Ohio State plans to privatize energy with largest investment in university history

Source: Owen Daugherty and Summer Cartwright, The Lantern, March 30, 2017
 
Ohio State has proposed a plan to receive its largest investment in the university’s history by selling its energy to the highest bidder. In accepting the unprecedented proposal, OSU will move forward in a public-private partnership with ENGIE, a French global energy producer and operator, who would control the energy used on campus for the next 50 years. The agreement, which is the first of its stature, includes the largest upfront payment — to the tune of $1.015 billion — between an American university and a global energy partner, OSU officials said. University officials said they ultimately chose the proposal from ENGIE-Axium because it offered the largest upfront payment of the three competitors, in turn committing the most money to the University’s endowment. This continues the trend of OSU privatizing its resources, which began with its CampusParc deal in 2012. The 50-year, $483 million deal was also the largest of its kind. …

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Ohio State CFO will recuse himself from decision in energy privatization plan
Source: Tom Knox, Columbus Business First, March 9, 2017

The chief financial officer at Ohio State University will recuse himself from deciding who will privatize the university’s energy operations. Geoff Chatas will help analyze the financial aspects of the deal but won’t know who the final candidates are – they’ll be masked to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, said Ohio State President Michael Drake. … The CFO won’t have a say in who will run the university’s energy operations for 50 years because of a choice he made in 2015 when he accepted a job at the parent company of CampusParc, which in 2012 had negotiated a deal with university officials, including Chatas, to privatize OSU’s parking operations. The move raised questions of quid pro quo, which Chatas vehemently denied, but he soon reversed course and stayed at the university. … Ohio State expects to make a choice on energy privatization before the end of the school year. It’s a unique arrangement for a public university: a group of companies would for 50 years operate utility assets that make Ohio State run, including natural gas and chilled and heated water facilities. The winning bidder would have to meet sustainability goals sought by Ohio State. …

OSU moving toward privatizing its power system
Source: Laura A. Bischoff, Dayton Daily News, February 11, 2017

Ohio State University says it is taking the next step toward becoming the largest institution nationwide to hire private companies to manage its energy systems for decades to come. OSU Provost Bruce McPheron gave notice to staff and students on Thursday that the university will formally ask finalists to submit proposals for the massive project. The finalists in the running have not been disclosed. Ohio State administrators will determine by the end of the current semester whether to ask trustees to pull the trigger on it. The university is weighing whether to hire private contractors to take control of critical assets: the utility system that heats, cools and powers more than 400 buildings on main campus. OSU would receive an undetermined amoung of upfront cash and then agree to buy its energy from the vendor. The contractor would be responsible for making energy efficiency upgrades to cut OSU consumption by 25 percent within a decade. …

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Indiana Dept. of Corrections Cancels Contract with Healthcare Provider

Source: WFHB, March 20, 2017

The Indiana Department of Corrections has discontinued its contract with Corizon Health, the private corporation that handles most of the state’s inmate healthcare. Corizon announced last week that it would be laying off about 700 employees in 22 locations around the state. The contract, which is worth $100 million a year, is being taken up by Pittsburg-based Wexford Health Sources. A representative from Corizon said in a letter to the state that Wexford may end up hiring many of Corizon’s former employees, though there’s no guarantee that will happen. The loss of the corrections contract is the most recent in a string of contract losses for Corizon. … An investigation by the South Bend Tribune last year revealed hundreds of inmate complaints and dozens of lawsuits against Corizon in Indiana. One severely disabled patient died after just 37 days in a state prison under the care of Corizon employees. Another died in an ambulance during a two-hour drive to a hospital, despite a much closer hospital being available. Wexford Health Sources’ record isn’t spotless, either. Wexford paid out $3.1 million to settle five years of complaints in Illinois, including delayed treatment and low-quality care.

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Prisoner Death Shines Light on Private Health Contractors
Source: The Takeaway, WNYC, March 7, 2017

Nicholas Glisson died on October 10, 2010 in Indiana State Prison. … Glisson had complicated medical needs as a result of laryngeal cancer, and was under the care of Corizon Health, a private company providing medical care to prisoners in Indiana’s Department of Corrections. His mother, Alma Glisson, says he knew how to take care of himself. Alma blames Corizon for his death. What happened to Nicholas Glisson and what it means for private prison contractors if a jury rules in his favor is the subject of this week’s Case In Point story from The Marshall Project.

