Drivers winning in court against Express Lanes operator

Source: Ari Ashe, WTOP, May 19, 2015

Six drivers saw their unpaid-toll cases dismissed in Fairfax County General District Court on Monday, while the final ruling on another landmark case has been delayed due to a last-minute motion. Circuit Court Judge Dennis J. Smith ruled in April that Express Lanes operator Transurban must sue drivers for unpaid tolls within a year. Toni Cooley, Jim Diller and Stuart Holmes all won their cases with the decision, and the fallout has been felt ever since — six cases were dismissed on Monday because Transurban waited too long to sue, and more will likely be dismissed in the coming weeks. ….
Related:
Lawsuit filed against Express Lanes operator Transurban
Source: WUSA9, April 17, 2015

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Transurban, the organization that runs the Virginia Express Lanes. The suit was filed in Virginia Federal Court by users of the Express Lanes on Thursday. The main goal of the lawsuit is to stop what drivers describe as outrageous overcharging of unpaid tolls. The suit alleges that Transurban, Faneuil and their partners “assessed unfair, illegal, and unconscionable administrative fees and civil penalties on area drivers for allegedly failing to pay HOT Lanes tolls,” Hausfeld, the law firm handling the suit said in a statement. What began as a $14.20 fee for an unpaid 495 Express lane toll quickly got out of hand for Lisa-Marie Cormas. Comras said she fought for more than a year, while her fines ballooned from a few hundred dollars to $10,000. Comras has been fighting Transurban in court, and plans to join the class action suit that was filed Thursday….

Class-action suit claims predatory toll scheme on 495 Express Lanes
Source: Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post, April 16, 2015

The company that manages the Interstate 495 toll lanes in Northern Virginia is socking violators with “unfair, illegal and unconscionable” fines and fees that have reached tens of thousands of dollars in some cases, according to a class-action lawsuit announced this week.
The suit, which was filed in federal court in Alexandria, claims that Transurban uses a predatory scheme because the Capital Beltway express lanes have not been as profitable as expected and some drivers are being hit with violations that never occurred.

Source: Martin Di Caro, WAMU, November 13, 2012

Virginia Toll Road a Drag on Transurban Profits
Source: Kyle Glazier, Bond Buyer, August 7, 2012
(subscription required)


Virginia Announces $940 Million I-95 HOT Lane Deal

Source: Jonathan Wilson, WAMU, December 6, 2011

Virginia governor Bob McDonnell says the state has reached a $1 billion deal with a private contractor for Northern Virginia’s Interstate 95 HOT lanes project. Under the deal announced today, private contractor Fluor-Transurban would finance 90 percent of the $940 million project to build High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-95, with the rest of the money coming from the state. The contractor would recoup its investment by collecting the tolls.

Vermont DOC Moving Out-of-State Inmates to Michigan

Source: Steph Machado, My Champlain Valley, May 19, 2015

Vermont will be moving 318 prisoners from Kentucky and Arizona to Michigan. The Department of Corrections announced a new contract with the company GEO, which owns the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan. The inmates are currently in facilities owned by CCA, whose contract with Vermont is expiring. …. The state will be paying GEO less than it paid CCA–about $600,000 less annually, at the current out-of-state population of 318. ….
Related:
Federal Beds To Keep More Vermont Prisoners In Kentucky
Source: Laura Krantz, VT Digger, January 19, 2015

A deal in the works to house more federal inmates in Vermont prisons will hamper the state’s effort to reduce the number of local prisoners incarcerated in Kentucky and Arizona, the corrections commissioner said Monday. Vermont contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service to house up to 40 federal prisoners in Vermont prisons. The feds pay the state $129 per prisoner per day. … The deal will be good for the state’s pocketbook, but bad for the DOC’s goal of reducing the number of prisoners it houses with private prison contractor Corrections Corporation of America.

