ALEC

Paid Sick Days Defeat in Philadelphia Followed Familiar Script

Paid Sick Days Defeat in Philadelphia Followed Familiar Script

By Brendan Fischer at PRWatch

This article precisely describes how the ALEC cabal’s corporate members fund the initiatives they have brought to ALEC and sent out to all states through the ALEC legislative members.  After the bills or initiatives are proposed these corporations then pursue getting the legislation passed.  In this case in Philadelphia, they pursued defeating a bill passed by the city council allowing paid sick days – which then was vetoed by Democratic Mayor, Michael Nutter…not once but twice.

Anything to oppose worker’s rights or wages is pursued by ALEC and their corporate (employer) membership.

“Major opponents of Philadelphia’s paid sick days effort included the National Restaurant Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which presents itself as “the voice of small business” but lobbies primarily for big corporate interests. Each group is tied to ALEC and has consistently opposed similar legislation in other cities and states.

“Nationally, an estimated 40 million workers, or forty percent of the workforce, cannot take sick days without losing wages or possibly their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Seventy-nine percent of food industry workers — who are especially likely to spread illness if they go to work sick — don’t get paid sick days, according to a Food Chain Workers Alliance study.”

Read the full PRWatch article <- HERE ->

Bush Administration Practiced Torture After 9/11, Nonpartisan Review Concludes

Bush Administration Practiced Torture After 9/11, Nonpartisan Review Concludes

From By  at NY Times.

This new report identified by the NY Times, lays blame for deliberate torture following 9/11 at the foot of former George W. Bush and key members of his administration.

Many readers and those who follow our work at VLTP may question how this kind of activity involving torture could in any way be related to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) or their activities.  In response we would remind everyone that many who served in the George W. Bush administration had close ties to or was a supporter of ALEC.  President George Bush was a frequent speaker at ALEC events and received ALEC’s highest “award” the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award:

Bush receiving Jefferson award at ALECbush_alec_rect-460x307

 

Vice President Cheney likewise received the same Jefferson Freedom Award:

Cheney Jefferson Award at alec

 

And Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld served as ALEC’s Chairman of Business Policy Board (Private Enterprise Board) while President of Searle Pharmaceuticals:

Rumsfeld ALEC Chairman of Bus. Policy Board

 

Though it would appear ALEC has no direct link to rendition, waterboarding or other forms of torture…those who advocate ALEC’s brand of ideology are susceptible to perform acts most other Americans would consider vile.  They are then rewarded with ALEC’s top honors demonstrating ALEC’s public appreciation of those acts.  In the case of the Bush regime, ALEC obviously had no qualms about awarding Bush and Cheney for their acts of torture.  How ironic the awards given to President Bush and VP Cheney contain the term “Freedom”.

______________________________________

 

“The sweeping, 577-page report says that while brutality has occurred in every American war, there never before had been “the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.” The study, by an 11-member panel convened by the Constitution Project, a legal research and advocacy group, is to be released on Tuesday morning…

“…The panel found that the United States violated its international legal obligations by engineering “enforced disappearances” and secret detentions. It questions recidivism figures published by the Defense Intelligence Agency for Guantánamo detainees who have been released, saying they conflict with independent reviews…”

“…It describes in detail the ethical compromise of government lawyers who offered “acrobatic” advice to justify brutal interrogations and medical professionals who helped direct and monitor them. And it reveals an internal debate at the International Committee of the Red Cross over whether the organization should speak publicly about American abuses; advocates of going public lost the fight, delaying public exposure for months, the report finds.”

Read the substantial NY Times article <- HERE->

Wisconsin Ethics board fails to curb ALEC shell game

Wisconsin Ethics board fails to curb ALEC shell game

From Brendan Fischer at Capital Times

Analysis by Bob Sloan

The Center for Media and Democracy has had great successes in exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Through their efforts ALEC has recently been attempting to change their image by dropping “American Legislative” from their vocabulary, asking members and the media to now refer to them simply as the “Exchange Council”.

While the constant pressure upon ALEC has caused dozens of corporate members to drop or not renew membership…and more than seventy legislative members to do likewise…there in Wisconsin the Ethics Board appears to not be swayed by allegations of improper lobbying by ALEC.  This is sad and a feather in ALEC’s cap, so to speak as Wisconsin is the home of CMD and the base from which it has launched many anti-ALEC projects since mid 2011.

