Response to U-B editorial of Jan. 19:
Once again the Union-Bulletin editorial staff has missed the point and failed as a genuine news gathering and reporting agency. The first point missed was quoting an "outsourced" news article that failed to gather the story from a legitimate and knowledgeable source.
The individual who was interviewed for that story only wore a correctional officer's uniform for six months 31 years ago before he moved into a management position. Jeff Uttecht is not required to wear these less-than-adequate-quality Correctional Industries uniforms and was a very poor choice for factual information about our uniforms.
The second point the U-B missed was about vendors. Had the editors actually read House Bill 2346 they would have learned that the uniform suppliers in the "private sector" will actually be Washington state businesses. Correctional Industries has been stealing this business from taxpaying citizens for over a decade, and giving it to convicted felons. With HB 2346 this practice will end.
The third point that was missed concerns expense. The U-B editors couldn't have researched this point at all. It was pure conjecture on their part that this bill might increase costs. In truth, HB 2346 will do the exact opposite. The price will not only be competitive with the CI price, but the vendor we contract with, like any real business, will offer discounts for purchases over a certain number. CI does not do this. The 200th CI produced shirt will cost the same as the first shirt did. This is a very poor business practice and a dreadful way to treat a customer.
But Correctional Industries doesn't have to worry about pleasing its customers because it has the protection of a non-competitive state law that grants it exclusive vendor rights for the sale of officers uniforms. State laws should not be crafted for the purpose of protectionism of a questionable "business" inside a state agency, the way CI is setup inside the Department of Corrections.
If the governor and the Legislature are truly interested in stimulating small business in Washington state, they should remove the requirement that state agencies be obliged to purchase Correctional Industries products. Higher education did it last legislative session; we should do it this session.
HB 2346 is a very good start on saving taxpayers money.