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Where are National’s ‘SUPPORT ASSET SALES! VOTE NATIONAL!” signs? Anywhere??

In my considered opinion, ASSET SALES are THE election issue, in which the differences in stated policy between National and Labour are most clearly defined.
It appears that corporate interests, represented by National, were really hopeful that masterfully-packaged ‘Mr Popular’ corporate raider John Key, would be able to pull it off.
That somehow, masterfully-packaged ‘Mr Popular’ corporate raider John Key, would be able to invoke some form of collective frontal lobotomy in the voting public en masse, who would forget that while the ‘Rogernomic$ reforms’ were GREAT for big business, they weren’t quite so great for the public majority.
Especially when it comes to monthly power bills.
Somehow – masterfully-packaged ‘Mr Popular’ corporate raider John Key, would  enable the public majority to forget the ‘bad old days’ when under the ‘inefficient’ Electricity Department and Power Boards – you could afford to have your heater on in winter, and a soak your tired, aching  bodies in a lovely hot bath?  :(
Somehow – masterfully-packaged ‘Mr Popular’ corporate raider John Key, would be able to persuade the same ‘Mums and Dads’ who are struggling every month to pay their crippling  – ‘more efficient’ power bills, that they would be able to invest in these  ‘partially privatised’ power companies.
Unfortunately – the Botany by-election, proved that ‘partial privatisation’ /asset sales appears NOT to be a vote winner for National.
‘What to do?’ cried the ‘spin doctors’.
Plan “B” – just as happened with the (successful) corporate media campaign against Winston Peters and NZ First before the 2008 election, to discredit and undermine them in order to help ensure they did not reach the 5% party vote threshold.
Plan “B” 2011 – a concerted and unrelenting corporate media campaign, to undermine the main political party (Labour) which has stated policy of opposing ‘partial privatisation’ /asset sales, and potentially could stop this corporate agenda.
What corporate media campaigns to undermine Labour have we seen since the Botany by-election?
The Darren Hughes matter.
Phil Goff’s handling of the Darren Hughes matter.
Damian O’Connor’s undisciplined comments over the Labour list selection process.
The National Party PNth candidate’s ‘beat up’ over the Labour party intersection picket opposing asset sales.
Use of ‘opinion polls’ to help steer public opinion away from Labour/ Phil Goff.
The current ‘beat up’ over the VERY effective Labour Party  ‘STOP ASSET SALES’ signs campaign.
Whatever next?!
There will be more!
I’d actually take right wing opposition and ‘pickiness’ over the ‘STOP ASSET SALES’ signs campaign, as a cack-handed compliment.
If it wasn’t being effective – why would they bother?
Don’t buy into it folks!

On 26 January 2011, in his ‘State of the Nation’ speech – John announced National’s policy of support for ‘partial privatisation’ of some SOE’s particularly electricity.
(‘Partial privatisation’ is like ‘partial pregnancy’ – there is no such thing).
Read John Key’s full speech.

PM: Nats to sell parts of state assets
Kerr treated for cancer
Key’s state-of-the-nation speech in full
Key set to boost nation’s savings

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PM: Nats to sell parts of state assets
By Claire Trevett

2:36 PM Wednesday Jan 26, 2011

Prime Minister John Key has announced plans to sell off parts of state assets and cut back on the rate of Government spending.
Mr Key delivered his state-of-the nation address at Henderson’s Trust Stadium this morning to a group of about 380 people, mostly from the business community.
Click here for the full text of Mr Key’s speech.
He said National was looking to sell off parts of major power companies Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy along with coal company Solid Energy using the mixed-ownership model under which Air New Zealand operated.
“In each case, the government would retain majority ownership and control, and the freed-up capital would be used to purchase other public assets, thereby reducing the government’s need to borrow,” Mr Key said.
“I am convinced that Air New Zealand would not be run as well nor provide as good a service to customers if it was owned 100 per cent by the Government.”
National had also asked Treasury to look into reducing Government shareholding in the national carrier, Mr Key said.
“No other SOEs are being considered and no decisions have been made,” Mr Key said.
“Our final policy will be decided prior to this year’s election and we will seeking a mandate from the electorate before proceeding with any change,” he said.
Any sell-off would be subject to conditions including Government retaining a 50 per cent stake in the company, New Zealand investors claiming a place at the “front of the queue” when it comes to shareholding and any freed capital going back into public assets, said Mr Key.
New Zealand State Owned Entities (SOEs) not caught up in today’s proposal include Metservice, New Zealand Post, Kiwirail and Ontrack, Landcorp and Crown Fibre Holdings.
SOEs are directed to operate successfully as a business and earn profit on par with private commercial companies.
Many former SOEs were privatised by Labour and National through the 1980s and 1990s, including Telecom and State Insurance.
Opportunities for ‘mum and dad’ investors
Speaking to media after his speech, Mr Key said he was confident there would be significant interest in buying shares in currently state owned companies, by New Zealand “mums and dads” as well as institutions with investment portfolios such as the Super Fund and ACC.
“There is a lot of New Zealand investment that’s looking for a home. I don’t think the issue is about whether we can find New Zealand-based capital.”
He said foreign investors would be able to buy in, but he had sought Treasury advice to make sure the first opportunity to buy in was directed at New Zealanders.
There were various ways of ensuring New Zealanders did get the best opportunity to buy, including a discount for “mum and dad” investors. Another possibility was collecting interest in the shares, which he expected would be oversubscribed, allowing greater flexibility to decide who bought the shares.
New Zealand was “severely at risk” that foreign lenders would stop lending to New Zealand or charge higher interest rates.
“We can’t underestimate what Standard and Poors are saying. They are saying they would downgrade New Zealand, putting up the price of interest rates, unless we get on top of debt.”
He said if New Zealand was borrowing less, it meant there was more to invest in other areas.
‘Hocking off the family silver’
The announcement of planned asset sales was met with condemnation by Labour SOEs spokesman Clayton Cosgrove.
He accused National of planning to “hock off the family silver to foreign pixies”.
“They’ve done it before. It didn’t work then though we were promised we would be better off. And it won’t work now. It’s a dumb idea.”
“These enterprises have a combined value of $11.75 billion, and earn Kiwis $700 million a year.
“If John Key’s economic plan consists of hocking off the family silver to the foreign pixies from whom he’s also borrowing $120 million a week to give tax cuts to the rich, then he’s living in a fantasy land.”
Labour Party Finance spokesman David Cunliffe said the mixed ownership model favoured by National would relinquish Government control of state assets while giving little in return.
Minority shareholder rights would dilute public influence in running the companies, while compliance costs of public listing would still be incurred, he said.
“Arguably ‘mixed ownership’ is the worst of both worlds, and certainly not the best.”
Putting the proposal to sell off parts of SOEs in a speech themed around saving and investing was misleading, said Mr Cunliffe.
“Dressing it up as a savings plan is at best a bad joke. Since when did flogging off assets amount to saving and investing?
“John Key says he is singing the saving song today, but the substance is the same old agenda of irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy and flogging the family silver to pay for them.”
Cuts in Government spending
Mr Key said the asset sales would come alongside an up-to-$300 million cut in new spending assigned to this year’s budget – from $1.1 billion to $800 to $900m.
Mr Key said both moves were necessary to boost New Zealand’s economic performance and deliver jobs, higher incomes and better living standards.
“The way for New Zealand to get ahead is to sell more to the rest of the world. That means making some changes.”
Mr Key said the reduced spending would allow New Zealand to record a meaningful surplus one year earlier than projected, in the 2014-2015 financial year.
“The government simply has to get its finances in order if New Zealand is to achieve a long term improvement in its economic prospects.
“I have therefore challenged my Ministers to balance the books more quickly.
“Government spending will continue to increase each year in dollar terms but at a slower pace than the rest of the economy.”
$300m a week borrowing
Mr Key said the Government was still having to borrow an average of $300 million a week “to pay the bills”.
That has raised the national debt level to 85 percent of GDP, putting New Zealand on par with Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain, he said.
“That is very uneasy company indeed.
“We recognise that New Zealand’s level of foreign debt is our biggest vulnerability,” he said.
“In the worst of the recession, running a budget deficit was the right thing to do, as it gave much-needed support to the economy.
“Now, as the economy recovers, borrowing $300 million a week is unaffordable and is holding the economy back.
If debt remained at those levels, Standard and Poor’s would downgrade New Zealand’s credit rating, Mr Key said.
“This year the theme of the Budget will be savings and investment.”
Electricity prices won’t rise, says Key
Mr Key said he did not believe New Zealanders would face higher electricity prices as a result of private shareholders demanding greater profits from electricity companies.
He said the government had reformed the electricity industry and put controls on, including reducing cost increases of electricity generation.
He believed the companies would be more successful with some private capital. The government was “cash strapped” and could not invest in them to the same extent, restricting their growth.
He said while his critics would claim he was selling off the family silver, he believed the most important thing for New Zealanders was making sure the country didn’t go broke.
“I think the public will respect us for taking the tough decisions, but the right decisions for New Zealand. We’re really saying to New Zealanders, look, sometimes mum and dad change the mix of their assets. The car might be too big and they get a smaller thing. We’re looking to do a similar thing, but overall growing the size of New Zealand’s balance sheet.”
Labour’s promises were too extravagant and would mean they had to borrow, taking New Zealand down the same road as Ireland and Spain.
By Claire Trevett | Email Claire
On the SAME day 26 January 2011- our dear friend (not) Roger Kerr from the NZ Business Round Table, (whose members did SO well out of the ‘Rogernomic$ reforms) – came out in support of ‘partial privatisation’, as did other business leaders.
Business leaders support partial privatisation of state assets

