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tv   Donald Cohen The Privatization of Everything  CSPAN  May 28, 2022 11:02am-11:51am EDT

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so good evening buena noches, and thank you so much for joining us tonight. what a beautiful night huh on behalf of all of us at the locally based independently owned bookstore books and books in miami, florida. it's my pleasure to welcome you
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to an evening with donald cohen and mayor daniela levine cava to discuss this wonderful book. it's called the privatization of everything how the plunder of public goods transformed america and how we can fight back and it's published by the new press. donald cohen, the coauthor is the founder and executive director of in the public interest a national research and policy center that studies public goods and services his opinion pieces and articles have appeared in the new york times reuters the los angeles times. the new republic the american prospect and many other online and print outlets. in conversation with donald tonight, we're joined by someone who has meant a lot to us has been a big supporter of books
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and books and of independent bookstores everywhere. mayor, daniella levine cava who was elected miami-dade county's first ever woman mayor in november of 2020? yay. me you oh her administration is focused on building a stronger more inclusive more resilient miami-dade prioritizing reforms to make our county safer and prevent gun violence through the peace and prosperity plan restoring and reinvigorating a thriving economy that delivers economic security from miami-dade businesses and families and attracts new industries. saving biscayne bay and building and protecting our environment and directly engaging with residents to make local government more responsive transparent and accountable. and here we are and this is an example donald and the mayor are
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going to have a conversation about this book and then we'll open up to a few questions from the audience. there'll be a book signing to follow and remember that we have copies of the privatization of everything for sale at the front register. so don't forget to grab your copy and now without further ado. i'd like to welcome our guests to the stage. thank you so much. it's great to be with you and christina and i plan lots and lots of book events. so this is really a great thrill to be here with you live for an extraordinary evening with a wonderful friend. and a great mentor and thought leader on some very important topics to how we grow and develop here in miami-dade county. so this bookstore was founded in 1982 and mitch kaplan founder
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and owner has expanded his wings all over even the caribbean and we're very grateful for his leadership and promoting the magic of reading. and of course good food, too. so my purpose tonight is to really give the stage to donald cohen. who is the author this book just recently released is is quite quite a turnpager page turner. thank you a page turner filled with great examples and he'll be sharing some of that with you. so i really want to encourage you to pick up the book. and congratulations donald for actually writing a book. thank you. it took a look it took a while. so the book is very timely. it's very relevant. here. we are coming out knock on wood of the pandemic which is going to be with us in some form for a while, but we're getting over the worst of it and we are here anticipating states counties and
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cities billions of dollars in federal infrastructure aid, so we're going to be building a great deal of stuff right? we're going to be upgrading our transportation housing internet electric vehicle charging infrastructure. all kinds of things are coming our way and it's so critical that we find the right partners both public and private to help us put all of that. members of my staff and the person actually responsible for procuring all that stuff would be alex munoz our chief of internal services department. thank you alex. and who's leading us through the labyrinth and i have also from
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my staff lauren para and manny gutierrez and jorge damien de la paz. okay and godfrey the man behind the camera. so did i leave anyone out mike mike roan always here to protect us. thank you, mike. okay, so let's get into it. it's about you in the book and donald this is your first book, but as was mentioned you've written many many opinion pieces and prominent publications. so what inspired you to actually hunker down and write a whole book. and well, i think a couple of things i've been doing this work for a while and looking at public services. looking at privatization of different things and you know, i think back to when i was when we were children because we're about the same age, i believe and you know, there was we had trust in our public institutions. we were making progress medicare got passed food got safer the air got cleaner.
