Monthly Archives: February 2012

Arizona Legislature: We Don’t Want to Know if Private Prisons Save Money, Are Safe

Source: Cell Out AZ, Tuscon Citizen blog, February 28, 2012

In the midst of a statewide controversy over private prisons, the Arizona State Legislature’s budget bill released last week eliminates the requirement for a cost and quality review of private prison contracts. The move would ensure that the public would have no way of knowing whether the state’s private prisons are saving money, rehabilitating prisoners, or ensuring public safety.

Using Public-Private Partnerships to Carry Out Highway Projects

Source: Alan van der Hilst, Congressional Budget Office, Pub. No. 4041, January 2012

From the summary:
In this study, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finds that private financing will increase the availability of funds for highway construction only in cases in which states or localities have chosen to restrict their spending by imposing legal constraints or budgetary limits on themselves. The reason is that revenues from the users of roads and from taxpayers are the ultimate source of money for highways, regardless of the financing mechanism chosen. The cost of financing a highway project privately is roughly equal to the cost of financing it publicly after factoring in the costs associated with the risk of losses from the project, which taxpayers ultimately bear, and the financial transfers made by the federal government to states and localities. Any remaining difference between the cost of public versus private financing for a project will stem from the effects of incentives and conditions established in the contracts that govern public-private partnerships.

CBO also finds, on the basis of evidence from a small number of studies, that such partnerships have built highways slightly less expensively and slightly more quickly, compared with the traditional public-sector approach. The relative scarcity of data on public-private partnerships for highway projects, however, and the uncertainty surrounding the results from the available studies make it difficult to apply their conclusions definitively to other such projects.

Cities merge police agencies in light of budget realities

Source: Kevin Johnson, USA Today, February 24, 2012

….. The reluctant surrender of a municipal institution has not just been confined to Midvale. It’s happening in cities and towns across the country where persistent budget problems are changing the way basic public services are delivered. Until the recession, law enforcement was largely spared from budget tensions, but some communities, including Midvale, have reaped both financial savings and operational efficiencies following consolidations or mergers of their police functions. And there is evidence that local government officials are increasingly considering similar dramatic changes in pursuit of more affordable public safety options, according to local government records and law enforcement authorities.

Profiting from Prisons

Source: Hannah Rappleye, Crime Report, February 19, 2012

Early this year, the United Methodist Church Board of Pension and Health Benefits voted to withdraw nearly $1 million in stocks from two private prison companies, the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

The decision by the largest faith-based pension fund in the United States came in response to concerns expressed last May by the church’s immigration task force and a group of national activists…The National Prison Divestment Campaign, launched last spring, includes a broad coalition of immigrant rights, criminal justice and other organizations targeting private prison companies like CCA and the GEO Group, the two largest private prison corporations in the United States.

Memphis City Council Debates Privatizing Garbage Collection

Source: April Thompson, WREG, February 20, 2012

Garbage pickup is on the verge of being left to someone other than the City of Memphis. The city council has approved a 13 million dollar voluntary buyout plan for sanitation workers. Some 250 workers could walk away with 40 to 60 thousand dollars each. The city would then let an outside company take over most garbage collection. …. We are told the City could save millions with a more efficiently run private system, using fewer workers per truck and holding a tighter rein on work hours. But uncertainty over how current employees would be impacted has workers worried.
Privatizing the Sanitation Department?
Source: My Fox Memphis, Monday, 12 March 2012

A smart ALEC threatens public education

Source: Julie Underwood and Julie F. Mead, Phi Delta Kappan Magazine, V93 N6, March 2012

Coordinated efforts to introduce model legislation aimed at defunding and dismantling public schools is the signature work of this conservative organization…….Common throughout the bills are proposals to decrease local control of schools by democratically elected school boards while increasing access to all facets of education to private entities and corporations…. By elevating parental choice over all other values, the ALEC push for privatization supports schools that can be segregated by academic ability and disability, ethnicity, economics, language, and culture.
See also:

Who should pay the $200 million for nursing home death? It’s complicated

Source: Stephen Nohlgren, Tampa Bay Times, February 5, 2012

Holding nursing homes accountable for shoddy care is tougher these days. As with other big industries, complex corporate networks insulate owners from legal claims. Money is shifted around. Private investment firms come and go. At times, even nursing home regulators cannot tell who is raking in the profits and calling the shots.

The estate of Elvira Nunziata is putting that protective shell to the test. Nunziata was 92 when she toppled down a nursing home stairwell to her death in 2004. Addled with dementia and strapped to a wheelchair, she passed through a door that likely was left open by employees slipping out for a smoke.

A jury awarded her son $200 million last month, an astounding amount except that the defendant — the company that operated Pinellas Park Care and Rehab Center at the time — no longer existed..Now the real battle has begun, one that tracks money movements back through time and targets big fish like GE Capital Corp. Motions and countermotions are flying in state and federal courts in Florida, Maryland and Georgia.
See also:
Editorial: Make nursing home owners more accountable
Source: Editorial, Tampa Bay Times, February 10, 2012

Brunswick council approves long-term cleaning contract after long wait

Source: Brian Lisik,, February 17, 2012

Brunswick City Council’s authorization Feb. 13 to enter into a three-year agreement with Mark’s Cleaning Service to provide cleaning services to its recreation center, police department and city hall buildings closes a three-month revolving door of temporary cleaning companies. “Bids were opened Jan. 22 and 10 were received,” Parks and Recreation Director John Piepsny said. “The contract will be for $4,000 per month for the Rec Center and $2,550 per month for the police department and city hall.”

Ward 3 Councilman Dave Coleman asked how much of an increase the monthly amounts were, when compared to that of Personal Touch Janitorial, which terminated its three-year contract with the city and stopped providing services Nov. 30, 2011.

Piepsny said the Mark’s Cleaning contract represents a $600 per month increase for the Rec Center cleaning, and a $445 increase for cleaning of the other two buildings.

80 Bullitt Co. school custodians could lose their jobs

Source:, February 15, 2012

Eighty Bullitt County school custodians could lose their jobs if the school board votes to outsource cleaning services. Wednesday the superintendent met with custodians to explain that the school system is considering soliciting bids from private companies. He says it could save the district $245,000. Many custodians left the meeting emotional and upset.
80 Bullitt County Public School custodial jobs no longer at risk
Source: Zach Parker WAVE, February 20, 2012

Imagine charter schools’ expensive leases draw scrutiny

Source: Ron Matus and Jeffrey S. Solochek, Tampa Bay Times, February 17, 2012

Two Tampa Bay charter schools are part of a national chain that is drawing scrutiny for lease arrangements that absorb big chunks of taxpayer funding.

The Imagine charter school near downtown St. Petersburg spent $649,312 last year in rent while the Imagine School in Land O’Lakes signed a lease on Monday for a new school with base rent of $757,989 a year.

The landlord? Schoolhouse Finance, a company owned by Imagine Schools.

…District records show the Pinellas Imagine spent $133 per student per month on rent while the Pasco school spent about $121 per student per month. Both figures are more than double the average for other charters in the districts….