Ways & Means Committee Hearing on Social Impact Bonds Gets Little Attention

Source: Rick Cohen, Nonprofit Quarterly, September 9, 2014

It is more than a little surprising to us at the Nonprofit Quarterly that the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the Social Impact Bond Act introduced by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) and Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) received just about no mainstream press coverage. One possible explanation might have been that last week was devoted largely to the nation’s international crises, particularly the decision to expand bombing of ISIS from Iraq into Syria. That’s tough competition for a hearing on SIBs. Little could be found aside from statements from the hearing posted on the Ways and Means website and some brief coverage on the hearing, either in the lead-up to it, such as this piece from an Enterprise Community Partners blog*, or in its aftermath, such as this brief post from the Social Innovation Research Center, the latter described as an apparently-nonprofit “consulting and evaluation firm specializing in social innovation and performance management for nonprofits and public agencies,” led by Patrick Lester, a former VP for the Alliance for Children and Families….

Evaluating For-Profit Higher Education: Evidence from the Education Longitudinal Study

Source: Yuen Ting Liu and Clive Belfield, Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE), CAPSEE Working Paper, September 2014

From the abstract:
This study evaluates the postsecondary and labor market outcomes of students who attended for-profit colleges. The evaluation complements a similar study by Deming, Goldin, and Katz (2012) that found significant differences in outcomes between students in for-profit colleges and those in other sectors. In this study, the authors use the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, a nationally representative survey monitoring the transitions of young people who were 10th graders in 2002, and compare outcomes during the college years and up to age 26.

In accord with Deming et al., the authors find adverse levels of borrowing and some evidence of wage penalties for students who attended a for-profit college. Paradoxically, however, these results are not associated with lower attainment levels, and there is little evidence that for-profit students were less satisfied with their college experience. These results hold even with detailed controls for ability, for alternative comparison groups, for selection into the for-profit sector, and for alternative designations of for-profit college enrollment. However, the combined effect of higher borrowing and lower earnings for students at for-profit colleges is substantial, such that the average returns to community college dominate those at for-profit colleges.

The Labor Market Returns to For-Profit Higher Education: Evidence for Transfer Students
Source: Yuen Ting Liu & Clive Belfield, Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE), CAPSEE Working Paper, January 2014

Using student progression and earnings data in two states, this paper examines labor market outcomes for students who enrolled at for-profit colleges after beginning their postsecondary education in community college. The authors find significant penalties for transferring to a for-profit college instead of a public or private nonprofit college.

For-Profit Colleges: Growth, Outcomes, Regulation
Source: Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE), CAPSEE Research Brief, October 2013

Based primarily on a report by CAPSEE researchers, this brief examines the rapid growth of for-profit colleges, the outcomes of students who attend for-profits, and the current federal policies that govern these institutions.

For-Profit Colleges
Source: David Deming, Claudia Goldin, & Lawrence Katz, The Future of Children, Vol. 23, No. 1, Spring 2013

In this article, the authors look at the students who attend for-profits, the reasons they choose these schools, and student outcomes on a number of broad measures and draw several conclusions.
Learn more

The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators?
Source: David Deming, Claudia Goldin, & Lawrence Katz, Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE), CAPSEE Working Paper, February 2012

This paper describes the schools, students, and programs in the for-profit higher education sector, its phenomenal recent growth, and its relationship to the federal and state governments.

CAPSEE project: Project 6: The Role of the For-Profit Sector in Higher Education

Indiana Toll Road failing despite 176 percent toll increase for trucks

Source: David Tanner, Land Line, September 16, 2014

Reports out of Indiana suggest that the foreign operators of the Indiana Toll Road will soon be filing for bankruptcy in an attempt to restructure more $6 billion in debt. The announcement comes just eight years into the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co.’s 75-year lease of the roadway and despite a more than 176 percent toll increase on five-axle trucks. The ITRCC, which consists of Cintra of Spain and Macquarie of Australia, paid $3.85 billion to lease the 157-mile toll road in 2006, but owes approximately $6 billion in debts according to the Wall Street Journal. The Journal says the company recently struck a deal with its largest creditors to restructure its debts and will declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections as part of the negotiations. …
Indiana Toll Road operator facing debt woes
Source: Associated Press, June 19, 2014

A state agency says it is monitoring the Indiana Toll Road operator’s finances as it works to make an upcoming debt payment on the financing of its $3.8 billion lease payment to the state eight years ago. The Indiana Toll Road Oversight Board has asked the Spanish-Australian investor group Cintra-Macquarie about the status of the payment it owes this month after state officials made similar inquiries after news reports that it was struggling last year to make an interest payment, board Director James McGoff told The Times of Munster….

