Adios, AGS

Even so, we should not renew American Guard Services and encourage the local workers to self-organize, re-bid and give them a raise back to the $14 they were making before AGS. If we have $50 M or whatever for a new police station we certainly have $14 per hour for good, local cross guards. Or $15 rather, a new minimum wage.

crosswalk worker by Veronica Weber of PAW

crosswalk worker by Veronica Weber of PAW

There was a fair amount of debate on this back in fall, 2011.

Web Link

(AGS, which is actually a defense contractor based in LA, underbid the long-time cross walk company — before 1999 we did this in-house — and hired back most of the existing workers after busting their pay down a buck or two — you can search out the staff memo on the three-year deal we gave them in 2011)

These are my comments under GS story, “Changing of crossing guards vexes parents
Palo Alto gets new crossing-guard manager for the first time since 1999” in fall, 2011:
Something rotten in state of Denmark.
Yes, Mr. Scharff, better than selling out children’s safety to save a buck we should fire American Guard and form a local entity comprising the 27 current workers.

The entirety of the value proposition American Guard seems to bring to the table is that they are confident they can get our current workers to work for less. They are gaming the system. If people like Klein and Scharff and their elitist and cockeyed views of democracy — right wing — cannot see through this they should step down.

Wow. Thirty eight posts have been offered on this since my brief message earlier today. I thought last night’s Council meeting, or the first hour, was part and parcel of the Democracy gap we suffer here. (And I think of Acterra, Doug Keith and the lady from EPA as excellent prologue for what followed).

Council, with a little urging from parents, PTA etc, can direct staff to cancel contract with American Guard without cause and with 15 days notice. In the interim, let’s figure what is wrong here and how to right it.
I for one — and I could at least ask two or three others similarly situated — could offer 5 hours a week volunteer at one of the 29 designated sites until we get our star and superstar existing contractors back on the job at original rates but with some kind of better organization that eliminates this glaring weakness of the right wing privatize dogma.
Penny-wise pound-foolish plus self-absorbed drivers and lack of leadership could put our kids in harms way.
We can do better; if we can do it for the downtown pizza parlor we can do it for school safety.

I posted this to council, in letter to council. It’s a little sassy but these times demand a little shaking things up. I also left a voice mail to Camile Townsend, school board member.

I posted this to a local website and would like Council to act:

I think Council should direct City Attorney to rescind contract with American Guard and go to re-bid. Meanwhile, community leaders can work with the longtime workers who protect our children and neighborhood kids on way to school and help them self-organize to provide this service, and submit or re-submit a bid. One of the moms I polled suggested that City could hire the 30 or so workers directly but that is even less popular in these times (although it makes perfect sense to me). But if a public private partnership can form to help build a patio for a pizza parlor downtown surely this rates as highly. We would have 15 days between sending the letter and forming the new self-organized entity. I would be willing to volunteer at said crosswalks as a stop-gap, and I feel confident I could find if necessary some others.

The only value added by the new vendor is their confidence in being able to get our existing workers to work for less. What values are being upheld by their occupation other than “might makes right” or “penny wise pound foolish”? We don’t want these goon squads around our kids.

Here is the text of my post:
Ok, now i’ve read this and am going to send a note to Council that citizens on the Palo Alto Weekly comment board are polling 37 to 3 against what Council didn’t do last night: cancel American Guard and do a new RFQ and also find out how to make our crosswalk workers work for us in these budget sensitive times. Doug Keith is our newly retired and pensioned second generation former public safety lieutenant can be offered the job of helming this — the Blue Ribbon Crosswalk committee — or Roger Smith and Le Levy, or Michael Mark a former 3Com lawyer newly appointed to planning commission (edited something here) — he can surely figure this one out — or Ladoris Cordell or Alan Davis or Tom Jordan. Agent Robert Parham is a former Dartmouth rugby player, US Marine and teaches SWAT — he can probably train our new Special Crosswalk and Fend Off the Racketeering Brigands From San Leandro Team. How about a worker owned crosswalk co-op or a public-private partnerships or do what we did, find a crack team of mature 10-year-olds; it worked at Fremont Hills circa 1975. Or call those same now 40-somethings who did so well at that championship crosswalk season of 1975; like I said I will volunteer on this, as a stop-gap.
I am sick of our so-called leadership dodging every opportunity to actually do some good, and hiding behind dogma and cowardice. (on the other hand if you look at the American Guard website these people do not look like fun people to tossle with — but then again do you really want them that close to our children?)
Instead of mouthing group-think and bad Orwell outtake platitudes leadership should do, say, act think.
In related topics I appreciate the courage and wisdom of councilmembers Gail Price and Yiaway Yeh for bucking the trends and acting their conscience on important matters. They are keepers.


Mark Weiss
resident of Palo Alto
Fremont Hills (PAUSD) class of 1976

this is the staff report from 2011; I am guessing it was renewed quietly, on consent. I recal that the contract states we can nullify with 15-days notice.

and1: if someone wants to follow up with this and see where it stands you could call The Project Manager is Lt. Ron Watson, Dept.: Police, Telephone: (650)329-2508. Or Sherrine Assal the CEO of AGS via their website: why do they even want to get involved with cross walk guards? Is it a loss-leader because they want to someday handle all our public safety? Also, Safe Routes to School has some info on this, and numbers of the AGS supervisors.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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