete. Such projects should be “shovel ready” and “shovel worthy,” and sufficiently funded so that they don’t linger in aspirational planning documents. In the immediate term, this means emphasizing lots of small projects. They can quickly be planned, discussed and constructed once virus spread conditions allow. This will look different than 1930s New Deal images of heavy construction everywhere.”

29) Maryland: A draft environmental impact statement weighing in at 18,000 pages has been released for the I-495/I-270 toll lane widening project. “The length of the DEIS late Thursday prompted U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with U.S. Reps. Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park and Anthony Brown of Prince George’s County, to write to state and federal officials asking for an extension of the 90 days currently allowed for public comment on the document. Citing “the current difficult circumstances of the COVID-19 epidemic,” the four legislators urged the involved federal and state agencies ‘to extend the public comment period to a period of at least 120 days in order to ensure genuine public access, broad awareness of the process, and serious public engagement with the issues raised.’”

30) Missouri: Tony Messenger of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a lobbyist, Travis Brown, has tapped federal aid while working against Medicaid expansion and for airport privatization

32) Pennsylvania: Organizers are scrambling to collect signatures to block water privatization in Norristown. At a council meeting last week citizens voiced opposition to the proposed sale to Aqua. 

Reviewing the process so far, one participant said “these three meetings did not present any summary of the exploration process and others options explored. These presentations were not even from the municipality or council. They were sales pitches from Aqua. The public deserves to know about the other options as thoroughly as Aqua discussed the privatization option. I know that council says there was plenty of opportunity for public input. Last meeting, Mr. (Derrick) Perry told me he didn’t tell me anything about it during a meeting at coffee talk because it wasn’t finalized yet. That’s the problem. It was kept hushed until it was all but done, then advertised for the very minimum allowed by law, seven days. And for what? Why rush, especially during a pandemic when the public is stressed, distracted, and less able and likely to participate in public meetings?! Don’t be railroaded and rushed by Crandall Jones, Aqua, and the too-good-to-be-true promise of quick money. Listen to your constituents, talk to us, do more research, and ask surrounding townships and municipalities how their water privatization is working out (spoiler alert: they regret it!) Learn from their mistake. Say “NOPE” to privatization.” See the NOPE Facebook page.

33) Puerto Rico: The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) union—The Union of Electric Industry and Irrigation Workers (UTIER)—has filed suit against a deal for the private management of the authority’s transmission and distribution deal

Criminal Justice and Immigration

34) National: The Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force has issued its recommendations. A paragraph on private prisons and healthcare reads (p. 10): “Private profit should not motivate the provision of vital public services, including in the criminal justice system. Democrats support ending the use of private prisons and private detention centers, and will take steps to eliminate profiteering from diversion programs, commercial bail, electronic monitoring, prison commissaries, and reentry and treatment programs. We also believe that too many of our jails and prisons subject people to inhumane treatment, and will work to end practices like solitary confinement for adults and juveniles. Prisoners must not be denied access to vital medical care or unnecessarily exposed to disease, as they have been during the COVID-19 pandemic. And Democrats will pursue a holistic approach to rehabilitation, increasing support for programs that provide educational opportunities, including pursuing college degrees, for those in the criminal justice system, both in prison and upon release.” It also recommends ending cash bail, to “withhold funding from states that continue to use cash bail or other pretrial practices that produce racial bias or other forms of discrimination.”

35) National: Data released from the SBA says the GEO Group received $150,000-$350,000 from its paycheck protection program.

36) National: The Financial Times reports that private prison companies are under stress because of a slowdown in the inflow of inmates. “US prison companies have lost more than $1bn in market value this year after the pandemic halted most detentions along the southern border and prompted a slowdown in apprehensions elsewhere. (…) The American Federation of Teachers in 2018 began urging pension schemes to divest from prison-related investments, including Geo and CoreCivic. ‘Making money from injustice is no longer something that Wall Street countenances,’ said AFT president Randi Weingarten. ‘Mass incarceration disproportionately hurts people of color . . . There is an awakening and a reckoning that making money off injustice is not OK.’”

37) National/ArizonaNearly half of the staff at the Eloy detention center—which is run for profit by CoreCivic—has tested positive for coronavirus.

38) NationalA private prison simulation game has gone viral, according to MintPress News. “A new game called “Prison Empire Tycoon” is going viral. Released in late May, it has risen to become the current number one strategy game in Apple’s App Store and has been among the top 20 most popular games overall since its launch, with at least  3 million downloads to date. In line with many other popular business simulation games like the “Railroad Tycoon” and “Rollercoaster Tycoon” series, where users create huge transport networks or design and run their own theme parks, the point of “Prison Empire Tycoon” is to make money running a private American prison.”

39) ArizonaCovid-19 outbreaks in Arizona child detention centers are worrying advocates. “The outbreak is believed to have initially begun because one girl who fell ill had been on a bus with several other girls who also contracted the illness, Farneti said. It is unclear how the first girl was initially exposed to the virus. Privatization of juvenile detention centers varies by state. Some states, like Florida, have a large number of private facilities, while others none. Florida juvenile detention centers have seen a spike in COVID within their walls. However, centers like the Mingus Mountain Academy differ from centers run by the state in a few key ways. ‘Unsurprisingly, private facilities are trying to make money for their shareholders,’ Alyson Clements, director of membership and advocacy for the National Juvenile Justice Network, said.” 