Indiana monitors Toll Road operators’ financial troubles
Source: Keith Benman, nwi.com, June 18, 2014

The Indiana Finance Authority continues to monitor the financial difficulties of the Indiana Toll Road, where operators who hold the 75-year lease are struggling to meet a June debt payment. Indiana Toll Road Oversight Director James McGoff said the IFA had inquired of the Toll Road’s operators following news reports last year they were struggling to meet a December interest payment. The Toll Road Oversight Board has now inquired about the June payment. … Cintra, a Spanish firm, and Macquarie Group, of Australia, paid the state of Indiana $3.8 billion in 2006 in exchange for the right to operate the 157-mile road and collect all tolls for 75 years. But traffic on the road has never lived up to expectations, taking a direct hit almost immediately from the recession that started at the end of 2007…. The Toll Road turns an operating profit on tolls, but it has struggled under a mountain of debt now calculated at $4.4 billion in the most recent annual report from Macquarie Atlas Roads. Some $3.9 billion of debt matures in 12 months and will have to be refinanced by June 2015, according to the same report. The concession agreement the state signed with the consortium formed by Cintra and Macquarie Group in 2006 allows the state to take various actions in cases where the Toll Road operator misses payments to creditors, defaults, or goes bankrupt. In a worst-case scenario for investors, that includes Indiana basically serving the Toll Road operators with an eviction notice. “If they default, the road comes back to us,” McGoff said….

Reports: Indiana Toll Road again facing debt problems
Source: Keith Benman, nwi.com, March 31, 2014

…The Wall Street Journal is reporting the Indiana Toll Road is again facing pressure from bondholders, with its controlling partners facing a possible debt restructuring, perhaps in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Journal in an article last week cited people familiar with the matter in reporting a European bank recently sold $500 million of Indiana Toll Road debt to outside investors for 60 cents on the dollar….

The Public-Private Indiana Toll Road Is in Trouble / The problems facing the nation’s largest public-private road venture show how difficult it can be to apply business principles to sprawling public projects
Source: Carol Wolf, Business Week, July 11, 2011

Eleven million trucks. That’s how many 18-wheelers needed to rumble across northern Indiana in 2010 for the state’s 157-mile toll road to break even. Unfortunately, only about half that many did and the road came up $209 million short. … Now five years old, the Indiana deal has yet to turn a profit, or break even.

A plan to expand charter schools gains traction in Georgia

Source: Greg Bluestein, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday that he wants lawmakers to study a plan for a statewide school district that could significantly increase the number of charter schools in Georgia. Deal said legislators should consider a system, known in Louisiana as a Recovery School District, that gives the state more powers to take over struggling schools and convert them to charters. The remarks came at an event with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose state pioneered the program…

Rahm to Aramark: Clean up the schools or clean out your desks

Source: Lauren FitzPatrick and Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, September 16, 2014

Responding to reports of filthy conditions inside Chicago Public Schools after privatizing janitorial management, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Aramark could “clean out the schools or they can clean out their desks and get out.”… Emanuel said Board President David Vitale has been in contact with the private management firm. Vitale and other board members had voted earlier this year to give Aramark a $260 million contract to manage the district’s custodians and cleaning supplies. …
Schools CEO: privatizing janitorial services not ‘as smooth as we would like’
Source: Becky Vevea, WBEZ, September 15, 2014

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett admitted Monday that turning over management of school janitors to two private companies hasn’t been going very well. …. But so far, the outsourcing seems to have led to dirty schools, property damage, poor communication and janitors being laid off. Those complaints came to light in a survey of more than 230 principals conducted by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. …

Chicago Public Schools contractor to lay off 476 custodians
Source: Lauren Fitzpatrick And Matt McKinney, Chicago Sun-Times, September 14, 2014

The move to lay off nearly 500 privately contracted custodial workers who clean Chicago Public Schools will make it harder to keep classrooms tidy, the union representing the custodians said Sunday…. The Sun-Times reported Saturday that 476 custodians who clean Chicago Public Schools will lose their jobs at the end of the month…. The cuts come after CPS officials agreed to a $260 million contract in March with the firm Aramark, which used subcontractors to employ the custodial workers, CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Saturday. CPS principals have complained about school cleanliness since the district privatized the janitorial services, according to a survey by AAPPLE, a new activist group under the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association….

