Category Archives: Cataloged

Daily understaffing persists at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans

Source: Amy Biolchini, MLive, August 10, 2017

Understaffing at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans continues to be a problem, according to an follow-up audit released by the state. That’s after the home entered into a new staffing contract in fall 2016. … However, most other major problems at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans identified in a blistering state audit in February 2016 have largely been resolved, the report found. …

Related:

Blame for poor care at Grand Rapids veterans home sits at the top, Dems say
Source: Amy Biolchini, MLive, July 27, 2017
 
Democratic State Representatives Winnie Brinks and Tim Greimel say Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette hasn’t gone far enough to hold officials with the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the state accountable for the poor conditions at the facility.  “Why did it take so long to get some action? For years, our veterans were literally calling for help, pressing the help button beside their bed, and hearing silence,” Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, said at a Thursday, July 27, press conference in front of the home.  This week Schuette announced felony charges for falsifying medical records against 11 former nursing assistants who worked for the former contractor, J2S Group Healthforce. His investigation found there wasn’t enough evidence to bring criminal charges over the five worst complaints about member treatment, in some of which veterans died. …

Did a 2011 lawsuit against Grand Rapids Home for Veterans predict the future?
Source: David Bailey, WZZM, July 25, 2017
 
The lawsuit was filed by veteran Anthony Spallone intending to stop the on-going privatization at the time.  Gov. Rick Snyder recommended taking state-employed care aides out the home and replace them with nurse aides hired by local contractor J2s.  It was a contentious environment at the time as state aides lost their jobs and were replaced by people they considered to be less-skilled, less-experienced and cheaper.  Union leaders did everything they could to stop the job losses including filing Spallone’s lawsuit.  It alleged the privatization would lead to substandard care and contended J2S had a quote “dangerous track record of care”.   Spallone’s attorney at the time was adamant veterans could be put in terrible situations with the privatization. …

Continue reading

Outsourcing is not working and it hurts working Tennesseans

Source: Dwayne Thompson, Tennessean, August 10, 2017
 
Since August 2015, Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has pushed a radical experiment in outsourcing that would turn thousands of state facilities workers jobs, millions of square feet of Tennesseans’ real estate, and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to the multinational giant JLL.   There has been widespread opposition to the outsourcing plan. Facilities services workers, faculty, and staff have significant concerns that outsourcing will compromise the quality of services on which effective teaching, research and service rely.  Students have spoken up about fears for safety if a revolving workforce replaces the workers they know and trust. …

Related:

Tennessee Inks Collaborative Facilities Management Contract With JLL
Source: Kate Vitasek, Forbes, June 29, 2017
 
The state of Tennessee has signed a facilities management contract to help the state provide the best service to citizens and employees at the lowest possible cost for taxpayers.  The contract was awarded to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) for five years with up to five one-year extensions. It allows the state of Tennessee’s various agencies and institutions to utilize JLL’s professional facilities management services. The potential scope covers over 7,500 state run properties spanning 97 million square feet. …

Judge rules Tennessee must release outsourcing records about Fall Creek Falls purchase
Source: Associated Press, June 29th, 2017

A judge has ruled in favor of a media group that sued the state of Tennessee to release records about its attempt to outsource services at Fall Creek Falls State Park. The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government says Davidson County Chancellor Bill Young on Tuesday ruled that the state must produce records to City Press Communications LLC, parent company of the Nashville Scene and the Nashville Post, and reporter Cari Wade Gervin. …

Continue reading

Dems demand new cost estimate for Trump’s air traffic control plan

Source: Melanie Zanona, The Hill, August 7, 2017

House Democrats are demanding a new cost estimate for President Trump’s proposal to separate air traffic control from the federal government. In a letter to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), top Democrats on several committees asked for a new score of the spinoff plan after changes were made to the legislation following its approval from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The privatization push has been formally endorsed by the White House but has not yet been brought to a floor vote in the House. …

Related:

As the House rushes toward summer recess, the fate of 30,000 federal workers is undecided
Source: Ashley Halsey III, Washington Post, July 26, 2017
 
