Exclusive: Milwaukee County Zoo Food, Catering and Retail Concessions May Be Privatized / No public warning on fast-tracked bid requests

Source: Lisa Kaiser, Express, August 20, 2014

With no public discussion, the Milwaukee County Zoo offered a request for proposals (RFP) to operate and manage its lucrative food service, catering and retail operations from interested private vendors. … The RFPs were sent out on July 18, on-site visits were scheduled for July 30 and 31, and bids were due last Friday, Aug. 15. The five-year contract would begin Jan. 1, 2015, if the county decides to move forward with privatizing these operations, which generated $5.8 million in revenue in 2013. But you’d have to be an insider to know about this fast-tracked privatization plan. The matter never came before the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, nor was it included in last year’s budget….But the RFP is mentioned in the zoo’s 2015 budget request, drafted this summer, saying that the department is “in the process of evaluating whether a concessionaire for catering, novelty sales and concessions is more financially beneficial than running the operations in house.”… The Abele-backed Act 14, which stripped the board of much of its oversight of contracts, only allows the board to review contracts worth more than $300,000 once Abele decides to award a contract to a vendor. This RFP would seem to be worth far more than that, so it would appear that supervisors could review the final contract, if one is awarded….Little is said about the affected workers in the RFP, but it appears that they will become the employees of the operator, not the county. … McCamish called the zoo’s attitude toward its employees in the RFP “an afterthought.”…

Editorial: The Right to Cheat and Maim?

Source: New York Times, August 19, 2014

In 2010, the Government Accountability Office found that nearly two-thirds of the 50 largest violators of federal wage and hour laws won new federal contracts for work ranging from food processing to cloud computing and that 20 of the 50 largest violators of workplace safety laws were also federal contractors. … . It would seem noncontroversial to advise federal procurement officials to steer clear of companies with repeated and egregious violations that cheat, sicken, harm, and kill workers. … The contractors who oppose the order seem to have forgotten that they are bidding for taxpayer dollars. They are not entitled to contracts; they must qualify. And when they obtain a contract, they are working for the people, not the other way around….
Related:
Federal contractors vow to fight Obama executive order
Source: Benjamin Goad, The Hill, August 3, 2014

Business interests are vowing to fight President Obama’s executive order imposing new restrictions on companies who want to do business with the federal government. …. “We are concerned these sweeping changes threaten the due process rights of federal contractors and conflict with existing federal procurement and labor law,” said Geoff Burr, vice president of government for Associated Builders and Contractors. “ABC and the federal contracting community across all industries are prepared to fight this order in the courts and in Congress.”

Obama makes it harder for firms with labor violations to get U.S. pacts
Source: Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2014

Saying he won’t let the threat of a Republican lawsuit “stop me from doing what needs to be done,” President Obama signed an executive order designed to make it tougher for companies to win federal contracts if they violate their workers’ rights. With labor activists and business leaders at a signing ceremony Thursday at the White House, Obama ordered prospective federal contractors to disclose labor law violations dating back three years and directed his agencies to take those violations into account when handing out federal contracts.

Obama to Require Contractors to Disclose Labor Violations
Source: Jim Snyder and Roger Runningen, Bloomberg, July 31, 2014

President Barack Obama is scheduled today to announce measures to improve working conditions for employees of federal contractors, some of whom have gone on strike over what they contend are unfair labor practices by companies doing business with the U.S. government. Obama will sign an executive order at the White House to require companies to disclose labor law violations and that will provide guidance to federal agencies on how to weigh the black marks when awarding contracts, according to a person at the White House who asked not to be identified before an announcement is made.

Advocates renew push to keep inmates in VT

Source: Terri Hallenbeck, Free Press Staff, August 17, 2014

…. A group of advocates is making a push to halt the long trips, the separation of inmates from family and the use of a for-profit company to house prisoners. About 25 people gathered in Burlington on a recent evening to strategize how to keep Vermont from renewing the out-of-state prison contract with Corrections Corporation of America when it comes due next year. … The group plans to launch a drive Sept. 22 titled “Locked Up & Shipped Away” and hopes to collect petitions from the Vermonters urging public officials to stop sending Vermont inmates out of state, Wizowaty said. Group members also plan to organize efforts to ask political candidates for their support at candidate forums through the fall. The group plans to hold organizational meetings in the coming weeks in Burlington, Montpelier and Brattleboro. … Wizowaty wants to halt or shorten the state’s next contract for out-of-state prison beds. Time and simple short-term math are working against her, but the state is looking for new options with a new contract. … Richard Byrne, the state Corrections Department’s out-of-state unit supervisor, said he is in the process of sending notices to states, counties and private prison operators that might have space. The state likely will put out a formal request for proposals in September to replace the existing four-year CCA contract, which expires June 30. … As of last week, because the state’s own prison were full, Vermont had 482 inmates serving time in two out-of-state prisons run by Corrections Corporation of America: 444 in Beattyville, Ky., and 38 in Florence, Ariz. …