Aramark worker arrested after 5 inmates found with heroin, other drugs

Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, September 16, 2014

An Aramark kitchen food worker is facing charges related to drug smuggling after five prisoners at St. Louis Correctional Facility were found with heroin, marijuana, cocaine and tobacco Monday, a Corrections Department spokesman confirmed. In all, 39 packets of the contraband drugs and tobacco were found in a series of searches that followed an investigation, Russ Marlan told the Free Press….
Schauer accuses governor of lying about canceled Aramark fine
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, September 12, 2014

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer on Friday accused the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder of lying to the people of Michigan about a $98,000 fine levied against the state’s prison food contractor. But a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections said “there was absolutely no deception at play” in not publicly revealing until Thursday that the fine levied against Aramark for poor performance in March was suspended and never paid. … Schauer said the e-mail exchange shows a top aide to the governor pressuring a department director to give special treatment to a contractor. He said after acknowledging the fine, the Snyder administration should not have let months go by without correcting the impression the fine was paid by Aramark. “The governor has to take responsibility, through his spokespeople, for continuing to contend … that Aramark paid a $98,000 fine,” Schauer said. Marlan said the fine was reported by the media as a result of a FOIA request and never announced by the department. …

Prisons director canceled $98,000 fine imposed on Aramark
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, September 11, 2014

The director of the Michigan Department of Corrections canceled a $98,000 fine levied in March against prison food contractor Aramark Correctional Services, a spokesman confirmed today. “It never was paid,” said Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the department. Director Dan Heyns “wanted to give them some time to solve the problems we were experiencing.” The Free Press published a series of articles on how the contract with Aramark, which began in December, has been marked by problems with food shortages, sanitation issues and Aramark workers getting too friendly with prisoners — in some cases smuggling in contraband or engaging in sex acts with prisoners. …. “That’s outrageous,” said Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ Council 25, which represented about 370 state employees who were displaced by the Aramark contract. “Things only got worse after the first fine.”

Michigan official feared ‘losing control’ of prison from food problems
Source: Gary Heinlein, Detroit News, September 11, 2014

Michigan’s Corrections Department director was worried about “losing control” of a prison six months ago because of a troubled food vendor, according to an email exchange released Thursday. In a brief email exchange from March, state prison head Daniel Heyns tells Gov. Rick Snyder’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore he will “tone down my attack dogs, delay or cancel any fines and give Aramark time to solve the problems.”…

State prisons director canceled nearly $100,000 Aramark fine
Source: Fox17, September 11, 2014

A $98,000 fine imposed on the state’s prison food contractor Aramark was canceled, according to a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections. MDOC spokesman Russ Marlan said that Director Daniel Heyns wanted to give the company time to solve some of the issues the state was having with them.That sentiment is also echoed in emails between Heyns and Gov. Rick Snyder’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore that were published Thursday by Progress Michigan. …

Ex-Florida prison chief monitors Michigan contract
Source: David Eggert, Associated Press, September 11, 2014

Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration has hired the former chief of prisons in Florida and Indiana to oversee Michigan’s troubled three-year, $145 million contract with a company supplying inmates with food. Edwin Buss began work Sept. 2 and will be paid $160,000 a year. His salary is being covered with a $200,000 fine that the state levied last month against Aramark Correctional Services for unapproved menu substitutions, inadequate staffing and employee misconduct, Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel told The Associated Press. …. Prison unions who oppose the privatization of food service had raised suspicions that Snyder was trying to shield emails and documents related to the food contract from public disclosure, since his office is not subject to public records requests. …. Buss, 48, most recently worked in Florida as chief development officer for Correctional Healthcare Companies Inc. The Tennessee-based company provides medical and mental health care to prison and jail inmates.

Our Views: Aramark jail service too ‘private’
Source: Grand Haven Tribune, August 25, 2014

Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced that his office would soon be monitoring the $145 million contract with Aramark Correctional Services that, up until that point, was under the watchful eye of the Michigan Department of Corrections — sort of. … As taxpayers who pay for the contract with Aramark, we have the right to know how that contract is being serviced, and that only those services within the contract are being rendered. Obviously, that hasn’t been the case. The state has fined Aramark nearly $300,000, or 0.002 percent of the $145 million the contract is worth, but there are no plans to cancel the pact. Most would agree that fine isn’t very impactful. …

EDITORIAL: Outsourcing isn’t the problem
Source: Detroit News, August 16, 2014

In response to the problems with Michigan’s privatized prison food service company, Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, Gov. Rick Snyder has fined the firm $200,000 …. Yet it was not a mistake to privatize the food service. The state is saving $14 million a year by outsourcing it. Reverting to the old system of state employed staff members is not the answer. Getting Aramark to clean up its act or replacing it with another food vender is a better option.

Michigan fines prison food vendor $200,000
Source: David Eggert, Associated Press, August 8, 2014

Michigan officials imposed a $200,000 fine Friday against the food vendor for the state’s prison system, citing unapproved menu substitutions, inadequate staffing and employee misconduct. The state Corrections Department stopped short of ending its contract with Aramark Correctional Services, which it absolved of blame for maggots found recently in a Jackson prison’s food service area.

