L’il Debbie’s sausage machine

It is an article of faith among Republicans that outsourcing government functions to private industry is a good thing. They cling to this belief despite the reality that the result is most often higher overall costs to the taxpayers, layoffs and cuts in pay for workers, and shoddy work. That is probably why they prefer to do such deals behind closed doors out of the prying gaze of citizens. Broome County officials, led by Avon-selling County Executive Debbie Preston, have, in the face of strident public opposition, gone forward with the privatization of the county’s central kitchen that provides some million meals a year to various county facilities. And they are being opaque about the process.

Typically a governmental agency requesting bids for goods or services will publish a list of interested parties prior to the release of the request for proposals. This allows small businesses an opportunity to seek teaming arrangements with potential prime contractors. The County published no such list. And generally the government will make public how many bids it received and, often, from whom. The County has actively blocked local media from getting that information through the state’s Freedom of Information Law on the grounds that it would compromise competitive information. To point out that this is nonsense is hardly necessary. Unless the County expects to go back to the bidders for a best and final offer, there is no reason not make the complete proposals public. And even if the County anticipates requesting revised pricing, certainly the number and identity of the bidders is in no way privileged. So what is L’il Debbie Preston trying to hide?

Well, that takes us back to why Republicans love outsourcing: it benefits their cronies. I can not blame our County Executive for trying to hide her machinations. After all, if people could see what goes into the making of her governmental sausages she would be out on her ear. But no matter. The deal will be done in the dark shadows of Hawley Street. Dozens of hard working county employees will be laid off and driven onto the welfare rolls. The clients of the central kitchen will get lousy food. One or more ward heelers will get wealthy on the taxpayers’ money. And the GOP’s campaign coffers will swell. Ain’t America great?

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