Prison health-care companies eye Indiana contract
Source: Virginia Black, South Bend Tribune, October 13, 2016

Some of the country’s biggest players in the increasingly privatized business of providing medical care to inmates have expressed interest in Indiana’s expiring contract with Corizon Health. Corizon, widely cited as the largest, has faced an onslaught of negative publicity in recent years, with a growing number of lawsuits and contracts ended in other states. Corizon and its role with Indiana’s Department of Correction was the subject of a Tribune series in June called “Profits over Prisoners?” Corizon’s three-year contract, worth nearly $300 million expires at the end of the year. Bids are due Nov. 9. Several competitors attended a conference last month for possible bidders. Among them were:
• Wexford Health, based in Pittsburgh and close on Corizon’s heels in the number of contracts it holds, has itself been the subject of controversy in delivering medical care in prisons, including in neighboring state Illinois.
• Centurion, based in Vienna, Va., whose contracts include facilities in Florida, Minnesota, Vermont, Mississippi and Tennessee.
• Correct Care Solutions, based in Tennessee as is Corizon, says on its website it operates in 38 states and in Australia. It also provides health care to Indiana inmates in some county jails, such as in Elkhart, Porter and Marion counties. …

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Pottsville Area seeks to outsource buses

Source: Amy Marchiano, Republican Herald, March 17, 2017

The Pottsville Area school board voted Wednesday to potentially outsource its bus transportation. The board voted unanimously for the administration to accept request for proposals regarding busing students. The RFPs are due today and will be opened at 10 a.m. at the Howard S. Fernsler Academic Center. A pre-bid meeting was held at 10 a.m. March 6 at the academic center. Superintendent Jeffrey S. Zwiebel said about five interested companies attended. … Last year, the district also solicited for RFPs and also wanted to sell its fleet of vehicles. Three companies attended a pre-bid meeting last March. The district decided not to outsource busing last year. …

Faison bill would force review of Mt. View proposal

Source: Steve Marion, Standard Banner, March 21, 2017

The state House government operations committee will consider a bill next week calling for legislative review of contracts such as the one proposed by the Department of Children’s Services for privatization of Mountain View Youth Development Center. Meanwhile, Jefferson County Commission added its voice to the chorus of concerns regarding the DCS’s plan. … Faison submitted an amendment March 8 to his House Bill 224, which requires DCS to appear before the government operations committee regarding its performance audit. The amendment states that a contract entered into by a state agency such as the one to privatize Mountain View must be reviewed by the fiscal review committee. Faison, who chairs the government operations committee, said he has temporarily taken the bill off notice until a meeting next Wednesday due to an unrelated matter.

… The primary option under consideration by the state involves contracting with a current DCS provider to open a 60-bed “Level Three” facility at Mountain View. That portion would be “staff secure.” Youth would have more freedom inside the facility than at present. At the same time, the private provider would operate up to 24 hardware-secure beds in Charlie Unit, keeping youth behind steel doors and a razor-wire fence. … Miller said in late February that state officials plan to select a contractor for the facility before the end of the fiscal year June 30. DCS says the state can save $3 million on the plan – funds that can be used for “prevention services.” Local Youth Services Officer Barry Fain questioned that and other DCS motivations in appearances before Dandridge Council and Commission last week. …

Lawmaker to Rick Scott: Restore order in privately run women’s prison

Source: Mary Ellen Klas, Tampa Bay Times, March 24, 2017

Warning that inmate health and safety is at risk at the state’s largest privately run women’s prison, Rep. David Richardson asked Gov. Rick Scott this week to use his emergency powers to replace the top officers and take state control of Gadsden Correctional Facility. … Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat and retired forensic auditor, has been on a one-man mission to force change in Florida’s troubled prison system. After several surprise inspections in the last month with investigators from the Department of Corrections and the state’s Office of Chief Inspector General, he concluded the Gadsden prison faces “significant inmate health and safety concerns” and management has repeatedly retaliated “against inmates for discussing matters with me.” Gadsden Correctional is a medium-security prison that houses 1,544 female inmates and is one of the seven privately facilities in the state. Gadsden is the only Florida prison managed by Management Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah. McKinley Lewis, spokesman for the governor, said late Friday that Scott is reviewing the letter but had not yet taken any additional action beyond what had begun prior to Richardson’s request.

