Virginia court strikes down toll to fund public private partnership

May 3, 2013

Officials react to tunnel toll block

In a three minute court hearing in Virginia, Portsmouth Circuit Judge James A. Cales Jr. rejected as “unconstitutional” the ability of the state’s Department of Transportation to set tolls on a Norfolk tunnel. The tolls are being collected to fund 17 percent of a new tunnel that is being built by a public private partnership (PPP). The private entity in the PPP is putting up 12 percent of the cost, but it will receive most of the cash flow over the term of the 58-year lease. I wrote about this project last year:

Pensions, retiree health costs and municipal debt

May 2, 2013

Will Scranton recover?

May 1, 2013

Scranton, Pennsylvania blasted into the national consciousness last summer when its mayor, facing a cash shortage, slashed city worker wages to minimum wage.

Another model for privatization implodes

April 29, 2013

Concerned Residents Confront Carlyle Over Sludge Dumping*

I’ve written numerous times about how public private partnerships (PPP) are often a bad deal because they privatize profits and socialize risks. A perfect example of this is the bankruptcy of privately-held Synagro Technologies, which contracted with municipal governments to treat raw sewage and then spread it on farm fields. Reuters reports:

Puerto Rico’s new budget

April 29, 2013

Puerto Rico’s governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla presented his new budget for the Commonwealth on Thursday. Caribbean Business reported on the details:

The ruins of old America

April 26, 2013

A stronghold of America’s establishment may be about to be toppled. The world’s largest Masonic Temple in Detroit will be foreclosed for unpaid taxes. The bones of twentieth-century America are withering away. Detroit’s WXYZ reports:

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey outsources new Goethals bridge

April 25, 2013

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced on Wednesday that it has awarded the contract to rebuild the Goethals Bridge to a public private partnership (PPP). Bloomberg reports:

Gallagher’s muniland armageddon

April 24, 2013

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Several professionals in muniland have jumped on SEC Commissioner Dan Gallagher for his recent warnings about the possibility of an “Armageddon” for retail investors in muniland.

Philadelphia should address its basic issues

April 23, 2013

Philadelphia held its bond investor conference last week. Although the press was not allowed to attend, the city did post the presentations on its website. Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Joe DiStefano neatly summarized the city’s political and fiscal position, which is not as rosy as the presentations make it seem:

Is it time to restructure CalPERS?

April 21, 2013

A canary is singing in a coal mine in California. Canyon Lake, a city of about 11,000, has announced its intention to terminate its contract with CalPERS, the statewide retirement system. The small city has outsourced most of its public services and has two employees on its payroll, which it will shift from full time to part-time employment. According to Reuters: