Kentucky House passes public-private partnership bill

Source: Bruce Schreiner, Associated Press, February 26, 2015

In a debate overshadowed by an ambitious bridge proposal on the state’s northern tier, the Kentucky House passed legislation Wednesday evening that would authorize use of public-private partnerships for mega-dollar transportation work and other projects. The bill would sanction ventures partnering Kentucky’s government with private sources. As part of the arrangements, a private company could construct, finance or operate a public facility. Supporters said the partnerships would yield far-reaching results to jump-start projects that otherwise might be put on hold due to limited government revenues….

Paula Dockery: Privatizing prisons could be Scott’s end game

Source: Paula Dockery, Tampa Tribune, February 26, 2015

Generally, when a crisis occurs in a large organization the CEO is expected to acknowledge and address the problem, keep stakeholders up to date on progress and be held accountable for the problems that occurred. Why is it then that Gov. Rick Scott has been AWOL on the crisis within our prison system? Here are some of the problems: a record number of inmate deaths; suspicious deaths not reported as such; claims of widespread prisoner abuse, drugs and contraband; investigator reports ignored; investigators intimidated and silenced; potential inspector general retaliation and cover-ups; four Department of Corrections secretaries in as many years; crumbling buildings; leaky roofs; dilapidated vehicles; dangerously low staffing levels; excessive overtime costs; and questionable contracts for privatized services such as medical care.

Conservative veterans group proposes privatized health care

Source: Heath Druzin, Stars and Stripes, February 26, 2015

A conservative veterans group is testing its clout with a radical plan unveiled Thursday to largely privatize VA health care. Concerned Veterans for America is calling for the Veterans Health Administration — the wing of the VA that oversees health care — to be turned into an “independent, government-chartered nonprofit corporation.” After decrying “inefficiency, bureaucracy and deadly wait lists” at the VA, Concerned Veterans for America CEO Pete Hegseth acknowledged the uphill battle he has faced in getting support for the plan, which has no congressional sponsors.

Is Contracting Out Good or Bad for Employees? A Review of International Experience

Source: Karsten Vrangbæk, Ole Helby Petersen, and Ulf Hjelmar, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 35 no. 1, March 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The past decades have witnessed an upsurge in governments’ use of contracting out as a means of reforming and privatizing public service delivery. This development has to a large extent been driven by efficiency and cost-effectiveness concerns, but may also result in important changes in the working conditions and work environment for the personnel in public organizations. In this article, we present the findings from a systematic review of studies documenting the consequences of contracting out for employees. The review is based on 26 empirical studies published between 2000 and 2012. We find both positive and negative effects for employees documented in the literature, although with a predominance of negative effects, including reductions in the workforce and other changes in the workforce composition such as the replacement of experienced employees with younger workers, poorer working conditions, lower salaries, fewer benefits, and reduced job satisfaction. We conclude that poorer conditions for the public service personnel are well documented as a short-term consequence of contracting out, while more studies covering a longer time-span are needed to assess whether the predominantly negative effects are transitory or will persist over time.

Professional Management and Local Government Service Delivery: Strategic Decisions Across Alternative Markets

Source: Amir Hefetz, Mildred Warner & Eran Vigoda-Gadot, Public Performance & Management Review, Volume 38 Issue 2, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Local governments explore alternative delivery strategies for their service portfolios by engaging both private markets of for-profit firms and public markets of intergovernmental agreements. This study investigates the critical role of professionally structured local governments in selecting between these alternative markets. The analysis of national data on U.S. local government for the year 2007 includes new measures of management motivators and obstacles to contract with both for-profit and intergovernmental agents, as well as new measures for transaction cost, citizen interest, and market competition for the full portfolio of services provided by local governments. The study finds that council-manager governments are more responsive to market competition and citizen interest, and manage political motivation and opposition by exploring alternative forms of service delivery. However, public intergovernmental contract markets are a means to address management difficulties for governments of both types.