3:15 PM Wednesday Jan 26, 2011Business leaders are optimistic that a government signal of plans to sell shares in several state-owned enterprises, while keeping a control of them, will be acceptable to voters.
Prime Minister John Key said the Government has asked Treasury for advice on extending Air New Zealand’s mixed ownership model to Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy.
Advice has also been sought on reducing the Crown’s 74.69 percent shareholding in Air New Zealand, while still maintaining a majority stake.
Business leaders today talked about the difference between partial privatisations and the privatisation of state business in the 1980s and 1990s. Mr Key said his Government was “interested in what works, not in following any particular ideology”.
With broad public support and constructive participation by other political parties the policy had the potential to achieve widespread acceptance, Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly said.
Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr said New Zealand governments were spooked by the issue of privatisation.
The roundtable has argued that there are myths about the 30 or so privatisations in the 1980s and 1990s and the country has moved in an opposite policy direction by buying back rail and Air NZ and starting Kiwibank.
He said the Government move was a step in the right direction but there were issues with partial ownership.
“All the economic research indicates that privately owned business on average outperform publicly owned ones. But partially owned state-owned enterprises can still be subject to political interference and the results are not as clear,” he said.
Employment and Manufacturers Association chief executive Alasdair Thompson said it was the opposite of selling the family silver.
“This is about realising the value from part of certain state assets and using the funds released to invest in even more valuable state assets.”
O’Reilly said that allowing New Zealanders to invest directly in a changed mix of state-owned assets was a policy that was both progressive and moderate.
“Broadening the pool of investment opportunities for New Zealand families is a key step towards a more vibrant economy.
“Greater involvement by more stakeholders also fosters accountability and better performance.”
Meridian Energy today noted the Prime Minister’s speech in a note to the NZX under the code for listed debt instruments.
“As with any company Meridian will continue to be guided by its shareholders expectations for the company,” Meridian said.
Solid Energy chairman John Palmer last year raised the issue of partial privatisation but was criticised by Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee for over-stepping the mark.
Palmer, who is also chairman of Air NZ, argued that Solid Energy’s situation was vastly different to the emotional discussion surrounding Kiwibank, and he talked about the merits of Air NZ’s ownership structure. The airline is listed on the sharemarket.
The National government has made it clear that it will not sell state assets in its first term and will signal any intention in election policy.
Palmer said there should be majority ownership of Solid Energy because it had some key national assets. The sale of new shares in the coal miner did not require the sale of the Government’s existing stake but would dilute it.
The Crown’s commercial portfolio contains almost $95 billion of assets, of which $55b is in commercially focused companies and $40b in investment funds, according to Treasury.

On the same day – 26 January 2011, other business leaders come out in support of ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets.

NZPA | Wednesday January 26, 2011 | 10 comments

Business supports partial privatisation of state assets

Phil O’Reilly

Business leaders are optimistic that a government signal of plans to sell shares in several state-owned enterprises, while keeping a control of them, will be acceptable to voters.
Prime Minister John Key said the Government has asked Treasury for advice on extending Air New Zealand’s mixed ownership model to Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy.
Advice has also been sought on reducing the Crown’s 74.69 percent shareholding in Air New Zealand, while still maintaining a majority stake.
Business leaders today talked about the difference between partial privatisations and the privatisation of state business in the 1980s and 1990s. Mr Key said his Government was “interested in what works, not in following any particular ideology”.

In contrast – Phil Goff slammed ‘partial privatisation’ as a ‘dumb idea’.

Partial asset sales a dumb idea, says Labour
Published: 1:01PM Wednesday January 26, 2011 Source: ONE News
Source: ONE News

Watch Video

Key points to partial asset sales (3:32)

Key points to partial asset sales watch
Key talks asset sales, savings and cost cutting (8:09)
John Key’s full speech: ‘Our economic challenge’ – video (23:40)

