Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, in a brash power grab, recently fired 76 county workers. Among these 76 people who lost their jobs just because Walker wants to be governor were all the security guards at the courthouse, Children's Court and the City Campus.
Walker then announced that he had a contract with Wackenhut, the same agency that is supposed to be providing security on Milwaukee County Transit buses. Leaving aside the fact that Walker ignored contract language that prohibits having a contract without following proper procedure, and that the privatization of the security guards had already been rejected by the County Board who found it to be too expensive and would offer less security, there are many reasons to be concerned about this move.
Wackenhut is an international agency that has their fingers in a lot of security-related pies. They have been on the Iraq War money grab, along with Blackwater and Halliburton. They also have been involved with the effort to privatize prisons. (I wouldn't be surprised if this is where they hooked up with Walker originally. Walker, as a state legislator, tried to get Wisconsin's prisons privatized. Fortunately, he failed in that effort. Wackenhut and other private prison groups were big time campaign donors to Walker then. There's no reason to believe this has changed.)
Being an international agency of such a large size, one would think that they must have a good reputation, right? Not quite.
A few quick Google searches bring us to a list of problems with Wackenhut.
One of these problems include their private prisons, which Walker wanted to bring to Wisconsin. At their prisons for juveniles, their guards were raping the teenage girls, doing drugs with the kids instead of providing drug rehab, and having too many "mysterious" injuries happening to the kids. To top it off, Wackenhut tried to cover it all up and shred all the complaints against them or the guards.
Wackenhut apparently has a problem with their hiring screening process, since many stories about the company seem to deal with their guards causing all sorts of mayhem, including a group of them that were allegedly involved with killing a young college coed because she didn't want to have sex with one of them.
Wackenhut also has a history of overbilling and defrauding governments for services that they never provided. Note that the story involved with the company taking punitive actions against the employees who blew the whistle on their criminal behavior.
Even in the few years that Walker's been pouring tax payer money into Wackenhut's pockets, at the tune of over $1 million per year, there have been problems. As Cory Liebmann points out, their job performance has been very much below acceptable levels, especially considering the money that Walker is giving them. This is backed up in a story on JSOnline, in which Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke points out that years after Wackenhut was hired to provide security on the buses, he still has 18 deputies riding them as well to do actual security work. The article points out that last year, Wackenhut guards were only spending 3% of their time actually providing the security that the County was paying them for.
That brings us back to Walker's hiring this same bunch to do the courthouse security. He brought them in early, on the false pretense that he was concerned that the guards would skip out on their jobs in their last two weeks. That is, of course, only a excuse in an effort to try to hide the way he mishandled the privatization of the courthouse housekeepers, letting them go two months before the new company could take over.
What never gets explained is why he had to have sheriff deputies, some working overtime, to guard the Wackenhut guards, who apparently were there to guard the outgoing County guards.
Oh, and before I forget, I have also heard from many independent sources that the Wackenhut guards are actually from Chicago. Wackenhut shipped them up here and is housing them in motels, using tax payer money, so that they can sit there with county guards and deputy sheriffs for these two weeks.
Enquiring minds want to know: Just what the hell is Walker paying Wackenhut for? And what is Walker getting from them?