The AP picked up an important story out of Texas, where it appears that the good ol' boy community thinks that corruption is a fine method of operating.
The story goes like this: Bill Ceverha, a lobbyist, consultant, and member of the board of the Employees Retirement System of Texas, lobbied for an education privatization front group in 2005. One of his big donors was a man by the name of James Leininger. Leininger is also the founder of Kinetic Concepts.
A number of state leaders have been promoting what seems like a free
lunch. Hand over control of government services to private industry and
those companies promise better service at a lower price. Like most
promises of a free lunch, privatization has mostly ended up being a
deceptive boondoggle, a point the non-partisan news sourceStateline.org emphasized this past week:
The Western Governors Association on Sunday acknowledged an
inconvenient truth. The bipartisan group of Governors from West Coast,
Rocky Mountain, and Great Plains states came together to unanimously
pass a resolution (PDF) that says that global warming is real, at least partially human-caused, and that now is a time for action.
In Indiana, critics are condemning
a rushed $1 billion privatization of the states' social services work
-- despite the fact that the companies bidding on the contract have
mismanaged similar contracts in other states and, more tellingly, no
one even bothered to determine whether the companies could do the job
cheaper than current state employees:
The Dallas Morning News reports this morning on the strength of Texas' tobacco lobby, which is running strong in its efforts to defeat a $1 per pack increase in tobacco taxes. Regardless of the policy, what caught my eye was this paragraph talking about their lobbying team:
Among those working for tobacco giants Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds are the intense and driven Mike Toomey, a former state representative and former chief of staff for Gov.
Facing state Supreme Court decisions demanding both equitable financing
of public schools and reforms to the state property tax, the special
session in the Lone Star State accomplished one big item
of business yesterday -- reforming the bizarre loophole-ridden state
franchise tax and actually applying it to a broad range of businesses,
thereby lowering the rate but also raising $3.4 billion when it starts
We've written before about the new 75-year lease of an Indiana
toll road to a Spanish-Australian partnership, and the bad deal for
taxpayers and democracy that it represents. The state's largest
consumer group filed a lawsuit yesterday saying that the deal was so bad that it violates the state constitution. The Citizens Action Coalition
argues that the state constitution requires lease proceeds to pay down
public debt, rather than diverting long-term returns from a lease to
immediate public spending. The lawsuit highlights the core problem with
this kind of privatization -- it's essentially a theft from future
taxpayers and consumers to help pay for government spending today.