WBEZ | privatization http://www.wbez.org/tags/privatization Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en FAA OKs request to privatize Midway http://www.wbez.org/news/faa-oks-request-privatize-midway-105027 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/airplane.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Federal authorities have given a green light to Chicago to press ahead with plans to privatize Midway International Airport.</p><p>The Federal Aviation Administration says Friday in a statement that the city &quot;can take the next steps to select a private airport operator&quot; after the agency accepted a preliminary application to privatize Chicago&#39;s second largest airport.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel said last month he&#39;s seeking private bidders interested in leasing Midway for up to 40 years. He wants enough cash from the deal to pay off Midway&#39;s roughly $1.4 billion debt. There&#39;d be a split of profits with the private operator.</p><p>Emanuel proposed a panel of City Council members, business leaders and labor representatives to oversee the process.</p><p>He says a &quot;Traveler&#39;s Bill of Rights&quot; would be part of any deal.</p></p> Fri, 18 Jan 2013 14:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/faa-oks-request-privatize-midway-105027 Joliet detention-center talks include private prison firm http://www.wbez.org/news/joliet-detention-center-talks-include-private-prison-firm-103436 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CCA_hall.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px; " title="CCA owns and operates Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. The facility is one of many in which the company holds detainees for ICE. (AP File/Kate Brumback)" />A top Joliet official says his talks exploring possibilities for an immigrant detention center in the city have included the nation&rsquo;s largest private prison operator.</p><p>City Manager Thomas Thanas told WBEZ he had engaged in a &ldquo;preliminary conversation&rdquo; with officials of Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America to see &ldquo;whether Joliet might be a suitable site&rdquo; for a facility that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants in the Chicago area.</p><p>Thanas declined to say when and where the conversation took place or what details were discussed. &ldquo;We have not reviewed plans,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Nothing has been filed on a formal basis.&rdquo;</p><p>Joliet officials are &ldquo;not talking about any specific sites at this point,&rdquo; Thanas said. He added that &ldquo;a facility like this could not be located near a residential area, schools or a commercial district.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas referred questions about site possibilities to CCA, whose spokesman referred inquiries to ICE, which declined to discuss the Joliet project.</p><p>The federal agency sent a statement that said building a Chicago-area detention center would help improve immigrant confinement conditions and enable &ldquo;locating detainees closer to where they are apprehended so that they can be near their families, community resources and the ICE field office.&rdquo;</p><p>What would Joliet get? &ldquo;Hundreds of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs,&rdquo; Thanas said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m always interested in projects that have an opportunity to create jobs and revenues for our school district.&rdquo;</p><p>Federal officials met with Thanas about the project October 17 in Washington, he said. &ldquo;It was a fact-gathering opportunity for both them and me.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas also briefed some City Council members about the detention-center possibility.</p><p>But officials managed to keep the project out of public view until the Chicago Tribune revealed it late Wednesday. Within hours, some Joliet activists and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights began organizing opposition.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t believe you should be making a profit off of tearing families apart because they&rsquo;re undocumented,&rdquo; said Richard Rodríguez, a Joliet resident who chairs the Mexican American Coalition of Will County. &ldquo;There should be comprehensive immigration reform. Address the issue properly.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas replied that national immigration policy was not Joliet&rsquo;s business. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a matter of federal concern,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Joliet&rsquo;s nine City Council members on Thursday declined to comment or did not return messages about the project.<br /><br />The Joliet talks follow a highly publicized setback for ICE and CCA in south suburban Crete, where the agency wanted the company to build and run a 788-bed detention center. Village trustees rejected the plan June 11 after months of protests by residents, human-rights advocates and public-sector unions.</p><p>CCA had greater success in Springfield. The company lobbied against Illinois legislation that would have banned government agencies at the local and state levels from contracting with private firms to build or run civil detention centers. The bill passed the Senate in March but stalled after a series of close House floor votes May 31.</p></p> Fri, 26 Oct 2012 05:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/joliet-detention-center-talks-include-private-prison-firm-103436 Crete trustees reject detention center plan http://www.wbez.org/news/crete-trustees-reject-detention-center-plan-100006 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CreteCouple.