GEOrgia Knew


Georgia Lord refused to be interviewed for this article.

I’ve been writing recently that all you have to do is follow the money in politics to understand what is going on and now I will show you how true that is with the prison debacle in Goodyear. Did you read Sunday’s front page AZ Repub article that mentioned GEO’s Arizona lobbyists PPP and KRB who deliver cash to politicians statewide?  I’ll show you in this article how they have been in Goodyear since at least June, 2011 paving the way for the private prison expansion with Fischbach, Georgia, and others.

In my next few blogs I will give you a behind the scenes look at what I can only describe as nothing less than disingenuous double talk and deliberate misleading of the citizenry by Goodyear public officials and management before, during, and after the Perryville private prison expansion became top local news.

In this first installment I’ll tell you initially who knew what, when.

A review of internal Goodyear emails received under a Freedom of Information request made on August 11* by howardsgoodyearblog shows that at least as early as June 20th, 2011, Georgia Lord knew that the Perryville private prison expansion was being proposed and that the GEO Group was looking to gauge support for their proposal from the city of Goodyear.  Lord had been contacted by June 17, or earlier by John Kaites of Public Policy Partners (PPP), a Solano Beach, Ca “full service public affairs consulting company” (lobbyist) who represents GEO Group Inc. the bidder on the Perryville private prison expansion.  Documents also support the fact that Lord knew by then that GEO was looking for support from the city for GEO’s proposal to build an up to 5,000 bed private prison expansion in Goodyear at the Perryville site.

Lord did nothing to discourage GEO, GEO’s lobbyists, or city employees who were working with GEO’s lobbyists at the time.

GEO’s lobbyist PPP wanted to gauge city interest in their proposal for Perryville. After trying to reach Lord on Friday, June 17, for that purpose, a telephone conference call was set up at 3:30 pm PST on Monday, June 20th between PPP, Goodyear city manager John Fischbach, and Romina Khananisho**, Goodyear Intergovernmental Programs Manager.  By noon that same Friday, in an email from Khananisho to Fischbach, Goodyear knew that GEO was working on the expansion, GEO had chosen 3 sites in the valley, and Goodyear “(was) the top site”, and that the Arizona Department of Corrections had given GEO “a short time to find out if Goodyear is interested”.

In another email, on Sunday, June 19, Khananisho told Fischbach that she had, “told (Georgia) that (Khananisho) had spoken to (Kaites) already and had sent (Fischbach) an email explaining his request.” so “(Georgia) didn’t need to return his call at this time.”

In addition to this information being communicated to Georgia, at noon on the day of the call, Khananisho was with Georgia Lord for part of the day as Kananisho communicated with GEO’s Lisa West, Executive Assistant to PPP’s Kaites to set up the call later that same day.  This leaves little doubt that Lord knew who was trying to reach her, for what reason, and that it was the city’s interest in a prison expansion that appeared to be not only one topic of discussion but the only topic of discussion with GEO’s consultants on a call that day.

This was not the first time the city had heard about the expansion plans.  On May 3, 2011 in reply to Goodyear lawyer Susan Rogers’ request, James O’Neil, Deputy Warden of Operations at Perryville sent an email to Rogers which included internet links to the AZ corrections website as well as the RFQ link for proposals for the Perryville private prison site expansion.  (http://www.azcorrections.gov/adc/divisions/adminservices/Request_for_Proposal_110054dc.aspx)

Lawyers don’t just contact prisons to get copies of RFQs for no reason.  This was May 3, 2011.  So Goodyear had already investigated what was going on at Perryville more than a month before GEO’s lobbyists’ contacted Georgia. Goodyear was aware of, and had employees, including Goodyear city attorneys, looking at the Perryville private prison expansion possibilities in early May 2011, over two months before city council went on “break” as we have been told.

The reason GEO’s lobbyists were contacting the city was to assure GEO that they would not spend unwisely developing a proposal for Perryville that the city might object to.  GEO hired PPP and eventually KRB to check the temperature of local city officials in whose town their proposal was aimed.  PPP started with the Goodyear mayor’s office. From there they got in contact with Fischbach either that Friday or over the weekend and he handed it to Kananisho to reply and set up the level of interest conference call which she did as instructed.  The 3:30 call was important enough that Karin O’Donnell of the Goodyear Deputy City Manager’s Office set up a pre-call meeting at 3 pm that day, probably to discuss and agree on what approach Goodyear should offer PPP and GEO in the conference call.

In Kananisho’s email reply confirming the call to the GEO’s consultant’s assistant, she thanks her for setting it up and ends with a smiley face.  🙂

As a result of the conference call of June 20th, GEO obviously had the impression that Goodyear was not going to object to their proposal since they had contacted the mayor, spoken to the city manager, and had several city employees attend an interest gauging conference call.  As a result of this, GEO decided to submit their proposal to ADC for a Goodyear expansion.  For Lord and other city officials to now claim that they either knew nothing or did not give the wink and nod of approval to GEO’s intentions is dishonest.  Georgia, Fischbach and others involved at the time could have stopped it on that conference call simply by telling the lobbyists all the reasons why it was no good for Goodyear that they are now publishing in local newspapers, in the taxpayer paid for Infocus magazine, and with their protestations to local citizens and business leaders at Georgia’s August 22 public hearing on the prison.

As I have written before, and this new evidence shows, Georgia’s August 22 meeting was a complete sham by Georgia and others who put it on.