Labour says hocking off the family silver to “foreign pixies” has been tried before and failed, and “won’t work now”.
Responding to a speech by Prime Minister John Key today in which he indicated the government is looking at partial asset sales, Labour’s SOE spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said talk of the partial privatisation of New Zealand’s biggest power companies shows Key’s lack of vision.
“They’ve done it before. It didn’t work then though we were promised we would be better off. And it won’t work now,” said Cosgrove. “It’s a dumb idea.”
Cosgrove said the enterprises have a combined value of $11.75 billion and earn Kiwis $700 million a year.
“If John Key’s economic plan consists of hocking off the family silver to the foreign pixies from whom he’s also borrowing $120 million a week to give tax cuts to the rich, then he’s living in a fantasy land.”
Key said in his State of the Nation speech today that the mixed-ownership model under which Air New Zealand operates – where the government owns most of the company but there is a minority of outside equity – gives the best of both worlds.
The government has asked Treasury for advice on the viability of extending the mixed ownership model to Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy, Key said.
But Labour Party leader Phil Goff believes New Zealanders will face higher power prices and cuts to essential services like schools and hospitals under Key’s plan.
“This isn’t an economic plan. It’s a recipe for disaster. Hocking off our assets to foreign buyers and slashing spending is vintage National,” he said.
“Mums and dads don’t have spare cash floating around to buy up shares,” Goff said.
He said low and middle income New Zealanders have been stung by the GST hike and now will face cuts to health and education while “paying through the nose to heat their homes once National sells off our power companies to foreign investors”.
The Green Party said Key’s announcement indicates a swing to the right which will damage the economy long-term and hurt ordinary New Zealanders.
“The gloves are coming off. John Key’s speech…signals National’s plan to privatise state assets in the next term,” said co-leader Russel Norman.
“Selling state assets to foreign corporations, which will inevitably happen under this plan, will drive up the current account deficit, send profits overseas and drive up costs for Kiwis.
“Our current budget deficit has been created by the government’s tax cuts and poor quality spending. John Key is now using his mismanagement of the economy as an excuse to sell public assets and cut important social and environmental spending,” added Norman.
Norman said New Zealand needs state assets to drive innovation and investment.
“If the government wants to create opportunities for Kiwi investors then it should look into State Owned Enterprises issuing investment bonds. This is a much better option than selling off the assets.”
More problems than answers
The Council of Trade Unions says partial privatisation plans will do little to address debt problems and will cause more problems than they solve.
“Inevitably we will see more of the bad behaviour of the private electricity companies and the commercially focussed SOEs intensify, with more price rises, reluctance to invest in new generating capacity, and reluctance to invest in a secure supply,” CTU economist Bill Rosenberg said.
“The partial sale would hardly dent the government’s debt but at a significant cost to the effectiveness of New Zealand’s infrastructure. Most of the shares will end up overseas owned, increasing New Zealand’s overseas liabilities. It just moves public debt to private debt.”
And Rosenberg said the announcement of a further cut in the government operating allowance is small in terms of debt levels but will put pressure on government services like health and education.
“If we want to provide investment opportunities to the public, Kiwi infrastructure bonds could be offered that the government uses for development purposes.”
Exciting news
The Employers & Manufacturers Association said trading up state assets “into even more valuable assets” is exciting news.
“This is the opposite of selling the family silver,” said chief executive, Alasdair Thompson.
“This is about realising the value from part of certain state assets and using the funds released to invest in even more valuable state assets.”
Thompson said the association is calling for an Investment Development Fund dedicated to infrastructure into which proceeds from asset sales would be channelled for Kiwis to invest in.
“This would allow us to develop our country using much more of our own money instead of borrowing it from foreigners,” he said.
Realistic policy
BusinessNZ is welcoming the focus on investment in the Prime Minister’s state of the nation speech.
Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said allowing New Zealanders to invest directly in a changed mix of state owned assets is a policy that is both progressive and moderate.
“Broadening the pool of investment opportunities for New Zealand families is a key step towards a more vibrant economy.
“Greater involvement by more stakeholders also fosters accountability and better performance.”
O’Reilly said the timeframe for the policy is measured and gives a good amount of time for public discussion.
“With broad public support and constructive participation by other political parties this policy has the potential to achieve widespread acceptance,” O’Reilly said.
Campaigning on opposition to asset sales works for Phil Goff and Labour in the Botany by-election, while support for ‘partial privatisation’ / assets sales appeared to be an electoral disaster for John Key / National, as over 9000 (former?) National Party voters stay home.
Interesting how the NZ Herald’s CHIEF Political Reporter’s analysis of the only poll that really matters – an ELECTION result – in this case the recent Botany by-election, plus the election result itself, somewhat differs from these latest ‘opinion’ polls?
Botany byelection loss holds silver lining for Labour Party
By John Armstrong
5:30 AM Monday Mar 7, 2011
At last, Phil Goff has something to smile about.
Exactly why the Labour leader is smiling might not seem immediately obvious given that National’s Jami-Lee Ross won Saturday’s Botany byelection in a canter, securing almost double the number of votes of his Labour counterpart.
The answer is that everything is relative in politics. Labour did better than it hoped. National did not fare as well as it would have expected.
Of course, as arguably proven in the 2008 general election, the way ‘democracy’ works in NZ, is that the public majority get the Government that the majority of big business want us to have – and this is achieved through corporate media manipulation.
Big business want ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets, especially electricity SOEs.
John Key /National support  ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets, especially electricity SOEs.
Phil Goff/Labour think ‘ ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets, especially electricity SOEs.
is a ‘dumb idea’.
Arguably the Botany by-election result proves this?
(Over 9000 former? National party voters – DON’T.
Did ‘the polls’ predict this?
Corporate media campaign begins to try and undermine Labour and Labour’s leader, Phil Goff……………..
‘Polls’ like the one commented on today, arguably are used to keep the anti-Labour Party ‘beat-up’ going.
I predict a lot more ‘beat ups’ to come.
It seems that asset sales, especially of electricity assets, is HUGELY unpopular, and despite (shonky?) John Key’s best efforts to make this political ‘goat sh*t’ smell like honey – significant numbers of voters haven’t had a collective frontal lobotomy.
We have learned that what groups like the NZ Business Round Table are advocating, isn’t usually in the best interests of the majority of the NZ public.
Big business interests support ‘partial privatisation’, John Key/ National supports ‘partial privatisation’ (oops! the ‘mixed ownership’ model’.
Phil Goff/Labour thinks ‘partial privatisation is a ‘dumb idea’ – apparently so too do significant numbers of the general public.
Big business /National carry out a concerted corporate media campaign to help undermine Phil Goff/ Labour?
Darren Hughes / Phil Goff’s ‘handling’ of the Darren Hughes matter / Damien O’Connor’s ‘undisciplined’ comments/ the PNth intersection anti-asset sale picket ‘beat up’ …. etc.
I confidently predict that there will be constant ‘picking’ / ‘beat ups’ all through this election campaign, to attempt to undermine support for the main political party – Labour – which opposes what the majority of big business openly want – more privatisation of key public assets.
Where did we see this before?
Oh yes, before the 2008 election with the campaign to discredit and undermine Winston Peters and NZ First, so that they wouldn’t make the 5% party vote threshold.
The aim?
For National to get enough votes to govern alone.
Want to see the FACTS and EVIDENCE that I have researched to support my considered opinion?
DON’T BUY INTO THE CORPORATE MEDIA CAMPAIGN TO UNDERMINE PHIL GOFF AND LABOUR – is my opinion, and you can see by the evidence that I have provided – that it is ‘considered’.


April 21, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Howick by-election campaign | Leave a comment

MARCH FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE.Sunday, May 1, 2pm, QEII Square, Downtown, Queen St, Auckland: ‘JOHN KEY IS NOT WORKING FOR NEW ZEALAND!’

