Category Archives: Insourcing/municipalization

Power struggle: Iowa muni campaign heats up ahead of public vote

Source: Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network, April 9, 2018

Voters in Decorah, Iowa, will decide May 1 whether they want the city to move ahead with a proposal to leave their current electricity provider and create a city-owned utility to take its place. … According to municipalization advocates, the utility, which is based 100 miles south in Cedar Rapids, has hired a community liaison to represent it at community gatherings. … Both camps developed feasibility studies, with vastly differing conclusions. Interstate’s study found that creating a municipal utility would be very costly and raise bills for customers using the 8,100 meters in the Decorah area. Decorah Power’s consultant concluded that a city utility would serve the community well and through 2023 charge at least 4 cents less per kilowatt hour than Interstate has projected. Estimates of what the city would have to pay for Interstate’s assets and startup and application fees were similarly at odds. … The election’s outcome won’t have a binding impact but will convey the thoughts of the city’s 5,250 registered voters, including some of the 2,000 Luther College students, whose election participation is once again the source of contention. …

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Iowa town’s municipal utility effort is financially feasible, consultant finds
Source: Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News, January 17, 2018

A northeastern Iowa community could lower its electric bills by creating a municipal-owned utility, according to a feasibility study presented to its city council Tuesday. Supporters of an effort to create a city-owned electric utility in Decorah, Iowa, got a boost this week from a consultant’s report that concludes the move is financially feasible. … Talk of a municipal utility surfaced after several attempts to develop renewable energy in the city ran into policies of Interstate Power and Light, the investor-owned utility that currently serves Decorah and much of the state. …

… Although the feasibility study, conducted by NewGen Strategies & Solutions and two other consultants, signaled that municipalization could work, Johnson said he’s aware of what a long and arduous process it would entail. The City of Boulder (Colo.), for example, last November approved a tax measure that will provide the funds needed to continue exploring the possibility of creating a city utility. That process began seven years ago. … Every year there are communities that start to explore creating a municipal utility to take the place of a for-profit utility, Schryver said. Although motivations tend to vary, she said that the desire for clean energy has been the main driver recently. A few new municipal utilities have taken shape lately. In California, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, which provides water service, recently won approval from state authorities to create an electrical utility as well, meaning it will displace Pacific Gas & Electric in that locality. … Jefferson County in Washington state formed a municipal utility in 2013 to serve about 18,000 customers who formerly purchased electricity from Puget Sound Energy. Three smaller communities — two in Alaska and one in Ohio — also created new municipal utilities in the past few years, according to Schryver. Although exploration of municipalization doesn’t always result in a city-owned utility, Schryver said it can effect change in other ways. In Minneapolis, for example, efforts to depart from Xcel Energy ceased when the utility agreed to expand its clean-energy portfolio. …

JEA names private investor, a utility newcomer, interim CEO

Source: David Bauerlein and Nate Monroe, Florida Times-Union, April 17, 2018 

The JEA board of directors named a 38-year-old private investor with little experience managing a large utility the agency’s interim chief executive officer Tuesday, rejecting a bid by the finance chief to remain in the top spot, and marking a major departure from the kind of leaders JEA courted in the past. Aaron Zahn immediately assumed the interim CEO role and refused to take questions after the board meeting. The move to hire Zahn was contingent upon making a push to retain Melissa Dykes, the agency’s chief financial officer, as a high-level executive to run the day-to-day operations of the agency. Dykes, whose own bid to remain the interim CEO only garnered two votes from the five-member board, said she was open to staying but it’s not clear whether she will. …

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Opinion: JEA union leaders explain opposition to sale
Source: Kathleen Crowe, Valerie Guiterrez, Rick Lehman, Ronnie Burris, Randy Hilton, April 15, 2018