Advocates renew push to keep inmates in VT
Source: Terri Hallenbeck, Free Press Staff, August 17, 2014

…. A group of advocates is making a push to halt the long trips, the separation of inmates from family and the use of a for-profit company to house prisoners. About 25 people gathered in Burlington on a recent evening to strategize how to keep Vermont from renewing the out-of-state prison contract with Corrections Corporation of America when it comes due next year. … The group plans to launch a drive Sept. 22 titled “Locked Up & Shipped Away” and hopes to collect petitions from the Vermonters urging public officials to stop sending Vermont inmates out of state, Wizowaty said. Group members also plan to organize efforts to ask political candidates for their support at candidate forums through the fall. The group plans to hold organizational meetings in the coming weeks in Burlington, Montpelier and Brattleboro. … Wizowaty wants to halt or shorten the state’s next contract for out-of-state prison beds. Time and simple short-term math are working against her, but the state is looking for new options with a new contract. … Richard Byrne, the state Corrections Department’s out-of-state unit supervisor, said he is in the process of sending notices to states, counties and private prison operators that might have space. The state likely will put out a formal request for proposals in September to replace the existing four-year CCA contract, which expires June 30. … As of last week, because the state’s own prison were full, Vermont had 482 inmates serving time in two out-of-state prisons run by Corrections Corporation of America: 444 in Beattyville, Ky., and 38 in Florence, Ariz. …

Second private sector prison company, with a bad track record, vying for a piece of Michigan

Source: Tim Skubick, MLive.com, May 20, 2015

…. Enter the GEO Group, a private prison company which operates some 85,000 beds around the country and it wants to add Michigan to its roster. A bill would hire the Florida firm to reopen the moth-balled so-called Punk Prison in Baldwin. …. What appeared to be a fast track effort has been slowed down to a crawl in the Senate, where some have raised concerns about the possible “warehousing” of inmates and whether they are given rehab services. That from Sen. Patrick Colebeck, R-Plymouth. GEO is no stranger to Michigan as it ran the original punk prison and various state agencies concluded it was more expensive than many of the other facilities and by closing it, the state would save over $7 million. The company complained the auditor general’s report was “skewed.” It was finally shuttered but GEO is back for another bite of the prison apple which some folks feel is poisoned. ….
Related:
Bill to open private prison clears state House
Source: Paul Egan and Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, May 7, 2015

GEO Group officials say allowing the company to house prisoners from other states with the highest security levels would give them the flexibility they need to make the prison economically viable. …. A bill that’s expected to allow Michigan’s former “punk prison” to open as a privately run adult facility housing prisoners from other states passed the state House in a narrow vote Thursday. House Bill 4467 was approved 57-53, and now moves on to the Senate. The bill removes a restriction that prevents the Florida-based GEO Group, which wants to reopen and operate the former private youth prison near Baldwin, from accepting prisoners with the highest security levels — those above Level 4. …. As proposed, the bill would also allow GEO to take inmates from Michigan prisons, but the company says that’s not part of its plans. A Michigan Department of Corrections official said that the state has no interest in sending Michigan inmates to the private prison. ….

Michigan House votes to let private prison house high-security inmates from other states
Source: Jonathan Oosting, Mlive.com, May 7, 2015

The Michigan House on Thursday narrowly approved legislation aimed to help one of the country’s largest private prison companies bring out-of-state inmates to its shuttered facility in Baldwin. House Bill 4467, approved in a 57-53 vote, would allow The GEO Group Inc. to house Level V high-security inmates at the now-empty North Lake Correctional Facility…. State Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, spoke out against the bill, calling it “a form of backdoor privatization of state prisons” because it would also allow the state to house Level V inmates there, if it chooses to at a later date. Singh also said that GEO Group has “a spotty track record across the country, but also here in the state of Michigan.” He pointed to a 2005 Michigan audit, fines for understaffing in New Mexico, a prisoner escape in Arizona http://tucson.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/escape-slows-prison-privatization/article_3d8f0896-298f-5728-aa27-2a5a2cb545d3.html , and a scathing Justice Department report about a Mississippi youth prison that GEO Group took over in late 2010. ….

Bill would allow private prison near Baldwin to re-open
Source: Paul Egan, Lansing State Journal, April 23, 2015

The former “punk prison” near Baldwin would re-open as a private prison housing adult inmates from other states, bringing about 150 jobs to one of the most economically depressed areas of the state, under a bill taken up Thursday by a House committee. As proposed, the bill would also allow the prison, operated by the Florida-baed GEO Group, to take inmates from Michigan prisons, but the company says that’s not part of its plans and a Michigan Department of Corrections official said the state has no interest in sending Michigan inmates to the private prison, which has been closed for about four years. House Bill 4467 would remove a restriction that prevents GEO from accepting prisoners with the highest security levels — those above Level 4. GEO officials say allowing the company to also bring Level 5 and Level 6 prisoners from other states would give them the flexibility they need to make the prison economically viable…. The prison near Baldwin opened as a private youth prison in 1998 under former Gov. John Engler, a Republican. Ot closed in 2005, under former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, amid reports it was too costly to run and neglected the health and educational needs of its young inmates. Later, under the GEO Group, it briefly housed inmates from California, with the restrictions in place on the security levels of the inmates, but closed in 2011….