In a state where it is illegal to even buy a cup of coffee for an elected official…the Ethics Board has decided it’s okay to use corporate funding to send dozens of Wisconsin’s lawmakers to posh resorts to be educated in pro-corporate initiatives and ultimately adopt such as model bills.  Other states have passed legislation that recognizes ALEC’s influence but has exempted their activities from lobbying laws (such as Indiana) but in Minnesota the opposite was decided.  In MN. in 1997 they banned ALEC’s “scholarships” as gifts.

Wisconsin’s Ethics Board  should have ruled similarly to the determination made in Minnesota 15 years ago.  Perhaps the fact that Wisconsin has so many ALEC members and their departments and agencies filled with staffers willing to do the bidding of ALEC is why the Board ruled as they did upon a complaint filed last year by CMD.  Whatever the case, Wisconsin continues to be fertile territory for ALEC’s model “legislation” even as CMD and their tireless staff keeps up the pressure to throw the bums to the curb.

Read the full Brendan Fischer article -> HERE <-

Inspection of Kasich’s CCA owned prison shows staff assaults up over 300% – Thanks ALEC!

Inspection of Kasich’s CCA owned prison shows staff assaults up over 300% – Thanks ALEC!

For the second time in six months, Correction Corporation of America’s (CCA) privately owned Lake Erie Correctional Institution (LaECI) has received a dismal report from prison inspectors.  A report, issued in February by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) presents some very alarming statistics.

“From 2010-2012, inmate-on-inmate assaults at LaECI have increased by over 180 percent while inmate-on-staff assaults increased by over 300 percent. Inmate violations for fighting have increased 40 percent, and the total number of prison disturbances in 2012 doubled in comparison to prior years.”

lake erie CIThis is the second failed inspection report received by CCA for LaECI since CCA bought the institution in 2011.  When negotiating for purchasing and operating the facility, CCA promised to operate the facility to meet the standards set by the ODOC for all prisons in the state.  However, as with nearly every other such contract signed based upon promises and assurances from CCA, once they take possession both assurance and promise are tossed out the window.

The report advises that CCA will be given another six months to clean up the institution and their act.  With two dismal reports already and worsening conditions between the first inspection and the second, it is unlikely CCA will make more than a cursory effort of compliance.  For Ohio to take back the institution and run it properly would involve a lengthy period of litigation and paying CCA for the facility.  Ohio sold the prison to CCA because they needed cash to operate the rest of the prison system and that money is long gone.  Thinking they could scrape together nearly $300 million to repurchase LaECI and pay for litigation costs is unrealistic.  This all began years ago with legislation written by a right wing think tank to allow states to lease state prison facilities to private companies – “Private Correctional Facilities Act“.  This legislation has now been disseminated coast to coast and is the basis for dozens of privately run prisons today housing hundreds of thousands of prisoners at taxpayer expense.

Governor Kasich appointed Gary Mohr to the position of Director of the Ohio Department of Corrections in January 2011.  Mohr came back to Ohio from Corrections Corporation of America where he was a managing director.  Kasich’s former congressional “chief of staff” was hired by CCA the same month Mohr was appointed:

“Mohr is a former consultant and managing director for Corrections Corporation of America, a Nashville-based company that is eligible to bid on the state prison contracts once they are made available next month.

“The company, which bills itself the leading private-sector provider of corrections services to governments, also hired Kasich’s former congressional chief of staff, Donald Thibaut, as a lobbyist in January.”

So there are several close ties and connections between Ohio’s current Governor and CCA similar to an ongoing relationship between CCA and Arizona Governor Brewer,  In Arizona, two of Brewer’s top staffers worked as lobbyists for CCA immediately prior to the introduction and passage of SB 1070 in 2010.  CCA has been identified as helping write the SB 1070 legislation that was crafted at a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Governor Kasich and Governor Brewer are ALEC Alumni – as is CCA who quit the organization in 2010 after their part in SB 1070 was revealed.

CCA has a history of operating prisons in a manner to generate profits.  Profits that are used to pay dividends to investors and to lobby lawmakers for more criminal laws, longer sentences, less regulation and to vote to sell or lease state prisons to CCA.  All of this fills their beds, creates “products” to fill those beds and a shelf life that continues to increase through longer sentences and the absence of parole (which incidentally ALEC helped to abolish nationwide).  This drives up the costs of incarcerating millions of Americans and turns those tax dollars into corporate profits.  In 2011 it was reported CCA and Geo Group, the two top U.S. private prison companies earned $2.9 billion dollars…nearly all of that from tax expenditures by the feds and state issued contracts to incarcerate.

