Source: Mitch Felan, WKSU, August 8, 2018
White Hat Management, the once-prolific Ohio charter school operator and early advocate for school choice in the state, is leaving the charter school business. The company has been steadily losing contracts over the past few years in the competitive market. …
When it comes to facing down Ohio’s well-heeled charter school lobbyists, will state lawmakers be leaders — or lapdogs?
Source: Brent Larkin, Northeast Ohio Media Group, July 24, 2015
…… In the past 17 years, Ohio’s two largest charter school management companies — David Brennan’s Akron-based White Hat Management and William Lager’s Columbus-based Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) — have funneled more than $6 million to Republican candidates and causes. In the last election cycle, ECOT alone gave more than $400,000. The payoff? About $1.76 billion in taxpayer money has flowed into charter schools run by Brennan and Lager since 1998.
Start the investigation of the state Department of Education
Source: Editorial Board, Beacon Journal, July 18, 2015
Let the formal investigation begin, preferably by David Yost, the state auditor, or an independent investigator tapped by the State Board of Education. The target? The Ohio Department of Education, its director of school choice admitting last week that he removed or ignored failing grades for online and dropout recovery charter schools as part of evaluating the performance of sponsors, those organizations that oversee the publicly funded yet privately run schools.
Source: Sam Skolnik, Bloomberg Government, August 6, 2018
Some of the world’s largest companies have benefited from a little-known law that lets the Defense Department override decisions barring contractors accused or convicted of bribery, fraud, theft, and other crimes from doing business with the government. International Business Machines Corp., Boeing Co., BP Plc, and several other contractors have received special dispensation to fulfill multimillion-dollar government contracts through “compelling reason determinations.” That process allows the Defense Department in rare cases to determine that the need to fulfill certain contracts justifies doing business with companies that have been suspended from government work. The 22 determinations were released by the General Services Administration at the request of Bloomberg Government, allowing for the first collective examination of the cases and the system that allowed them. …
… The determinations, also referred to as waivers or overrides, included contracts to provide food services for Defense Department personnel at an Army base in Afghanistan, “vital” web-hosting services for an agency that serves the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community, and aviation fuel sold to the Defense Logistics Agency. In some instances, contracting officials said the overrides were matters of life or death. Companies receiving waivers included some accused or convicted of major fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, ethical bidding violations, and in the case of fuel-seller BP, an overall “lack of business integrity.” In the most recent waiver case—issued just several weeks ago—an affiliate of one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates was suspended for allegedly bribing an Army contracting official and another man to deliver a $420 million contract involving expansion of a U.S. base south of Seoul. …
Source: David Royer and Andrew Ellison, WREG, July 19, 2018
After months of complaints over trash piles and missed pickups, Memphis is cutting ties with contractor Inland Waste. Mayor Jim Strickland announced Thursday that will end the city’s contract with Inland in 30 days, saying the company had underperformed. “We are in the process of contracting with a new provider to fill the remainder of the Inland contract, and we’ll be putting the long-term contract out for bid later this year,” Strickland said. While city garbage crews service most Memphis homes, Inland services about 30,000 addresses in the city, mostly in areas like Cordova and Hickory Hill. In April, some residents in those areas began complaining they hadn’t had garbage pickup in weeks. The company blamed a critical driver shortage, but the city began exploring options to replace the contractor. … Memphis had been contracted to pay Inland more than $4 million a year for service through 2019.
Memphis City Council talks trash
Source: Justin Hanson, WMC-TV, March 20, 2013
Memphis City Council members were talking trash Tuesday. They discussed how to keep trash from piling up on city streets like it did during a recent strike. Within the next month, Memphis Mayor AC Wharton and AFSCME leaders will get together and talk about trash collection here in the city, specifically trash collection in newly annexed areas. The trash collection issue came to a head when garbage piled up in recently annexed areas like Cordova and Hickory Hill. That pileup was because of a strike at privately contracted Republic Services Allied Waste, which picks up in those areas. City leaders asked AFCSME to come in and pick up, but they were not willing to cross the picket line. …. AFCSME leaders say they have been trying for five years to move all trash collection back in-house. “If we can do it all along, then let’s do it. Not just when it’s convenient,” added AFCSME Executive Director Chad Johnson.
Source: Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, July 18, 2018
Texas’ sprawling bureaucracy for regulating health care and providing social services is vulnerable to a “perception of impropriety” because it routinely lets individual contracting personnel open bids on their own, without any witnesses, a new internal audit says. The Health and Human Services system also unwisely allows program managers and division leaders who control billions of dollars of spending to ask for the same contracting specialist every time, the audit said. That potentially creates a coziness that could harm taxpayers’ interests, it said. Problems highlighted in the audit, which was released to state GOP leaders last week, are the latest in a long line of problems at the Health and Human Services Commission. Six officials have stepped down since early April, when Gov. Greg Abbott called revelations of sloppiness and mistakes in scoring of bids “unacceptable.” …
… Another audit released Tuesday by an independent arm of the Legislature looked at nearly 70 percent of the $6.7 billion worth of contracts that the commission awarded in a recent 27-month period. There were problems with every single one of the 28 separate calls for bids or grant proposals that the State Auditor’s Office examined. … Both the commission’s internal audit and the State Auditor’s Office review sharply criticized sloppy handling and scoring of bids for billions of dollars worth of work for the Medicaid program for the poor and other health and social services programs. …
Pain & Profit series from the Dallas Morning News, published June 2018
- The preventable tragedy of D’ashon Morris
Doctors described him as “happy and playful” and told his foster mother he would be healthy by the time he went to kindergarten. That was before a giant health care company made a decision that saved it as much as $500 a day — and cost D’ashon everything.
- As patients suffer, companies profit
Imagine being trapped in a bed for more than a year because you can’t get the medical equipment you need. Years of poor oversight by the state have allowed health care companies to skimp on essential care for sick kids and disabled adults.
- Texas pays companies billions for ‘sham networks’ of doctors
The state tells foster parents that hundreds of psychiatrists will see their kids. We found only 34. Managed-care companies overstate the number of physicians available to treat the state’s sickest patients.
- ‘Glossover of the horror’
A whistleblower says taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth and sick people are not getting the care they need. Texas fails to act when health care companies put patients in peril.
- Parents vs. the Austin machine
“You can tell that he’s crying or screaming, but nothing comes out.” Texas families take fight for medically fragile children to the Legislature.
Source: Jonathan Bandler, Rockland/Westchester Journal News, July 17, 2018
A company owned by Mount Vernon’s controversial deputy police commissioner, Joseph Spiezio, lost its contract to pick up garbage at Westchester County facilities because of a $4.2 million civil judgment for failing to pay employee benefits. The county Board of Acquisition & Contract last week approved an emergency six-month solid waste contract with City Carting for $720,000 to replace Spiezio’s R&S Waste Services. … But in late March, R&S was found liable for a $4.2 million judgment for violating the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. That decision was for a 2012 federal lawsuit by trust and pension funds of Local 813 of the Teamsters union. It accused Spiezio and the company of not making benefit contributions for employees after the company was formed and took over the financially troubled Rogan Brothers Sanitation in 2011. … The county has paid R & S just over $1.7 million since 2012, including about $400,000 since the start of 2017. County officials could not immediately explain why a contract for just six months would amount to more than $700,000.
