Manlius nursing home residents go without food, medicine; NYC owner fined

Source: James T. Mulder, syracuse.com, July 10, 2018

A Manlius nursing home without enough staff to clean, feed and toilet residents has been fined $22,000 by the state. An inspection of the Onondaga Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing conducted in February found the facility was so short-staffed some residents did not get insulin and other medications on time or at all. The 80-bed home, formerly known as the Crossings, was bought last year by Centers Health Care, a New York City-based for-profit chain that owns 53 nursing homes in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island. The state Health Department recently posted information about the fine on its website. … The report cited the facility for 24 deficiencies, at least three of which resulted in harm to residents. Many of the problems were repeat deficiencies. … Three certified nurse aides during the day and one to two aides at night typically cared for 35 to 40 residents. … Some residents did not get lunch until after 1:30 p.m. because there were not enough staff to deliver meal trays. … One resident had to be hospitalized after becoming dehydrated because there was no registered nurse on duty to provide fluid intravenously. … Seven residents did not get proper care to heal and prevent bed sores.

… The nursing home made a profit of $1.8 million in the first eight months of 2017 before it was acquired by Centers Health Care, according to SNFdata, a company that reports nursing home financial data. Financial results since Centers Health Care took over were not available. … The state recently fined another one of the chain’s nursing homes in Queensbury near Lake George $10,000 after a resident died in a nursing home van accident last year. …

Ledyard Finance Committee explores repair needs, library options

Source: Sten Spinella, The Day, July 11, 2018

Ledyard — The town Finance Committee ventured out of its normal meeting space for a site visit examining the capital needs projects at the public works complex before moving to the Council Chambers to hear a presentation from Library Systems & Services. … Ingalls and Saums met fellow Finance Committee member and Town Councilor Tom Malone back at the Council Chambers to hear from Library Systems & Services, a national, for-profit social entrepreneurship company that, among other functions, can be used by municipalities to manage library systems. The company had contacted the town about possibly privatizing the town’s library system.

… Finance Committee members asked about what would happen to town employees if Library Systems & Services stepped in, possible comparisons to similar-sized markets and how, exactly, it would be better than Ledyard’s current system. … Saums said that, despite not saving money for Ledyard, Library Systems & Services implied it would have more programs and services, and that the town should “at least hear what they have to say.” The 25-plus people affiliated with Ledyard’s libraries, or simply interested in the meeting, filled the Council Chambers to standing-room-only capacity. Grumbles and whispers could be heard when the topic of layoffs came up. …Connecticut Library Association President Kate Byroade, who attended the meeting, said this is because Library Systems & Services would put forth less money than the town pays. She also said LSS wasn’t offering anything different than what Ledyard already has in place. … The Ledyard Finance Committee also will be discussing this topic further at next week’s meeting.

Stanley County won’t outsource school food service

Source: Dave Askins, Capital Journal, July 10, 2018

Meals served to Stanley County School students and staff will continue to be prepared by district staff. At its regular meeting on Monday, the school board declined to accept a proposal to hire Thrive Nutrition to handle food services in the district. … At June’s special meeting, board members had questions about staff, their compensation and cost savings. … Asked by board members about out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance, Headlee said there is some cost to employees. Veteran SC teacher Shirley Swanson, who routinely attends board meetings, said at June’s meeting that health insurance is currently paid in full for the employee. … Thrive Nutrition’s 401K match, Headlee said, is discretionary, not guaranteed. … The cost savings a district can realize by outsourcing food service to Thrive Nutrition is based on the procurement by 30 facilities, which means more buying power. …

Major state contractor fined $500K for violating SEC rules

Source: Steve Miller, Texas Monitor, July 12, 2018

A key state contractor has been fined $500,000 by the Securities and Exchange Commission for alleged political contributions to candidates in the governor and attorney generals’ races in 2013 and 2014. Employees of Houston-based EnCap violated rules that govern donations from financial firms to candidates who, if elected, would play a role in their selection to invest public money. According to a cease-and-desist order from the SEC, the contributions include $25,000 to a gubernatorial candidate in September 2013 and a total of $60,000 to an attorney general candidate. The offending contributions were made between September 2013 and May 2014, according to the SEC. EnCap was also named for violating rules in Indiana and Wisconsin. … The SEC order contends that several state retirement systems, including the University of Texas, the Teachers Retirement System, and the Texas County and District Retirement System, collectively invested $2.27 billion in funds advised by EnCap. …

CPS kills $60M deal at the last minute over sexual harassment of janitors

Source: Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, July 6, 2018

Just before a scheduled vote, Chicago Public Schools officials withdrew plans to approve a $60.6 million contract for school cleaning and other facilities management work because the company set to be given the work has a poor history of protecting its janitors from sexual harassment, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. GCA Educational Services Central States Inc. was being recommended for the lucrative, three-year deal to manage facilities services at 34 Chicago schools, including cleaning, which has become an issue amid reports of filthy schools. But at the same June 27 meeting at which the Chicago Board of Education was set to award the contract, Arnie Rivera, CPS’s chief operating officer, announced he was pulling the recommendation to hire GCA to oversee the work at a group of South Side schools where some of the worst problems were found during inspections for cleanliness.