School board approves custodian outsourcing for Columbus, Jefferson

Source: Korey Wilson, Hour, August 20, 2014

Despite resistance from school district custodians, the Norwalk Board of Education voted in favor of a contract that would outsource custodial services at Columbus Magnet and Jefferson Science Magnet this coming school year. With a vote of 4-3, the school board authorized Norwalk Public Schools to enter into an agreement with custodial service provider, United Services of America. The move will fill seven custodian vacancies throughout the school district and is expected to save more than $182,000….
Related:
Local 1042 members say custodian outsourcing not good for school community
Source: Korey Wilson, Hour, August 5, 2014

In response to the school district’s plans to outsource custodian services at two schools, representatives of the custodians’ union are planning to attend Tuesday’s Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday to voice their concerns. While Norwalk Public Schools is currently considering recent bids to outsource cleaning services, full-time custodians say the school district will lose a critical part of the school community in their attempt to save money. Members of Local 1042 of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees say they provide more duties to the school district than their job titles of custodians, security guards and maintenance workers would suggest. … The school district is looking to fill seven custodian vacancies throughout the district by outsourcing cleaning duties to an outside agency. The school district recently held a walkthrough for 15 companies interested in the contract. Nine of those companies submitted bids for the contract, according to school officials. Three union representatives came to observe the school tour on July 16 but were asked to leave. Beginning next school year, some custodians will be reshuffled to new schools and an outside agency will handle all custodial duties at Columbus Magnet and Jefferson Science Magnet schools. …

All Wet? “Consultant” contract prompts concerns that the city may privatize its troubled waterworks

Source: Edward Ericson Jr., City Paper, August 19, 2014

After Baltimore City wrested its water and sewage system away from the private Baltimore Water Company in 1854, the municipal system expanded and made improvements, so much so that by 1914 the city crowed about its “finest in the world” new sewer system in a brag book aimed at tourists and business owners. A hundred years later, a nonprofit corporate privatization watchdog that thinks the city is about to sell its waterworks to a private company is focusing attention on a tiny Baltimore contract to promote efficiency in the city’s troubled waterworks. Some city workers protested the contract—which has not yet been awarded—on August 13 at City Hall. ….. The Corporate Accountability Campaign is allied with AFSCME, the huge state-and-local government employee union. Glenard Middleton heads up the Baltimore local, but he did not return City Paper’s calls asking about Veolia and the water contract.
Related:
Is Baltimore City’s Water Supply Up For Privatization?
Source: Jaisal Noor, The Real News, August 15, 2014

JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: On Wednesday, August 13, activists, union members, and concerned citizens rallied at Baltimore City Hall to decry what they say could be the first steps in privatizing the city’s water. GLEN MIDDLETON, PRESIDENT, AFSCME LOCAL 44: And we’re here because we want to put a spotlight, a spotlight on selling out Baltimore. …. The Real News reached Kirk Coker, spokesman for Baltimore Department of Public Works, who says there are no plans to privatize the city’s water.

Water worries [Editorial] Our view: Privatization protest was premature, but concerns about the water system are real
Source: Baltimore Sun, August 14, 2014

If Baltimore were actually considering privatizing its water system, the 50 or so people who were protesting outside City Hall on Wednesday would have had a strong case to be upset. But it’s not. Rather, Baltimore is looking for a consultant to evaluate the operation and maintenance of its aging system to find ways to increase efficiency — something that should be greatly in the public interest at a time when rates are constantly going up and broken water mains are distressingly common. Something needs to be done. …. The fact that 50 people were willing to protest even the possibility that the city would consider privatizing water the water system should show just how concerned the public is about the delivery of the most vital of city services.