Taxpayers should receive a proper return on their investment.  They are paying CCA in Ohio to operate their privately run prisons in compliance with existing laws and administrative regulations.  This is not being done, and as always, CCA is given leniency and provided more time to come into compliance.  Such leniency would not be given to state run prisons and heads would roll if this was a state operated facility.  Staff and inmates alike are risking their lives every day they serve in LaECI – as workers or prisoners – and the state ultimately bears a responsibility to offer both protection from violence.

Over the next six months CCA will continue to operate as they have and the CIIC will go back, find more of the same and shrug it off…because prisoners have no voice, no lobby and no representative to speak on their behalf.  Most will return to the streets of Ohio cities and towns after serving time in this CCA prison.  Housed three deep in cells designed for one inmate, with no rehabilitation, drug or counseling programs  – and citizens will ask why they are so angry when they return and why released offenders commit further crimes an return to prison?  The answers are simple, because that is how the “system” has been designed, to operate as a revolving door to accept prisoners and keep them as long as possible, return them to their communities with a deep anger and no possibility of securing a job…then welcome them back a second or third time and with longer sentences.

If Governor Kasich and his CCA appointed ODOC Director cannot hold CCA’s feet to the fire to come into compliance and are unwilling to take back this publicly owned prison that they sold to their “friends” or former employers, then they should both go, replaced by others with less propensity for such open corruption.  A Department of Corrections is supposed to incarcerate prisoners and “correct” the behavior that sent each man or woman to prison.  These kind of contracts between state actors and companies such as CCA are barely average on the incarceration requirement and completely failing in providing any form of correction.

Below is the overview summary taken from the CIIC report that shows clearly the severity and potential harm that exists in LaECI:

“The inspection of LAECI raised a number of significant concerns. At CCA staff’s invitation, CIIC will conduct a full re-inspection in six months’ time to reevaluate; this report is therefore to be considered a progress report.

“LAECI’s primary issue is safety and security. Staff interviews, inmate focus groups, the inmate survey, and institutional data all indicate that personal safety is at risk at LAECI. Assaults, fights, disturbances, and uses of force have all increased in comparison to prior years. There is a high presence of gang activity and illegal substance use. Inmates reported frequent extortion and theft.

“Incident reports indicate that staff hesitate to use force even when appropriate and at times fail to deploy chemical agents prior to physical force, risking greater injury to both inmates and staff. Staff also do not appropriately sanction inmates for serious misconduct. At the time of the inspection, the facility had no options for sanctions other than the segregation unit, which was full.

“The above issues are compounded by high staff turnover and low morale. New staff generally do not have the experience or training to be able to make quick judgments regarding the appropriate application of force or how to handle inmate confrontations. Staff also reported that they are often required to work an extra 12 hours per week, which may impact their response.

“Staff have relayed that they have already instituted additional security measures to control contraband and that they are in the process of implementing a stratification plan that will improve the overall facility environment and violence levels. Following the inspection, LAECI staff were very responsive to CIIC’s concerns. Staff promptly developed extensive action plans and engaged in several follow-up discussions with CIIC regarding the identified issues. LAECI staff also relayed that they are actively engaging local stakeholders to build positive relationships with the surrounding community.

“CIIC welcomes the opportunity to return in six months to reevaluate.”

I believe CCA staffers were “very responsive” to the first inspection and developed actions plans and made promises.  As seen from this latest report, this is CCA’s way of doing business and stalling compliance that would cut into their profits.

Here is another report from Idaho on CCA’s falsification of employee shift records.  In this case they not only was the prison understaffed, CCA was charging the state for imaginary staffers working shifts of as long as 48 hours.  In all CCA employees falsified nearly 4,800 hours of staffing records over seven months last year in violation of its contract with the state.  CCA has now admitted to this falsification of staff work records, saying,  “Workers involved will be reprimanded, and the company told the Department of Correction it will reimburse the state.”  I’m thinking if this was committed by state workers or for that matter, you or I, we’d receive much more than a reprimand and would very likely find ourselves sitting in one of CCA’s prisons…

Darden Restaurants Dumps ALEC in Favor of National Restaurant Assoc.

Darden Restaurants Dumps ALEC in Favor of National Restaurant Assoc.