Aramark to learn fate of prison food contract in two weeks
Source: Paul Egan, Gannett Michigan, August 3, 2014

News Michigan’s beleaguered prison food contractor should find out in the next two weeks whether it faces further financial penalties or even dismissal after its first eight months were marred by food shortages, kitchen maggots and high turnover as employees were caught smuggling contraband and engaging in sex acts with inmates. Many Democrats and a few Republican lawmakers are urging Gov. Rick Snyder to terminate Aramark Correctional Service’s contract and return state employees to the kitchens, saying safety and security must take precedence over estimated contract savings of about $16 million a year. Smuggling and fraternization potentially endanger prison staff, and problems with food quantity and quality — including maggots found around food in at least two Michigan prisons — have raised inmate tension levels. …

Why did Aramark get the prison food contract? Here’s some insight
Source: Steve Miller, MLive.com, July 23, 2014

Why did Aramark Correctional Services, now under fire for alleged infractions in its food
service contract with the state prison system, win a bid over its competitors? It came down to a single point on the state’s contract-award rating system, records show, allowing Aramark to get the contract over the other finalist, Florida-based Trinity Services Group. That single point eventually grew to four points after further consideration by a four-person panel charged with awarding the deal. Even in its application for the contract, Aramark had problems…. Curiously, the state almost shelved the idea of privatizing food service for the state’s prisons when it determined that its savings would not be enough to justify it. At the last minute, though, several Republican lawmakers insisted that the deal be made. While it screams of money being exchanged, a search of campaign contributions finds nothing remarkable coming from the Aramark PAC going into the campaign coffers of its statehouse advocates. … In one email, Kevin Weissenborn, the Michigan Department of Corrections manager in charge of policing the Aramark contract, told a colleague in March that Aramark “claims we are not being a good partner, which only leaves me to wonder about their definition of a partnership.” It would have been nice to see just what Aramark officials involved with the contract were saying to each other, but its $145 million contract with the state protects Aramark from FOIA requests, directly stating that “[Aramark] is not required to respond to any state or federal FOIA requests by third parties” – meaning the public that is spending the $145 million…

Aramark prison workers caught in sexual romp with inmates, fired
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, July 16, 2014

In a development a Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman said was “unprecedented,” four Aramark prison workers at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia were fired today for having inappropriate sexual contact with inmates inside a walk-in cooler, a Corrections Department official confirmed…. The firings came after officials reviewed recent surveillance video, Marlan said. Two of the kitchen workers were at work today and were escorted out. Two others were fired and not allowed into the prison when they showed up for work, he said. The firings also mean more than 80 Aramark workers have now been banned from prison property for various infractions since the company took over on Dec. 8, eliminating 370 state jobs…

You get what you pay when hiring private company for Michigan prisons: embarrassing failures
Source: Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio, July 14, 2014

…The problem is this: Inmates of state prisons are different from other people. They are, by definition, criminals, often wily ones, adept at beating the system. They need expert handling. Private companies save money by hiring workers at very low salaries. You get what you pay for. State Senator Bert Johnson turns out to have been a prophet here; last year he warned against privatizing prison food services, as weakening “the care and monitoring of Michigan’s incarcerated.” If anyone should know, it’s him. He did time as a young man before turning his life around. The senator openly admits he once made a bad mistake. On this issue, it would be nice to see the state admit it made one too. …

Senate majority leader says Michigan should rebid Aramark prison contract
Source: Paul Egan and Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, July 10, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said Thursday the state should rebid its contract for prison food services, given ongoing problems with the existing contractor, as unions stepped up pressure on Gov. Rick Snyder to return the work to state government employees. “I’d put it back up for bid,” Richardville, R-Monroe, said of the seven-month-old contract with Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia, during a taping of the public affairs program “Off the Record” on WKAR-TV. ….

More calls for state to end food service contract with Aramark in Michigan prisons
Source: WTVB, July 11, 2014

Leaders from the union representing the state employees who used to run food services in Michigan’s prison system and the corrections officers union again called for the Governor to end the contract with the company that took over the program. Nick Ciaramitaro, the legislative director of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 25, warned the Governor that “he is playing with dynamite” if he does not nix the Aramark deal. He contends the problems will continue to mount unless the jobs “are brought back in house.” The MIRS News Service reports that Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville Thursday told the television program Off the Record the state “definitely needs to revisit the contract,” although he stopped short of calling for termination. If that does happen Richardville said he thinks the contract should be re-bid. Addressing the contract is “a top priority,” as he concluded, “there is no way that this should be happening.” …

Governor Snyder Considering Terminating Aramark Contract For MI Prisons
Source: Tim Skubick, WLNS, July 9, 2014

The Snyder administration has not made a final decision, but there are indications that the governor is considering terminating a food service contract in the state prison system. 6 News Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick has an update on this continuing story. The governor is not happy with the Aramark Company and its handling of food services behind prison walls. … So is the governor thinking about terminating the contract? He did not say yes, but he clearly did not say no….The legislature, not the governor decided to fire 370 state employees who did the food services prior to the private company coming in. The state prison director even told lawmakers not to do it….

