Category Archives: Horror.Stories

Children poisoned by lead on U.S. Army bases as hazards go ignored

Source: Reuters, August 16, 2018

Like most family housing on U.S. bases today, the home wasn’t owned and operated by the military. It was managed by Villages of Benning, a partnership between two private companies and the U.S. Army, whose website beckons families to “enjoy the luxuries of on-post living.” … The results: At least 113 spots in the home had lead paint, including several peeling or crumbling patches, requiring $26,150 in lead abatement. Villages of Benning moved the Browns into another old house next door. The heavy metal had stunted JC’s brain, medical records reviewed by Reuters show. At age two, he was diagnosed with a developmental disorder caused by lead. Now eight, JC has undergone years of costly therapy. … The Browns’ story and others, told publicly for the first time here, reveal a toxic scourge inside homes on military bases. Previously undisclosed military and state health records, and testing by Reuters for lead in soldiers’ homes, show problems at some of America’s largest military installations.

… Reuters tested five homes at Benning, using a methodology designed with a Columbia University geochemist. All five contained hazardous levels of deteriorating lead paint within reach of children, in one case exceeding the federal threshold by a factor of 58. Testing turned up problems elsewhere as well. At West Point, New York, home of the United States Military Academy, paint chips falling from a family’s front door contained lead at 19 times the federal threshold. At Kentucky’s Fort Knox, whose vaults hold much of America’s gold reserves, Reuters found paint peeling from a covered porch where small kids play. It contained 50 percent lead by weight, or 100 times the threshold. … These homes put military kids at risk. Reuters obtained medical data from the Army showing that at least 31 small children tested high for lead at a Fort Benning hospital over a recent six-year period. …

JobsOhio will likely survive the election

Source: Jay Miller, Crain’s Cleveland Business, August 19, 2018
 
It looks likely that JobsOhio,, the private-sector economic development nonprofit created by outgoing Gov. John Kasich, will survive in 2019, regardless of whether Democrat Richard Cordray or Republican Mike DeWine becomes the next governor. Both candidates issued statements indicating that they intend to keep the state’s principal business attraction organization outside of state government. The only question may be who will get to choose the nonprofit’s next leader: the current, nine-member board, all named by Kasich, or the board that will lead the organization after the new governor fills five seats that have four-year terms that expire in July 2019? …

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Despite 34 making six figures, true amounts of JobsOhio salaries still lowballed
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, March 12, 2018
 
JobsOhio continues to under report the amounts it pays employees — including 34 workers who make at least six-figure annual salaries — in a move that could run contrary to state law. In its 2017 filings with the state, Gov. John Kasich’s privatized economic development agency again reported employees’ taxable income — which does not include salary diverted to non-taxable retirement contributions and health insurance costs — instead of their gross income. State law requires the nonprofit to report “total compensation.” But its practice of reporting only taxable income serves to understate employee earnings by thousands of dollars each. …

Justices again rule JobsOhio can’t be challenged
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, August 31, 2016

The Ohio Supreme Court stood on identical ground Wednesday to reject another attempt to declare JobsOhio unconstitutional. In a 6-1 vote, the court ruled that Victoria Ullmann, a Columbus lawyer, lacked the legal right — or standing — to pursue her action seeking to declare Gov. John Kasich’s privatized economic development agency as illegal. … The court threw out another challenge to JobsOhio in 2014 on grounds the parties lacked proper standing, leaving some to question then if the legality of the nonprofit could ever be questioned in the courts. Ullmann argued she had standing to sue since she, and other Ohioans, support JobsOhio through their purchase of liquor, the profits from which support the entity under its long-term lease of state’s liquor sales enterprise. … Ullmann sued Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Auditor Dave Yost, asking that the court order the Republicans to take steps to dissolve JobsOhio. A spokesman for Attorney General Mike DeWine, who defended the officeholders, said his office was pleased with the ruling. … JobsOhio reported earlier this year it attracted a record 23,602 new jobs and $6.7 billion in corporate investment in 2015. The agency reported revenue of slightly more than $1 billion last year, largely from the state’s liquor-sales operation, which racked up record sales last year to produce net income of $235.2 million. …

