Peoria gets OK to operate its own ambulance services

Source: Mark Harris, The Republic, February 9, 2016

Peoria officials say the city’s application to operate its own ambulance service has been approved by the Arizona Department of Health Services. Currently, medical care and transportation in Peoria are provided by Peoria Fire-Medical firefighters and American Medical Response, which is a private ambulance company. But with the state approval of a certificate of necessity, Peoria will now start the process of running its own ambulances.

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Fire chief brings council up to speed on medical service application
Source: Carly Hanson, Peoria Times, September 11, 2015

The process of seeking consent to acquire their own ambulance service began when the fire-medical department submitted a state-required Certificate of Necessity (CON) June 25 to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Their efforts continued Aug. 29, when Peoria Fire Chief Bobby Ruiz gave a presentation to the city council regarding this objective. As stated in the presentation, Peoria Fire-Medical currently has eight stations, and plans to have at least four more come online within the next decade. They want to get the ball rolling in order to have the proper resources to complete the job to the best of their ability, as well as meet the growing needs of the City of Peoria. … He sees this service being AMR, the medical transportation branch of Envision Healthcare Holdings Inc., which has recently moved to acquire the Rural/Metro Corporation after its bankruptcy in August last year. This acquisition is seen as a win for both companies that will enhance the already thriving capabilities of AMR. The acquisition will close in the fourth quarter 2015.

I Was a Super Bowl Concession Worker

Source: Gabriel Thompson, Slate, February 9, 2016

The smart stadium was supposed to be an economic boon. Back in 2010, when residents of Santa Clara, a small city of 120,000 just northwest of San Jose, voted to support its construction, boosters promised it would create “thousands of desperately needed new jobs,” providing a lifeline to the very people “bearing the brunt of the recession.” Pro-stadium signs reading “Yes on Jobs!” blanketed the city, part of a campaign paid for by the 49ers, who plowed more than $4 million into the effort. … The stadium has indeed provided a few thousand jobs—about 4,500 people work each event, serving hot dogs, directing traffic, mopping up spilled beer, and securing the grounds. … Many of the stadium workers I spoke with told me they earn $11 or $12 an hour. That would be about $1,900 a month if it were full-time work, but it’s not. … That’s what the NFL usually does: Twenty-nine of the 31 NFL stadiums have received public funds. The stadium for the Indianapolis Colts was made possible with a $620 million subsidy; the Minnesota Vikings are set to receive $678 million from taxpayers to help build their new one. St. Louis, which recently lost the Rams to Los Angeles, built the team a stadium in 1995 with $280 million in taxpayer money—and will be paying off the debt on those bonds, team or not, through at least 2021.

Judith Grant Long, an associate professor of sport management at the University of Michigan, studied all 31 NFL stadiums in use during the 2010 season, and calculated that taxpayers shelled out an average of $374 million each. The 49ers got a good deal with Levi’s Stadium, too. Santa Clara used $114 million in public funds, and, with the help of Goldman Sachs, created a public authority that borrowed $679 million to fund the remainder of the construction, all of which would be paid off with revenue generated by the stadium over the next 25 years. Or so the authority—whose board comprises Santa Clara’s mayor and city council—claimed. The original plan called for the 49ers and the NFL to chip in another $493 million, but during lengthy negotiations between the stadium authority and the team, that figure was later cut nearly in half. In the end, Goldman Sachs earned $75 million in interest and fees and the 49ers’ net worth jumped 69 percent in one year, to $2.7 billion.

Malloy proposes expanding outsourcing of DMV services

Source: Mike Savino, Journal Inquirer, February 10, 2016

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday that he is proposing a bill that would expand the services Connecticut outsources from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The proposal, “An Act Decreasing Wait Times,” would allow outside contractors like AAA to provide vehicle registration services — currently the drivers’ club provides only non-commercial license services. … While Malloy said the changes are needed to make the DMV more efficient, state AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier said the performance of the software, purchased by 3M, should serve as a warning to those calling for more outsourcing.

