Monday, June 19, 2017

CURMUDGUCATION: PA: Islamophobes, Real Estate, and Scam Artists

CURMUDGUCATION: PA: Islamophobes, Real Estate, and Scam Artists:

PA: Islamophobes, Real Estate, and Scam Artists


I'll tell you right up front that this story raises more questions than it answers, but many of them are questions about just what comes through the door when you invite privatization in, and others are questions about how people react when they discover what an open door actually means.

The New Castle Youth Development Center was set up in about 1967 as a facility for dealing with "felonious youth." It was on almost 150 acres in rural Shenango Township, and it didn't attract a lot of attention (except for that time, back in the 1987-1988 season when its high school won the Western PA basketball championship). 


In 2013, the state announced that the facility was closing. There were reasons given, but the math was pretty obvious. 210 employees. 100 beds. $19.4 million annual budget. 31 youths being held there. The end came quickly and local folks kicked, but the state-- which owned the facility-- was unmoved.

The state's intent was to sell the facility, but like many starry-eyed investment-minded homeowners, the state didn't read the market for fifty-year-old juvenile justice facilities in the middle of nowhere very well. They set an asking price of four million. Absolutely nobody bid. The property sat there, presumably getting no more attractive, the state's aspirations decreasing. A local coalition looked at buying the place with an eye to some sort of private-public partnership develop thing. That didn't happen, either. 

Finally, this year, three bids came in. The top bid was $400,000, and the state said, "Sold!!"

And then local folks found out who the buyers were.

The top bid came from Hira Educational Services of North America, a New Jersey educational consulting group. That specializes in consulting work with Islamic schools. They look like a typical 
CURMUDGUCATION: PA: Islamophobes, Real Estate, and Scam Artists:


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