Why It’s So Hard to Find a Good Nursing Home in Texas

Source: Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News, May 18, 2015

The call from the nursing home came just before dawn, jolting Martha Sherwood awake. During the night, fire ants had swarmed over her 85-year-old mother, injecting their stinging venom into Natalie Sealy’s face, arms, hands and chest. … Their mother had chosen the for-profit facility two years earlier because it was near her adult children. The family didn’t know that Parkview scored poorly on staffing and other quality measures. This year, Medicare rates it one star out of a possible five stars — the lowest rating possible — on Nursing Home Compare, which was designed by the federal government to help consumers choose a long-term care facility….. For-profit nursing homes also tend to get lower quality scores than nonprofits, according to several studies. In Texas, 86 percent of homes are for-profit, compared with 70 percent nationally, according to the Kaiser Foundation report. States with more low-income seniors also tend to score lower. ….The debate over profits is complicated because it’s difficult to track profits and revenue, since many nursing homes are owned by private corporations or limited partnerships with complex ownership structures. “There’s plenty of profit being made by these facilities, but they’re shoveling it out through management contracts to themselves,” said Charles Brown, a partner in the law firm Brown, Wharton & Brothers, which is representing Sealy’s family in their lawsuit against Parkview. …. Nursing Home Compare gives Parkview one star for staffing, saying it provides about one hour and ten minutes of licensed nursing care per resident a day, compared with a Texas average of about one-and-a-half hours. It provides one hour and 56 minutes of care per day by certified aides, compared with a Texas average of two hours and 18 minutes. The national average is nearly two and a half hours. Allen said that one of his biggest problems is getting and keeping workers, noting that a local Dairy Queen pays $10 an hour, the same rate an entry level aide would make. He employs about 80 staffers, about three quarters of whom are nurse’s aides. ….
Related:
Reading the Stars: Nursing Home Quality Star Ratings, Nationally and by State
Source: Cristina Boccuti, Giselle Casillas, Tricia Neuman, Kaiser Family Foundation, Issue Brief, May 2015

Key Findings:
● More than one-third of nursing homes certified by Medicare or Medicaid have relatively low overall star ratings of 1 or 2 stars, accounting for 39 percent of all nursing home residents. Conversely, 45 percent of nursing homes have overall ratings of 4 or 5 stars, accounting for 41 percent of all nursing home residents.
● For-profit nursing homes, which are more prevalent, tend to have lower star ratings than non-profit nursing homes. Smaller nursing homes (with fewer beds) tend to have higher star ratings than larger nursing homes.
● Ratings tend to be higher for measures that are self-reported (quality measures and staffing levels) than for measures derived from state health inspections.
● In 11 states, at least 40 percent of nursing homes in the state have relatively low ratings (1 or 2 stars). In 22 states and the District of Columbia, at least 50 percent of the nursing homes in the state have relatively high overall ratings (4 or 5 stars).
● States that have higher proportions of low-income seniors tend to have lower-rated nursing homes.

State control of I-66 expansion could net Virginia substantial revenue

Source: Michael Laris, Washington Post, May 19, 2015

Keeping the financing and construction of a proposed expansion of Interstate 66 under state control — rather than handing those responsibilities off to private investors — could net the commonwealth $200 million to $500 million in toll revenue over 40 years to be used for other Northern Virginia transportation projects, according to a new state analysis. And gaining these benefits for taxpayers would cost the state half as much upfront, compared with doing a so-called public-private partnership, according to Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne, who is set to describe the analysis Tuesday at a meeting of Virginia’s top transportation oversight body. … Layne acknowledged the political and financial risks inherent in keeping the project under state control. Backing by the General Assembly would be needed in some variations of the plan, and officials would have to find $400 million to $600 million in upfront public funding. But that figure would be $900 million to $1 billion for a public-private partnership, Layne said. …
Related:
TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY LAYNE ANNOUNCES FUNDING OPTIONS TO TRANSFORM I-66 OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA
Source: Virginia Department of Transportation, Press Release, CO-82543, May 19, 2015

