It’s a simple lesson, and one that most children learn before they even reach their teen years; admit when you’ve made a mistake.
Yeah, well. Who knows what Michigan Gov. Rick “Nerd” Snyder was like when he was a kid, but these days it looks like he figures the best way to fix a mistake is to ignore the mistake. Act like it isn’t even there, even if the stench is crinkling your nose up so tight until you can’t breathe. Ignore all evidence. Full speed ahead, and never mind that wall up ahead.
So about that Aramark deal…
Where to begin? Ever since Gov. Snyder decided last year to save the taxpayers some money by privatizing the food delivery system in Michigan’s Department of Corrections, it’s been a domino effect of catastrophes. One after another, after another, after another, after another. But rather than considering the fact that, you know, maybe we have a problem here, Gov. Snyder has steadfastly insisted that hiring Aramark was the right move. PR Watch suggests there just might be a reason for that…
In 2013, Governor Rick Snyder invited the Philadelphia- based for-profit company Aramark to take over food services in the state’s prisons. The action was a 180-degree change in course, as the administration previously rejected all such bids on the grounds that none of the proposals would save the state money. The $570,000 Aramark spent on lobbying surely helped the company persuade the administration to change its mind.
But now here comes this story that there may be a murder for hire plot tied to Aramark in Michigan, and you kinda have to wonder if, I mean, just maybe this could be the little light that goes on inside that wind tunnel between Snyder’s ears. From the Sept. 25 edition of the Detroit Free Press:
First it was drug smuggling and sex acts with inmates.
Now it’s murder for hire.
An Aramark Correctional Services food service worker at Kinross Correctional Facility in the eastern Upper Peninsula is suspected of approaching an inmate there about arranging to have another inmate killed, a Michigan State Police official confirmed Wednesday. Det.-Sgt. Michael Schroeder of the Michigan State Police Sault Ste. Marie post told the Free Press Wednesday police have sent a warrant request to the Chippewa County Prosecutor’s Office following a lengthy investigation and are awaiting a response.
An inmate complained in July that a food service worker approached him about arranging to kill an inmate held at another facility, in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Schroeder said.
So this is bad, right? Yep. This is bad. But so far still no real response from our beloved Governor. Just like there was no real response from Snyder when five inmates were found with heroin and other drugs, and an Aramark worker was arrested as a result. That was in September. But wait, there’s more. From Bloomberg Businessweek:
Last December, Aramark (ARMK) began running Michigan’s prison kitchens under a three-year, $145 million contract. The deal, which eliminated about 370 union jobs, was supposed to make food service more efficient while saving the cash-strapped state millions.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way. More than 100 Aramark employees have been fired for alleged misconduct that included sneaking cell phones into prisons, distributing drugs, and having sexual contact with inmates. On Sept. 23 an Aramark worker at an Ionia prison was fired on suspicion that he’d tried to pay one prisoner to beat up another. The next day a worker at a maximum-security prison, also in Ionia, lost her job after corrections officers found a 65-page love letter she wrote to an inmate with whom she was allegedly having an affair.
I hate to say it gets better, but, well, it kinda does. Because it would be bad enough if Aramark was the lone example of privatization gone wrong, but as a recent study points out, massive screwups related to privatization have been setting fires all across the map, even as the Republicans who launched those screwups continue to try and defend them as sound money-saving practices. Once again from PR Watch:
Outsourcing of public services is a big business. Some experts estimate that $1 trillion out of the $6 trillion the federal government, together with state and local governments, spend annually are handed over to private contractors.
In 2010, an electoral landslide ushered in a new breed of governors. Aided and abetted by corporate-funded legislative and lobbying groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC), these governors pushed the envelope of outsourcing and privatization, selling public services to for-profit firms with their powerful political lobbies and related campaign contributions.
In this process, transparency and accountability are lost and the public loses its ability to influence decision makers through normal democratic channels. Shared prosperity also suffers when good middle class jobs are lost to low-road, low-wage employers.
In states across the country, schools, health care, prisons, prison food, water services, road services, state liquor sales, state economic development authorities, legal services, and even child support services were outsourced to private, for-profit companies. While the governors spoke of tight budgets and cost savings, a pattern emerged of influential corporate lobbyists and deep-pocketed campaign contributors.
In this effort to shrink government and sell off the prosperous parts to private interests, the winners are large corporations with a phalanx of lobbyists and campaign coffers big enough to buy political influence. All too often, taxpayers find themselves on the losing side.
Republican best practices. Working hard for you, my friend.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.