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State orders $293,000 in refunds for Sea Cliff water customers

Source: Mark Harrington, Newsday, August 9, 2018

A state agency on Thursday ordered New York American Water to refund nearly $293,000 to Sea Cliff customers, as a Nassau County probe revealed that water bills issued by the company had spiked at two county parks. The developments come as American Water customers on Nassau’s North and South shores call for public takeover of their water supply after complaints of high bills and the Department of Public Service probe. There also are separate reviews of customer complaints by the Nassau district attorney’s office and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The state Public Service Commission said it ordered the company to refund $292,804 to Sea Cliff district customers as a result of the company’s “gross mishandling” of its property tax filings. A state probe earlier this year found a $2.3 million tax overpayment by New York American Water resulted in $281,421 in overpayments by customers in the Sea Cliff district. According to the PSC, although the company paid the $2.3 million, the vast majority was never billed to customers. A second stage of the investigation found that certain company employees intentionally deceived state regulators during rate-hike proceedings in 2016. …

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Public Service Commission seeks court order against New York American Water
Source: Chau Lam, Newsday, July 12, 2018

The New York State Public Service Commission on Thursday asked its chief lawyer to get a court order directing New York American Water to follow all its regulations, including providing accurate information during rate-hike proceedings. The commission, which regulates the state’s utilities, called for judicial intervention to “help restore consumer confidence” after its report last month revealed that the water company’s employees intended to deceive state regulators in 2016 when the company requested — and regulators approved — its increase to customers’ water rates. The report said company employees were aware of “material errors” in tax calculations starting in 2013, but failed to disclose those errors to state regulators at the time the company was seeking approval for rate hikes. The errors led to customers in the Sea Cliff water district being overcharged, state officials found. … In December 2017, after state regulators had approved the company’s request to hike rates, the company’s senior management and legal counsel admitted the errors to the Department of Public Service, the investigative arm of the PSC. … Assemb. Michael Montesano (R-Glen Head), who has called for criminal investigations into the water company, said that with a court order, New York American would face harsher penalties if it violated state regulations in the future. …

DeKalb ambulance provider will pay for poor service, county says

Source: Joshua Sharpe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 7, 2018

DeKalb commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a settlement with the county’s ambulance provider after a long history of complaints. Under the agreement, American Medical Response will resolve $1.9 million in contract penalties for allegedly providing poor service — though only $600,000 will be paid in cash. The company, which has been subject to complaints of slow response time such as one in Dunwoody that took 58 minutes, previously declined to settle the fees but agreed to increase performance. Tuesday’s agreement gives $1.3 million credit to AMR for boosting staffing and adding ambulances at two DeKalb fire stations, one in Dunwoody, the other in Stonecrest. …

Statewide task force set to meet on group home troubles

Source: WBRZ, August 3, 2018

Following a litany of complaints around the state, a task force has been created that will attempt to provide solutions for a problem that has cropped up due to a lack of regulations. State Senator Regina Barrow is passionate about the cause and making sure those who are the most fragile in our communities have safe and clean places to live. In May, the WBRZ Investigative Unit uncovered squalid conditions that residents of a group home were living in. Tonja Myles said her uncle was severely neglected. The coverage sparked raids by Adult Protective Services and the State Fire Marshal. Ultimately, the Prosperity House run by the Davenport family and operating on Greenwell Springs Road was closed down. However, the WBRZ Investigative Unit found the operators were using another location a stone’s throw from that house to operate again. A dust-up occurred this week when Baton Rouge Police were contacted after residents were taken from the Greenwell Springs home. …

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State investigators raid group home over deplorable living conditions
Source: WBRZ, May 30, 2018

A group home that has been operating despite its name being revoked by the Secretary of State for failing to file documents in a timely manner is under the microscope after horrible conditions were exposed by a relative who has a family member there. Wednesday, investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s office paid a visit to the house following a flood of complaints. …

$625,000 settlement approved in wrongful death suit involving Hampton Roads Regional Jail inmate

Source: Tim Dodson, Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 24, 2018

