I WOULD LIKE TO WRAP UP MY SHOUT OUT AGAINST THE 'NEW ECONOMY' FOR NOW BY GIVING THIS ONE ADDITIONAL EXAMPLE. THE STATE OF ILLINOIS IS GROUND ZERO FOR THIS 'NEW ECONOMY'. IT IS NO COINCIDENCE THAT OBAMA COMES FROM ILLINOIS......IT IS NO COINCIDENCE THAT RAHM EMANUEL, OBAMA'S CHIEF OF STAFF AND NOW MAYOR OF CHICAGO IS THERE, AND IT IS NO COINCIDENCE THAT BILL CLINTON, FOUNDER OF THIS THIRD WAY MOVEMENT TOWARDS THIS 'NEW ECONOMY' CAME TO CHICAGO JUST RECENTLY TO APPLAUD EMANUEL'S DEVELOPMENT PLANS FOR CHICAGO. THIRD WAY SEES ILLINOIS AS A MODEL FOR THEIR NEW SOCIETY, JUST AS WALL STREET SEES ITSELF AS THE MODEL FOR EDUCATION, AND MARYLAND SEES ITSELF AS THE MODEL FOR HEALTHCARE. ALL LEADING TO MEGA-GLOBAL INDUSTRIES THAT WILL CRUSH THE PEOPLE.
SO AS EMANUEL PROMOTES HUGE PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS THAT GIVE CORPORATIONS HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF TAXPAYER MONEY TO CREATE INFRASTRUCTURE THAT THE PUBLIC WILL THEN PAY THOSE PRIVATE COMPANIES TO USE, THE GOVERNOR OF ILLINOIS ANNOUNCES THE MOST RADICAL CUT OF PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION BENEFITS AND WAGES, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND STATE CUTS TO ENTITLEMENTS LIKE MEDICARE AND MEDICAID TO PAY FOR IT. MEANWHILE, THIRD WAY DICK DURBIN, ILLINOIS SENATOR AND SECOND IN LINE FOR LEADERSHIP IN THE SENATE IS ON BOARD FOR THE FEDERAL BUDGET 'GRAND BARGAIN' THAT WILL MAKE THE SAME CUTS TO THOSE SAME PROGRAMS AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL....AGAIN, TO PAY FOR THIS 'NEW ECONOMY'. SO AS THESE THIRD WAY POLITICIANS SAY THEY ARE PROTECTING ENTITLEMENTS AND POVERTY PROGRAMS....THEY ARE WORKING TO CUT THEM AS FAST AS ANY REPUBLICAN.
WE CAN REVERSE THIS BY VOTING OUT INCUMBANTS!
Delaporte, Stokes call for city audits on Steiner Show
May 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm Baltimore Brew
The idea of pushing Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to regularly audit the books of Baltimore city departments got a (literal) airing yesterday on the Marc Steiner Show, as former city Recreation and Parks Department Director Chris Delaporte and three City Councilmen came on the program to discuss it. (Podcast here.)
Listeners calling in provided perhaps the most interesting element to the hour-long show (on WEAA-FM 88.9), as they reacted to news that not all city departments are routinely audited – and, to the contrary, many have not had an audit in decades.
“Egregious” and “disgusting,” said “Lavonne.”
A caller identified as “Shannon” said of the revelation: “It’s flabbergasting.”
Joined by Councilmen James B. Kraft and Bill Henry, Councilman Carl Stokes talked about the ordinance he has proposed requiring audits of every city department every two years. Delaporte, meanwhile, expanded on the points he made in a May 1 op-ed piece for The Brew.
EWOs under Scrutiny
This website has been writing regularly about the issue and documented a dozen examples (here are just two) of city spending and contract award practices that raise questions about the need for audits.
Delaporte’s op-ed grew out of a comment he posted in reaction to Rawlings-Blake’s statements on an earlier Steiner Show about EWOs (extra work orders) that regularly appear before the Board of Estimates.
In the Bureau of Water and Wastewater, more than 90 EWOs have been tacked onto a single contract, either to cover cost overruns or to pay for unrelated work that the city has not put out to competitive bids. The Brew noted that these EWOs ballooned the cost of the contract from $11 million to $17 million.
Amid the momentum apparently building for more audits – advocates have started a petition drive and Harry E. Black, the city’s new finance director, told the City Council last week that he, too, was concerned about EWOs and city procurement practices – there is some criticism about the idea.