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Malloy Proposes Bill To Outsource Some DMV Services
Source: Christine Stuart, Connecticut News Junkie, February 9, 2016

Malloy introduced legislation last week that allows the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to contract with a third party to offer vehicle registration services, postpones issuance of vessel titles until 2018, and permits residents to register their vehicle even if they haven’t paid property taxes or parking tickets. The title of the legislation is called “An Act Decreasing Wait Times at the Department of Motor Vehicles.” … “The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles is already an outsourcing disaster,” Lori Pelletier, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, said. She said over the past year the public has witnessed what happens when work is outsourced and there’s no data on whether it will save the state money in the long run. …

MBTA to consider privatizing services involving 250 jobs

Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Herald, February 10, 2016

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials on Wednesday will take up a plan backed by Governor Charlie Baker to privatize departments that maintain fare machines, count cash fares, and run marketing and retail operations, a step that could eliminate about 250 jobs in all, according to MBTA officials. … MBTA and administration officials say they believe outsourcing the services could help the T vastly improve its fare-collection system and save millions of dollars that could be invested in the system. No specific figures on savings have been made public. … It would be among the first attempts by Baker’s administration to outsource services since the Legislature agreed to temporarily suspend a state law — specifically for the MBTA — that put up hurdles to privatizing public-sector jobs. The MBTA has considered privatizing some bus routes, but promised no layoffs would accompany that move. … About 165 jobs dedicated to fare collection and cash handling could be targeted in the privatization effort, MBTA officials said. In addition, they will look to privatize marketing services and retail operations; management of warehouses and materials; management of employee leave; management of telecommunication; contracts; and employees who handle the dispatch system for Transit Police. They will also look for savings in cleaning and elevator maintenance crews, which are already outsourced to private companies.

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Unions rally against plan to privatize T services
Source: Antonio Caban, Lowell Sun, September 23, 2015

Concerned that the Baker administration’s effort to privatize some MBTA services could cost workers their jobs, union members gathered in protest on Wednesday, vowing to continue to call attention to the issue. Wearing matching orange shirts, nearly 80 members of Boston Carmen’s Union 589 turned out for the protest near their Devonshire Street headquarters. Aimee Daluz, an MBTA customer service worker, was among those passing out flyers. … Baker, who is in the midst of plans to revamp operations at the T after disastrous service last winter, said he will not move forward with plans to privatize certain MBTA bus routes if it doesn’t generate savings and efficiencies.

Union leaders urge MBTA officials to reconsider bus privatization plan
Source: Adam Vaccaro, Boston.com, September 14, 2015

Union heads called on MBTA officials Monday morning to pump the brakes on a plan that would allow some low-ridership bus routes to be operated by private companies. Russell Gittlen, the regional director of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and James O’Brien, who heads the local Carmen’s Union, each addressed the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board about the plan, which union members have criticized vociferously since it came to light last month. … MBTA officials have tried to assuage that fear, saying affected drivers and buses would be moved to help deal with busier bus routes. But Glitten and O’Brien said they think the agency should take a different approach—rather than bringing in outside help to handle slow routes, they say, the T should take it a step further and consider reconfiguring its bus routes. …
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CONTRACTING DOCS: OPM SEEKS TO TIGHTEN IT SECURITY OF BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION COMPANIES

Source: Jack Moore, NextGov, February 5, 2016

Contractors that conduct background investigations for the federal government will have to report information security incidents to the Office of Personnel Management within half an hour, are required to use smartcards as a second layer of security when logging on to agency networks and must agree to let OPM inspect their systems at any time. Those are new requirements OPM has written into draft contracting documents released last month that govern how the personal, often sensitive, information gleaned during background investigations should be stored on contractors’ computer systems. … The security of OPM systems — and of the system of private companies whose employees do most of the legwork in conducting background investigations — came under scrutiny last summer when it was revealed hackers breached computer systems belonging to both OPM and its two major contractors. The hackers, purportedly Chinese cyberspies, were presumably on the hunt for information on the U.S. national security workforce.

Washington Liquor Privatization Continues To Drive Sales To Oregon, Idaho

Source: Tom Banse, NW News Network, February 9, 2016

The privatization of retail liquor sales in Washington state has delivered a sustained boost to the state liquor divisions in neighboring Idaho and Oregon. Private retailers took over liquor sales in Washington in 2012 following passage of a ballot measure, notably backed by Costco. An analysis by the Alcohol Research Group at the Public Health Institute in Emeryville, California, published last year found that liquor prices rose by an average of 15.5 percent after privatization, but vary greatly by store type. The price increases were largely due to added state taxes. … An interactive online map of Oregon retail liquor outlets shows a sharp jump in sales coinciding with Washington’s privatization. At ten stores near the Oregon-Washington state line the increases from 2011 to 2013 ranged between 17 to 67 percent, with most at doing at least 30 percent more business. Those boosts in sales were sustained through fiscal year 2015, the most recent year of data available.

