Social Impact Bonds wrong direction for Manitoba’s social services

Source: CUPE, July 6, 2017

Today the Manitoba government announced the opening of a request for proposals for Social Impact Bonds, a scheme in which private companies profit off social service delivery. “There was a time when the private sector would simply make philanthropic donations as part of their corporate responsibility to the community” says Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “Social Impact Bonds take that corporate philanthropy and turn it into a private money‑making scheme.” While Pallister claims that Social Impact Bonds would foster “private-sector innovation,” these companies will seek to invest in only the non‑government agencies that would see profitable outcomes, rather than programs that seek to address long‑term root causes of many of societies deep and complex issues, including poverty. …

Oregon hired a company to paint the Ross Island Bridge without knowing its safety record. Then a worker fell.

Source: Gordon R. Friedman, The Oregonian, July 6, 2017
 
The Oregon Department of Transportation’s method for vetting contractors leaves the state open to hiring companies with troubling safety records, a review by The Oregonian/OregonLive has found. That’s exactly what happened when the department hired Abhe & Svoboda Inc. to repaint the Ross Island Bridge this year. Officials at the agency said when they chose the firm, they knew nothing of its safety history. The company’s track record includes accidents that killed and injured workers who were not wearing fall protection gear. Also on its record are repeated failures, as recently as 2011, to outfit bridge painters with adequate safety harnesses, safety records show. … Before awarding contracts, department officials don’t check publicly available online Occupational Safety & Health Administration records showing safety violations, workplace injuries and deaths from every state. Running such a check on Abhe & Svoboda takes minutes and shows violations from around the country spanning decades. …

Lawmakers Question Trump’s Stake in Subsidized Housing Complex

Source: Yamiche Alcindor, New York Times, July 10, 2017
 
Two congressional Democrats are demanding more information about President Trump’s potential conflicts of interest stemming from his part ownership of the nation’s largest federally subsidized housing complex, which they say could benefit financially from decisions made by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. … Mr. Trump stands to make millions from his 4 percent stake in Starrett City, a sprawling affordable housing complex in Brooklyn, according to a 10-page letter written by Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the House Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, whose district includes the complex. … The men added that they also worry that Mr. Trump’s proposed budget would make steep cuts to many housing programs but “would leave the type of federal aid that flows to the owners of Starrett City mostly intact.” … Mr. Cummings and Mr. Jeffries are also concerned about the appointment of Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump family associate, to lead the department’s New York and New Jersey office.

Michigan university following Ohio State’s lead with parking privatization

Source: Tom Knox, Columbus Business First, June 29, 2017

A public university in Michigan is considering privatizing its parking system – and using Ohio State University as an example. Eastern Michigan University regents on Tuesday authorized President James Smith to pursue an arrangement to lease out its parking apparatus in exchange for upfront money. … It’s a significant decision because it is one of the first universities to follow Ohio State’s lead after the school signed a first-of-its-kind arrangement in 2012. Ohio State leased its parking operations to Australian pension fund QIC Infrastructure in a 50-year, $483 million deal, framing it as raising money for academics. …

Middletown, sanitation union clash over privatization

Source: James Nani, Times Herald-Record, June 25, 2017
 
Major changes to city sanitation services are unlikely to materialize this year after negotiations between city and union officials to privatize waste-hauling reached an impasse. The city and the CSEA union, that represents more than 100 city workers and about 14 city sanitation workers, had been negotiating a new contract since late 2014. … CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo has claimed that the costs of outsourced sanitation have “spiraled out of control in many communities after initial lowball bids” and that outsourcing means surrendering control on prices, scheduling and other factors that can affect price and inconvenience residents. Jessica Ladlee, a CSEA spokeswoman, said members do not want to trade negotiating people out of their union for salary increases.

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Middletown explores outsourcing waste hauling
Source: James Nani, Record Online, May 2, 2017

Middletown officials are in negotiations with the union representing city sanitation workers as the city explores outsourcing waste hauling, a move that could eliminate the 14-member department. The talks with the union come as Middletown considers two options to reduce the cost of city sanitation services: either privatizing the services or downsizing and automating part of the department. … But under a push by Alderman Joe Masi, the city last released a request for proposals on the costs of private waste haulers to take over all waste services. As part of the request, any private hauler who wins a contract with the city would have to hire all city sanitation workers for one year. The move has met with resistance by the CSEA, which represents city sanitation workers. …

Mayor Barry looks at privatizing Nashville airport to generate transit funds 

Source: Joey Garrison & Nate Rau, The Tennessean, June 26, 2017 

Mayor Megan Barry’s administration is exploring the privatization of the city-operated Nashville International Airport to an outside management company to generate funding for mass transit in Middle Tennessee. The mayor’s office confirmed hearing a presentation in May from representatives of Oaktee Capital Management, a California-based hedge fund that has also made bids to run city-operated airports in other cities. …

In Georgia, Citizens Can Redirect Their Taxes to Private Schools

Source: Ty Tagami, Tribune News Service, June 26, 2017
 
Georgia’s highest court has determined that a state law allowing taxpayers to steer some of what they owe the state to private schools instead does not violate the state constitution. The unanimous ruling Monday by the Georgia Supreme Court strikes a blow against the claim by Raymond Gaddy and other taxpayers that the state law establishing tax credit student scholarships is unconstitutional. … Taxpayers pledge money — up to $1,000 for an individual, $2,500 per married couple and $10,000 for shareholders or owners of businesses (except “C” corporations, which can contribute up to three quarters of their state tax debt) — to specific private schools and get a tax credit off what they owe the state for the same amount. The money passes through nonprofit scholarship organizations that assign it as scholarships to students and keep up to 10 percent as fees.