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 233px; height: 258px;" title="Village residents in April marched against the project, in which Corrections Corporation of America would have held detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (WBEZ/Charlie Billups)" /></div><p><em>Updated with reactions from ICE and an immigrant advocate June 12 at 4:47 p.m.</em></p><p>After months of rancor among its leaders and residents, a Chicago suburb has rejected a plan by the country&rsquo;s largest private prison operator to build and run an immigrant detention center.</p><p>A unanimous voice vote of Crete&rsquo;s six trustees Monday night ended village negotiations with Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America. The vote came just hours after an unsuccessful negotiating session between Crete and CCA officials. Village President Michael Einhorn said the vote blocks the project &ldquo;as of now.&rdquo;</p><p>The decision thrilled residents who have campaigned against the plan since last fall. &ldquo;When lots of little people get together, it&rsquo;s possible that the big guns will listen,&rdquo; said Marimonica Murray, a leader of the group Concerned Citizens of Crete, which led opposition to the detention center.</p><p>Under the proposal, Crete would have contracted with CCA, which would have owned the medium-security facility and held more than 700 foreign nationals awaiting deportation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.</p><p>Crete officials say they first learned about the project from CCA in 2010. ICE announced last summer that the federal agency had &ldquo;tentatively selected&rdquo; Crete for the facility.</p><p>Village officials touted the potential for scores of permanent jobs. They also talked up expected taxes and per-detainee payments for the village.</p><p>But the proposal met stiff resistance from Crete residents worried that the detention center would drag down property values, stretch village services too thin and threaten public safety. Those residents aligned with immigrant advocates who said CCA treated its detainees and workers poorly. The company disputed those claims.</p><p>Illinois legislation that would have derailed the project sailed through the Senate in March. The bill would have banned government agencies at the local and state levels from contracting with private firms to build or run civil detention centers. A close House floor vote last month defeated the measure.</p><p>After Crete trustees turned down the planned detention center, a written statement from company spokesman Steven Owen called the outcome &ldquo;disappointing to the taxpayers, job seekers and local businesses that stood to benefit from this economic boost.&rdquo; The statement said the company &ldquo;will continue to work closely with ICE in meeting their needs in the region.&rdquo;</p><p>A statement Tuesday from President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration says ICE will review proposals for a detention center elsewhere in the Chicago area. The statement says a facility would help improve the confinement conditions and &ldquo;allow for some consolidation of detainees closer to their place of apprehension and immigration proceedings.&rdquo;</p><p>Fred Tsao, policy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said the administration instead ought to use its Crete setback as an opportunity to allow more immigration violators to remain in their homes. &ldquo;Why is ICE keeping these thousands of people in detention at great expense to taxpayers when many of these individuals pose no threat to the community?&rdquo; Tsao asked.</p></p> Mon, 11 Jun 2012 22:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/crete-trustees-reject-detention-center-plan-100006 Sister union’s vote could affect leverage of teachers http://www.wbez.org/news/sister-union%E2%80%99s-vote-could-affect-leverage-teachers-99962 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Local73.JPG" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 276px; height: 480px; " title="SEIU members march with the Chicago Teachers Union in a 2011 downtown protest to support public education. (Photo courtesy of Local 73)" /></div><p>As the Chicago Teachers Union tallies <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/ctu-president-karen-lewis-talks-strike-authorization-vote-99844">a vote</a> that could lead to a strike, some balloting Saturday by the school district&rsquo;s second-largest union could affect the teachers&rsquo; bargaining strength.</p><p>Service Employees International Union Local 73 is holding a ratification vote on a tentative contract covering 5,500 Chicago Public Schools employees ranging from bus aides and special-education assistants to custodians and child-welfare attendants.</p><p>Local 73 Vice President Taalib-Din Ziyad and other union leaders are urging members to approve the deal because the district has privatized a lot of the work once done by the union&rsquo;s members.</p><p>&ldquo;We were able to save those jobs that were threatened as well as get language that there would be no further contracting out of any of our jobs,&rdquo; Ziyad said.</p><p>Local 73 and CPS said they would not release a copy of the agreement until after the ratification vote. Union leaders say the deal covers three years and sets up 2 percent annual raises.</p><p>The tentative pact follows a CPS contract settlement with Unite Here Local 1 announced last month. That agreement, a five-year deal, covers about 3,200 lunchroom workers and limits the district&rsquo;s switch to &ldquo;warming kitchens&rdquo; in which private venders provide preprepared food.