In today's West Central Tribune article by Tom Cherveny, 'Appleton option' to reopen western Minn. private prison stays the course:
Miller said the opposition continued to ignore the fact that the corporation had offered the state an option to purchase or lease to own, and that the state would have operated the prison with union employees.
Corrections Corporation of America had offered to lease the facility for $6 million to $8 million a year, and to sell it for $99 million. The lease payments could be used toward the purchase price, according to Miller.
Appleton attorney Brian Wojtalewicz questioned the $99 million purchase price when Corrections Corporation of America is paying property taxes based on a $15 million value. Miller said that's the offer the corporation put on the table. Negotiations between the state and the company are not in the Legislature's hands.
It's at this point we're scratching our head at Miller's understanding of bargaining. While the negotiations might not be directly in the legislature's hands, if the lawmakers pass ever actually pass a bill requiring the facility to be leased and/or purchased, that policy decision pretty much takes all leverage off the table on the part of the administration.
Miller's amendment to "the state to contract to operate and purchase or lease to own" the facility, added to the public safety, civil law, and health and human services omnibus bill in April, would do just that.
And it sure would be like Tim Miller to blame the Governor if the state buys the $15 million facility (which was expanded by CCA when modules were shipped in) for 6.6 times its assessed value. After all, he played a hand in crafting the 2015 buffer bill's final form and voted for it and the 2016 clarifications, but still whined about the laws.
But there's more to this story. In 2012, the West Central Tribune reported:
As part of a negotiated settlement after the prison closed, the valuation of the facility was decreased by $17 million. CCA will be paying $500,000 less in property taxes next year that will be shifted to other taxpayers, County Auditor Byron Giese said.
So earlier in the decade, presumably when the facility was operating, the prison was valued at $32 million--and few years later it's gained three times that value, according to the Corrections Corporation of America?
So yup, Miller wants to force the administration to purchase or lease-to-own the facility, which even before it sued was never worth $99 million, but claim innocence in this bad deal. Rep. Miller's official state webpage lists his occupation as "business owner." (Something else is on his EIS.) Uffda.
While the prison has been maintained since closing in 2010, unless Corrections Corporation of American installed fixtures and ceilings from Donald Trump's $100 million Manhattan Penthouse, we're not sure why this joint's worth $99 million.
Photo: A room in Trump's penthouse, which is worth only $1 million more than what CCA is asking for the prison in Appleton. Via the Daily Mail. We gotta ask what $99 million could buy for free people in Appleton. Minnesota (or even $66 million if CCA uninflated the pricetag). Decent senior housing? Public-private partnerships for non-gulag jobs?
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