Source: By Bill Ruthhart, Indianapolis Star, March 31, 2008
Each of the 21 plazas on the Indiana Toll Road will offer electronic tolling starting Tuesday, but fees will be about double for commuters who do not use i-Zoom passes. The toll increases were scheduled as part of the June 2006 agreement by the state to lease the Northern Indiana highway to a private consortium for 75 years at a price tag of $3.8 billion.
Source: Aaron Marshall, Plain Dealer (OH), Sunday, March 30, 2008
Ohio has spent more than $90 million over the past decade trying to launch a computer system to keep track of tens of thousands of children across the state placed in foster care each year. But Cuyahoga County officials say the system simply does not work, and they refuse to sign on to it, as state officials have ordered them to do by June 23.
…… Other counties are also rebelling. Last week, child welfare agency heads in Cuyahoga and 10 other counties sent a letter to the state saying they won’t be part of the new system until it is successfully rolled out in Hamilton County and the current problems are resolved.
……. But state officials say the system needs to be up and running because the $37.5 million contract given to Dynamics Research Corp. of Andover, Mass., to develop the system is up at the end of this fiscal year – June 30.
Related article from the Plain Dealer: A history of computer problems
Source: Akron Beacon Journal (OH), Saturday, Mar 29, 2008
……… In his annual State of the City address on Feb. 7, Mayor Don Plusquellic proposed selling the city’s sewer system to pay for scholarships for Akron’s public high school graduates to the University of Akron or to trade schools.
……. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union whose members could lose jobs under concession agreements, says pretty much the same thing. ”Investors will make their money from future users paying higher tolls and fees over the life of the agreements,” the union said in January in an assessment of the Chicago and Indiana deals.
…… The local chapter of AFSCME, which represents Akron’s sewer workers, has said it would fight Plusquellic’s proposal, and other Akron residents have raised concerns.
Source: By Tom LoBianco, Washington Times, March 31, 2008
ANNAPOLIS — A state lawmaker says Montgomery County is “exploiting a loophole” in state law designed to keep speed-camera operators from profiting off the number of speeding tickets issued.
………. The county reached an agreement in 2006 with Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (ACS) on a camera system that deploys six vans with speed cameras and 13 stationary speed cameras, as of December. County officials plan to expand to 30 fixed speed cameras by the end of the year.
According to Transportation Article 21-809(j) of the Maryland Code, “If a contractor operates a speed monitoring system on behalf of Montgomery County, the contractor’s fee may not be contingent on the number of citations issued or paid.”
…….. But according to the minutes of a Jan. 29, 2007, meeting of the Rockville City Council, during which legislators approved a “rider bid” to install cameras in the city as part of the ACS contract with the county, ACS gets paid “$16.25 per paid citation for each fixed site and $16.25 per paid citation or $2,999.00 per month per deployed mobile unit whichever is greater.”
Source: By Jameel Naqvi, Daily Herald (IL), 3/28/2008
Aramark, the contractor that cleans and feeds dozens of suburban schools, was in the hot seat Thursday.
The Illinois House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee held a hearing in Chicago on a litany of complaints against Aramark from workers, parents and union officials.
The Philadelphia-based company did not attend the hearing — missing a chance to respond to a nationwide campaign to unionize Aramark workers and expose the firm’s alleged abuses.
……. Thursday’s hearing focused on a report released this month by the Service Employees’ International Union, which is trying to add 100,000 Aramark workers nationwide to its membership rolls and 2,000 in the Chicago area alone.
…… The report, titled “Failing Grade: How Outsourcing Vital School Services to Aramark Corp. is Shortchanging Illinois Kids,” alleges Aramark pays low wages, provides few benefits and does not adequately clean schools or feed suburban schoolchildren.
Source: By NICHOLAS BEADLE, Jackson Sun (TN), March 27, 2008
The Jackson-Madison County Library Board will ask local leaders for an additional $100,000 to cover management costs in its next budget.
………. According to the request, Library Systems and Services, the company that manages the library, plans to spend $1.1 million during the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
……. But Michael Stone, a county-appointed board member, said Library Systems and Services is asking for too much given the financial outlook for city and county governments.
…… Stone also said several city and county officials have never seen a spreadsheet of mostly increasing yearly payouts to Library Systems from which the $1.1 million was calculated.
Source: By Jerry Cornfield, Herald (WA), Thursday, March 27, 2008
Very soon you may not need to ask state lawmakers how they’re spending your tax dollars because you’ll be able to find out on your own. Right down to what you paid for the paper and pens in their offices.
Legislation waiting to be signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire would create a Web site providing a quick and easy means of searching details in the state’s operating, capital and transportation budgets.
…… It is modeled on laws in Texas and Missouri, two states that make it possible to find expenditures by an agency, by a subject, for individual contracts and to vendors. Under the proposed law in Washington, the Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program would set up the online resource by Jan. 1, 2009. LEAP, as it is known in Olympia, is already a portal for online access to proposed and adopted budgets.
Source: By Susan Snyder, Philadelphia Inquirer (PA), Thu, Mar. 27, 2008
…… The budget includes no money for raises next year for the district’s five unions, including the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, its largest.
…… The plan also assumes that Gov. Rendell’s budget, which has more than $80 million in new basic education funding for the district, will be passed and that the district will continue to spend the same amount on disciplinary schools and the nearly 40 schools run by six outside managers, including Edison Schools Inc.
…….. It is still considering whether to keep Edison and other outside managers originally hired in 2002 to improve the district’s most troubled schools. A decision is expected next month.
Source: Samantha Broussard-Wilson, Yale Daily News (CT), Thursday, March 27, 2008
After last week’s emotionally charged public hearing before the Board of Aldermen — which was attended by over 200 public-school cooks, custodians, teachers, parents and students — Aramark may soon be leaving town. But the company isn’t going without a fight.
…… Larry Dorman, a spokesman for the Local 287 division of Council 4, said the most efficient and effective model the city could adopt would be a self-managed model rather than an outside-contractor setup. “We think the mayor and the aldermen really need to look hard at why the city has spent millions of dollars with an outside contractor to essentially act as an incompetent middle man,” Dorman said.
Source: Teamster’s news release, March 25, 2008
The family of deceased Waste Management, Inc. (WMI) mechanic Raul Figueroa from West Palm Beach, Florida, joined safety advocates, concerned local politicians and the Teamsters Union for the release of an investigative report (.pdf) that found serious safety problems at the solid waste giant at Teamsters Local 769 in North Miami, Florida.
……. The National Commission of Inquiry into the Worker Health and Safety Crisis in the Solid Waste Industry launched an investigation into safety issues at WMI and found systemic problems within the company, characterizing WMI’s safety program as using an “archaic, misguided approach”.
……. The report found that 40 years after Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life in an effort to fight for civil and worker rights for striking sanitation workers in Memphis, the same issues that led to the strike remain prevalent in the industry even today. The questionnaire revealed that these workers still face very real threats to their health on a daily basis. Long hours and the handling of hazardous materials without proper safety equipment are part of their daily routine.