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not clear whether the two settlements leave the CTU&rsquo;s 25,000 members out on a limb or increase their leverage. The teachers are finishing a vote on whether to authorize union leaders to call a strike. That vote, which began Wednesday, comes amid tough contract talks involving everything from pay to the school-day length.</p><p>Orlando Sepúlveda, a Local 73 member campaigning against ratification, calls the tentative agreement &ldquo;a hollow victory&rdquo; and says his union could have done better by waiting for the teachers to get a deal.</p><p>&ldquo;The defense of public education &mdash; meaning not only halting privatization, but also the improvement of all its constituent elements &mdash; will require the unity of all the community that it serves and all the workers involved in it,&rdquo; Sepúlveda wrote in a Web commentary.</p><p>The settlements could affect the CTU&rsquo;s negotiations, according to leaders of that union.</p><p>&ldquo;The members of both Unite Here and SEIU are hourly workers so they&rsquo;re not a good precedent for salaried teachers,&rdquo; CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. &ldquo;But one thing that could set a precedent for us is the job-security language that those unions won.&rdquo;</p><p>The CTU has lost thousands of members in recent years, partly as a result of the district&rsquo;s approval of nonunion charter schools.</p></p> Fri, 08 Jun 2012 19:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sister-union%E2%80%99s-vote-could-affect-leverage-teachers-99962 Water: does the future depend on who controls it? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-07/water-does-future-depend-who-controls-it-93810 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-07/water4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Water flows fast and often free from the taps of many American households. The United States uses more water in four days than the world uses oil in a year.&nbsp;Many of us have no idea where our water comes from, let alone who controls it.&nbsp;</p><p>Investigative journalist Charles Fishman says the golden age of water, at least in this country, is coming to an end.&nbsp;Fishman is the author of <em><a href="http://www.thebigthirst.com/the-book/" target="_blank">The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water</a></em>. As part of WBEZ’s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter" target="_blank"><em>Front and Center</em></a> series, Charles discusses who should control this precious resource, here in the Great Lakes region and beyond.</p></p> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 16:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-07/water-does-future-depend-who-controls-it-93810 Worldview 11.7.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-11711 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-november/2011-11-07/water3.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Water is one of our most precious natural resources. But who should control it? Some say the market is the best place to solve the problem of supply and demand.&nbsp;We take a look at the privatization of water,&nbsp;here in the Great Lakes region and beyond, with <a href="http://www.thebigthirst.com/the-author/" target="_blank">Charles Fishman</a>, author of <a href="http://www.thebigthirst.com/the-book/" target="_blank"><em>The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water</em></a>. Also, in September, BBC Persian aired a profile of Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei. The government reacted by immediately blocking BBC’s satellite feed and arresting several filmmakers, none of whom had anything to do with the documentary. We speak with the film’s director about Iran’s fracturing political system.</p></p> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 15:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-11711 Rahm vows bus rapid transit, but can he deliver? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-23/rahm-promises-brt-can-he-deliver-90926 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-23/Transmilenio.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>All this week, WBEZ is looking at <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/first-100-rahm-emanuels-first-100-days-chicago-mayor" target="_blank">Rahm Emanuel’s first 100 days as Chicago mayor</a>.</p><p>One of Emanuel’s pledges is to push for the creation of the city’s first bus-rapid-transit line. The idea behind BRT is to deliver the benefits of rail at a fraction of the cost. BRT shortens travel times through dedicated bus lanes, pre-paid boarding that’s level with station platforms, and traffic signals that favor the buses.</p><p>WBEZ’s West Side bureau reporter <a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/chip-mitchell" target="_blank">Chip Mitchell</a> gives us a progress report on Emanuel’s ambitious plan.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 23 Aug 2011 16:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-23/rahm-promises-brt-can-he-deliver-90926 Preckwinkle open to privatizing Cook County assets http://www.wbez.org/story/preckwinkle-open-privatizing-cook-county-assets-89786 <p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says she's open to privatizing some county services to help solve a major budget shortfall.</p><p>Preckwinkle said the county is facing a $116 million budget shortfall this fiscal year and a $300 million deficit next year.