Despite 34 making six figures, true amounts of JobsOhio salaries still lowballed

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


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

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

Liberal group’s challenge to JobsOhio rejected by Ohio Supreme Court
Source: Jackie Borchardt, Northeast Ohio Media Group, June 10, 2014

Ohio’s highest court on Tuesday rejected a challenge from a progressive group and two Democrats challenging the constitutionality of JobsOhio, the state’s private, nonprofit economic development agency. In a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court held that, state Sen. Michael Skindell of Lakewood and former state Rep. Dennis Murray do not have standing — the legal right to pursue its claim in court — to bring an action against the legislation that created JobsOhio. The court also held that the plaintiffs lack a personal stake in the outcome of the case.

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Puerto Rico’s governor presses power utility privatization

Source: Luis J. Valentin Ortiz, Reuters, March 5, 2018
Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello on Monday pressed proposals for privatizing the U.S. commonwealth’s shattered electrical grid as part of its painstaking recovery from devastating September hurricanes. Rossello used his State of the State speech to say that he had introduced an energy reform bill on Monday, while outlining ideas for cutting taxes, increasing police pay and introducing education reforms. …


Contractors Are Leaving Puerto Rico, Where Many Still Lack Power
Source: Frances Robles, New York Times, February 26, 2018

Though hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans remain in the dark five months after a devastating hurricane trampled the island’s power grid, the federal government has begun to scale back the number of contractors it has working to get the lights back on. The United States Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of the federal effort to repair the power grid on the island, where a Category 4 storm last fall knocked out electricity to every home and business. The corps gave major contracts to two companies, Fluor Corporation and PowerSecure, and coordinates their work with the efforts of the island’s government-run power utility, which has also hired contractors and brought in crews from mainland utilities. At one point, there were a total of 6,200 workers repairing transmission and distribution lines across the island, about half of them working for the corps. Now that power has been restored to more than 1.1 million people, by the utility’s count — about 86 percent of the island’s customers — the corps said it would begin a “responsible drawdown” of its work force. …

Why privatizing Puerto Rico’s power grid won’t solve its energy problems
Source: Associated Press, February 7, 2018
A major barrier to restoring power is Puerto Rico’s public power utility, known as PREPA. Bankrupt, its infrastructure dilapidated, PREPA has been unable to repair the island’s devastated grid. It is also seen as corrupt. In January, some customers left in the dark for months received bills for “services rendered.” Thousands more were slapped with overcharges. … Welcoming private energy companies to the island didn’t just weaken PREPA – it also damaged the environment. As revealed in a 2017 investigative reporting series by Puerto Rico’s Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, the multinational AES badly mismanaged the ash byproduct from a coal plant in Guayama, Puerto Rico, to brutal results. …

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LePage Administration Outsources Part of Medicaid Program

Source: Associated Press, March 3, 2018
Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s plan to outsource part of the state’s Medicaid application process will cost the state more. The Bangor Daily News reports that the LePage administration acknowledges in a publicly posted contract document that there will be a “slight increase in cost.” The Maine Department of Health and Human Services in June will eliminate the positions of 10 state employees and enter into a $5.6 million, 25-month contract with a division of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The agency didn’t respond to request for comment. …

Puerto Rico And Its Teachers’ Unions Clash Over Proposed Charter Schools

Source: Adrian Florido, NPR, March 2, 2018
Teachers’ unions in Puerto Rico have responded to the government’s proposed overhaul with protest, anger and derision. Since Gov. Ricardo Rossello presented it to the legislature last month, critics have said he and Keleher are using the damage that Hurricane Maria inflicted on the island and its schools as justification to push privatization, much like the governor recently announced his intention to sell off Puerto Rico’s publicly owned electric grid. Speaking at a recent protest outside the Department of Education, Mercedes Martinez, president of the Puerto Rico Teachers’ Federation, likened the reform proposal to a corporate overhaul. “They think that because our island is vulnerable, because it doesn’t have electricity, that we’re going to let them privatize our schools, get rid of our teachers,” she said. The teachers’ unions tick off a litany of concerns. They say that charter schools, freed from many of the rules that govern traditional public schools, will divert funding from those schools while being free to pay teachers less, eliminate benefits, and kick out under-performing students. …


Why Puerto Rico Is Pushing to Privatize Its Schools
Source: Mimi Kirk, City Lab, February 27, 2018
Faced with a dire situation, Puerto Rico’s leaders are using post-storm recovery as an opportunity to dramatically overhaul the territory’s education system. Governor Ricardo Rosselló recently announced that more than 300 public schools out of 1,100 will close, and he outlined changes he wants to make to the system, including instituting charter schools and using private school vouchers—similar to the practices touted by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. This might sound a little familiar: After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans also embarked on a major educational revamp and made the majority of its public schools into charters—a move that remains controversial. Today, more than 90 percent of the city’s students attend charter schools. But the situation in Puerto Rico actually has its roots in the 1990s, when the island’s conservative leaders began to promote private schools and (unsuccessfully) pushed for vouchers. …