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Are State Workers Overpaid? Survey Evidence from Liquor Privatization in Washington State
Source: Andrew Chamberlain, Journal of Labor Research, December 2015, Vol. 36 no. 4

Abstract:
Industry privatizations that result in exogenous job displacement of public employees can be exploited to estimate public sector wage rents. I report the findings of an original survey I administered to examine how wages of displaced government workers were affected by a 2012 privatization of liquor retailing in Washington State. Based on a panel difference-in-differences estimator I find that privatization reduced wages by $2.51 per hour or 17 percent compared to a counterfactual group of nearly identical non-displaced workers, with larger effects for women. I decompose wage losses into three rents identified in the literature: public sector rents, union premiums, and industry-specific human capital. Public sector wage premiums separately account for 85 to 90 percent of overall wage losses, while union premiums and industry-specific human capital account for just 10 to 15 percent. The results are consistent with a roughly 16 percent public sector wage premium.

Serving The People: Evaluating Initiative 1183 & Liquor Privatization in Washington State
Source: Alex P. Ferraro, University of Pittsburgh Law Review, Vol. 76, No. 3, Spring 2015

Introduction: This Note argues that Washington’s experience with I-1183 provides several important lessons to citizens and legislators in other states seeking to reform or privatize state-run liquor systems. First, this note briefly discusses the origins of Washington’s state-run liquor system, a key lawsuit against the Washington State Liquor Control Board (“WSLCB”), and two privatization initiatives that failed at the ballot box in 2010. Second, this Note examines the I-1183 campaign, its key provisions, and the Washington Supreme Court’s decision to uphold its constitutionality. Third, this note examines the transition to a privatized system following the voters’ ratification of I-1183, including regulatory and legislative action(s) mandated by, or taken because of, the initiative itself. Finally, this Note offers several recommendations to privatization advocates for crafting initiatives or legislation drawing on the successes of I-1183 while avoiding some of its failures and disappointments.

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Liquor privatization: Did the fears come true?
Source: Jack Broom, Seattle Times, June 29, 2014

Highway deaths are down, ER visits linked to alcohol are up — but it’s not yet possible to draw clear conclusions linking those statistics and others to Washington’s 2-year-old alcohol law….

Early data show increase in alcohol emergencies since privatization
Source: Jordan Schrader, Olympian, May 29, 2014

Shoppers are buying a bit more hard liquor now that they can find it at four times as many stores and during twice as many hours as it was available before voters privatized liquor sales in 2011. So how is Washington handling its extra liquor? Partly — according to researchers who are trying to answer that question — by making more trips to the emergency room. …. The good news: State government has a bit more revenue, at least for now. The bad news: a rise in emergency room visits, which researchers say is happening among minors younger than 21 and among both men and women 40 and older.

Liquor thefts have tripled in Puyallup post-privatization
Source: Zahid Arab, KING 5 News, December 14, 2013

Alcohol thefts in Puyallup on average are up to nine a month. … Concerned about this rising trend, Puyallup Police did an independent crime analysis. It found that post privatization, the number of people under 21 who are stealing has doubled. And that 95 percent of thefts are now hard alcohol, with the prime targets being grocery stores….

A year after privatization, liquor thefts rampant
Source: Ian Cull, KXLY4, August 1 2013

A year after privatization, liquor thefts rampant 00:0000:00 SPOKANE, Wash. – More than a year after Washington privatized liquor sales stores continue to deal with brazen shoplifters. Right now stores don’t have to disclose what’s been stolen but lawmakers are hoping to change that. While stores don’t have to disclose what’s being stolen, Dian Lee, who lives in the Logan neighborhood, only has to look around her neighborhood and behind the grocery store to see how much is being stolen. “I’ve seen liquor bottles, empty liquor bottles, of course we see those all the time,” Lee said.

State revenues grow from liquor privatization
Source: Melissa Allison, Seattle Times, May 31, 2013

A year ago, you couldn’t buy liquor at grocery stores in Washington. Now you can, but you probably pay more for it. June 1 will mark the one-year anniversary of the state’s departure from the liquor business, when it turned sales over to private retailers such as Costco Wholesale and Safeway. The conversion happened at the behest of voters, who approved a Costco-written initiative in the fall of 2011…. Prices spiked sharply last summer, but the rate of increase has steadily declined. In March, prices were 7 percent higher year-over-year, according to the Washington State Department of Revenue. Additional repercussions from Washington’s conversion include hundreds of former Liquor Control Board workers still collecting unemployment benefits, shoplifting concerns among law-enforcement authorities and possibly more liberal attitudes about alcohol among youth…. Typically, 5 to 6 percent of stores under the state-run system were found to have sold to minors. Under private retailers, the range since last June is 5 to 10 percent…. One crime that seems to have risen is shoplifting, possibly because retailers are not as careful about security as the state was…

Shoplifting incidents rise with liquor privatization
Source: Tony Lystra, Daily News, January 26, 2013

…Spirits theft has become a common crime at stores locally and statewide since voters decided in 2011 to shut down the state’s liquor stores and allow grocery stores to sell hard alcohol. Shoplifters are taking advantage of the grocery stores’ relatively lax security and making off with bottles of whiskey, vodka, tequila and other spirits….