Sunday, May 1, 2pm, QEII Square, Downtown, Queen St, Auckland

A new Coalition of community groups, churches and unions has been formed. Our slogan is Social Justice (meeting occured on the 29th March 2011).

Our aim is to challenge the policies of John Key and the National/Act/Maori party Government.

We believe they are bankrupt and are not serving the interests of the majority of New Zealanders.

We are organising a MASS MOBILISATION of ordinary Kiwis on SUNDAY 1ST MAY.

Also more action when National announces the BUDGET on 19th May 2011. From Cairo to London ordinary people are challenging the Free Market perscription from government cuts to privatisation/asset sales. New Zealanders are angry about GST, milk prices and secret Trade deals.. About cuts to Early Childhood education and privatisation of electricity.

Meredydd Barrar, spokesperson says, “Enough is enough. Recent government announcements about cuts and a Budget that will certainly condemn the majority of New Zealanders to relative poverty is not acceptable. Children and struggling families as well as students looking to further their higher education will be penalised. There is a latent anger in New Zealnd at the moment. We aim to translate it into action. Nationals policies of cut backs and austerity measures will increase the gap between rich and poor which is already the 6th highest in the OECD.

We believe this is unacceptable and uncivilised. New Zealanders deserve better than this bankrput economic philosophy that only seems to make bankers, corporates and speculators richer”. For more info call CSJ on 098366389; 0212106720 or email capwaitakere

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Fighting water privatisation in NZ, Human rights | Leave a comment

WORLD WATER WARRIORS: Veolia Environnement’s Profits Shrink as Communities Across the Globe Remunicipalize Water Contracts and Company Fails to Secure Long-Term Leases

Veolia Environnement’s Profits Shrink as Communities Across the Globe Remunicipalize Water Contracts and Company Fails to Secure Long-Term Leases

Water Justice Advocates Speak Out on Company’s Long Record of Service Failures 

Washington, D.C.—Despite revenues of $46.5 billion in 2010, Veolia Environnement, the world’s largest water and sewer service provider, suffered an 11 percent drop in its water division’s adjusted operating income from the previous year, finds analysis released today by the national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. Veolia Environnement: A Profile of the World’s Largest Water Service Corporation shows how public backlash against Veolia’s attempts to dominate the water services market has undermined the company’s revenues.

Providing drinking water service to 95 million customers and wastewater service to 68 million in 66 countries, Veolia has struggled over recent years to maintain its profit levels and realize its privatization vision. From 2005 to 2009, the company’s new contracts with public authorities shrank in duration and scope—the major new deals it signed in 2009 were 97 percent less valuable than those it signed in 2005.

The company has directed over half of its growth activities over the next three years to expand its presence in Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, customers across the globe suffer water shortages, skyrocketing rates and irregular billing practices under Veolia Environnement’s service. Some communities, such as Paris, France have ended their relationships with Veolia early, realizing the potential cost savings under public operation.

“In many ways, Paris’s move to reassume public control of its water system from Veolia can be seen as a harbinger of the company’s future problems,” said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter. “A year after taking back its water system, the city is projecting $50 million in annual savings. You know things are bad for Veolia when even its hometown has rejected its services.”

These and other issues were highlighted today at a press conference convened by consumer and water justice advocates. Speakers at the event included Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch; Danielle Mitterand, president of the Fondation France Libertés; Anne Le Strat, president of the Eaux de Paris and AquaPublicaEuropea; Jean Luc Touly, regional councilor, member of the National Water Committee, trade unionist of Veolia IDF; and William Bourdon, Président de SHERPA.

“Water management has to separate itself from the commercial sphere. It is a common good and cannot become the oil of the 21st century,” said Jean Luc Touly. “Water as a common good is a source of peace, not profit.”

Veolia Environnement: A Profile of the World’s Largest Water Service Corporation is available here:

Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.


Kate Fried
Senior Communications Manager
Food & Water Watch
1616 P Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 683-4905
(202) 683-2906 – Fax

April 21, 2011 Posted by | WORLD WATER WARRIORS | Leave a comment

[Water News] Veolia rethinks US contract ops

21 April 2011
From: Mary Grant <>
Date: April 20, 2011 10:19:23 AM EDT
Subject: [Water News] Veolia rethinks US contract ops
Because of public opposition, Veolia Water North America is shifting its water privatization strategy again. This time to narrow contracts (for example, metering contracts, deals to manage capital improvement plans; and management but not operation contracts).
In the late 1990s, it targeted big cities.
In the early to mid 2000s, after public opposition and major failures, it shifted its sights to smaller and medium-sized communities.
In the late 2000s, it shift back to larger cities hoping to take advantage of the fiscal crisis.
Now, because of continued public resistance to privatization, it is pursuing smaller-scope contracts with large cities.
This is a victory — the company apparently no longer thinks its viable to target leases and long-term contracts of entire water and sewer systems in the United States.
Note 1: This differs sharply from the company’s global water strategy, which is still focused on getting long-term concessions (per its latest presentation to investors); but, as our new report notes, the company hasn’t been very successful at getting these types of deals anywhere in the world, so it may eventually refocus its international water efforts on these more circumscribed contracts.
Note 2: Veolia is also focused on industrial market – oil, gas, automotive clients. This month, it got a contract with Southern Pacific Resources to treat produced water in Northern Alberta’s dirty tar sands.

Veolia rethinks US contract ops

Small community contracts aren’t giving the French giant the kind of growth it needs in the US market. Is the solution to target bigger cities with a new kind of more restricted, performance-based contract?

Veolia Water North America is looking towards new contracting models as a means of squeezing more growth out of the US outsourced municipal operations sector. GWI’s annual survey of the top six contract operations companies shows that the total value of the market grew by 4.6% to $1.69 billion in 2010. This figure includes the impact of American Water’s acquisition of EMC; without it the growth rate would have been in the region of 1%. With growth of just 1.7% acheived in 2009, it is clear that the contract operations market is struggling to keep ahead of inflation.

Veolia Water North America CEO Laurent Auguste believes that the problem is that customers find it difficult to understand how private operators add value. “The challenge of water outsourcing and publicprivate partnerships in the US has been the lack of recognition of what the private sector can bring. Very often we go for the full outsourcing which is a black box. It does not give recognition of what we do,” he explains. He believes Veolia should slice up its proposition, to offer individual services where the value to the client is clear for all to see.
“We need a performance-based approach and that is what we are trying to promote. It is about being able to commit on performance and being rewarded for the actual performance. It is not about just being advisors and getting a fee but getting a share of the value that we can get for the client. That proposition should make it easier to engage the public sector.”
The first example of the new type of contract Veolia Water North America is looking to pursue is expected to be agreed within the next few weeks. The Chicagobased company will work alongside the existing utility staff to manage the capital programme and operations. There will be no staff transfer, but Veolia will get a share of the benefits if the cooperation exceeds its targets. “We are completely aligned with them. It is a different model which retains public control, while enabling the utility to tap into the dynamism of the private sector.
“I hope that this will be something that will enable use to launch a new approach to the market in North America.”
Until 2002 Veolia Water North America’s predecessor company, US Filter, maintained a large business development team targeting big cities. After the city of New Orleans rejected plans to outsource water and sewer services in 2002, the company downgraded its market development activities, tacitly accepting that there were not going to be any more big city outsourcing contracts. Instead the focus moved to smaller communities grappling with high operating costs. However these make for thin pickings and can require as much political work as big cities before they get the go-ahead. By taking on contracts with a narrower scope for larger cities, Auguste hopes to increase the growth rate.
“For mayors, it is difficult to say that ‘we will bring a private company to run our water, and transfer our staff’. There is also the misunderstanding about acquiring the water resources. We need to make it easier for mayors to go for the right deals. We do not always need to be the operator to share with them some of the best practices.”
Overall Auguste is confident that the experience of running water utilities all over the world in a competitive environment means that the Veolia can add value to any aspect of utility operations. The challenge is to package this expertise in such a way that US municipal water utilities can take advantage of them. “There are huge and growing needs and I am convinced that we are part of the solution. But how do we match the needs and the solution?” The Growing Blue inititiative (see opposite) is also part of the strategy of helping mayors think creatively about solutions to their water problems.
Mary Grant
Food & Water Watch
1616 P Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036