… Criminal charges this year accusing the mayor of stealing campaign funds and failing to report tens of thousands of dollars in gifts detailed how Spiezio’s companies paid off Thomas’ personal credit card bills during the campaign. … R&S was sued last year for $780,000 by the New York State Insurance Fund, which claimed the company failed to pay premiums for workers compensation insurance. … Spiezio now runs his garbage business through another company, Waste Services Inc., which has municipal contracts for garbage collection in Rye Brook, Pelham and Carmel. The Rye Brook contract began last month in less than stellar fashion, with the village posting on its website that there had been many missed collections and the company had to work into the evenings to get accustomed to its new routes. …
Source: Audrey Dutton, Idaho Statesman, July 16, 2018
St. Luke’s Health System is suing an Idaho prison contractor over $12.6 million in medical bills it says the contractor hasn’t paid. The lawsuit was filed June 28 against Corizon Health, a company hired by the Idaho Department of Correction to provide medical care to Idaho’s inmates. The dispute stems from Corizon’s decision to pay St. Luke’s at the Medicaid rate for services the health system provided between July 1, 2014, and March 26, 2018. The Medicaid rate is “substantially lower” than the rate the health system says Corizon had agreed to pay, according to the lawsuit. St. Luke’s said it should have received 76 percent of its billed charges. St. Luke’s also seeks more than $3 million in interest on the medical bills, as well as a total of more than $600,000 for individual patients’ bills it says Corizon underpaid. … The lawsuit is the second filed by Idaho health care providers against the contractor. Saint Alphonsus Health System in April sued Corizon over similar claims, saying it was owed $14 million for medical care to inmates. Saint Al’s also sought $5 million in interest from the allegedly unpaid bills. …
Prison violations led to amputations and death, Idaho inmates say
Source: Associated Press, March 27, 2017
Idaho inmates are asking a federal judge to penalize the state after saying prison officials repeatedly violated a settlement plan in a long-running lawsuit over health care, leading to amputations and other serious injuries and even some prisoners’ deaths. In a series of documents filed in federal court, the inmates’ attorney Christopher Pooser painted a bleak and often gruesome picture of the alleged problems at the Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise. The prison is the state’s oldest, with more than 1,400 beds, including special units for chronically ill, elderly and disabled inmates. Pooser and the inmates allege some prisoners were forced to undergo amputations after their blisters and bedsores went untreated and began to rot, and others with serious disabilities were left unbathed or without water for extended periods and given food only sporadically. The prison’s death rates outpaced the national average as well as rates at other Idaho facilities, according to the documents. And despite hearing evidence to the contrary, prison officials failed to double-check the numbers when its health care contractor, Corizon, reported being 100 percent compliant with state health care requirements. Meanwhile, prison officials were falsifying documents to make it look like all employees were trained in suicide prevention when many were not, the filings said. The inmates are asking the judge to hold the state in contempt of court and levy more than $24 million in fines against the Idaho Department of Correction. They say the state could cover some of the fines by recovering money paid under its contract with Corizon, but they also want the state to feel the budget hit so prison leaders will be motivated to make a fix. …
Source: Monsy Alvarado, NorthJersey, July 14, 2018
… Towle’s death in the early hours of July 14, 2017, and that of an immigration detainee five weeks earlier fueled allegations of medical neglect at the jail and spurred changes that included the early termination of the county’s contract with the company that provides medical care to inmates and the hiring this week of a new one. The county also embarked on a renovation that will expand the medical infirmary and mental health services at the jail at a cost of more than $1 million. … The Hudson County freeholders asked a “medical review panel” it appointed to examine the circumstances surrounding Towle’s death and that of the immigration detainee, Carlos Mejia-Bonilla, a native of El Salvador who fell ill at the jail and died later at Jersey City Medical Center. … The report, which was given to the freeholders in the spring, has not been made public. O’Dea said it prompted officials to terminate the county’s contract with CFG Health Systems LLC of Marlboro and look for a new medical provider for the jail. … Since the deaths of Towle, 48, of Washington Township in Warren County, and Mejia-Bonilla, 44, four additional inmates have died at the jail.