Betsy Devos is helping Puerto Rico re-imagine its public school system. That has people deeply worried.
Source: Rachel M. Cohen, The Intercept, February 22, 2018
Puerto Rico, in the midst of the chaos and instability following Hurricane Maria, is moving quickly forward with plans to institute a wide swath of education reforms, with the help of the aggressively ideological federal education department, helmed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Puerto Rico’s governor and education secretary have expressed openness to the concerns raised by parents, teachers and community members, and stress they are not looking to implement an extreme version of privatization. Yet at the same time, they have stoked fears by pushing forward a notably vague charter law that does little to address what people are most worried about. This “trust us” mentality has not been helped by the engagement of DeVos, nor by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s recent visit to a notorious charter chain in Philadelphia last week — a prime example of the kind of low-performing, fiscally reckless charter that school advocates warn about. …

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Even discussing selling a nursing home leads to staff turnover, lower quality of care

Source: Rick Lee, York Daily Record, February 28, 2018
From Sweden to Taiwan to the United States, decades of international research has established that privatizing nursing homes results in increased staff turnover and decreased quality of care. Even discussing taking a nursing home out of government hands and putting it into the private sector causes staff turnover to begin, according to sociologist Steven Lopez, now an associate professor at Ohio State University. Twenty years ago, Lopez examined three Pennsylvania nursing homes – one that considered privatization; one that was taken over by a for-profit management company; and a privately owned nursing home documented as having low wages, high employee turnover and poor quality of care. Currently, the York County commissioners are exploring the possibility of selling the county-owned nursing home – Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. …

… Russ McDaid, the president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, an advocacy organization for many of the commonwealth’s nursing homes, said that is a problem facing many county-owned homes. … There are some people, McDaid said, who believe they can make a nursing home profitable through enhancing revenues and/or decreasing costs. The obvious places to cut costs is with staff numbers and wages, he said. … Both Adams and Lancaster counties sold their county nursing homes for similar financial reasons that are facing York County. …


Results mixed for other counties that sold nursing homes
Source: David Weissman, York Dispatch, February 28, 2018

As York County Commissioners consider selling the Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, they can look for guidance from plenty of other Pennsylvania counties that have recently sold their nursing homes. A York Dispatch review of state Department of Health records and local news reports from across the state found that at least 18 counties have sold their nursing homes, primarily to for-profit companies, since 2005. York County is one of 18 counties that still owns their own nursing homes, according to the review. … Selling Pleasant Acres, which taxpayers have subsidized to the tune of about $75 million during the past 10 years, has been discussed for many years because of its rising costs. The county has contracted the assistance of Susquehanna Group Advisors to solicit bids for Pleasant Acres, though commissioners insist they haven’t made a final determination to sell the 375-bed facility. Andrisano said she has seen counties reverse course after expressing an interest in selling their nursing homes because of constituent feedback, though it’s rare and she couldn’t recall any specific example. York County administrator Mark Derr said he’s been told 15 companies have expressed some form of interest in the nursing home, and final bid submissions are due March 15. …

Nashua BOE rejects privatization plan

Source: Hannah Laclaire, The Telegraph, February 28, 2018 (Abstract)
The Nashua Board of Education has rejected privatization, ending two and a half years of discussion about the topic and protecting more than 100 union service-based jobs within the district. … Last fall, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire sided with the Nashua School District in an appeal from the union that the district committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to bargain with the Nashua Custodial/Janitorial Staff concerning the district’s plan to move toward privatization at the end of the term of the “collective bargaining agreement between the parties.” …


School board-custodian case moves close to Supreme Court
Source: Tina Forbes, The Telegraph, September 22, 2016 (Abstract)

The Nashua School District is one step closer to having its case considered by the New Hampshire Supreme Court after the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board denied the district’s request for a rehearing on its plan to privatize some of its custodial workforce. The labor board handed down its decision on Tuesday, more than a month after the school board voted to appeal the labor board’s initial decision in favor of the district’s custodians.

Hassan Hopes for ‘Fair Resolution’ As Nashua Custodians Fight For Jobs
Source: Jason Claffey, Nashua Patch, August 10, 2016

Gov. Maggie Hassan is hoping for a “fair resolution” for union custodians at Nashua schools as they fight to keep their jobs. In the fall, the Nashua Board of Education voted 7-1 to end its contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 100 custodians in Nashua. … Gov. Maggie Hassan on Tuesday released a statement on the dispute: “Nashua custodians help ensure (a) safe, clean learning environment. Hope all work in good faith to reach fair resolution.”