Almost two months after President Trump with great fanfare endorsed removing them from the payroll, the fate of more than 30,000 federal employees will not be decided before the House adjourns for its summer recess.  House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) had hoped to find both the necessary votes and time on the House floor for consideration of a bill that would spin the nation’s air traffic controllers and thousands of people working on modernizing the aviation system into a private nonprofit corporation. But in the maelstrom of last-minute action before the House heads home Friday, the bill has not been scheduled for what was expected to be a contentious debate on the floor. The proposal still faces bipartisan opposition in the Senate. …

Senate panel rejects air-traffic control privatization
Source: Bart Jansen, USA Today, July 25, 2017
 
Senators who decide how much to spend on the Federal Aviation Administration rejected Tuesday the Trump administration’s proposal to privatize air-traffic control.  The Senate Appropriations subcommittee for transportation and housing approved by voice vote a $60 billion bill, with $16.7 billion for FAA.  The senators joined their House counterparts in rejecting a proposal to move controllers from FAA to a non-profit corporation. But the decision isn’t final because the Senate and House must still debate and resolve their differences before spending decisions become final, months from now. …

Continue reading

Michigan prison food woes drag on

Source: Michael Gerstein, Detroit News, May 10, 2017
 
Food problems continue to plague Michigan prisons in 2017 after Gov. Rick Snyder replaced a previous private vendor over similar issues, state documents show.  Inmates at the Upper Peninsula Kinross Correctional Facility picked through “maggot infested potatoes” to find still-intact spuds for prison meals, according to documents the Lansing-based liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan obtained from the Michigan Department of Corrections through an open records request. … The report shows that the potatoes were discovered less than two months before a costly riot broke out amid prisoners’ complaints about food quality.  “We have had food issues or prisoner complaints at a variety of our prisons. Kinross doesn’t stand out to me as being particularly worse off than any other facilities that have food service there,” said Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections. …

Related:

Prison food vendor in line for $4M contract boost
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, March 30, 2017

Three of the five prison food workers at Cotton Correctional Facility near Jackson walked off the job Wednesday after they were disciplined — the same day a House budget subcommittee approved a $4-million increase for the contractor that hired them, Florida-based Trinity Services Group. Trinity replaced problem-plagued Aramark Correctional Services in September 2015. Though complaints have declined under Trinity, the company has been hit with nearly $2.5 million in contract penalties for inadequate staffing levels and other problems since it took over. … [Corrections Department spokesman Chris] Gautz said that even if the $4 million increase is included in the final 2018 budget passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, the contract will still be saving the state more than $11 million a year over what it cost to provide the same service with state employees.  But Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director of AFSCME Council 25, which represented the former state prison food workers, said the state’s estimated savings are based, in part, on the cost of unfunded pension liabilities that the state will have to pay, with or without a contractor.  Wednesday’s incident at Cotton is another example of a hidden cost, in which corrections officers have to be taken away from their normal security duties to work in the kitchen, Ciaramitaro said. … Food provided by Trinity — which has not responded to calls or e-mails from the Free Press — was among the complaints cited by inmates at Kinross Correctional Facility in a September disturbance that damaged the Upper Peninsula prison and cost the state nearly $900,000. Gautz said that through the end of December, the Corrections Department had issued 114 “stop orders,” barring from prison property former Trinity employees fired for offenses such as over-familiarity with prisoners or smuggling of contraband. …

Mich. prison contractor fined $2M over service issues
Source: Jonathan Oosting, The Detroit News, January 22, 2017

Michigan has fined its new private prison food service contractor more than $2 million for unplanned meal substitutions, delays, staffing shortages and other contract violations since late 2015, the state Department of Corrections confirmed Friday. Florida-based Trinity Food Services signed a three-year, $158 million contract in July 2015 after the state terminated its initial deal with Aramark Correctional Services over problems, including maggots found in kitchen areas and worker sex acts with prisoners. The Trinity fines include roughly $900,000 for meal substitutions, meaning Trinity was not able to provide food items it promised and instead served alternatives. The company was also fined roughly $357,000 for meal service delays and around $356,000 for staffing vacancies. … Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration had fined Aramark $200,000 before ending the contract about two years after the Republican-led Legislature required the state to privatize prison food service in an attempt to save money. The new deal struck with Trinity includes stricter language requiring fines for various violations. The state deducts the fines from its monthly payments to the company…. But critics say the Trinity fines are the latest evidence that contracting out prison food service to private companies has been a bad deal for Michigan, which laid off state workers in hopes of cutting costs. …

