Privatized tax collector deferred

Source: Loren Moreno, Honolulu Advertiser (HI), Friday, January 13, 2006

It could cost the state at least $3.6 million to set up a new system to allow a private company to collect the general excise tax on behalf of the city and the state, said Kurt Kawafuchi, director for the state Department of Taxation. And while Kawafuchi supports the idea, he may be one of the few. For many others, a proposed agreement between the city and the state to privatize the collection of the general excise tax is the latest example of “bad public policy.” Under the proposal unveiled Wednesday during a City Council Budget Committee hearing, a private company would collect the 4 percent general excise tax and the city’s 0.5 percent surcharge. ….. But Randy Perreira, deputy executive director of the Hawai’i Government Employees Association, said the plan would have no effect on the existing government workforce. Instead, he said the proposal is “stupid.”

Panel questions state prison's use of salary savings

Source: Rob Moritz, Arkansas News Bureau, Jan 13, 2006

LITTLE ROCK – A legislative committee Thursday questioned the state Department of Correction’s use of $8 million in salary savings from open positions for other needs within the prison system. Prison officials went before lawmakers seeking permission to take the money from the agency’s regular salaries account. Prison Director Larry Norris said about $5.5 million of the money would be placed in the system’s medical assistance account. ….. Two prison units in Newport, the Grimes Unit and McPherson Unit, were managed by the Wackenhut Corrections Corp. of Coral Gables for several years, but management problems forced the state to retake control, the prison director said. “We’ve tried it and it did not work,” Norris said. “In my opinion, they can’t do it better for less.”

Kickbacks admitted in work for New Orleans / Subcontractor pleads guilty, says he paid official

Source: By Bruce Eggler, Times-Picayne (LA), Thursday, January 12, 2006

Federal prosecutors rang up another conviction Wednesday in their probe of a scheme to skim hundreds of thousands of dollars from a huge energy-efficiency contract awarded during former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial’s tenure at City Hall. Under an agreement with prosecutors, Michael Garnett, a subcontractor who did work under the $81 million Johnson Controls Inc. deal, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony for knowing about crimes related to the scheme but failing to inform authorities, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said. Garnett is the fifth subcontractor to enter a guilty plea related to the Johnson Controls contract, Letten said.

CCA loses contract to house 500 inmates in Arizona

Source: Nashville Business Journal – 5:08 PM CST Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has notified Corrections Corp. of America that it won’t be renewing the company’s contract to house federal inmates at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. At the end of 2005, the 1,500-bed Eloy prison housed about 500 inmates from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and 800 detainees for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The 500 inmates will be transferred to other facilities in the federal system by Feb. 28. The BOP said the decision wasn’t because of performance issues, but resulted from internal streamlining initiatives. ….. CCA operates 63 prisons, 38 of which are company owned, in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Investigation launched in school food incident

Source: By Dawn Marks, The Oklahoman, Jan 11, 2006

BETHANY – Western Oaks Middle School students were back in school Monday after being served food that was left out over the holiday break. In addition, Sodexho, the service company that provides food to the school, is investigating the incident to make sure it doesn’t happen again, company spokeswoman Stacy Bowman-Hade said. Some students became ill Thursday after eating hamburgers that were wrapped in foil and left in the food warmer Dec. 20, the last day of classes before break.

Private prison options offered

Source: Michael Erskine, Commercial Appeal (TN), January 10, 2006

A coalition opposed to private management of Shelby County’s jail and prison populations presented the Commission on Monday with a list of possible money-saving alternatives. A report by the local Coalition Against Private Prisons and the North Carolina-based Grassroots Leadership called for alternate sentencing for people convicted of misdemeanor offenses, as well as the transfer of state felons out of the Correction Center to make room for more jail inmates. …. The report comes a month after Sheriff Mark Luttrell and Mayor A C Wharton announced they would not support any proposal to privately manage the county’s jail and prison populations, halting an internal review of two privatization bids. The GEO Group and Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America had submitted proposals in hopes of landing a lucrative contract with county government to privatize the jail and Correction Center.

Editorial: Accurate is better than fast

Source: Journal Sentinel (WI), Jan. 11, 2006

The statewide voting database has yet to materialize. Election officials missed the federally mandated deadline – a development that prompted Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to announce recently that the city would go ahead with a purge of dubious names from its voter list. State election officials had recommended that the city do the purge on the new system, which they had thought would be online by now. A good deal of the blame for the delay doubtless goes to Accenture, the information management company that got the $13.9 million contract to set up the new database. But some of the delay is due to the commendable resolve of election officials to set up the system right rather than fast.
….. The software is not yet up to speed, for which Accenture, whose bid had been deemed the best, deserves the blame. The state is rightly withholding money from the firm until after it satisfactorily completes its contract.

Sodexho to pay $61,000 to settle San Jose sex harassment case

Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal – 11:14 AM PST Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006

Sodexho Management Inc. has agreed to pay $61,000 to a custodian it employed at Agnew Development Center in San Jose who complained of sexual harassment by a male nurse, federal officials said Tuesday. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Gaithersburg, Md.-based Sodexho denied wrongdoing in the case but agreed to settle after voluntary mediation efforts. …. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Sodexho failed to investigate or stop the harassment, and they also retaliated against Sanchez for reporting it. The retaliation included tasking Ms. Sanchez with more difficult work, reducing her workload, and issuing disciplinary write-ups.

Prison fight stirs up crowding debate

Source: GWEN FLORIO, Great Falls Tribune (MT), Jan 11, 2006

The weekend fight at the Crossroads Correctional in Shelby that injured two correctional guards comes after repeated complaints that the state’s only for-profit private prison is too crowded. Still, both the Legislature during its regular session last year, and the Corrections Advisory Council more recently, rejected plans to expand the prison. …… The incident is being investigated by three different offices — the state Corrections Department, the Toole County Sheriff and the private Corrections Corp. of America, which runs the prison. None is releasing names of the five officers or about a half-dozen inmates involved in the incident, which lasted a scant six minutes.

Jail privatization plan piques Snyder County's interest

Source: By Marcia Moore, The Daily Item (PA), January 11, 2006

MIDDLEBURG — The Snyder County commissioners are closely following Beaver County’s attempt at privatizing its county jail. The commissioners contacted their counterparts in Beaver County after learning of their plan to save an estimated $1.6 million a year by hiring a private management firm to operate their prison. ….. The Snyder County Jail, which can house about 175 inmates and employs 32 full-time corrections officers and 18 part-time officers, has cost the county more than $2 million a year to operate. In the past two years, the prison board has taken steps to reduce expenses, including a recent move to no longer house federal inmates and reduce the inmate population to between 90 and 100. Beaver County officials said they anticipate saving $5 million over three years by having CiviGenics, of Massachusetts, operate their jail, which holds 400 inmates and has 70 full-time and part-time corrections officers. The union representing the jail employees [ed. note: SEIU] has been trying to negotiate an alternative way to lower costs.