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and so you know that kind of the the background and when we do the and the work i do we get calls from around the country, you know today of you know cities trying to figure out how to unpack a proposal to privatize something or or to make, you know services more efficient or what have you. and you know after 10 years of work dealing with places all around the country. i realized you know, there's a bigger story to tell there's a lot of individual stories. it's called the privatization of everything so it really is a little bit of everything just to hold it is closest pot. yes, okay. it's mask thing. you seriously? oh god. i live in los angeles. so at a long flight i had to go to the bathroom every like 20 minutes to take my mask off. so i realize there's something bigger going on. there's some bigger issues. we cover everything schools and
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water and a bridges, we'll talk more, you know bridges and infrastructure will talk more about social services that there really is a these are the broad breadth of you know, the very broad range of things deal with. but there are some core ideas that we that try to became clear and i thought i needed a book to be able to lift those ideas up. okay. now, i know you're a great collaborator, but you know collaboration is an unnatural act among consenting adults. and you found someone to co-author this book? could you tell us about that what it was like to to work together with someone else? what was the decision and why this partner? so collaboration is hard the book took about five years five or six years, even i don't recall any more and so why this partner one is he had i this is my first book. this is not his first book
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number two, you know big i could get into the weeds in so many different subjects and i needed somebody who could lift make sure we don't get too deep into the weeds and anyone parts. we kind of be able to tell the story. so i need to talk about partner to be able to do that. and then allen my coat there is a you know as a historian phd minted historian and really wanted historical context to be part of the story. so, you know, like any marriage they were good days and bad days, but it was but you know, we met every week for five years and produce that what i think is a pretty good story and pretty good book. okay. my husband is here and we only have good days. all right digging. whoa. okay, you also have a day job. maybe why it took five years. you're the founder of and and executive director of in the
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public interest. it's a national nonprofit research and policy organization. so if you could tell us a little bit about the group and how you came about starting that. well, it started about 11 years or 12 years ago. i have this thing about time now. i say the before times. because everything feels a little different than in the last few years. i started because i believe in public services. number one number two is the work i was previously doing i was sort of i lived in san diego was doing similar work and seeing, you know efforts to privatize really fundamental public services and public assets and had collaborators and allies across the country that were sort of seeing and experiencing. same thing actually realize we needed a resource center. we could share ideas and lessons with one another and that we you know by doing that we would both up our game as it were and help be able to help better, you
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know, i nonprofits so i have to raise the money and hire the staff we do research. we do policy analysis. we've helped and you know places all around the country. great, including you helped me. all right, so let's go ahead and dig a little into this book privatization of everything. it had another name possibly. you told me. yeah, what did i tell you? i forgot not up for grabs. not up for ground. it's our first title. okay, but anyway now it's privatization of everything and you start out talking about public goods for life. so talk to us a little bit about what you mean by public good and how is it? how does it shape your thinking? yeah there for those if any of you. miss there is a textbook definition of public goods, which we don't embrace. here's how i talk about public goods. there is it is loud back there, you know, they must be drinking. yeah, so, um, i'll keep it real
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close. so here's what i talk about. there are things that we all need to survive enter thrive like health like education like clean air like clean water like mobility. we need to be able to move around, you know, we can probably in another things as well, but it's not just that we all need them. we need everyone to have them. right, we need everyone to you know, we need an educated nation. we need not just your children to be educated. we need everyone to be educated. i think we've learned through covid that this is how i think about it. we learned that the health of all of us depends on the health of each of us. so it isn't just about me not getting covid or being healthy and getting boosted or vaxed. i need everybody to be able to do. at so that's the that's the fundamentals that how i consider public goods. and that they are things that we can only do if we do them together, you can only get everybody health care if we do it together through government institutions, they'll be private involvement as well. we can only create a
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transportation system if we do it together, we can only clean the air if we do it together, so instead of the basics democracy. you know, which is you know, it's under threat right now. we can only do it if we really do it together. is now two years old at least and that was an example of an unexpected challenge, you know, that might not have for example been expected when we were preparing contracts as a county. so how do you advise local governments or local advocacy groups or even the general public about how to prepare for the future? that might be unknown? a really good question. so i'm going to try to answer, you know government is complicated society is complicated so in certain a couple of the first of the thirty thousand foot level where we advise folks is to do several things think forward and