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April 21, 2011 Posted by | Fighting water privatisation in NZ, Internationally significant information | Leave a comment

TRUTHOUT!: ‘Deforming the Reform: A Case Study in Oversight Perseverance’

Deforming the Reform: A Case Study in Oversight Perseverance

Wednesday 20 April 2011
by: Dina Rasor, Truthout

I am continuing our series of solutions for the Department of Defense (DoD) with a look at how the government keeps track of companies that have engaged in misconduct when awarded lucrative government contracts. This is specifically a problem for the DoD, because when you look at the top 100 contractors, the majority with high numbers of misconduct are companies that work with the DoD. This is not surprising because procurement oversight in the DoD is weak, and many of the companies know that if they get caught doing something wrong, they can declare a national security need and will probably get a follow-on contract or other contracts in the future.

This Solutions column will look at how attempts to reform and add more transparency to government contracting by open government groups and the Congress resulted in weak, but promising, legislation. But then, the government, under pressure from the government contractors, has been further deforming and degrading this attempt at open government records. This is a common problem when reforms are introduced, get passed in a weakened form due to corporate lobbying and are further degraded as the reforms are implemented into the government bureaucracy because the government acquiesces to the pressure by government contractor lobbyists. The politicians can brag that they passed more government oversight for more open government to their constituents and the media, but after that parade moves on the good government groups have to fight to keep the reform alive from the long knives of industry.

A new federal contractor misconduct database, Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System or FAPIIS, was long in the making, but debuted on April 15. It is supposed to be a solution to require, by law, that government contracting personnel use this database to check for misconduct while they are making contract award decision and give the public a glimpse of past misconduct of companies that work with the government. (See this Solutions column for more information on debarring government contractors.) However, this solution is already greatly in need of its own reform, even on its public debut, in order to really help identify contractors that perpetually attempt to swindle the government.

Here is the history of this deformed reform:

A good government group, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), realized in the early 2000s that the government didn’t have a good data base that listed government contractors’ misconduct. (For full disclosure, I founded POGO and still serve on their board of directors.) After issuing a report on the subject in 2002, POGO designed their own Federal Contractor Misconduct Database that listed the incidences of misconduct for the top 100 government contractors. The database was updated and revamped in 2007.

When you look at the POGO database, it becomes apparent that the top contractors involved in misconduct are many of the main DoD contractors. Lockheed Martin, a major defense contractor and my nemesis for many years in my DoD investigations, is the largest government contractor with $38 billion of government contracts in fiscal year 2009 and has the largest amount of incidents of misconduct – 57 since 1995.

However, POGO realized that their database was limited and not official, so, they, with the help of some other good government groups and sympathetic members of Congress, pushed for the government to create a comprehensive database of thousands of government contractors so government contracting personnel and the public could consult with the list to see which has been responsible or irresponsible with their government contracts. In October of 2008, President George W. Bush signed a bill that had a provision to start a federal database that was to use POGO’s database as an example. This legislation was shepherded by a diverse and bipartisan group of legislators: Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), Henry Waxman (D-California), Tom Davis (R-Virginia), Edolphus Towns (D-New York); Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Barack Obama (D-Illinois), Carl Levin (D-Michigan), John McCain (R-Arizona) and Hillary Clinton (D-New York). It is interesting to note that the three major contenders for the 2008 presidential election, all signed on to help pass this bill.

Unfortunately, the deforming of the reform started when the bill was being debated. The government contractors, especially the DoD contractors, (see these two Solutions columns for more information on the power of DoD lobbies here and here) have powerful lobbies which, when they could not kill this new important database, managed to shoehorn in a provision that the database could not be made public. If only government personnel could see the database, there would be less public scrutiny to its faults and omissions … besides, if you take out any sensitive internal company data, why shouldn’t the public be able to see which contractors are messing with their tax dollars?

In a stealthy and surprise move, in July 2010, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) slipped in a provision in a supplemental appropriations act that required the new database be made public. The act passed before the corporate lobbyists could pull out the long knives, and President Obama signed the bill.

The oversight of the implementation of this database was not finished because of various pressures during the public comment stage and POGO had to watch the progress with great scrutiny.

So, last Friday, April 15, the FAPIIS database finally went public, nine years after POGO had created their site. Two provisions have made it less than it should be. One is that it will not have any misconduct incidents that happened before April 15 – yes, this April 15 – so the contractors start with a clean slate on the site. The POGO site goes back to 1995. It will take a while for the new misconduct data to appear, but I am pretty sure that Lockheed and other DoD contractors will, once again, make their way to the top. The other problem is that past performance reviews of contractors by the government won’t make it onto the web site. These two provisions were hat tips to the contractor lobby while the bill was winding through the Congress and into implementation stage by the government bureaucracy.

POGO has found factual flaws in the site and the software is very clunky.

However, the government may not be able to have the funding to fix it up because there is a budget push to cut federal money for government web sites. Rep. Daryl Issa (R-California) had pledged that these cuts would not shut down government accountability web sites. He may be successful, but this gives the industry another shot at trying to kill the site that shows their dirty laundry.

So, this is supposed to be a Solutions column, so where is the solution in this column?

This story is a cautionary tale to anyone who is trying to put in reform legislation. If you mean to have the reform be effective and consequential, you have to watch it diligently all the way through the legislative process but, much more importantly, you cannot declare a victory until it gets through the executive branch implementation without being deformed by lobbyists who didn’t get their way during the legislative process.

Getting this type of reform legislation through is a bit like guerilla warfare if the legislation is attacked and stripped of vital components. If Senator Sanders had not slipped in the provision to make the database public, it may have been many years before anyone could be convinced to take a stand and undo the law after it passed. The large imperial army of corporate lobbyists greatly outnumber the reformers, so the reformers need to be very relentless and resourceful.