CSEA declares end of GTECH contract at Lottery

Source: Times Union, February 26, 2015

CSEA declared victory recently when the last contract worker recently left a pilot program at the Lottery Division. The union reported in its magazine Work Force that state officials awarded GTECH — an Italian multi-billion-dollar company that manages lotteries worldwide — a $25 million contract in September 2012 to create a pilot program that had private sector workers do jobs identical to those of civil service workers at the Division. ….
Related:
CSEA: Lottery Outsourcing Jobs To Firm That’s Big Cuomo Contributor
Source: Mark Toor, Chief Leader, December 16, 2013
(subscription required)

The Civil Service Employees Association is redoubling its efforts to fight a pilot program by the State Lottery to hire employees of a private company to do the work usually done by civil-service Lottery Marketing Representatives. The union has opposed the program since summer but has made no progress, said CSEA spokesman Stephen Madarasz….The company, GTECH, is a multi-billion-dollar international corporation that manages lotteries around the world. GTECH’s political-action committee had contributed $40,000 to Mr. Cuomo as of last January, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group…. “It’s a sign of the times, this outsourcing,” he told THE CHIEF-LEADER last week. “It’s costing more and you’re not getting better service. In the long run, even with the health-care and pensions, civil service is still cheaper.” He noted that the GTECH representatives “sell less tickets, and they make less money.” A CSEA official who asked not to be named said that “every time one of our members leaves they put in a GTECH person…It’s this huge company coming in and taking over state jobs in New York City. Eventually they’ll probably spread out across the state.” … Mr. Skoufis wrote a letter Dec. 11 to Gardner Gurney, Acting Director of the State Lottery, asking why the agency was hiring workers from GTECH instead of civil-service Lottery Marketing Representatives. …

CSEA seeks ethics probe / Request targets former director of Division of Lottery
Source: James M. Odato, Times Union, May 6, 2013

The head of the contract administration for the Civil Service Employees Association has formally requested a state ethics probe of the former director of the Division of Lottery. Ross Hanna requested the investigation because Gordon Medenica took a job as a consultant for GTech, the major lottery services contractor that received a $25 million contract shortly before Medenica resigned his Lottery position….

CSEA wants Medenica hiring investigated
Source: Casey Seiler, Times Union, Capitol Confidential blog, April 17, 2013

CSEA wants to see the hiring of former State Lottery Director Gordon Menedica by GTech Corp., the Lottery Division’s biggest vendor, investigated by the Legislature, the Inspector General and the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Medenica’s new job was the subject of Jim Odato’s column on Monday, though somehow CSEA fails to mention that in their release. In that article, Medenica noted that he waited 30 days before pursuing the job, and says that GTech will use him as a consultant in New Jersey, Illinois and Indiana, but not in New York.

Alcohol-sales privatization bill heads to Senate

Source: Pennsylvania Business Daily, February 26, 2015

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry praised the state’s House of Representatives on Thursday after it passed a bill that would end the commonwealth’s monopoly on alcohol sales. …. The House passed the bill by a vote of 144-87, advancing it to the Senate. If the Senate passes the bill, it would land on Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk to sign it into law.
Related:
Koch-Backed Super PAC Launches Advocacy Campaign
Source: Abby Smith, Politics PA, January 7, 2015

Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are dipping their toes into Pennsylvania state politics. The American Future Fund, an Iowa-based super PAC founded by former Mitt Romney aides and linked to the Koch brothers, announced a multimedia advertising and advocacy effort Wednesday. The statewide campaign aims to encourage legislators’ efforts regarding the “3 Ps: pension reform, paycheck protection and liquor privatization.”

Privatizing liquor won’t yield a pot of gold for the state budget
Source: David Fillman, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 13 ∙ Patriot News ∙ December 31, 2014

The budget news coming out of Harrisburg these days is grim, but the response by some lawmakers and their like-minded allies is ill-informed, at best, and downright misleading at worst. Pennsylvania confronts a $2 billion budget deficit that is a result of Gov. Tom Corbett’s failed policies, principally one-time budget fixes; and his unwillingness to support a statewide shale tax, Medicaid expansion or closing corporate tax loopholes….

Corbett: Women Want Liquor Law Reform So They Can Speed Up Dinner Prep
Source: Dan McQuade, Philadelphia, August 27, 2014

On a Pennsylvania TV show in July, Tom Corbett said women should want liquor law reform because it will allow them to prepare dinner more quickly.

Tom Corbett Makes Sexist Remark While Trying To Appeal To Women
Source: Marina Fang, Huffington Post, August 27, 2014

Apparently, only women make dinner, according to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R). Corbett, speaking on a local TV program last month, claimed women would support his proposal to reform his state’s liquor laws because it would save time while preparing dinner….

PA House GOP Seeks To Rekindle Liquor Privatization Debate
Source: Tony Romeo, CBS, August 27, 2014

In a sign that they aren’t giving up on liquor privatization, state House Republicans plan to push a bill that would decriminalize purchasing wine and liquor in other states and transporting it to Pennsylvania.

EDITORIAL: Pension woes are another reason to privatize Pennsylvania liquor system
Source: Express Times, August 15, 2014

… Of course, that gets to the heart of why Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state government can’t bring itself to reform either the liquor monopoly or the public employee pension systems. The liquor system returns more than $500 million a year to the state treasury. Overall retirement debt, with or without LCB participation, is potentially crushing, requiring serious changes. And those with the power to restructure pensions are members of the retirement system. Yet liquor privatization remains doable. The state could reap a healthy tax return to support LCB enforcement and other operations; the initial sale of licenses would produce a huge one-time source of revenue; and consumers would have market-based choices, competitive pricing and convenience.

Liquor privatization effort kicked? Gov. Corbett’s failure to link privatization to state budget damages chances
Source: Scott Kraus, Morning Call, July 7, 2014 
 
With the passage last week of a state budget, Republicans’ bid to get Pennsylvania out of the booze business is looking tapped out.  Gov. Tom Corbett initially linked the budget to passage of liquor and pension reform, but when liquor reform began looking increasingly unlikely, he shifted focus to demanding action on pensions, eliciting a promise by the House to take up that issue in the fall.

House Version of Pa. Budget to Incorporate Liquor Store Privatization
Source: Tony Romeo, CBS Philly, June 24, 2014

In an apparent effort to light a fire under the feet of their counterparts in the state senate, a committee in the Pennsylvania House has advanced a new state budget partially funded by revenues from the sale of liquor retailing licenses. The House last year passed a bill to privatize the sale of liquor in Pennsylvania, but the senate has continued to balk at that. Now, the House Appropriations Committee, as part of the effort to close a massive budget gap without a broad-based tax hike, has advanced a budget bill that plans on almost $400 million from the sale of liquor licenses….

Pennsylvania Senate negotiations of legislation to expand sales of beer, wine intensify
Source: Brad Bumsted, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 14, 2014

With a little more than two weeks before state lawmakers might call it quits until September, Senate leaders behind closed doors are negotiating legislation to allow sales of beer and wine in convenience stores and grocery stores while keeping the 600-plus state-run liquor stores in business. Pennsylvania would maintain control of wholesale and retail sales of liquor and wine under Senate plans and remain, with Utah, the only states to do so.

So how many plans to privatize Pennsylvania liquor sales are out there?
Source: Jeff Frantz, pennlive.com, April 28, 2014

You can almost hear it, the liquor privatization partisans chanting “Chug! Chug! Chug!” in hopes Pennsylvania’s legislature will down their preferred plan in the next two weeks. And members of the state Senate seem poised to bring the glass to their lips. But what will the Senate’s plan actually look like once it’s set in legislation? Could something else off this cocktail menu prove more appealing? Or — because this is Pennsylvania — will the next six session days pass with no action, and will everyone leave Harrisburg unhappy and have to buy beer at a distributor and whiskey at a state store (only during restricted Sunday hours)?

So what’s in play? Let’s take a look.
The bill that passed, and stalled: HB 790 ….
The bill that almost passed: HB 790, as amended ….
The bill that’s been circulated: A bigger LCB? …
The proposals waiting to be introduced: The Senate plan …. The outsiders plan ….

Beer, wine and liquor would all be sold in the same store under new proposal to privatize Pa. booze sales
Source: Jeff Frantz, pennlive.com, April 14, 2014

There’s another plan on the table to change the way booze is bought and sold in Pennsylvania, one that would totally undo the state store system. Now we get to see if this proposal — put forward by a coalition of businesses including the Pennsylvania Retail Federation, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Pennsylvania Business Council and a group representing some beer distributors — can gain traction in an increasingly crowded field. In a letter to state Senators last week, the coalition said its proposal is the most friendly to consumers and businesses, since it’s crafted by the very businesses that want to move into the beer, wine and spirits game, that would have to meet customer needs to recoup their investment. …. The proposal would tie a license to sell beer, wine and liquor together. License holders would have the choice to sell whichever of the products they want. Any place that sells beer could sell it by the six-pack or case. Initially, the coalition expects many of these revamped “D” licenses would come from current beer distributors….

House Democrats, union say not so fast on plan for full liquor privatization in Pa.
Source: Jeff Frantz, pennlive.com, April 14, 2014

So is news of yet another proposal to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania evidence that momentum for a change exists? Or is all the talk about momentum just an effort to create momentum? House Democrats and the union that represents state store employees — both longtime privatization foes — think it’s the later. They also believe the proposal put forward by a coalition of business groups is a bad deal for taxpayers….

GOP says privatizing LCB could aid budget
Source: Brad Bumsted, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 5, 2014

House Republican leaders are arguing in ongoing negotiations that privatizing the state liquor system would bolster the 2014-15 budget, but political analysts remain skeptical, given the issue’s troubled legislative history.

Liquor privatization ‘working draft’ planned for Pennsylvania
Source: Brad Bumsted, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 14, 2014

Closed-door talks on liquor privatization continued on Tuesday among GOP legislative leaders and the lieutenant governor. The next step is expected to be consideration of a “working draft” of legislation, perhaps by week’s end. …

State leaders negotiating on possible new liquor privatization plan
Source: Brad Bumsted, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2014

House and Senate leaders are negotiating a plan with the governor’s office that eventually could phase out state-owned liquor stores and expand private sales of wine, beer and liquor, a key proponent said on Tuesday.

CDC opposes liquor store privatization in PA
Source: Melissa Daniels, PA Independent, August 23, 2013

If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a say in whether Pennsylvania sells off its state-owned liquor stores, it’d likely vote to keep them around.

Recommendations from the federal agency’s Community Preventative Services Task Force say turning over to the free marketing the sale of wine and liquor leads to excessive drinking. But these conclusions are disputed by other researchers and privatization supporters, who claim the CDC isn’t looking at the right data.

The task force recommendations were included in a mid-August study on how much excessive drinking costs state economies and governments – about $224 billion annually nationwide, and about $8 billion in Pennsylvania, per 2006 figures.

Liquor lobbyists spent over $900,000 towards privatizing alcohol sales in Pa.
Source: Gil Smart, Lancasteronline.com, July 7, 2013

… Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett’s dream of privatizing liquor sales in Pennsylvania went down in flames, as state senators couldn’t agree on a plan to get the commonwealth out of the booze business. It was the fourth time privatization has come up in the Legislature, said G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Public Affairs. But, he noted, when the House voted to privatize state stores in March, it marked the first time either chamber had passed a privatization proposal….According to records from the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Lobbying Disclosure database, $925,898 has been spent on alcoholic beverages lobbying so far in 2013. Corporations, unions, wineries, beer distributors and trade groups sought to make their voices heard above the din of what one newspaper called one of “the largest public flocks of lobbyists” in recent memory….