Question: Would a private utility better serve the city of Jacksonville and the JEA ratepayers of Northeast Florida better than JEA? Answer: It is the official position of the JEA union leadership that a privatization of JEA would have severe, harmful and long-term detrimental economic impacts on all stakeholders. … While we have attempted to counter much of the noise regarding the privatization of JEA, there is a very simple reason for not selling JEA that overcomes all the noise. Any company or entity willing to buy JEA, whether it is $1 billion or $20 billion, must have the resources to ensure the price it pays will definitely be paid back in full with interest. This is not like selling your house for a premium and walking away with no further commitment to that house. The customers of JEA will still be on the hook for the premium paid in the initial purchase price, as well as the interest or earnings above and beyond that premium paid to the city. …

Jacksonville utility unions pan potential JEA sale as ‘harmful’
Source: A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics, April 6, 2018
 
Even as well-connected lobbyists for major utility companies hover over Jacksonville’s JEA ahead of a potential sale, five utility unions combined in opposition to any moves Friday. Per a statement from the five unions: “It is the official position of the JEA Union Leadership that a privatization of JEA would have severe, harmful, and long term detrimental economic impacts on all stakeholders.” … Signatories include American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Jacksonville Supervisor Association, Labors International Union of North America, and the Professional Employees Association. …

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Push to end privatized prison food clears first hurdle

Source: Jonathan Oosting, Detroit News, April 10, 2018
 
A state House budget panel Tuesday unanimously approved Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to end controversial privatized food service in Michigan prisons, meaning the proposal to rehire state workers for kitchen jobs cleared an early hurdle. But legislators and the Michigan Department of Corrections are at odds over a separate budget provision that would require the state to close its third prison since 2016 due to a steadily declining population. Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature voted to privatize prison food service in 2012, a move that was projected to save the state $16 million a year as contract workers replaced more than 370 state employees. …

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Gov. Rick Snyder: State to end problem-plagued privatization experiment with prison food
Source: Paul Egan and Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, February 7, 2018
 
Gov. Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that the state will end a four-year experiment with privatizing its prison food service after years of maggots in food, smuggling by kitchen employees, kitchen workers having sex with inmates, inadequate staffing levels and other problems documented by the Free Press in a series of articles. … The Free Press, using Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, documented a litany of problems, including meal shortages, maggots in the kitchen, the smuggling of drugs and other contraband by kitchen employees, kitchen workers engaging in sex acts with prisoners and even attempting to hire one inmate to have another inmate assaulted.  Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25, whose members used to staff the prison kitchen, said many of the more than 300 former workers have moved on to other jobs or retired, but he expects there will be a core workforce available to train new hires.  “It was a shocker,” Ciaramitaro said of Snyder’s announcement.  “I give him credit. It’s one thing to try something — it’s another thing to admit that it didn’t work.” …

… The state and Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia opted to end their $145.1-million contract about 18 months early in 2015 after the state balked at billing changes requested by Aramark. The state switched to a $158.8-million contract with Florida-based Trinity Services Group, but problems continued. Corrections Department Director Heidi Washington said the state plans to bring about 350 state workers back into the prison kitchens when the Trinity contract expires July 31. The state and Trinity have mutually agreed to part ways after Trinity sought price increases, she said. …

Michigan Department of Corrections, Trinity Services Group mutually agree to end contract
Source: Upper Michigan Source, February 7, 2018

The Michigan Department of Corrections will return to state-run food service operations this summer after coming to a mutual agreement with Trinity Services Group to end the partnership when the contract expires. The change, which would bring about 350 state workers back to correctional facility kitchens, was announced in Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget recommendation presentation Wednesday. … Budget language first approved in 2012 required the open bidding of food service operations to reduce correctional costs. The boilerplate language requiring the open bidding of food service is no longer in place, but the change would still require the Legislature to appropriate sufficient funds for these operations moving forward.

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Napolitano addresses higher education access, student support at LA event

Source: Anirudh Keni, Daily Bruin, March 19, 2018
 
University of California President Janet Napolitano said at an event Monday the University is working to expand access to higher education by accepting more transfer students and improving academic advisory and student support programs. Napolitano spoke to UC regents and local high school students at City Club in Los Angeles about the different ways the University is helping more people attend the UC. Napolitano was briefly interrupted by members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299, the UC’s largest union, protesting UCLA’s decision in August to end its contract with ABM Industries, a facility management company that employed valet workers at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The protesters, who chanted “UCLA, hire the valets,” claimed UCLA’s decision has led to workers losing their jobs or being transferred to other locations that do not offer the same wages or benefits UCLA provides. …

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LACMA’s Art + Film Gala honors Mark Bradford and George Lucas
Source: Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2017

Earlier in the evening, UCLA service and hospital workers who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union tried to steer some of the focus to the Westside by protesting the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center’s treatment of contract valet workers. They chanted,“David Geffen make it right, support valet workers’ rights,” referring to the philanthropist who recently pledged $150 million toward the construction of a new Peter Zumthor-designed building for LACMA. “More than 40 immigrant service workers have lost their jobs,” union organizer Paul Waters-Smith said. “David Geffen is the most prominent backer to UCLA Health. He can, with a phone call, make it right.”

UCLA student groups advocate for medical center valet workers 
Source: Sharon (Yu Chun) Zhen, Daily Bruin, October 24, 2017

UCLA labor- and immigration-justice groups held a town hall meeting Monday night to urge UCLA to create more insourced positions for contract valet workers at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.  … Victoria Salgado, a union organizer at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, the UC’s largest union, said many workers are concerned for their job security because they received unclear notifications in July and September about their employment dates. … Owen Li, a senior researcher for AFSCME Local 3299, said the UC has been increasing executive pay while cutting benefits for workers.  “The University of California literally wastes billions of dollars on hedge funds, management bloats and on these crazy executive perks,” he said.  The UC has 67 percent more overall staff than in 1993, and the number of senior managers has increased by 327 percent since 1993, Li added.  Li said most of the jobs UCLA is offering to current valet workers are part-time jobs, which he he thinks do not offer enough pay to live on. …

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Over 1,600 towns, cities worldwide now reversing privatization

Source: Michael Makabenta Alunan, Business Mirror, February 13, 2018
 
Over 1,600 cities and municipalities in 45 countries have acted to claim back public utilities and services from private companies, of which 835 were successful cases, showing people’s initiatives to wrest control over earlier privatization moves the past two to four decades that only resulted in spiralling prices, nondelivery of services to the poor and more misery. … Significant deprivatization models and best practices worldwide were also discussed in a book, entitled Reclaiming Public Services, which is a compendium of studies documenting actual experiences from different countries and edited by Satoko Kishimoto of Transnational Institute and Olivier Petitjean. … Conference delegates told journalists that while privatization and the neoliberal policies the past decades may claim to have contributed to growth, they helped worsen global inequality. … Even in the United Kingdom where privatization started under Thatcher, there are already 64 cases of public takeovers from the private sector, called in Europe as “municipalisation” of running services for people not for profit. …

MT plans to take over developmentally disabled case management detailed

Source: Jonathan Ambarian, MTN News, January 17, 2018

Leaders with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services now believe they will be able to maintain targeted case management services for 3,600 Montanans with developmental disabilities. Four nonprofits – Helena Industries, AWARE, Opportunity Resources and the Central Montana Medical Center – currently receive contracts from the state to provide case management for these Montanans. However, DPHHS announced last month that, because of state budget cuts, it would end the contracts and take over the responsibility itself. … DPHHS leaders initially announced they would be able to keep providing case management for 2,700 people who receive care through comprehensive Medicaid waivers. But Matthews told reporters Tuesday they now believe they can also serve another 900 to 1,000 who are covered on a state plan or are on a waiting list for a Medicaid waiver. … Department leaders say taking over case management services themselves will save $2.5 million by June 2019. …

Library groups call for inquiry after Carillion collapse

Source: Natasha Onwuemezi, The Bookseller, January 17, 2018

Libraries body CILIP has called for a public inquiry to investigate whether the government knowingly issued contracts for the delivery of public services to a failing company following the collapse of Carillion. The government services provider has gone into liquidation after losing money on big contracts and running up huge debts of around £1.5bn, putting thousands of jobs at risk across multiple sectors. Carillion has run several public library services since 2013, including Hounslow, Ealing, Croydon and Harrow. Hounslow terminated its contract with Carillion last August and on Tuesday (15th January), Croydon Council stepped in to “secure the long-term future” of all its libraries and “guarantee the jobs of library staff” by taking the running of its library service back in house. However, the councils of Ealing and Harrow have told The Bookseller they have not as yet terminated their contracts with Carillion. …