Protesters question city water system study/ Baltimore officials say they have no plans to privatize water service
Source: Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun, August 13, 2014

About 50 protesters rallied Wednesday outside Baltimore City Hall to object to a proposed study of the water system, a step they fear could eventually put the system in private hands.
The group, led by labor organizers and the nonprofit Corporate Accountability International, is worried that a $500,000 consultant’s study could lead to the private management of the water system.
But the Department of Public Works request for proposals did not involve privatization, city officials said. The request seeks to find a company to study ways to improve “operating and maintenance performance” while “reducing costs and enhancing operational efficiencies.” … In St. Louis, a contract proposal between the city’s water division and Veolia Water North America was dropped in October after protests over the company’s environmental and business practices, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis officials said the contract was intended to find a way to cut costs and avoid rate increases for customers. Asked for comment about the Baltimore proposal, a representative from Veolia referred questions to the city. …

Scott Walker’s Offshoring Flip-flop

Source: Roger Bybee, In These Times, August 20, 2014

Wisconsin Gov. Walker’s convenient crusade against offshoring may prove to be surprisingly good for the state’s working people. … A new report from the liberal research and advocacy group One Wisconsin Now reveals just how hypocritical Walker’s new stance is. One Wisconsin Now points out a number of grants from the Walker-privatized Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation a number of job-creation grants had gone to firms engaged in sending jobs to states other than Wisconsin, and outside of the U.S. itself. (It also notes that 60 percent of that funding from went to businesses that donated to Walker’s 2010 campaign.) … The firms that have announced relocation of jobs or expansions in low-wage nations, especially Mexico and China—possibly portending in many cases a loss of additional Wisconsin jobs in the future—during Walker’s tenure comprise a substantial list: Harley-Davidson, will be moving roughly 500 jobs from Milwaukee to India; General Electric has moved the headquarters of its Medical Equipment Division to Beijing, China from the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha; Caterpillar laid off more than 300 workers in its South Milwaukee plant while announcing the opening of new manufacturing facilities in Wuxi, China; Thermo-Fisher is moving 1,100 jobs from Two Rivers to Mexico; and Manitowoc Co. plans to cut more than 150 jobs in Wisconsin over the next two years as it shifts production to Monterrey, Mexico. …

Related:
Outrage over outsourcing: Has Walker’s job creation agency given money to companies that outsource jobs?
Source: WITI, July 28, 2014

…Walker has harshly criticized Trek for taking taxpayer money and sending jobs overseas. An examination of WEDC records show is own jobs agency may have given money to companies that did the same thing. According to the WEDC’s annual report, Chicago-based printing giant RR Donnelley was given a $140,000 tax credit, saying it planned to make a $316,000 capital investment, but actually invested zero. The company said it would create 75 jobs, but actually only created seven…. In company literature, RR Donnelley describes itself as “a leader in outsource solutions.” …

Latest Finance Report Shows Walker Took Another $167,000 from Businesses That Got WEDC Funds /Walker Has Gotten Almost $1.2 Million from Companies Getting Taxpayer Funds from WEDC, While Wisconsin Ranks Dead Last in the Midwest in Jobs
Source: One Wisconsin Now, Press Release, July 28, 2014

A review of Gov. Scott Walker’s most recent campaign finance report reveals he continues to reap a windfall of campaign donations, nearly $167,000 in just the last six months, from individuals associated with state businesses getting tax breaks, loans and grants through his Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The latest information comes on the heels of a report from One Wisconsin Now that found Gov. Walker’s WEDC doled out 60 percent of its economic development funds to businesses donating $1 million to Walker’s campaign… A media report on WKOW-TV in Madison also detailed how two companies that received WEDC awards of state tax credits worth up to nearly $20 million subsequently laid off 279 Wisconsin workers and expanded their operations in Mexico and other overseas locations including China, Romania, Malaysia, Thailand, Germany and the United Kingdom. It was also reported that individuals on the boards of the companies are longtime Walker donors and have given the Governor roughly $20,000 in contributions….

UPDATE: WEDC award recipients outsourced Wisconsin jobs to foreign countries
Source: Greg Neumann, WKOW-TV, July 9, 2014 (Updated July 28, 2014)

At least two companies that received financial awards from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) later outsourced jobs to foreign countries, with one of those companies receiving a second WEDC award after the fact. A 27 News investigation has uncovered that both the Eaton Corporation and Plexus Corporation received millions of dollars in financial awards from WEDC, only to later lay off workers whose jobs were taken by employees at the companies’ foreign facilities. In 2011, WEDC awarded Eaton Corp. with up to $1 million in tax credits if the company met job creation and retention goals at its manufacturing facility in Menomonee Falls. WEDC officials say the company has received $190,000 in tax credits so far. …