Pa. privatization bill reworked Senate committee reconstructs liquor sale package that had gained House approval
Source: Karen Langley, Post-Gazette, June 25, 2013

Legislation to allow private sales of wine and liquor advanced through a Senate committee Monday without signs that Republicans are closer to a proposal that could clear the full chamber. …. Instead of disbanding the state’s wholesale purchasing operation, the amended bill would require studies to assess the wholesale value of the system. Where the House bill would use a formula to shutter the state wine and spirits stores, the Senate amendment would allow the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to decide when outlets would close.

What’s next in Pennsylvania’s liquor privatization battle as budget time draws closer?
Source: Sue Gleiter, pennlive.com, June 6, 2013

…McIlhinney has said he will introduce a bill in the next two weeks. He has indicated he wants to maintain the state-run stores but expand sales for existing license holders including beer distributors, bars and restaurants and some grocery stores. However, Gov. Tom Corbett has said he would like to see a liquor proposal cross his desk by the end of the month in time for the June 30 budget deadline. …

Senate liquor privatization hearing heats up as Cawley testifies
Source: Sue Gleiter, pennlive.com, June 4, 2013

…The heated exchange was part of the nearly four hour hearing. The agenda – similar to the committee’s first two meetings – was stacked with mostly those testifying in opposition to scraping the 80-year-old state-run system…. Beer wholesalers took to the floor early in the morning saying they support the idea of modernizing and would like to be able to sell smaller quantities of beer such as six-packs. The version of the bill voted on in March by the House would give beer distributors first shot at 1,200 wine and spirit licenses. It would also allow restaurants and supermarkets to sell wine….Cawley called the issue one of great importance and said the private sector can be trusted as long as it is regulated to provide selection, pricing and convenience. Gov. Tom Corbett has said he would like to see a liquor proposal by the end of the month in time for the June 30 budget deadline. …

Union targets liquor privatization with television and radio ad campaign
Source: Sue Gleiter, pennlive.com, May 6, 2013

The union representing Pennsylvania’s wine and spirit store clerks is uncorking a statewide television and radio campaign aimed at Gov. Tom Corbett. … Corbett has said he would like a liquor privatization bill to pass in time for the June 30 budget deadline. In March, the House passed a bill which gives beer distributors first crack at 1,200 wine and spirit licenses and allows supermarkets to sell wine. The bill is now in the Senate where it is being heavily scrutinized by the Law and Justice Committee…

Corbett’s liquor privatization plan on life support / As key Senate panel holds hearing, its chairman pulls plug on House version.
Source: Steve Esack, Morning Call, April 30, 2013

First came the cops. Then came the drug-and-alcohol counselors. Next up was the moms. And finally, the kids. All of them told a state Senate committee Tuesday they oppose a plan to privatize wine and spirits sales and make beer more readily available under a House-approved bill supported by Gov. Tom Corbett.Law enforcement officers, represented by union officials, said they oppose House Bill 790 because it lacks extra financial support for police facing a potential rise in emergency calls at liquor establishments, on roads and in homes. And the counselors, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and high school students warned that the bill could trigger more alcoholism, violence and death without providing extra money to ward off those social ills…

Hearings set on bill to privatize liquor stores
Source: Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer, April 23, 2013

Let the liquor hearings begin. The first of what will likely be three state Senate hearings on a controversial bill to privatize Pennsylvania’s government-run wine and liquor stores has been scheduled for next Tuesday in the Capitol – and it is bound to be telling. That the bill has few ardent fans in the Senate is no secret. Republicans who control the chamber have strongly signaled they are leaning toward modernizing, rather than privatizing, the State-Store system.

Lobbying money flows in state store debate
Source: Steve Esack and Scott Kraus, Morning Call, March 23, 2013

Lobbyists line up Wednesday to listen outside a small room that leads to the floor of the House of Representatives, where lawmakers debated a liquor store privatization bill that the House passed Thursday.