Presentation Includes Analysis Showing Lower Costs, Greater Benefits of Public Financing vs. Typical Public-Private Partnership Concession Option

State Auditor Otto calls privatization measure a ‘backstabbing’

Source: Abby Simons, Star Tribune, May 18, 2015

A measure passed by the Legislature Monday that would allow counties to hire private firms to perform audits drew the ire of Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto, who said the move is could result in layoffs for her office. The measure would also require the Legislative Auditor to perform a review of the State Auditor’s office, which is responsible for reviewing the finances of counties. It signed off in the wee hours Monday by the State and Local Government Finance conference committee. Otto said she understood the only provision would be the study by the Legislative Auditor, and said the addition of privatization was a “backstabbing.” …. Otto, a DFLer who is serving her third term, said the overnight deal was lawmakers “pulling a fast one on the taxpayers of Minnesota behind closed doors.”

DCEO director pitches private not-for-profit to oversee corporate recruitment

Source: Tim Landis, State Journal-Register, May 16, 2015

…. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jim Schultz has crisscrossed the state since he was named to run the agency in February, arguing that a key function of DCEO — job creation and business recruitment — would be better handled through a private, not-for-profit corporation….. The Business and Economic Development Corp., Schultz said, would have 70 to 100 employees, including a mix of new hires and DCEO employees moved from unionized state jobs to nonunion positions with the not-for-profit. He said about 350 jobs would remain at DCEO, though employment numbers and budgets have not been finalized. Approximately 400 DCEO workers are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said the union has many concerns with the plan, including possible loss of union jobs and the experience of other states that have privatized economic development.

Related:
State’s biz-recruiting to go private under Rauner, Madigan deal
Source: Greg Hinz, Crain’s, On Politics, April 21, 2015

A bill to partially privatize the state’s economic development agency has surfaced abruptly in Springfield, and it may be on a fast track to passage. The proposal, contained in an amendment filed yesterday by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie to a bill sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan, would give both the speaker and Gov. Bruce Rauner something they want. Rauner would get to establish a private Illinois Business & Economic Development Corp. that would pick up many of the key functions of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, a state government agency. For instance, the corporation would have the power to negotiate tax incentive deals with companies, subject to final approval by DCEO. The idea is similar to proposals Rauner made during his race for governor….

State needs to open eyes wide before privatizing job-creation agency
Source: Greg Hinz, Crain’s, On Politics, July 30, 2014

One of the hotter ideas among the new crop of GOP governors in recent years has been to at least partially privatize their economic development agencies. …. Now GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner is saying he wants to do the same thing in Illinois. And it’s set off a furious counterattack from the Quinn administration and the folks at the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. …. Mr. Rauner, should he win, ought to keep that in mind if he remakes Illinois’ job-creating unit. It’s not a big hedge fund. And it is our money.

Economic development privatization plan hit
Source: Alejandra Cancino, Chicago Tribune, April 5, 2013
(subscription required)

The state’s top economic development official told lawmakers on Thursday that legislation calling for privatizing some functions of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity would increase bureaucracy and diminish accountability.

Vizcaya Museum would be privatized under Miami-Dade plan

Source: Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald, May 14, 2015

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens would leave Miami-Dade’s bureaucracy under a plan to privatize the tourist attraction, a key part of a reorganization aimed at boosting revenue. The lavish winter home of industrialist James Deering is officially an arm of Miami-Dade County government, with a staff of county employees. Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s administration wants to transfer operations to a nonprofit, establishing the kind of arrangement already in place for the county-owned Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and Pérez Art Museum Miami. …. Miami-Dade is budgeted to provide a $2.5 million subsidy this year for Vizcaya, about a third of its $7.5 million operating budget. County support is bound to continue under a new arrangement. Arsht, PAMM and other cultural facilities rely on county subsidies to balance their budgets. The Gimenez proposal next goes to the county commission, which can approve or reject it. ….. A consultant’s recommendation urges Vizcaya to free itself from government open-records laws and the requirement that board members submit financial-disclosure forms. ….

