Grassroot Perspective – July 22, 2003-British Prison Privatization Success; Interdependence Day; Blog for Your Supper; Power to the People

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– British Prison Privatization Success

A decade of competition in the Prison Service has delivered real and
lasting improvements in the quality of service. It has also provided
consistently high levels of purposeful activity and time out of cell for
prisoners, transforming the behaviour of many prisoners held in
privately run prisons.

These are some of the key findings of a new report published by the
CBI’s Public Services Strategy Board today (16 June). The report
“Competition: A Catalyst for Change in the Prison Service”, brings
together research from a wide variety of academic and government
services to analyse the effects of private sector involvement in one of
the most difficult and sensitive public services.

Commenting on the report, Rod Aldridge, Chairman of the Public Services
Strategy Board said:
“The benefits of a mixed economy are clear – overall the performance of
privately managed prisons has been very good.

“As this report shows, it is essential to look beyond the sterile
arguments of public good, private bad to the substantive changes that
have taken place on the ground.”

Mr Aldridge went on to highlight some of the areas that contributed to
the high levels of performance:

*Improved prison design;

*flexibility of staff;

*pride of ownership and commitment to individual prisons;

*transparent financial management with local rather than central budget

*encouragement of innovation at all levels;

*always learning from the best practices of other corrections
practitioners, both nationally and internationally;

*full and purposeful rehabilitation regimes for prisoners.

He added: “If the Government is to achieve his objective of transforming public
services the contribution of competition needs to be widely and honestly
recognised. The positive effects of private sector involvement in the
prison service are clearly unquestionable and are perhaps best summed up
in the words of Martin Narey, newly appointed Commissioner for
Correctional Services.”

Above articles are quoted from The CBI Magazine, England News Release
June 13, 2003

– Interdependence Day

One of the most onerous parts of the Patriot Act is the section
requiring banks and other financial institutions to do quick checks of
their records for names that match investigatory targets of law
enforcement. Banks were hit with such a blizzard of requests in 2002
that the feds actually went back and re-wrote the regs for the law. The
idea was to make the process more streamlined and understandable for the
banks. But customers are still out of the loop.

In fact, federal regulators are emphasizing to banks that any list of
names sent down by the Treasury’s Department’s financial crime clearing
house should be destroyed and kept from wide dissemination. The law
makes it clear that banks cannot disclose the existence of any search to
anyone but law enforcement, but regulators are apparently worried that
the lists will take on a life of their own.

They have good reason for that concern. The Patriot Act ostensibly says
that the presence of a customer’s name on a section 314 information
request should not be taken as evidence of wrongdoing or prod the bank
into ending its relationship with the customer. But that is what some
bankers are doing anyway.

Bankers are loathe to destroy all records of the 314 requests, otherwise
how would they show their various federal bank examiners that they have
complied with all relevant banking regulations? They need some sort of
paper trail to show compliance. This is especially true when a request
turns up no matching names, because the official Patriot Act directive
is to do nothing in these cases. So how do banks keep track of these
requests? At least some appear to be putting them on their “do not do
business with” list.

To recap, a federal law designed to catch terrorists is now blacklisting
innocent people from financial services because the initial pass of an
investigation included them in the dragnet.

– Blog for Your Supper

A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is being trumpeted as extending
First Amendment protections to bloggers and other do-it-yourself
publishers. But it doesn’t extend them all the way. The decision puts
great weight on the non-commercial status of self-publishers, a status
that may not be permanent.

There is clearly a difference between a full-blown newspaper and
something like a forwarded e-mail or a moderated discussion. A
participant in a list or discussion does not have the same power over
content that an editor or a publisher does, and makes no representation
that he or she is responsible for all the claims made by other
participants in the discussion.

But bloggers who create content and take ads, even if it is for a
nominal amount, are much more akin to newspaper publishers. Hopefully
the courts will make it clear that bloggers can be as commercial as
newspapers and retain similar protection against getting sued for libel.,1283,59424,00.html

– Quick Hits

Quote of the Week

“It seems to me that someone building a house next to a nightclub should
know what they are getting into.” — Sarasota County Commissioner Paul
Mercier, on a complaint about live music at Pop’s Sunset Grill that
resulting in a zoning ruling that banned music from the venue

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Power to the People

By Jake Haulk, Ph.D. and Frank Gamrat, Ph.D.