Continue reading

Illinois prison agency rescinds nurse layoffs to still talk

Source: Associated Press, April 27, 2017
 
The Illinois Department of Corrections has withdrawn its plan to lay off 124 nurses while continuing to negotiate with the state employees’ union.  Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said Thursday the department had informed the Illinois Nurses Association that it would not remove the nurses June 15. She says prison officials are available to meet any time but the union is unavailable until May 8.  Union spokesman Chris Martin says the Corrections Department decision is welcome news. He encouraged support for legislation to halt privatizing prison jobs that was sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. …

Related:

Lawmakers seek to block privatization of prison nurse jobs
Source: Tony Reid, Herald & Review, April 11, 2017
 
The prognosis for a group of unionized prison nursing jobs across Central Illinois hangs in the balance as last-ditch efforts are made to save them.  The correctional facility nurses – seven in Decatur, 12 in Vandalia and four in Lincoln – are among 124 nurses statewide who have been told by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration their state jobs will end in June 15. … Among those supporting the effort to save the jobs is state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, who is among the sponsors of new legislation that would prevent the nurses from being laid off and their work from being outsourced.  All that is needed is for Rauner to sign the bill, a hope that appears to be on life support given the governor’s oft-stated anti-union stance. Nicole Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, has previously said that privatizing the nursing jobs would save taxpayers $8 million a year. …

Senate OKs prohibition on privatizing prison nurses jobs
Source: Associated Press, March 29, 2017

The Illinois Senate is telling Gov. Bruce Rauner it doesn’t want prison nurse jobs filled by private contractors. Plainview Republican Sen. Sam McCann’s measure won approval Wednesday 40-15. It would prohibit the Department of Corrections from eliminating jobs of any state employees who provide prison health care services. Republican Rauner’s administration announced last week it intended to dismiss 124 union nurses and privatize their positions this summer. …

Two state senators file bill to stop Rauner’s plan to privatize jobs of 124 prison nurses
Source: Molly Parker, The Southern Illinoisan, March 28, 2017

Two state senators are co-sponsoring legislation they say would stop Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration from outsourcing additional medical and mental health service jobs from state prisons. This past week, 124 nurses employed at 10 state prisons learned that they were being laid off and their jobs privatized. In Southern Illinois, that includes 13 nurses employed at Menard Correctional Center, and 13 at Vienna Correctional Center. … That number includes 150 nurses who are members of the Illinois Nurses Association, the majority of whom received layoff notices. It would protect an additional 172 medical technicians and mental health professionals who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. …

Continue reading

Moratorium on charter schools heads to full House

Source: Andrew Oxford, The New Mexican, February 25, 2017

A committee voted along party lines Saturday to temporarily halt the creation of any new charter schools, sending the moratorium to a vote in the full House of Representatives. Backers, including teachers unions, argue House Bill 46 would allow time to develop better oversight of charter schools and prevent new schools from drawing funding at a time when the budget for public education is already tight. But opponents, including the Public Education Department, business groups and parents with children on waiting lists for existing charter schools, argue the measure would limit options for students. … Sponsored by Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, the bill is only one sentence long, stating simply that no new applications for charter schools would be accepted or approved between June 1, 2017, and Jan. 1, 2020. The bill follows a report last year by the Legislative Finance Committee that recommended additional guidelines for authorizing charter schools and a new system for funding those schools. The report found inconsistent oversight of charter schools, with charters rarely revoked, despite poor performance. … The number of charter schools around New Mexico has grown from 63 in fiscal year 2008 to 99 in fiscal year 2016, though about five are expected to soon close, according to the Legislative Finance Committee. The committee found charter schools, when compared to traditional public schools, serve a lower percentage of students who are Hispanic or economically disadvantaged. … Even if the full House of Representatives and the Senate pass Trujillo’s moratorium, it would still require the approval of Gov. Susana Martinez, whose own Public Education Department has opposed the measure.