Westchester County, Standard Amusements Promise To Retain Playland Workers

Source: Alesha Hanson, Daily Voice, May 14, 2015

The Westchester County Board of Legislators and the Labor, Parks, Planning and Housing Committee at its meeting on Wednesday addressed the jobs of current Rye Playland employees and promised to help retain jobs…. At the meeting, Standard Amusements representatives indicated that they recognize the value of the county employees’ experience, institutional knowledge and commitment to Playland and would like to hire as many of those employees as practical. Civil Service Employees Association leadership made the point that the public employee pension system which many employees are enrolled in would not be transferable to a private operator. Standard indicated that they would be open to contracting with the county for the services of those employees needed so that they could stay in New York State Pension System. ….
Related:
Proposed Playland operator commits to retaining county employees
Source: Midhudsonnews.com, May 14, 2015

Westchester County administration officials and representatives of Standard Amusements, LLC, the company proposed to manage the county’s Playland Amusement Park for 15 years, Wednesday committed to retaining all county employees when they take over operations. Standard Amusement officials said they recognize the value of the county employees’ experience, institutional knowledge and commitment to Playland and would like to hire as many as practical. CSEA leadership told members of the county board of legislators’ committee discussing the issue that if the workers are shifted over to the private company, they would lose their public employee pension system coverage.

Top Scott Walker aides pushed for questionable $500,000 WEDC loan

Source: Matthew DeFour, Wisconsin State Journal, May 18, 2015

Gov. Scott Walker’s top aides and a powerful lobbyist pressed for a taxpayer-funded loan in 2011 to a financially struggling Milwaukee construction company that lost the state half a million dollars, created no jobs and raised questions about where the money went, a State Journal investigation has found. The extraordinary steps led the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. in 2011 to award a $500,000 unsecured loan to Building Committee Inc., owned by William Minahan, for a proposed project to retrofit bank and credit union buildings for energy efficiency….
Related:
As Scott Walker mulls White House bid, a spotlight on his jobs agency
Source: Andy Sullivan, Reuters, February 16, 2015

When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a potential Republican presidential candidate, traveled on a trade mission to Britain last week, he brought along top officials from his economic development agency to help drum up jobs. It’s a task they have struggled to accomplish at home. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a public-private body set up by Walker shortly after he took office in January 2011, was supposed to help the state climb out of recession by shedding bureaucratic rules and drawing on private-sector expertise. But the WEDC has fallen short of its own goals by tens of thousands of jobs and failed to keep track of millions of dollars it has handed out. ….

Scott Walker’s Offshoring Flip-flop
Source: Roger Bybee, In These Times, August 20, 2014

Wisconsin Gov. Walker’s convenient crusade against offshoring may prove to be surprisingly good for the state’s working people. … A new report from the liberal research and advocacy group One Wisconsin Now reveals just how hypocritical Walker’s new stance is. One Wisconsin Now points out a number of grants from the Walker-privatized Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation a number of job-creation grants had gone to firms engaged in sending jobs to states other than Wisconsin, and outside of the U.S. itself. (It also notes that 60 percent of that funding from went to businesses that donated to Walker’s 2010 campaign.) … The firms that have announced relocation of jobs or expansions in low-wage nations, especially Mexico and China—possibly portending in many cases a loss of additional Wisconsin jobs in the future—during Walker’s tenure comprise a substantial list: Harley-Davidson, will be moving roughly 500 jobs from Milwaukee to India; General Electric has moved the headquarters of its Medical Equipment Division to Beijing, China from the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha; Caterpillar laid off more than 300 workers in its South Milwaukee plant while announcing the opening of new manufacturing facilities in Wuxi, China; Thermo-Fisher is moving 1,100 jobs from Two Rivers to Mexico; and Manitowoc Co. plans to cut more than 150 jobs in Wisconsin over the next two years as it shifts production to Monterrey, Mexico. …

Outrage over outsourcing: Has Walker’s job creation agency given money to companies that outsource jobs?
Source: WITI, July 28, 2014

…Walker has harshly criticized Trek for taking taxpayer money and sending jobs overseas. An examination of WEDC records show is own jobs agency may have given money to companies that did the same thing. According to the WEDC’s annual report, Chicago-based printing giant RR Donnelley was given a $140,000 tax credit, saying it planned to make a $316,000 capital investment, but actually invested zero. The company said it would create 75 jobs, but actually only created seven…. In company literature, RR Donnelley describes itself as “a leader in outsource solutions.” …

Latest Finance Report Shows Walker Took Another $167,000 from Businesses That Got WEDC Funds /Walker Has Gotten Almost $1.2 Million from Companies Getting Taxpayer Funds from WEDC, While Wisconsin Ranks Dead Last in the Midwest in Jobs
Source: One Wisconsin Now, Press Release, July 28, 2014

