Monday, December 24, 2018

'Pork Report' Targets ServiceMaster, County Commission, Megasite

Posted By on Mon, Dec 24, 2018 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge BEACON CENTER
  • Beacon Center

ServiceMaster, city-owned golf courses, new health benefits for Shelby County Commissioners and more made this year’s Pork Report from Nashville’s Beacon Center, a free market think tank.

Each year the center lists the biggest examples of what it deems to be government waste in its report.

Here are the Memphis and West Tennessee morsels from the report.

click to enlarge BEACON CENTER
  • Beacon Center
click to enlarge document.png

Shelby County Commission benefits — “Christmas came early”:


Did you know that in order to have lifetime health and life insurance benefits, all you have to do is serve on the Nashville Metro Council for two terms? It seems that Shelby County Commissioners got word of that, and this year, Commissioners voted themselves those same types of benefits once they have served on the commission for eight years. Those benefits are estimated to rack up a tab for taxpayers between $6 and $10 million. For Shelby County commissioners, Christmas presents came early this year, while local taxpayers got stuck with the bill.

click to enlarge A view of the megasite looking north from I-40. - TNECD
  • TNECD
  • A view of the megasite looking north from I-40.

West Tennessee Megasite — “a complete and unmitigated disaster”:

The practice of corporate welfare is bad enough, but the Memphis Regional Megasite really takes the absurdity of this practice to a whole new level. Tennessee decided to spend $144 million of taxpayer money and eight years to “develop” an empty field, with the hope of attracting businesses at some point. That means we spent nearly $150 million with absolutely no commitment from any business to open up shop there.

What’s worse is that apparently the $144 million and nearly a decade still wasn’t enough to make that site “shovel-ready,” so now the Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) received another $30 million for wastewater improvements. Several businesses have passed over the site for other states, yet officials want to waste even more of our hard-earned dollars on a job site with no actual jobs. To top it all off, the government will have to take people’s private land through eminent domain to bring the project to fruition.

This entire project has been a complete and unmitigated disaster. We are going to spend over $170 million and still have absolutely nothing to show for it. Even if a big company does eventually move to the Megasite, there is no possible way that taxpayers will get our money back. The worst part about this is that there is no end in sight. Who is to say that ECD won’t ask for another $100 million next year if the site is still unoccupied? Tennessee needs to learn the idea of a lost cause and sell this barren land to the highest bidder.

click to enlarge The Links at Galloway - CITY OF MEMPHIS
  • City of Memphis
  • The Links at Galloway

City of Memphis golf courses — “Memphis lost over $2 million”:


Instead of spending tax dollars on essential public services like roads, public safety, and schools, local governments across Tennessee spend millions on city-owned golf courses that continue to lose money. In 2017 alone, Memphis lost over $2 million dollars trying to operate eight golf courses.

Why should fans of any other sport have to subsidize the hobby of golfers, a sport that is generally played by wealthier constituents? Even worse, why are governments competing with private businesses that offer the same service but don’t have access to taxpayer funding, putting them at a severe disadvantage?

Even if you love golf, it’s not the role of government to use your tax dollars to enter the golf business. Taxpayers should demand their local governments take a mulligan on the concept of funding golf courses and focus instead on vital services.

click to enlarge COLLIERVILLE MIDDLE SCHOOL PTA/FACEBOOK
  • Collierville Middle School PTA/Facebook

Collierville Middle Band Director Embezzles — ”using these funds on personal gambling trips…”

Former band director and band booster for Collierville Middle School Jason Seek was charged with embezzling after a state Comptroller investigation discovered that Seek misappropriated $133,064 of band booster funds.

Seek was found forging signatures and creating elaborate schemes to cash checks and withdraw funds from ATMs over the course of roughly five years. Seek was caught using these funds on personal gambling trips to Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, and even Las Vegas.

click to enlarge SERVICEMASTER
  • ServiceMaster
ServiceMaster Moves Downtown — ”What’s next? The government giving money to the McDonald’s across the street.”

Earlier this year, employees for ServiceMaster began reporting to their newly renovated office in the old Peabody Place mall in Downtown Memphis after relocating from their former location on the edge of town. The renovation and relocation was announced in 2016 and cost more than $35 million.

Everybody loves a good ol’ HGTV-style renovation with an open concept and natural light for their office, but does government need to fund it? The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, which has never seen a taxpayer handout it doesn’t like, gave ServiceMaster $5.5 million to aid in the move across town, despite knowing that ServiceMaster would not create a single job in exchange for the grant money.

Company officials are hoping the renovation helps the company “recruit technologically savvy and creative millennials.” What’s next? The government giving money to the McDonald’s across the street to serve kale chips and kombucha to get them to spend money eating out for lunch instead of brown- bagging it?

If ServiceMaster has trouble attracting programmers with man buns, that’s their problem to fix, not the problem for Tennessee taxpayers to subsidize.

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