When Havel became president of Czechoslovakia at the end of 1989 -- and later, the president of the Czech Republic -- he became a powerful symbol of a new era of politics. Surely the country would "live in truth" as long as it had a president of unimpeachable character. On the practical, day-to-day matters of politics and economics, however, Havel was not as influential.
The long term contract is the fruit of a trend around the nation, decried by many, to invent "public private partnerships," also known as P3's, following a grand design crafted by former Colorado State Rep. Glenn Vaad, in the eagle nest of committee meetings he chaired with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
I talked with one of the major architects of Slovenia's economic transition, Joze Mencinger, about the relationship between economic reform and independence, the influence of the European Union, the particular brand of self-management practiced in Slovenia, and the casino capitalism years that overtook the country a decade ago.
Across the nation, private companies are looking to take over public services. A legislative battle in Sacramento bill over privatization of the state's trial courts is typical of the issues and claims being made in states and cities across the country about the promises and pitfalls of privatization.