Pennsylvania House Votes On Liquor Privatization Today
Source: Tony Romeo, CBS Philly, March 21, 2013

The stage is set for a historic vote today in the Pennsylvania House on a bill that would phase out the state store system of selling wine and liquor. But even if the bill passes the House, it would still have to get through the Senate, where support is less certain….

Pa. House Committee OKs overhaul of Corbett liquor bill
Source: Associated Press, March 18, 2013

A key legislative panel has endorsed a radically changed version of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s liquor-privatization bill. The House Liquor Control Committee voted 14-10 Monday to approve an amended version that gives beer distributors the first shot at buying 1,200 liquor and wine sales licenses. After one year, the remaining licenses would be offered to other buyers. The 600 state stores would be gradually reduced as the number of licensees in each county grows. Once the number of state stores falls below 100, they all would close.

LCB officials say state holding them back
Source: Angela Couloumbis, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 26, 2013

Jobs are going unfilled. Morale is low. Even the chairman says he doesn’t believe the state should be in the booze business. Yet the agency that runs Pennsylvania’s liquor stores says that even in the face of Gov. Corbett’s efforts to privatize its retail and wholesale operations, it is more productive than ever. Such was the testimony Monday by top officials at the Liquor Control Board budget hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee. LCB brass said they have been turning more than $100 million a year in profit for the last several years – and kicking more than $80 million of that into the state’s cash-strapped coffers. Yet LCB board member Robert Marcus contended that the agency is operating on a scaled-down staff while the Corbett administration refuses to sign off on filling key vacant positions….

Researchers: Easier access to booze has a downside
Source: Scott Kraus, Morning Call, February 11, 2013

Experts say making booze easier and cheaper to buy – goals of Corbett’s privatization plan – increases problems like alcoholism, DUIs….

The Case for Liquor Privatization in Pennsylvania
Source:Melissa Daniels, Reason, February 10, 2013

Private group to advocate for privatizing Pennsylvania liquor stores
Source: Brad Bumsted, triblive, January 18, 2013

A new coalition of citizens, businesses and groups supporting liquor privatization will announce next week a push for the state store divestiture plan Republican Gov. Tom Corbett soon will announce, a leading advocate said Friday.

Dem plans bill to require privatization approval
Source: Brent Burkey, Central Penn Business Journal, November 20, 2012

A state lawmaker from western Pennsylvania plans to introduce a bill requiring legislative approval for privatizing government programs that would include the Pennsylvania Lottery, according to a news release last week.

State outlines key terms for lottery management privatization
Source: Brent Burkey, Central Penn Business Journal, November 12, 2012

Corbett lists priorities: pensions, transportation, privatizing liquor sales
Source: Karen Langley, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, November 20, 2012

…Mr. Corbett said he also remains committed to privatizing state sales of liquor and wine after previous efforts at dismantling the state system have not succeeded. “We’re not in the business when it comes to beer,” he said. “We shouldn’t be in the business when it comes to wine and alcohol, and I will continue to fight to get us out of the business.” In response to a question, Mr. Corbett said privatizing liquor sales ranks with pension reform and transportation funding in his priorities for the coming term….

Pennsylvania liquor privatization bill will wait until fall, lawmaker says
Source: Associated Press, June 19, 2012

Liquor privatization usually a GOP issue
Source: Robert Swift, Citizens’ Voice, June 17, 2012

Pa. House suspends debate on liquor privatization
Source: Peter Jackson, Associated Press June 12, 2012

New contract may scuttle effort to privatize Pa. liquor sales
Source: Angela Couloumbis, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 5, 2012

Union: Wash. auction shows Pa. liquor privatization unrealistic
Source: Tim Stuhldreher, Central Penn Business Journal, May 01, 2012

Auditor General Jack Wagner Says Liquor Privatization A Bad Deal for Taxpayers and Consumers
Source: Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General, Press release, November 30, 2011

Privatization of liquor sales bad idea, Pa. auditor general says
Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, November 30, 2011

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner was set to give testimony in Harrisburg Wednesday that privatizing liquor sales in the state would increase prices and not generate the amount of revenue for the state that is produced by the current system under the Liquor Control Board.