Article I, Section 2 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states: “All power
is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their
authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the
advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and
indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such
manner as they may think proper.” However, the concept embodied in
Article I, Section 2 is obviously not a belief held by Governor Rendell,
who has vowed to veto any property tax reform measure that would require
future tax increases to be approved through a referendum.

Recently, the Governor told the York Daily Record, “We’ve got to do it.
We get paid to do it.” The “it” in question is making the decisions
about tax rates. He argued that politicians should not “pass the buck”
to voters on the matter of raising taxes. But the Governor, who has
sworn to uphold the Constitution, should have more respect for the power
that constitutionally resides in the people. Power is granted to
elected officials by the consent of the governed. If the governed want
the right of referendum for tax increases, they should have it. The
power to tax is the power to destroy and the taxpayers ought to have the
final say about any increase in their taxes.

This latest flap stems from the growing concern over taxpayer protection
in the Governor’s plan to increase education funding through a 34
percent increase in the state’s income tax while offering partial
rebates of school property taxes. A recent Pennsylvania Manufacturers’
Association Bulletin shows that “77 percent of the state’s 501 school
districts would be ‘losers’ under the plan”: loser being defined as a
district where the average property owner would see an increase in their
state income tax greater than their school property tax rebate.

While shifting away from property taxes to fund schools is a popular
concept, many taxpayers are worried that it would not be long before
their school district begins to raise millage rates and they would then
be stuck with both increasing property taxes and higher income taxes.
Hence, the renewed interest in protections from tax increases. But
opponents of such measures claim these protections tie the hands of the
people that were elected to make such decisions and would ultimately
lead to funding shortfalls in public services and education. But
experience from around the nation proves otherwise.

The premier example of taxpayer protection that has worked well is
Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). Adopted in 1992, TABOR
prohibits the imposition of any new state or local tax or any increase
of an existing tax without voter approval. Opposition leaders predicted
doom and gloom for the state’s economy and massive declines in the
delivery of needed public services. None of those predictions were
correct. Instead, Colorado has enjoyed one of the nation’s best economic
growth rates and tax revenues have exceeded all expectations as a result
of the job and income gains.

Pennsylvania’s economy has lagged far behind Colorado since 1992. Total
non-farm employees in Colorado increased by 37 percent from 1992 to 2002
while Pennsylvania jobs grew by only 11.3 percent. Moreover, average
annual pay for Colorado workers rose at a pace twice that in
Pennsylvania. So much for the forecasts of economic calamity. This
spectacular performance did not go unnoticed around the country.
Florida, Missouri, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nevada and Washington have
subsequently adopted similar taxpayer protection measures.

For the Governor to say he will veto any legislation that provides for
referenda on local tax increases represents the height of disregard for
the rights and wishes of the people. Local school boards are notoriously
incapable of restraining spending and taxes. They cave to union demands
and apparently cannot resist the temptation to build Taj Mahal
facilities. After all, no one likes to see teachers on strike and what
school board member doesn’t want to show people the wonderful new
structure that he or she helped build. Experience has shown that voting
board members out does not solve the problem. The system is arranged in
such a way that the “tax and spenders” will inevitably be in charge
again in fairly short order.

It is time for the Legislature to give control over tax hikes to the
voters. After all, 36 states already have a referendum requirement for
school tax increases. Their worlds have not fallen apart as opponents of
referenda in Pennsylvania constantly warn will happen.

It is simply misguided to oppose voter referenda for taxes on the
grounds that elected officials have been given that power and they must
reserve it to themselves. Pennsylvania’s Constitution explicitly invests
all governing power in the people. If they need or want to have
referenda to restrain elected officials, they are Constitutionally
entitled to it. Elected officials have only the powers the people are
willing to give them. It is not “passing the buck” for the Legislature
to approve the right of referenda for tax hikes.

Pennsylvania governments’ imperious attitude and insatiable need to
spend money will not be brought to heel unless and until the voters have
control over taxes. History has shown that elected officials either
cannot or will not act in the interest of taxpayers. Our current
situation only reemphasizes the lessons already learned.

Above article is quoted from Allegheny Institute for Public Policy,
Policy Brief Volume 3, Number 24

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“Today’s hard liner on law and order is yesterday’s liberal who was
mugged last night.” — Ronald Reagan

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. He can be reached at (808) 487-4959 or by email at:”’ ”’For more information, see its Web site at:”’