UPDATE: Companies that outsourced jobs donated primarily to Walker campaign
Source: Greg Neumann, WKOW-TV, July 10, 2014 (Updated: July 25, 2014)

Members of the board of directors for two companies that outsourced Wisconsin jobs after accepting financial incentives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation have donated close to $20,000 to Gov. Scott Walker’s campaigns since 2005. Wisconsin campaign finance records show Plexus Corp. board members David Drury and Ralf Boer have each made donations to Walker’s campaign. Boer, an attorney and partner in the Foley and Lardner law firm in Milwaukee, has donated a total of $2,300 to the Walker campaign since 2006. Drury, the CEO of Poblocki Sign Company in Milwaukee, has donated $15,800 to Walker’s campaign since 2005. One board member for the Eaton Corp., Gregory Page, an executive with Cargill in Minnesota, made a single donation of $1,000 to the Governor’s campaign in 2013. …

Only 5,840 ‘actual’ jobs from Walker’s WEDC
Source: Mary Bottari, Capital Times, June 10, 2014

This July marks the three-year anniversary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Gov. Scott Walker’s flagship economic development agency. WEDC has been mired in allegations of incompetence and skirting the law since 2012, but how has it performed when it comes to its top priority of creating jobs for the people of Wisconsin? Two official state data sets indicate that for every verifiable job Walker’s WEDC managed to create, the state lost more than two to plant closings and layoffs….

W is for WEDC – Gov. Scott Walker’s Privatized Commerce Department: A Case Study in Corruption, Cronyism and Incompetence
Source: Jenni Dye, One Wisconsin Now, May 29, 2014

From the press release:
A report released today by One Wisconsin Now analyzing state funds distributed by the quasi-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), created by Gov. Scott Walker, raises serious questions about who is really benefitting. The report found that owners or employees of 30 percent of businesses receiving WEDC assistance contributed to Gov. Walker’s campaign or the Republican Governors Association (RGA). Meanwhile these same businesses received almost 60 percent of WEDC economic development funds – $570 million in total….
Among the key findings of the report, “W is for WEDC”, are:
∙ Gov. Walker received a more than $1 million direct campaign benefit and $1 million to the RGA from WEDC aid recipients, who in turn received nearly 60 percent of economic development dollars – $570 million of the $975 million distributed.
∙ WEDC economic development dollars are not resulting in promised job creation.
∙ WEDC fund recipients include companies engaged in health and safety violations, mass layoffs and conflicts of interest…..

One Wisconsin Now says WEDC money going to Scott Walker donors like Edgewater
Source: Mike Ivey, Capital Times, May 30, 2014

A liberal advocacy group is leveling heavy criticism at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, claiming the quasi-private agency championed by Gov. Scott Walker is delivering financial assistance to campaign donors. The report from One Wisconsin Now maintains that nearly 60 percent of some $975 million in assistance distributed by WEDC went to firms that had contributed to Walker or the Republican Governor’s Association.

UPDATE: Audit reveals WEDC broke state law
Source: Greg Neumann, WKOW, May 1, 2013

The public/private agency Governor Scott Walker created to grow 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin is in violation of state law. That’s what an audit of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) shows. The non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau released a detailed report of its audit Wednesday. The report shows that from July 2011 to December 2012, WEDC failed to follow a number of state statutes in their financial and job creation reporting, awarded loans and grants to ineligible projects and failed to keep track of spending within the organization itself…. The LAB report states WEDC never kept track of the job creation efforts for a group of companies it awarded money to, which in turn prevented the agency from presenting legislators with accurate information on its job creation efforts last November. Both are required of the agency under state law.

Wisconsin jobs agency failed in tracking taxpayer money, audit finds
Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, May 1, 2013

A stinging audit has found that the state’s flagship jobs agency last year failed in a number of cases to follow basic standards in state law for ensuring transparent and accountable use of taxpayer money, prompting immediate calls for changes from GOP lawmakers. The audit from the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau found that last year the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. didn’t verify or require performance information or financial statements from companies receiving financial incentives and awarded nearly $1 million in tax credits to companies for actions taken before they had signed their contracts with the state.

State jobs agency adds 3rd finance chief in 2 years, then loses him in a day
Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, April 24, 2013

This week the state’s flagship jobs agency brought on its third chief financial officer in less than two years – only to see him resign within 24 hours to take a promotion at his former company. The news comes as the still relatively new Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is seeking to shift public attention from its own internal difficulties to what it can do to help meet the state’s much larger economic challenges. WEDC has gone six months without a permanent CFO and had turnover among other top executives at a time when it is trying to strengthen its financial controls.