</p><p>"The truth is, look, we did a lot of the easy stuff in the last budget cycle. Picked a lot of the low-hanging fruit, if you want to use a cliché," Preckwinkle said. Thursday. "It gets harder and harder once you've done the easy things to make the cuts you have to make."</p><p>At a news conference, Preckwinkle was asked if she would be open to privatizing county assets to get some quick cash.</p><p>"You know, I think pretty much everything is on the table," she said.</p><p>Preckwinkle said she wants to avoid layoffs. She ordered all county departments to immediately cut five percent.</p><p>Preckwinkle blamed the bulk of the projected deficits on health care costs. She's controversially been trying to get clearance to close a south suburban hospital, which she says is costing the county $2 million dollars each month it stays open that's not budgeted.</p></p> Fri, 29 Jul 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/preckwinkle-open-privatizing-cook-county-assets-89786 Cook County facing big budget deficit http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-facing-big-budget-deficit-89784 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-28/RS3389_AP101123183747.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says the county is in deep financial trouble. She said the county is running a major deficit not just through this year, but also into the next fiscal year. Preckwinkle said the county is coming up short $116 million this fiscal year and $315 million for 2012.</p><p>She said there are plenty of reasons for the shortfall, including a campaign promise to cut the sales tax. But she said the vast majority of the deficit comes from costs related to health care and a delay in the collection of patient fees.</p><p>"We're going to do everything we can. In my view, layoffs are the last resort," Preckwinkle told reporters Thursday.</p><p>Preckwinkle ordered all county departments to immediately reduce spending by five percent. She defended the use of furlough days and said she's asking labor leaders and other countywide elected officials to come up with budget saving tips. She also wouldn't rule out privatizing county assets.</p></p> Thu, 28 Jul 2011 20:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-facing-big-budget-deficit-89784 With motherland in crisis, Greek-Americans plan visits http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-07/motherland-crisis-greek-americans-plan-visits-88846 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-07/Sklavos.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Lawmakers in Greece this week have passed bills clearing the way for international financial aid crucial to solving the country’s debt crisis. As the Greek parliament has debated austerity measures this week, thousands of protesters have poured into central plazas across the country, sometimes clashing with police. In the United States, many Greek-Americans have watched the turmoil with dismay — wondering what, if anything, they can do to help.<br> <br> Greek-Americans say they have all kinds of feelings about the financial crisis.<br> <br> DAVROS: From resentment to sympathy to embarrassment to anger.<br> <br> Michael Davros is the author of a book called “Greeks in Chicago.” This area is home to as many as 200,000 people of Greek descent.<br> <br> DAVROS: I think that the Greek problem is so monumental that it’s very difficult for any one person to wrap their minds around it.<br> <br> But some Greek-American leaders say they have a way for their community to help out.<br> <br> CHIAGOURIS: Visit Greece.<br> <br> George Chiagouris promotes Greek culture through a fraternal group called the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.<br> <br> CHIAGOURIS: That is the one way that we can help — by showing [up] there, by spending our money. And have some fun. Visit the sites. Visit the Acropolis, visit all the things that the Greeks have given us for 2,500 years.<br> <br> Chiagouris and his wife have tickets to Greece for next month. And, in an enclave of Chicago restaurants and bars known as Greektown, many others say they’re planning trips.<br> <br> SKOUFIS: My name is Vasilios Skoufis. And I’m working at the Greek Islands restaurant as a maître d'. I’m supporting the country also. I’m leaving the 28th of August. I’m going to go down there. I’m going to spend some money. I’m going to bring some money into the country.<br> <br> Greece’s tourism chief in the United States says his country expects a 10 percent boost in income from American visitors this year. That’s after a slump during the recession. It will take a lot more than tourism to deal with Greece’s debt. The government is planning big spending cuts, tax hikes and sales of state assets. And Maria Sklavos is not convinced so many Americans will flock to Greece. She manages Pegasus Restaurant in Greektown.<br> <br> SKLAVOS: People here that do have money, I think they do travel and they try to find the time to travel to Greece every year. Most of them do have houses. They have property. I don’t think spending money on vacation is going to help the economy of Greece. Financial crisis or not, they’re already going to go.<br> <br> Davros, the author, points to ongoing unrest in the country.<br> <br> DAVROS: There are not going to be too many people traveling to Greece if they see Athens going up in smoke. Riots have a deleterious effect on tourism. It’s just kind of natural.<br> <br> Tourists willing to brave any protest could face other issues, including work stoppages. Visitors this week have had to contend with a general strike honored by everyone from ferry drivers to air-traffic controllers.</p></p> Thu, 07 Jul 2011 19:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-07/motherland-crisis-greek-americans-plan-visits-88846