Bruce Sterling on Tue, 23 Jul 2002 05:19:11 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Fwd: Group Opposes Vouchers for Police, Fire Services

*Thank goodness there's a market-based solution *8-/


From: "futurefeedforward" <>
Date: Sun Jul 21, 2002  11:31:58 PM US/Central
Subject: Group Opposes Vouchers for Police, Fire Services

March 22, 2008

Group Opposes Vouchers for Police, Fire Services

SACRAMENTO--The Institute of Public Services, a
privately funded, California-based think tank,
announced Wednesday the filing of a suit in California
Federal District Court challenging that state's recently
implemented voucher program for police, ambulance, and
fire and rescue services.  "It is our belief that the
[California measures] represent a gross derogation of the
state's duty to protect all of its citizens equally,"
announced Geraldine Finwage, the Institute's chief
counsel.  "The voucher program is essentially a wholesale
privatization of these key government functions."

The California program, in place since October, issues
vouchers to each California resident on a monthly basis.
The vouchers can in turn be used by residents to offset the
cost of service subscriptions from a wide range of security
and fire safety service providers.  "Vouchers are about
leveling the playing field," explains California State
Representative Ben Crinkle (L-Newport Beach).  "They're
about giving people a choice about who polices their
streets.  Your local police department under-performing?
Can't keep your community safe from gangs and drugs?  Well,
now you can go elsewhere."

The voucher system, administered through a centralized,
web-accessible database, tracks residents'
service-provider choices and, through close integration
with emergency calling systems, directs 911 and related
calls to the appropriate provider.

"I've noticed a real jump in quality and performance since I
switched to Wackenhut policing," notes one Irvine,
California resident.  "I used to call all the time about
those kids loitering around the Del Taco on Friday nights.
Some threatening types with baggy pants and real pointy
hair.  The regular cops wouldn't really do anything. Too
busy I guess.  The Wackenhut guys, though, they really
follow through.  Those kids haven't been back in weeks."

Critics of the system point to concerns about a potential
gap in quality of service:  high-quality,
customer-centric private sector firms offering services
to those who can afford to pay an amount greater than the
average voucher value, while low-income residents
receive inferior service from under-funded public
providers, or from fly-by-night discount firms.  "Where do
you think the funding comes from?" asks Finwage.  "The
vouchers allow middle-class and upper-middle-class
residents to siphon funds out of the public system, to just
drain it dry."

Private sector providers have been quick to respond to
market demand for premium and luxury services such as
guaranteed maximum response times and 24 hour Temporary
Restraining Order enforcement.  "We're doing nothing more
than offering the same high-quality services we offered
before the [voucher program] went into effect," notes a
Wackenhut sales representative.  "The only difference is
that the vouchers put our white-glove services within
reach of the average homeowner."

The Institute's suit, including its request for a
preliminary injunction limiting state-wide deployment
of the voucher system, is scheduled for hearing this Fall,
Wednesdays at 11:30 on CSPAN3.

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