Related:

Study: Unclear laws give New Mexico charter schools funding edge over public schools
Source: Robert Nott, Santa Fe New Mexican, July 15, 2016

Charter schools in New Mexico receive more funding per student than traditional public schools, in part because of unclear laws that give them an edge in squeezing out dollars from the state, a new study says. The report by the Legislative Education Study Committee and Legislative Finance Committee says charter schools on average receive about 15 percent more funding per student than regular public schools. In Albuquerque, for example, traditional public schools receive about $7,400 for each student while that city’s charter schools get about $8,700 per student. The reasons include statutory language that allows charter schools to take advantage of the state’s small-school funding formula — designed to give rural school districts adequate money to operate — and a law that lets charter schools begin new programs with funding that doesn’t require legislative approval. … Earlier this year, for example, a state audit of 55 state-chartered schools in New Mexico found many of them deficient in internal financial controls and out of compliance with some provisions of state law. Some of those problems were minor and others have already been corrected. In addition, a Legislative Finance Report earlier this year stated that while New Mexico’s charter schools only serve 7 percent of the student population, they have received 46 percent of public-school funding increases in the past seven years. National studies on charter schools say that for the most part they do not out-perform more traditional public schools in academics. Sallee told the committee that the Legislature has yet to authorize an in-depth study on this issue in New Mexico. …

Report: New Mexico charter schools cost more, perform same
Source: Morgan Lee, Albuquerque Journal, January 18, 2016

Rapidly expanding charter schools in New Mexico are spending more per student with similar academic results to traditional public schools, state program analysts told lawmakers on Monday. … The study found that charter school students received $8,663 per student, while traditional district schools received $7,597, during the budget year ending June 2015. New Mexico’s charter schools have received nearly half of school funding increases since mid-2007, while serving about 7 percent of all students, the report said. … New Mexico had 97 charter schools serving about 22,000 students last year, up from 59 in 2010 and just two in 2000. That steady growth mimics the growth of nationwide attendance at charter schools, which surpasses 2.5 million students. The state evaluation raised specific concerns about costs and performance at so-called virtual charter schools that provide remote online courses. New Mexico has two virtual schools — New Mexico Connections Academy and New Mexico Virtual Academy — that both have ties to for-profit organizations.

Continue reading

Prison Companies’ Bid to Withhold Documents Fails

Source: Mark Hamblett, New York Law Journal, February 9, 2017

Two of the nation’s largest private prison companies who handle immigration detention for the federal government have lost their bid to keep proprietary business information from being released.The GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic intervened to appeal a Freedom of Information Act ruling where civil liberties groups are seeking details about immigration detention practices, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found they lacked standing. The Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights sued the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the FOIA seeking a raft of documents on detention policy. The civil liberties groups allege that the government has misinterpreted a funding requirement to provide 34,000 immigration beds at any time by requiring that at least 34,000 beds be filled at any given time. In July, Southern District Judge Lorna Schofield ordered the government to release details of its contracts with private prison corporations. … The government declined to appeal, but Schofield stayed disclosure while allowing The GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corp. of America) to intervene an appeal. … But on Wednesday, Judges Barrington Parker, Reena Raggi and Christopher Droney issued an order dismissing the appeal in Detention Watch Network v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 16-3141. …

Related:

New Report: Aggressive Immigration Enforcement Quotas Also Used to Detain Mothers and Their Children
Source: Center for Constitutional Rights, June 17, 2016

Today, Detention Watch Network (DWN) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released a new report that reveals for the first time that mothers and their children are jailed under guaranteed minimum bed contracts for local jails. The report shows the extent to which ICE grants financial benefits to private and public entities that detain immigrants through government contracts requiring ICE to pay for a set number of beds at detention facilities, rendering immigrants, including children and families, a source of profit for contractors. … The widespread use of local lockup quotas throughout the immigration detention system was exposed in DWN and CCR’s report, Banking on Detention: Local Lockup Quotas and the Immigrant Dragnet, in June 2015. Since then, the government has released additional documents that shed light on the continued use of local lockup quotas, covering at least 24 detention facility contracts. … The new documents reveal that guaranteed minimums account for at least 12,821 of the 34,000 beds funded by the detention bed quota, nearly 40 percent. Of these 12,821 beds, 93 percent exist in facilities that contract with private companies. …

Read full report.

Is This What Trump Will Do to Our Water Systems?

