Bill Rabon plays the privatization game, and wins big-time

Pay-to-play politics at its absolute worst:

State Senator Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) said it was a pretty easy decision to start outsourcing some services at NCDOT when he and other Republicans took the majority in the state legislature in 2011. “One of the things that I think all of the Republicans wanted to do when they came here was downsize government, become more efficient,” Rabon said.

Campaign finance records show Rabon has collected campaign money from employees of private engineering firms and other companies involved in building roads and bridges, their political action committees and industry-related special interest groups. Records show Rabon’s campaign has taken more than $124,000 since 2012, the first year in which NCDOT was required to hit a specific outsourcing target.

If this was a fictional narrative, these revelations would trigger an inquiry, there would be scenes of Rabon running away from questioning reporters, and soon he would be announcing his early retirement, citing the need to "spend more time with family" or something similar. But as we've learned (the hard way) with GOP domination of the Legislature, the truth is stranger than fiction, and outcomes are simply not predictable. As far as that "more efficient" claim, it appears Rabon and his colleagues really don't care if it's true:

“If you don’t know whether or not this is actually saving money, why did you continue to increase the percent of private contractors over the last five years?” WBTV Investigates asked Rabon.

“Because I’ll go back to where we started. We believe that less government is good,” Rabon said.

When pressed by WBTV Investigates on whether or not he had ever asked NCDOT to provide information that would confirm the outsourcing strategy he has pushed is the cheaper option, he couldn’t provide a straight answer.

Rabon: “DOT has not given us any indication that we’re wrong.”
WBTV Investigates: “Have you asked that?”
Rabon: “We ask them to come before Oversight every year.”
WBTV Investigates: “Do you ask them, specifically, ‘is this saving taxpayers money?’”
Rabon: We ask them specifically to lay out their plans, show us what they’ve spent, how much in the private sector, how much in their sector—
WBTV Investigates: “But you’ve never asked if this is actually saving taxpayer money?”
Rabon: I don’t think they can tell us.

Of course it's not saving taxpayer money, because private contractors will get their profit margins one way or another. It ain't rocket science.



Really ticks me off

In addition to pissing away taxpayer dollars in the name of private profits, there's also all the lost jobs in DOT. What sucks even more, those former state employees often end up working for said private contractors doing the same exact job they were doing before, but getting paid less and with fewer benefits like health insurance and pensions. Grrr.

But what about the contracts?

An enterprising reporter should do a thorough examination of the NC DOT projects approved during Tata's administration. There's one I know about that makes absolutely no sense, widening a twenty mile state road to four lanes for entrance into a county in the northwest part of the state that has a declining population and no forecast for increased traffic for the future. There's probably several little boondoggles for these companies that just haven't been uncovered yet.