Tag Archives: Wisconsin

The Desperate Selling Off of America

Source: Rania Khalek, AlterNet, June 1, 2011

Rather than upset the moneyed interests who bought their seats in office, politicians prefer to cut pensions, close schools, and most importantly, privatize, privatize, privatize!

…. As states face a budget shortfall of $125 billion for fiscal year 2012, leaders are searching for creative ways to fill budget gaps, while refusing to consider the one legitimate solution: forcing tax-dodging corporations and the rich to pay their fair share in taxes. Rather than upset the moneyed interests who bought their seats in office, politicians of all stripes prefer to cut pensions, close schools, slash child nutrition programs, and most importantly, privatize, privatize, privatize!

Walker plan brings warning from USDA / Privatizing FoodShare work could cost state $20 million

Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, April 28, 2011

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to privatize work determining who is eligible for food assistance in the state would violate federal law and could expose the state to a loss of more than $20 million in federal money, federal officials say. In an April 14 letter to state Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith and Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson, Ollice Holden, a Midwest administrator for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, warned that the work of interviewing applicants and deciding who is eligible for the Wisconsin FoodShare program needs to be done by public workers who are essentially civil servants. If not, he said, the state could lose some of the federal funds supporting FoodShare, the successor in Wisconsin to the food stamp program. ….. Federal officials pointed to past problems with privatization deals in other states such as Indiana and Texas.
EDITORIAL A food fight / Wisconsin officials should scale back privatization efforts for the state’s FoodShare program. Refusal to do so could cost the state millions and harm the poor.
Source: Journal Sentinel, June 1, 2011

State will switch to public workers for FoodShare program
Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, August 12, 2011

Walker’s budget would end mandate on studying contractor costs

Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel Blog, March 29, 2011

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal eliminates a state law requiring state agencies to study the costs and benefits of outsourcing work. Current law says agencies must compare the costs of having private contractors do work costing more than $25,000 against what it would cost to have state workers do the job. Speaking to members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee Tuesday, Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said that the law was cumbersome and required an analysis of contractor costs to be done even in cases where state workers couldn’t do the work.

State’s outsourcing cost-benefit law targeted
Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, March 29, 2011

Under budget, teachers with revoked licenses could teach at charter schools

Source: Lindsay Fiori, Journal Times, March 23, 2011

Wisconsin teachers with their licenses revoked for immoral conduct or incompetency could teach again under a provision in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget.

Walker’s budget would remove a requirement that teachers at independent charter schools be licensed by the state, instead requiring teachers at those schools have only a bachelor’s degree of some kind. Such a switch would create a loophole where people with revoked teaching licenses could potentially end up back in the classroom, according to Department of Public Instruction spokesman Patrick Gasper.

Privatizing Wisconsin Public Services May Prove Costly and Inefficient, Says Cornell Municipal Planning Expert

Source: Mildred Warner, Cornell University, Newswise Press release, 3/10/2011

Mildred Warner, Cornell professor in city and regional planning, is an expert on privatizing government services. Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, recently suggested privatizing certain government services.

Warner comments on Gov. Walker’s proposals.

She says:

“The pressures on politicians – whether they are governors or mayors – are to address fiscal crises and save money. Politicians who talk about privatizing public services because it is less expensive, have later found this to be false. Sometimes privatization can be more costly.

“Privatization is not a panacea. Many municipalities – who have privatized services – often reverse course. These reversals are primarily due to problems with service quality and lack of cost savings. Many times they find the private services lack efficiency. And private firms, once competitive on price, become monopolies at a later time.

“The International City County Management Association – or ICMA – conducts a survey of alternate service delivery by local governments every five years. There was a trend in the early 1990s toward privatization, but that peaked in 1997. The ICMA surveys show that public delivery is still the most common form of service delivery across all local governments on average.”

City Notes: Officials see no easy way out of Valley Transit funding / Officials see no easy way to get quick fix

Source: J.E. Espino, postcrescent.com, February 27, 2011

APPLETON — Privatizing bus services might be the way to go for mid-sized communities at risk of losing millions in federal funding under Gov. Scott Walker’s bill changing collective bargaining for public employee unions. The Milwaukee County Transit System is operated by a private company hired by government leaders….

…The Republican governor’s budget repair bill threatens $46.6 million in federal mass transit funding because the U.S. Department of Labor requires collective bargaining be in place to release funds. Any changes in the agreements, such as altering collective bargaining powers, would jeopardize the funds. Valley Transit could lose its share, $2.5 million of its annual operating budget of $8.5 million….The transit service provided 1.4 million rides last year. More than 450,000 of those trips were job-related. The rest were for medical appointments, school, shopping and other errands, transit officials said.