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Public Money Finds Back Door to Private Schools
Source: Stephanie Saul, New York Times, May 21, 2012

When the Georgia legislature passed a private school scholarship program in 2008, lawmakers promoted it as a way to give poor children the same education choices as the wealthy. …A handout circulated at the meeting instructed families to donate, qualify for a tax credit and then apply for a scholarship for their own children, many of whom were already attending the school. … The exchange at Gwinnett Christian Academy, a recording of which was obtained by The New York Times, is just one example of how scholarship programs have been twisted to benefit private schools at the expense of the neediest children. Spreading at a time of deep cutbacks in public schools, the programs are operating in eight states and represent one of the fastest-growing components of the school choice movement. This school year alone, the programs redirected nearly $350 million that would have gone into public budgets to pay for private school scholarships for 129,000 students, according to the Alliance for School Choice, an advocacy organization. Legislators in at least nine other states are considering the programs. …. One big proponent of the tax-credit programs is the American Legislative Exchange Council, a coalition of conservative lawmakers and corporations that strongly influences many state legislatures. The council became a flash point in the Trayvon Martin case because it had championed the controversial Stand Your Ground gun laws.

Update public on airport security

Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 23 June 2017 

Last summer the state awarded Securitas a three-year, $130 million contract for security at all Hawaii airports. …The Hawaii Government Employees Association, meanwhile, is questioning whether private security guards are qualified or legally authorized to have police powers. The union contends that, over the years, the DOT has allowed Securitas to expand its role. …

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State says it ‘didn’t’ fire deputy sheriffs at airport, but wants to re-examine duties
Source: Hawaii News Now, June 20, 2017
 
The state Transportation Department did confirm that it had given the Public Safety Department a 180-day notice of its intent to terminate an agreement to station 57 deputy sheriffs at the airport.  But Fuchigami said he wants to work out a new agreement that gives deputy sheriffs new duties and better coordinates security operations at the airport. … Despite reassurances that the sheriff’s department will remain part of the airport’s security detail the sheriff’s union believes this shake up is an attempt to drive it’s deputies out.   “That is our biggest concern that this is just another step toward privatizing law enforcement at the airport and that is something we violently object to,” said Randy Perreira, HGEA Executive Director.

Lawmaker demands answers after state boots deputy sheriffs from Honolulu airport patrols
Source: Manolo Morales, KHON, June 19, 2017

Major changes are in the works at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport with regards to security. The Hawaii Department of Transportation sent a letter to the Department of Public Safety to say deputy sheriffs will no longer be patrolling the airport. The Department of Public Safety tells us it has 57 deputy sheriffs and two civilians working at Honolulu’s airport. … Deputy sheriffs belong to the Hawaii Government Employees Association. The union filed a lawsuit against the state last year because it allowed Securitas to take over some of the law enforcement duties at all of Hawaii’s airports. We asked about this latest issue, and received the following statement from Randy Perreira, HGEA executive director: “HGEA is aware of the letter from the State Department of Transportation to the Department of Public Safety regarding termination of services of State Sheriffs at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. We are working to get more information regarding this issue.

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Pottstown, Phoenixville schools eye tax cost of hospital sale

Source: Evan Brandt, The Mercury, June 16, 2017

… The potential sale of Pottstown and Phoenixville hospitals to a nonprofit company is being viewed with foreboding by business officials in school districts that stand to lose millions in property tax revenues. Officials at both Pottstown and Phoenxiville school districts said the respective hospitals in each borough are their largest property taxpayer. And each said that if the sale of the two hospitals — now owned by the Tennessee-based for-profit Community Health Systems — to the nonprofit Reading Health Systems goes through, they stand to lose as much as $900,000 a year or more in tax revenues. …

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CHS agrees to sell 5 more hospitals in Pennsylvania
Source: Dave Barkholz, Modern Healthcare, May 30, 2017

Struggling Community Health Systems has agreed to sell five hospitals in Pennsylvania to the not-for-profit Reading Health System.  The five hospitals are part of the 30 hospitals that Franklin, Tenn.-based CHS has agreed to sell to reduce a $15 billion debt burden. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.  They are169-bed Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville, 148-bed Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia, 63-bed Jennersville Hospital in West Grove, 151-bed Phoenixville Hospital in Phoenixville and 232-bed Pottstown Memorial Medical Center in Pottstown. …

Sandoval vetoes proposed ban on private prisons

Source: Yvonne Gonzalez, Las Vegas Sun, June 14, 2017
 
A proposed ban on private prisons in Nevada will not move forward after Gov. Brian Sandoval’s veto.   Assembly Bill 303 is among more than two dozen measures to be vetoed.  Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, D-North Las Vegas, sponsored the proposed private prison ban, and worked with stakeholders to amend the measure to allow agencies until 2022 to make the transition. …

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North Las Vegas lawmaker wants ban on for-profit prisons
Source: Ben Botkin, Las Vegas Review-Journal, May 22, 2017

No for-profit prison operators run Nevada corrections facilities, and Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno wants to keep it that way. The retired North Las Vegas city correctional officer is a primary sponsor of Assembly Bill 303, which would ban local jails and state prisons from contracting with private companies for core services. The Assembly Ways and Means Committee heard the bill on Monday, without taking action…. Kevin Ranft, a lobbyist with AFSME, [sic] the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, called the bill “long overdue,” noting that Nevada has tried for-profit prisons before and they’ve failed…