Inmates sick after maggots found on serving line at prison
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, July 1, 2014

About 30 prisoners at a Michigan correctional facility are being treated for symptoms consistent with food poisoning after maggots and fly larvae were discovered in one of the meal serving lines, an official confirmed Monday. But a spokeswoman for Aramark Correctional Services, Michigan’s prison food contractor, said there is no evidence linking the discovery of the maggots to the outbreak of illness….

Maggots, Fly Larvae Found in Jackson Prison

Source: Lorne Fultonberg, WILX, June 30, 2014

Approximately 30 inmates from the Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson are suffering from a gastrointestinal illness, which could be related to maggots and fly larvae found in a food line, said Russ Marlan, spokesman for the Department of Corrections. The prison discovered fly larvae and maggots Friday night about two inches from where the serving trays sat, Marlan said. The next day, dozens of inmates were complaining of vomiting, upset stomachs and diarrhea. The food and dining facilities are managed by Aramark which took over the food service contract in December, eliminating 370 jobs in the process. Since December, Aramark has fired an employee for being drunk on the job and another was caught smuggling marijuana into the prison….

Private Contractor For Michigan Prisons Repeatedly Failed To Give Inmates Enough Food
Source: Alan Pyke, ThinkProgress, June 30, 2014

Less than a year after Michigan shifted responsibility for feeding its prisoners to a private contract with international food services conglomerate Aramark, the state Department of Corrections (DOC) is warning the company that it may yank the contract if chronic food shortages and security violations don’t cease….

Aramark prison food supervisor fired for being drunk on job
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, May 12, 2014

The top Aramark Correctional Services official at Parnell Correctional Facility in Jackson was fired last week for being drunk on the job, a Corrections Department spokesman confirmed Monday. Aramark’s food service director at Parnell was given a Breathalyzer test by Aramark last Tuesday after officials received an anonymous tip, Russ Marlan told the Free Press. When she failed the test, the woman was fired and banned from the state prison system, he said. Marlan said there have been 58 Aramark employees fired and banned from the state prison system in the five months since the state privatized prison food service in December with a three-year, $145-million contract….

Michigan prison food vendor survives union challenge in 2-2 vote
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, May 7, 2014

Michigan’s Civil Service Commission deadlocked 2-2 on a union challenge to the state’s privatization of its prison food service, meaning a three-year, $145-million contract with Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia will remain in place. It’s likely the fight over the contract will now move to the state courts, a union spokesman said. In an opinion released Wednesday, http://www.freep.com/assets/freep/pdf/C422124257.PDF Commission Chairman Thomas (Mac) Wardrop and Commissioner James Barrett rejected the appeal by Michigan AFSCME Council 25 and the Michigan Association of Governmental Employees. Commissioners Charles Blockett Jr. and Robert Swanson wanted to grant the appeal and turn the issue over to the state Employment Relations Board for further proceedings. ….

Michigan unions cite safety as lawmakers consider more privatization
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, May 7, 2014

Unions representing state employees asked the Michigan Civil Service Commission today to consider not just price, but quality, when approving deals to lay off state employees and privatize government services. The commission took no action after state officials testified that quality assurances are built into privatization contracts….

Safety, Quality of Privatized Services Remain Top Concerns for State Union Employees
Source: Josh Sidorowicz, WILX, May 7, 2014

Unions representing state employees urged the Michigan Civil Service Commission Wednesday to consider quality, not just the bottom line, when looking to privatize government state services. During public remarks at a commission meeting Wednesday morning, several unions representing state employees testified about the need for more quality assurance and transparency when it comes to privatization contracts. Mel Grieshaber, the executive director of the Michigan Department of Corrections cited the Aramark food service contract, that privatized the state’s food service for inmates, as one of the most recent examples of outsourcing that has sacrificed quality and safety to save money….

Michigan prison food employees violate policies more often than other workers, department says
Source: Brian Smith, mlive.com, April 15, 2014

Employees of the private contractor in charge of food service in Michigan’s prisons are violating corrections department policy more often than other prison workers. The Michigan Department of Corrections has issued 51 “stop orders” banning Aramark workers from the state’s correctional facilities for a number of issues, department spokesman Russ Marlan said….Marlan said that the number of orders issued ejecting Aramark employees from working in Michigan prisons since the contract began is abnormal….

Food worker accused of trying to smuggle marijuana into Jackson prison
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, March 20, 2014

An Aramark Correctional Services worker is accused of trying to smuggle bags of marijuana into a state prison in Jackson in the latest in a series of problems since the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder opted to eliminate 370 state jobs and pay a contractor to provide prison meals, starting last December. And while state Corrections Department officials say they aren’t ready to pull the plug on the $145-million, three-year deal yet, they said in a Feb. 27 letter to Aramark they have “grounds for insecurity” and expect a swift turnaround….

Union decries mistakes by company hired to feed prisoners
Source: Tim Skubick, MLive.com, March 16, 2014

The state Corrections Department may not be smiling but at least some prisoners are after having inappropriate contact with employees of a private company hired to provide food services behind prison walls. A union contends that included sex while the DOC contends that is an exaggeration, although it does confirm one case of kissing. Either way 29 Aramark employees have been banned from prison work for “over familiarity” which also apparently included writing love letters to crooks and attempting to smuggle cell phones behind prison walls. … The state corrections officer union and AFSCME were at the front of the line warning this company had it’s own “rap sheet.” The Associated Press reports that in Kentucky, Ohio and Florida, the company charged for food it never served. …. On top of all the food problems at the Huron Valley facility for women, the new hires were given eight hours of computer training, according to the MIRS News Service, which reviewed 500 pages of state inspections. The report says they were then placed on the job “and knew nothing about policy, procedure and work rules…This lack of training is unacceptable, dangerous and creates safety and security issues,” the state concluded…..

Michigan fines Aramark $98,000 for prison food rule violations
Source: Darren A. Nichols, Detroit News, March 11, 2014

A food service provider, already under fire for its handling of food and dealing with inmates, has been fined $98,000 for violating its contract, according to two state Department of Corrections letters released Tuesday. Aramark Corp., which took over Michigan prison food service operations late last year that eliminated union jobs, was fined after not getting approval to make meal substitutions 52 times, failing to make the appropriate number of meals 240 times and allowing 12 instances of poor staff conduct, according to two state letters addressed to the company dated March 6. During a six-week period starting Jan. 17, the company made 52 meal substitutions without appropriate authorization and another 188 substitutions were made. Aramark was charged $26,000 for 52 unauthorized meals and $60,000 for not supplying the appropriate number of meals to prisoners. The Philadelphia service giant also was penalized for 12 instances from Jan. 17 to Feb. 28 of staff violating rules over how to deal with prisoners….

Michigan prison food vendor fined $98,000 for worker fraternization, menu problems
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, March 11, 2014

The Michigan Department of Corrections has fined its new prison food vendor, Aramark Correctional Services, $98,000 for violating its contract by employing workers who fraternized with prisoners and by making unauthorized menu substitutions and not preparing the correct number of meals, the department said Tuesday….

Michigan prisoners leave cells in protest over meals, menu options
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, February 18, 2014

About 200 prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe left their cells and demonstrated Monday over their food – two months after the Department of Corrections eliminated 370 state jobs and privatized its food service. …

Michigan prisons fine private food service contractor for violations
Source: Michigan Radio, March 11, 2014

The Michigan Department of Corrections has fined Aramark, the company that handles food operations in state prisons. The MDOC notified Aramark of the fines, totaling almost $100,000, by two letters sent in the last two weeks.The MDOC said Aramark violated its contract by substituting meals, and by failing to prepare the right number of meals. The fines have been assessed for 52 unauthorized meal substitutions and 240 instances of improper meal counts….

Mich. lawmakers question if security cutbacks, food privatization played role in prison escape
Source: Associated Press, February 4, 2014

Some Michigan lawmakers are questioning whether security cutbacks and the recent privatization of prison food service factored into a killer’s escape from an Ionia prison. Democratic Sen. Glenn Anderson of Westland said Tuesday it was “foolish” for Michigan to scale back perimeter patrols and eliminate manned gun towers in recent years to save money. Officials say Michael David Elliot escaped Sunday through fences equipped with motion sensors and electric current before being captured in Indiana. Anderson says security is weaker since majority Republicans handed food service operations over to a private contractor. Elliot escaped wearing a white kitchen uniform but didn’t work in the kitchen.

Did The Privatization Of Food Service In Michigan Prisons Contribute To Prison Break?
Source: WWJ, February 4, 2014

State officials probe union complaints on prison food workers
Source: Gary Heinlein, Detroit News, January 15, 2014

State corrections officials are looking into union complaints of alleged unsafe conduct by employees of a new prison food service vendor but dispute one serious charge — that an employee of the contractor had sex with an inmate. …. Michigan Corrections Organization President Tom Tylutki said the union has “multiple examples” of improper conduct by workers of the new private contractor. …

Union says untrained Aramark workers threaten Michigan prison security
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, January 15, 2014

An employee of contractor Aramark Correctional Services has been caught having sex with an inmate and prisoners who work in kitchens are getting easier access to knives, less than six weeks after state employees were laid off and prison food services were privatized, the head of the union representing corrections officers says in a letter to the department director. …

Michigan prison food switch brings mixed reviews
Source: Paul Egan, Lansing State Journal, December 16, 2013

One week after the launch of one of state government’s largest privatization moves in decades, prison officials said a contractor is doing a good job providing meals to Michigan’s 45,000 prisoners, but union leaders said the transition has been a rocky one. … The deal, estimated to save $12 million to $16 million a year, eliminates about 370 state jobs. Some workers retired, 166 former food service workers enrolled in an eight-week corrections officer school and are expected to stay with the department, eight got monitoring jobs related to the Aramark contract and about 100 were laid off, Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said. … Union officials said Aramark has not hired all the workers it needs, hasn’t fully trained those it has and has had to bring in managers from other facilities around the country. They said they’ve heard reports of food shortages, employee turnover and contraband entering the prisons, among other issues….