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Croydon libraries to be run by the council again to ‘protect jobs’ after Carillion collapse
Source: Andy Datson, Croyden Advertiser, January 15, 2018

Croydon Council has announced it “intends” to terminate its contract with troubled contractor Carillion and that it will take back control of running libraries across the borough, “protecting” jobs in the process. Construction giant Carillion announced on Monday (January 15) that it is to go into liquidation, putting thousands of jobs at risk across multiple sectors…..

Now Carillion remove home library service from the disabled
Source: Inside Cryodon, November 20, 2017

Carillion, the building company which runs Croydon’s public libraries, has been accused of “blatant discrimination” against the disabled over plans to withdraw the home library service from January 1, something described as a “disgraceful and stupid decision”…..

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City-owned Internet services offer cheaper and more transparent pricing

Source: Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, January 15, 2018

Municipal broadband networks generally offer cheaper entry-level prices than private Internet providers, and the city-run networks also make it easier for customers to find out the real price of service, a new study from Harvard University researchers found. Researchers collected advertised prices for entry-level broadband plans—those meeting the federal standard of at least 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds—offered by 40 community-owned ISPs and compared them to advertised prices from private competitors. The report by researchers at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard doesn’t provide a complete picture of municipal vs. private pricing. But that’s largely because data about private ISPs’ prices is often more difficult to get than information about municipal network pricing, the report says. In cases where the researchers were able to compare municipal prices to private ISP prices, the city-run networks almost always offered lower prices. This may help explain why the broadband industry has repeatedly fought against the expansion of municipal broadband networks. This fight includes pushing legislators to draft anti-municipal broadband state laws, lobbying against local ballot initiatives, and filing lawsuits against cities that build their own networks. …

Council unanimously votes to take back library operations

Source: Andrew Clark, The Signal, January 9, 2018

Santa Clarita decided to take back full control of its library system Tuesday evening. The Santa Clarita City Council voted unanimously to end a contract with Library Systems and Services, LLC, and independently operate and staff the Santa Clarita Public Library system. … he move looks to save the city about $400,000 in what would be the city’s first fiscal year of operations. The decision comes nearly seven years after the city pulled the libraries out of the county system and contracted with Library Systems and Services to operate and staff libraries in Newhall, Valencia and Canyon Country. City documents noted the city initially had success with LSSI as library hours were expanded and the annual budget for books and materials was increased, but the company’s performance has declined in recent years. …

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Privatization–and Pushback–Proceed in Santa Clarita
Source: Beverly Goldberg, American Libraries, July 27, 2011

…. Mayor McLean’s sentiments about public accountability are echoed in a new toolkit from ALA’s Office for Library Advocacy. However, “Keeping Public Libraries Public: A Checklist for Communities Considering Privatization of Public Libraries” makes no bones about ALA’s opposition to library privatization. …. That distinction has also captured the interest of the California legislature, where a bill is being considered that would regulate under what circumstances the management of a library that is withdrawing from a free county library system could be privatized.

IPERS considering in-house management of retirement funds

Source: James Q. Lynch, The Gazette, January 16, 2018
 
IPERS officials told Iowa lawmakers it likely will be next year before they ask for legislative changes to allow in-house management the $30 billion public employee retirement fund.  IPERS, Iowa Public Employee’s Retirement System, which paid out $2 billion in benefits last year, is in “preliminary discussion” of what they are calling internal investment management. Currently, IPERS contracts for outside management of its funds, but CEO Donna Mueller and Chief Investment Officer Karl Koch told the House State Government Committee Tuesday they believe millions of dollars could be saved annually through in-house management of investments.  However, they added, the change would require “significant” startup investment as well as trading, accounting and control infrastructure. …