Source: Peter Hart, Food and Water Watch, February 3, 2017

According to just-leaked documents, Donald Trump’s team has pulled together a national priority list of 50 major infrastructure projects that taxpayers could subsidize through a Wall Street giveaway. On his list are two corporate water supply projects: Poseidon’s expensive, energy-intensive desalination plant and Cadiz’s water bank – both set to privatize water resources and profit from droughts in California. … For a taste of the problems that Trump’s plans could cause, consider the case of Rockland County, New York. In Rockland County, the local arm of French multinational Suez is billing residents and businesses millions of dollars for a desalination plant it never built. Two weeks ago, the state government agency that exists to help consumers mostly blessed this ratepayer rip-off. … Private water companies like Suez have left a trail of broken promises and botched service in cities around the country, from Camden, New Jersey to Atlanta to Gary, Indiana. Cost overruns and safety problems have plagued communities where the companies have been active. …

Related:

Trump Attacks the Safety of Our Drinking Water
Source: Mary Grant, Food and Water Watch, January 25, 2017

The Trump administration has declared war on the environment and the safety of our drinking water. His team put together an aggressive action plan for the EPA, stripping away public protections and critical resources. … While gutting these vital water funding programs, Trump’s team is also advancing a proposal to let Wall Street take over our public infrastructure. Trump’s policy advisors have outlined a scheme to give massive tax breaks to Wall Street firms that take over infrastructure projects. It would give Wall Street a tax credit of $0.82 for every $1 of equity invested into a project.  This privatization scam will benefit only Wall Street. Widespread privatization of water systems would lead to large rate hikes, loss of local control, loss of transparency and accountability, loss of jobs and deterioration of customer service quality. Water bills would skyrocket to allow Wall Street to profit, leading to unaffordable bills and more water shutoffs. … Trump’s plans amount to a massive windfall for Wall Street, and combined with his proposed cuts, they endanger our public water systems. … On Tuesday, Senate Democrats released their own blueprint to rebuild our country’s infrastructure, calling for $110 billion to update our water and sewer systems. Their blueprint recognizes that communities need real direct assistance and that privatization is the wrong way forward: “Our Blueprint will invest directly in communities because Democrats know that we can’t fix a problem of this magnitude simply by tolling more highways or privatizing water and sewer system that profit on ratepayers.” …

In American Towns, Private Profits From Public Works
Source: DANIELLE IVORY, BEN PROTESS and GRIFF PALMER, New York Times, December 24, 2016

Nicole Adamczyk’s drinking water used to slosh through a snarl of pipes dating from the Coolidge administration — a rusty, rickety symbol of the nation’s failing infrastructure. So, in 2012, this blue-collar port city cut a deal with a Wall Street investment firm to manage its municipal waterworks. Four years later, many of those crusty brown pipes have been replaced by shiny cobalt-blue ones, reflecting a broader infrastructure overhaul in Bayonne. But Ms. Adamczyk’s water and sewer bill has jumped so much that she is thinking about moving out of town. “My reaction was, ‘Oh, so I guess I’m screwed now?’” said Ms. Adamczyk, an accountant and mother of two who received a quarterly bill for almost $500 this year. She’s not alone: Another resident’s bill jumped 5 percent, despite the household’s having used 11 percent less water.

Even as Wall Street deals like the one with Bayonne help financially desperate municipalities to make much-needed repairs, they can come with a hefty price tag — not just to pay for new pipes, but also to help the investors earn a nice return, a New York Times analysis has found. Often, these contracts guarantee a specific amount of revenue, The Times found, which can send water bills soaring. Water rates in Bayonne have risen nearly 28 percent since Kohlberg Kravis Roberts — one of Wall Street’s most storied private equity firms — teamed up with another company to manage the city’s water system, the Times analysis shows. City officials also promised residents a four-year rate freeze that never materialized. In one measure of residents’ distress, people are falling so far behind on their bills that the city is placing more liens against their homes, which can eventually lead to foreclosures. … President-elect Donald J. Trump has made the privatization of public works a centerpiece of his strategy to rebuild America’s airports, bridges, tunnels and roads. Members of his inner circle have sketched out a vision, including billions of dollars of tax credits for private investors willing to tackle big infrastructure projects. And Mr. Trump himself promised in his victory speech “to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none.” Private equity firms like K.K.R. have already presented themselves as a willing partner, and Bayonne provides an important case study. Its arrangement is one of a handful of deals across the country in the last few years in which private equity firms have managed public water systems. While these deals are a small corner of private equity’s sprawling interests, they represent the leading edge of the industry’s profound expansion into public services. …