Competent management needed at WEDC
Source: Editorial Board, Journal Sentinel, December 5, 2012

The state’s lead economic development agency needs to clean up its act, but the public-private model remains a good idea.

State economic development corp. under review / The group failed to track loans worth $12 million
Source: Mary Spicuzza and Dee J. Hall, Wisconsin State Journal, December 1, 2012

The state’s top jobs agency said Friday that it hired a financial institution and an accounting company to review its financial practices after it failed to track loans totaling about $12 million. And officials with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. said the quasi-public agency’s failure to track millions of dollars in loans wasn’t because of any misconduct they have uncovered, but rather because the agency — which lost more than 80 percent of its staff when it was created from the old Department of Commerce — didn’t allocate the time or personnel needed to keep track of the money it had loaned Wisconsin businesses.

Some borrowers of taxpayer-financed loans now bankrupt
Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, December 3, 2012

iPads put $60,000 byte on Wisconsin taxpayers
Source: Daniel Bice, Journal Sentinel, Oct. 7, 2011

Wis. gov introduces members of development corp‎
Source: Todd Richmond, Associated Press, May 19, 2011

Proposed privitization of Commerce Dept. get hearing
Source: WFRV News, January 13, 2011

State workers face privatization / Walker plan reorganizes Commerce Department
Source: Jason Stein, Journal Sentinel, January 6, 2011

Madison — Some of the 340 Department of Commerce workers would no longer be state employees under a job creation proposal by Gov. Scott Walker to partly privatize the agency. According to new details made public by Walker Thursday, the proposed Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. would still receive annual audits by nonpartisan state staff – one way to provide oversight of how the agency awards large taxpayer incentives to businesses….

…The Commerce Department is a midsize agency, with about 340 employees and an annual budget of $183 million in state and federal money. Under the bill, workers transferred from the agency to the proposed Economic Development Corp. would not be state workers and might or might not remain part of the state retirement system, depending on a decision by the new agency’s board. Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch would also be given the power to cut jobs at the Commerce Department….

…The closest model for the proposed Wisconsin agency is an Indiana entity that has faced criticism for not releasing some figures on costly subsidies received by individual companies and on the number of jobs they created with them….

…The legislation released Thursday made no obvious references to whether the agency would be subject to open government laws or audits. But Werwie said the Economic Development Corp. would be subject to the open records and audit requirement because already existing state laws would apply to the new body as it is set up in the bill. The legislation said that the salary for the head of the Economic Development Corp. would be determined by the agency’s board. That appeared to remove a current cap on the salary of the state commerce secretary now set at $135,300….

Subsidy transparency a must
Source: Shannon Nelson, Journal Sentinel, January 1, 2011

Auditor questions data used in health department review of Medicaid privatization program

Source: Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press, August 18, 2014

An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal’s privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday. Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office raised questions about the report that Jindal’s Department of Health and Hospitals submitted to lawmakers in January. … The auditor’s non-partisan review said the report included “mathematical errors and inconsistencies” and used primarily self-reported data from the managed-care organizations that the department didn’t appear to verify.
Related:
Department of Health and Hospitals – Consideration of the Bayou Health Transparency Report
Source: Louisiana Legislative Auditor, Informational Audit, Audit Control #:80140104, August 13, 2014

Bayou Health faces changes, and queries from legislators
Source: Marsha Schuler, Advocate, July 8, 2014

The state’s Medicaid privatization initiative is approaching its third birthday and the Jindal administration claims it’s resulting in taxpayer savings. But the administration has been unable to provide the numbers that would compare the costs of traditional government-provided Medicaid versus the costs under the private healthcare model. It’s an elusive number because of the complexity of the program, state Department of Health and Hospitals Chief of Staff Calder Lynch said. But legislators have been asking for specific numbers as the first contracts are set to expire and as the administration contemplates changes in how health care services are provided to about 900,000 Louisiana residents — most of them pregnant women and children — for the next few years. … Legislators have received “no proof of savings” promised when the administration launched its privatization effort, agreed state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, who serves on appropriations and health care committees. …

La’s Medicaid privatization rollout rocky
Source: Associated Press, Posted Jan 16, 2012

Medicaid privatization firm selection challenged again
Source: Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune, August 23, 2011

Louisiana Medicaid makeover attracts 12 corporate applicants
Source: Jan Moller, Times-Picayune, June 30, 2011

Twelve companies have applied to participate in the state’s new “coordinated care networks” initiative, which will steer nearly 900,000 Medicaid recipients into private managed-care plans starting early next year.

