School bus driver from Port Jervis gets 2 years in prison after crash / Driving and drugs don’t mix in court

Source: Heather Yakin, Times Herald-Record, April 22, 2014

A former bus driver from Port Jervis was sentenced Monday to two years in prison for a 2013 school bus crash she caused by driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Caitlin Railo, 32, pleaded guilty in December in Orange County Court to second-degree assault and aggravated driving while ability impaired by drugs, felonies, in the Feb. 14, 2013 crash in Huguenot. Railo was driving for Quality Bus Service, transporting students for the Port Jervis School District….
Port Jervis schools to privatize bus system
Source: By Stephen Sacco, Times Herald-Record (NY), November 18, 2008

PORT JERVIS — The Port Jervis School District is planning to privatize its transportation system by the end of the school year in 2010. District officials say capital investments weren’t made, so they can’t run the system properly. Union representative and district bus driver Betty Kranz, however, says the decision is causing distress to people who might lose their jobs. …… A recent negotiation with the CSEA, the union that represents the bus drivers, allows the district to bid out to a private company a minimum of five bus runs. In exchange, the district has guaranteed that all current transportation department employees, even those on leave, will keep their jobs at least until the 2009-2010 school year, which ends on June 30, 2010. The CSEA contract also ends on June 30, 2010.

PJ School District approves privatizing student transportation in budget
Source: Mid Hudson News (NY), April 24, 2009

The Port Jervis City School District Board of Education Thursday night approved a $59 million 2009-2010 academic year budget which includes the privatization of student transportation. …… There are 100 district employees who work in the transportation department and are represented by the CSEA. Some may get picked up by the private company, but they would lose in the end, said union spokeswoman Jessica Ladlee. “It’s lower wages, minimum benefits,” she said.
“Right now, we have workers here who have invested many, many years with the district, but they are not quite at retirement age, so it puts them in a very tough position because they had years in the state retirement system but they are not quite where they need to be in order to receive a full pension.”…

First Student closing location, laying off 80

Source: WIVB, April 17, 2014

First Student is closing its Getzville location and laying off around 80 employees. The transport company would not say what led to the decision to close their Millersport Highway facility, but Student Transportation of America Inc. announced their company had been awarded contracts with Batavia City Schools, the Attica Central School District, and Williamsville Central Schools….
First Student to close Getzville office
Source: TWC, April 18, 2014

First Student to close Getzville office
…First Student notified the state that its office will close on July 14. It cited economic reasons in its notice to the state labor department….

Spring Grove school district awards contract to Red Lion Bus Co. /The York County company beat out five others

Source: Mark Walters, Evening Sun, April 22, 2014

Spring Grove Area School District selected a transportation company for its school bus services, and it was not the cheapest option on the table.

School board members awarded Red Lion Bus Company a seven-year contract on April 21, said George Ioannidis, business manager for the district. Red Lion’s proposal came in at approximately $2.712 annually. The district was considering proposals ranging in price from $2.367 million to $2.944 million per year….

Durham was taken off the table along with F&S Transportation, Student Transportation Inc. and First Student Inc. at the school board’s April 7 meeting. The companies were nixed due to unfavorable language and cost-prohibitive matters, Ioannidis said earlier this month.

Spring Grove has had a contract with Durham School Services for eight years. Durham’s contract runs through the end of this school year. The district does not own the buses, and the drivers are Durham employees….

BGOV200 Federal Industry Leaders 2014 – Executive Summary

Source: Bloomberg Government, 2014

The third annual BGOV200 Federal Industry Leaders Study ranks and profiles the top 200 federal vendors by value of prime, unclassified contracts awarded by U.S. agencies in fiscal 2013. It ranks the top contractors at 24 agencies and departments, and in 20 different purchasing categories. Fiscal 2013 represented the culmination of a number of long-building forces in federal contracting. Sequestration, the sustained drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and increasing budget pressures continued the downward trajectory of federal spending on contractors. Many of the companies that rose in rank this year did so by maintaining previous-year levels and not by winning additional contract dollars. This study examines some of the drivers of contracting dynamics and how vendors have fared and reacted.
The study finds:
• Total contracts in fiscal 2013 were $462.1 billion, down 11 percent from $516.3 billion in fiscal 2012. The share of total government obligation dollars won by the top 200 was 65 percent, which is on par with fiscal 2012’s 64 percent.
• Of the companies in the BGOV200, 106 had declines from a year earlier in contract awards, including seven of the top 10. The other 94 companies increased their government obligations despite the overall contracting decline.
• One strategy used by successful contractors was moving into protected markets that experienced less budget pressure. These markets included health services; health information technology (IT); cybersecurity; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). Twenty-one companies that rose in rank on the BGOV200 in 2013 provided goods and services in those four categories.
• Contractors with large protected defense programs saw obligations remain steady or increase. Overall, contractors who produced products did better than those who provided services. Of the top 20 companies, 56 percent of those who primarily provide products saw gains, compared with 36 percent for services.
• Mergers and acquisitions were less significant growth factors in fiscal 2013 compared with fiscal 2012 and 2011. Instead, firms sought to increase efficiency through spinoffs or divestitures. The largest was SAIC’s split into Leidos Holdings Inc. (No. 23), a high-margin- focused technology company, and Science Applications International Corp. (No. 12), a lower-margin government services company. Both companies appear in the top 200, though neither ranked as high as the combined company did in fiscal 2012.