Retailers learning some hard lessons selling hard liquor
Source: Josh Farley, Kitsap Sun, December 3, 2012

Liquor thefts … have skyrocketed in Kitsap County and around the state since Initiative 1183 took effect in June, according to area law enforcement officials. And while there are around 1,500 storefronts authorized to sell hard liquor around Washington, no one is currently compiling statewide data on how often thieves strike. That likely will change. The state’s liquor board will soon begin a rule-making process to require retailers to report their liquor theft numbers to the state, said Brian Smith, spokesman of the Washington State Liquor Control Board….

Liquor Buyers Cross State Line / Prices Went Up–Not Down–After Washington State Ended Control of Booze Sales
Source: Joel Millman, Mike Esterl, Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2012

Washington residents are pouring over the Oregon line this summer to buy liquor after Washington state privatized the sale of hard alcohol–and made the booze more expensive by raising state fees. ….. Some say prices could come down somewhat after distributors and retailers work through start-up costs and become more efficient. But much of the blame is being laid on taxes. … The spillover could potentially damp privatization elsewhere. “It’s slowing down the process in others states. It’s turning into a negative,” said Craig Wolf, president of Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, a national industry group for wholesalers.

Private liquor sales adding up to pocket pain for consumers
Source: KIRO, May 29, 2012

By the end the week, it will cost consumers about $10 more to buy a fifth of liquor at a privately run liquor store.

State Supreme Court upholds liquor-privatization measure
Source: Amy Martinez, Seattle Times,May 31, 2012

Liquor Prices To Skyrocket After Privatization
Source: KMAS News Radio, 29 May 2012

Liquor privatization sales go to state’s high court
Source: Associated Press, May 17, 2012

Wash.: Unions challenge liquor privatization
Source: Associated Press, December 6, 2011

Washington auctioning off liquor sales rights as it readies to get out of booze business
Source: Associated Press, March 8, 2012

Ruling affirms privatization of liquor sales
Source: Shannon Dininny, Associated Press, March 20, 2012

As private liquor sales loom, some state workers wonder what to do
Source: KIRO, April 3, 2012

Voters kick state out of liquor business
Source: Melissa Allison, Seattle Times, November 9, 2011

Beginning June 1, grocery stores in Washington will begin selling liquor. That’s the result of a $22.7 million voter campaign that Costco Wholesale led to kick the state out of the liquor business and allow private retailers to sell spirits instead. Of the ballots tallied Tuesday night, about 60 percent favored Initiative 1183.

Minnesota Auditor Sues Outsourcing Counties

Source: Rose Bouboushian, Courthouse News Service, February 8, 2016

A new law in Minnesota that allows counties to pay for private auditing services unlawfully usurps the authority of the state auditor’s office, the aggrieved official claims in court. Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto filed suit Thursday against Wright, Becker and Ramsey Counties in the Second Judicial District Court of Ramsey County. Though Otto initially named the state as well, she voluntarily dismissed Minnesota as a defendant by the end of the day. … She says the roughly 90-employee Office of the State Auditor’s “core function” is to audit counties’ annual use of more than six billion federal, state, and local tax dollars, and more than half the agency’s budget comes from fees counties pay for audit services. Yet 30 years after Mattson, “the Legislature once again passed legislation that purports to usurp the core functions of a constitutional officer – the state auditor,” the complaint states. On the final day of the 2015 legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature passed provisions allegedly handing the auditor’s core functions to the counties themselves. … This “privatization legislation” lets counties outsource their annual audits to private certified public accountant firms in lieu of the OSA, the complaint states.  The resulting “significant confusion” has led 50 counties to refuse to submit to the plaintiff’s audits for the upcoming three-year audit cycle, according to the complaint. The counties’ interpretation of the statute would allegedly “deprive Minnesota taxpayers of the auditing oversight and stewardship that the OSA has provided for more than 150 years.”