From PRWatch by Rebekah Wilce

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reports that Darden Restaurants which operates Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and other chain restaurants has stated they have not renewed their ALEC membership as of 2010.  Darden representative Rich Jeffers, Director of Media Relations told CMD that the company had not renewed its ALEC membership since January 2010 because it “felt that different organizations like the National Restaurant Association would . . . serve us best.”

Unfortunately the “other NRA” continues to be a member of ALEC so Darden will still have representation within ALEC’s task forces and working group through representation by the National Restaurant Association. This NRA is involved in pursuing “ag-gag” bills and legislation eliminating paid sick days or leave for employees.

Read the full CMD article <- here ->

Detroit: The Final Solution?

Detroit: The Final Solution?

What remained of democracy in Detroit has now been usurped under corporatist rule by Michigan’s Governor, Rick Snyder.

Atty. Kevyn Duane Orr (55)...

Atty. Kevyn Duane Orr (55)…

Snyder, a venture-capitalist CPA who made his $millions as a Gateway board-director and other enterprises that exported jobs overseas, has appointed Attorney Kevyn Orr to lead point in the latest phase of the corporatist plan: America, Inc. More →

More ALEC Model Legislation Passing Committees in North Carolina

More ALEC Model Legislation Passing Committees in North Carolina

From Global Solar Industry Website

Bill to repeal the North Carolina’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) passes a committee of the House of Representatives

“A bill to repeal the US state of North Carolina’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) has passed a committee of the state’s House of Representatives 11-10. The bill must now pass more committees, the full House and the North Carolina Senate before it can go to the governor to be signed.

“House Bill 298, the “Affordable and Reliable Energy Act” was introduced by House Majority Whip Mike Hager (R), and three other members of the state’s Republican Party. The bill is one of many state-level efforts to repeal RPS policies that have been advanced by Republicans through a national effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).”

Not surprising that the bill’s sponsor, Mike Hager is an ALEC member – or that this same legislation is advancing nationally through ALEC’s efforts.  Also not surprisingly, Duke Energy, a powerful and influential ALEC member with a seat on the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force,  is headquartered in NC and is undoubtedly helping fund lobbying for this legislation.

Read the Global Solar article here…and a second GL article about this same legislation passing another NC committee here.

North Carolina GOP Files Arizona-Style ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Bill

North Carolina GOP Files Arizona-Style ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Bill

From Think Progress article by Rebecca Leber on Apr 12, 2013 – analysis by Bob Sloan

North Carolina’s House has introduced H.B. 786 that replicates Arizona’s SB 1070 “Show Me Your Papers” legislation.  One would think that since studies have shown that Arizona has suffered from reduced tourism and income, NC’s lawmakers would shy away from copying the law and financial outcome that resulted in an effort of sparing their state the same fate.  Not surprisingly, one of the four primary sponsors, Harry Warren is an ALEC member as are six bill co-sponsors; Rayne Brown, Turner, Stone, Stevens, Samuelson and Moffitt.

‘”But SB 1070 only worsened Arizona’s fiscal woes, according to several studies. In the few months after its passage, Arizona’s economy lost $141 million, including $45 million in hotel and lodging cancellations and $96 million in lost commercial revenue, according to a joint study by the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center. A drop in tourism also resulted in an estimated 2,761 jobs lost, resulting in $253 million lost in economic output. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit blocked most of SB 1070’s provisions. But if ever fully implemented, the study adds, the law would eliminate an estimated 580,000 jobs for immigrant and native-born Arizonians, shrinking the state’s economy by $48.8 billion. These figures don’t include the $1.9 million Arizona has spent to defend the state from lawsuits, which have forced Gov. Jan Brewer to establish a legal defense fund for contributions.

Last year Alabama adopted legislation similar to Arizona’s – and suffered as NC is destined to if they pass this legislation:

“Despite the fiscal fallout, Alabama followed Arizona’s footsteps and approved its own immigration law in September. That measure, which analysts say is more draconian than Arizona’s, could result in a $10.8 billion loss to the state’s GDP, mostly due to reduced demand for goods and services provided by Alabama businesses, according to a widely cited study by economists at the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Alabama. Professor Samuel Addy, who led the study, estimates that the loss of 40,000 to 80,000 undocumented immigrants would result in 70,000 to 140,000 lost jobs in Alabama, which amount to $1.2 to $5.8 billion in lost earnings. An additional $57 to $264 million would be lost in state income and sales tax collections.

