Privatize This!

Illustration by Bob Aul

They can't balance a budget or run the economy, health care, FEMA or a war. Can't create peace in the Middle East, protect the privacy of Americans, or even tell the truth. But give them this: Republican officials know how to outspend Democrats, and then speak soberly about the liberal habit of taxing and spending.

And we're not just talking about Washington. Consider the county's Board of Supervisors: in the last few weeks, the Republican-controlled board has voted, often with little or no public discussion, to spend the following amounts in the new, hefty $5.56 billion budget:

• $45 per hour through 2009 for a one-man crew (aided only occasionally by others) to perform "rodent control services" at the county's flood-control channels.

• $59,463 for a company to test fire alarms at Juvenile Hall once during the next year.

• $165,655 bonus to ACS State & Local Solutions (formerly defense conglomerate Lockheed Martin) for the company's work on a lucrative $22,087,278 information technology contract.

• $22.6 million for three Anaheim parcels the assessor's office says are worth less than $9.5 million.

• $100,000 to the private Orange County Business Council—which lobbies for the Irvine Co. and other local corporate giants—so that it can produce a "Workforce Investment" study.

• $99,000 bonus to Newport Beach consultant Lisa Burke, who was already getting $100,000, to write a "Community Indicators Report" that the Business Council will use to track "key indicators of economic, social and environmental well-being in an effort to assess the overall quality of life in Orange County."

• $240,000 to local Republican Party boss Scott Baugh, a self-styled fiscal conservative, for lobbying in Sacramento.

• $740,000 no-bid contract to a company for private security at the OC Fair and fairground events.

• $60,000 per year until 2010 for a company to shred documents at just one county department: the Social Services Agency.

• $151,834 for "evaluation services including development of an evaluation design, producing evaluation and survey instruments" regarding "the prevalence of tobacco use" in the county.

• $136,000 to build a canopy at the entrance to a county building.

• $135,000 for a company to perform art-exhibition packing services at John Wayne Airport.

• $268,000 for a company to test and, if necessary, repair the fire-alarm system at Theo Lacy Jail during the next 12 months.

• $237,000 to Cal State Fullerton to write "economic forecasts."

• $805,208 for a private company to maintain the elevators and escalators at John Wayne Airport.

• $100,000 for "on-call aerial photography" needs.

• $339,205 for "public outreach" of the Harbors, Beaches and Parks Department's "strategic plan."

• $178,000 for the next two years for a company to clean the county's Probation Department offices.

• $187,000 to iMapData Inc., which will give the Sheriff's Department access to "various information sets" about local citizens "including telecommunications, energy, infrastructure, government, political, business, regulations, demographics and other specific industry data."

• $225,000 to pay for only the maintenance of "infrared and daylight cameras" used by the sheriff's helicopter fleet.

• $93,000 to a private firm that will pick up mail at post-office boxes for two county departments.

• $22 million to buy the private Green River Golf Club so that a portion of the course can be used in the future for a flood-control area.

• A housing loan "not to exceed $9,882,000" for a charity that, in turn, generously bestowed a 63-year lease for Irvine's Montecito Vista apartment project to the Irvine Co., the county's most politically powerful real-estate company.

• $435,000 for just two IBM office laser printers—$102,000 for the machines and an astonishing $333,000 for their maintenance in coming months.

• $67,000 for consultant Mike Mount to determine whether the county's "purchasing operations" are wasteful.

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