Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Outsourcing Outrages: Why Wisconsin Must Continue to Require Cost-Benefit Analysis When Considering Privatization Proposals

Source: Bruce Speight and Phineas Baxandall, Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG), March 2012

From the abstract:
State leaders have proposed to end the existing requirement for proposals that privatize public functions to show cost-benefit advantages and report on results for Department of Transportation projects over $25,000. Privatization in other states has sometimes saved the public money, but has often led to huge losses and other problems. Politicians may be enticed by the short-term cash offered by privatization, but citizens of Wisconsin deserve to know that there will not be larger long-term losses.
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Press release

Wisconsin Lawmaker Calls Out Corporate Front Group ALEC For Writing School Privatization Bill (video)

Source: Zaid Jilani, Republic Report, March 8, 2012

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the most powerful corporate front group you’ve never heard of … But one Wisconsin lawmaker is not content with allowing a corporate front group to secretly write his state’s laws. Rep. Mark Pocan (D) decided to join ALEC — its legislative umbrella includes nearly one-third of state legislators — and gain access to the template bills it was writing. When the legislature began to consider AB 110, which allows for special taxpayer subsidies for private schools for special needs children. Pocan took to the floor of the Wisconsin House and noted that the text of this bill that provides for a huge blanket taxpayer giveaway to the private school industry was remarkably similar to an ALEC template bill. Pocan obtained an e-mail trail of ALEC representatives to Republican staffers. These staffers then pushed for AB110. … Watch Pocan call out ALEC:

Garbage Truck Slides Into Utility Pole, Causes Power Outage in North Hudson

Source: Micheal Foley, Hudson Patch, February 1, 2012

Power is out this morning in a North Hudson neighborhood after a Veolia garbage truck slid on an icy driveway and struck a utility pole in the 200 block of Helen Street North just before 8:30 a.m….Xcel Energy is on the scene working to repair the pole and restore power to the neighborhood.

State spends millions for 202 new jobs

Source: Kathleen Gallagher and Mark Johnson, Journal Sentinel, February 11, 2012

A state-subsidized investment program yielded huge returns for three out-of-state financial firms and their partners while netting just 202 new jobs for Wisconsin, at a cost of more than $247,000 per job, a Journal Sentinel analysis has found.

The investment firms, called CAPCOs, were far more successful at making money for their owners and partners than they were at launching start-ups and creating jobs. They paid millions to cover their owners’ taxes on profits. They didn’t share any of those investment profits with the state. And they didn’t have to, because the program was poorly drafted and had minimal state oversight, the Journal Sentinel found.

Eau Claire school district may look at outsourcing some services

Source: McLean Bennett, Leader-Telegram, January 25, 2012

The Eau Claire school district could outsource some of its services someday, an idea that could save schools money but put present workers’ jobs at risk.

The ability to outsource jobs could become part of the district’s new employee handbook, a document expected to eventually replace collectively bargained contracts. The school board must approve the handbook before it can take effect in July, when bargained contracts expire.

The union contracts prohibit the district from hiring outside companies to provide services – such as custodial, clerical or food – in schools, said Fred Weissenburger, the district’s human resources director. But the handbook, he said, could reverse that, allowing schools to hire outside companies to provide those and other types of services.

Researcher: There are hidden costs to privatization

Source: Betsy Bloom, lacrossetribune.com, January 24, 2012

The current rush toward privatization of government services requires a reality check, says a former journalist now with a Milwaukee-area research organization. The gains touted don’t always materialize and might do more harm than good for local communities, said Jack Norman, director of policy research and development for the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future. Before joining IWF in 2000, he was a business and local news reporter for the Milwaukee Journal and then the Journal-Sentinel. ….. The area League of Women Voters hosted Norman as it begins a local privatization study that mirrors a similar national league effort.

How Online Learning Companies Bought America’s Schools

Source: Lee Fang, Nation, November 16, 2011

This article was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

If the national movement to “reform” public education through vouchers, charters and privatization has a laboratory, it is Florida. It was one of the first states to undertake a program of “virtual schools”–charters operated online, with teachers instructing students over the Internet–as well as one of the first to use vouchers to channel taxpayer money to charter schools run by for-profits….

Lamenting this series of defeats, Patricia Levesque, a top adviser to former Governor Jeb Bush, spoke to fellow reformers at a retreat in October 2010. Levesque noted that reform efforts had failed because the opposition had time to organize. Next year, Levesque advised, reformers should “spread” the unions thin “by playing offense” with decoy legislation. Levesque said she planned to sponsor a series of statewide reforms, like allowing taxpayer dollars to go to religious schools by overturning the so-called Blaine Amendment, “even if it doesn’t pass…to keep them busy on that front.” She also advised paycheck protection, a unionbusting scheme, as well as a state-provided insurance program to encourage teachers to leave the union and a transparency law to force teachers unions to show additional information to the public. Needling the labor unions with all these bills, Levesque said, allows certain charter bills to fly “under the radar.”

If Levesque’s blunt advice sounds like that of a veteran lobbyist, that’s because she is one. Levesque runs a Tallahassee-based firm called Meridian Strategies LLC, which lobbies on behalf of a number of education-technology companies….

…But Levesque wasn’t delivering her hardball advice to her lobbying clients. She was giving it to a group of education philanthropists at a conference sponsored by notable charities like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

City has sights on private cleaning services

Source: Dan Benson, Sheboygan Press, November 14, 2011

City officials are proposing to privatize janitorial services at City Hall and two other city buildings that, if approved by the Common Council, will cut cleaning costs by half and save the city about $76,000.

The city’s Finance Committee voted Monday night to recommend that the city hire Enviro-Clean Inc. of Sheboygan to take over the janitorial duties for all of City Hall, for office and employee areas at the city’s Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, 3333 Lakeshore Drive, and the offices at the Municipal Services Building, 2026 New Jersey Ave….

…Last year, a similar proposal was narrowly voted down because it likely would have led to a union grievance against the city.

What’s changed since then is Gov. Scott Walker’s budget, which stripped public employee unions of most of their collective bargaining powers.

City Council OKs outsourced crossing guard plan, but concerns persist

Source: Chad Dally, wausaudailyherald.com, November 9, 2011

Wausau City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a measure to pay for outsourced crossing guards despite members’ uncertainty over whether the decision to privatize crossing guard services benefits the city.

The city will pay $41,500 for the 2011 portion of a three-year contract with All City Management Services of California for the company to provide oversight of nearly 20 crossing guards….Under the terms of the contract, All City would receive $93,000 from Wausau in each of the first two years, with an increase of 60 cents per guard, per hour in the third year. The total cost for the third year of the contract was unavailable Tuesday. The police department, which previously managed the guards, spent $75,000 in 2010 on management of the crossing guards.

Firefighters union head suggests fee for private ambulances

Source: Larry Sandler, Journal Sentinel, October 19, 2011

A Milwaukee firefighters union leader called Wednesday for levying a fee on private ambulance companies to ease planned reductions in fire service….When Milwaukee residents call 911 for medical help, dispatchers decide whether the caller needs a paramedic team or just an ambulance ride to a hospital. About 30,000 times a year, the dispatchers send only a private ambulance. On another 25,000 occasions annually, paramedics show up first, provide aid, then call a private ambulance to take the patient to a hospital. In each case, the ambulance companies then bill the patients.

The last time a dispatch fee was discussed several years ago, Seager said the rate under consideration was $25 a call. That would raise nearly $1.4 million, which Rohlfing said would cover more than half his dispatching costs of $2.4 million a year….