FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
Progress Michigan to New Corrections Director: Cancel the Aramark Contract
Heidi Washington has an opportunity to show leadership on first day; poll shows voters want Aramark gone
LANSING — Today, Progress Michigan is calling on Heidi Washington, the new director of the Department of Corrections, to take action and cancel the failed Aramark contract. This new call for action follows a lack of leadership by Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Republican legislators to hold Aramark accountable for poor performance.
“Hopefully a changing of the guard at MDOC will lead to a more critical look at the state’s Aramark contract because up until this point, the Snyder administration and Attorney General Bill Schuette have completely failed to hold this out-of-state contractor accountable for their running list of failures and misuse of state tax dollars,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “As a recent warden and experienced corrections official, Director Washington knows firsthand the continued failures Aramark has had since taking over prison food service. If she is serious about her new role and getting things back on track in the MDOC she will cancel the contract immediately.”
Emails obtained by Progress Michigan through FOIA show that as warden at the Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center, Washington complained about the performance of Aramark. In one exchange, Heidi Washington asked, “Why does anyone think it’s ok to run the kitchen at dinner with one staff member?” In another instance, Washington noted that she had to intervene and order the use of paper products instead of dishes when Aramark failed to procure a part to fix a broken dish machine and were planning to wash dishes by hand without knowledge of proper water temperature and sanitation requirements.
“Director Washington should know from her own experience that this contract has been a complete failure,” Scott continued.
Michigan voters agree that the Aramark contract should be cancelled. A poll released today by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that, by a 50-point margin, voters want the contract cancelled, with 62 percent saying to cancel the contract while only 12 percent want to keep the contract in place. The poll also shows that the issue crosses party lines with 50 percent of those who consider themselves to be “very conservative” supporting canceling the contract, while only 15 percent of that same group believe it should not be canceled. The full poll is available here.
“It seems that the only people in Michigan who don’t want the contract cancelled are Governor Snyder and Bill Schuette. We are hopeful that Director Washington will send a clear signal today that the Department of Corrections will no longer tolerate Aramark’s inability to adequately perform the tasks our tax dollars are paying them to fulfill,” Scott continued. “It’s well past time to show them the door.”