… But the Sun-Times confirmed it was because GCA’s parent company, ABM Industries, Inc., has had a series of problems keeping its janitors safe on the job. … ABM was featured in the 2015 PBS “Frontline” documentary “Rape on the Night Shift” about women who were sexually harassed and assaulted while working as night janitors in California. Since 2000, ABM has been sued three times by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over such claims. While under a three-year consent decree that a judge signed in one of those cases, the company was sued again by three janitors in California who accused ABM of failing to do enough to keep them from being sexually harassed and assaulted at work. In the spring of 2017, more female janitors in California complained to the company that supervisors sexually harassed them, then sought help from the EEOC, according to the documentary. And GCA Service Group — which ABM bought in 2017 — had been sued in 2012 by a school janitor in Tennessee who said she was fired after reporting incidents to supervisors of sexual harassment and assault by a coworker. …

Related:

1 in 4 Chicago schools fails in new inspections spurred by dirty schools reports
Source: Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, July 3, 2018

Chicago Public Schools officials say their efforts to improve school cleanliness are working, but data they released late Tuesday showed that one in four schools still failed “blitz” inspections despite heightened awareness prompted by Chicago Sun-Times reports. Just ahead of the July 4 holiday, CPS released school-by-school summary results of inspections by central office staffers and employees of Aramark and SodexoMAGIC, which have major contracts to clean and oversee facilities services in the school system. …

CPS fails to count schools in janitorial contract, costing millions
Source: Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, April 12, 2018

It’s the latest wrinkle in a controversial contract to privatize custodial management with Aramark, which has faced sharp criticism for failing to keep schools clean. Aramark was supposed to save CPS $18 million this year. But the district understated the square footage that would need cleaning in its request for proposals, spokesman Bill McCaffrey said, at a cost of $7 million over the projected $64 million CPS expected to spend this year. … Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley sold the $260 million Aramark deal to the Board of Education and the public by saying it would free up principals from managing custodians, result in cleaner schools and save the cash-strapped district millions of dollars. Some of the savings was to come from layoffs of hundreds of custodians. But the district was on the hook for some $20 million more to Aramark than it promised, essentially wiping out the $18 million Cawley said the district would save in its first of three years, as first reported by WBEZ. …

Continue reading

State, federal lawsuits pin defective DC Metro concrete on contractor

Source: Kim Slowey, Construction Dive, July 13, 2018

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Commonwealth of Virginia have filed suit against Universal Concrete Products Corp., the manufacturer of concrete panels for the Washington, D.C., Metro’s $5.8 billion Silver Line project, alleging violations of the False Claims Act and Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, as well as unjust enrichment and payment by mistake, according to court documents. Universal was working on the project under a $6 million purchase order contract with design-builder Capital Rail Constructors (Clark Construction Group and Kiewit Infrastructure South). In the July 9 action against Universal and co-defendants Donald Faust Jr., company president and co-owner, and Andrew Nolan, former quality control manager, the Justice Department and Virginia authorities claim that Universal knowingly provided panels that did not have the required air content for use on the Silver Line project and falsified documents so that it would appear the panels met the project specifications. …

Related

Contractor botches Silver Line concrete
Source: Associated Press, April 25, 2018

Concrete panels installed in the $2.6 billion project extending the D.C. region’s Metrorail Silver Line to Dulles International Airport are not as durable as they should be. Thousands of areas along the extension will need to be dealt with. And some of the concrete will need to be completely thrown out, despite being already installed. Charles Stark, director of the Silver Line project, said the concrete is supposed to last 100 years but was not mixed properly by a subcontractor. …

Teachers File New Labor Charge Against Cesar Chavez Charter Network and TenSquare, a Consulting Firm

Source: Rachel Cohen, Washington CityPaper, July 6, 2018

An ongoing legal battle between unionized teachers at Chavez Prep Middle School in Northwest D.C. and their charter school escalated today. The union filed a new unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, this time naming TenSquare Group, a charter school consulting firm, a joint-employer of the school. This is the fourth charge the union has filed against the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School network since August, but the first time TenSquare has also been named liable. In its latest complaint, the union alleges that the charter network and TenSquare have illegally changed the school’s calendar for the 2018-19 school year in ways that affect terms of employment, have bargained in bad-faith (referred to as “surface bargaining”), and have walked out of a bargaining session before its scheduled end time, “thereby disregarding their bargaining obligation under the [National Labor Relations] Act.” …

Related:

Behind the Consulting Firm Raking In Millions From D.C. Charter Schools
Source: Rachel Cohen, Washington CityPaper, May 24, 2018

