Keelan: The Wagnerization of Vermont state and local services

Photo by Olia Danilevich

by Don Keelan

It appears that in Russia, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the infamous Wagner Group and the recently aborted coup, was not only in charge of a sizable military force but also hundreds of companies that do business within Russia, Africa, and the Middle East, according to a recent article in the WSJ.

President Putin allowed his former St. Petersburg boyhood neighbor to gain control of Russia’s internal and external operations in communications, security, media, medicine, food distribution, mining, and transportation. The Wagner Group’s annual income was billions of dollars. Much of the Russian government operations are now in the hands of a private enterprise and, as was recently witnessed, are in a state of mutiny. Russia is in the process of dismantling the monster Putin himself had created.

This brings us to Vermont and how we have seen government business delegated permanently to independent companies and sizeable nonprofit organizations in just a few decades. This is not addressing sub-contracting, which is only for a short period.

Don Keelan

For example, take the discussion happening in Brattleboro. The Brattleboro Police Department cannot police the town’s parking garage area nor around certain public buildings. The solution: hire private security companies to provide “the policing.” It is not much different than what takes place in Burlington: businesses have engaged the services of a security firm to offer escort services in the evening for their employees.

Vermont has a severe drug problem requiring attention at many levels. One such level is the distribution of methadone/buprenorphine to addicts in recovery. You would think that the State of Vermont’s health department would operate the clinics (storefronts) where anti-addiction measures are distributed under controlled conditions. Not in all cases. Many clinics are run by a Lewisville, Texas company, Baymark Health Services, which operates in 36 states and four Vermont towns. It is in the process of applying to operate in Bennington.

Delegation to private companies has been a factor in our State’s correction services for years. Approximately 10% of Vermont’s justice-involved are held at CoreCivic, a privately operated prison in Tutwiler, Mississippi. The percentage was even greater. The Vermont justice-involved juvenile housing has been delegated to the Vermont Permanency Initiative, affiliated with the out-of-state, nonprofit Becket Family of Services, which seeks approval for a 6-bed facility in Newbury, Vermont.
The State does not have a well-staffed mental health department. It looks to the private sector to provide the social worker (interventionist) who accompanies police officers/state troopers on specific domestic intervention calls. People trained in de-escalating a situation are generally not State or municipal employees.

Because the State does not have the necessary personnel to staff a mental health agency, it has turned to the nonprofit sector. Most counties in Vermont have a nonprofit agency comprising several thousand employees, delivering mental health services. In recent years, nonprofit organizations such as Northshire Housing in Bennington County and The Champlain Housing Trust in Northwest, VT, have produced many housing units with mostly State funds or state/federal tax credits. Even though the State has a housing agency, it has assigned the business of building affordable housing to others.

I will leave it for the experts to comment on the quality of how nonprofit organizations and private companies are delivering State services. I will comment on how much of the State and local services authorized by the Legislature are not carried out by State agencies but by organizations with their governing structure, free of any input or control by the taxpayers and Vermont residents.

We can determine how big the Vermont State government is by the number of its employees, about 8,300. State government, measured by staff, is geometrically much larger when you factor in the assignments delegated to NGOs and businesses. The question is, when will it become out of balance?

The author is a U.S. Marine (retired), CPA, and columnist living in Arlington, VT.

Categories: Commentary

8 replies »

  1. The “Wagnerization” you speak of is just an extension of ‘Citizen’s United” that the United States Supreme Court passed on January 21, 2010 … Privatization & Profits have trumped all that is moral and right by Universal laws.

    All that was in the interest of humanity… and the United States is falling into an abysmal degradation of Corporate Greed. Our country, the USA, that was supposed to represent the beacon of freedom & liberty has betrayed our Founding Fathers

    𝐂𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐧𝐬 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧

    𝐀𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐠𝐮𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐬𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐮𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐞 𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐚 𝟓-𝟒 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐉𝐚𝐧𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝟐𝟏, 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟎, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐮𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐀𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐌𝐜𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐁𝐂𝐑𝐀’𝐬 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟑.

    𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐣𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐰𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐛𝐲 𝐉𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐀𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐲 𝐌. 𝐊𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐝𝐲, 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐀𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐞𝐜𝐡,

    ” 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐟𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐝𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐬.”

    Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas joined Kennedy in the majority, while Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

    $$$$ PROFITS RULE THE WORLD … humans are expendable.

    • Maureen, your argument is incongruous. Without humans, there can be no profit.