… “We had to get rid of the other one, no ifs, buts about it,’’ Anthony Vainieri, chairman of the Hudson County freeholder board, said, referring to CFG. “Everyone wanted us to get rid of it, the activists wanted us to get rid of it, the [jail] director wanted us to get rid of it, and with all the deaths, God forbid … something had to be done.” … On Thursday, the Hudson County freeholders approved a one-year, $7.68 million professional services agreement with Correct Care Solutions (CCS) of Nashville to provide medical and mental health care at the jail. …
Source: Jeffrey Schweers, Tallahassee Democrat, July 12, 2018
This week marked the first claim filed in Leon County against the Tallahassee contractor responsible for setting the prescribed burn that’s been identified as the cause of the 820-acre Limerock wildfire that destroyed 36 homes in Eastpoint. … The Vinson/Cooper/Hattaway complaint alleges that Wildlands was engaged in an “ultra-hazardous activity while engaging in a controlled burn” and is strictly liable for all damages caused by the wildfire. The company knew of the foreseeable risk, the complaint said, and “could have reasonably taken precautions to eliminate the risks of the controlled burn.” …
… Wildlands was contracted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to burn a 480-acre area within the Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area to clear it of hazardous underbrush that can become fuel in a fire. The burn was ignited June 18 and extinguished six hours later. The next day, the burn boss said the burn went well and submitted an invoice for $26,400 to the FWC. The fire reignited June 24 and crossed over 600 acres of private land, razing several dozen properties a quarter-mile away on Buck Road, Ridge Road and Wilderness Road, leaving about 125 people homeless. A preliminary report by investigators with the law enforcement branch of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said the prescribed burn caused the wildfire, ruling out arson and lightning. …
Source: WCVB5 ABC, July 10, 2018
A local supplier of electrical and lighting products is being required to refund nearly $1.2 million to hundreds of state organizations to settle allegations of overbilling on a statewide contract. Granite City, a Quincy-based company, will also pay another $1.18 million in fines. “This company engaged in a pattern of overbilling that cost hundreds of government agencies – including school districts, cities and towns – millions of dollars,” Attorney General Maura Healey announced. Granite City’s refunds will be paid to 285 public entities, including municipalities, school districts, libraries and hospitals. The company was supposed to sell equipment to those organizations at discounted rates, the AG’s office said. … In addition to the payments, the terms of the settlement bar Granite City from participating in public contracts for one year and require changes to the company’s business practices.
Source: Andrew Kreighbaum, Inside Higher Ed, July 9, 2018
The Department of Education planned this month to begin reshaping the role of private debt collection firms in handling student loans by pulling defaulted borrower accounts from a handful of large private contractors. Lawmakers who control the department’s budget had other ideas. After a recent Senate spending package warned the department against dropping the debt collectors, the plan is on hold. And it’s not clear how those companies will figure into the Trump administration’s proposed overhaul of student loan servicing. Private loan servicers handle payments from borrowers on their student loans and provide information on payment plan options. … The tactics and performance of debt collectors have come under attack from Democrats and consumer advocates. And the Education Department has been involved in a years-long legal dispute over contract awards for the collectors. But the Trump administration, in a resolution of that legal fight, in May said it planned to cancel the entire debt collection solicitation. … Members of Congress, who have already expressed concerns about aspects of the department’s so-called NextGen loan servicing system, warned in separate appropriations bills against the move. … The week after Senate appropriators voted the bill out of committee, and just before it planned to start reassigning borrower accounts, the department notified collections firms it was postponing that step. …
Editorial: The Student Loan Industry Finds Friends in Washington
Source: Editorial Board, New York Times, March 18, 2018
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made clear even before taking office last year that she was more interested in protecting the companies that are paid by the government to collect federal student loan payments than in helping borrowers who have been driven into financial ruin by those same companies. Ms. DeVos’ eagerness to shill for those corporate interests is apparent in a craven new policy statement from the Education Department. The document claims that the federal government can pre-empt state laws that rein in student loan servicing companies if such a law “undermines uniform administration of’’ the student loan program. …
Banks Look to Break Government’s Hold on Student-Loan Market
Source: Josh Mitchell and AnnaMaria Andriotis, Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2018
Private lenders are pushing to break up the government’s near monopoly in the $100 billion-a-year student-loan market. The banking industry’s main lobbying group, the Consumer Bankers Association, is pressing for the government to instate caps on how much individual graduate students and parents of undergraduates can borrow from the government to cover tuition. That would force many families to turn to private lenders to cover portions of their bills. While that could mean lower interest rates for some, it could constrain funding to households with blemished credit histories. A group of investors also is lobbying for legislation to provide a clearer legal framework for “income-share agreements,” under which private investors provide money upfront to cover tuition in exchange for a portion of a student’s income after school. …