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Privatization horror stories are not new, but there is something new coming out of them: pushback against reckless privatization of public property and services. Molly Ball reports on the growing trend of cities and states thinking twice about signing over their roads or parking meters or services to for-profit companies without looking closely at how much they're giving away.

So in Chicago, where a shady parking meter privatization deal led to skyrocketing rates and huge fines against the city any time it closed a parking meter for construction or any other reason, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing back against those unreasonable fines—and a proposal to privatize Midway Airport failed. And:

In Oregon, the legislature this month approved by overwhelming margins a bill tightening oversight of information-technology projects. It was an easy sell in the wake of the failure of the state's healthcare-exchange website, which was such a disaster it made Healthcare.gov look successful by comparison. To this day, Cover Oregon's website cannot accept online applications, forcing Oregonians to use paper applications or go through an insurance agent instead.

The new legislation will require third-party reviews of the quality of IT contractors' work. One of its sponsors, Representative Nancy Nathanson, a Democrat from Eugene, believes such a requirement might have prevented the exchange debacle had it been in place while the site was being developed. "I think it's important when you're spending public money, whoever is doing the work needs to have their books open," she told me. "We need to see how the money is spent. We need to see performance measures to determine whether something is working. We need accountability." In the next legislature, Nathanson plans to continue her push on contracting issues, she said.

Oversight, transparency, and accountability are badly needed whenever you're talking about giving a for-profit company control of a public service. Privatization has had years to gain steam, and there's a lot of money behind it. It's great to see a backlash building.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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