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Here’s this post on the In the Public Interest website.
- Despite years of harassment, abuse, union-busting and intimidation by government contractors of National Park Service workers, these workers are fighting back.
- Too much political resistance to pulling money from traditional local schools to support charter schools? Why just pull it from the state budget and call that a “compromise.”
- Don’t dare privatize our public utility, which is providing tremendous benefits to the community, writes a Gainesville, Florida, resident.
First, the good news…
1) National: In the aftermath of the right wing Supreme Court’s judicial repeal of abortion rights, efforts are developing on many fronts to change the court and restore reproductive freedom. As a first step, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has challenged the Biden administration and other Democrats to take some concrete actions: Restrain judicial review; Expand the court; Clinics on federal lands; Expand education and access to Plan C; Repeal Hyde; Hold floor votes codifying Griswold, Obergefell, Lawrence, Loving, etc.; Vote on Escobar’s bill protecting clinics. Biden has stated he now supports a carve-out to the Senate filibuster to codify Roe, but the votes are not there for that among Democrats.
The Center for American Progress’ Ben Olinsky and Grace Oyenubi say that “reversing the rapid retreat from America’s ‘high-water mark’ of rights and effective governance will require both long-term and more immediate action. First, we need to begin laying the groundwork for structural reforms to the Supreme Court and the judiciary that will deradicalize the courts and limit the influence of extreme judges. At the same time, we also need to take shorter-term actions to respond to the immediate social and policy implications of the wrongly decided Supreme Court decisions of this last term.”
Katha Pollitt, who has been on the front lines of defending abortion rights for decades, proposes six ways to fight for abortion rights in the aftermath of the destruction of Roe: First, we need to bolster abortion rights and access wherever possible, and that means winning elections wherever possible; Second, [Fran Kissling, the former president of Catholics for Choice] argues, we need to energize (polite word) the whole medical profession and hold it to account; Third, we need to push the blue states to fund abortion directly: to subsidize clinic and hospital services, raise Medicaid reimbursements, expand Medicaid to include undocumented immigrants, and make grants to abortion funds that help low-income people pay for their procedures; Fourth: Donors—i.e., you—need to step up your giving; Fifth: Use your imagination; Sixth: Do more.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor proposes a course of action going beyond existing political parties and organizations and generating mass mobilization. “We need protests not endless millions poured only into elections. The majority support access to abortion but can’t see themselves as a majority w/o demonstrations. The autocrats in SCOTUS can’t feel their illegitimacy w/o protests. We can’t rebuild a movt w/o movement in the streets.”
2) National: Despite the horrible week, however, “there is a bit of good news hiding in the weeds, and it is worth celebrating, even though so much else is going wrong,” writes Neil H. Buchanan. “Specifically, the Social Security system—which was already in very good shape, notwithstanding the decades-long drumbeat of doomsaying from those who would scrap the most successful public benefits program in history—has come through the worst stages of the pandemic in very good shape. Even better, Social Security is one of the few programs that post-constitutional Republicans might not bother (or dare) to destroy. This is important.”
3) National: Despite years of harassment, abuse, union-busting and intimidation by government contractors of National Park Service workers, these workers are fighting back—just as the 2.2 million acre park is facing its severest challenge after the recent floods. “‘I never had anyone spit or threaten to beat me up until I tried to unionize at Yellowstone,’ says former Yellowstone tour guide Ty Wheeler. In February of 2020, Wheeler and six of his co-workers were fired when they attempted to organize a group of 80 tour guides at Yellowstone Park employed by the giant contractor Delaware North. Workers were paid only $12 an hour plus tips with infrequent scheduling, leading some into poverty while trying to get by in an area known for its generally high prices and expensive housing. In addition, Yellowstone had begun reporting cases of COVID, and workers were concerned about what they claim was the lack of training and personal protective equipment.”