The solution on how to successfully get effective reform is to not let your guard down through the whole process. I have seen members of Congress and even nonprofit groups accept greatly flawed reform legislation without persistently keeping it effective. Then, the deformed reform is even more deformed by the unwilling bureaucracy, and it is either not effective, or even worse, prettied up to look like reform, but actually helpful to the corporations. Then, the members of Congress and the reform groups declare a great victory. It becomes very hard to bring up the problem the reform was supposed to avoid because the sponsors of the bill will tell you that they “fixed” the problem.

The fight for the FAPIIS database is not over until it achieves its purpose of being a true and thorough tool to track contractor misconduct that the government and the public use to keep the same corporations from ripping us off over and over again.

So, POGO and the sympathetic members of Congress still have work to make the reform work while fighting off the people who are determined to deform it. It makes reformers sometimes feel like Sisyphus with the rock, but that is the burden in trying to fight and change the status quo. Fortitude.

I am interested in reading and perhaps publishing other stories about reforms that have been beaten up on their way to becoming effective law and methods that other reformers have used to get good reforms through the system. I believe that this area of solutions is perhaps even more important than coming up with the original legislation. If you have a story you would like to tell, send me an email at

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Dina Rasor
Dina Rasor is an investigator, journalist and author. Rasor has been fighting waste while working for transparency and accountability in government for three decades. In 1981 Rasor founded the Project on Military Procurement (now called the Project on Government Oversight, or POGO) to serve as a non-profit, non-partisan watchdog over military and related government spending. Rasor’s most recent book, “Betraying Our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War,” chronicles first-hand accounts of the devastating consequences of privatized war support for troops and the overall war effort in Iraq. Click here to view a 2008 Truthout interview with Rasor. She also founded the Bauman & Rasor Group that helps whistleblowers file lawsuits under the Federal qui tam False Claims act and has been involved in cases which have returned over $100 million back to the U.S. Treasury.

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption internationally, Internationally significant information, Transparency in Govt spending, TRUTHOUT | Leave a comment

TRUTHOUT! : ‘A Morally Untenable Corporate System’

21 April 2011

A Morally Untenable Corporate System

Wednesday 20 April 2011
by: Jim Hightower, Truthout

It’s good to know that some corporate chieftains do feel the pain of their underlings — those hard-hit workers who keep being forced to do more for less reward. Take the example of Gannett, the media giant that owns 23 television stations and 82 newspapers, including USA Today.

Early this year, Gannett employees were notified that, for the third year in a row, they would get no raises and would have to take a week off without pay. Harsh financial realities necessitate these sacrifices, they were informed.

The bad news was delivered as gently as possible, including a thank you for their “continued commitment and great work.” To soothe the pain a bit, the note added that Gannett’s two top executives would take a commensurate cut in their salaries.

OK, team spirit!

But don’t grab the pom-poms and break out in cheers. Only two months later, bonuses totaling $3 million were very quietly bestowed on the top two. And to add a bright cherry to this sweet delight, the duo of honchos also were awarded stock options and deferred compensation totaling as much as $17 million.

So, some 32,000 workers were forced into furloughs to save about $17 million for Gannett, but the corporation’s No. 1 and No. 2 were then allowed to slurp up all of that savings and then some. Who says there’s no “I” in team?

It’s not like the executives are doing a terrific job. With them at the helm, Gannett’s newspaper readership, revenues and stock price have fallen substantially, and the corporate chieftains are widely viewed as lacking imagination. But they are credited with “aggressive cost management” — a cynical euphemism for throwing employees in the ditch.

Once again, working people are sacrificed because of management’s failure, middle-class opportunities are shrunk, and top executives collect multimillion-dollar bonuses. Where’s the morality in that?Morality? This will seem like a fairy tale now, but not so long ago, it was actually possible for a CEO pay to constitute “an embarrassment of riches.”

How quaint. Today, the riches are unimaginably massive, but the embarrassment gene seems to have been completely bred out of corporate chieftains. They have no qualms, much less shame, at producing negative results for the company, offing thousands of underlings, then wheeling in a front-end loader to haul their own pay to the bank.

Yet another ugly example of this piggish executive ethic recently popped into the news. Having cut 2,000 employees, the head man at Estee Lauder reaped a $250,000 increase in his salary, plus new stock payments worth more than $24 million (up from the $14 million he got the previous year).

Are there no adults to supervise the corporate playgrounds and teach such concepts as humility, sharing and common decency? In a word, no.

Technically, the board of directors is supposed to provide corporate governance, including the setting of CEO pay. But look at who’s on these boards — they’re mostly other members of the corporate brotherhood who have obvious self-interest in keeping pay levels rising for all executives. Boards also include a smattering of “outsiders” who often turn out to have close financial or personal ties to the chief. And, of course, the chiefs themselves sit on their boards, usually chairing them.

The tale of boardroom coziness between directors and the bank bosses they supposedly govern was revealed in the disastrous Wall Street crash of 2008. Far from providing any reasonable restraints, few board members had questioned the casino games the banks were running, and fewer yet objected to giving reckless bankers billions of dollars in unwarranted bonuses.

Now, after the collapse, what has changed? Nothing. One survey of nine of the big banks we taxpayers bailed out shows that two-thirds of their failed board members are still there, and once again, they are shoveling inexplicably huge bonuses at the same old CEOs, who have returned to playing the same old casino games that caused the crash.

A system that enriches executive elites while crushing the middle class is worse than an embarrassment — it’s morally untenable.

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption internationally, TRUTHOUT | Leave a comment

TRUTHOUT!: News in Brief: ‘BP Makes Big Contributions to GOP Leaders, and More’

News in Brief: BP Makes Big Contributions to GOP Leaders, and More …

Wednesday 20 April 2011
by: Nadia Prupis, Truthout

BP Makes Big Contribution to GOP Leaders

ThinkProgress reports that oil company British Petroleum (BP) broke a self-imposed freeze on political contributions to make big donations to a few key Republicans in Congress, as well as some of the party’s electoral campaigns. BP gave $5,000 each to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan), who is the chairman of the Energy Committee. Upton was the only one of the three to return the contribution. Other GOP leaders received between $1,000 and $3,000, while the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee got $10,000.

Detroit Leadership Turning Against Unions

According to The Wall Street Journal, a new state law has led to the mayor and school’s chief of Detroit, Michigan, to cut thousands of public-sector jobs in an effort to deal with lower enrollment in schools. Mayor Dave Bing last week presented a $3.1 billion annual budget to the City Council, which included a proposal to raise casino taxes and make significant cuts to city workers’ benefits; Robert Bobb, the head of the Detroit Public Schools, later in the week laid off 5,466 salaried employees, including all of the district’s teachers, although the move is likely to be fought by the Detroit Federation of Teachers and other unions. Bobb also previously identified almost one-third of the district’s schools that could be closed or made into private charter operators.Report Examines US-Mexico Relations Since 1890, Finds They Have Never Been Closer

New America Media writes that the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) studied the relationship between the United States and Mexico to find that cooperation between the neighboring countries, while difficult, is possible, and can offer benefits to both. The report, entitled “Obstacles and Opportunities for Regional Cooperation: The US-Mexico Case,” written by MPI senior policy analyst Marc Rosenblum, chronicles the history of US-Mexico relations from the 1890s to 2011. The report also analyzes the evolution of their migration policies, from a more casual, laissez-faire era to the US’s post-9/11 security focus today.

