I was thinking the exact same thing!

A lot’s been made elsewhere on the blogosphere about the fact that the website of PACUR, the plastics company owned by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson was edited to change the company’s history to be more consistent with Ron Johnson’s version of his “life story,” but Annie K. of eau snap! astutely pointed out how a PACUR employee was outed by Dan Bice:

A company employee said Monday that he was guessing that the change was something ordered up by the Johnson campaign. The staffer said he was unaware of the website edits.

“They’re probably doing this to make sure all their T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted,” said Brad Sall, a Pacur employee.

I hope for Brad Sall’s sake he won’t soon be an ex-employee of PACUR for daring to open his mouth and speak ill of Ron Johnson’s U.S. Senate campaign.

Henry Sanders makes the case for Best Value Contracting

Yesterday Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Henry Sanders, Jr. released an editorial making the case for the state to implement Best Value Contracting as a means of ensuring Wisconsin’s taxpayers get the most possible bang for their bucks, both in the short term and especially in the long term.

Here’s the text of Sanders’ editorial:

Wisconsin taxpayers deserve best value in state contracts

by Henry Sanders, Jr.

People often say state government should run like a business, or that the people in charge of the budget should approach it as they would their own family finances. As someone who runs a small business, I see that logic. In truth, it’s quite a bit more complicated than that, but government spending has some things in common with business and household budgets — namely, you get what you pay for.

Say I’m shopping for a car. I could buy the cheapest car on the lot. But chances are I’m going to spend some extra money for added safety, better handling, better gas mileage, and more leg room. Besides all that, if I buy the cheaper car, I know I’m going to have to spend more on maintenance in the long run. We all know from being burned once or twice that cheapest is not always the best value.

The same goes for state purchasing and contracting. Wisconsin law currently requires that public contracts at the state and local level be awarded to the “lowest responsible bidder.” In effect, many projects — from technical assistance to major construction — are awarded based on cost alone. While these policies certainly reduce the immediate costs, they have also often forced a race-to-the-bottom, resulting in the use of lower-quality input products and sub-standard work. Lowest responsible bidder policies have also been known to ignore previous performance and product quality issues. In many cases, the necessary repairs, replacements, and additional work hours cost the taxpayer significantly more in the long run.

If you purchased a low-price car with high repair costs, you probably wouldn’t buy the same model again. But in government in Wisconsin, “value” can’t be considered when purchasing goods and contracting services. The law says it has to be all about price — even if that’s not the best value for us as taxpayers.

I want to change that, and Best Value Contracting is a key component of Progressive Recovery, my 18-point plan to put Wisconsin back to work. Wisconsin should change the law to implement these practices as soon as possible.

Best Value Contracting (BVC) awards projects to contractors that meet the best combination of price, quality, technical expertise, and past performance. It allows government to look beyond the usual, more myopic up-front price comparison, so that we’re actually looking at the real, long-term costs to the taxpayers. BVC can also be used to prioritize the employment of local contractors and workers, making it effectively a “Buy Wisconsin” initiative as well.

Best Value Contracting has a proven track record of success. Nearly 70% of federal construction spending has used BVC since 2001, and more than ten states have authorized the use of BVC for state and local projects.

Project bids would still use standard Request for Proposal (RFP) criteria – with all the usual public announcement and competition requirements. Up-front price remains a key criterion, but a weighting system would be applied to other important factors, including past performance, safety history, training, expertise, and impact on the local workforce.

By authorizing and implementing Best Value Contracting policies, the State of Wisconsin and our local governments will take a more holistic approach to the bidding process, get more value from contractors, place a greater weight on getting local workers back on the job, and save millions of taxpayer dollars in the process. I urge the legislature to write BVC into state statutes as soon as possible in the next session. My years of experience as a nonprofit executive and a small business owner have reinforced the value of “getting what you pay for.” It’s about time our leaders in Madison understood that value, too.

Accountability? Not on Scott Walker’s watch!

Under John Chianelli’s watch, problems at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex were rampant, finally boiling over when allegations that a violent male patient had sexually assaulted a female patient, resulting in that female patient becoming pregnant, despite the fact that she was supposed to have been getting birth control injections. Last week Wednesday it was announced Chianelli was removed from his post as head of Milwaukee County’s Behavioral Health Division and demoted, presumably as punishment for his complete incompetence, but while Chianelli was allowed to demote to a position as deputy director of the Disabilities Services Division – a position in which Chianelli will earn over $91,000 a year – county officials are attempting to terminate Karl Strelnick, a psychiatrist at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex who supervised five housing units at the center of the problems at the Mental Health Complex.

While I don’t deny Karl Strelnick should lose his job as a result of his gross mismanagement, why is John Chianelli being allowed to keep a high paying job within the County as a reward for his gross mismanagement? Why isn’t Chianelli being punished at a level commensurate with his mismanagement and incompetence, and why isn’t Scott Walker in his role as Milwaukee County’s “chief executive” demanding that Chianelli be fired?

By allowing John Chianelli to keep a high-paying job within the County, Scott Walker has shown that accountability isn’t as important as protecting his backside, and that’s a crying shame.

Why are Wisconsin’s candidates so unwilling to debate?

Here’s something I’ve been wondering about the 2010 statewide races here in Wisconsin:

Why is it that with the exception of the Republican gubernatorial race, in which Scott Walker and Mark Neumann have actually gotten together to debate the issues, none of the other major contested races (Democratic gubernatorial primary, Republican U.S. Senate primary) have seen a debate between the various candidates?

In the Democratic gubernatorial race, businessman Tim John has issued numerous debate challenges to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, with those challenges presumably falling on deaf ears, while in the Republican U.S. Senate race, Ron “Sunspots” Johnson has turned down, cancelled, or not responded to at least nine invitations to debate his opponent, Watertown small businessman Dave Westlake.

While I understand that Tim John and Dave Westlake aren’t viewed as “top tier” candidates – and thus aren’t taken as seriously as Tom Barrett and Ron Johnson – Wisconsin’s voters should still have the opportunity to compare and contrast what all the candidates in a given race have to say about the issues voters are most concerned about this year. It’s a shame these candidates are instead ignoring their opponents and denying Wisconsin’s voters a chance to see the candidates engage in precisely the kind of political debate that is the very backbone of our democracy.

Westlake’s campaign has also issued a press release about this, calling Johnson’s refusal to debate or to attend vetting sessions as “demonstrating a regrettable willingness to shortchange voters—and that’s just plain dangerous for Wisconsin.”