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thinking forward implies a certain humility that you don't know what's going to happen. that you don't know the future. we you know, so that's really important to think forward think life cycles if you're if you are talking about an infrastructure, you have to really think forward the other thing is to think sideways. right when you do something, you know you you create a project here. it will have an impact laterally on other goals that you're trying to accomplish and other communities and other people. the third is to interrogate. ask really hard questions. that's the most important thing ask the hard questions the what if questions i mean, i think we'll all now ask for going forward. what if a pandemic ask what about floods and hurricanes you'll ask what will in california ask about earthquakes. you know, there's other things that we can think about but it's not crazy to think, you know, we also think well, we we shouldn't think about that because it will never happen. it's really important to
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interrogate every decision thinking forward thinking sideways, and then finally keep it transparent. make sure that you know, that's the only way you get it really right because if you got a crowd source life. resourcing. okay, so that's looking into the future and our crystal ball, but you've also included a lot of history in this book. and of course you had a historian and so you were looking back at some of those public goods those great public goods in our country and can you talk about a few of those that really inspired your thinking? yeah, so, you know if you think if you go back to the beginning of the 20th century. after upton sinclair wrote the jungle we there was a movement. safer food because we because that was you know, it was about slaughterhouse. that's actually not what he wrote the book about but that's what it stimulated was a movement of say for safe food that has you know, that is lasted for that. you know, since then we have made progress on safe food because we don't government
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doesn't make the food but it's our job to keep everybody healthy the part the national parks tr, right? we realize that nature and you know the ability to access nature and to see beauty we created the national parks. you can you know, you can kind of walk through the 20th century social security. what's that about? it's about economic security for people sort of our age. in in 65, it was medicare. these are all these are all sort of decisions that we decide that you know that we made together through democratically that people should have health care when they're when they read 65 people should have certain level economic security. we should the clean air act, you know the sort of the whole set of things that have happened over the 20th century. there's really a hundred years of good law. that's that was increasingly good. just example, i like to give
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cars. used to the steering wheels of cars used to impale us on on impact, right? so, you know, you can think the paint on that wall used to have lead in it. it doesn't have lead in it because of public action. so yeah, it's pretty broad view of public goods when when you think about it that way. well, we are here to talk about privatization and most recently called p3s or public-private partnerships. and you say you're always asked what makes a good p3 are there good p3s, so if you could give us some examples of things that have really worked out and also maybe an example of something that was not such a strong p3. yeah. well, i'm gonna broaden the question and i'm going to start in the reverse because it's helpful. sorry. i know know you're the mayor but i'm just the book in here.
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yeah, no worries. so first of p3s public private partnerships is kind of a term of art for many it's used in lots of different contexts. so i just want to start way at that level like there's public in private in everything around us the paint right that i mentioned the moment ago this and i've seen it used in lots of different contexts and we're gonna focus in on infrastructure because that's the most the primary use that we're using it in public policy debates right now. the first thing to remember is a little bit of 101 on how to build a bridge in a road and a water system. they're all p3s because every project every road every bridge every water system is built by private companies by private contractors. so they're all p3s. and then there's different versions of p3s you. have this might be a little technical design build where you have the same designer in the same builder as the contractor you could have designed build finance operate maintain where you get private finance and then private operation and maintenance of a road or of a
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water system for many many years. so that's i just want to set that context so it's because it's people will use it in different ways. so i'm going to tell the cautionary tale first because it helps illustrate the issues and how to do it right had to move in the right direction. so chicago in in the year in 2019 the worst. you know during the great recession. worst time every government i assume here as well was leading red ink great fiscal distress. so the city of chicago decided the responded to a proposal from a private consortium of morgan stanley a national parking company and a what's called. sovereign wealth fund from annette from the middle east the national investment firm. that that consortium would give the city 1.1 billion dollars up front. remember they're desperate in exchange for control of a long-term lease.
