Huffington Post: 9.14.2017 by Donald Cohen
January. The outskirts of Philadelphia. 23 degrees. It’s hard to imagine anyone buying Rita’s Italian ice.
But Argosy did just that earlier this year.
Specializing in acquiring companies, cutting costs, and selling them for a profit, the Pennsylvania-based private equity firm added the frozen dessert chain Rita’s to its portfolio of investments, which includes a prison phone company and a handful of Pizza Hut franchises, among others.
And now they’re eyeing the library in Escondido, California. That’s right, a public library.
Well, not exactly. Argosy owns Library Systems & Services (LS&S), the country’s largest library management company, which is trying to sell its services to the small city north of San Diego. LS&S is using the same rap—that privatization saves taxpayer money by bringing “optimization” and “efficiency”—that it’s used to gobble up 83 libraries across the country.
While the Escondido City Council seems to have bought in—they voted last month to outsource to LS&S but have yet to sign the contract—taxpayers aren’t having it. The library’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously against privatization and thousands of residents have signed a petition to keep the library public.
Even the American Library Association has weighed in, writing that after privatization the “community will not know how its taxpayer dollars are being spent.” READ MORE >>