Former New Mexico Governor to Announce Presidential Bid

The former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, is scheduled to announce that he will run for president in 2012, The Hill reports. Johnson, a Republican, is known for his anti-conformism and libertarian views, with many of his policies breaking party lines and endorsing measures that are controversial among other GOP candidates. Johnson’s presidential platform includes a call to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq, support for reproduction rights and the legalization of marijuana.

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption internationally, Internationally significant information, TRUTHOUT | Leave a comment

TRUTHOUT!: ‘Researchers Say Oil Dispersants Still an Issue in the Gulf’

Researchers Say Oil Dispersants Still an Issue in the Gulf

Wednesday 20 April 2011
by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout

A boat wades through the oily waters of the Gulf of Mexico,  on June 16, 2010. The water has an iridescent rainbow sheen from the dispersant used to break up the crude oil spill. (Photo: kk+)

Scientists are still working to understand the ecological and human health impacts of the environmental disaster that followed BP’s Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico one year ago. While it may too soon to identify the long-term consequences of the disaster, a growing body of evidence reveals that the massive release of oil combined with the unprecedented amount of chemical oil dispersants applied by BP is still an environmental threat a year later.

Truthout reported on BP’s decision to exclusively use the controversial dispersants Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527 in early June 2010, when conservationists blamed the chemicals for massive fish kills and health agencies reported that the chemicals were making people sick. Research conducted in the past year suggests that Corexit, combined with dispersed oil in broad undersea plumes, could have been the culprit.

Dispersants like Corexit do not eliminate oil, but break it down into tiny, more biodegradable droplets that are less visible on the surface and can sink to the bottom. Nalco, the company that currently manufactures Corexit, claimed the chemicals were safer than dish soap and would decompose in 28 days. Scientific research conducted since the disaster, however, shows components of Corexit and dispersed oil lingered in Gulf waters much longer and could still be in the food chain.

In late May 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency urged BP to use dispersants thought to be safer and more effective, but BP argued that the Corexit line was the best choice and bought up large reserves of the chemical. BP continued to exclusively use Corexit dispersants even after it was revealed that Nalco’s board of directors includes Rodney Chase, who spent 38 years with BP and 11 years on BP’s executive board. A report released this week by watchdog group Food and Water Watch (FWW) reveals that Nalco has shown tremendous revenue gains as a result of $70 billion in dispersant sales to BP.

An unprecedented 1.84 million gallons of Corexit were added to the Gulf of Mexico over several months after the blowout, according to the FWW report. Nearly a million gallons of Corexit were applied near the leaking wellhead below the Deepwater Horizon, a novel and unprecedented application technique that has caused some experts concern over the long-term health of marine life.

Corexit applied in deep water was trapped in layers of the ocean and traveled on ocean currents, and a team of researchers with the University of Georgia found one chemical component of Corexit had not degraded by December 2010. This persistence, the FWW report claims, raises concerns about long-term impacts of the dispersants and shows that wildlife and seafood eaters may have been exposed to the chemicals for a longer period of time that previously thought.”We’re still extremely worried about the underwater plumes of oil and dispersant since they’re even more toxic than dispersant sprayed on the top of the water,” said FWW Director Wenonah Hauter. “The dispersed oil in plumes is more easily absorbed and consumed by marine animals. We should definitely consider this when researching the dolphin and sea turtle deaths. A year later, the body count keeps rising.”

The FWW points out that, on March 11, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared an “unusual mortality event” after more than 80 dead dolphins washed up on Gulf state shores between mid-January and early March. As of April 7, 153 dead dolphins were found, and experts believe the actual death count to be as high as 7,650. Many of the dolphins were premature, stillborn or newborn. The carcasses of hundreds of turtles and other endangered species were also found.

“Basic physiology suggests that dispersed oil will negatively impact the reproductive capabilities of a wide variety of animals,” said Richard Condrey, an associate professor at Louisiana State University who specializes in coastal ecology and fisheries.

Researchers believe Corexit also made hundreds of people sick during the disaster in the Gulf, and efforts are underway to determine potential long-term impacts on human health. Corexit 9527 was one of the dispersants used to clean up the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. Nearly 7,000 cleanup workers reported feeling ill with breathing problems at the time, and chemicals in Corexit have long been suspected to be the culprits. FWW reports that the average age of death for Exxon Valdez cleanup workers is 50 years.

Despite these warning signs, BP chose to use Corexit exclusively. In early August, 275 oil and cleanup workers and 84 members of the general public reported “spill-related health problems” consistent with symptoms of exposure to Corexit, according to the FWW report. A door-to-door survey taken 11 days after the well was capped found that 48 percent of people living in coastal communities in Louisiana reported having short-term bouts of coughing, headaches, rashes, and other symptoms consistent with chemical exposure.

Although controversial, Corexit did keep large quantities of oil from washing up on America’s beaches. Critics, however, say widespread use of the dispersant on the surface and below the Gulf was a big experiment and safer products and methods should have been considered. The decision to apply Corexit with unconventional methods was a hasty one, the FWW report concludes, and only long-term research will reveal its full impact in the Gulf of Mexico.

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Internationally significant information, TRUTHOUT | Leave a comment

TRUTHOUT!: BP Still Being Awarded Lucrative Government Contracts

21 April 2011

BP Still Being Awarded Lucrative Government Contracts

Wednesday 20 April 2011
by: Jason Leopold, Truthout

(Photo: sunstarrr)

BP continues to receive tens of millions of dollars in government contracts, despite the fact that the British oil company is under federal criminal investigation over the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and twice violated its probation late last year.

Last week, the Defense Logistics Agency awarded Air BP, a division of BP Products North America, a $42 million contract to supply fuel to Dover Air Force Base for the next month and a half. BP is the biggest supplier of fuel to the Defense Department.

What makes this particular contract unique is that it is one identified as “an unusual and compelling urgency” contract, which means the government would be “seriously injured“and national security could be at risk unless the Defense Logistics Agency was permitted to “limit the number of sources from which it solicits bids or proposals.”

The Defense Logistics Agency sent out a request for proposals on March 25 and set a deadline of April 1 for offers to be returned. Included in the government’s proposal is a purchase request for 20 million gallons of jet fuel at an average price of $2.10 a gallon.

According to government contracting regulations, “an unusual and compelling urgency precludes full and open competition” and “delay in award of a contract would result in serious injury, financial or other, to the Government.”

Scott Amey, general counsel for watchdog group Project On Government Oversight (POGO), said, “unusual and compelling urgency” is often used by the government when it awards a no-bid, sole source contract.

“It’s just another way of getting around competitive bidding,” Amey said in an interview. “The military needs to justify why there was little or no competition.”

Michelle McCaskill, a spokeswoman for the Defense Logistics Agency, told Truthout a copy of the justification for “the unusual and compelling urgency” would be posted online within 30 days after the contract award.

She added that the contract awarded to Air BP “was needed to meet requirements at Dover [Air Force Base] during the period of April 15, 2011 – May 31, 2011.”