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the city's 36,000 parking meters for 75 years. okay, so that's till 2083. now a couple things are so and then vote they voted within five days of the announcement of the proposal. they were desperate. they did not do the scrutiny. they did not do the things we will talk about more. so two things true one more important than the other terrible deal. nobody borrows money. you shouldn't borrow money on 75 years of parking me to reuse we all borrow money on our on our future income. that's how you build by a house etc. who knows if we'll be driving in 75 years. i know i won't for sure. so but that's not the most important part terrible deal financially financially. most important that if the city of chicago now wants to eliminate parking spots. to deal with traffic eliminate parking spots for a dedicated bus lane. or a bike lane or turn an entire neighborhood into a pedestrian
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mall for transit oriented developer any number of things that are in their responsibilities of a municipality of land use and housing and transportation and all those things if they want to do any of those things they have to set essentially buy the spots back. it's not a technical buyback, but it's there's a formula and all that. i'll get it so think about that. this is why it's important to talk about that. you remember the city council or you're or you're the mayor of chicago. and you want to create bus lanes or you want to eliminate park you want to create a pedestrian mall in downtown off of michigan avenue or whatever you want to do you're constrained because you have to because it's gonna cost cost you a lot of money. right and you're concern can cost you a lot of money. see you in many. cases you're not going to do it. i worked i wrote an article a number of years back with a professor from roosevelt university there in downtown chicago who had interviewed city transit planners. who could not implement their plan for bus rapid transit? they had a whole set of lines that they were going to do to
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get people out of their cars. so that's the the reason i wanted to start with that even not following any instructions mayor. have and interrogate thing for it ascard questions. will this have an impact on our ability to do something else? we might want to do in the future like expand transit if so, how what will happen with the parking rates by the way everyone in chicago hates this jail the parking rachel way up, you know, will you know who has control over the parking rates? that have you know, what would you know instead of going down the list will we be able to know about the deal because you lose a certain amount of transparency when something goes private so you have to interrogate all of the deals thinking forward and
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then when you're doing a deal when you're in negotiating a contract, you know when you say you decide to do something like that and this is a what's technical called a brownfield deal an existing -- that they sell not for a new project a green field. so you have to say you have to decide what your value and what you what standard you want to put in the contract. what's going to happen to the you know, is it going to advance the solutions to the big things climate inequality? so what's going to happen to the jobs? are they going to be lower benefit and lower wages? what's going to happen to the rates, you know for folks that may or may not be able to afford it if it's a bridge or if it's something like that so you really have to make sure that you set those standards deep in and that you have the tools the legal tools to so example when it worked well. so well, you know miami tunnel. right, miami teleport to the port. i was in it once i'm not a big fan of tunnels, but it was pretty cool came in on time.
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you had control it was free to the public now. i did not analyze the doug has a different viewpoint. it didn't analyze the finances, but it was a bill, you know, but it was a project that was built by by privates that you need that you decided you needed. there's a road in. colorado us 36 that included more community participants so they dealt with sort of a multi some multimodal transportation that they wanted to deal with that the challenge with the question is because this is the when it what's a good p3 and you had me say it this morning. it's like saying what's a good marriage, you know, like it's good stuff and there's bad stuff. so it's only in the features. it's in the standards. it's in the it's in the whether you have claw backs and you know, get out of the deal whether you and whether the standards are enforced. signs i am the most participatory mayor we did have the largest public participation initiative in miami-dade county
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government history thrive 305 1% of the population of very significant percent fully participated and gave us input and we have priorities and plans as a result. so how is it that public participation can really make sure that these deals are constructed in the most favorable way. i think it kind of goes to this, you know the theme of what i've been saying of interrogation. this is not just sort of an inside game right? i mean you if you don't and say two things one is democracy is about more than voting. right democracy is about moving the world forward together at some level. so if you're not engaging the public in these decisions mistakes are going to get made people's interests are going to get ignored, you know, the communities are going to get ignored. it can't be done. i mean if you believe in democracy, you can't not do it. that way. you have to have that and you
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have to you know, because people also feel disconnected from government. i know you've done, you know, just watching you on social media. i know you are very connected to your constituents. but people feel disconnected from government. and government is us. so if you don't have the participation you don't create the programs and the metrics and the you know, the the concrete ways for things. things won't come out as good as well and people will feel ever more disconnected great. so i'm going to just give you one more question and then we'll leave it to the audience to raise their questions and comments. so these public places are places that use talk about building community. so if we give away public places or public spaces or assets then we're we're compromising if you will potentially those places where we come together not just in democracy, but in community, so could you talk about that
