March 19, 2012

Lobbyists In Florida Work To Privatize Public Libraries

Budget cuts across the country have provided a new opportunity for corporations looking to cash in. Radio station WMFE reports that Osceola County in Florida recently moved to adopt a privatization effort as a result of budget cuts.

Library Systems and Services, a private company based in Maryland, won the contract to administer six county libraries for five years. Republic Report reviewed state ethics reports in Tallahassee, and found that the firm was helped by the services of Robert R. Reynolds, a registered lobbyist:

As WMFE reported, the new private operators of the library system have quickly moved to cut the benefits of current employees. The new arrangement has also drawn criticism from the Florida Library Association. Faye Roberts, a spokesperson from the group, said the privatized system lacks transparency. “Who’s in charge?” Roberts asked. “Is it an elected official or is it someone whose primary focus, as a private company, would need to be on making a profit.”