A $625,000 settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, its medical provider and a number of staff members was approved in federal court Tuesday. The suit was filed in June 2017 by the family of Henry Clay Stewart, an inmate who died Aug. 6, 2016, because of internal bleeding from a perforated stomach ulcer. …..The lawsuit said Stewart was arrested in May 2016 for allegedly violating the terms of his probation related to a 2011 shoplifting charge. He was first held at the Hampton City Jail but was transferred to Hampton Roads Regional Jail in June 2016. The suit alleged that “from mid-July through his death on Aug. 6, 2016, Stewart repeatedly sought medical treatment for severe medical conditions, including chest and abdominal pain, blackouts, inability to keep down water or food, and drastic weight loss, but his pleas for urgent medical care were either ignored or the care provided to him was substandard and did not address his life-threatening medical needs.” Hampton Roads Regional Jail has come under intense state scrutiny in recent years over the quality of its medical care after other inmate deaths, including 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell’s in 2015. The state medical examiner found that Mitchell, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, essentially wasted away in plain sight over a 101-day stay at the facility. He had been accused of stealing $5 worth of snacks from a convenience store…..

Omaha fines Waste Management another $78,000 for not picking up yard waste separately in July

Source: Emily Nohr, Omaha World-Herald, August 11, 2018

Mayor Jean Stothert is again penalizing the city’s garbage hauler — this time $78,000 — for service problems. That brings the total penalties against Waste Management to nearly $180,000 this year. Stothert rejected comments made by some Omaha City Council members that the administration should do more to hold Waste Management to its contract with the city. … Waste Management continues to struggle to pick up yard waste separately from trash at residences across Omaha, which the company is supposed to do from about April to Thanksgiving.

… The city pays nearly $500,000 a month for separate yard waste collection. Officials can fine Waste Management, however, if it receives more than 1,000 complaints about garbage and recycling and 700 about yard waste. Stothert fined Waste Management in May and June after the city got enough complaints from residents about service. Fines for both months totaled about $56,000. Additionally, her administration negotiated paying Waste Management $44,000 less in June and the latest $78,000 less in July for not picking up yard waste separately in parts of the city. Stothert said there’s no complaint-driven fine for last month because the city didn’t get enough complaints to warrant one. The city received just 69 complaints about yard waste last month, she said. …

How Trump Radicalized ICE

Source: Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, September 2018

… Since its official designation, in 2003, as a successor to INS, ice has grown at a remarkable clip for a peacetime bureaucracy. By the beginning of Barack Obama’s second term, immigration had become one of the highest priorities of federal law enforcement: Half of all federal prosecutions were for immigration-related crimes. … ICE quickly built a sprawling, logistically intricate infrastructure comprising detention facilities, an international-transit arm, and monitoring technology. This apparatus relies heavily on private contractors. Created at the height of the federal government’s outsourcing mania, DHS employs more outside contractors than actual federal employees. Last year, these companies—which include the Geo Group and CoreCivic—spent at least $3 million on lobbying and influence peddling. To take one small example: Owners of ICE’s private detention facilities were generous donors to Trump’s inauguration, contributing $500,000 for the occasion. … An organization devoted to enforcing immigration laws will always be reflexively and perhaps unfairly cast as a villain. … Still, ICE, as currently conceived, represents a profound deviation in the long history of American immigration. …

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For-profit prison company threatens anti-ICE group with lawsuit for telling world what they do
Source: Alan Pyke, ThinkProgress, August 6, 2018
 
A protest campaign targeting for-profit detention company GEO Group with numerous nationwide actions at facilities connected to President Donald Trump’s ramped-up deportations has been threatened with legal action by the company’s high-powered litigators. …

Why It’s Hard To Hold Contractors Accountable For The Suffering Of Immigrant Children
Source: Susan M. Sterett The Conversation, August 2, 2018
 
….Although federal detention is a government policy, the federal government does not directly run most of the facilities where families are detained or kids end up on their own. Instead, it hands nonprofit groups, for-profit businesses and local governments US$1 billion a year or more to house nearly 12,000 children. This money is dispensed through government contracts that do not always gain much public attention.  But now, amid protests and other forms of public pressure, some contractors are severing their ties to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. This is a new development as oversight by government officials and watchdog groups has historically centered largely on costs, fraud or whether contractors broke laws – not whether there was something inherently wrong with the contracts themselves.  Having studied the politics of accountability for many years, I would argue that the responsibility for these unpopular immigration policies largely lies with the federal government, not its contractors…..