Prison Company Pays $8 Million in Back Wages

Source: Gillian Flaccus, Associated Press, August 20, 2014

The nation’s largest private prison company, Corrections Corp. of America, has paid more than $8 million in back wages and benefits to current and former employees guarding federal inmates at a prison in California City, officials with the U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday. The payments came after an investigation found that the federal prison subcontractor underpaid 362 employees at the California City Correctional Center under the terms of its contract, where pay rates are established by law, according to federal officials. … Corrections Corp. of America — the fifth-largest prison system in the nation — has come under scrutiny before. In Kentucky, it paid $260,000 last week to settle claims that it denied overtime to shift supervisors and forced them to work extra hours. In Kansas, CCA and a group of collections officers, case managers and clerks settled in 2009 in federal court over allegations of unpaid overtime.
Related:
Gov. Jerry Brown moves ahead with second private-prison deal
Source: Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2013

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed another private prison deal to take inmates out of California’s crowded prisons. The arrangement, announced Tuesday morning by Corrections Corp. of America, requires the state to pay $28.5 million a year for what is now a federal detention facility in California City. That prison can hold 2,304 inmates. CCA in a statement to stockholders said the three-year contract requires the Tennessee-based prison operator to pay the first $10 million in needed upgrades to accommodate California’s higher-security inmates. After that, the statement said, California taxpayers will foot the bill. The deal will cause CCA to incur operating losses at first as it moves out federal immigration detainees and prisoners held for the U.S. Marshals Service to make room for the California prisoners who will arrive in December. In September, California signed a $30-million, three-year contract with Geo Group for 1,400 prison beds at two facilities within the state…

Jerry Brown Considers Prison Alliance Between Private Company, Union
Source: Saki Knafo, Huffington Post, August 22, 2013

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has no intention of releasing state prisoners convicted of nonviolent drug offenses, despite a federal court order requiring the state to reduce its prison population by the end of the year, sources told HuffPost. Instead, Brown and legislative leaders are discussing a proposal to create an unconventional partnership between the state’s powerful prison guard union and the nation’s largest private prison corporation — an alliance that may permanently expand California’s prison system while curbing nascent efforts to reduce the state’s mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders. Under the plan, one of several the governor has proposed in conversations with legislative leaders in recent weeks, the for-profit prison giant Corrections Corporation of America would lease one or more of its prisons to the state, which would in turn use California prison guards and other public employees to staff the company’s facilities. …

State eyes private prisons option
Source: Associated Press, August 6, 2013

California will seek to move thousands of inmates to private prisons in a last-ditch attempt to avoid releasing violent offenders to ease prison crowding, the state corrections chief said Monday. The state will take the step after the U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to delay a lower court order requiring California to free nearly 10,000 inmates by year’s end, Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard told The Associated Press. Beard said the state will soon ask a lower federal court to permit the state to house at least 4,000 inmates in privately operated cells in California and other states….

Having it Both Ways: How Charter Schools Try to Obtain Funding of Public Schools and the Autonomy of Private Schools

Source: Preston C. Green III, Bruce D Baker, Joseph Oluwole, Emory Law Journal, Vol. 63, No. 2, 2014

From the abstract:
This Article discusses how charter schools have used their hybrid characteristics to obtain the benefits of public funding while circumventing state and federal rights and protections for employees and students that apply to traditional public schools. The first Part explains how charter schools have emphasized their “public” characteristics to withstand state constitutional challenges that they are ineligible for public funding because they are private schools or fall outside of a system of public schools.

The second and third Parts of this Article explain how charter schools have emphasized their private characteristics to avoid having to comply with state and federal protections that protect employees and students. Specifically, the second Part discusses how privately run charter school boards and EMOs have evaded state union election laws by arguing that they are private entities that are covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), a federal statute that governs private-sector employment. The third Part discusses how charter schools have attempted to evade federal constitutional and statutory protections for employees and students by arguing that they are not state actors pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a federal statute that establishes a cause of action for deprivations of federal constitutional and statutory rights under the color of state law. These Parts also point out that attempts to circumvent state and federal protections for students and employees may have unintended consequences, such as inviting federal involvement in charter school labor policies, or causing state courts to revisit the question of whether charter schools are public schools eligible for funding under state constitutional law.