Delaware North is also in the news due to reports that the new Buffalo Bills stadium boondoggle, supported by public money, could benefit Governor Kathy Hochul’s family. “Her husband, William Hochul, is general counsel and senior vice president at Delaware North, the Buffalo-based hospitality giant that has operated concessions at the Bills stadium for the past 30 years. While the new stadium does not yet have a hospitality vendor attached, Delaware North’s longtime management position puts it on the inside track to score the contract”
4) National/Nevada: The NLRB has issued a Notice of Election for a union at CoreCivic’s d/b/a Nevada Southern Detention Center. The workers would be represented by International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA). Ballots will be mailed out by an NLRB agent on July 13, and must be returned by close of business on August 3, 2022.
5) National: The first national guidelines have been established for integrated student support programs in K-12 schools. “With integrated student support programs and policies in place or advancing in 24 states, experts and educators in the field developed the first step-by-step blueprint for school districts to implement their own initiatives. The guidelines share best practices based on two decades of research, program implementation, and success at the scale required to uplift student achievement and well-being, particularly in under-resourced schools.”
6) National: Terri Gerstein and LiJia Gong of Route Fifty explain how local governments are advancing workers’ rights, and why even more should get involved. “Even if we had strong federal and state worker protections, cities and localities would still have an important role to play. By definition they’re close to their constituents, and can often respond nimbly to urgent or specific needs. They can also be innovative in doing so: Justice Brandeis famously described states as laboratories of public policy experimentation; local governments now play that role, too, and have done so effectively on worker issues.”
7) California: Public schools are set to receive record funding under the state budget. “Under the budget, school systems will look to bolster pipelines that can increase support for child mental and behavioral health, trauma-informed care, social-emotional learning and restorative justice. The state will allocate more than $1 billion to partnerships with community schools — public schools that provide services to support their neighborhoods — to help reduce barriers to learning by addressing family needs in underserved areas. Additionally, the budget will expand grant offerings to students pursuing degrees to become mental health clinicians who serve California students.”
8) California/Washington: Writing in LawyersAndSettlements.com, Jane Mundy reports that “California’s attorney general has taken the lead in supporting Washington State’s decision to enforce minimum wage laws, which includes GEO, a private prison company that, since at least 2005, has paid thousands of detainee workers $1 per day for labor that is necessary to keep its facility operational. The private prison company has appealed a Washington district court ruling that it owes back pay to detainees.”
9) Massachusetts: Worcester Public Schools is insourcing its bus system and is hiring bus drivers for the fall. “The district is no longer using Durham School Services as their provider and now operates their own transportation department. School Committee member Jermaine Johnson said the school department is looking to fill over 100 positions. The district plans to offer $30 an hour to attract more drivers and will offer in-house training. Johnson expects it to make things much smoother. ‘I think what will be different is that it’s in-house, so our communication is much better because we’re doing it right at our own facility now,’ Johnson said. ‘We don’t need to contact Durham and find out what’s going on. We, especially as school committee members who get the emails and questions about transportation: “What’s going on with this?” we can reach right out to them.’”
10) Nevada: The state minimum wage has increased slightly, the Nevada Current reports. “Beginning July 1, the state’s minimum wage increases to $10.50, up from $9.75, for workers not offered health coverage. Employees offered health care will now make $9.50, up from $8.75. Nevada’s wage increase is lower than other places scheduled to see a boost to wages July 1, according to the national organization Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. In Connecticut, the wage will increase to $14 an hour and will reach $15 in 2023. The wage will continue to be adjusted based on the Employment Cost Index beginning in 2024. In Washington D.C. the wage will go from $15.20 to $16.10 per hour. And in Oregon the wage will rise by varying amounts in different parts of the state, ranging from a new wage of $12.50 in non-urban counties to $14.75 in the Portland metro area.”
11) Minnesota: The Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has named Minnesota Reformer reporter Deena Winter its journalist of the year. “Winter, who has been a reporter and editor for three decades, distinguished herself with high-profile investigative and enterprise reporting across a broad swath of the Minnesota news landscape, including the rise of pillow mogul Mike Lindell, the prosecution of Jaleel Stallings, and exploding overtime costs of the Minneapolis Police Department.”