Water Privatizers Have Their Eye on Flint’s Lead Crisis

Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation, February 8, 2016

While the tragedy of Flint’s poison pipes has shocked the public, the political drama unfolding in the backdrop may be a prelude to even more self-inflicted destruction through a one-two punch of austerity and privatization. That’s why libertarian and far-right think tanks are joining the media scrum along with liberal critics, as they lament the pathetic state of Flint’s government. Government-led disaster, to be sure, should outrage the public—the question is where to target the rage. The cruel calculation of risking public health to choose a “cheaper” source of water is less a product of bureaucratic incompetence than of a corporate mindset that monetizes human welfare.

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Water consultant starting in Flint, emergency manager says
Source: Source: Ron Fonger, Flint Journal, February 10, 2015

A water consultant is expected to arrive in Flint today, Feb. 10, to begin an evaluation of the city’s water system. Emergency manager Jerry Ambrose told the City Council Monday, Feb. 9, that the consultant — Veolia — is expected to give an initial report to a council committee later this month. Ambrose said an official announcement about the city’s agreement with Veolia is expected to be made today….

Union calls for speaker’s boycott, urging improved treatment of subcontracted workers

Source: Maya Eliahou, The Daily Californian, February 8, 2016

A UC labor union is calling for a speaker’s boycott at UC Berkeley for the duration of the spring semester, urging the campus to improve its treatment of subcontracted workers. In a press release published Thursday, the labor union, AFSCME Local 3299, said it wants UC Berkeley to hire the nearly 100 subcontracted campus workers employed by Performance First, ABM and LAZ Parking as direct employees.

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Union Calls on Bill Clinton to Cancel Speech at UC Berkeley
Source: Alana Goodman, Washington Free Beacon, February 5, 2016

AFSCME Local 3299, the University of California’s largest employee union, announced on Thursday that it is calling for a “speakers boycott” of the Berkeley campus until the school agrees to hire around 100 subcontracted campus janitors and parking attendants as direct employees. … According to AFSCME 3299, many of the subcontracted workers receive significantly lower pay and benefits compared to direct employees—even though some of the contract workers have been at UC Berkeley for years.

Workers unite to protest campus’s treatment of contract workers Wednesday
Source: Ericka Shin, The Daily Californian, October 14, 2015

About 3:30 p.m., protesters organized by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 — a union that represents UC workers — gathered, circulated a petition letter and circled around with picket signs to demand that the campus provide fair treatment for all workers. The crowd consisted of contract workers, union workers and students. Organizations involved in the protest included AFSCME Local 3299, Fight for $15 and Service Employees International Union. … On Wednesday, protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with the campus’s alleged unsafe working conditions and understaffing with chants of, “What do we want? Safe staffing. When do we want it? Now,” and “If we don’t get it, shut it down.”

Brown vetoes bill on UC employment wages, benefits
Source: Maxwell Jenkins-Goetz, The Daily Californian, October 12, 2015

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Friday that sought to ensure benefit and wage fairness for the University of California’s contracted workers. While Brown acknowledged that state Senate Bill 376, which passed in September, was well intentioned and cautioned the UC system to provide transparent accounting of its relations with contracting companies, he said he was “not prepared to embrace” the provisions of the bill, which would have instituted new requirements for the university’s process of selecting contracting companies. … SB 376 would have ensured that for contracts exceeding $100,000 annually, the lowest bidder must provide a written statement that its employees will be compensated at rates comparable with those of workers employed directly by the UC system.
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For-profit colleges in Maryland are ripping off students, consumer group says

Source: Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Washington Post, February 5, 2016

Maryland students are making a risky bet when they attend for-profit schools that are saddling them with high levels of debt for what are often worthless degrees, according to a new report from the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition. … The consumer advocacy group compared costs, student debt and loan defaults at for-profit colleges, private career schools and public colleges in Maryland, using data from the Department of Education and Maryland Higher Education Commission, a state regulator. Advocates found that programs offered at for-profit schools cost at least twice as much as public colleges and universities. One for-profit college in Maryland charges $52,737 for a degree in dental hygiene, while an associate’s degree in the same field at the state’s public colleges costs about one-sixth that price. The average income of a dental hygienist in Maryland is $38,740. … Students at for-profit schools in Maryland borrow three times more than their peers at public colleges and universities, leaving school with a median $18,083 in loans. Twenty-three percent of students enrolled in for-profit schools for a certificate or degree default on their loans, compared to 15 percent of students at public colleges in Maryland.

Read Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition report.