Bill would make prison health audit public

Source: By J.L. MILLER, The News Journal (DE), 01/26/2006

DOVER — Lee McMillan, whose husband nearly died in prison after flesh-eating bacteria attacked his body, wants to know why the state won’t release an audit of Delaware’s prison health care system. So do some legislators, who are backing a bill that would require the state to release the audit and similar reports — as long as confidential information such as personal medical records is withheld. House Bill 320, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Wagner, R-Dover North, would make reports that are paid for with public funds open to the public under the Freedom of Information Act.

….. In defending his record, Correction Commissioner Stan Taylor pointed to the audit, prepared by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, but denied a Freedom of Information request for the report by the newspaper. Taylor and former Attorney General M. Jane Brady ruled the accreditation report was not a public document. Taylor, though, said the audit was critical of the work of First Correctional Medical, a Tucson, Ariz., company. In July, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and Taylor awarded a $25.9 million no-bid contract to Correctional Medical Services of St. Louis to pick up the provision of medical care in Delaware’s prisons.

Toll Road bid: $3.85 billion / Daniels pushing for quick action; others urge study

Source: By Niki Kelly, The Journal Gazette (IN), Jan 24, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana would reap $3.85 billion for highway construction under a winning bid unveiled by Gov. Mitch Daniels on Monday to lease the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years. He still needs lawmakers to pass legislation authorizing him to sign a contract with Statewide Mobility Partners – a joint venture of two companies based in Australia and Spain that would operate and maintain the road.

Private security guards play key roles post-9/11

Source: Dennis Wagner, The Arizona Republic, Jan. 22, 2006 12:00 AM

Forget the image of the pot-bellied security guard, asleep with a newspaper in his lap and doughnut crumbs on his chin. Post-Sept. 11, the old rental cop in many cases has been replaced by security officers who are screened, licensed, trained and equipped better than their quaint predecessors. Homeland defense experts, such as former FBI Deputy Director Weldon Kennedy, say the enhanced professionalism is critical because the private-security industry defends more than three-fourths of the nation’s most likely terrorism targets.

……. Private officers are defending power plants, oil refineries, financial centers, computer systems, dams, malls, railroad lines and other prospective terrorism targets. They are responsible for millions of lives and billions of dollars in assets. And they are most likely to be first on the scene in major disasters.

…..Worldwide, private-security company revenues have been estimated at $100 billion by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The institute, which studies issues involving worldwide security, estimates the industry income will double by 2010.

….. The nation’s security companies employ 1.5 million people and spend $52 billion per year, compared with public police agencies that have 600,000 workers and spend $30 billion,according to James Pastor, author of The Privatization of Police in America. Because government officers are more expensive, Pastor sees private guards rapidly absorbing roles once held by public peace officers, protecting stores and neighborhoods.

Halliburton Cited in Iraq Contamination

Source: LARRY MARGASAK, The Associated Press, Monday, January 23, 2006; 4:12 AM

WASHINGTON — Water supplied to a U.S. base in Iraq was contaminated and the contractor in charge, Halliburton, failed to tell troops and civilians at the facility, according to internal documents from the company and interviews with former Halliburton officials. Although the allegations came from Halliburton’s own water quality experts, the company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney denied there was a contamination problem at Camp Junction City, in Ramadi.

W-2 contractor shuffle continues / Some worry clients, employees will suffer

Source: STEVE SCHULTZE, Journal Sentinel (WI), Jan. 23, 2006

When the Milwaukee Center For Independence backed away from its $10.4 million state contract to run Wisconsin Works welfare reform programs in part of Milwaukee late last year, it set off a chaotic musical-chairs game of changes that hasn’t stopped. The main contractor for W-2 job training will switch again on the city’s near north and northwest sides – for the third time in three years – with the last-minute substitution of a Denver-based firm. That means that some of the 30 subcontractors that have done much of the work also will likely change, triggering layoffs and uncertainty for those workers. And although state officials insist that no clients will be shortchanged during yet another transition, advocates fear some poverty-stricken W-2 clients will get neglected.

World crisscrossed by private roads

Source: KEITH BENMAN, Northwest Indiana Times, Jan 23, 2006

There are no toll booths on 407 ETR, an all-electronic private toll road north of Toronto. Electronic sensors and video cameras log in cars and trucks as they zip on the 67-mile expressway. Tolls are paid later, online or by mail. Advertised as the “world’s smartest highway,” the six-lane expressway just 500 miles from Northwest Indiana is a case study in both the promise and perils of toll road privatization. 407 ETR allows commuters to avoid one of North America’s busiest truck routes and has seen $900 million in additional investment under private operation. “Our reputation is still growing,” said Dale Albers, a spokesman for operator 407 International Inc. “If you need to save time, go with us.” But the road has led to courtroom collisions between the Ontario provincial government and 407 International. The two have butted heads over toll increases and toll enforcement.

County draws line between itself, Taser

Source: Andria Simmons, Gwinnett Daily Post (GA), 01/20/2006

LAWRENCEVILLE — Gwinnett County officials have consistently stood behind the company they purchase Taser stun guns from and the county’s contracted medical provider for the jail in the face of civil lawsuits. That is, until this week. It appears Gwinnett is trying to distance itself from both companies, according to a cross claim filed this week in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. The cross claim was filed against Taser International and Prison Health Services in the wrongful death lawsuit of a former county inmate, Frederick Jerome Williams. The county now says one or both of those companies — not Gwinnett — should have to pay if monetary damages are awarded in the Williams case, especially if the judge finds Williams died because of improper medical care or Tasers.

Related article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution: Medical provider may lose contract / Sheriff mulls firing firm in wake of inmate’s death

Sanitation workers threaten strike

Source: by Marcus Moore, Maryland Gazette, Jan 20, 2006

Nearly 100 Waste Management employees claim that the $13 billion Texas company wants to reduce their wages and eliminate their pension plan. Union officials said this week that if Waste Management does not back off its stance and submit a new contract proposal, then the employees, working from the Temple Hills branch, could go on strike.

Allied Waste trashed over poor service

By Dana Yates, San Mateo Daily Journal (CA), Jan 20, 2006

San Carlos resident Jan Smith doesn’t think it should take a college degree to take out the garbage, but every Monday she and her neighbors worry they’ll do something wrong and Allied Waste employees won’t pick up their trash or recycling. Garbage workers regularly pass up her and her neighbor’s garbage cans and recycling bins. During the recent rains, she placed recyclable paper in a cardboard box before putting it in the wet recycle bin. The garbage workers took the paper and threw the recyclable cardboard box in front of her house. In other cases, residents from Burlingame through Palo Alto are reporting missed and late pick ups. …. The main issue was Allied Waste’s lack of customer service and nearly 700 missed pick ups last year that were not corrected within 24 hours of a customer complaint. The company received 9,558 missed pick-up complaints last year. Of those, approximately 670 were not cleared within 24 hours, according to a report conducted by SBWMA. Allied Waste isn’t supposed to have more than 180 missed pick ups per year. Anymore than that can result in fines, according to the garbage contract renewed last year.