ER docs to be sacked / NUMC says credentials and training of doctors don't meet standards, while union sees the move as a step to privatize the public center

Source: MICHAEL ROTHFELD, NY Newsday, November 29, 2005

Nassau University Medical Center officials yesterday announced plans to replace nearly all their veteran emergency room doctors within six months, saying the physicians’ training and credentials are not up to today’s standards. Union leaders who represent the doctors immediately accused administrators of violating a deal to forgo layoffs at the public hospital in East Meadow. They said the firings are the first step in an effort to privatize the emergency room. The hospital entered into an affiliation agreement with the nonprofit North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in the summer. Jerry Laricchiuta, president of the Civil Service Employees Association Local 830, said he believes North Shore will eventually take over operating the hospital. “They monopolize health care on Long Island and in Nassau County,” he said.

'Trophy video' under investigation / Video appears to show private security contractors shooting at Iraqi citizens.

Source: Tom Regan, Christian Science Monitor, November 28, 2005 at 11:00 a.m.

A video posted on the Internet that appears to show private security contractors in Iraq shooting at Iraqi citizens is being investigated by British officials. The Sunday Telegraph reported that both the British Foreign Office and the company connected to the video, Aegis Defense Services, have launched investigations into the video. ….. Private security contractors in Iraq operate under the same rules as the US military, and cannot be prosecuted by Iraqi officials for use of lethal force.

U. contractor under fire for anti-union violence

Source: Brown Daily Herald (RI). 11/30/05 Section

Martins Maintenance, a janitorial contractor employed by the University, is being criticized by the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union for allegedly assaulting and firing an employee who talked to union organizers. ….. Martins Maintenance was one of several outside contractors hired by the University three years ago when Brown Dining Services extended the hours of some of its retail locations, such as the Gate, said Mark Nickel, director of the University News Service.

Editorial: Hunger-free Hoosiers

Source: Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (IN), Nov 30, 2005

December is filled with holiday parties. For most, the concern will be eating too much. Yet the ugly truth is that the number of Hoosiers who are not getting enough to eat during the holidays and throughout the year is growing. Too many of those empty stomachs belong to children. Indiana’s elected leaders need to do more to make sure residents are not going hungry. …. This need to increase Indiana’s share of federal food assistance dollars is one reason Gov. Mitch Daniel should proceed with caution with his plan to privatize the state’s welfare program eligibility approval process. The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has already requested quotes from vendors interested in the $1.5 billion contract.

New Albany gets four trash bids / City hopes to save through privatization

Source: The Courier-Journal (KY), Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An effort to find a new garbage hauler in New Albany has drawn four bidders, including the union that represents the city’s existing sanitation workers. A decision on who will serve the city’s 11,000 trash customers isn’t expected for two weeks. The bids submitted yesterday to the city’s Board of Public Works show a wide range of proposed fees, from $11.56 a month to $17.63 a month per household. The current rate is $13.75. ….. The union’s proposal would cost $16.75 a month per household. It would include the creation of a solid-waste transfer station at 37 W. Fifth St. Roger Poer, an accountant with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the union workers also are more flexible than many private companies and are prepared to pick up random items such as tires when needed.

(UB)

Idaho prisons face overcrowding

Source: Associated Press (ID)
Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2005

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — When Idaho shipped 302 inmates to a private Minnesota prison last month, it was only easing overcrowding: The state’s prisons remain above capacity, and Department of Correction officials appear likely to ask for a nearly $8 million cash infusion during the upcoming 2006 Legislature to handle the overflow. With a two-year contract, it’ll cost Idaho about $1.1 million more to lock up its prisoners at the prison in Appleton, Minn., run by the Corrections Corporation of America. That’s based on figures given by state officials on Oct. 27, when they said it would cost $53 per day in Minnesota, compared to $48 in Idaho.

What’s behind your lunch? What is a company with a history like that of Aramark doing running our campus dining service? Part I

Source: By John Hoff, Minnesota Daily, November 9, 2005

Complaints about campus food service are nothing new. Words like dreadful and abominable can be found in the minutes of various campus committees, available over the Internet, mixed with the corporate name Aramark like a less than fresh stir-fry. These are not merely the words of students, but spoken by faculty members advocating on behalf of students, like professor Paula Rabinowitz, whose remarks were summarized in minutes of the Faculty Consultative Committee on July 12, 2000, as follows: “The food is abominable and almost inedible.” She also maintained that the retail food service has a nearly-captive audience because it is a long walk to find places to eat off campus and then only to “abominable fast food places.” Moreover, it is cold in the winter; people do not want to walk half an hour to eat. She said the food was demoralizing and that there are appallingly few choices. Many people now bring their lunches and eat in their offices, she said, which is a sad commentary on the food.

Part II: From scrapes with federal authorities, to cigarette price fixing, to “Ninny the Torch,” Aramark serves up a buffet of controversy.
Part III: From dangerous meat to oversized chichis, Aramark serves a buffet of controversy.
Part IV: A dirty thumbnail history of Aramark’s troubled relationship with the University via Daily archives brings us to the present day.

State software cost doubles / $27.6 million computer system to track sales tax has never functioned properly

Source: PATRICK MARLEY, Journal Sentinel (WI), Nov. 18, 2005

The computer system that tracks the state’s sales tax receipts – which has yet to work properly – cost more than twice as much as originally budgeted, a newly released review of the project shows. The state Department of Revenue in 2000 agreed to pay contractor American Management Systems Inc. $12.2 million, but the cost swelled to $27.6 million by early this year, the report says.

A Private Obsession

Source: PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times (subscription required), Nov 18, 2005

…… Earlier this year Senator Rick Santorum introduced a bill that would have forced the National Weather Service to limit the weather information directly available to the public. Although he didn’t say so explicitly, he wanted the service to funnel that information through private forecasters instead. Mr. Santorum’s bill didn’t go anywhere. But it was a classic attempt to force gratuitous privatization: involving private corporations in the delivery of public services even when those corporations have no useful role to play. The Medicare drug benefit is an example of gratuitous privatization on a grand scale. ….. A number of studies have found that managed-care plans, which have much higher administrative costs than government-managed Medicare, end up costing the system money, not saving it. But privatization, once promoted as a way to save money, has become a goal in itself. The 2003 bill that established the prescription drug benefit also locked in large subsidies for managed care.

Bridge inspection called too costly / Union says work force cuts driving state reliance on contractors

Source: Albany Times Union (NY)
Date: Monday, November 21, 2005

Hiring private contractors to inspect New York’s bridges is costing the state at least 50 percent more than using state employees on the job, according to a new study by the Public Employees Federation. What’s more, PEF analysts say, internal Department of Transportation memos show that the agency’s increasing reliance on consultants hasn’t been fueled by a desire to save money, increase efficiency or improve quality. Rather, the memos indicate that consultant contracts are seen as a way to replace bridge inspectors lost due to early retirements and freezes on hiring and promotions.