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ICE Broke Contracting Rules in Establishing Its Largest Detention Facility

Source: Eric Katz, Government Executive, February 27, 2018
The nation’s largest immigrant detention facility was procured improperly, according to a watchdog report, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2014 using an existing agreement with a town in Arizona as a vehicle to establish the center 900 miles away in Texas. Since 2014, ICE has spent $438,000 annually for Eloy, Ariz., to serve solely as a middleman for a 2,400-bed detention facility in Dilley, Texas, according to the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general. The agency first contracted with the city of Eloy in 2006 to establish the Eloy Detention Center, which the city subcontracted to a company called CCA. ICE reached the agreement with Eloy through a process known as an intergovernmental service agreement, or IGSA. …

Read full report.


Texas prison is big business for Eloy
Source: Tanner Clinch, Tri Valley Central, July 4, 2016

The city makes more money from a private immigration detention facility located in Texas than it does from the one housed in Eloy, budget figures show. The tentative budget for Eloy is around $38 million, but that reflects only a fraction of the actual money that passes through the city. Every year roughly $290 million is given to the city by the federal government in what’s called agency pass-through funds, which go directly to Corrections Corporation of America. Of this $290 million, around $37 million goes to operate Eloy Detention Center and the rest, $253 million, goes to run another Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center over 900 miles away in the small town of Dilley, Texas. … The federal government did not go through a traditional, and possibly long, bidding process to decide who would run the facility, and the Eloy City Council modified the intergovernmental services agreement it already had with ICE to include the Dilley facility. Eloy gets a good deal out of the agreement, according to City Manager Harvey Krauss. The city itself received $450,000 from the Dilley facility and $96,000 for the Eloy facility during fiscal year 2015-16 just to act as a fiscal agent between ICE and CCA, according to the city’s budget. …

Dept. of Corrections awards private prison beds contract
Source: Lindsey Reiser, KPHO CBS5, September 01, 2012

A private prison company is getting a multimillion dollar contract for a new prison in our Arizona. But not everyone is celebrating. The contract goes to “Corrections Corporation of America” and according to the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), the company will house 1,000 medium-security male inmates.

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Curry plans to meet with union about JEA sale

Source: David Bauerlein and Nate Monroe, Florida Times-Union, February 27, 2018

Mayor Lenny Curry plans to meet with the union that represents JEA linemen, a vocal group that has led the charge against privatizing JEA. Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, dressed in red shirts and carrying “JEA is Not for Sale” signs, have packed City Hall chambers whenever the idea has come up for public discussion. Curry’s meetings with the IBEW and other groups will unfold while a special City Council committee meets to examine the ramifications of selling JEA. … The IBEW is one of five unions representing JEA workers. Curry’s office responded to a question about other unions by referring to a statement that he would be reaching out to “all stakeholders” about JEA’s future. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees generally opposes privatization, but the union hasn’t take a position yet with respect to JEA, said Mark Jordan, regional coordinator for AFSCME. …


JEA Privatization Uniquely More Complicated Than Other Efforts Around The State
Source: Ryan Benk, WJCT, December 6, 2017

Following a regular board meeting that saw departing member Tom Petway charge his soon-to-be former colleagues with exploring privatization, JEA’s board chair is calling for a swift examination of the utility’s assets. … Should the board and Jacksonville’s political leaders decide privatization is the right path, JEA would not be the first municipal utility to do so in Florida. In fact, there are even examples of voters deciding to go the opposite direction: From private to public. Still, according to one expert, the massive tentacles of JEA’s electric grid, water service and sewer system — which serve more than 450,000 electric, 337,000 water and 261,000 sewer customers in Northeast Florida — would represent one of the largest and most complicated such conversions in Florida’s history. … After a lengthy 2012 exploration of JEA’s assets and the logistics of the city splitting with the utility, the decision was ultimately made to shelve the privatization idea. The last time an audit of JEA’s value was conducted in 2007, it was pinpointed at $2 billion as a municipal utility and more than $3 billion if it went private.

… Most recently, Winter Park successfully booted Progress Energy (now Duke Energy) and municipalized. Meanwhile voters in South Daytona Beach rejected a similar effort to turn their utility public. Kurry said data on customer satisfaction is mixed. Winter Park voters are generally happier with their choice and so are those in South Daytona Beach. … Just as murky as ratepayer views on service quality, customer perception of pricing fairness is mixed across the sector. …

