Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has taken steps to privatize institutions run by the state government, a move that will cause widespread job loss and give corporations control over intimate interworking of the university, such as administrative work and master planning, effectively putting APSU and other state run colleges and universities in the pocket of a third party corporation, as per the Department of General Service’s “request for information,” posed on their website on Monday, Aug. 10.
Functions normally carried out on the campus level would have to go through a third party as a result of Haslam’s movements. If a student needed an air conditioning unit in their room repaired, for example, the student would have to call an off-campus number and schedule repairs with a corporation in charge of utilities.
Administrators would become outsourced to private business owners and campus interests would become corporate interests.
Haslam has been criticized in the past for outsourcing work that is typically handled at the state level.
JLL, a real estate and investment management firm in Chicago, currently operates several state buildings in Tennessee.
The State of Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury wrote a 74 page audit on Haslam’s spending. The Comptroller of the Treasury’s function is to conduct investigations on how money is being used within the state, according to the Tennessees State Comptroller of the Treasury website.
The Comptroller called Haslam’s contract with JLL a “conflict of interest,” as it allowed JLL to monetarily benefit from its recommendations to the state.
The audit went on to criticize Haslam for expanding the contract from $1 million to $10.7 million with no rebidding process. It seems as though Haslam has disregarded the state’s assessment that he was compromising the interest of the people he vowed to serve and forged ahead on another private contract, this one on a much broader scale than a few state buildings.
A “request for information” was sent out on Monday, Aug. 10 with a 10 day response period and Haslam and his cabinet are keeping the names of companies who responded private.
While General Services spokesman David Roberson seems to insist the administration is merely looking into this matter for cost-efficiency purposes, Knox News reported University of Tennessee at Knoxville employees were given a timeline showing a contract being in place by the beginning of the next fiscal year: July 1, 2016.
If a contract is awarded to any of the nameless corporations that responded, tens of thousands of jobs across the state will be shipped out to a third-party business in the name of savings in less than a year.
This is unprecedented, its ramifications are huge and the specifics have already been quietly set in motion.
“I don’t think that having little or no control over their facilities and their security is beneficial to the university community or to anyone,” said Josh Smyser, a UTK custodian who is on the university’s Employee Relations Council to Knox News.
This would create an atmosphere where universities, hospitals and prisons are no longer concerned with public welfare but with profit.
If the profit motive wasn’t already in plain sight, a Pennsylvania county judge was recently sentenced to pay more than $1 million in restitution and serve 28 years in prison for selling juveniles to privately owned prisons.
Mark Ciavarella, Jr. and private prisons conspired together between 2003 and 2008, during which time Ciavarella was bribed and awarded millions of dollars in kickbacks for giving maximum sentences to juvenile offenders.
According to the allgov.org report, the investigation panel looking into Ciavarella discovered that upwards of 5,000 young men and women were unjustly sentenced for the sake of filling these private prisons.
Although it may seem more efficient to cut back on staffing of these institutions, the eventual result is corporation profiting from the institution it is supposed to be helping. Haslam is the richest elected official in the U.S. at a net worth of $2 billion, according to Forbes magazine, a portion of which was surreptitiously made while Haslam served as president of Pilot (the world’s largest chain of truck stops), a company his father founded and brother was chief executive officer of when Haslam became president.
To contact Bill Haslam, call 615-741-2001.TAS