Dianda wants Privatization of Prison Food Services ended
Source: ABC 10, November 15, 2013

State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) wrote an open letter today to Acting State Personnel Director Janet McClelland calling for an end to food service privatization in Michigan prisons. Dianda worked across the aisle to get the signatures of 13 other state representatives and three senators attached to the letter, which had bipartisan support. On Sept. 18, stakeholders from across the correctional services industry testified before the Michigan Civil Service Commission against administration plans to outsource prison food services. In his letter, Dianda highlighted the evidence presented. … Current in-state DOC vendors testified that outsourcing food provisions to out-of-state vendors would have devastating effects on their businesses and on Michigan’s economy as a whole, while correctional officers and managerial staff raised concerns that the proposed change would lead to violence. In addition to those concerns, legislators raised bicameral and bipartisan concerns about the manner in which the bidding process was handled. Less than 24 hours after the extensive testimony and evidence was delivered, the governor announced that he intended to expedite the outsourcing of prison food services. Along with this announcement, the governor has said he wants not only to negotiate a contract with the private food service company Aramak, but to get that contract approved, signed and implemented before Dec.1 − before the next meeting of the Civil Service Commission. …

Prison food service moves step closer to privatization
Source: Paul Egan, press-citizen.com, September 24, 2013

A state administrative committee gave approval Tuesday to a three-year, $145-million contract with a prison food contractor that is expected to eliminate about 370 state government jobs. The recommended approval from the finance and claims committee of the contract with Aramark Correctional Services of Pennsylvania is expected to go to the full State Administrative Board for approval on Monday….

State opts to privatize prison food service, saving taxpayers $12 million a year
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, April 30, 2013

In a reversal, officials said today they will privatize food service for 45,000 state prisoners by awarding a nearly $50 million yearly contract to catering giant Aramark. The move would eliminate the jobs of about 370 state workers who currently prepare and serve meals, but is estimated to save taxpayers more than $12 million a year. The state put the food service out to bid last year, but an analysis by officials from the Department of Technology, Management and Budget and the Department of Corrections concluded Aramark and a second company that bid would not save taxpayers enough money to justify privatization.

In a reversal, Michigan moves to privatize state prison food services
Source: Tim Martin, Mlive.com, April 30, 2013

… Roughly two months ago, the state had decided against privatizing prison food services, saying the contracts put out for bid didn’t achieve enough savings as required by state rules. But some Republican lawmakers raised objections about the original analysis. State officials redid the analysis and found some mistakes were made in the original review. State officials now have what they consider a more valid and accurate review and say they will go forward with a deal with Aramark….

EM [East Moline] to privative garbage service; fees to stay the same for 1st year

Source: Anthony Watt, qconline.com, September 15, 2014

The aldermen have tentatively approved a contract that will privatize city garbage service. The aldermen have been debating for weeks how to handle the service. The debate is based on the upcoming retirement of four public works employees, said city administrator Cole O’Donnell. The retirements would let East Moline’s four garbage department employees move to other positions as staff bid for the open public works spots. That would let the city close the garbage department without layoffs, a move Mr. O’Donnell said could mean long-term savings for East Moline through employee benefits. The city has been negotiating with Republic Services and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees simultaneously, and, during Monday night’s committee of the whole meeting, voted to go with the Republic offer. The vote was 4-1 with Ald. Ed DeJaynes, 4th Ward, voting against and Alds. Helen Heiland, 1st Ward; and Jeff Stulir, 3rd Ward, not present. The contract would be for seven years and the fees for residents would stay the same as they are now for the first year: $7.15 per month, according to a report provided to the aldermen. After that, the bill would increase, going to $7.43 per month in the second year, and rising to $8.33 per month by the final year of the contract. These rates would be based on the city making use of a fee paid to it by Republic, which owns the landfill, and also using some of the levy capacity from the former garbage fund, the report states. The rest of that capacity would go to the general fund. …

NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to carry astronauts to space station by 2017

Source: Marcia Dunn, Associated Press, September 16, 2014

NASA is a giant step closer to launching Americans again from U.S. soil. On Tuesday, the space agency announced it has picked Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the International Space Station in the next few years. … The deal will end NASA’s expensive reliance on Russia. U.S. astronauts have been riding Russian rockets ever since NASA’s shuttles retired in 2011. The latest price tag is $71 million per seat….
Boeing and SpaceX both getting NASA money for manned space launches
Source: John Timmer, Ars Technica, September 16, 2014

