Privatization Update: Recent News from across the Country

As states face mounting deficits, corporate lobbyists have been promoting the idea that privatization of public services and assets is a free lunch -- services can be delivered more cheaply than by public employees and public assets like highways can be sold or leased for a hefty return to the taxpayer.  As PSN has detailed in our December 2007 report Privatizing in the Dark: The Pitfalls of Privatization & Why Budget Disclosure is Needed, the promises of privatization too often yield to a reality of lost money and degraded services, weak oversight and lost expertise, assets sold off for short-term gains but long-term loss, lost democratic accountability, and the corruption of the political process.

Report: Stop Retailers Pocketing over $1 Billion in Sales Tax Revenue

According to a new study by Good Jobs First, state and local governments lost over $1billion in sales tax revenue last year as a result of laws that allow retailers to retain a percentage of the sales tax they collect.

Phil English loses seat; Murtha, Kanjorski hang on

In northeastern Pennsylvania, Kanjorski, a 12-term congressman, squeaked out a win against Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, a Republican mayor who became nationally prominent for his stand against illegal immigrants.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Kanjorski had 52 percent, and Barletta had 48 percent.

"We worked hard. We came up a little short in the end, but we ran a good campaign, a clean campaign, a campaign we can be proud of," Barletta said in his concession speech.

Barletta also lost to Kanjorski in 2002. He told reporters that it was too early to say whether he would mount a third challenge, but added that in a different year, the outcome might have been different. He said a strong showing for presidential winner Barack Obama contributed to Kanjorski's win.

Barletta pushed through a law in his community of 30,000 that sought to deny business permits to companies that employ illegal immigrants and fine landlords who rent to them. A federal judge struck down the ordinance as unconstitutional but his efforts were emulated in other towns around the country.

Judicial Elections Public Financing: Balancing Independent Courts and Voter Choice

Once the sleepy backwater of electoral politics, judicial elections have recently become a battleground where right wing and corporate groups spend large sums to fill the courts with jurists who will support their interests.  This is perhaps the most troubling example of money corrupting our politics, because instead of pay-to-play politics it gives us pay-to-win justice.  The independence of the judiciary simply cannot be maintained in an environment where jurists are competing for votes in high-priced, bare-knuckle political brawls. 

Virgina, Pennsylvania, Ohio Not Prepared for Record Voter Turnout

Several battleground states are not prepared to meet the challenge of administering the general election on November 4th, where turnout will be unprecedented, According to a report conducted by Advancement Project, a national leading voter protection organization.

To assess, and help ensure, the nation’s readiness for the November general election, Advancement Project obtained public records and other public information on the allocation, at the precinct level, of voting machines (or, in the case of jurisdictions that use optical scan machines, voting privacy booths) and poll workers in the following states: Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.