IS AAA THE HALLIBURTON OF MASSACHUSETTS?
Should AAA be Given Special Privileges to Offer License and Registration Renewal Services?
Let Us Know Your OpinionShould the Commonwealth of Massachusetts grant AAA a Halliburton-style sweetheart deal to offer auto license and registration renewal services without any sort of competitive bidding process?
Gov. Deval Patrick says Yes: The Democratic governor has announced a state partnership with AAA to offer license and registration renewal services to AAA members. Currently the six month pilot plan is limited to 2 AAA locations in Newton and Worcester, but AAA is encouraging its 2.3 million Mass members to lobby their representatives to expand the program to its other 25 MA offices.
Labor says No: "We have two basic questions for the Inspector General that the RMV will not answer. First, where does the law allow a political appointee simply to hand public jobs to a private company? Second, show us the evidence that taxpayers benefit from this act," asked David Holway, president of the National Association of Government Employees.
Governor Patrick's fiscal 2010 budget includes language authorizing the Registrar to enter into such contracts "only with an existing entity that provides automobile-related services to the general public, or to its own members if an automobile-related association, and that maintains business offices that are open to the public during hours and at locations believed to be convenient for registry customers and in areas where a continuing need exists to provide registry services."
Citing this language, Holway cautioned against a "deal" intended to steer registry functions to AAA, noting that AAA's board includes a number of politically connected individuals.
Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents President Frank Mancini says No: "This activity is not something the state should be outsourcing to a third party." The concern is that the budget provision is worded in such a way that it could only apply to AAA, and thereby give it an unfair advantage over the roughly 1700 other Massachusetts insurance agents. Massagent.com, the website for the MAIA, offers a link to send emails to Beacon Hill leadership voicing opposition to the expansion of the plan. Dan Foley at massagent.com expects to know a bit more by July 1st when the new budget is due.
The Massachusetts House of Representatives says "No", striking the AAA/RMV provision from the 2010 budget.
However, the MA Senate left the provision in, so now its fate is to be decided in committee, where it could be kept as is, struck entirely, or rewritten as a compromise.
What do you think? Would removing AAA members from registry lines make it easier to register your vehicle?
Or, do you think it's unfair to single out one company to provide these services. No one asked Better World Club if we would like to register drivers. Does this give AAA an unfair advantage when it comes to auto club memberships? Auto insurance sales?
Email us to let us know. We'll report the results.
And Massachusetts readers should let their legislators know. It's easy. Senators Steven Panagiotakos (D-Lowell), Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) and Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) can be reached through www.mass.gov/legis/memmenus.htm. House members Charlie Murphy (D-Burlington), Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover) and Vincent Pedone (D-Watertown) can be reached through www.mass.gov/legis/memmenuh.htm.