Tuesday, February 7, 2012

CorruptionFest 2012, Live from Florida!

I'll spare everyone a summary of what's been happening in the Florida legislature over the past two sessions (see here here, and here, or just search for "Florida" to catch up); instead, I'll just try to continue to update what I'd like to call CorruptionFest 2012.  Again, I apologize in advance for the plethora of links to follow, but the news is coming so fast that I can't keep up any other way.

First comes an article written by a state Senator, Paula Dockery, who calls out her fellow senators for the false promises of savings and the absurd fast-tracking of the bill, which for some reason never found its way to the legislative committee that oversees corrections.  No, it just went before 2 different committees headed up by JD Alexander, who has been pushing this privatization effort for years.  Alexander has been telling anyone who will listen that the plan will save $22 million for the state, but he has never actually backed those numbers up with evidence.  As a reporter with the Orlando Sentinel noted, such "savings" can be particularly hard to calculate, especially given the industry-friendly contract terms that keep the most expensive prisoners in state facilities and leave the privates to handle the cheap, low-risk prisoners.  Many experts who have studied the industry (and who weren't funded by the industry in their research), have found savings from private prisons to be negligible at best; and considering the state would even leave some of the more high-risk prisoners in private facilities (which is a stupid idea in its own right), Florida's taxpayers would likely not save much, if anything, in this process.

In response to the fast-tracking of the legislation through committees that should have no say in corrections policy, the Florida Nurses Association has sued the state over the secrecy of the plan that could cost thousands of state employees their jobs.  They were followed by a coalition of 17 other organizations opposed to the privatization, who petitioned the effort's champion, Mike Haridopolous.  Then the Correctional Officers' Union called for the state to conduct an honest cost-benefit analysis, after their initial review found that this privatization could cost Florida taxpayers MORE THAN 120 MILLION FRIGGING DOLLARS.  All of these groups, and seemingly everyone in the state other than Haridopolous, Alexander, and employees of CCA and the GEO Group, adamantly oppose this privatization push that is "too big and too fast," according to the former deputy secretary of the state's DOC.  In fact, the entire history of this bill's movement through the legislature alone should raise some eyebrows; it was introduced over a holiday weekend, then only 1 day was permitted for public debate (in which nearly everyone was opposed to the bill), before it passed through two Committees in record time; just eleven days after its filing, it came up for a vote before the full Senate.

Thankfully though, the Republican party in the state finally tried to live up to its reputation of fiscal responsibility, as some Senators opposed the privatization plan, and the bill stalled.  Mike Fasano, who has opposed the previous, illegal push for privatization as well as the current one, spearheaded the campaign to bring some accountability to the measure.  He introduced an amendment that would have required the state to conduct a cost/benefit analysis of the plan.  So Haridopolous, standup guy that he is, called for a hold in the debate.  Fasano then became the latest victim of the industry's crazed drive to privatize when Haridopolous FIRED him from his committee seat for opposing the privatization.  That's right, Haridopolous; just remove any competition you come up against in your bloodlust.  Thank you, you "petulant crybaby," (That's a fun read, btw) for removing any doubt as to whether or not you've been bought by the industry.  To sum up this whole stinking situation, "It's obfuscation. It's secrecy. It's circumvention of laws, vindictive plots, and some smelly conflicts of interest."

Nevertheless, Governor Scott, who drug tests welfare recipients but recently refused to submit a urine sample as the beneficiary of taxpayer dollars, is "extremely disappointed" that more people haven't bought into his bullshit and supported this terrible idea.  I guess he's not a regular reader, otherwise he probably wouldn't be so convinced that private prisons offer better services for a better price (they do neither).  In fact, he need look no further than his own government's accounting office, which has consistently been incapable of proving any of the supposed cost-savings promised by the companies who have donated millions of dollars in campaign contributions state legislators over the past few years, and hundreds of thousands more hiring a small army of lobbyists, for this push.  The aforementioned Paula Dockery is trying to find the numbers that folks like Alexander and Scott have been referring to, going so far as to send a letter to Alexander specifically requesting the information he has that demonstrates cost-savings, because she has never seen any evidence to support a claim that private prisons save money, and believes they may in fact cost more.  She has also reviewed tons of evidence showing that any potential cost-savings would undoubtedly be offset by the inevitable reduction in quality of services provided by private prison companies, who are notorious for cutting costs to maximize their bottom lines.

So as the masses call upon legislators in Florida to have some common sense and decency, to reject the privatization plan for the corrupt shitshow that it is, I urge anyone reading this from Florida to do the same.  Call your representative (especially if your representative is Haridopolous or JD Alexander), call your governor, call your neighbor, your mother-in-law, or your mortal enemy, and let everyone know what a perilous adventure the state is about to undertake.  The jobs of 4,000 Florida employees, and the safety and well-being of nearly 20,000 of its residents are at stake.


  1. This Gov. Scott whom I didn't vote for still carries baggage with him from the Health Care Industry. He's "DIRTY". Leopards don't change their spots. Given your info and knowledge someone has their HANDS in the COOKIE JAR. We've e-mailed all the Fla. State Senators in opposition of Privatization. FYI there are many Senators, that are ethical,and morally correct and see right through HARODOPOLOS. We sent him an e-mail informing him we intentionally left off the title of SENATOR due to his actions of removing Sen. Fasano from his Committee Chair. Sending e-mail is easy. Have your readers follow these directions. Type in name of senator(Ex. haridopolo.mike.web@flsenate.gov). a complete list of names is on the Florida Gov. Website. Many of the Senators will send a response, either from their assistants, or personally. Some also have fax numbers, for anyone who wants to send documentation.I used the information of NORTH FORK OKLA. RIOT a CCA operated facility, where they were short of staff, and NURSES and OFFICERS IN TRAINING had to secucre the facility.There is tons of info on your website to be used.

  2. We've sent several e-mails to SENATOR MIKE FASANO, in support of his decision to confront the "SCHOOL YARD BULLY"(these are the senator's own words) Mike Haridopolos. He's also personally sent a response to us thanking us for this support. We reside in SOUTHWEST RANCHES,Fl where they want to build the LARGEST DETENTION facility in the smallest town. We are fighting like "HELL". We've become Activists out of necessity. My husband just stated, that when Sen.Fasano is up for reelection, we will personally campaign for the Senator to be reelected to his seat. That's how much of an impression he made on us ethically and morally to do the right thing. We are now "ACTIVISTS FROM SOUTH FLORIDA". Our group of residents has assisted in 2 elections here, that were successful, even though we are of different ethnic backgrounds and political affiliations. With pain staking patience and presenting documented proof, we've been able to influence changes. Any group of people can do what we did. Don't be lazy or fooled into believing it's not possible. We will help you succeed. We are UP AGAINST BIG MONEY LOBBYISTS!!!! BUT THE POWER OF THE INFORMED PEOPLE CAN PREVAIL!!!!!Thank you to "MIKE for WHY I HATE CCA"

  3. Hey Anon,

    Thanks for reading and commenting! Much appreciated. No need to thank me though; I'm more than happy to spread the word. If you ever need anything, please reach out through comments or by emailing me (link is on the right).

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