40) CaliforniaThe San Diego sheriff’s office is looking to outsource inmate health services. The department “has racked up millions of dollars in legal claims and settlements related to allegations of lapses in medical and mental health treatment in county jails. (…) The acknowledgement from the county labor manager is required under the union’s collective bargaining agreement because outsourcing could result in county jobs being lost. The union represents about 300 jail nurses, supervisors, social workers and pharmacy technicians. [David Garcias, the Service Employees International Union Local No. 221 president] said chronic understaffing of jail medical and behavioral health services too often has led to tragic consequences for inmates. He predicted more bad outcomes if the work is put out to competitive bid. ‘Any plan to outsource responsibility to for-profit contractors, lacking transparency and accountability to the public, should be halted immediately,’ the union president said. 

41) MontanaThe Billings Gazette denounces Department of Corrections for hiding inmate deaths. “The fact that Montana Department of Corrections officials ‘decided to move away from’ notifying the public about inmate deaths is not only bad government and seemingly diametrically opposed to the transparency espoused by the Bullock administration. It’s also a disturbing indication of larger issues with corrections in the state. (…) We believe the decision to stop notifications is so antithetical to good government that Gov. Bullock should immediately intervene and mandate the resumption of prompt public/media notification of inmate deaths, and we call for him to do so.” 

Public Services

42) National/Think Tanks: In a new report published by In the Public Interest, Lisa Graves of True North Research looks into the long campaign by right wing billionaires and activists, including Charles Koch, to privatize the U.S. Postal Service. “The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the already-struggling U.S. Postal Service to the brink of financial collapse. But the most trusted and popular institution in America hasn’t been struggling by accident. Since the 1970s, a concerted effort to popularize the fringe idea of privatizing the Postal Service has been advanced for nearly five decades with the support of one man: the billionaire and libertarian ideologue, Charles Koch, chairman and chief executive officer of Koch Industries. This brief traces Koch’s connections, influence, and ideological push to weaken and ultimately privatize one of America’s most essential public services—and, along with it, the jobs of hundreds of thousands of public servants.”

In an interview with The American Prospect’s Brittany Gibson, Graves says Koch is “on the precipice of achieving his long-standing objectives of privatizing the Postal Service that hundreds of millions of Americans rely on every day. His position remains an outlier position with the American people, but it’s gained currency in the Republican Party.” Graves points to the key role that James Miller, a Koch operative who pioneered the effort to privatize the post office, played in passing legislation that required the USPS to prefund its pension obligations, thereby overburdening its finances. The legislation was pushed through by politicians including Susan Collins (R-ME), now trailing in the polls behind her Democratic challenger Sara Gideon.

43) NationalA failure to provide federal aid to states and cities would have dire consequences, says Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi. “The number of state and local government employees laid off because of the pandemic would at least double to 3 million people. (…) State and local government layoffs already have been triple the amount of job losses that occurred during the Great Recession, according to Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.” [Sub required]. See the state-by-state fact sheets

44) NationalPonder these numbers: “The Urban Institute estimates enrollment in the Medicaid health care program for the poor will increase anywhere by 8 million to 26 million people depending on the unemployment rate and responsiveness of private insurance.” [Sub required]

45) Think Tanks/International: The Australia-based Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability (CICTAR) fights to expose corporate tax avoidance and for corporate tax transparency. “Tax campaigns, can win for communities, public services, and workers everywhere,” they say. Watch the video, about three and a half minutes. 

Everything Else

46) National: Irony alert. The Ayn Rand Institute, whose board chair once wrote a book called “Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government,” applied for $350,000-$1 million in big government support from the paycheck protection program

47) National: Chris Krupp, Public Lands Guardian of WildEarth Guardians, says public lands are under widespread attack during the pandemic. “At a time when the need for wild places and public lands is so clear, it’s infuriating and illogical that the Trump Administration is pushing hard for the removal of protections for endangered species, clean air and water, and public participation in land management decisions, all while federal land management agencies are ramping up efforts to drill, mine, graze and cut trees on public lands across the West. In Utah, the Bureau of Land Management is plowing ahead with plans to offer more than 100,000 acres of public lands near Canyonlands and Arches national parks for oil and gas leasing. The Trump administration has proposed reopening public lands on the north rim of the Grand Canyon to uranium mining despite a 2012 moratorium imposed to prevent further poisoning of the landscape.” 

And a redoubled privatization effort is coming. “Despite the recent silence, we shouldn’t expect those who’ve clamored for privatization or state control to keep quiet for long. The issue is too central for its proponents, and the pandemic’s aftermath may offer new pretexts for privatization and state control: boosting government revenue and restarting national and local economies.” 

48) Revolving Door News/Think Tanks40 Trump-connected lobbyists have secured over $10 billion in coronavirus relief for their clients, Public Citizen says in a new report. “Private equity firms have been reported to have been left out of the CARES Act’s government subsidies because the some of the benefits called for are available only to firms of 500 employees or fewer, not including those controlled by larger enterprises. But private equity firms’ holdings have received substantial direct aid, as well as all sorts of other benefits from the CARES Act. The companies in which private equity firms are invested will enjoy increased flexibility to carryback operating losses to past years to reduce their taxes, ability to apply interest expenses to reduce their taxes, ability to defer employer payroll taxes, and receive credits for retaining employees.

At least two Trump-connected lobbyists are representing the American Investment Council, the trade association for the private equity industr