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AltAusterity Digest #81 January 10-16, 2019

This week in Austerity News:

Jan 18, 2019

In Britain, the usage and effectiveness of user-led organizations (ULOs) has been undermined by austerity. ULOs are structured for democratic control of resources and service provision by the service-users themselves. These have included services for local mental health, people with long-term conditions and people with disabilities. Despite popular support for these programmes, as well as strong outcome indicators, mental health and disability ULOs have been closing at high rates due to funding difficulties.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Tuesday that his government would be reviewing 82 regional governments as well as their lower-tier municipalities. Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark said that the review would be “looking at ways to make better use of taxpayers’ dollars and make it easier for residents and businesses to access important municipal services.” City mayors had mixed reactions to the announcement with some supporting the move while others have expressed worries over the province implementing unilateral changes without consultations. The Ford Conservatives have also drawn criticism from the NDP MPP Jeff Burch (Niagara Centre) who expressed concern that the municipal review would be used as a pretext to impose changes without respecting “the will of democratically elected local governments.”

The “Yellow Vest” protests are heading for their 10th week. On Saturday, approximately 8,000 protestors attended “Act 9,” representing the 9th week of protests in Paris alone, while it is estimated that 85,000 rallied across France. The protest movement, which emerged November 17th in response to a proposed carbon tax hike, has no official structure, leadership, or political affiliations. Since the movement’s identity is so open, it has drawn protesters from across the political spectrum and has contained incidents of anti-Semitic gestures, racist harassment, and anti-immigrant rhetoric. The protests have been intensely violent, with clashes between police and protesters becoming common. There have also been 10 people killed, mostly from being hit by cars and trucks while blocking traffic

Over 30,000 Los Angeles teachers have walked out in their first strike in 30 years. Some of the teachers primary negotiating points are smaller class sizes, higher pay, the regulation of charter schools and more nurses, counselors and librarians. Union leader Arlene Inouye has called it, “a struggle to save public education” against a small group of billionaires that has lobbied for privatization. During the 2017 Los Angeles school board elections a small group of pro-charter billionaires donated vast amounts to buy the election. Among the financiers were The Walton family ($2.2 million), Doris Fisher ($4.1 million), Reed Hastings (roughly $7 million), and Eli Broad ($2 million). In recent years the Walton Family Foundation alone has given $84 million in LA to charter schools and has spent $1.3 billion on “school reform” nationwide.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!