Florida court blocks ticketing system

Source: caribbeanbusinesspr.com, Oct 17, 2014

A Florida court has ruled that state law bars private third-party vendors from issuing traffic citations.

The ruling by the Fourth District Court of Appeal came in the case of a motorist challenging a red-light ticket issued by a private company contracted by the municipal government of Hollywood, Florida to run a camera-based traffic enforcement system.

The court ruled that the city is not authorized to delegate police power by entering into a contract that allows a private vendor to screen data and decide whether a violation has occurred before sending that data to a traffic infraction enforcement officer (TIEO) to use as the basis for authorizing a citation.

Vermont Lawmakers Quiz the State’s Private Prison Company

Source: MARK DAVIS, Seven Days, MON, OCT 20, 2014

A series of assaults last year inside a Kentucky prison that houses 400 Vermonters stemmed from a culture of drug use that involved prison guards and inmates, officials from the company that runs the prison said today.

Representatives from the Corrections Corporation of America made a rare appearance in Vermont, testifying before the Joint Legislative Corrections Oversight Committee. The told the committee they have made improvements since a series of violent incidents inside Lee Adjustment Center last year alarmed Vermont officials. However, CCA officials faced sharp questions from lawmakers about their staffing levels and security measures.

White Hat’s Magic Trick: Transforming Public Schools into Private Assets

Source: PR Watch, Oct 21, 2014

…. Oversight is impossible without transparency. But when the governing boards at ten Ohio charters run by White Hat Management tried to find out how the company was spending its budget, the company simply refused to provide detailed records, claiming that information about how it was spending taxpayer money was proprietary. The years-long legal struggle which is pending in the state Supreme Court relates to two questions at the heart of the school privatization controversy: When do public funds become private assets? And how much transparency do private companies owe when they provide public services on the public’s dime?

SDL custodians in limbo amid outsourcing negotiations

Source: KARA NEWHOUSE, Lancaster Online, Mon Oct 20, 2014

In June, the SDL board approved a 2014-15 budget that relies on $500,000 in savings from outsourcing 94 custodial and grounds crew members. It was one of several measures taken to fill a $7.7-million deficit.

But two months into the school year, the board still hasn’t approved an outsourcing contract — leaving workers in employment limbo.

… To move forward with outsourcing, the district must prove that it would save money and provide the same or higher level of service, said Michael Fox, a representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents SDL support staff.

Related:

Union to file grievance against School District of Lancaster Over ‘outsourcing’ of cafeteria jobs

Source: Brian Wallace, Intelligencer Journal / Lancaster New Era, June 12, 2012

The union representing School District of Lancaster cafeteria workers plans to file a grievance against the district for violating a pledge to avoid “outsourcing” union members’ jobs. At issue is whether a proposed change in food service operations that would eliminate 11 jobs constitutes outsourcing — something the district last year agreed it would not do in exchange for a wage freeze by about 500 union employees.

DMC files to make 565 custodial layoffs official

Source: Lauren Abdel-Razzaq, The Detroit News 4:27 p.m. EDT October 10, 2014

The Detroit Medical Center has formally announced plans to permanently lay off 565 custodial employees when it switches vendors in December. The hospital group filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the state on Oct. 1, saying it plans to transfer housekeeping services at area hospitals to a new vendor “in order to maintain efficient and reliable hospital operations.”

Union sues DMC, claims bargaining violation
Source: Lauren Abdel-Razzaq, Detroit News, October 1, 2014

A local labor union has sued the Detroit Medical Center and its affiliates for what they claim is a violation of collective bargaining agreement rights when they announced plans to contract out custodial services. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court on behalf of about 300 employees in the Council 25 locals 140, 180 and 3695. The lawsuit alleges that the DMC intends to get around having to bargain with the union and is asking a judge to stop them from contracting with the third party custodial service company. “They want to send this stuff out to a third party and under our collective bargaining agreement it is binding on successors,” said Bruce Miller of the Miller Cohen law firm, which handles litigation for AFSCME. “We have to take action before the agreement is made.”…

Charter school’s lease deals scrutinized

Source: Catherine Candisky & Jim Siegel The Columbus Dispatch, Sunday October 12, 2014

A North Side charter school expects to spend more of the tax dollars it receives this school year on rent than on teachers and staff. Imagine Columbus Primary Academy projects building-lease payments of $700,000, making rent the school’s top expense, eating up more than half its annual state revenue, according to a school financial report. The school expects to pay $614,000 on salaries and benefits this year.

…. A key Republican leader in the Ohio Senate has begun work on comprehensive legislation to strengthen charter-school accountability laws to ensure low-performing schools are closed and unqualified sponsors are prevented from opening schools.

Clergy ask gov. to take prison from private company

Source: Terri Ferguson Smith The Meridian Star, Oct 13, 2014

In the wake of a lawsuit alleging neglect and abuse of prisoners, a group of Mississippi clergy is calling upon Gov. Phil Bryant to have the state take back control of the East Miss Correctional Facility, a 1,300 bed facility in Lauderdale County, west of Meridian.

The Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference drafted a letter asking the governor to end privatization of the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, according to the Rev. Tom Clark, who helped draft the letter. In a recent interview with Clark and the Rt. Rev. Duncan M. Gray, III of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, Clark said privately run operations often do better than governments, except for prisons.

Private prisons face suits, federal probes

Source: Jerry Mitchell, The Clarion-Ledger, October 14, 2014

Conditions have become so terrible in some private prisons that some have been kicked out.

Florida-based GEO got the boot in Mississippi after a federal judge in 2012 called the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions.”

In Idaho, the FBI is investigating the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America after allegations that records were falsified to cover up staff shortages at the Idaho Correctional Center, where gangs ruled and violence was so rampant it was called “Gladiator School.”

Charter School Power Broker Turns Public Education Into Private Profits

Source: Marian Wang, ProPublica, Oct. 15, 2014

…. Charters are privately run but government-funded schools that are supposed to be open to all. Policymakers and many parents have embraced charters as an alternative to poorly performing and underfunded traditional public schools. As charters have grown in popularity, an industry of management companies like Mitchell’s has sprung up to assist them.

Many of these companies are becoming political players in their states, working to shape the still-emerging set of rules charters must play by. A few, including Mitchell’s company, have aligned themselves with influential conservative groups, such as Americans for Prosperity and the Koch-supported American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

Sharp rise in US contract workers killed on the job

Source: Steve Filips, World Socialist, 15 October 2014

Last year 734 contract workers were killed on the job in the US, according to figures released earlier this year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Contract workers make up over 16 percent of all workers killed in on-the-job accidents, and the number of contract workers killed on the job has increased by 35 percent since 2011. The Bureau of Labor Statistics only began keeping figures on the deaths of contract workers in 2011. But in that short time there has already been a dramatic increase in the number of such workers killed. In 2012, 715 contract workers died in on-the-job accidents, up from 542 in 2011.