The Brief Life and Private Death of Alexandria Hill

Source: Brian Joseph, Mother Jones, February 26, 2015

When the government took her from her family, it outsourced her safety to a for-profit corporation. Nine months later she was dead…..

….What happened in Rockdale that night would be the subject of a weeklong trial in the fall of 2014, focusing on the care of Alexandria. But it also opened a window into the vast and opaque world of private foster care agencies—for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that are increasingly taking on the role of monitoring the nation’s most vulnerable children. The agency involved in Small’s case was the Lone Star branch of the Mentor Network, a $1.2 billion company headquartered in Boston that specializes in finding caretakers, or “mentors,” for a range of populations, from adults with brain injuries to foster children. With 4,000 children in its care in 14 states, Mentor is one of the largest players in the business of private foster care, a fragmented industry of mostly local and regional providers that collect hundreds of millions in tax dollars annually while receiving little scrutiny from government authorities. Squeezed by high caseloads and tight budgets, state and local child welfare agencies are increasingly leaving the task of recruiting, screening, training, and monitoring foster parents to these private agencies. In many places, this arrangement has created a troubling reality in which the government can seize your children, but then outsource the duty of keeping them safe—and duck responsibility when something goes wrong…..

….Mentor and other private foster care agencies say they are committed to children’s well-being, and that nothing can prevent the occasional tragic incident. But in my investigation, I found evidence of widespread problems in the industry—failed monitoring, missed warning signs, and, in some cases, horrific abuse. In Los Angeles, a two-year-old girl was beaten to death by her foster mother, who was cleared by a private agency despite a criminal record and seven prior child abuse and neglect complaints filed against her. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, prosecutors alleged that foster parents screened by a private agency beat their foster son so badly that he suffered brain damage and went blind. (A grand jury refused to return an indictment in the case.) In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a foster father vetted by a private agency induced his 16-year-old foster daughter to have sex with him and a neighbor. In Riverview, Florida, a 10-year-old girl with autism drowned in a pond behind a foster home. The private agency that inspected the home had previously identified the pond as a safety hazard but had not required a fence. In Duluth, Minnesota, a private agency failed to discover that a foster mother’s adult son had moved back into her home. The son, who had a criminal record for burglary that would have disqualified him from being around foster children, went on to sexually abuse a 10-year-old foster girl. In Texas, at least nine children living in private agency homes died of abuse or neglect between 2011 and 2013…..

Demolition privilege: another perverse effect of a mostly privatized housing authority

Source: Jack Grauer, February 24, 2015

…Low-income housing policy has since shifted both nationally and locally. The new objective is to make low-income housing a profitable and appealing industry. This ideally encourages private real estate developers and landlords to get involved.

Housing policy scholar Ed Goetz found that Philadelphia has since 1990 demolished more public housing than any other American city barring Chicago. … PHA reportedly plans to demolish 1,470 public housing units during 2015. Amidst dust clouds and political officiations, inspection documents obtained by way of FOIA show that Queen Lane, Norris and Blumberg Apartments—all either recently, or soon-to-be demolished—received relatively few health and safety citations compared to other inspected sites. Results from those documents appear at the bottom of this post. But what are we looking at, exactly? …

….PHA demolished Queen Lane in late 2014 after years of vacancy. Norris’s high-rise was demolished in 2011 and its flats will face demolition before 2016. Two of Blumberg’s three towers will be demolished in the near future. Again, these sites contained low numbers of health and safety violations compared to the other 10. Blumberg and Norris bookend Temple University’s expanding campus to the east and west. Developers have received a respective $20 million from PHA and $30 million from US HUD to redevelop them….. This relatively small dataset suggests that while health and safety don’t drive decisions regarding which public housing complexes get demolished, when and in what order, grant opportunities and development interest do. This suspicion should be tested on a larger scale and also controlled for variables other than health and safety: crime rates, median income, etc….