… Among the conditions Richardson observed during two surprise visits this month: 55-degree temperatures in inmate cells; no hot water; care being withheld from ill inmates; a tooth extraction without sedation, an inmate who contracted pneumonia after being housed in a unit with no heat or hot water, and reports that guards who impregnated inmates were allowed to remain on the job. … Richardson said he has heard several recurring complaints: meal quality was poor and inadequate, clothing was rationed, and white inmates said that black officers imposed harsher reprimands on them than black inmates. Healthcare is also a recurring concern, Richardson said. … Richardson has filed legislation to shift management from the Department of Management Services to the Florida Department of Corrections but it has faced push back from lobbyists for the private prison industry. The bill has not gotten a hearing.

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Private prison deprived inmates of heat and hot water for months, lawmaker finds
Source: Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald, February 24, 2017

The 284 women housed in C-dorm at Gadsden Correctional Facility lived for months without hot water or heat, faced flooded bathrooms daily and endured water rations when the septic tanks were jammed with food waste. After state Rep. David Richardson demanded action following a series of surprise visits over the past 18 months, the private prison operator that runs the facility — Management Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah — received approval from the state to repair and replace the water heater, at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $10,000. But Warden Shelly Sonberg never authorized the work. Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat, announced another inspection this month, this time with Chad Poppell, the head of the Department of Management Services, the state agency that oversees private prisons, and two other state legislators. In the two days before they arrived, four work crews descended on the prison and made many of the repairs. … In a letter to Richardson Thursday, Poppell said he has since removed the state-paid official in charge of monitoring conditions at the prison and has also launched his own investigation. When Richardson returned Thursday with two investigators from the Florida Department of Corrections as requested by Miguel, other problems emerged at the prison, which houses 1,530 inmates in four dorms. They learned that there are 495 open work orders for repairs. Inmates said they had been pressured not to speak to inspectors and feared retaliation.

…Richardson, a retired forensic auditor, has had success in calling attention to the problems he has uncovered at state-run prisons. He has revealed evidence of officer-on-inmate violence at youthful offender facilities, uncovered how gangs evaded officers, caught officers withholding food from inmates, and persuaded the Department of Corrections to close down Lancaster Correctional Institution, a youthful offender prison. He uncovered “horrific” conditions at Columbia Correctional, where toilets wouldn’t flush, showers didn’t work, a heating system didn’t heat and deafening sounds came from an exhaust fan. He also dug deep into the finances at Lake City Correctional Institution, another one of the state’s seven privately operated prisons and discovered Corrections Corporations of America, now known as CoreCivic of Tennessee, had overcharged the state at least $16 million over the past seven years.

… Richardson has also explored the balance sheet at the prison, which is paid $43.67 a day per inmate. … Richardson believes that the Management Training contract may not only have inflated per diem figures but inflated costs for educational programming, which are $2.3 million a year. …

Private water system in Haughton faces audit over billing complaints

Source: Melody Brumble, KTBS 3, March 17, 2017

A private water system in Haughton is in hot water over widespread billing complaints. Auditors will comb the books of Country Place Utilities after the Louisiana Public Service Commission decided to investigate the company. Country Place Utilities serves about 300 homes in Country Place subdivision in Haughton. The company provides water directly to residents and has a contract with the Bossier Parish Police Jury to bill for sewer service. … The PSC ordered the audit after residents complained that bills weren’t mailed for months at a time. Customers also complained of irregularities and discrepancies in usage and charges on bills; and the failure of the system’s staff to communicate with customers. Foster Campbell, the public service commissioner for north Louisiana, said the PSC also tried — without success — to resolve the situation by talking to the system’s operators. … The company could even lose the right to operate the water system, Campbell says. Country Place Utilities also is in hot water with the Bossier Parish Police Jury. In October, the police jury sued, claiming the company owes at least $60,000 in unpaid sewer fees. …

Corizon ordered to pay attorneys’ fees

Source: Phaedra Haywood, The New Mexican, March 21, 2017

A state district judge has ruled that Corizon Health, which formerly oversaw medical care for New Mexico prison inmates, must pay legal fees for violating the state public-records law. Corizon has refused to release to two newspapers and an advocacy group the settlement agreements it made with prisoners who had sued the company. Judge Raymond Ortiz said in his decision this month that Corizon must pay $37,535 to attorneys who represented the organizations that sought the records. Ortiz wrote that the petitioners — the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Albuquerque Journal and the Foundation for Open Government — were denied written requests for public records. They successfully sued Corizon to obtain the records, and under state law they are entitled to attorneys’ fees, the judge said. He also said that awarding reasonable legal fees encourages attorneys to take the cases of private citizens who file lawsuits seeking to enforce the Open Records Act. Ortiz last August ruled on the merits of the case, finding that “the settlement agreements are public records subject to disclosure.” Corizon is appealing that ruling and the one regarding attorneys’ fees to the state Court of Appeals. It has yet to produce the documents.

