Is McCrory being courted by out-of-state contractors?

Myers Park Pat loves to use magic words:

“You have to have a long-term visionary plan when it comes to infrastructure, and that is something we do not have in the state of North Carolina right now,” McCrory said.

The magic words in that sentence being long-term, visionary and of course infrastructure. These words have a tendency to appeal to moderates and progressives, which is why he throws them out from time to time. But here are a few more magic words designed to tickle the fancy of free market fundamentalists:

Politics need to stay out of developing infrastructure and leave the building, designing and operating to professionals who know how to do that best, McCrory said.

Politics have controlled transportation’s road development in the past 25 years, he said. McCrory said that political influence is reflected in roads that go from six or eight lanes down to two lanes, then add lanes and subtract them in different parts of the state.

“No one would plan that type of infrastructure in the private sector,” McCrory said.

Ah yes, the magical "private sector", which some believe could replace virtually all traditionally public sector operations. And the design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure is one of the free market's favorite tasty targets. There are billions to be made off the taxpayers in this area, but you gotta get your foot in the door first.

Which is why, back in April, a Tennessee company called the Infrastructure Corporation of America, headed by Butch Eley, hosted a reception for McCrory and slipped him over $20,000 for his campaign:

"Asset management is often misunderstood. We describe it as a systematic and cost-effective process of maintaining, upgrading and operating physical assets such as roadways, facilities and bridges. We utilize the principles of engineering, business management, economics and computer technology to help DOTs with their short- and long-term maintenance planning."

Howard "Butch" Eley, CEO

A few years ago ICA secured a few lucrative contracts from the Virginia DOT to keep the I-81 Corridor clear of snow and ice during the winter, ostensibly freeing up DOT vehicles to concentrate on clearing state highways and secondary roads. A contract at which they failed miserably:

The Virginia Department of Transportation has fired its Interstate 81 maintenance contractor assigned to the 150 miles between Pulaski County and Staunton, citing multiple lapses including the company’s botched handling of a December 2009 storm that dumped 18 inches of snow and stranded hundreds of motorists.

Linda Cheatham, VDOT's head of procurement, notified ICA CEO Butch Eley in a Monday letter that the contracts were "terminated for ICA's record of historical failure to perform and ... failure to take corrective actions."

Leading up to the contract termination, VDOT had docked ICA’s pay by $2.2 million, according to Caldwell, who called failure to remove snow and ice during various winter storms as “the primary issue.”

VDOT activated its own crews to help ICA out and, come Saturday, traffic was moving again. Because state highway crews had to help on I-81, they took longer to plow primary roads and side streets in Roanoke and Montgomery counties. Refreezing of previously cleared roads and equipment breakdowns further delayed side-street plowing.

Here's one of the letters the VDOT sent to ICA. As you can see from that last paragraph above, not only were the Virginia taxpayers fleeced by this poorly thought-out move to privatization, many of them were also placed in danger from the slippery roads that resulted from the VDOT having to take up ICA's slack.

I have no doubt that Pat McCrory firmly believes that the outsourcing and privatization of such functions is the way government needs to go. Which is why he needs to go back to doing whatever the hell he's been doing for a living, and not to the Governor's mansion.

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