From the Washington Post. The vote is tomorrow. Didn't know about this one either? Gee whiz. Isn't that YOUR delegate smiling in the photo at left?
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has joined a little-noticed wave of Democratic governors gravitating toward the privatization of government facilities — a practice once anathema to blue states and their often-powerful public employee unions.
A bill proposed by O’Malley and being shepherded through the legislature by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) follows laws approved recently in California and Illinois and under consideration in a half-dozen other Democratic-controlled states. In the name of job creation, it would make it Maryland’s policy to seek out private partners to build, operate and maintain roads, bridges, schools, government buildings and most any other public asset.
But Maryland’s methods would make the process ripe for corruption, critics say, and even upend an existing lawsuit challenging one of the state’s biggest plans.
To appease labor, the shift would come in a distinctly Democratic mold. Under legislation expected to come to a vote Monday in the House of Delegates, any jobs generated as the state hands off public assets would carry requirements that private enterprises pay living wages, ensure minority business involvement and put in place other labor-friendly protections.
The bill would give the state broad powers to negotiate deals outside the established procurement system and to decide how taxpayer money would be sent to developers to pay for large, upfront investments.
“It would let state agencies circumvent competitive bidding altogether simply by having a government official designate a project as a ‘public-private partnership,’ ” said Scott Livingston, a lawyer who helped write Maryland’s procurement laws after a series of corruption scandals — including one that led to the 1973 resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew (R), a former Maryland governor. “This is a dangerous retreat from established safeguards.”
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