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.

Investigation questions care at jail

Source: JOHN GHIRARDINI, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA), 01/19/06

Jail inmate Harriet Washington was the victim of a confused and clumsy medical response when she died in front of her cellmates, concluded a Gwinnett Sheriff’s Department investigation released Wednesday. ……The report raises questions, however, about the performance of Prison Health Services, the Tennessee-based company contracted to care for Gwinnett inmates. Deputies had urged that Washington be taken to the hospital, to no avail, the report states. ….. The county has a $4.8 million annual contract with Prison Health Services, which was renewed in September.

Private garbage collection begins

Source: James D. Wolf Jr, Chicago Tribune (IL), January 18, 2006

CALUMET CITY — The city’s privately contracted trash collection system began this week, but officials are hoping residents won’t see any difference from the service long provided by the city. Waste Management will pick up garbage on the same schedule and locations as the previous municipal service. …… Officials estimate Calumet City will save $6.1 million during the 5-year contract. Waste Management has said it would hire many of the city workers who lost their jobs in the move.

Crist urged to warn workers / Personnel data may have gone overseas

Source: By Bill Cotterell, Tallahassee Democrat (FL), Jan 18, 2006

Lawyers for state employees urged Attorney General Charlie Crist’s office Tuesday to make Convergys warn tens of thousands of state workers that their confidential personnel data – including Social Security and bank-routing numbers – may have been illegally sent to computer companies in India, China and Barbados. “When you close the barn door after the horse has escaped, that horse is personally identifiable data for thousands of state employees and their families,” said Alma Gonzalez, special counsel for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “We’ve got to catch that horse.” …. People First is Gov. Jeb Bush’s biggest privatization project – a $350 million, nine-year contract for Convergys to provide online personnel services. The system has been haunted by big and small glitches for three years, but the Department of Management Services has recently said it is running much better.

State audit finds privatized payroll often late, wrong

Source: By POLLY ROSS HUGHES, Houston Chronicle (TX), Jan. 18, 2006, 12:34AM

AUSTIN – Health department staffers discovered overdrafts on their personal checking accounts last fall when a private payroll contractor missed deposit deadlines for 80 workers, according to a highly critical state audit released Tuesday. Other state workers reported that they didn’t get paid on time or they didn’t get paid correctly, including for overtime. But when the Texas Health and Human Services Commission stepped in to fix problems under a contract with the global billing services firm, Convergys Corp., new obstacles arose.

Union appeals privatization of developmental center

Source: By Sara Eaton, The Journal Gazette (IN), Wed, Jan. 18, 2006

A state employees union is appealing last month’s ruling that allowed the Jan. 1 takeover at the Fort Wayne State Developmental Center, a union spokesman announced late Tuesday. An employee, Anita Stuller, and her union filed a lawsuit against Gov. Mitch Daniels, Family and Social Services Secretary Mitchel Roob and another state leader in early December. The lawsuit sought to at least temporarily stop the takeover of the center and to force the state to go through a bidding process before giving control to a private company. In May, state officials hired Pennsylvania-based Liberty Healthcare Corp. to manage the center on an 18-month contract. The company took over operations of the center at 4900 St. Joe Center Road on Jan. 1.

Jail board approves privatizing

Source: J.D. Prose, Beaver County Times, (PA), 01/18/2006

BEAVER – Nearly two years after the Beaver County Commissioners first talked about privatizing the Beaver County Jail, the county prison board on Tuesday authorized them to contract with a Massachusetts company to run the Hopewell Township facility. “It’s a contract that is good for the county,” said Rick Towcimak, prison board member and county controller. “Our duty is to the taxpayers, to give them efficient government,” said Commissioners Chairman Dan Donatella, who is also the prison board chairman. Under the proposed contract with CiviGenics, the county would save a projected $5 million over the next three years. Most of the savings would come from the county no longer employing jail guards and having to pay their salaries and benefits.

Report has no clarity about rape of inmate

Source: JONATHAN ABEL, St. Petersburg Times (FL), January 14, 2006

BROOKSVILLE – Daniel Ray Warren died in the Hernando County Jail on Nov. 2. In 21/2 months, allegations have come out that Warrem was battered and raped. On Friday, the Sheriff’s Office released its final report on Warren’s death, which found that he died of “self-inflicted hanging” and was beaten by other inmates while in jail. ….. The sheriff’s report brought up new names that were not included in earlier reports compiled by Corrections Corp. of America, the private company that operates the jail.