Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Milwaukee County Dodged Bigger Money Vulture Than Previously Realized

Last week, I wrote about how Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele again thought himself to be above rigged the bidding process in order to pick the for-profit, Texas-based MV Transportation (MV stands for Money Vultures) to take over the Milwaukee County Transit System.  I also pointed out that besides the shady and suspect way that Abele manipulated the process to pick MV Transportation, the company itself has a lengthy history of labor struggles, poor performance and scandalous actions.
the law and had

Fortunately, the County's Administrative Review Panel had a hearing on the bidding process and found that the bidding process was indeed flawed and that the contract could not be given to MV Transportation.

As to be expected, Abele tantrummed about it:
The Milwaukee County Board today cost taxpayers $76.3 million by rejecting a new transit contract.

MV Transportation, a nationally recognized and respected company, was awarded the transit contract last year after winning a competitive bidding process. Two of the losing bidders filed appeals with the County Board. Today, a special committee hand-picked by County Board leaders, spent five minutes in open session and quickly voted to not allow the contract.

“The decision today upholds the status quo and costs taxpayers millions and millions of dollars. Our transit system has been on life-support for years, this contract would have allowed us to put more money into bus service and remake a broken system,” County Executive Chris Abele said. “The County Board’s decision lacks factual support or legal reasoning and it should concern every resident of Milwaukee County who wants their government to save money and run more efficiently.”
Not even a week later, it is being reported that Milwaukee County not only dodged another bullet by rejecting Abele's corrupt plan, but that the bullet was much bigger and more damaging than originally thought.

Via Lisa Kaiser of the Shepherd Express, we find an article in the Dallas News which indicated that things with MV Transportation is worse than previously known.

First we find that their service in Dallas was extremely poor, so much so that the contract had to be redone to such an extent that it was questioned whether it wouldn't be better to start from scratch.  And on top of that, the vulture capitalists running the company are ready to sell it off as fast as possible:
Dallas Area Rapid Transit board members are poised Tuesday to overhaul and extend a $185.9 million contract with the controversial company that provides transportation for elderly and disabled passengers.

The move comes as MV Transportation is putting itself up for sale and after the transit agency has spent months weathering criticisms about the vendor’s performance.

A majority of DART’s 14 board members voiced support for the contract changes earlier this month. But some board members say the alterations are so vast they should solicit other companies’ bids rather than negotiate exclusively with MV.
And yes, there's more:
Veolia and MV were among the companies that submitted bids. MV won. Its takeover of paratransit was a disaster. Passengers complained about poorly trained drivers, out-of-the-way routes and long wait times.

Many of the criticisms echoed public complaints government entities across the country faced after they hired MV for paratransit and bus services. MV declined to comment for this article, citing the ongoing contract negotiations with DART.

The contract restructuring is meant to cover MV’s costs of making operational changes aimed to assuaging riders’ complaints. DART would still save money overall, but changes would likely eat up about $26.3 million in potential savings.

Dick Alexander is the senior vice president for Veolia Transportation. He said the decrease in potential savings under the proposed contract changes is essentially a loss to the public agency.
“That would go to DART and other DART projects,” he said of the lost savings. “Under this scenario, that money’s going to go straight to MV’s pocket.”
So the company is doing such a poor job that to fix the problems is that the cost of fixing the problems was so much, it ate up the savings.  Furthermore, MV was able to manipulate the situation that it would be the taxpayers taking the hit and not their profit margin*.

And anyone's guess is as good as the next as to what would happen when and if the sale of the company goes through.

Instead of his grandstanding and pity parties, Abele should grow up and apologize to the taxpayers for putting them at risk.  Furthermore, he should just resign from office and refer himself to the DA's office for his bid-rigging scheme.  Then again, he has already shown himself to be just as bad - if not worse - than Scott Walker, so he probably has no sense he did anything wrong.

*A profit margin made by laying off workers and cutting services to the elderly and disabled.  This is what Abele calls efficiency?

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