Cracks in Sidewalk Labs’ Toronto waterfront plan after fanfare

Source: Jeff Gray, The Globe and Mail, February 23, 2018

… Sidewalk Labs, the unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. selected to help transform a parcel of land known as Quayside, at the foot of Parliament Street, listed off a dizzying array of technologies it could develop in Canada’s largest city, then sell elsewhere: cameras and sensors that detect pedestrians at traffic lights or alert cleanup crews when garbage bins overflow; robotic vehicles that whisk away garbage in underground tunnels; heated bike lanes to melt snow; even a new street layout to accommodate a fleet of self-driving cars. Four months have passed since Waterfront Toronto, the municipal-provincial-federal development agency, named Sidewalk its “innovation and funding partner” for the project – time enough for some of the gee-whiz talk of hyper-energy-efficient modular buildings and “taxibots” to be replaced by a rising chorus of critics both inside and outside City Hall. Many are concerned about the data Sidewalk could collect. Some say the deal has been shrouded in secrecy. Others fear the company’s vague but sweeping plans could threaten the city’s authority over a massive swath of waterfront or even its public transit system and other key services. … Meanwhile, despite briefings from Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk executives, some city councillors say they still have little idea what Sidewalk actually intends to do – or where. …


Beware Of Google’s Intentions
Source: Susan Crawford, Wired, February 1, 2018

In partnering with local governments to create infrastructure, Alphabet says it is only trying to help. Local governments shouldn’t believe it. ….. Beginning last fall, Toronto has been getting a flood of publicity about a deal with Sidewalk Labs, part of Google spinoff Alphabet. Reports describe the deal as giving Sidewalk the authority to build in an undeveloped 12-acre portion of the city called Quayside. The idea is that Sidewalk will collect data about everything from water use to air quality to the perambulations of Quayside’s future populace and use that data to run energy, transport, and all other systems. Swarms of sensors inside and outside buildings and on streets will be constantly on duty, monitoring and modulating.

But Toronto recently revealed that deal has put it in a tough place. A nonprofit development corporation, not the city, made the arrangement with Google that sparked all the publicity—the city itself doesn’t appear to have known a deal with Google was in the works. Now the situation appears messy: The details of the arrangement are not public, the planning process is being paid for by Google, and Google won’t continue funding that process unless government authorities promise they’ll reach a final agreement that aligns with Google’s interests. Those interests include Google’s desire to expand its Toronto experiments beyond that 12-acre Quayside plot.….

When Corecivic Comes to Town: Lessons From Elkhart’s Grassroots Struggle to Preserve a Vibrant Community

Source: Sydney Boles and Rowan Lynam, Medill Reports, February 27, 2018

In Pembroke, Illinois, it started in Hopkins Park; in Gary, it started right across the street from their small airport; in Crete, it was Balmoral Park. In Elkhart, Indiana, it started at the intersection of county roads 7 and 26. It was a stretch of weeds and snow next to the county’s correctional facility and its huge, methane-leaking landfill, catty-corner from the well-worked farmland of German immigrants. This unremarkable piece of nowhere, Indiana would have held over a thousand immigrants in ICE civil detention. They would have been held in a private, maximum-security facility with the capability to hold 60 in solitary confinement, encased in a total visual barrier. Would have — because Elkhart, like so many Chicagoland towns before it, said no. …


Here’s What Happens When Trump Policy Comes to Trump Country
Source: Madison Pauly, Mother Jones, February 2, 2018

…. It all started in mid-November, when local activists including Richard Aguirre, director of corporate and foundation relations at Goshen College, learned that the private prison company CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) was eyeing a location near the landfill and county jail. Within weeks, CoreCivic filed a proposal to build an immigration detention center that could hold up to 1,240 people awaiting immigration court decisions or deportation.The company was seeking to fill Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s need for detention space to hold the increasing numbers of undocumented immigrants its agents were picking up in the Midwest. ICE interior deportations in the first eight months of Trump’s presidency had ticked up 37 percent compared to the same period in 2016, and the agency wanted beds within a 180-mile radius of four cities, including Chicago and Detroit. Elkhart County, Indiana, was in range of both cities, and CoreCivic, which gets more than a quarter of its $1.8 billion annual revenue from incarcerating ICE detainees, spotted the opportunity. ….

CoreCivic has history of complaints, violations Company accused of mismanagement, abuse
Source: Caleb Bauer, South Bend Tribune, January 29, 2018

Corrections Corp. of America’s stock prices plunged in recent years when the Bureau of Prisons began phasing out private, for-profit prisons amid reports of problems with oversight, safety and security. The Nashville-based company responded by shifting its focus to housing Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees and rebranded itself as CoreCivic. After the election of President Donald Trump, who campaigned to increase immigrant detention and deportation, CoreCivic’s stock prices jumped. Now, the private prison company is angling to open a new ICE facility in Elkhart County. Who is this firm that’s promised to bring 300 new jobs to Elkhart County? Since its foray into ICE business, CoreCivic has continued to be dogged by ongoing allegations of mismanagement and abuse at its detention facilities…..