… The Times analyzed three deals in which private equity firms have recently run a community’s water or sewer services through a long-term contract. In all three places — Bayonne, and two cities in California, Rialto and Santa Paula — rates rose more quickly than in comparable towns, which included both publicly and privately run water systems. In Santa Paula, where Alinda Capital Partners controlled the sewer plant, the city more than doubled the rates. A fourth municipality, Middletown, Pa., raised its rates before striking a deal. Now, some of these cities are trying to take back their water. Missoula, Mont., wrested away its water system, which had been owned by the Carlyle Group. Apple Valley, Calif., whose waterworks were also owned by Carlyle, has filed a similar lawsuit. Santa Paula bought its sewer plant from Alinda last year. …

Investing in America’s Public Water Systems — Making Public-private Partnerships Work
Source: Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania, Knowledge@Wharton, May 2015
[editor’s note: Suez Environnement – a private water company – is one of the sponsors behind this report. One of its subsidiaries is United Water]

From the summary:
The U.S. public water system needs a massive, long-deferred investment. Neither the public nor the private sector alone is up to the challenge, but a growing number of public-private partnerships suggest a solution.

U.S. Shifts to Strong Support for Public-private Infrastructure Deals
Source: Knowledge@Wharton, Public Policy, June 10, 2015

….As part of what the Canadian government calls, “the largest and longest infrastructure plan” in the nation’s history, Canada has committed $1.25 billion to a national portfolio of 20 public-private partnerships, seven of which involve water and wastewater infrastructure. But what is noteworthy about the Canadian program is not just the size or scope of its investment but the process it has put in place. …But whether or not the IRS changes its policy, or Congress agrees to any of the president’s new proposals, the bipartisan passage of WRRDA makes it clear the federal government will be stepping up its support for P3s for water and other infrastructure in the years ahead….

Making the Most of Public-private Partnerships
Source: Knowledge@Wharton, Public Policy, June 10, 2015

It may not be common knowledge, but private companies have been helping cities manage public water systems for some time. According to the National Environmental Services Center, a process known as design-bid-build is the traditional method employed by water utilities throughout the U.S. Under this process, a municipality hires an engineering firm to design a water project, puts the project out to bid and chooses a private contractor to build the plant. The local water authority may choose to run the plant itself or hire yet another private firm to operate and maintain it…..

A Tale of Two Public-private Partnership Cities
Source: Knowledge@Wharton, Public Policy, June 10, 2015

….It is indeed early in the relationship among United Water, KKR and the citizens of Bayonne. So far, the rate increase has been an issue locally, but few have complained about inferior service. United Water, for its part, reports fielding positive consumer comments about access to information from the smart water meters it has installed…. In 2013, Rialto entered into a 30-year, $300 million public-private partnership (P3) agreement with Veolia Environnement S.A.’s Veolia Water as the operator of the project. Ullico, a labor-owned insurance and investment company, was the lead finance partner, along with Table Rock Capital. An agreement with labor unions ensured that all existing employees would keep their jobs for at least 36 months. ….

Public works committee debating plan to privatize garbage collection in Scarborough

Source: Chris Fox, CP24.com, January 18, 2017

A proposal to privatize garbage collection in Scarborough is on the agenda today as the public works and infrastructure committee meets at city hall. Staff are recommending that the city hold a managed competition procurement process for District 4, which includes all of Scarborough, while leaving garbage collection in District 3 to unionized city workers for now. The managed competition procurement process would allow both private companies and the city’s unionized workers to submit bids. … While staff are only recommending privatizing garbage collection in Scarborough right now, the report states that the results of the change will be used as a “guide for future service delivery recommendations” in District 3, which includes the downtown neighbourhoods east of Yonge Street. Officials with CUPE Local 416 have estimated that the privatization of garbage collection in District 4 could mean the loss of 200 to 250 unionized jobs. Those job losses would come after the elimination of 150 positions when garbage collection was first privatized in the west end in 2012.