This comes not just from administration officials who might be expected to resist audits. Some education advocates chided Stokes this week when he spoke at a meeting citing the city’s poor accounting practices as the reason he is blocking a city bottle tax hike earmarked for school renovation. Others thought he was right to be “standing on principle.”
You can read more about the debate from the Brew story (and lively comments) on that meeting here.
THIS ARTICLE DOES A GOOD JOB IN GIVING AN ANALYSIS OF THE ISSUE.
AlterNet / By Matt Reichel
The New Wall Street Racket Looting Your City, One Block at a Time New schemes hold the public hostage to private finance. May 7, 2012 |
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When Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced a “new and innovative” financing tool last month to help Chicago renovate failing infrastructure without precipitating another budget crisis, many in the city were understandably critical.
Chicagoans have already endured the notorious 75-year lease of their parking meters to a consortium headed by Morgan Stanley. That sale promulgated a system wherein the public is held hostage by private finance, due largely to the inclusion of arcane legal stipulations like “non-compete clauses” and “compensation events” in the language of the contract.
Ellen Danin, writing in the Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy relates that: “Chicagoans learned about compensation events when CBS reported that the city’s parking meter contract required reimbursement for events like repairing streets. Public records showed that in the first quarter of 2009, the city was liable to the parking meter contractor for more than $106,000 in lost income during the slow months for street repair and street closings for festivals, parades, and holidays, as well as repairs and maintenance. At that rate, it is not unreasonable to predict that Chicago will owe roughly $500,000 a year to the private contractor.”
The city essentially acts as an insurer for the meter merchants, with the return being a one-time injection of roughly a billion dollars that the previous mayor, Daley the Second, haphazardly exhausted on closing budget deficits in the waning years of his two-decade tour at the helm.
With the current infrastructure deal, Emanuel has repeatedly claimed that this is not privatization: This is not like the parking meter deal. Can the public believe him?
Here is how the “infrastructure trust” works: the city pays for upgrades to its roads, rail or schools with dollars pooled by Emanuel’s friends from the banking and investment world. Meanwhile, the city retains “ownership” of the infrastructure, though this comes at the cost of having to ensure a revenue stream for the fund. Emanuel’s favorite example is his $225 million pet project to green-retrofit some of the city’s older buildings. The savings on energy usage stemming from the renovations are then extracted and used to pay off investors. Of course, the city could also sell municipal bonds to raise necessary funds, and then use the savings in energy costs to pay the loan back at a much lower cost to taxpayers. But then Emanuel’s friends (and campaign donors) would not be the richer for it.
While the mayor bills his plan as “bold” and “innovative,” the reality could not be further from the truth. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been around for decades in various forms and their track record is replete with delays, cost overruns and prolonged legal battles. What’s more, the beneficiaries of these investment mechanisms are the same rapacious Morgan Stanleys and Goldman Sachs that gave us the mortgage-backed securities scandal and the ensuing recession. Using the economic malaise they created as cause, they have ratcheted up their advocacy of PPPs as a means of helping cash-starved public entities finance capital-intensive projects.
The upshot is that they are holding us hostage all over again. They are using infrastructure built over decades with public monies as collateral to extract profit off of the back of taxpayers. A cursory look at some past projects of this nature demonstrates that PPPs are often inefficient, overly costly and inherently unjust.
The London Tube Nightmare
The granddaddy of all PPP debacles is the London Underground. Metronet PPP is the brainchild of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The contract design kept London Underground in public hands while privatizing the renovation and renewal elements to the system. As with the Chicago parking meter deal, the contract was replete with virtually unintelligible legalese designed to give the private partners an advantage in court, while also rendering public scrutiny of the contract exceedingly difficult. Bureaucratic costs related to drawing up contracts with external bidders ultimately surpassed 500 million pounds.
YOU CAN SEE THAT THESE ARE NOT PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS....THESE ARE THIRD WAY DEMOCRATS WORKING AGAINST THE MIDDLE/LOWER CLASS!
ST L.COM ---St. Louis, Illinois blog
Illinois likely site of next fight over public employee benefits BY KEVIN McDERMOTT Posted: Monday, August 22, 2011 12:15 am
Related Links SPRINGFIELD, Ill. • Unionized public employees are once again clashing with state leaders who want to roll back benefits and weaken collective bargaining to shore up a government budget.
And this time, the threat isn't coming in a Republican stronghold like Wisconsin, Indiana or Ohio, but rather in that "bluest" of states, Illinois.
Leaders in both parties in Springfield appear ready to push a major pension reform bill this fall that would remove Illinois workers' current defined-benefit plan and replace it with less lucrative options, including a 401(k) plan.
Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn — who just last year was accused by Republicans of coddling labor for votes — is now being accused by labor of trying to renege on salary and benefit guarantees for union workers.
"This dispute isn't just about money. It's about the integrity of the collective bargaining process," Tim Drea, secretary-treasurer for the Illinois State AFL-CIO, said last week.
It's the kind of language that labor leaders have been using in recent "red" state showdowns between public sector unions and Republican leaders. Here, as there, labor leaders say the implications reach beyond the public sector and into the very concept of union rights.
"What the governor has done is a flat-out assault on the collective bargaining process itself," Drea said.
Quinn and others say they're acting for the long-term fiscal stability of the state, as well as the short-term necessity of paying its bills. Even with a new personal income tax hike to address what was a $12 billion budget deficit, the state still faces about $7 billion in unpaid bills. The state's worst-in-the-nation unfunded pension liability is at least $80 billion, and some claim it's actually much higher.
On July 1, Quinn announced he wouldn't honor pay raises that had been scheduled by contract for 30,000 union workers across 14 state agencies because the Legislature hadn't appropriated money for them. An arbitrator subsequently ruled against the administration. Quinn is trying to get a court to overturn that ruling.
"We will not be able to get through the fiscal year if these 30,000 employees are given raises," Quinn said last week.
While he partly blamed the Legislature, he also couched it as a stubborn issue of financial reality: "You can't give money that isn't there."
Since that argument is coming from a traditional union ally in a labor-friendly state, it may not be as easy for labor leaders here to dismiss as it is in Madison, Wis.
"When you're dealing with Democrats, it's harder (for the unions) to portray it as a needless ideological fight," said Brian Gaines, political scientist at the Institute for Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Complicating matters, Gaines said, is that Quinn is "a governor who owes his election (last year) in large part to the unions.''
Quinn last week scoffed at suggestions that the issue threatens to drive a wedge between him and one of his most important political constituencies. "Working people are behind me," he said. "I do very well with working people."
But the issue clearly has forced Quinn into a difficult balancing act between his long history as a pro-labor progressive and his current post at the helm of one of the most fiscally unstable states in America.
The unions point out that they have already conceded plenty to the state's fiscal crises. In the past two years, they've seen postponed pay raises, furloughs and a new pension system that's less generous to new hires. A recent education overhaul, which essentially ends traditional teacher tenure, was approved with the agreement of the state's two main teachers unions.
Union supporters also stress that the pension crisis isn't the result of overly generous benefits, but rather of the state's failure over decades to make its full regularly scheduled payments to retirement funds.
"Just like in other states, Wisconsin or Ohio, they're putting the blame on state workers," said Dwayne Hall, a Joliet-based child services investigator for the state, as he and other workers picketed the Illinois State Fair on Wednesday.
That was "Governor's Day" at the fair, when the sitting governor, his party and their supporters traditionally gather for a show of unity amid the corn dogs and lemonade. As Quinn was inside the fairground giving speeches, union workers were waving signs that implored, "Gov. Quinn Keep Your Word."
That's a very different relationship with labor than the one Quinn enjoyed just a few months ago, when he stood firmly with unions in Illinois, and nationally, during the public employee showdown in Wisconsin.
During that conflict, a group of Democratic Wisconsin state senators fled into Illinois in an effort to thwart what they saw as Republican Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to break the public employee unions there. Quinn, thrust into a national story, reveled in his role as leader of a safe-haven state for organized labor.
"We welcome them. They can stay as long as they want," Quinn said of the Wisconsin senators in a February interview on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews." Quinn in the interview lambasted anti-union sentiment in general, and his fellow governor Walker personally, accusing him of waging "a war on workers."
"The people who teach our kids, who plow the snow off our interstates, those are working men and women and they deserve a decent pay and decent retirement," Quinn said. "What Gov. Scott Walker's doing in Wisconsin is just plain wrong."
Some in the Illinois labor movement now view that interview with irony and bitterness — even to the point of comparing Quinn, unfavorably, with Walker.
"Whatever you think of what Scott Walker did … at least he changed the law (to do it). Pat Quinn is just ignoring the law, to flout collective bargaining rights," said Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) of Illinois.
While Republican leaders and union workers in other states have accused each other of ulterior motives, Gaines, the political scientist, believes both sides in the Illinois dispute are saying exactly what they mean.
"It's not that (Quinn) is trying to pick a fight … I think if he could find the money somewhere else, he would," said Gaines. As for the union workers, he said, "I think they're genuinely upset. They feel like they put him in office, and he owes them."