Today, NASA administrator Charles Bolden announced that there were two winners in the campaign to become the first company to launch astronauts to low-Earth orbit: Boeing and SpaceX. The two will receive contracts that total $6.8 billion dollars to have hardware ready for a 2017 certification. Ending a reliance on Russia to get to the Space station was noted as a key driver of this effort, but several speakers at the press conference mentioned that the ultimate goal was Mars. Accordingly, NASA will continue to develop the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and the Orion crew capsule for exploration beyond Earth orbit. The press conference for this announcement is ongoing, and we will be updating this report as details are available….

Regulators Sue Corinthian Colleges for Allegedly Harassing Low-Income Students

Source: Natalie Kitroeff, Bloomberg Businessweek, September 16, 2014

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is suing Corinthian Colleges, one of the largest operators of for-profit colleges in the U.S., on grounds that it deceived students and harassed them to collect on student loan debts. The CFPB, a federal government agency, charges that Corinthian used false promises of employment prospects to lure students, induced them to take out predatory loans, and publicly humiliated them when they couldn’t pay.
Corinthian boosted figures to obtain federal funds
Source: Chris Kirkham, Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2014

…As federal regulators move to shut down Everest’s parent company, Corinthian Colleges Inc., corporate documents and interviews with company insiders provide a behind-the-scenes portrait of how Corinthian persuaded hundreds of thousands of low-income students to fork over as much as $40,000 for vocational degrees. Interviews with staffers and students, along with government lawsuits and company regulatory filings, reveal a systematic effort to manipulate data used to recruit students and retain eligibility for federal student aid — the lifeblood of company profits. Federal and state investigators have long viewed Corinthian, based in Santa Ana, as one of the most problematic players in the troubled for-profit college industry, which has come under scrutiny for predatory marketing. The student loan pipeline fueled the company’s rapid enrollment growth, peaking at more than 110,000 students in 2010. Corinthian charges students up to 10 times the cost of a comparable community college education. That requires many of them to take on more debt than they can repay — leaving taxpayers on the hook for mass defaults….

Corinthian Colleges Warns of Possible Shutdown / Restrictions on Federal Funding Leave For-Profit Educator in Cash Crisis
Source: Stephanie Gleason and Josh Mitchell, Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2014

One of the country’s largest for-profit education companies warned Thursday that it may have to shut down after the Obama administration moved to restrict the company’s access to federal funding. Corinthian Colleges Inc., which operates Everest College and other schools, has about 72,000 students who receive roughly $1.4 billion in federal financial aid each year. But the company and its for-profit rivals, which enroll about 13% of the nation’s higher-education students, are drawing greater scrutiny from regulators over concerns about their marketing, dropout rates and loan defaults among their students. The U.S. Department of Education has increased its oversight of Corinthian because, it said, the school hasn’t addressed concerns about its marketing practices, including allegations of falsifying job-placement data. The company, whose schools also include Everest Institute, WyoTech and Heald, said in a financial filing Thursday that it has expended substantial resources responding to the department’s concerns, and will continue to cooperate with its review. …

For-Profit College Enrolls, “Exploits” Student Who Reads At Third Grade Level
Source: David Halperin, Republic Report, June 2, 2014

A librarian at a southern California campus of Everest College abruptly resigned last week, deeply upset that the for-profit school had admitted into its criminal justice program a 37-year-old man who appears to read at a third grade level. The man, who shakes, speaks haltingly, and may suffer from a developmental disability, told the librarian he expected to be a police officer after completing the program. But the librarian, Laurie McConnell, is certain he can never obtain such a job.

McConnell, who had been devoting much of her time at work to helping the student with his reading assignments, wrote to the campus’s president on May 21 that the student would be “impossible to place in the field” and had “no idea of the ramifications of signing the enrollment agreement” at Everest. But the president, Richard Mallow, did not give her a response. McConnell quit on May 27, four days after she first contacted me to say that the student was “being defrauded” by Everest. “He breaks my heart,” she told me, “and I feel completely helpless.”

Everest is owned by for-profit giant Corinthian Colleges, which is facing a lawsuit for fraud by the attorney general of California and is under investigation by 17 other state attorneys general and four federal agencies. Kent Jenkins, vice president for public affairs and communications at Corinthian, told me today that the campus believed it was appropriate to take a chance on admitting the student. He also raised the possibility (see below) that Corinthian would refund some or all of the student’s costs if he ended up dropping out.

Corinthian in recent years has received as much as $1.46 billion annually in taxpayer money, about 83 percent of its total revenue. That $1.46 billion represents nearly 4.5 percent of the colossal $33 billion that for-profit colleges have been getting annually from federal student aid….