Such is the influence, and control of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) exerted over their conservative members – and through ALEC’s membership, exerted over policy in individual states.  All three of these states are considered “red” states and have a huge number of ALEC legislative members.  No doubt NC’s contingent will be proudly announcing to the attendees at ALEC’s May conference their efforts of introducing and trying to pass one of ALEC’s key model bills this session.  Year after year just prior to these ALEC meetings, summits or conferences their members rush to introduce legislation adopted and sent out by ALEC over the preceding months ,,, and then attend the confabs and crow about their efforts of advancing these pro-corporate, free market conservative bills in their state.

Few today remain unaware that ALEC was responsible for crafting and sending SB 1070 to Arizona and for disseminating that same legislation to more than half the remaining U.S. state since 2010.  Less well known, perhaps is the fact that Corrections Corporation of America was instrumental in helping write, sponsor and provide millions in campaign funding to seek passage of SB 1070.  Two members of Governor Brewer’s staff were later identified as having close ties to CCA and actually lobbying on behalf of CCA in Arizona.

Read the full Think Progress article -> here <-

 

 

 

You can Call me AL or ALE…but not “ALEC!”

You can Call me AL or ALE…but not “ALEC!”

From an article published by Nick Surgey at PRWatch: “ALEC Who?” ALEC Has an Identity Crisis

The American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to change their image and in accomplishing that they would rather toss away the acronym “ALEC” – they’ve been known by and operating under for forty years now – than change their activities.  Four decades they have been secretly meeting, writing pro-corporate legislation and disseminating it throughout America and of late, the world.  Their “International Relations Task Force” includes U.S. state lawmakers and eighteen or nineteen foreign elected officials.  This IRTF is responsible for submitting resolutions and proposed model legislation that has subsequently become law in several U.S. states, so they can now proudly add “Interference with International Policy and Procedures” to their corrupt resume.

Journalist Nick Surgey recently joined the Center for Media and Democracy and writes about the attempt made by ALEC to alter their image in this revealing article published today.  We have to now await anxiously for ALEC to “reveal” their entirely new, squeaky clean “corporate personae”…so we can continue to expose their activities and track their corrupt legislative efforts state by state…

Pictures from ALEC’s 2011 meeting in Phoenix and 2012 Spring Summit in Charlotte that drew hundreds of protesters is the image they are trying to leave behind:

Phoenix 1 Phoenix 6 Phoenix 9 Phoenix 10 Phoenix 2DCIM100MEDIA

Watch YouTube video of Phoenix ALEC Protest here

Read the entire PRWatch article here

 

Michigan House of Represenatives Perfects the Ulitimate Dick-Move

Michigan House of Represenatives Perfects the Ulitimate Dick-Move

The Michigan House of Representatives — A Bunch of Bullies:

On the heels of yesterday’s GOP House threats to drastically cut funding for the Department of Human Services, (a dick-move cold enough to warrant the use of the kelvin scale), the House Appropriations Committee came through today with their previous threats to punish good-faith negotiations and passed an omnibus education bill that is intended to penalize schools and local units of government for legally renegotiating contracts prior to Right-to-Work taking effect on March 28th of this year.

And much like yesterday, the Senate refused to participate in this reckless and childish behavior. Senator Howard Walker (R) told the Detroit Free Press “What folks are doing at the local level, that’s a big issue at the local level and I’m not sure it’s appropriate for our budget”, and another Senate Republican, Sen. John Pappageorge (R), minced no words when he said “I’m not going to punish anybody for something they did legally”.

Although no one reasonably expects the penalties to become part of the final law, the House Appropriations Chair, Rep. Joe Haverman, explained their rationale for withholding funds thusly:

“I’d like to see the language stay, but we understand that we have to negotiate with the other side,…But the main focus should be that local taxpayers, students and parents be aware of what their boards did and if they negotiated a good contract.”

Democracy Tree submits that Rep. Haverman and his colleagues do not fully understand how the democratic process works under home rule in Michigan. Those elected boards that renegotiated the contracts in good faith were chosen by voters, and it is their business alone to determine if the boards acted in the best interest of the communities they serve. The last thing voters want or need is for a bunch of whiny lawmakers going about punishing their schools and communities because a minor loophole was found in a bad law that does not even enjoy popular support.

Enough with their blustering and bullying. Michigan House — Grow up!

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree