Privatizing golf? Bad idea.

Source: Tom Loewy, Register-Mail, July 29, 2014

There are bad ideas. There are really bad ideas. And there are absolutely, with-out-a-doubt, colossally bad ideas. Privatizing Bunker Links Municipal Golf Course? That’s an absolutely, with-a-doubt, colossally bad idea. If there’s any worse idea to come down the pike locally, unless it was the time someone suggested we privatize our water supply. … Any consideration given to selling of one of the centerpieces of Galesburg’s recreational efforts should be met with nothing but scorn. … Finally, there is one huge reason why Bunker Links should remain in the public’s hands. It’s the concept of our commons. Bunker Links is part of the space we share. It’s like our pools and parks and roads and schools and sky and air. It’s ours. Yours. Mine. His. Hers. Theirs. All of us. So let’s fix it. Let’s make it work — in fact, let’s make it work even better than it has in the past. Frankly, I’m not very interested in public officials who see privatization as an answer to shared problems. That’s not really being a public servant. That’s called serving private interests…..

Will Privatization Work In Mobile?

Source: WKRG, July 29, 2014

Public works crews have big hardware. They don’t have enough of it to mow along the most travelled roads in Mobile. The council passed the outsourcing contracts today and some hoped for the best. …. They won’t cut jobs with this and it’s the only service they want to privatize. By reducing their workload they hope public works employees will have more time to mow more places like these-public parks in Mobile….

A RAD-ical Housing Experiment Baltimore public housing tenants will serve as guinea pigs for a new national privatization plan

Source: Rebecca Burns, In These Times, July 30, 2014

With little information on offer, many residents fear that new building owners will usher in harsh regulations, infringements on their organizing rights, and, ultimately, rent increases that they can’t afford. After decades of decay, public housing in the United States could soon be relegated to the dustbin of history, thanks to a new Obama administration initiative called the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. A pilot launched last year in response to a $26 billion backlog in needed repairs, RAD will hand over 60,000 units of public housing nationwide to private management by 2015. … Though public housing residents have been assured that RAD will fund long-overdue repairs while keeping housing affordable and preserving tenants’ rights, similar promises have been broken by would-be free-market saviors before. Critics say RAD shares key features with past privatization initiatives that have displaced hundreds of thousands of public-housing residents. In the last decade and a half alone, more than 100,000 units of public housing have been lost to demolition or sale. The first round of RAD is a pilot that allows for the conversion of only a limited number of units. But with HUD already seeking Congressional approval of further conversions, tenants are scrambling to determine the scope of RAD and stem the tide of privatization in their communities. The city of Baltimore, where more than 40 percent of public housing units are slated to undergo conversion within the next year, is shaping up to be the first major RAD battleground. On June 12, about 60 public housing residents and building workers rallied in front of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) to protest what they say has been a lack of transparency. Chanting “housing is a human right” and “rethink RAD,” residents demanded a voice in the process. …

Federal Contractors Strike To Demand Higher Wages

Source: George Zornick, The Nation, July 29, 2014

Low-wage federal workers will walk off the job Tuesday morning across Washington D.C. to demand an executive order for higher wages—building off a successful push earlier this year to raise the wage of federal contract workers to $10.10.
Related:
Federal contractors strike, call on Obama to do more
Source: Ned Resnikoff, MSNBC, July 29, 2014

Tuesday morning, for the ninth time in less than a year and half, low-wage employees working for federal contractors are going on strike. Organizers say that more than 200 workers are expected to walk off the job at 9 a.m., including workers at the Ronald Reagan Building, the Pentagon, the Air and Space Museum, and the National Zoo. These workers, who will be joined in a solidarity rally by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and an interfaith group of clergy members, are demanding that President Obama take executive action to improve working conditions at companies that hold contracts with the federal government.

Democrats want to ban government contracts for companies that leave the U.S. to avoid taxes

Source: Danielle Douglas, Washington Post, Wonkblog, July 29, 2014

Lawmakers are growing tired of corporate America’s persistent efforts to dodge U.S. taxes. In the past month, Congress and the White House have denounced a loophole that lets companies lower their tax rate by moving their headquarters overseas. These so-called “inversions” have been the subject on Congressional hearings and legislation to eliminate the tax benefit. Now, a group of Democrats in Congress want to make sure that any company that incorporates overseas would be barred from doing business with the government. The No Federal Contracts for Corporate Deserters Act (yes, that’s really the name), would bar contracts from going to companies that reincorporate, are at least 50 percent owned by American shareholders and have no substantial business in the foreign country where they are incorporated.

Legislative committee will hear update on complaints facing Ohio prisons food vendor

Source: Associated Press, July 30, 2014

The state on Wednesday announced a second fine against the private vendor that took over the job of feeding inmates last year as the company defended its operations before a prisons oversight committee. The $130,200 fine against Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services covered continued staffing shortages, unacceptable food substitutions and shortages and sanitation issues, including maggots observed in food service operations at five prisons this month and last, according to Ohio’s July 23 letter to the company….
Related:
Legislative committee to hear update on complaints facing Ohio prisons food vendor
Source: Associated Press, July 26, 2014

A legislative committee is getting updates on complaints facing the private food vendor that won the contract to feed Ohio inmates. Reports indicate employees with Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services have repeatedly failed to provide food or run out of it since beginning work last September.

Maggots in food among new prison food complaints
Source: Associated Press, July 15, 2014

Maggots in food, staffing shortages and reports of running out of foods are among new complaints facing the vendor that won the contract to feed Ohio inmates. Reports obtained by the Associated Press through records requests found numerous problems reported since April, when the state took the rare step of fining the vendor because of contract failures…At issue is a bigger national debate over privatizing prison services — from food preparation to the running of entire facilities — to save money at a time of squeezed state budgets. Proponents say private industry can often do the job more efficiently and more cheaply, unencumbered by union and administrative rules, while opponents say a focus on the bottom line leads to cutting corners that creates danger for inmates and employees….

Maggots in food, running out of food among new complaints facing Ohio prisons food vendor
Source: Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press, July 15, 2014

Maggots in food, staffing shortages and reports of running out of foods are among new complaints facing the vendor that won the contract to feed Ohio inmates. Reports obtained by The Associated Press through records requests found numerous problems reported since April, when the state took the rare step of fining the vendor because of contract failures. The records show 65 instances where Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services failed to provide food or ran out of it — usually the main course, such as hamburgers or chicken patties — while serving inmates, leading to delays and in some cases security concerns as inmates grew frustrated. Substitute items were provided in most cases.

Maggots found in third Ohio prison kitchen
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, July 10, 2014

Maggots turned up at a third Ohio prison yesterday, prompting officials at the Noble Correctional Institution in Caldwell to shut down a food line and throw away food. The maggots, which are fly larvae, were not in the food but were seen crawling out of drains in the serving equipment on the food line, said Jo Ellen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. …. All Ohio prisons have food service provided by Aramark Correctional Services, the Philadelphia company that feeds inmates under a $110 million state contract.

Maggots Found In Food At Prisons In Marysville, Trumbull County
Source: Steve Brown, WOSU, July 8, 2014

Newly-unveiled documents show maggots have been found in food and serving equipment at two Ohio prisons. Documents obtained by the Columbus Dispatch shows Aramark Correctional Services, the private company the feeds Ohio inmates, said maggots were found in food at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. Another report from June said live maggots were found in a warming tray at a Trumbull county prison.

Maggots found in kitchen at Trumbull Co. prison
Source: WKBN, July 8, 2014

Tuesday, an Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Spokesperson confirmed to WKBN that her department is concerned about the food service provided to several state prisons by Aramark. Ohio DRC Communications Chief JoEllen Smith said that Aramark has made plans to have a third-party organization inspect their food preparation. Workers found maggots on food preparation devices twice within the past week, once at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio and once at the Trumbull Correctional Institute in Leavittsburg, Ohio. Tuesday, the ACLU of Ohio urged the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) to end its contract with Aramark Correctional Services, the prison system’s private food vendor, according to a press release from the ACLU….

Ohio Should End Contract with Prison Private Food Vendor /New Reports of Maggots in Prison Food Emerge After Months of Problems with Aramark
Source: ACLU of Ohio, Press Release, July 8, 2014

Today, the ACLU of Ohio urged the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) to end its contract with Aramark Correctional Services, the prison system’s private food vendor, after months of documented problems. News reports on Monday indicated that maggot infestations were found in Aramark food in two Ohio prisons, including two separate incidents at the Ohio Reformatory for Women and one incident at the Trumbull Correctional Institution. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated problem for Aramark in Ohio.

Maggots found in food at two Ohio prisons
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, July 8, 2014

Food and serving equipment contaminated with live maggots have been found at two Ohio prisons.  Aramark Correctional Services, the private company that feeds inmates under a $110 million state contract, said maggots found at the Ohio Reformatory for Women at Marysville on June 30 were “one issue that was resolved last week.”  However, reports obtained by The Dispatch show two previous incidents of maggots, which are fly larvae, at prisons earlier this year.   …..

Vendor fined $142,100 for prison-meal problems
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, April 19, 2014

The vendor that feeds state prison inmates was fined $142,100 yesterday for contract violations that include failing to hire enough workers to prepare and serve meals. But the union that represents the 341 government workers replaced by employees of Aramark Correctional Services claims that the problems following the privatization of prison food service go much deeper. Since Sept. 26, state officials have banned 76 Aramark employees from prisons for “serious misconduct” that includes unspecified relationships with inmates, security violations and importing contraband….

Ohio lawmaker wants private prison vendor canned
Source: Associated Press, April 21, 2014

An Ohio state lawmaker says the state prisons department should terminate its contract with a private food service operator after fining the company last week for repeatedly failing to meet promised staffing levels. Democratic state Rep. Matt Lundy said Monday that deficiencies identified in Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services’ performance reaffirm his and other opponents’ concerns about privatization. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction fined Aramark $142,100 Friday. The private food vendor took over feeding Ohio’s 50,000 prisoners from state employees in September. The contract goes to June 30, 2015. The ACLU says the fine should trigger a reevaluation of the deal….

OCSEA questions timing of food service fine; says more proof DR&C has lost control
Source: OCSEA, Press Release, April 18, 2014

With just two business days before an arbitration begins between the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association and the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction on the privatization of prison food service, the agency has fined vendor Aramark $142,000 for failing to adequately staff food operations. But the union is questioning DR&C’s motives, particularly since one of the largest arbitrations the union has ever undertaken is set to start next week. “What took them so long? It’s not as if understaffing just began. Aramark has never adequately staffed food service,” questioned OCSEA President Christopher Mabe. Prison employees have logged thousands of incidents caused by the food service changeover including: menu substitutions; food line delays; doctoring recipes; poor food quality; small portions; sanitation and food safety; cost increases; reduction in service; and security issues. The most serious issues involve the increase in security breaches, including a sharp rise in contraband, inappropriate sexual relationships between Aramark staff and inmates, as well as theft….

DR&C returns prison food service to vendor that overcharged state by $2 million in 1998 / DYS to retain state-operated food service
Source: OCSEA, Press Release, June 21, 2013

Despite a competitive bid from the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association to save 11 percent on inmate meal costs without sacrificing safety or jobs, the Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction announced that an out-of-state private company will oversee food service operation in Ohio’s state-run adult prisons. Approximately 500 food service employees will be impacted by the change. The Dept. of Youth Services will retain state-operated food service. The private company, Aramark, had previously been charged with overseeing food service operations at Noble Correctional Institution from 1998 to 2000. Their failed tenure resulted in rampant cost overruns, security problems and fraud, including charging the state for phantom inmates. With near-riot conditions as result, DR&C asked that OCSEA bring food services back in-house at a savings of 20 percent.

SOCF union expects loss of 27 food service jobs
Source: Frank Lewis, Portsmouth Daily Times, June 25, 2013

State to privatize prison food service to close budget gap
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch Friday June 21, 2013


Ohio will privatize prison food service this fall in a $110 million deal

Source: Stan Donaldson, Plain Dealer, June 21, 2013


Ohio Prisons Plan To Privatize Meal Service To Save Money

Source: Associated Press, June 23, 2013

…Philadelphia-based Aramark won the two-year contract with a bid to spend about $3.61 per day per inmate, the state said….

State skips union, picks private food service
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, June 23, 2013

Ohio farms out its prison food to a private contractor / The prison workers’ union says that discounts special security training state food-workers have
Source: WKSU, June 21, 2013

Could Ohio’s plan to privatize prison food cause deadly riots to erupt?
Source: Julie Kent, Cleveland Dealer, February 11, 2013

Governor John Kasich is planning to hire a private food vendor to feed the 50,179 inmates in the Ohio prison system in an effort to cut costs. The Kasich administration argues that outsourcing prison food will save the state as much as $16 million, but some suggest that it could come with another kind of cost and put the safety of its prison workers in jeopardy.

Switching to a private vendor to supply the state’s prisons with food could make notoriously unappetizing prison food even more unappealing. Private vendors, unlike state-run cafeterias, are permitted to skip the federal nutrition guideliens for school lunches at the juvenile detention facilities that they serve. They’re permitted to skimp on food quantity, quality, and staffing, all in the name of profit….

DRC calls for cutbacks and outsourcing at state prisons
Source: Frank Lewis, Portsmouth Daily Times, February 6, 2013

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will look for ways to cut costs and that will mean, among other things, a Request for Proposal for prison food service operations statewide. In a letter to prison officials, DRC Director Gary Mohr said austerity measures are going to be required nearly across the board and among those costs is food service within prisons such as Southern Ohio Correctional facility at Lucasville.

Orr seeks proposals to privatize Detroit parking system

Source: Metro Times, July 29, 2014

If Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision to raise parking violation fines had you reeling in pain, News Hits has some potentially unfortunate developments to report. Orr, who’s planning to leave town in the coming months, has decided to move ahead with what’s a surprise to no one: a solicitation for proposals to either run Detroit’s entire municipal parking department, or buy the system outright. By the time you read this, City Council may have already signed off on Orr’s request to allow him to issue a request for proposals.
Related:

Source: >Joe Guillen, Detroit Free Press, July 22, 2014

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is moving forward with plans to privatize the city’s valuable parking system, but whether the system would be sold off completely has not been determined. Orr’s office today asked the City Council’s permission to seek bids to privatize the parking system. The council could vote on the request next Tuesday. The city wants to give private companies flexibility in bidding on the parking system, which includes seven parking garages, nearly 3,200 metered spaces and a towing operation for abandoned vehicles. A bidder could offer to buy the entire system, for example, it could offer to manage the system, or it could even offer to manage a portion of it, such as meter enforcement….

‘Internal control weaknesses’ remain in city’s handling of computer contracts in wake of CityTime scandal: investigators

Source: Greg B. Smith, New York Daily News, July 25, 2014

Five years after the CityTime scandal surfaced, “weaknesses” in hiring and oversight continue to pose threats to the city’s big-ticket technology contracts, a Department of Investigation analysis has found. The DOI reviewed how the city handles large-scale computer contracts in light of CityTime — the fraud-plagued project to modernize the city’s payroll system that was projected to cost $63 million but ballooned to more than $700 million and led to prison time for three computer consultants….

Related:
DOI Issues Report From Its CityTime Investigation On Lessons Learned And Recommendations To Improve Management Of Large Information Technology Contracts
Source: The City of New York, Department of Investigation, Press Release, Release #13-2014, July 25, 2014

…Specifically, the Report found the City did not implement proper internal controls and other management safeguards to prevent substantial cost overruns and delays in connection with CityTime, and failed to detect the
enormous fraud against the City and its tax payers. The deficiencies exposed include:
∙ inadequate executive oversight of the project by City officials;
∙ failure to appoint an integrity monitor;
∙ failure to control the expansion of the scope and cost of the project
∙ failure to hold contractors accountable for their inability to provide deliverables on schedule, and within budget;
∙ failure to properly vet contractors and subcontractors for conflicts of interest and potential fraud; and
∙ failure to plan for future City control over management and maintenance of the completed projects….

GThree sentenced for $100 million fraud in botched automated payroll project in New York City
Source: regory N. Heires, New Crossroads, April 30, 2014

The conviction of three consultants charged in a $100 million fraudulent scheme involving a project to modernize the payroll system in New York City offers yet another lesson of the perils of contracting out. On Monday, the three defendants each received sentences of 20 years in prison for their role in implementing the automated payroll system known as CityTime, whose cost mushroomed from an initial budget of $63 million to more than $700 million over more than 10 years.

Three men involved in $100M CityTime fraud sentenced to 20 years in prison
Source: Daniel Beekman, New York Daily News, April 28, 2014

Gerard Denault, Mark Mazer and Dmitry Aronshtein were found guilty in November of siphoning away nearly $100 million associated with CityTime in a kickback and money laundering scheme. A Manhattan federal judge gave the men the maximum sentence for each count Monday, but will allow the sentences to be served concurrently, meaning each will spend about 20 years behind bars.

Three Contractors Sentenced to 20 Years in CityTime Corruption Case
Source: Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, April 28, 2014

A federal judge in Manhattan on Monday sentenced three men to 20 years in prison for their roles in the scandal-ridden payroll modernization project known as CityTime, and he also sharply criticized New York City’s contracting procedures for what he called a lack of “adequate and effective oversight.” The sentences fell far short of what federal prosecutors originally sought, but they were substantially more than others imposed in public corruption cases in the city and state. Originally budgeted to cost the city $63 million, the project skyrocketed in cost to $700 million by 2011, a federal indictment charged. Almost all of the more than $600 million that the city paid to its prime contractor, Science Applications International Corporation, “was tainted, directly or indirectly, by fraud,” the indictment said….

CityTime Trial Begins: Ripoff by Consultants Or ‘American Dream’?
Source: Mark Toor, The Chief, October 21, 2013
(subscription required)

Three men accused of theft, money-laundering and bribery in the CityTime case bilked the city of millions of dollars, stuffing safe-deposit box after safe-deposit box full of bills and shipping some of the money “all the way around the world and back again,” a prosecutor said in opening arguments Oct. 16. Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Master listed what he said were the defendants’ ill-gotten gains: “Mark Mazer, 30 million dollars. Gerard Denault, nine million dollars. Dmitry Aronshtein, five million dollars. That’s how much money these three men pocketed.” The defendants were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year each, he said, “but their legitimate earnings did not satisfy their greed.” Mr. Mazer and Mr. Denault overbilled the city for independent contractors they hired to do computer programming for the project, he said, and Mr. Aronshtein paid bribes to Mr. Mazer for a piece of the lucrative contracting business….

…The money at issue flowed from fees the city paid for the hiring of independent contractors. Mr. Shargel gave an example of how the staffing situation worked. The city agreed that it would pay $129.10 per hour to SAIC for each Specialist 1 hired. SAIC would pay Technodyne, the contractor in charge of staffing, $110.30 per hour. Technodyne would parcel the requests out among staffing companies, which would get $102.53 per hour. Mr. Shargel gave examples of four consultants hired by the staffing companies who would earn $47 to $52 per hour….

Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson failed repeatedly as controller to intervene as payroll system CityTime ballooned in costs
Source: Greg B. Smith, New York Daily News, July 1, 2013

Bill Thompson signed off on seven authorizations to increase money for CityTime. Federal prosecutors called it a “fraudsters’ field day that lasted seven years.” The effort to modernize the city’s payroll system — a project called CityTime — began with high hopes: a promise of huge savings by bringing the pen-and-paper timekeeping systems for city workers into the 21st century. But from an initial price of $73 million, city spending ballooned to more than $700 million. Some $500 million of that money disappeared into a vast network of overseas bank accounts. Ten people would be indicted. ….

SAIC sacks 3 execs in wake of CityTime scandal probe
Source: David Hubler, Washington Technology, October 25, 2012

CityTime scandal hits SAIC’s bottom line
Source: David Hubler, Washington Technology, March 21, 2012

Contractor Strikes $500 Million Deal in City Payroll Scandal
Source: Michael M. Grynbaum, New York Times, March 14, 2012

SAIC still haunted by CityTime scandal
Source: David Hubler, Washington Technology, December 07, 2011

New York’s $600 Million Fraud Shows Privatization Doesn’t Pay
Source: Mischa Gaus, Labor Notes, July 27, 2011

City Payroll Project Was Riddled With Fraud, U.S. Says
Source: David W. Chen and William K. Rashbaum, New York Times, June 20, 2011

Company Involved in Payroll Project Shuts Down
Source: David W. Chen, New York Times, June 1, 2011

A New Jersey technology company that had been a major contractor on the Bloomberg administration’s troubled CityTime payroll project has abruptly halted operations and terminated its employees’ contracts amid a widening federal investigation, according to a company memo sent out late Tuesday night. The top two executives of the company, TechnoDyne L.L.C., have also left the country and returned to their native India….The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan and the New York City Department of Investigation have accused several employees of CityTime contractors of defrauding the city in an $80 million scheme that began in 2005. But even before the accusations, the automated payroll project had become a liability for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg because of its costs, which have climbed to about $700 million after an initial estimate of $63 million. On Friday, investigators charged the project’s senior manager, Gerard Denault, with receiving over $5 million in kickbacks, as well as wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering. Mr. Denault urged his employer, Science Applications International Corporation, to hire TechnoDyne as the project’s main information technology subcontractor. TechnoDyne, based here, received $464 million out of $628 million that was paid to Science Applications International. According to the complaint, TechnoDyne funneled $5.6 million to a sham consulting company owned by Mr. Denault via three companies affiliated with TechnoDyne, including one owned by Padma Allen’s mother, and two others in India….

NYC’s Computer-System Cash-Dump Disaster / New York City threw away a mountain of cash over a new computer system. Now, finally, someone is going to pay.
Source: Graham Rayman, Village Voice, January 12, 2011

Berger, who worked for a CityTime consultant called Spherion, Mazer, and four other people were indicted last month for defrauding the city of $80 million… Supposedly acting as “quality assurance” consultants, Mazer, Berger, and their accomplices are instead accused of falsifying payments to shell companies, pocketing the proceeds, and making up phony time cards for work they never performed. The defendants have pleaded not guilty. Bondy, meanwhile, was suspended without pay following the indictments and forced to resign as the head of Bloomberg’s Office of Payroll Administration. He could face indictment as well. Bondy, it emerged, not only was a former CityTime consultant, but had also worked with Mazer in the past, yet he didn’t disclose those ties until years later. Originally slated in 1998 to cost $63 million over five years, CityTime has cost the city more than $760 million over its 12 beleaguered years of existence. Despite all that expense, the system is operating in only about a third of all city agencies. The cost overruns were caused by the vast complexity of the project and changes to the plans, claim Bloomberg officials and the company responsible for building the system, Virginia-based Science Applications International Corp. Nonsense, says a union official who represents city architects and engineers, and has closely tracked the project. “There’s no way that any problems or changes they had could justify a cost increase of more than 10 times,” says Local 375 vice president Jon Forster, who believes SAIC should face criminal investigation. “In 12 years, we haven’t changed the number of agencies or the number of employees. My sense is that someone saw a gravy train here, and they said, ‘Let’s go for it.’”

Six charged in $80M ‘CityTime’ rip-off
Source: Bruce Golding and David Seifman, New York Post, December 15, 2010

Four consultants to the city’s problem-plagued payroll system were busted today on charges of ripping off more than $80 million in an elaborate fraud and kickback scheme. The wife and mother of alleged ringleader Mark Mazer — who has been paid $4.4 million to help oversee the costly CityTime project — were also accused of helping launder proceeds of the five-year flimflam. According to a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, Mazer steered more than $76 million worth of bogus contracts to firms run by Dmitry Aronshtein, who is believed to be a relative, and Victor Natanzon. To cover up the fraud, the three of them, along with co-defendant Scott Berger, allegedly cooked up phony timesheets intended to justify the spending. Aronshtein and Natanzon then kicked back more than $24.5 million to a series of shell companies controlled by Mazer’s wife, Svetlana, and his mother, Larisa Medzon, the complaint says. The Mazers allegedly used more than $3 million of their crooked cash to buy and renovate two homes, and also splurged on six late-model cars over the past two years.

Fraud Charges in New York’s Payroll Overhaul
Source: John Eligon, New York Times, December 15, 2010

Computer Scamsters Took Mayor Mike to Cleaners for $80M
Source: Tom Robbins, Village Voice, December 15, 2010

Controller John Liu orders firm to fix disastrous CityTime payroll system – or ELSE!
Source: Juan Gonzalez – NY Daily News, September 29, 2010

City Controller John Liu has won a huge victory for New Yorkers by finally shutting down the out-of-control CityTime spigot. Liu successfully rebuffed pressure from Mayor Bloomberg to sign off on another $130 million, three-year contract extension for defense giant SAIC to complete the computerized timekeeping and payroll system that is already years behind schedule and more than 10 times over budget. At the same time, Liu has halted the city’s use of biometric hand scanners – a sore point with city unions.

Statement by DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts on CityTime

Audit Report on the Office of Payroll Administration’s Monitoring of the Oversight of the CityTime Project By Spherion Atlantic Enterprises LLC
Source: New York City Comptroller’s Office, Bureau of Audit, FM10-135A, September 28, 2010
See also: Audit brief

City Hall’s Budgetary Exuberance May Soon Fade Away
Source: by Glenn Pasanen, Gotham Gazette (NY), July 13, 2010

….. The CityTime computerized payroll project, significantly over budget, is “a prime example” of mismanagement, according to the comptroller. Juan Gonzales in a June 4 Daily News column pointed out that this system has already cost $700 million, 10 times its original estimated cost. It is not near completion, and the mayor is spending another $100 million on it this year. Earlier in the year the Daily News found that 230 private CityTime consultants received an average of $400,000 each this year. (City computer technicians cost an average $77,000 a year.) At a June 16 labor rally outside City Hall, Lillian Roberts, executive director of the city’s largest union, District Council 37, argued that a 15 percent reduction in city consultant contracts would save over $316 million and thus eliminate all service cuts and preserve city jobs.

‘Consultants’ getting $722M from city for doomed CityTime computer project
Source: Juan Gonzalez, Daily News (NY) Friday, March 26th 2010

The city is paying some 230 “consultants” an average salary of $400,000 a year for a computer project that is seven years behind schedule and vastly over budget. The payments continue despite Mayor Bloomberg’s admission the computerized timekeeping and payroll system – called CityTime – is “a disaster.” Eleven CityTime consultants rake in more than $600,000 annually, with three of them making as much as $676,000, city records obtained under a Freedom of Information request show….

Citytime contract: 1,000% over budget
Source: Diane S. Williams, Public Employee Press (NY), February 2010

DC 37 leaders blasted a 1,000 percent cost overrun on a computer contract — still unfinished after 12 years — that the city gave to former Giuliani officials with ties to the Bloomberg administration. They testified Dec. 18 before the City Council Contracts Committee, which is investigating how the $63 million Citytime deal ballooned to $700 million as the city budget went into the red and the mayor laid off employees….

Editorial – Baltimore’s parking economics

Source: Baltimore Sun, July 29, 2014

Our view: The mayor’s proposal to sell garages to fund new rec centers is an appealing idea — provided it really generates the kind of windfall she’s advertising. … What Mayor Rawlings-Blake is proposing is quite different. For starters, it amounts to swapping one city-owned asset for which there is a viable private market, parking garages, for another asset for which the private sector is not well suited, recreation centers. (The Rawlings-Blake administration, during recession-induced rounds of budget cutting, touted privatization as an answer for the city’s aging recreation facilities as well, but the feasibility of such a scheme has proved limited.) The city envisions a deal that would net as much as $60 million in profit and would retire the $24 million in debt owed on those four facilities, which would itself free up money for maintenance on other garages or construction of new parking in other neighborhoods. As for the fact that the city would be giving up revenue-producing assets, the finance department estimates the loss would net out to about $728,000 a year after factoring in reduced maintenance costs and the return of the garages to the property tax rolls. …. But therein also lies a potential pitfall for the proposal. If the market limits the possibility of rate increases, and the garages are already well run, as the city insists, why would private operators pay anything like the $84 million the city expects them to fetch? The four garages currently generate a profit, though city officials could not immediately say how much. Would such a deal to pay off for investors without a fundamental change in the garages’ economics? They are already privately operated and have already made the shift from cashiers to automated payment technology, which means a new owner would not be taking over for some bloated government bureaucracy. A private owner would not be able to finance capital improvements through tax-exempt bonds, as the city can, meaning long-term maintenance costs could be higher. And a private entity would have to pay property tax, which the city does not. …

Related:
Baltimore mayor wants to sell garages for revenue
Source: WBALTV.com, July 28, 2014

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to announce a proposal to sell four city-owned parking garages to generate cash for urgent priorities and infrastructure. The mayor’s office said Rawlings-Blake will announce her plans Monday to introduce new legislation to sell the parking garages to generate $40 million to $60 million. The proceeds would be used for urgent priorities, such as eliminating blight, without adding to the city’s debt….