… Until the state replaced Corizon last year, it held a $37.5 million a year contract to provide health care to state inmates. Corizon paid about $4.5 million to settle lawsuits brought by inmates in its nine years as the medical provider. The bulk of those settlements were with inmates who claimed they were sexually assaulted by a doctor employed by Corizon. Both Corizon and the state Corrections Department have refused to release the settlement agreements in response to public-records requests, citing language in the company’s contract. … Corizon, the nation’s largest for-profit provider of inmate care, faced more than 150 lawsuits filed by some 200 inmates in the nine years it had the contract. That was a sharp increase in the rate of lawsuits by inmates during the 2004-07 tenure of the previous provider, Wexford Health Sources. The state fired Wexford over concerns about the quality of its medical care. And the Department of Corrections chose not to renew its contract with Corizon last spring after a six-month investigation by The New Mexican, published in April 2016, revealed deep problems with inmate care provided by the company and with the state’s lax oversight of Corizon. Even so, the state’s contract with new provider Centurion also allows the company to keep settlement agreements confidential. …

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State mum on inmate health care oversight
Source: Justin Horvath, Santa Fe New Mexican, April 19, 2016

Gov. Susana Martinez was silent Monday when asked through a spokesman for reaction to the findings of Santa Fe New Mexican investigation into the lack of oversight of medical care delivered to state prison inmates by Corizon Health, a Tennessee company that has faced over 150 lawsuits by more than 200 inmates in the state since 2007 over allegations of negligent care, civil rights violations and sexual abuse. … Those warnings came internally from department employees about the lack of auditing of the contract as well as from the inmates themselves, who claim in lawsuits that Corizon denied or delayed care for health issues ranging from a hand crushed by a prison door to breast cancer that went untreated, even as the inmate’s breast turned purple, swelling to twice its size. … Corizon’s contract ends at the end of May. It is among the companies bidding to win a new contract to provide medical care for approximately 7,000 inmates in state custody. Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel also did not respond to requests for comment Monday on whether the new contract would contain similar litigation provisions.

Contract with state allows Corizon to keep its settlements secret
Source: Phaedra Haywood and Justin Horwath, Santa Fe New Mexican, April 17, 2016

Massive settlements and jury awards in other states over the years provide a dismal view of the medical care provided to inmates by Corizon Health and other for-profit prison health care companies. … But in New Mexico, Corizon has been allowed to operate almost entirely in the shadows, even as more than 200 inmates have filed lawsuits against the company since it took over medical services for most of the state’s prisons in 2007. That’s because not one of the lawsuits has gone to a jury, and Corizon has kept all records of settlements secret. The Corrections Department says the company can do that because under the terms of its contract with the state, it is responsible for defending itself in lawsuits and does so even when the state is named as a co-defendant. … Susan Boe, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said New Mexico “cannot contract away the state’s obligation under the Inspection of Public Records Act.” “If the state or its employees have been named as parties in those lawsuits, they should have a copy of the settlement documents, which therefore should be subject to the Inspection of Public Records Act,” she said. … In response to public records requests by The New Mexican, the Corrections Department said it had no record of settlements and referred questions to Corizon. The state Risk Management Division had no record of Corizon settlements either. Corizon told the newspaper: “Copies of medical malpractice settlements are bound by confidentiality restrictions between parties and we are not able to disclose the terms of those settlements.”

Souki: Hospital subsidies will return to budget

Colleen Uechi, Maui News, March 29, 2017

State lawmakers said Tuesday that funds for the future operation of three Maui County hospitals under Kaiser Permanente likely will be returned to the budget, after the House Finance Committee removed it earlier this month, concerning hospital officials. House Speaker Joe Souki of Maui said Tuesday that “there’s a general agreement between both sides” that funding for the hospitals would be restored in conference budget talks. … But the transition stalled due to a United Public Workers lawsuit claiming that the public-private partnership impaired a contract between the state and the union. By the time both parties had reached a settlement, Kaiser and the state had decided to push the transition date to July 1 of this year.