In my next blog I will describe the events around Goodyear’s continued encouragement of the proposal after the June 20 meeting and Goodyear’s damage control efforts once the proposal became public.

*Goodyear took over two weeks to fulfill the FOIA request

** Now listed as Romina Korkes

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11 Responses

  1. You know, I could at least respect a politician that said, “Expanding the Perryville prison is less than desireable, but the positive economic impact is really needed. I know that the majority of Goodyear citizens don’t want a larger prison, but I was elected to make the tough decisions and this is one of them. We need the economic benefits that the building and operation of a larger prison will bring.”

    Unfortunately, such an honest and forthright politician is hard, if not impossible, to find. What you get in its place are elected officials who scheme to have it both ways, reaping economic rewards while appearing to care about taxpayer concerns. Based on what you’ve shared so far, it would seem that a strong city position against expansion as early as June may have shifted GEO’s focus away from Goodyear. But when GEO approached the city to test the water, they apparently found it warm and inviting. They may have even been encouraged to move forward.

    The real insult, the one that is worthy of a recall effort, is the mayor and council’s posturing since the initial public hearing in a local high school auditorium. Not hard to understand now why no one from the city attended. And the hypocrisy that has followed is shameful — a city hall public hearing, a resolution opposing expansion — all so much show and tell for public consumption.

    As I wrote in your blog two months ago, the city has tried to craft the perfect political storm — posture publically but do nothing privately to fend off expansion plans. It’s a win win. If Goodyear dodges expansion plans, claim victory; if it doesn’t, blame the state’s department of corrections and cash the checks.

    Maybe your uncovering of the dealings between the city and GEO will create another type of storm — a hurricane of disgust at our public officials, one that will blow them all away.

    • A recall effort? Gary? Really? All your talk of fiscal responsibility and you want a recall election? You will ask for a recall, then complain about how much it cost after the fact.

      • I would venture to say that the cost of a recall election would be a relative bargain compared to the fiscal malfeasance that will likely be visited upon us by our current council. A bloated budget, nearly a million bucks for a new telephone system, no plans in place to roll back the 2009 general sales tax increase, a continuing desire to borrow money for a city center complex . . . and so on.

  2. Mayor Lord, I know you read this. I am looking forward to your reply.

  3. This is just world class write up!

  4. One Word RECALL – This is a new council and a new year, it is the same old BS from the last council. NO LEADERSHIP

    RECALL, RECALL, RECALL – if you can’t trust the leadership now to be open and honest what damage will occur in the next 2 years,

    RECALL the entire bunch and start over, then start cleaning out the management team who overspent their allowance and then look to the citizens to pay the tab

  5. Folks we were trying to bring public awareness back in 2008.. then this followed: (question: What buildings were sold and leased back? And who bought them? If the state defaults they own them? Let’s see the money trial on this, since this private prison profiteering has been churning for many years. The taxpayers and public have been kept in the dark. The state legislators should ALL be chastised for passing a law to create 5,000 prison beds, turning Arizona into a prison state, while mass incarcerating it’s people and visitors!

    “Desperate state may sell Capitol buildings, others”
    http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/azelections/articles/2009/07/29/20090729assets0729.html

    excerpt:

    Private prisons
    “While the state is looking to sell and lease back selected properties, it also may try to contract out the operations of some prisons. The concessions provision is expected to be included within the new budget proposal, and legislative analysts believe it could generate as much as $100 million (on top of the sale/leaseback revenue) for state coffers. Private, for-profit prison operators would bid for the right to manage selected facilities, but the state would maintain ownership.

    The concept concerns prison officials, who worry whether a private operator would be equipped and trained to handle the state’s most hardened criminals. In a letter to Brewer last month, Corrections Director Charles Ryan wrote that a private operator would pay lower wages and provide less training.”

  6. correction: “Let’s see the money trail on who purchased the lease-backs buildings, which we understand Perryville is one of them”. Hard to find the truth.

  7. Don’t you find it strange that Susan Rogers was ADOC chief legal counsel and is now the legal counsel for Goodyear?? Wake up folks!

    http://drkentshow.com/wordpress/?p=1092=1

    excerpt:
    ‘ADOC Director Charles Ryan’s Response==>Chicken Shit Cover Your Ass (CYA) Move
    ryanresponse-0011

    “Attached is an accurate .pdf copy of a letter I received today from ADOC Director Ryan. It is also copied below within my blog to enable easy searching.

    Actually, I am certain this letter was penned by ADOC Counselor Susan Rogers. Apparently, this letter was sent in response to my queries requesting a meeting with ADOC Director Ryan. BTW, I copied that correspondence openly to Governor Jan brewer and I will post it all soon for your ongoing entertainment.

    After opening and reading this letter (Man! What a long letter! NOT!) I called the author Attorney Susan Rogers; however, she was on the phone. I left a message directing her to my blog and informing her that any correspondence I address to ADOC would be here, in this public forum.

    Likewise, I left another brief message with Mr. Ryan’s office leaving my phone number—again.

    Folks, I don’t think these folks understand I am not going away and I certainly haven’t kept my mouth shut this far.”

  8. Prison Gerrymandering – Prison Policy Initiative
    http://www.prisonpolicy.org/

  9. CCA/Florence AZ private prison: “Don Lapre dead: Shirley Cleveland says he son had his medication taken away by prison guards” | Mail Online
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2045139/Don-Lapre-dead-Shirley-Cleveland-says-son-medication-taken-away-prison-guards.html

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