Full List Of Top 200
Graphic: Agency Snapshot
Graphic: Category Snapshot
Graphic: Defense Snapshot

The Privatization Backlash

Source: Molly Ball, Atlantic, April 23, 2014

…In states and cities across the country, lawmakers are expressing new skepticism about privatization, imposing new conditions on government contracting, and demanding more oversight. Laws to rein in contractors have been introduced in 18 states this year, and three—Maryland, Oregon, and Nebraska—have passed legislation, according to In the Public Interest, a group that advocates what it calls “responsible contracting.” … Doing it right, according to Cohen, means ensuring that contractors are subject to standards of transparency and accountability. Private companies doing government work and their contracts should be subject to open-records laws: In 2011, the city of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, hired a contractor to videotape city meetings, then claimed the tapes weren’t public records. (A state appeals court eventually ruled otherwise.) Companies should be held responsible for cost overruns, and governments should be making sure they’re actually saving money: Many private prisons cost more to operate than public ones, the group claims….The vogue for privatizing government began in the Reagan years, experts say, when an ascendant conservative ideology painted the public sector as a callous and sluggish bureaucracy and the private sector as inherently more innovative and efficient. The trend accelerated in the ’90s, and today, Cohen estimates that $1 trillion of America’s $6 trillion in annual federal, state, and local government spending goes to private companies….

Big victory for L&I investigators over outsourcing

Source: Washington State Employee, Vol. 42 no. 3, April 2014

The three-year contract that allowed outsourcing of the surveillance work of Labor and Industries fraud investigators under certain circumstances ended March 31 – thanks to members showing it was costly and ineffective.The outsourcing contract
arose because there was a backlog of surveillance. But L&I management couldn’t really quantify the need to outsource. The outsourcing could only take place under three strict conditions: that individual investigators had to request it with no influence from management; management had to update the union regularly about how much outsourcing was taking place; and the union and L&I had to meet at least three months before any potential renewal of the outsourcing contract. But it turns out the L&I fraud investigators opposed the outsourcing and invoked the voluntary proviso. And in doing so, they authoritatively showed the number of hours, the cost and the outcome of any outsourcing. As renewal neared, Federation Labor Advocate Sherri-Ann Burke filed the union’s demand to bargain and requested detailed utilization data. In the end, our L&I fraud investigator members were right – this outsourcing was costly and ineffective. ….

Lawmakers ask for state audit of U.S. 36 privatization deal

Source: Eli Stokols, KDVR, April 22, 2014

The controversial deal to privatize U.S. Highway 36, giving a consortium of private companies paying for repairs to the Boulder Turnpike control of the road for the next 50 years, is done. But the concerns from residents along the transportation corridor still haven’t been satisfied — and that’s why a group of state lawmakers from the area are calling for a state audit of the deal itself…..
Privatizing U.S. 36 Moves Closer To Final Contract
Source: CBS Denver, February 19, 2014

The 50-year long contract to expand U.S. 36 is one step closer to being finalized despite an outcry of public opposition. The High Performance Transportation Enterprise Board voted to move forward with the deal on Wednesday afternoon. They will enter a private-public partnership with a third party that will control the HOV lanes. Tolls could be as high as $14 each direction….

Boulder Turnpike privatization plan rips off Colorado, says advocate behind lawsuit
Source: Michael Roberts, Westword blog, February 18, 2014

Last July, we detailed a plan to privatize the Boulder Turnpike — a deal the Colorado Department of Transportation supports under the theory that it will help finance U.S. 36 improvements much more quickly than if only public funds are used. The folks with Boulder’s Drive SunShine Institute couldn’t disagree more. They’re filing a lawsuit intended to block the contract and are organizing a protest tomorrow to sketch out the reasons they see it as a boondoggle in the making.

Angry residents voice concerns about public-private deal for US 36 tolls
Source: Will C. Holden, KDVR, February 11, 2014

It was a heated public meeting in Westminster Wednesday night where the Colorado Department of Transportation held a public meeting just days before it finalizes a controversial contract for privatization of toll lanes and maintenance of U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder. Those questions were on the minds of a standing room only crowd made up of lots of angry residents who attended the first of two public meetings Wednesday night. Officials from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) defended the terms of a private, 50-year contract involving the highway at the meeting in Westminster.

Controversial, privatized toll lanes coming to U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder / Public hearings Wednesday and Thursday night
Source: Russell Haythorn, 7News, February 11, 2014

Privatized toll lanes on U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder are on track to open next year, but not without controversy. E-mails have been circulating this week criticizing the Colorado Department of Transportation for pushing the deal through without a lot of transparency. CDOT argues that’s untrue and says the state board, called High Performance Transportation Enterprise, signed off on the deal months ago. CDOT said because of costs, the general strategy for expanding state highways from now on will include allowing private companies to foot the bill. … CDOT spokesperson Amy Ford said a $28 round-trip is misleading. She said the contract with Plenary, the private company helping to construct and maintain the toll lanes, allows Plenary to charge a maximum of $14 one-way through the length of the 50-year contract. Ford said tolls will likely be around $5 one-way over the next few years. … The deal also means CDOT road crews and snow plows will no longer maintain U.S. 36. … At least 14 state lawmakers have taken issue with the privatization of the toll lanes and the lengthy 50-year contract. …

U.S. 36 Public Private Partnership FAQ (pdf file):

Private groups may oversee more local roads
Source: Monte Whaley, Denver Post, April 23, 2013

The same type of deal allowing a private firm to take over maintenance of U.S. 36 and toll collection in the managed lanes on the highway between Denver and Boulder could be struck for other heavily traveled roads in the metro area, state transportation officials say…. Top candidates for a P3 arrangement — or a public-private partnership — include Interstate 25 from Denver to Fort Collins, Interstate 70 between Brighton and Colorado boulevards, and C-470 in southwest Denver. Another remote possibility is to set up a P3 on the I-70 mountain corridor, said Hunt, executive director for the Colorado Department of Transportation. But the logistics of a private firm taking on maintenance duties in a stretch of major highway farther from the Denver area is more daunting, Hunt said. Still, CDOT is open to any solid offer from a company or consortium of companies to design, build, operate, maintain and finance a major roadway expansion, Hunt said….

…Under a 50-year contract with CDOT, Plenary Roads Denver will reconstruct U.S. 36 from 88th Street in Louisville to the Table Mesa park-n-Ride in Boulder. The consortium also will maintain the stretch between Denver and Boulder — including plowing and patching — and collect tolls from the managed lanes…. Plenary Roads heads up a group of six partners, including Ames Construction and Granite Construction. The consortium’s financial adviser is Goldman Sachs….

inBloom to Shut Down Amid Growing Data-Privacy Concerns

Source: Benjamin Herold, Education Week, April 21, 2014

After months caught in the crosshairs of parents, advocates, and educators concerned about student-data privacy, controversial nonprofit inBloom announced Monday that it will close its doors. …. The announcement comes on the heels of the New York state legislature’s recent enactment of legislation that effectively pulled the plug on inBloom’s last remaining large partner.Founded in 2011, inBloom aimed to store, clean, and aggregate a wide range of student information for states and districts, then make the data available to district-approved third parties to develop tools and dashboards so the data could more easily be used by classroom educators. Over the past year, however, the organization became a lightning rod for those concerned about the increased collection, use, and sharing of sensitive student information. The backlash prompted a string of withdrawals by planned partners in Colorado, Louisiana, and elsewhere. …

Bridgeton Landfill agrees to pay $7 million in class action suit

Source: Greta Weiderman, St. Louis Business Journal, April 17, 2014

The Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill agreed on Thursday to pay a settlement of $6.9 million in a class-action lawsuit brought against it by residents who live nearby. The plaintiffs’ attorneys will receive 25 percent of the payment, and the balance will be shared among more than 400 residences near the site. The settlement is subject to final approval by the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Missouri at a hearing currently scheduled on Aug. 1. …
Bridgeton Landfill owners reach settlement, will pay $6.8M
Source: Aja J. Williams, KSDK, April 17, 2014

Residents of more than 400 homes in the vicinity of the Bridgeton Landfill will receive a settlement of more than $6.8 million for the loss of enjoyment of their homes due to a smell, according to a press release. Republic Services agreed to pay the homes in a settlement of a 2013 lawsuit filed, and the court did a preliminary approval of it….

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.