By G.W. Schulz
It's always been difficult to imagine that privatization could become so popular entire cities would actually begin outsourcing all of their administrative functions. But it’s occurring, according to the USA Today. Truly scary. Anyone who thinks private companies that claim they can handle the public sector and save mobs of money won’t eventually get into some kind of trouble in their haste to generate profits isn’t thinking clearly.
What happened with both the Hospital Corporation of America and the Corrections Corporation of America in the 90s should have been warning enough. But as we’ve learned so many times before, free marketeers prefer to place ideology before reality.
A government employees union rep made a good point in the USA Today story:
“Contractors aren't subject to the same kind of open-records and open-meetings laws as public employees are. You end up with a shadow government.”
In related news, Google went complaining to the Chron about how long it’s taking San Francisco to complete its ongoing negotiations for a citywide Wi-Fi system. Google still doesn’t seem to understand that the rules change when you do business with a city government. They're also complaining about having to give poor people free computers during the same week that they announced plans for an ambitious, new philanthropic arm of the company.
Here’s an idea, Google: Either you get used to the fact that business is conducted differently when it involves our taxpayer-funded public infrastructure, or go back to Mountain View and take all of your loser employees who make Valencia Street a nightmare on the weekends with you.
According to the story, it sounds like Mayor Newsom is trying to make sure that we get the greatest value out of this plan, something for which he deserves an enormous amount of credit. As for Google’s part, this plan isn’t exactly a charity effort being extended on behalf of the city of San Francisco. In exchange for providing free wireless Internet access, Google will get to tap one of the most lucrative advertising markets in the United States. Clear Channel had to go through the same cumbersome bureaucratic process when they decided to take over some of the city’s newspaper boxes. They stuck with it presumably because they knew the advertisements they wanted to paste on the back of the boxes would be profitable.
Drinks up to the mayor for sticking to his guns.
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