Private Time

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I just sort of mentioned/glossed over this in a straight news blog post, but the word of the day was definitely privatization.

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"I don't think we automatically say we're deadset on outsourcing, that's it, no discussion," Memphis mayor A C Wharton told the council's operating budget committee. "We're saying, let's open this up. Here's the savings the ABC company says they can do. Will y'all [city workers/unions] take a look at it?"

"It doesn't have to be a zero-sum game. It can be a win-win proposition."

This is an idea proposed [this morning even] by former Indianapolis mayor/Harvard professor/New York deputy mayor Stephen Goldsmith at a Rebuild Government forum. During his tenure as mayor, Goldsmith cut costs in the city by $400 million, some by making public service work competitive.

When bidding out projects, they would allow the public sector if they could find a way to do it as cheaply or efficiently, and more often than not, the public sector won.

"Public employees are not inferior to private employees; the public system was inferior to the private one," he said. "The incentives were different."

Goldsmith recently was appointed to deputy mayor of New York by mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"I managed to get demoted to deputy mayor. We'll see if the principles used in Indianapolis are applicable on a larger scale in New York," he said.

While mayor, however, Goldsmith had a simple formula he kept in mind: Where the cost of government is the numerator and the wealth of the region was the denominator, if the numerator moves faster than the denominator, that's trouble.

"This is not temporary," he said of the current state of government and the economy. "There is a permanent structural imbalance between the cost of pensions, medical care, and services in every city in America that is not supported by enough revenues."

There is also a meeting tonight about privatization for city and county employees at 5:30 p.m. at AFSMCE's offices at the corner of Beale and Danny Thomas.

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