12) Ohio: Voters will be deciding this November on a $1.5 billion bond package to support affordable housing and other public services in Columbus. The overall bond package breakdown includes:
- Health, safety and infrastructure: $300 million
- Recreation and parks: $200 million
- Housing: $200 million
- Public service: $250 million
- Public utilities: $550 million”
13) Oregon: As wells run dry, Oregon residents depend on a state program that trucks in water. “Sherryll Hoar is lead emergency communications and outreach strategist at the Department of Human Services. She said it’s too early to know whether water deliveries will become the norm in southern Oregon. Hoar said the department’s role was to make sure the water gets delivered. ‘It’s a solution for now,’ she said, ‘but persistent drought seems to be in our future for a long time.’”
14) Think Tanks: The Real News Network and Just Media are partnering to launch a new criminal justice journalism fellowship in Baltimore. “The six-month fellowship provides up-and-coming journalists with media training and sustained mentorship to build critical investigative reporting skills that amplify stories grounded in their communities, expose broken systems, and challenge existing narratives about race and mass incarceration.”
15) Think Tanks: Open Secrets has issued a useful new report on how different states rank on the transparency requirements and shortcomings of their lobbying laws.
16) National: A national mandate for public funding of charter schools? As the extremist-captured Supreme Court looks for new targets, some are suggesting charter schools may make it into the picture. “‘There will be efforts by those who want to create religious charter schools to claim that the denial of funding for them violates free exercise of religion,’ predicted Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law.”
17) National: In an article in Popular Resistance, Sarah Jaffe has detailed how the attack on teachers threatens the future of public schools. “If people do not start speaking out and demanding that legislatures listen to teachers and support and fund our public education, I think we’re nearing the end of good public education in our country,” Susan Jones (not her real name), a teacher in Michigan, said.
18) National: The House education subcommittee has proposed budget cuts and more oversight for the federal charter schools program. “The Department has long recognized the particular risks posed by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs). In response to a 2016 audit, the Department con- ceded to the Inspector General, ‘ED is well aware of the challenges and risks posed by CMOs and, in particular, EMOs, that enter into contracts to manage the day-to-day operations of charter schools that receive Federal funds. We recognize that the proliferation of charter schools with these relationships has introduced potential risks with respect to conflicts of interest, related-party trans-actions, and fiscal accountability, particularly in regard to the use of federal funds.’ Since that initial acknowledgement by the Department regarding for-profit EMOs, the Committee has been made aware of concerning instances of criminal fraud, conflicts of interest, and inadequate transparency.”
19) National: Writing in LA Progressive, Marc Feldstein says vouchers harm public education by siphoning funds. “We’ve all noticed how divisive American society has become. Can this not be partially attributed to the growth of charter and private schools along with voluntary home-schooling (i.e., not due to illness or pandemic)? Couldn’t it be suggested anecdotally that that as specifically white ethnic or evangelical students headed for charter or private schools in increasing numbers, the country also got more hateful, stratified, etc.? The exchange between Covington Catholic High School students and Native Americans years ago is an example of angst between some in private school and those of color or outside the Christian faith.”
20) Arizona: “One of the things people never fully comprehend is how far privatization advocates want to take things,” says Charles Siler in an excellent piece in Salon by Kathryn Joyce on the assault on public education in Arizona. (h/t Jennifer Berkshire). “‘They want to get rid of all public funding for education. Eventually vouchers will die off too.’ What will remain, he argues, will be a self-funded primary education system, funded by a lending market much as colleges are. Or as Lewis says, a ‘system of haves and have-nots.’”
A hard step in that direction was taken in Arizona last week says More Perfect Union. “Republican lawmakers just approved the most comprehensive taxpayer-funded private school voucher program in America, while warning about ‘critical race theory’ in public schools. This is the end-game of CRT fear-mongering—the complete privatization of public schools.”
21) California: IndyBay.org reports that “Schools and Labor Against Privatization held a BBQ and speakers talked about the struggle to keep Oakland schools open and against the privatization of the Port of Oakland for GAP A’s billionaire owner John Fisher. They pointed toward a national independent working class movement against privatization and racism with independent working class candidates.”
22) Colorado: Chalkbeat reports that “Adams 14 officials signed a $5 million, three-year contract with the school district’s new external manager, the New York-based nonprofit TNTP. The contract, effective July 1, will run through June 30, 2025. TNTP, formerly known as The New Teacher Project, submitted the only response to a request for proposals from organizations to manage the district, as required by the state. Both the district and the nonprofit group spent months figuring out if they were the right match. This is the second time the district has entered into an external management agreement to raise student achievement after years of low performance. (…) The contract lays out a proposed payment schedule for the $4,995,553 cost over three years. District and community leaders had raised concerns about the cost of the last management contract, in which MGT received more than $7 million in the first two school years.”
23) Missouri: Too much political resistance to pulling money from traditional local schools to support charter schools? Why just pull it from the state budget and call that a “compromise.” Missouri Independent reports that “public school advocates had fiercely opposed any attempts to pull funds from the budgets of traditional public schools to boost charter school budgets. They argued traditional public schools are already underfunded and subject to more requirements than charter schools. Under the original proposal, St. Louis Public Schools and Kansas City Public Schools were expected to lose an estimated $18 million and $8.2 million in funding respectively. Ben Conover, an organizer with Solidarity with SLPS, a volunteer-run advocacy group of parents, teachers and allies, said it was a win for advocates, who have also worked to achieve a moratorium on new charter schools in St. Louis as the board of education leads a citywide plan to address the issue.”
24) New York: Long Island Business News reports that public debt is to be issued to support charter schools. “The Town of Hempstead’s Local Development Corporation has given preliminary approval for the sale of $72 million in tax-exempt and taxable bonds to assist the Evergreen Charter School construct and equip a new classroom building. Evergreen, located in Hempstead, plans to construct an 85,000-square-foot classroom building on 1.41 vacant acres at 27-33 and 27-39 Laurel Ave. and 495 Peninsula Blvd. in Hempstead that will be used by 750 students in grades 7 through 12. The Peninsula Boulevard property has a 15,000-square-foot warehouse that will be used for parking.”
25) Ohio: A 95-page state audit has determined that the now-closed online charter school ECOT owes the state more than $117 million. “Ohio Auditor Keith Faber said that included $106.6 million to the Ohio Department of Education and another $10.7 million to the Attorney General. The state reached those findings after determining the online charter school, which inflated enrollment numbers, should not have received millions of dollars in state money between 2016 and 2018. ECOT was once the largest online charter school in the state, with founder William Lager donating heavily to politicians, including Faber.”
26) Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia Board of Education’s move to close two Black-operated charter schools has sparked a backlash. “The movement to preserve Black-operated charter schools won’t be deterred by the Philadelphia Board of Education’s votes last week to begin the process of closing two such charters, say members of a coalition who believe certain schools face racial bias in how they’re regulated. The school board unanimously voted June 23 not to renew the charters of Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School and Laboratory Charter School, which both have Black leadership. Those votes followed the recommendation of the district’s Charter School Office.”
27) National: The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in West Virginia v. EPA has dealt a serious blow to the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to nationally regulate carbon emissions that contribute to global heating, and have eroded regulation in the public interest across a wide variety of risk areas. “he decision also firmly established the “major questions doctrine,” setting the precedent that agencies have little leeway in setting new regulations with major economic impact or political salience that rely on powers not clearly laid out in statutory text. Applying the doctrine to this case, legal scholars and the court’s liberal minority said, will limit the powers of agencies across government and may have a chilling effect on whether to issue certain regulations at all,” Route Fifty reports.
The New York Times characterized the decision as a major victory in the long game to dismantle public interest business regulations—especially consumer safety and environmental regulations—first proposed in the famous 1971 Powell Memo that helped launch the modern right wing infrastructure. “In 1971, a lawyer who had represented the tobacco industry named Lewis F. Powell Jr.—whom President Richard M. Nixon would soon put on the Supreme Court — wrote a confidential memo for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce titled ‘Attack on American Free Enterprise System.’ It is seen as an early call to action by corporate America and its ideological allies.”
It remains to be seen how this decision will it affect so-called public-private partnerships. Will state and local regulations be gutted under some theory that they impinge of some “major” federal issue? Will they affect the NEPA compliance issues that have slowed down or shut down breakneck approvals of potentially unsound projects? This is just one of the sets of issues that have been opened up by the Supreme Court’s overturning of precedent.
28) National: Climate and conservation groups have filed a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s resumption of oil and gas leasing on public lands. “‘Overwhelming scientific evidence shows us that burning fossil fuels from existing leases on federal lands is incompatible with a livable climate,’ said Melissa Hornbein, senior attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. ‘In spite of this administration’s climate commitments, the Department of the Interior is choosing to resume oil and gas leasing. The very least the BLM could do is acknowledge the connected nature of these six lease sales and their collective impact on federal lands and the earth’s climate. Its failure to do so is an attempt to water down the climate effects of their decision to continue leasing and is a clear abdication of its responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act.’”
29) National: The federal government has launched a $1 billion initiative to rework infrastructure that cut apart cities. “That’s a far cry from the $20 billion the president originally wanted for the program, but it remains a symbol of Biden’s stated vision of building infrastructure that benefits underserved communities,” says Route Fifty.
30) National: Public Works Financing, the flagship journal of the ‘public-private partnerships’ (aka road privatization) industry, has weighed in on the negative impact the inflation spike will have on infrastructure costs and finance. “If forecasting inflation is hard, forecasting the impacts of inflation are even more difficult,” says PWF editor Michael Bennon. “Now layer on the largest federal infrastructure spending legislation in a generation, and it looks like inflation in the infrastructure sector may be very high for a very long time.”
This will inevitably affect both existing P3s and whatever greenfield and brownfield P3s will come down the pipeline as the federal stimulus plan rolls out. “For private, operating infrastructure assets, the degree of hedging against inflation is dependent on project contracts. Many toll road P3s, for instance, set max rate increases that are partially based on inflation, though others do not. Many availability payment calculations factor in some portion of inflation risk as well, which may be shared between public sponsors and concessionaires. The degree of inflation protection will vary, but inflation risk is generally something that will be clearly sorted out when negotiating a 30+ year operating contract.” [Public Works Financing, June 2022; sub required].
The Wall Street Journal has underlined the importance of a national labor shortage for infrastructure projects. “Moody’s Analytics projects that the bipartisan infrastructure law’s peak impact will be in the fourth quarter of 2025, when there will be about 872,000 more jobs as a result of all the projects across the country. The higher labor costs could sap some of the value from what has been President Biden’s signature legislative achievement. Administration officials are working to address the workforce shortages, including hosting a ‘talent pipeline challenge’ last week to develop workforce training programs for jobs in construction as well as broadband and electric-vehicle charging infrastructure.” [Sub required]
And undoubtedly if a recession takes hold, this will impact state and local government revenues for infrastructure and public services, not to mention the impact of sharply rising interest rates and a weakened bond market.
31) National: “Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, recently tapped to head up the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ newly created public-private partnership task force, thinks now is the perfect time for cities to consider P3s for their infrastructure projects,” reports The Bond Buyer. “The USCM launched the P3 task force in June at its 90th annual meeting. The task force, which has no formal membership and can be attended by any mayor, is aimed at becoming a hub to discuss opportunities, challenges and best practices for P3s. (…) In addition to federal funds, the IIJA enacts several provisionsaimed at boosting the U.S. P3 market, including grant money to local governments considering the option.” [Sub required]. Atlanta DSA has called Dickens an “eager champion for big business interests.”
32) National: Blackstone has suffered a legal setback in a dispute with housing non-profits “that are trying to seize some of the apartment buildings it bought for $5.1bn from AIG last year,” the Financial Times reports. “The world’s biggest private equity firm bought housing assets worth more than $20bn during the coronavirus pandemic, including student halls of residence, a rent-to-buy landlord and AIG’s portfolio of 678 rent-controlled developments funded through a federal low-income tax credit programme. (…) While the sixth circuit’s ruling is only binding in Michigan and three other states, it follows similar rulings against other housing finance providers in jurisdictions including Massachusetts and Delaware. Blackstone is seeking to resolve two other lawsuits in which it is asserting ownership rights over properties that are operated by non-profits, according to people familiar with the situation.” [Sub required]
33) California/National: A BART subway track warped when it hit 140 degrees, leading to a train derailment in the San Francisco Bay area. “Railways across the country could become more vulnerable with the increasing frequency and intensity of heat events, according to a 2019 study in Transport Policy. The study found that by 2100, train tracks across the nation could incur $25 billion to $60 billion in damage because of heat and climate change.”
34) Florida: Don’t dare privatize our public utility, which is providing tremendous benefits to the community, says Gainesville Sun guest columnist Jeffrey Shapiro. “First and foremost among the benefits is the consistent fiscal contribution that GRU provides to the city and residents instead of to corporate investors. The annual general transfer of funds is a substantial, legitimate, equitable and stable contribution to local finances that supplants property taxes. Gainesville is replete with nonprofits such as our flagship university that pay no taxes, otherwise paid through corporate profits. Selling the city utility is on par with privatizing our university to satisfy the state budget. GRU revenues provide numerous benefits ranging from fire and police services to parks and recreation, from clean water to its recycling through Sweetwater Wetlands Park and the new project near Kanapaha Prairie. Us stakeholders share in the cost and benefits of these projects and their development — not so if GRU were owned by a for-profit investor-owned utility, for the profits of investor-owned utilities are dispersed to shareholders around the country and the world.”
35) Pennsylvania: A massive redeveloped energy refinery in Philadelphia is meeting heavy resistance from local residents. “Black Americans are 75 percent more likely than other Americans to live in fenceline neighborhoods like Grays Ferry and Point Breeze adjacent to sites rife with pollution and toxic chemicals, according to a 2017 report from the NAACP and the Clean Air Task Force. Black people have also been subject to higher levels of pollution than whites, no matter their income, the EPA reported in 2018. Much of that pollution comes from burning and refining fossil fuels, which releases into the air soot that has been associated with lung disease, asthma, heart disease and early death. In 2019, the American Lung Association issued a warning for Philadelphia, which is 40 percent Black: the air may be hazardous to your health, along with earlier EPA data establishing that the refinery, often operating in violation of its permits, produced a significant amount of that toxic air pollution.”
36) International: More criticism is being directed at the Canada Infrastructure Bank for promoting privatization. “In a transcript obtained by PressProgress, Canada Infrastructure Bank CEO Ehren Cory eagerly proposed letting ‘private sector financing’ overhaul the provision of water ‘assets’—because water has a stable base of ‘customers who pay.’ In leaked notes from an April 23, 2021 CIB board meeting, Cory said the Bank has big plans to overhaul ‘the water sector.’ ‘Partnering both public and private sector means that we need to engage with a vast variety of stakeholders in both the private and public sectors,’ Cory told the board. Water infrastructure, they said, is unique among public works projects because it ‘has an element of revenue stream associated with it’ or ‘some form of repayment capacity.’”
37) National: A San Diego jail has been granted an “unprecedented” exemption from Biden’s executive order supposedly eliminating private, for-profit prisons. “Western Region Detention Facility has been the subject of extensive debate since January 2021, when Biden announced his executive order to phase out federal contracts with private prison companies. Western Region, which is run by The Geo Group Inc., houses detainees for the U.S. Marshals Service awaiting trial and sentencing on federal charges. The jail was expected to close in September and again in March, each time receiving last-minute reprieves to the surprise of employees and attorneys. The looming closure date was supposed to be Thursday. But on June 24, GEO Group sent a letter to all employees at Western Region informing them that the facility would remain open. ‘The United States Department of Justice filed for and received approval for an exception to President Biden’s Executive Order,’ the letter reads.”
38) National: Paul Wright, writing in Counterpunch+, spells out The Impact of Criminalizing Abortion on Prisoners and Mass Incarceration: A Return to Forced Birth in Shackles. “In the aftermath of Roe, women prisoners seeking to terminate pregnancies often had to go to court and seek injunctions forcing jail and prison officials to provide them with access to abortion services. There is a dearth of information about how many pregnant prisoners are in custody at a given time and how many have sought to terminate their pregnancies. One of the few sources of information is the Pregnancy in Prison Statistics (PIPS) project, which has now evolved to the Advocacy and Research on Reproductive Wellness of Incarcerated People at John Hopkins School of Medicine. A 2016 study by PIPS looked at the federal prison system, 22 state prison systems, six jails and three juvenile prison systems. Combined they represented 57% of women in prison and 5% of women in jail. It found that 4% of women entering prisons and 3% entering jails were pregnant. Given that some 8 million people a year cycle through the jail system alone, these numbers are probably low.”
38) National: Writing in The Intercept, Lee Fang analyzes how “bizarre” Wall Street ESG hocus pocus spins private prisons as a “socially responsible” investments. “The racial equity audit was a conscious effort by CoreCivic not only to mend its poor public image, but also to harness public interest in racial justice to bring the company back into the good graces of Wall Street investors. The contents of CoreCivic’s audit pointed to mostly superficial contributions to diversity and equity.”
39) National: Crooks posing as ICE officials are defrauding the U.S. families of asylum seekers, according to Capital and Main. “The assistant had no idea what she was talking about. She passed along the purported court documents and explained that she had spoken to Giardina and an ICE official named Cruz. Once Giardina saw the documents he knew who was behind the scam. Several months earlier the same “Marcos Cruz” had successfully targeted the relative of a previous client, a Brazilian asylum seeker held in a detention center in Louisiana. As he explained that Mariana had been defrauded, she broke down again.”
40) National/New Mexico: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is being sued over their failure to provide documents relating to an inhumane New Mexico facility. “Innovation Law Lab said in a statement that despite ‘clear urgency and risk of serious harm to the people currently being detained at TCDF,’ ICE has not responded to public records requests made under the Freedom of Information Act. The organization is now suing with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico and the law firm of Coyle & Benoit, PLLC. ‘The motion for a preliminary injunction asks that the court direct ICE to promptly provide the records requested so that Innovation Law Lab can use them to inform their advocacy and pro bono legal services at TCDF.’”
41) Tennessee: Tennessee Lookout’s Sam Stockard reports that Republican Governor Bill Lee is gutting the state’s community corrections program, which has existed for over three decades, through a new contracting system. “Community Corrections groups across the state are reeling after the Tennessee Department of Correction made a power move to take over intensive felony supervision through contract bids, skipping over the Legislature. ‘I think it’s gonna adversely affect Community Corrections,’ forcing reductions in staff and services offered to the courts over the last 35-plus years, says Michael Walton, operator of Westate Corrections Network in Union City and president of the Tennessee Community Corrections Association. (…) In 2021, the Tennessee Legislature staved off a move by Gov. Bill Lee to eliminate the Community Corrections program, which diverts felony offenders from prison in favor of community based supervision and treatment programs to reduce criminal behavior. Now the Tennessee Department of Corrections has made an end run to bypass lawmakers.”