Related:

City officials to report on privatizing trash collection east of Yonge
Source: Shawn Jeffords, Toronto Sun, November 21, 2016

The city is on track to contract out garbage collection east of Yonge St. Councillors on the public works committee voted 3-1 in favour of having city officials report early next year on a path to privatization. The committee made the move a day after Mayor John Tory told the Toronto Sun he will push to contract out garbage in the east end, arguing that it’ll save money. City council will have final say on the controversial issue at a later date. The mayor’s proposal was met with anger from the union that represents the city’s garbage collectors, insisting contracting out their work will not save taxpayers cash. Matt Figliano, of CUPE Local 416, said Tory doesn’t “have the facts.” He referred to a 2015 consultant’s report that said there was no cost savings to be had by contracting out. … The union accused Tory of attempting to fire 500 workers. If the city wants to find savings, it should eliminate managers, Figliano said. “For every four members that we have, we have one manager or supervisor that makes six figures. You’re attacking the hard-working men and women that make an average $50,000 a year. It’s a bloated bureaucracy, that’s what this is,” he said. Councillor Joe Mihevc said the city already has the right balance on trash collection that allows it to get the best cost, a mix of private and public collection. … Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong said he doubts the Ernst and Young report is correct given past experience with contracting out garbage collection in the west end. That saves the city $11.7 million a year. …

Garbage Privatization: Inside Toronto’s Two-Tier System
Source: Stefan Novakovic, Urban Toronto, November 18, 2016

Following the Ford administration’s privatization of residential garbage pick-up east of Yonge in 2011, the City of Toronto’s waste management has remained in a somewhat awkward state of semi-privatization. While residential trash west of Yonge is handled by private companies, the east end remains the purview of City service. However, with Mayor Tory now moving forward with a 2014 campaign pledge to outsource the City’s remaining garbage collection, the whole of Toronto could be moving towards private collection. But how does privatization work? And what are its impacts? In Toronto, the answers to these questions are at once relatively simple and profoundly complex. That’s because there are actually two types of privatization. While the City’s controversial outsourcing of pick-up and disposal follows a relatively straightforward process, a parallel form of privatized service follows different rules. … The privatization of service proposed by Mayor Tory follows a pair of earlier initiatives. A 1995 agreement saw pre-amalgamation Etobicoke privatize collection over two decades ago, while Rob Ford’s 2011 privatization of garbage service west of Yonge effectively bifurcated the city between public and private collection. In both instances—as in Tory’s current pitch—the outsourcing came about as a cost-saving measure. Following privatization, Etobicoke reported average annual savings of $1.8 million, while Ford’s initiative initially saw yearly costs reduced by $11.9 million. With support for Municipal service also hampered by two long and memorable garbage strikes in 2003 and 2009, the push for privatization was relatively well received in subsequent years. In particular, widespread displeasure with the 39-day garbage strike of 2009 eroded public backing for Toronto’s Civic Employees Union (CUPE). Nonetheless, some critics perceived privatized service as an inherent reduction in accountability in transparency, and as a symptom of unwillingness to adequately engage with the rights of unionized labour. …

Statement from CUPE 416 regarding city, Ernst and Young Reports regarding further contracting out of solid waste management
Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees, September 16, 2015

Earlier today, City of Toronto staff released their report on the benefits and drawbacks of contracting out solid waste management east of Yonge Street. This report was further supported by an independent analysis from accounting firm Ernst and Young. … While we strongly believe that public services like solid waste collection are best delivered directly by municipalities, the mixed model currently in effect in Toronto is an effective one which makes sense for residents.

City staff advise against contracting out east-end garbage
Source: Jennifer Pagliaro, Toronto Star, September 15, 2015

Mayor John Tory’s council allies are questioning the numbers used by city staff to recommend against contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge St. A report released Tuesday found it may actually cost more to privatize pickup in at least one east-end district despite what the city says was $11 million in annual savings from contracting out the same services in the west end. That creates a challenge for Tory, who during the mayoral election promised to privatize the remaining garbage pickup, citing cost savings — a long-held position by rivals Rob and Doug Ford. … taff tried to estimate what it might cost to contract out collection versus public service pickup over seven years, from 2017 to 2023. They compared the cost of contracted-out service in Etobicoke’s District 1 to in-house service in Scarborough’s District 4. They based the contract cost on the most recent garbage contract secured in 2014 for District 1. According to the city, those two suburban districts have comparable geography and building characteristics. Staff found the future cost reflected in present dollars of in-house service in District 4 — $96.8 million — is cheaper than assumed District 1 contracting-out costs at $116.8 million. …

Curbside Waste Collection Services Review: Comparison of Curbside Waste Collection Services East and West of Yonge Street
Source: General Manager, Solid Waste Management Services, City of Toronto, Canada, September 9, 2015

The purpose of this report is to present the findings on the comparison of curbside collection districts in terms of costs, diversion rates, service levels and performance. It also provides an analysis of the financial and collection implications associated with the scenarios for contracting out collection services east of Yonge Street (Districts 3 and 4). A review of waste collection service delivery approaches in similar jurisdictions has also been undertaken. An independent financial analysis verification of the analysis was conducted by Ernst & Young LLP and is provided in Appendix C.