A review of Gov. Scott Walker’s most recent campaign finance report reveals he continues to reap a windfall of campaign donations, nearly $167,000 in just the last six months, from individuals associated with state businesses getting tax breaks, loans and grants through his Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The latest information comes on the heels of a report from One Wisconsin Now that found Gov. Walker’s WEDC doled out 60 percent of its economic development funds to businesses donating $1 million to Walker’s campaign… A media report on WKOW-TV in Madison also detailed how two companies that received WEDC awards of state tax credits worth up to nearly $20 million subsequently laid off 279 Wisconsin workers and expanded their operations in Mexico and other overseas locations including China, Romania, Malaysia, Thailand, Germany and the United Kingdom. It was also reported that individuals on the boards of the companies are longtime Walker donors and have given the Governor roughly $20,000 in contributions….

UPDATE: WEDC award recipients outsourced Wisconsin jobs to foreign countries
Source: Greg Neumann, WKOW-TV, July 9, 2014 (Updated July 28, 2014)

At least two companies that received financial awards from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) later outsourced jobs to foreign countries, with one of those companies receiving a second WEDC award after the fact. A 27 News investigation has uncovered that both the Eaton Corporation and Plexus Corporation received millions of dollars in financial awards from WEDC, only to later lay off workers whose jobs were taken by employees at the companies’ foreign facilities. In 2011, WEDC awarded Eaton Corp. with up to $1 million in tax credits if the company met job creation and retention goals at its manufacturing facility in Menomonee Falls. WEDC officials say the company has received $190,000 in tax credits so far. …

UPDATE: Companies that outsourced jobs donated primarily to Walker campaign
Source: Greg Neumann, WKOW-TV, July 10, 2014 (Updated: July 25, 2014)

Members of the board of directors for two companies that outsourced Wisconsin jobs after accepting financial incentives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation have donated close to $20,000 to Gov. Scott Walker’s campaigns since 2005. Wisconsin campaign finance records show Plexus Corp. board members David Drury and Ralf Boer have each made donations to Walker’s campaign. Boer, an attorney and partner in the Foley and Lardner law firm in Milwaukee, has donated a total of $2,300 to the Walker campaign since 2006. Drury, the CEO of Poblocki Sign Company in Milwaukee, has donated $15,800 to Walker’s campaign since 2005. One board member for the Eaton Corp., Gregory Page, an executive with Cargill in Minnesota, made a single donation of $1,000 to the Governor’s campaign in 2013. …

Only 5,840 ‘actual’ jobs from Walker’s WEDC
Source: Mary Bottari, Capital Times, June 10, 2014

This July marks the three-year anniversary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Gov. Scott Walker’s flagship economic development agency. WEDC has been mired in allegations of incompetence and skirting the law since 2012, but how has it performed when it comes to its top priority of creating jobs for the people of Wisconsin? Two official state data sets indicate that for every verifiable job Walker’s WEDC managed to create, the state lost more than two to plant closings and layoffs….

W is for WEDC – Gov. Scott Walker’s Privatized Commerce Department: A Case Study in Corruption, Cronyism and Incompetence
Source: Jenni Dye, One Wisconsin Now, May 29, 2014

From the press release:
A report released today by One Wisconsin Now analyzing state funds distributed by the quasi-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), created by Gov. Scott Walker, raises serious questions about who is really benefitting. The report found that owners or employees of 30 percent of businesses receiving WEDC assistance contributed to Gov. Walker’s campaign or the Republican Governors Association (RGA). Meanwhile these same businesses received almost 60 percent of WEDC economic development funds – $570 million in total….
Among the key findings of the report, “W is for WEDC”, are:
∙ Gov. Walker received a more than $1 million direct campaign benefit and $1 million to the RGA from WEDC aid recipients, who in turn received nearly 60 percent of economic development dollars – $570 million of the $975 million distributed.
∙ WEDC economic development dollars are not resulting in promised job creation.
∙ WEDC fund recipients include companies engaged in health and safety violations, mass layoffs and conflicts of interest…..

One Wisconsin Now says WEDC money going to Scott Walker donors like Edgewater
Source: Mike Ivey, Capital Times, May 30, 2014

A liberal advocacy group is leveling heavy criticism at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, claiming the quasi-private agency championed by Gov. Scott Walker is delivering financial assistance to campaign donors. The report from One Wisconsin Now maintains that nearly 60 percent of some $975 million in assistance distributed by WEDC went to firms that had contributed to Walker or the Republican Governor’s Association.