42) National: Wasting no time, private equity is lining up to profit off the misery created by the Supreme Court’s abortion ban. “The uptick in demand could add up to huge profits for the two private equity firms behind the most well-known morning-after pill, Plan B. It might also put Plan B in the middle of the abortion rights fight. The all-male teams of investors behind Plan B are poised to make big bucks. According to the websites of the two private equity firms, Kelsoand Juggernaut, only men make up the teams overseeing the maker of the top-selling emergency contraception in the United States. And their paydays could be big. One dose of brand-name Plan B typically sells for around $46. And it’s probably quite profitable: It had a more than 85 percent profit margin when it was sold as a prescription drug by Barr, said David Woodburn, a former analyst who covered the company. (Neither firm responded to DealBook’s requests for comment about the gender makeup of their teams).”
43) Missouri: Mid-Missouri DSA says “Local election loser @epeff is so mad about working people voting against her privatization scheme that she has teamed up with conservative crank Mike Murphy to launch an all out attack on unions through the magazine she owns.”
44) Ohio: Who pays property taxes to support services when the economy is dominated by nonprofits? “The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, both nonprofits, are among the largest employers in Cuyahoga County and together own billions of dollars of tax-exempt properties. While they do pay income taxes, the nonprofit hospital systems do not pay property taxes on the vast majority of their real estate, said Zach Schiller of Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal non-profit research group. ‘It used to be that the largest employers by and large …were contributors to the tax base and in particular to the schools,’ Schiller said. ‘It puts the school districts, in particular, behind the eight ball when their largest employers don’t pay taxes.’”
45) International: A new study from the Lancet shows that deaths from treatable causes have risen in line with increased privatization spending in the British National Health Service. “Co-author Benjamin Goodair of Oxford told the FT that ‘While some have argued the Health and Social Care Act  would improve the performance of health services by increasing competition, our findings add merit to longstanding concerns it could instead lead to cost-cutting and poorer health outcomes.’”
46) International: Managers at Royal Mail, the privatized British postal service, have voted to go on strike in the latest case of industrial action across the U.K. “Postal workers are voting over the next few weeks. It follows strikes on Britain’s train networks in June as higher fuel and energy costs eat into household budgets. Pay rows in other industries threaten further disruption over the summer.” [Sub required]
47) International: CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian public services union, has launched a TV ad campaign. “As frontline providers of public services, we are worried about the damage that will be caused by Premier Furey’s plans to privatize services and sell-off provincial assets,” said Sherry Hillier, CUPE NL president. “With the premier’s plan, we’ll lose control of services, costs will rise, and quality will suffer.”
48) National: EY, an auditing firm with a large book of government business—and which has faced calls for a ban on bidding for government contracts—was fined $100 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), The Economist reports. The fines settled claims “that dozens of its audit staff cheated on ethics exams. EY was also accused of misleading investigators. The penalty is the highest ever imposed by the SEC on an auditor. It is double the amount paid in 2019 by KPMG, a rival firm, for altering old audit work using stolen data.” [Sub required]
49) Maryland: Progressive developers? Maryland Matters editor Josh Kurtz reports. “Coming soon to the mailboxes of Democratic voters in Montgomery County—if they haven’t landed already: slick mailers from a group calling itself Progressives for Progress, urging votes for a slate of candidates for county executive and county council. But don’t be fooled by that name: This is no band of wild-eyed radicals. Progressives for Progress is a new political action committee created and funded completely by real estate developers and other real estate interests that are agitating for significant change in the direction of the county.”
50) International: Public Ownership Now, the U.K. campaigning group, is hosting an online discussion on “how public ownership, stopping the Privatisation Scandal & public control are essential to tackling the crises facing Britain. From addressing the cost-of-living crisis, to the climate emergency, to the urgent need for more resources for public services, extending public ownership across the economy is key.” July 6, 19:00 BST, 14:00 Eastern U.S. time. [Register]
51) Revolving Door News: Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R), bypassing the usual practice of waiting until you’re out of office before cashing in, is defending his acceptance of a $20,000 position on the board of a bank. It’s “educational,” you see, and will help him perform his official duties.
Photo by Kent Kanouse.