“Everybody’s afraid.” That’s a D.C. charter school administrator’s assessment of TenSquare, one of the city’s most connected, lucrative, and controversial charter consulting companies. … Even in education circles, most people have never heard of TenSquare, a national for-profit consulting firm that currently operates in seven states and the District. It markets itself as a universal fixer for troubled charters—a one-stop shop for facility financing, staff recruitment, back-end operations, teacher training, and academic turnarounds. … But a five-month City Paper investigation has raised a host of questions about TenSquare’s work. Available data do not show consistent improvements across the D.C. schools that hired TenSquare, and several schools got worse. Its business dealings reveal a criss-crossing web of repeat players, potential conflicts of interest, and in one instance the recurring appearance of an alleged far-right activist. Yet it’s not a coincidence that TenSquare has landed some of the most remunerative charter contracts in the city: While not every school leader disparages TenSquare, a number have said they felt real pressure from the PCSB to hire the company. …

DC: Teachers Hit the Picket Line at First Charter School to Unionize in D.C.
Source: Liana Loewus, Education Week, December 1, 2017

A growing number of charter school teachers have begun to start seeing unionizing as an option, as we’ve written. Among the most recent charters to organize is Chavez Prep Middle School in Washington, part of the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School network. Teachers there voted in June to form a collective-bargaining unit affiliated with the 1.6-million-member American Federation of Teachers. And now those teachers are saying the charter school’s administration isn’t negotiating with them as is legally required. “By law after our vote, any changes to our working conditions have to be negotiated with us,” said Christian Herr, a science teacher who headed the organizing effort. “Our board continues to make significant changes—adding job duties without additional compensation, things like that—without bargaining with us.” …

Continue reading

LePage to end deal early that outsourced Medicaid staff

Source: Matthew Stone, Bangor Daily News, July 11, 2018
 
Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is putting an early end to a contract it awarded to a Massachusetts firm to handle part of the state’s Medicaid application process and take over the jobs of 10 state employees.  The administration entered into the contract this winter without soliciting competitive bids, and even though having the contractor perform the work would be more expensive than keeping state employees on the job, the BDN reported in February. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services awarded the 25-month, $5.6 million contract to Commonwealth Medicine in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, to have the firm’s specialists determine whether people are disabled for the purpose of qualifying for state-funded health coverage through Medicaid.  Now, the contract will end after a year, and DHHS late last month issued a request for proposals seeking competitive bids to provide the service. …

Related:

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. …

City of Fort Wayne takes fleet maintenance in house; savings expected

Source: News-Sentinel, July 11, 2018

In a move expected to improve service and reduce costs, the city of Fort Wayne will no longer outsource fleet maintenance services and will instead bring operations in-house. Ending the contract with outside vendor, First Vehicle Services, is expected to save the city nearly $350,000 a year. … The new contract will also allow the city to take advantage of federal and state cooperative agreements, reducing costs on vehicle parts. Current workers for First Vehicle were offered positions in the new arrangement and most accepted. The city will hire 26 employees and will take over the operation Sept. 30.

Private tax collection agencies lose money while going after the poor

Source: Joe Davidson, Washington Post, July 6, 2018

In its zeal to privatize important parts of the government, the Republican-controlled Congress directed the Internal Revenue Service to use private debt collectors for certain tax delinquencies, a program that began last year. The Obama administration cautioned against the use of bill collectors before legislation authorizing the program passed in 2015. Those warnings went unheeded. Now, the program is losing money and unfairly hitting the poor. The National Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent office within the IRS, says using private bill collectors “has yet to generate net revenues, continues to unnecessarily burden taxpayers experiencing economic hardship and produces installment agreements with high default rates.” In a report to Congress last week, Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson said the private debt collection program “has yet to break even. About 2 percent of the dollars assigned for collection have been collected thus far.” …

Related:

I.R.S. Paid $20 Million to Collect $6.7 Million in Tax Debts
Source: Patricia Cohen, New York Times, January 10, 2018

Private debt collectors cost the Internal Revenue Service $20 million in the last fiscal year, but brought in only $6.7 million in back taxes, the agency’s taxpayer advocate reported Wednesday. That was less than 1 percent of the amount assigned for collection. What’s more, private contractors in some cases were paid 25 percent commissions on collections that the I.R.S. made without their help, according to the annual report by Nina E. Olson, who heads the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent office within the I.R.S. While Republicans have been the most vocal proponents of privatizing public services, congressional Democrats are equally responsible for the I.R.S.’s program. Despite the pointed failure of similar efforts in the past, Congress passed a law in 2015 requiring the I.R.S. to use outside contractors to make a dent in the $138 billion that taxpayers owe the government. The outsourcing began last April. Since then, the report stated, “the I.R.S. has implemented the program in a manner that causes excessive financial harm to taxpayers and constitutes an end run around taxpayer rights protections.” …

I.R.S. Enlists Debt Collectors to Recover Overdue Taxes
Source: Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Stacy Cowley, New York Times, April 20, 2017

The Internal Revenue Service is about to start using four private debt-collection companies to chase down overdue payments from hundreds of thousands of people who owe money to the federal government, a job it has handled in house for years.  Unlike I.R.S. agents, who are not usually allowed to call delinquent taxpayers by telephone, the outside debt-collection agencies will have free rein to do so. Consumer watchdogs are fearful that some of the nation’s most vulnerable taxpayers will be harassed and that criminals will take advantage of the system by phoning people and impersonating I.R.S. collectors. …

Continue reading