McCaskill could not obtain a timely response to questions about whether the Defense Logistics Agency received bids from other companies.

BP won the contract even though the company’s federal probation officer petitioned a US district court judge last November to revoke the company’s probation over a 46,000 gallon oil spill that occurred at BP’s Lisburne facility on Alaska’s North Slope in November 2009.

The probation officer, Mary Frances Barnes, said in court documents that the spill amounted to “criminal negligence” under Alaska state law and the federal Clean Water Act and violated the terms of the probation agreement BP signed in November 2007 following a 212,000 gallon oil spill on the North Slope a year earlier. BP has pleaded not guilty to the probation violation charge and is fighting the case in federal court.

Furthermore, last September, BP was found to have violated the terms of a settlement agreement it entered into with government regulators six years ago to make certain safety upgrades at its Texas City refinery, where an explosion in March 2005 killed 15 people and maimed and seriously injured 170 others. The Justice Department refused to pursue a probation revocation case in that incident, opting instead to give BP another year to make the upgrades at the refinery.


McCaskill would not say exactly what the government’s “unusual and compelling urgency” is in awarding the fuel contract to Air BP. One possibility is that the jet fuel Air BP is supplying is intended for aircraft leaving Dover Air Force Base carrying cargo to support NATO’s air war against Libya. Obama turned over control of the entire Libya operation, known as Operation Odyssey Dawn, to NATO on March 31. But over the past week, NATO has complained that it is running short of munitions.

McCaskill referred questions about whether the jet fuel Air BP is supplying over the next 46 days is being used on aircraft utilized for Libya operations to Dover Air Force Base. Brett Kangas, a spokesman for Dover, said he was unable to obtain answers to specific questions about what aircraft the fuel is being used for and what the mission is.

But a March 31 news release posted on Dover Air Force Base’s web site provides some clues. It says Dover has “four C-5M aircraft, all of which are involved in the support of the international crisis in Libya.”

“In order for the strike operations implementing the no-fly zone to continue, the ‘bullets’ have to make it to the fight and that is where Dover Air Force Base delivers,” the Dover press release states. “Delivering oversized cargo is the name of the game here at Dover [Air Force Base, Delaware].”

Last Friday, on the same day the Air BP contract was set to begin, unnamed US and NATO officials told The Washington Post NATO is running short on precision bombs and other munitions for the military action that began a little more than a month ago.

“The shortage of European munitions, along with the limited number of aircraft available, has raised doubts among some officials about whether the United States can continue to avoid returning to the air campaign if Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi hangs on to power for several more months,” the Post reported.

Kangas noted, however, that there is a possibility the jet fuel could also be used for C-17 aircraft flying out of Dover for humanitarian missions to Japan.

Awarding Air BP a contract to supply fuel for aircraft supporting Libya operations, if that turns out to be the case, would be ironic. Last year, BP confirmed that it told the British government in 2007 that the company’s $900 million oil contract with Libya would be at risk unless a prisoner transfer agreement, which allegedly included Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence official convicted of the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, between the two countries was hammered out.

Too Big to Fail

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials held talks about possibly debarring or limiting BP from receiving additional government contracts several months after the deadly April 20, 2010, explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which claimed the lives of 11 workers and spilled at least five million barrels of oil into the Gulf.

But two senior EPA officials, who spoke to Truthout on condition of anonymity, said those discussions “went nowhere” largely because the federal government relies too heavily on BP to meet its needs and “arguments were raised” by “various agency officials” about the “possibility of debarment being a threat to national security.”

“But ultimately what it came down to was a lack of interest in holding this company accountable,” one EPA official said.

In an interview last year, Jeanne Pascal, the former debarment counsel at the EPA’s Seattle office who spent more than a decade working on issues related to environmental crimes BP had been convicted of, said she had to proceed with caution when she considered debarring the oil company from receiving government contracts.

“If I had debarred BP while they were supplying 80 percent of the fuel to US forces it would have been almost certain that the Defense Department would have been forced to get an exception,” Pascal said.

She had noted that the 80 percent figure was provided by her “contact,” an attorney, who works at the Defense Energy Support Center, the agency that responsible for purchasing all of the fuel for the military.

“There’s a provision in the debarment regulations that says in a time of war or extreme need exceptions can be granted to debarment so that federal agencies with critical needs can continue doing business with debarred contractors. I was in a quandary,” Pascal added. “If I moved forward with debarment we would have had a major federal contractor doing business with the federal government with no governmental oversight or audit provisions. I felt oversight terms and conditions were critical with BP, so I pursued settlement of the matter in the hopes of getting oversight and audit terms.”

Amey, POGO’s general counsel, said that “the government still turns [to BP] with goods and services and does not take into account their past performance, level of responsibility and the fact they violated laws is a perfect example of a contractor too big to fail.”

On POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, BP comes in at number 48 in a list of the top 100 government contractors. But the company ranks second, behind Lockheed Martin, as having the most instances of misconduct – 53 – since 1995, which has resulted in more than $1.6 billion in fines.

Those factors do not appear to be of concern to the federal government.

According to, which tracks government contracts, BP was awarded 52 government contracts worth $56.5 million for fiscal year 2011 to supply fuel, gas, and other petroleum products to agencies such as the Defense Department and Department of Health and Human Services. From fiscal year 2006 through 2010, BP received 707 government contracts worth nearly $7 billion.

However, the federal government does want the public to believe it scrutinizes its awardees before turning over billions in taxpayer dollars to companies such as BP.

Last Friday, the government launched its answer to POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database: the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS).

“In 2008, Congress passed the law that created FAPIIS, which agencies must check before awarding a contract or grant to ensure the prospective awardee is ‘responsible,'” POGO reported. As a “condition for making FAPIIS public, a few concessions had to be granted to the entities listed in it. This included making so-called ‘past performance reviews’ off-limits to the public and only posting data entered into FAPIIS on or after April 15, 2011.”

That means the public won’t be able to find any information about BP’s past misconduct. Indeed, a search for BP Products North America’s government contracts did not turn up any critical reports about the company.

Prior to the database search, a message pops up. It says: “Contracting officials should be aware that use of the information in the FAPIIS systems should not result in de facto debarment. Current procedures emphasize that certain past performance in the system may no longer be relevant to a determination of present responsibility.”

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Internationally significant information, TRUTHOUT | Leave a comment



Jane Burgermeister | April 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere has said that he wants to establish a dialogue with the people about the future of the country’s military.

The initiative comes as a debate is raging about what shape the German army should take after the creation of a professional army and a controversy is growing about what role it should play in protecting the country’s vital interest.

For a top German defence official to ask the general public to be involved in taking a fresh look at military doctrine is a landmark in a country that has been involved in two of the worst wars in the world in the past century.

I believe our entire way of thinking about the military has to change radically because traditional views of what the military are and should do have failed so dramatically and increased violence, instability and security threats across the globe.

Just as the Vienna Economics Professor Franz Hörmann argues that we need a new financial system that decouples money from material things, in the same way, we  need a new military system that decouples defense from physical space or territory and especially, from the imperial-style conquests of raw resources. Read more of this post

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Human rights, Jane Burgermeister Report | Leave a comment