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libraries parks other things and and their value as as public places. yeah, well, you know start at 30,000 i'll come in. so i don't know if you've all noticed but we have a we have a issue with division in america today. if so, let me start at that level we have problems that that we have to confront together. if we and you can only confront them together if you trust one another and you have some level of crowd you trust our institutions and we trust each other at some level. so i you know, i'd say a privatized america is a divided america and for you know for some reason so and i'll go right to the specifics of the question. it's there are. if we don't interact with one another in public places and the fundamental public places we interact are. in terms of publicly operated our libraries we can interact with different kinds of people parks you see different kinds of people schools where these are
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the places where we connect where we learn to appreciate the perspective of the other. i really believe we have this massive empathy deficit in this country and you don't get that unless you you know, you're doing it together at some place, you know at some levels and i think the it's in the book. i'll give another example, you don't want to solve the same problems if you don't experience the same problems, right? so one of the reasons social security is social security is in the section of the book about community because it's a because it's the community of the whole. try to touch it. try to get rid of it because we've realized as a nation that. we want everyone to have that some level of econom. security at that way, so it's and so it's an all-in project. so we need to get to that when it's all in. we are a community at at the local level at the state level of the national level and in covid at the global level. wonderful. thank you for that thoughtful
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answer. so let's just ask any questions. you're gonna help us with the the microphone. thank you, christina. quick question first off. i want to give you a he goes on that ralph neater blog interview. thank you. very excellent this your issue is written large and state and federal with large. yeah, my my point that i want to talk together with that is written law and in this community recently, we had a state of the art street fair, but i've noticed that it's become what appears to me at least as a prophet center and i see that as an evolution in different community type functions. within the small community's things that used to be a family affair that were free or very low cost it seemed to evolve into a commercial enterprise for what is basically not
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transparent part of the thing with your ralph nader blog thing. was that you were talking about transparency towards the end of the interview as something that's missing from some of these. evolutionary type things within the community such as this recent art street fair that become what appears to be a commercial enterprise and could you speak to that issue? so that i assume you mean the coconut grove art? yes, okay. okay, let's turn it off. give it her. so that was well, so it's a i'm now i'm stuck on my lavalier thing. i don't have no idea where my glasses are. anyone see your glasses. okay. oh my gosh. so i can't comment on the specifics of the art fair, but let me i but let me let me let me answer. the question that i would have liked you to answer which i asked which i think it was.
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i you know, i do a lot of interviews and i've been am i okay? okay, and there's something important to understand it seems stupid almost is that one of the you know, one of the first thing i have to say is things cost money. and is really only one place to get it right you can get it from taxes. you can get it from tolls you can get it from i don't know if the i don't know about the street fair because that's it. maybe there's fees to join, you know to participate in the street fair. so i think it's important to so as i am. i can't really comment on the specifics, but i think what's important to understand is that if we don't have the public revenues to do something and it needs to be done then you've got to go to individuals to pay for are you know fees or tolls or you know transit fares or you have to go to businesses to do advertisements or sponsorships? so let's let the mayor respond because what you're talking about would only say this that of course taxes are what pay for
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things that people value across the society and if it's not something that people are willing to pay the public dollars for then, of course, you have to go other routes to kind of and i just will add as far as the topic of privatization. same applies, you know somebody's paying for it. you've got to build the bridge. you gotta maintain the road you've got to do whatever it is. so it's really just a matter of where who's paying when and how can i do a real quick? well, let's just see if we have anybody else. yeah, i would imagine okay, christina you just you want to stand up. holler it out. yeah, so miami has a tri-rail which is our publicly unreal and we have bright line now. to the outside observer bright line if you move this way. yeah over there you can bring alcohol here. so there you go from talking
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about trial and bright line. i'm from an outside observer brightline seems to be more healthy on raising land values around the stations and property at the same time. they're providing fantastic public service. i'd love to change. um and recently as an example of the we have a station at our airport that was built with public money to operate with amtrak and now amtrak's not only not going there, but i forgot a bright lines was quite interesting using it. so at what point does the failure of public good like yeah, you're gonna share so. yeah, maybe you can see just well, i'll go. repeat yes, we're talking about bright line versus tri-rail and amtrak and we have a station that was built with public funds, but it's not being utilized by the public transit system. no it was before i was near.