UPDATE: Audit reveals WEDC broke state law
Source: Greg Neumann, WKOW, May 1, 2013

The public/private agency Governor Scott Walker created to grow 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin is in violation of state law. That’s what an audit of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) shows. The non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau released a detailed report of its audit Wednesday. The report shows that from July 2011 to December 2012, WEDC failed to follow a number of state statutes in their financial and job creation reporting, awarded loans and grants to ineligible projects and failed to keep track of spending within the organization itself…. The LAB report states WEDC never kept track of the job creation efforts for a group of companies it awarded money to, which in turn prevented the agency from presenting legislators with accurate information on its job creation efforts last November. Both are required of the agency under state law.

Wisconsin jobs agency failed in tracking taxpayer money, audit finds
Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, May 1, 2013

A stinging audit has found that the state’s flagship jobs agency last year failed in a number of cases to follow basic standards in state law for ensuring transparent and accountable use of taxpayer money, prompting immediate calls for changes from GOP lawmakers. The audit from the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau found that last year the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. didn’t verify or require performance information or financial statements from companies receiving financial incentives and awarded nearly $1 million in tax credits to companies for actions taken before they had signed their contracts with the state.

State jobs agency adds 3rd finance chief in 2 years, then loses him in a day
Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, April 24, 2013

This week the state’s flagship jobs agency brought on its third chief financial officer in less than two years – only to see him resign within 24 hours to take a promotion at his former company. The news comes as the still relatively new Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is seeking to shift public attention from its own internal difficulties to what it can do to help meet the state’s much larger economic challenges. WEDC has gone six months without a permanent CFO and had turnover among other top executives at a time when it is trying to strengthen its financial controls.

Competent management needed at WEDC
Source: Editorial Board, Journal Sentinel, December 5, 2012

The state’s lead economic development agency needs to clean up its act, but the public-private model remains a good idea.

State economic development corp. under review / The group failed to track loans worth $12 million
Source: Mary Spicuzza and Dee J. Hall, Wisconsin State Journal, December 1, 2012

The state’s top jobs agency said Friday that it hired a financial institution and an accounting company to review its financial practices after it failed to track loans totaling about $12 million. And officials with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. said the quasi-public agency’s failure to track millions of dollars in loans wasn’t because of any misconduct they have uncovered, but rather because the agency — which lost more than 80 percent of its staff when it was created from the old Department of Commerce — didn’t allocate the time or personnel needed to keep track of the money it had loaned Wisconsin businesses.

Some borrowers of taxpayer-financed loans now bankrupt
Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, December 3, 2012

iPads put $60,000 byte on Wisconsin taxpayers
Source: Daniel Bice, Journal Sentinel, Oct. 7, 2011

Wis. gov introduces members of development corp‎
Source: Todd Richmond, Associated Press, May 19, 2011

Proposed privitization of Commerce Dept. get hearing
Source: WFRV News, January 13, 2011

State workers face privatization / Walker plan reorganizes Commerce Department
Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, January 6, 2011

Madison — Some of the 340 Department of Commerce workers would no longer be state employees under a job creation proposal by Gov. Scott Walker to partly privatize the agency. According to new details made public by Walker Thursday, the proposed Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. would still receive annual audits by nonpartisan state staff – one way to provide oversight of how the agency awards large taxpayer incentives to businesses….

…The Commerce Department is a midsize agency, with about 340 employees and an annual budget of $183 million in state and federal money. Under the bill, workers transferred from the agency to the proposed Economic Development Corp. would not be state workers and might or might not remain part of the state retirement system, depending on a decision by the new agency’s board. Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch would also be given the power to cut jobs at the Commerce Department….

…The closest model for the proposed Wisconsin agency is an Indiana entity that has faced criticism for not releasing some figures on costly subsidies received by individual companies and on the number of jobs they created with them….

…The legislation released Thursday made no obvious references to whether the agency would be subject to open government laws or audits. But Werwie said the Economic Development Corp. would be subject to the open records and audit requirement because already existing state laws would apply to the new body as it is set up in the bill. The legislation said that the salary for the head of the Economic Development Corp. would be determined by the agency’s board. That appeared to remove a current cap on the salary of the state commerce secretary now set at $135,300….

Subsidy transparency a must
Source: Shannon Nelson, Journal Sentinel, January 1, 2011