Milwaukee County security guards return to job / Walker’s outsourcing effort reversed, but private guards also remain

Source: Steve Schultze, Journal Sentinel, March 2, 2011

Milwaukee County has doubled up on its courthouse and other building security, as 21 of 27 guards laid off a year ago in an abortive privatization move are back on the job. But 21 private guards the county hired in an emergency budget move in March 2009 by then-County Executive Scott Walker also remain on the job at a cost to the county of about $95,000 a month, county Public Works Director Jack Takerian said Wednesday. Walker was elected governor in November….

…A court ruling in January reversed the outsourcing, saying Walker’s emergency justification for it fell short. The county did not appeal and most of the fired county guards came back to their posts, including several who had gone to work for G4S Wackenhut, the private firm brought in by Walker. The private guards earn about $10 an hour, $5 an hour less than the county workers they temporarily displaced, and pay much higher costs toward health insurance. About a dozen of the Wackenhut guards who had been stationed at the courthouse were shifted to Milwaukee County Transit System, but nine remain at posts in the county jail, the Vel Phillips Juvenile Justice Center and the county’s City Campus buildings at 2711 W. Wells St., Takerian said….

…The full cost of the court ruling has not yet been calculated, but none of the estimated $153,000 in annual savings is expected to materialize. The court ordered back pay for the county guards, minus any unemployment or retirement benefits or earnings from another job….
Abele revises privatization of security personnel
Source: Steve Schultze, Journal Sentinel, October 4, 2011

Koch Denies Interest in No-Bid Deals; Opens New Lobby Shop

Source: Lisa Graves, Center for Media and Democracy, PR Watch, February 22, 2011

Madison, Wisconsin — The Capital Times reported on Tuesday that Koch Industries had quietly opened a lobby shop in Madison. This news comes amid concerns about the influence of the company and the billionaire brothers who lead it, and the bankrolling of multi-million dollar ad campaigns like the one that helped sweep controversial governor Scott Walker into office. The company’s political action committee was also one of the largest PAC donors to contribute directly to Walker’s election, giving his campaign $43,000, second only to the realtor PAC. Amid controversy swirling around a provision in the budget bill Walker introduced that would allow his administration to sell off state heating, cooling and power plants or their operations “for any amount” in no-bid contracts and without any external oversight, Koch Industries denied last night that it was interested purchasing power plants here to go along with its pipeline, refinery, and coal companies in the state.
Walker says budget repair bill written to serve ‘vested interest’ of Koch brothers
Source: John Nichols, Capital Times, February 24, 2011
Prank call, effort to sell power plants prompt worries about GOP ties to Koch brothers
Source: Ron Seely and Dee J. Hall, Wisconsin State Journal, February 24, 2011
Koch Whore
Source: Buffalo Beast, February 23, 2011

– Video: On Prank Call, Wis. Governor Discusses Strategy
Source: Associated Press

Milwaukee County must offer to reinstate courthouse security guards / Arbitrator rules against Walker’s privatization

Source: Steve Schultze, Journal Sentinel, January 10, 2011

Milwaukee County must offer to reinstate 26 courthouse security guards who were laid off nearly a year ago when then-County Executive Scott Walker replaced them with private guards as an emergency budget measure, according to an arbitrator’s decision issued Monday. … The county did not have a true budget crisis at the time and county officials failed to give the union representing the security guards an opportunity to make some alternative cost-saving proposals before laying them off, according to the decision from arbitrator Amedeo Greco. Greco’s ruling also said the $125,000 annual savings from privatizing the courthouse security estimated by county officials was overstated by nearly $53,000….

…No estimate was immediately available of the cost of the back pay or the number of former county security guards laid off last year who might want their old jobs back. The private firm G4S Wackenhut was hired by Walker to replace the union workers. The Wackenhut guards are being paid up to $10.50 an hour, about $5 an hour less than the union guards made. The County Board rejected the security outsourcing idea in November 2009, when Walker tried to get the move included as part of the 2010 budget. But Walker unilaterally ordered it last March, saying the county faced a potential 2010 year-end deficit of about $7 million. Wackenhut is being paid $1.1 million a year under its contract with the county for security at the courthouse complex, as well as for City Campus, 2711 W. Wells St., and the Vel Phillips Juvenile Justice Center in Wauwatosa

Alternative Methods of Service Delivery in Small and Rural Municipalities

Source: Robert Mohr, Steven C. Deller and John M. Halstead, Public Administration Review, Volume 70, Issue 6, November/December 2010
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Data from approximately 1,000 small, mostly rural municipalities in Illinois, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin address local choices on production and contracting arrangements for a wide range of services. The results suggest that the use of both for-profit contractors and cooperative agreements with other governments correlate negatively with population size. Small municipalities are less likely to use competitive bidding processes, compare costs between production options, or report that privatization produces savings. Median income, rural geography, and ideology show statistically significant associations with contracting decisions. Respondents generally consider themselves “satisfied” with services provided by contract, although satisfaction levels are lower than those associated with self-provision of the same services. Citizen satisfaction associated with services delivered by other governments is lower than those provided by private contractors, suggesting that no trade-off in service quality is directly attributable to for-profit contractors.