The Swift County Monitor reports that Minnesota House Public Safety Chair Tony Cornish would like to lease the closed private prison in Appleton--and that Corrections Corporation of America has rebranded itself as CoreCivic.
The paper reports in Promotion of Appleton prison to continue in 2017:
Swift County is already gearing up to make another effort to get the State of Minnesota to lease or buy the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton.
At the county board’s meeting Dec. 19, Commissioner Gary Hendrickx, District 1-Appleton, reported that he and Commission Chair Pete Peterson, District 3-south Benson, had attended a meeting of representatives of lobbying firm Goff Public and CoreCivic, the owner of the prison.
CoreCivic is the new name of Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest owner of private prison facilities. It changed its name this past fall. . . .
Also at the meeting was District 17A state Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, and state Senator-elect Andrew Lang, R-Olivia. The meeting was called to formulate a strategy for lobbying the Legislature during the 2017 session. . . .
It has been estimated that reopening the prison would create 350 jobs for western Minnesota, have a $13 to $15 million payroll, and provide a significant boost to the local economies of the many small towns from which the employees come.
Hendrickx told fellow commissioners that it seems that the appetite to purchase isn’t as strong as it was last year; there is more of an appetite to lease, he said.
Whose appetite is favoring leasing over buying? Commissioner Ed Pederson, District 2-north Benson, asked Hendrickx.
Republican Tony Cornish, chair of the state House’s Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee, seems to have more of an appetite for a lease, Hendrickx said. The lease doesn’t require the big upfront dollar amount a purchase would, he said.
Minnesota Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton, who has not looked at any use of the Appleton prison favorably, still has indicated he leans toward a purchase if it is done.
For the Appleton area, whether it is a lease or a purchase, it is the jobs that are important, Hendrickx said. But it is also important that the agreement that is reached whether a purchase or a lease shows a commitment to use the facility for the long term to ensure job stability, Hendrickx said. [emphasis added]
Unintentional humor? The story is filed under Death Notices. It's also clear from Commissioner Hendrickx that for Swift County, this thrust isn't about overcrowding or concern for the inmates, as was claimed during the session, but jobs.
Those pitching re-opening the prison carry on about the high unemployment in Swift County and the region surrounding it. Curiously, the Morris Sun Tribune, in next door Stevens County, reported earlier this month that the poor unfortunates at the Riverview chain of megadairies, "will advertise in at least 20 newspapers in several states" and be lucky if one applicant answers. Perhaps the unemployed in Swift County are only qualified to care for incarcerated human beings and not cows locked in CAFO-style buildings; perhaps it's prairie magical realism, where both labor and job shortages blossom under the same sun.
As for the feel-good branding, learn more about that in Richard Eskow's commentary in Huffington Post, “CoreCivic”: New Name, Same For-Profit Prison Greed. Eskow mentions campaign contributions on the federal level. Last month, we looked at CCA/CoreCivic giving in Minnesota in Swift Co Monitor endorses Falk, & all Tim Miller got was some lousy cash from CCA execs. About that lousy cash:
[Miller] did manage to snag some campaign cash from Corrections Corporation of America's executives and their spouses, as well as from a couple of CCA corporate lobbyists. From his pre-general election report to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board (available here):
There's $250.00 each from CCA Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President David Garfunkle and his wife Carrie, both of Franklin, Tennessee, followed by the same amounts from CCA Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer Anthony Grande and his wife, as well as from CCA President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director Damon Hininger and his wife (page 4 of Miller's 2016 pre-general report).
Former Appleton warden Daren Swenson, now CCA's Tennessee-based Vice President, Facility Operations, Business Unit 2 also gave Miller $250 (page 6 of Miller's 2016 pre-general report).
Finally, there's the $500 each of CCA's corporate lobbyists (Kelly Durham and Brad Regens, page 7 of Miller's 2016 pre-general report) handed over.
All that money must be smooth as Tennessee whiskey for blunting the blow of rejection by Swift County's finest news source (We're not being snarly about the Monitor, whose editor is highly respected among country newspaper people).
An we haven't even touched on CCA's contributions to the Republican State Leadership Committee, which has given $755,000 in the last ten days to the MN Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund. Earlier this year, the MN Jobs Coalition tracker Kip Charles Christianson jostled parade volunteers at Raymond Harvest Fest Parade.
Remember, Minnesota Republicans are talking about draining the swamp, but not how they'll replace the cash that waters their own campaigns if they were to not reward CoreCivics for the cash.
Here's the document about the 2017 Goff Public lobbying contract from the January 3, 2017, Swift County Board meeting packet:
Screenshot: We're not sure if the Swift County Monitor wanted to file this story under the obits.
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