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Bills gone wild! Cities’ new way to gouge you

There is an abundance of public-private partnerships these days.

For years, private contractors have provided visitors various services in the nation’s parks and monuments. There are highway projects and even airports that are built and maintained through such agreements.

The routine is that the contractors charge fees and then retain a portion while remitting the rest to the government.

The partnership often saves the government money, as private companies must be competitive to survive, producing the best results at the lowest cost.

However, there’s one public-private partnership that doesn’t quite follow that model.

In fact, a lawsuit challenges an agreement in which some California cities have contracted with a private law firm, Silver & Wright, to prosecute code violations.

It’s because the law firm, in addition to forcing defendants to pay fines for such things as allowing a chicken in a backyard ($225), bills the defendants for every second of time the lawyers spend prosecuting them.


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