The ever growing list of problems with recently-privatized food service at Ohio’s prisons should come as no surprise to anyone. Back in 2001 the same vendor, Aramark, was tasked with feeding inmates at the Noble Correctional Institution. An audit conducted by then-State Auditor Jim Petro revealed that Aramark failed multiple sanitary inspections and was unable to provide acceptable portion sizes as agreed upon in the contract. Aramark ended up billing the state for millions of meals it never actually served resulting in $2 Million in over payments being made to the company. Food service was eventually turned back over to state employees at a cost savings to the state.
Things seem to be going even more poorly this time. An investigation by the AP found at least 116 incidents where Aramark “has fallen short by running out of food or providing unapproved substitutes.” Records also show “several days when Aramark employees simply failed to show up and cases of unauthorized relationships between inmates and Aramark workers. Reports allege sexual activity between some inmates and workers.”
Gary Mohr, Kasich’s current Director of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC), was a deputy director DRC at the time of the original Aramark failure. He even participated in Petro’s audit. Certainly Mohr warned Kasich of the dangers of firing experienced state staff and replacing them with low paid employees from Aramark. So why would Kasich push forward with the Amarark contract?
The Dispatch’s Alan Johnson may have the answer: In 2010, Aramark’s PAC gave a “$25,000 contribution to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) in 2010,” writes Johnson. “That year, the RGA spent $11 million on TV commercials for Gov. John Kasich.”
Kasich has so far been silent on the issue. Instead they seem to be letting Chris Schrimpf handle the response. Schrimpf is the Ohio GOP communications director who moved here last year from Georgia to help with the 2014 election. Interestingly, Schrimpf worked as the political communications director for the Republican Governors Association in 2010 when they were running ads for Kasich.
So instead of having Ohio’s governor come forward, take responsibility, show concern and promise to buckle down and fix the problem, Team Kasich sends in the out-of-state political spokesman to blame Democrats for a decision that was clearly 100% Kasich’s. “If the same Democrats who bankrupted the state thought closing down prisons was the better option, then they should have voiced their support for that at the time,” Schrimpf told the Dispatch. “Otherwise, they should simply say thank you for cleaning up the mess they had made of things.”
Yes, Chris. We should all be thinking John Kasich for firing a bunch of experienced state workers and replacing them with low-paid private workers who don’t show up for work, have sex with the inmates and can’t keep maggots out of the food. I’m heard a lot of election year BS before, but this statement certainly tops the list.