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Murphy administration demands action from major group home operator after safety problems revealed

Source: Susan K. Livio, NJ.com. August 10, 2018

Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has halted new admissions at New Jersey’s largest group home operator for people with developmental disabilities and demanded “immediate correction of all concerns” involving safety and staffing shortages uncovered in 18 months of inspections. The state Department of Human Services intends to appoint an independent monitor and to continue random unannounced inspections at all 62 properties operated by for-profit Bellwether Behavioral Health, state Department of Human Services spokesman Tom Hester said.

The state stopped referring people to Bellwether on July 12, Hester confirmed, a decision revealed after an Aug. 3 report aired on public radio station WNYC about ongoing problems at a group home in Branchburg. … In addition to having the largest capacity of any group home provider in New Jersey, at 494 beds, Bellwether has also recorded the largest number of allegations of abuse and neglect. According to state data from March 2017 to March 2018, the state investigated 71 complaints, and substantiated 33. Six residents were repeatedly victimized, the data said. …

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Trapped: Abuse and neglect in private care (Podcast)
Reveal News, August 4, 2018

Deep in the backroads of central Florida, hidden between trees dripping with Spanish moss, sits the campus of an infamous center for the developmentally disabled. Its story shows what can happen when families have nowhere else to find care for their loved ones. After years of complaints, Carlton Palms is finally being shut down. But its parent company, Bellwether Behavioral Health, is still running group homes across the country, where new allegations have arisen. WNYC reporter Audrey Quinn investigates the company and speaks to a family whose son was abused at two of Bellwether’s New Jersey facilities. She discovers that, with national spending on autism services expected to increase 70 percent by 2025, the company is owned by a private equity firm.

Read more about Carlton Palms.

The State Lawsuit That Could Set a Precedent for Nationwide Student-Loan Refunds

Source: Natalia Abrams and Senya Merchant, The Nation, August 9, 2018
 
Lawsuits against one of the largest servicers of federal student loans, Navient, have garnered headlines in recent weeks. Following the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s groundbreaking lawsuit against the company in 2017, four additional states have followed suit, including California, in an effort to enforce state consumer laws and protect student-loan borrowers from unscrupulous business practices. Navient, a publicly traded company hired by the Department of Education to service over $100 billion in federal student loans, is the most criticized company in consumer finance. Now, one of the most consumer-friendly states in America is taking the company to court. Should California Attorney General Xavier Becerra prove successful, attorneys general around the country willing to take a stand against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her efforts to decimate state-level student-loan protections would be able to use this as a model to check abusive student-loan companies. …

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Have a student loan? There are some lawsuits you need to watch
Source: Michelle Singletary, Winston Salem Journal, July 8, 2018

If you have a student loan, there are some lawsuits you need to watch. Navient, the country’s largest servicer of student loans, is facing several lawsuits by state attorneys general accusing the company of, among other things, steering borrowers to payment options that cost them more money. Last week, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit against Navient and two of its subsidiaries, Pioneer and General Revenue Corp., alleging misconduct that included misrepresenting the order in which the company would apply extra loan payments and failing to properly discharge federal student debt for borrowers with a total and permanent disability. …

Former Rep. Kline Continues Shilling for For-Profit Education
Source: David Halperin, Republic Report, June 20, 2018

Rep. John Kline (R-MN) defended and protected for-profit higher education businesses while chairing the House education committee, even after many companies in the industry were caught engaging in widespread predatory and deceptive practices. Now that he’s retired, Kline is cashing in, serving on the board of Education Corporation of America (ECA), which operates poorly-performing for-profit colleges, and, in a new op-ed in The Hill, arguing that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should drop a lawsuit charging giant student loan company Navient with deceiving and cheating borrowers across the country. …

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