Paper jam for welfare recipients

Source: By Michele R. Marcucci, Mercury Register, 02/13/2006 03:10:42 AM

…… In December, Alameda County rolled out a new computer system to manage public assistance cases. County officials said the rollout has been a huge success, avoiding many of the pitfalls that have plagued other counties’ rollouts. But advocates and some people affected by the new system beg to differ……. But the new system — CalWIN — which, when fully implemented, will be used by 18 counties, does much of the work that county welfare workers had done by hand. It determines how much assistance a family is eligible for and sends out notices when someone is to be cut off, without a caseworker’s OK. The system, which cost $744 million (including at least $321 million for Electronic Data Systems Corp., which designed it) works well if it has all the information it needs, when it needs it. But if it’s missing information, or if paperwork is input late — due to either a client or worker error — it could cut off a family’s aid.

Ex-prisons official admits thefts

Source: By JONI JAMES, St. Petersburg Times (FL), February 14, 2006

TALLAHASSEE – A former Florida prison official has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $225,000 in state money nearly three years after he used the cash to help buy houses for him and his girlfriend. Alan Brown Duffee, the former executive director of a defunct board that oversaw Florida’s private prison contracts, admitted Thursday in Tallahassee to one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Duffee, 40, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is to be sentenced in April. …… A plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee shows Duffee admitted that he moved money in 2003 from a bank account for the Florida Correctional Privatization Commission to another bank account to which only he had access.

Drug Company Loses DOC Contract

Source: By Joe Follick, The Ledger (FL), Wednesday, February 15, 2006

TALLAHASSEE — A controversial pharmaceutical company is losing its job of supplying prescription drugs to Department of Corrections inmates in South Florida. The company, Tallahassee-based TYA Pharmaceuticals, was chosen to dispense prescription drugs to inmates in DOC Region IV, which includes 18 counties. Prison Health Services, a Tennessee-based company that has received a DOC contract to supply health care needs for inmates in that region, selected TYA for the job. ….. The Florida Auditor General has criticized TYA’s contracts with the Department of Corrections for the splitting and repackaging of pills. The audits found myriad problems of lax oversight and accounting. After lawmakers criticized the two no-bid contracts the Department of Corrections gave to TYA, the agency is considering an end to the outsourcing of pill splitting and repackaging.

Cafeteria workers vote to unionize

Source: BY CYNTHIA NEEDHAM, Providence Journal (RI), Wednesday, February 8, 2006

WOONSOCKET — Sodexho food services workers in the city’s schools have voted to unionize, officials for both sides say. In a 38-to-19 vote taken Jan. 27, the district’s cafeteria workers — employed by Sodexho — voted to unionize under the United Food & Commercial Workers, Local 328, an AFL-CIO affiliate. Following that vote, each of the parties was given one week to file an objection, according to Bob Redbord, a deputy regional attorney for the National Labor Relations Board in Boston. …… Nationwide, 12.5 percent of Sodexho employees are unionized, according to Gordon, who called that figure “average or a little bit above average for the food services industry.”

Creek firm wins no-bid jail contract

Source: BY DAN CHRISTENSEN, Miami Herald (FL), Wed, Feb. 08, 2006

A politically connected Coconut Creek company that provides inmate healthcare services at the Broward County Jail has won a multimillion-dollar, three-year no-bid contract to provide medical services to county prisoners in Palm Beach County. Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw hired Armor Correctional Health Services last month after quietly dumping St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services. Florida sheriffs are not required by law to use a competitive process to award contracts, but they often do when large contracts are involved.

Editorial: Find new trash hauler

Source: Palm Beach Post, Monday, January 30, 2006

Gas and even materials and labor may cost more, but Port St. Lucie City Council members were correct to reject a trash hauler’s bid to raise rates by up to 83 percent. Last week, the council nixed Waste Management’s bid to renew its contract for five years and asked other garbage haulers to submit bids for picking up trash, tree limbs and recyclables. Council members praised Waste Management’s work. But they said that the firm’s planned increase in monthly rates from $14.86 to $24.95 or $27.20, depending on how the fees are collected, is just too much for residents to pay. Mayor Bob Minsky was the only dissenter; he wanted to keep Waste Management, even though he once was its toughest critic. The firm’s improved service under a strict city contract, he said, and has helped keep the city clean.

St. Charles threatens trash firm

Source: By Matt Scallan, Times-Picayne (LA), Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The St. Charles Parish Council on Monday told its garbage collector to pick up the trash or forget about picking up its final paycheck. However, Chief Administrative Officer Tim Vial said more research would have to be done to determine whether the parish could legally withhold the final payment to Waste Management Inc. …. “I’ve had some people complain that they haven’t had trash picked up in six weeks,” said Ganesier “Ram” Ramchandran, who cosponsored the payment resolution with Councilman Richard Duhe.

State software system bid gets outside auditor

Source: DON WALKER, Journal Sentinel (WI), Feb. 7, 2006

Mindful of the fallout from the Adelman Travel contract, state Administration Secretary Stephen Bablitch has brought in former state auditor Dale Cattanach to oversee the selection process for a massive new information system the state wants to install. Bablitch brought Cattanach in as part of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s directive to provide greater public assurance about the bid process, said Tom Solberg, a spokesman for the Department of Administration. “We want to make sure there is transparency to the process,” he said. “We want it to be fair.”

Halliburton affiliate tabbed to build immigration jails

Source: Mason Stockstill, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, February 5, 2006

A Houston-based construction firm with ties to the White House has been awarded an open-ended contract to build immigration detention centers that could total $385 million a move that some critics called questionable. The contract calls for KBR, a subsidiary of oil engineering and construction giant Halliburton, to build temporary detention facilities in the event of an “immigration emergency,” according to U.S. officials. ….. The Government Accounting Office has criticized both Halliburton and KBR for cost overruns and inappropriately obtaining government projects under a similar contingency-based program connected to reconstruction work in Iraq, Cray said. The companies’ work in Iraq has ranged from providing meals for soldiers to planning for troops to occupy Iraqi oil fields. Halliburton’s billions of dollars in revenue from federal contracts, many of them awarded without competitive bidding, have made it a frequent target of critics who accuse the Bush administration of cronyism.

FSSA Likely To Be Privatized Through Out-Of-State Company

Source: The IndyChannel , UPDATED: 3:51 pm EST February 4, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS — The companies most likely to seek the state’s $1 billion contract that will give them control of determining who’s eligible for food stamps and other federal safety-net program are all based outside of Indiana. Gov. Mitch Daniels defended the privatization plan Friday, even though hiring one of those companies would go against his mandate that state contracts be directed toward Indiana firms. Daniels said that even though the top contract contenders are from out-of-state, he believes the deal will save taxpayers’ money.