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Interim HHSC Maui Region chief named
Source: Maui News, September 24, 2016

Longtime Maui Memorial Medical Center Dr. Barry Shitamoto has been selected as interim chief executive officer of Hawaii Health Systems Corp.’s Maui Region, effective Nov. 1, according to an announcement. Shitamoto will replace Wesley Lo, current Maui Region chief executive office, who announced earlier this month that he would leave Oct. 31 to take over as chief executive officer at Hale Makua Health Services. … Last year, lawmakers passed a measure to privatize Maui Region hospitals. And, in January, the governor signed a deal to transfer hospital operations to Kaiser Permanente. The transfer was supposed to take effect July 1, but it has been blocked by hospital worker unions. Kaiser has said it plans to take over hospital operations July 1, a year later than the original transfer date. The current changeover date is a day after the expiration of labor contracts with the United Public Workers union and Hawaii Government Employees Association. The UPW has 536 blue-collar employees at Maui Region hospitals, and the HGEA represents 900 white-collar employees, including nurses and supervisors. …

Senators ask governor to address uncertainty with Maui hospital privatization
Source: Mileka Lincoln, Hawaii News Now, September 21, 2016

Four state senators are calling on the governor to address ongoing uncertainty at Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is being privatized. It’s a situation they say has life or death consequences if it isn’t resolved soon. … The lawmakers want Ige to reconvene a special session to address unresolved concerns regarding severance packages and retirement benefits for the public hospital workers affected by the transfer to Kaiser Permanente. In August, Gov. David Ige announced he and the union representing more than 500 Maui County hospital workers had reached a settlement over the transfer, but lawmakers say they have yet to see a signed deal. They say speculation about what might happen is impacting the hospital workforce and jeopardizing medical services. … State Sen. J. Kalani English, whose district includes east and Upcountry Maui, says the Legislature stands ready to assist the governor with this complicated transition — they just need to be called back into a special session. He says lawmakers are willing to consider emergency funding if the hold-up is money. If it’s a policy issue, he says they’re willing to examine changes that may need to happen. One issue that’s come up, for example, is sick leave. Officials say an estimated 25 percent of the Maui hospital work force has been calling in sick daily. …

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Boyertown considering privatization of services

Source: Holly Herman, Reading Eagle, March 19, 2017

Following a nationwide trend, Boyertown officials are considering a proposal that would privatize water and sewer services. Borough officials have met with Aqua Pennsylvania, which provides service to 1.4 million customers in Pennsylvania. Council President Frank J. Deery said the company has inquired about purchasing the town’s water and sewer facilities. … “We are listening to what they have to offer,” Deery said. “It’s too early to say what will happen. We are in the study stages. We are a long way from anything happening.” … Nationally, with aging water and sewer systems in need of maintenance and repair, there’s been a rise in municipalities entering public-private partnerships for all or part of their water supply systems. Currently there are more than 2,000 community water and wastewater facilities across the country being served by these partnerships, according to the National Association of Water Companies. … Loder said the next step would be to determine if the borough wants to sell the two facilities. The borough’s public utilities committee will meet Wednesday to discuss the proposal. Loder said the committee will decide whether to recommend that Council hire an appraiser to determine the price of the facilities.

Burlington, Essex, others consider regionalizing dispatch

Source: Elizabeth Murray, Burlington Free Press, March 30, 2017

Chittenden County towns are exploring whether they can combine local dispatch offices into one regionalized dispatch center, which officials believe could increase the efficiency of providing emergency services. … However, many questions still remain, including whether this will cost or save towns and cities money and whether all dispatchers employed now will keep their jobs. … Colchester dispatcher Earl Benway, who has held his position for 16 years, says he’s in favor of the idea, but thinks the plan needs to be more specific. Benway serves as the vice president for the local union that includes dispatchers and other employees in the Burlington area, in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1343. Benway said there are concerns over whether employees will have to reapply for their jobs, what the pay scales may be and how a union may fit in. … Benway said one negative of consolidation will be losing the local, familiar relationships with police officers and the public that the dispatchers serve. … Representatives from Milton, Colchester and Shelburne say they’re interested by the idea that has been presented to them and are willing to work through many of the questions that remain. … Baker said the committee is pushing to get recommendations to the elected bodies in each town by this fall. Those elected bodies will then determine whether the plan can be brought to its residents on Town Meeting Day. …