  2. Vermont is a cesspool of corruption and a grifter’s paradise. Sold out and farmed out to the highest bidders. All in the name of equity and responsible growth. The problem is a generation of misguided and educated idiots (a term my grandfather used frequently) became emboldened with dirty money and dirty politics. All courtesy of the District of Corruption and the State collusion with criminal syndicates. It cannot be fixed. It will implode into it’s own cellar hole. At that point, we’ll see who has guts and fortititude to do the right thing or die trying.

  3. To compare what’s happening in Vermont to what the Wagner Group is doing in Russia is kind of misleading. First, the Wagner Group did not stage a “coup”. Evidence points to the Wagner Group being given the $6.2 billion missing from “Ukraine funding” via a CIA black op. The money was given to them with the idea that they’d overthrow Putin, an obvious DS goal. And they put on a good show, only to stop 60 miles from Moscow for no apparent reason. Why? As mentioned, Putin and the head of the Wagner Group are best friends, so Putin was informed of every step in the plot. He decided to let the Wagner Group pretend they were marching to Moscow, only to take the $6.2 billion for their trouble. Once again, the Biden regime got played.

  4. More evidence of decline this is what the ant colony does until it’s gone. My apologies to ants.

  5. We are living in an occupied country. The Usurpers were NEVER confronted with this theft. Everyone is just waiting for someone else to do it. Or not. I’m not a gambler, but I’ll bet you NO ONE will do anything. Binging on Netflix and popcorn is most certainly more fun.

    I can tell you I have sat in on some of these social service agency’s board meetings. My caveat is never believe these agencies are meant to help the community. It’s all about self-perpetuation in order to be Deciders With Power. Best of all? They crow loudly when they have achieved something without even considering how their ideological motivations collide with the realistic needs of poor Vermonters. Being a bought and paid for Virtue Signaler is all that matters

    Deciders have the (government) money and (government) influence to import and then place people from another country to benefit immediately. Like 3x the monthly allowance for a retiree going to ILLEGAL ALIENS to live on. PLUS free housing and extra coverage for utilities. How do you think the most recent political winners-oops!-appointees got their seats? IMPORTED.

    And let’s talk about “mental health” agencies. They are most definitely nothing more than Reporters, who take “confidential” truths expressed by the client and use them to hospitalize the person without warning or take their kids or kill their marriages…yes, that’s what they do. And let’s not forget the huge Big Pharma kickbacks for every lively child with “ADHD”, or the new mother with “depression”, or the recently evicted from the home “violent” husband…all put on soul crushing pills.

    We are living in an occupied country. And please spare me the we can vote them out mantra. Being in denial does not make a problem go away. Rather, denial feeds the monster.

    We are living in an occupied country. Why else would there be signs and flags everywhere lauding the degenerate proclivities of “child lovers”. Better yet, the Nazi inspired signs lauding Black Lives Matter while said group does nothing but show up like the marauding murderers they are only to kill, crush and destroy.

    We are living in an occupied country. You can virtue signal all you want with your signs and flags. But I have seen for myself the very same people with the aforementioned signs and flags make an obviously unexpected turn down the next supermarket aisle in order to avoid my (black) husband. Yeah.

    We are living in an occupied country.
    Americans have sold us out.

  6. An accurate answer to Mr. Keelan’s question of balance would be sometime during the kunin administration. 1985-1991 began the rapid growth of state government and a shift in ideology at the state level- from it’s agencies and employees, switching from civil servant to nomenklatura.
    Since kunin’s stint as governor, state government has grown in response to the shift in ideology, liberalism and socialism have grown exponentially while traditional conservative voices have been squelched- with much more to come.
    Keelan avoids adding rampant cronyism, graft and corruption that go with the political deal-making- especially in healthcare and now energy regulation, brought to the front by the GWSA. It seems long ago that a cacophony of D/P politicians and pundits attacked phil scott regarding his ownership of a family run construction business and his forced sale of it when he was first elected governor- not so for the nepotism and intricate webs of spouses, friends and former business associates running rampant thru the legislature and alternative energy and health care companies and lobbyists.
    I hear no cries from the left… as there are literally billions of dollars at stake here in vermont. we are being plucked, fleeced and flat out bankrupted by these grifters- and when they are done- having extracted as much as possible- they slither away to greener pastures.

  7. Kudos, Don. Catchy “Better dead than Red” headline just aching for a maelstrom.