Letter: The other cost of privatizing liquor outlets

Source: Joyce Neufeld, Estavan Mercury, August 17, 2016

The Sask. Party government privatization plans for 40 liquor stores include 36 in rural communities. They generated $32.63M in revenue in 2014. This is a profit that will now go to the private sector and which we, the taxpayers, will have to make up.  What the Wall government does not want made clear are the financial and human costs to our rural communities.  We are told that about 150 employees earning about $6M in total wages, are losing their government jobs. How many will be exercising their seniority and move away from small towns already reeling from the loss of grain elevators, banks, post offices, school and hospital closures? … While most of these communities will, no doubt, lose at least some families, the smaller ones will also end up with abandoned store buildings. There are no guarantees the privateers will use the existing government buildings. Abandoned buildings mean lost property taxes for communities already facing shrinking tax bases. …

Related:

Government booze stores cheaper, safer
Source: Michelle Gawronsky, Winnipeg Free Press, August 10, 2015

Studies of privatization in Alberta have shown privatization has led to higher prices as small businesses are being bought out by large corporations that charge more. Further, there has been a decrease in consumer choice (specialty products that don’t sell in high volumes don’t get shelf space), and an increase in social and policing costs — sales first, safety later. David Campanella and Greg Flanagan’s 2012 study: The economic and social consequences of liquor privatization in Western Canada, takes a closer look at these comparators for British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. In a price survey of common types and brands of liquor in these jurisdictions, they found B.C.’s private stores consistently averaged the highest price out of all, with private stores in Alberta “close behind.” Publicly owned stores in B.C. had the lowest prices for the items measured, followed by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority. A 2014 Global News study found beer in Alberta’s private stores was significantly more expensive than it was in Manitoba. And a 2014 Beer Store report, Convenience Store Alcohol Would Drive Prices Up, Government Revenue Down, found deregulated alcohol sales in Ontario “would drive up prices, harm communities and lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.” What did it say about selection? “There would be no benefit to offset the risks of deregulation. Not on price, or selection.” Ontario’s Beer Stores stock up to 330 brands, while the selection in Alberta is less than half that number.

Alcohol Retailing Deregulation: Implications for Ontario
Source: The Beer Store, February 10, 2014

The issue of alcohol sales in corner stores and gas stations is once again in the news in Ontario. Proponents of deregulated alcohol sales claim that deregulation will lower consumer prices, increase product choice, generate higher government revenues while at the same time improving responsible sales practices. While such claims may sound enticing, a review of the deregulation experiences of other North American jurisdictions shows that this combination of outcomes has never been realized anywhere in practice. In fact, increased availability of alcohol in jurisdictions that have deregulated liquor retailing has been accompanied by significant increases in consumer prices, a general reduction in product selection and lower government alcohol tax revenues. The following paper compares the performance of Ontario’s existing beverage alcohol retail system across a variety of factors to liquor retailing systems that have undergone varying degrees of retail deregulation with a particular focus on Alberta and British Columbia given the robustness of available data on those markets. Factors examined include expected impacts on consumer prices, government revenues, product selection, availability of liquor and responsible sales practices.

Read Full Report Here

Impaired Judgement: The Economic and Social Consequences of Liquor Privatization in Western Canada
Source: David Campanella and David Flanagan, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2012

In Alberta and British Columbia, liquor retail privatization has meant higher liquor prices but lower government revenue. Moreover, the increased availability of alcohol brought on by privatization and its lax regulation contravene recognized methods for protecting public health. In light of Premier Brad Wall’s recent decision to move Saskatchewan towards a hybrid private/public model along the lines of British Columbia, these social and economic consequences of liquor privatization must be front and centre in any debate over the future of public liquor delivery in Saskatchewan.

View the Full Report Here.