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but anyway, the the point being what happens when a public investments. let's say don't really pay off and now you have a private interest in how do you weigh those things? yeah, so again not being able to knowing the details of the specifics. so it sort of makes the case to not privatize because you need the flexibility because conditions change when you don't if i'm getting this, right, right, so if if things change and you're locked into a 75 year contract or a 50 year contract you locked into you know you're in an inflexible situation where you may have an uncompete clause or a compensation clause where you are on the hook for that period of time. so again, i don't know the specific to the trial know. but the but you know, it's a point i make a lot when you're contracts are very rigid documents, you know, think about why there is so much contract litigation in america, right? there's you know, that's an ambiguous. it's not you know, they're just
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it's it's hard so you need maximum flexibility. it doesn't mean every decision is going to be the right decision. that's just the nature of life. so i'm not sure if i answer your question because i don't know anything about the subject that you the specifics of flexibility and anticipating the need for adaptability in the future. i think those are really good takeaways and alex munoz is taking notes. anybody else? think doug's gonna ask question. regarding our civil courthouse downtown. yeah government run has fallen into disrepair maintenance has been deferred now, the new civil courthouse is being built under a p3 agreement where the developer will also be the operator and have lots of penalties if the air conditioning is leaks or if a room is closed or more than 24 hours does that work is a great benefit in having a private operator that faces sanctions
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from the government taking on that risk. well it can work. yeah, i mean i haven't been to the news as it already built the new courthouse. yeah. i've seen it. i've been inside of you know, many years ago it needed to be rebuilt. and you know, there were this is the things cost money you weren't able to get the money to to borrow the money to build the new thing to build the new building from the voters. so you've got to do it so you go to the private sector in private to get private capital to build it. they want the o&m the operations and maintenance because it's part of their pro forma. it's part of their financial equation to to make the whole thing profitable, but the key of is standards and sanctions. right because what will always yeah again, i don't know what's happening the courthouse where often happens is underbid. you know ten years later. we didn't you know, we we come back because that we we made a mistake we don't have enough money to do the deal to do the
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job and then the county or the city or where you know, it has to address a change order, which is always going forward. they're pretty much always have to deal with you get into this trap because you can't you can't not have the project move forward. so again, it goes back to really good anticipation really, you know as best as you can we can't, you know, canada in the future, but that's exactly what i would have done. absolutely. this is not answering your question, but it's something that you said to me earlier that struck me as important. that when a private bidder is going to save you money. you want to know why how are they going to do that? and if it's because they're going to cut a salaries or they're gonna have fewer employees. you know the cutting salaries, maybe that's not what you want to do because you have a certain wage scale requirement, but cutting number of employees. well if they could do it more efficiently than what was anticipated. well, why is that? how are they under? how are they figuring that out?
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maybe we could learn at the county. i'm as the specific example how to do something more efficiently too. or maybe there's a technological innovation that that bitter has access to that the county doesn't have and that's a proprietary or you know new something new that we want to take advantage of and so these are a range of things but the point that you really made was find out how they come up with their cost rationale and and really be super curious to make sure that they're not, you know fudging or you know, basically not revealing so that you don't run into problems where oh, actually they they underbid and should have been anticipated something like that. so i think you know if we look at this as more of an educational process like you said, there's always private sector involved. it's really a matter of who's
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paying for it. and you know it it sometimes it's longer term not short term like the courthouse the public did not approve a bond. item, so unfortunately, then it had to go to the private sector was more expensive the borrowing and over a longer. we are going to pay for it just over a longer period of time and i'd say just because a couple things to that one is if something's really new and innovative we could buy that doesn't mean you have to give them control for 30 or 40 years. that's number one. it's the other thing just a real fine point doug is it could have been just a with referred to as a dbf and leave the operations and maintenance under the public design build design build fine. thank you design build finance. so, you know, i don't you know, you'd have to get into the neg. asian decide who should be the who should the workers be who should be responsible for operating and maintain all those things are possible all those different combinations. so and that's just it's in the negotiations and one of the things we teach and urge
