FLINT–The Genesee County board of commissioners voted in late February to award Caravan/Knight Facilities Management a two-year, $497,000-per-year contract to clean county government and court buildings. The company’s joint partners are from Saginaw and Detroit. Commissioners felt the single company was in the best position to improve on the job done previously by several, smaller Genesee County-based firms.

DOWAGIAC–After voters failed to approve a bond proposal last fall for construction of new school buildings, officials in the school district here are taking a serious look at ways to save money in advance of another bond proposal slated for June. Former school board member Kurt Wiesemes told MPR that the district is "making an honest effort in controlling our costs."

LANSING–State officials report that the new partially privatized liquor distribution system is working smoothly, after difficulties related to the transition in 1997 from the old state warehousing system to a private distribution network. An auditor general’s report was recently critical of how the state’s inventory was handled during the changeover. Both sales and profits are now up, officials report. Local party stores cite as a "plus" the fact that they no longer have to send trucks to pick up liquor from the state; private companies now deliver it.

LOS ANGELES, CA–A report issued from the highly respected Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation has good things to say about Michigan’s child and family services, especially those elements that have been privatized. In 1992, Michigan made it easier to place abandoned children for adoption and began rewarding agencies not for the number of services provided to children, but for faster placement of children in adoptive homes. The result has been a substantial increase in the overall number of children placed for adoption in Michigan, with particularly notable progress in the placement of black and disabled children.

DETROIT–In the weeks leading up to passage of the bill that turned control of Detroit’s public schools over to a new board appointed largely by Mayor Dennis Archer, the embattled elected school board proposed something it had not seriously considered before: privatization of some school services. It was too little, too late, however. Now in the hands of the newly appointed board, Detroit public schools are in for a makeover and perhaps some contracting out. Though not using the term "privatization," Deputy Mayor Freman Hendrix indicated in early April that more than 500 carpenters, electricians, and maintenance workers may be laid off to make way for contracting their work out to firms that can get the job done faster and cheaper.

STERLING HEIGHTS–Mergers among trash hauling firms have several Macomb County municipalities worried, according to an April 16 story in The Detroit News. While no one is alleging anything illegal, some officials like Sterling Heights City Manager Steve Duchane are worried about a trend toward consolidation. Tom Horton, a spokesman for Waste Management Company, attributes the trend to "the high cost of labor, our litigious society, inflation, and the cost of regulations that govern the industry." He says "there hasn’t been as much a consolidation as there has been a change of ownership."