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electeds and you know public officials around the country's negotiate real hard if you're not willing to walk away from the table. you're probably going to get taken. cardi thank you so much for being here just here to subway. thanks so much being here. i know a lot of the conversation around privatization often circles around the notion of profits and costs and my question is can you talk a little bit about the human cost of privatization and how we build in accountability to systems of privatization, especially when the human cost is most likely to be born by those without political power. so for instance the privatization of prisons that are built on the backs of black and brown people through the whole system since the antebellum south that we are still living that legacy the privatization of schools that legalize discrimination and that have no accountability to the
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public and that leave the most expensive to educate children in public schools that are deeply defunded by the privatization of schools. so, can you just talk a little bit about human cost and accountability from that perspective? and mccartney works for the southern poverty law center, and it's really knows her stuff. so human cost a variety of things jobs, right? i mean often when something we're not taking mind out of infrastructure when something is outsourced, you know, whether it's custodians at a school or a library or something when they say they're going to save money as you know, daniela was referring to earlier is we always ask this question. what are you going to what are you going to what are you going to spend less on it's real stuff and it's very often. it's wages and working conditions. so there are reasons there has been research that have found that there are two trillion dollars of procurement in america by governments up and
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down. that's that's millions of people under who are working for government working for us, but not working for government at that scale you had you can have material and significant statistically significant effect on the on inequality in a very serious way. we're pushing wages down. so that's number one number two is you know the more we you know, everything gets paid for even go back to the what we're saying early. everything's got to be paid for the courthouse is going to get paid for from the general fund at this point. everything's getting paid for but there's an increasing shift to paying to shifting two fees. right, we pay for water fundamentally as a commodity. we pay for transit fundamentally as a commodity. there are now cities across. country kansas city in a numbers that are making transit free because you know, we don't pay to drive to the grocery store. why should we pay to take the bus to the grocery store? so but the more you shift to fees the more the distributional
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challenges happen on black and brown and brown and low income people and you see that and over again. so i it was a whole other stuff with us. i'd like to yeah a couple things. i we have something in the county called game sharing where the employees have an opportunity to bid on projects. and i think it's a really creative. opportunity and and allows those employees to really think creatively and outside the box as well of how they could offer a competitive service. so, you know, i think that kind of levels the playing field a little bit and and allows the workers not to lose out if you will they have an opportunity. but it also makes sure that there are efficiencies and economies right and not just status quo. so a well i'll just give that example. you're just a prisons, which is actually now let me let me just
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get that person. can do what kind of? problem. can you? okay. yeah. yeah. so for example, they wanted to the county privatize some of the bus routes that were lester used roots. they wanted to use smaller vehicles less expensive and and so the bus drivers were in the opportunity presumably they don't necessarily feel they had the full opportunity but they were technically given the opportunity to say. no. we'll we'll take our existing workforce and come up with a proposal. in lieu of sending it to a private contractor. also in the water and sewer department projects sometimes for well even repair a vehicles county employees are allowed to say, you know, we'll take it in
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the shop and we'll we'll provide the maintenance instead of outsourcing the maintenance things like that. there's a number of cities and local communities do this local jurisdictions do this. so in some places called managed competition. it's a slightly different thing from the game sharing program, but you know to the point of the public sector needs to continually improve it's not you know, i always get the question. well you know pretty private enterprise and more efficient than government, isn't it? well, that's sometimes yes sometimes no, that's not the point but it's our institution which means we have to be continually improving it governments in america. are the most you know, if you take it as a big picture, it's the most complex human or institution in civilized history. you gotta always make it better. so we're gonna wrap it up. we've been together for an hour. hour. it's been really enjoyable. you're going to wrap it up, but i just wanted to say thank you so much to everyone for being
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part of tonight's discussion. and of course we want you to buy the book. and donald will be here to sign it. all right. thank you. we took the words right? i know i could get a job here.
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well, i'm really excited to jump into this. this is a is an excellent book with a perspective that is is very unique. i love how you've built in a lot of personal side to this. i'm a you know, sitting member of congress. i don't get to be the one interviewing a lot. i'm really excited about this because because i'm gonna flip the script a little bit instead of being subject to lots of interviews. well as long as you

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