Phoenix has decided that its next contractor for keeping Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport clean must provide competitive pay and benefits to their workers, including paid sick leave. The Aviation Department on Wednesday recommended making pay and benefits, rather than price, a priority in its upcoming call for bids, even though staff members expect it will increase what the city pays for airport-custodian services — currently about $8.5 million a year — by as much as 30 percent…..
…..The staff recommendation comes months after the National Labor Relations Board found the department’s big custodial contractor, GCA Services Inc. of Cleveland, had intimidated Phoenix airport custodians and interfered with their right to unionize. GCA denied the allegations but said it would fulfill the terms of the board’s consent order. The order forced the company to rehire and provide back pay to four workers it had fired, allegedly for attempts to unionize, and to refrain from other actions that workers found threatening…..
From the press release:
A new research report released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to outsource traffic enforcement to red-light and speed camera vendors….The report, titled “Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead; The Risks of Privatizing Traffic Law Enforcement and How to Protect the Public” finds that approximately half of states have enabled the use of automated traffic law enforcement. Municipalities in these states contract with private companies to provide cameras and issue citations to traffic violators. Citizens have often objected to privatized forms of traffic enforcement and many municipalities have found themselves in legal trouble when they attempt to change or update these contracts. Traffic engineering alternatives, such as lengthening yellow lights, are often the best way to reduce injuries from red-light running. However, those solutions too often get ignored because contractors and sometimes municipalities are more focused on increasing revenue from tickets….
See also: Summary
For the second time in three months, the family of a Hawaii prisoner murdered at a private prison in Arizona filed a lawsuit against the State of Hawaii and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
Clifford Medina, a 23-year-old citizen of Hawaii, was incarcerated at the CCA-operated Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona as part of a controversial practice in which the Hawaii Department of Public Safety (DPS) sends state inmates to private, for-profit prisons on the mainland. Clifford was killed by another inmate on June 8, 2010….On February 15, 2012, the family of Bronson Nunuha, another Hawaii prisoner who was brutally murdered at the Saguaro facility four months before Clifford was killed, filed a lawsuit against the State of Hawaii, CCA and state and CCA officials, alleging similar deficiencies at the privately-run prison…
…Notably, while Hawaii prisoners Clifford and Bronson were killed at the CCA-run Saguaro prison in Arizona in 2010, no state prisoners were murdered in DPS-operated facilities in Hawaii during that same year….
The Arizona Commerce Authority came into existence nearly a year ago with a vow to be open and transparent, but the economic development agency has not followed through on all of those commitments. The Commerce Authority has refused to disclose the list of finalists for its CEO position, refused to release information about who vets applicants for a $1.5 million grant program and makes little effort to inform the public of meetings of its numerous subcommittees.
Shining a Light on the Arizona Commerce Authority, The Need for Stronger Transparency and Accountability Standards at the State’s Economic Development Corporation
Source: Benjamin Davis, Serena Unrein, Phineas Baxandall, Arizona PIRG Education Fund, May 2012
…Curtis and Glasper said that they decided to speak out based in part on recent discussions among the presidents of institutions that are members of RC-2020, an invitation-only group of urban community colleges that periodically come together for private meetings. The emerging sense in that group, Curtis and Glasper said, is that discussions of community college financing need to be based more on realism than on mourning political trends. Glasper said that Maricopa’s high point in terms of state share of its budget was in 1986, when Arizona provided 27 percent of the funds.
Curtis shared a table, showing the evolution of the Community College of Philadelphia budget between 1977-78 and 2010-11. Officially, Pennsylvania policy calls for the budgets of community colleges to be shared equally by three parties: state government, local government and students (through tuition). The table shows the gradual but clear path Pennsylvania has taken away from that philosophy….
Privatization in and of Higher Education in the US
Source: D. Bruce Johnstone
A toll road won’t work if there’s no way to make sure the money is collected, Arizona lawmakers decided Wednesday as they moved to plug a hole in Arizona’s road-building laws. They sent the governor a measure that authorizes an enforcement mechanism for toll roads and toll lanes, even though the state has yet — if ever — to enter the toll world. Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, said House Bill 2491 would help Arizona build badly needed roads….
…Lawmakers three years ago approved a bill authorizing public-private partnerships to help build state infrastructure. Toll roads are one of the possible projects. But no one caught the fact the bill lacked a way to ensure tolls were collected. In fact, it included a provision that would have allowed refunds of tolls, particularly for truckers. The bill removes the refund provision and outlines a three-strikes process for collecting money from people who might ignore payment requests.
…For institutions that can take on more debt — those that have low debt loads or are growing enrollments and revenues, typically flagship universities — the financing change will have little impact on their bottom lines. They might have less money to spend on other priorities, but most expect revenues to keep pace with the amount of debt they’re assuming.
But other public institutions aren’t so lucky. Many can’t issue cheap debt, either because they’ve run up against statutory limits or because their internal finances won’t let them….
…Other institutions have tried to find ways to continue to grow and pay for renovations without taking on as much debt. The most prominent avenue for this has been to strike public-private partnerships, whereby private developers get the capital to construct facilities and then universities strike long-term leases to occupy the space. It also allows for alternative uses of space, such as for-profit ventures, that might be prohibited under tax-exempt bond funding.
According to a 2010 report, the University of California has about 60 such partnerships….The University of Maine system’s Board of Regents recently asked system administrators to give board members an accounting of the space that could be removed either through sale or demolition, and the space that will become available soon.
Arizona’s Department of Corrections awarded a $349 million, three-year contract Tuesday to privatize health care for prison inmates that will cost the state $5 million a year more than it spent in 2011. The contract to privatize prison health care — originally pushed by Rep. John Kavanagh as a way to save the state money — was awarded to privately held Wexford Health Sources Inc. of Pittsburgh. Wexford, which has previously lost contracts for poor service and was implicated in a 2008 payoff scandal in Illinois, bid $116.3million a year, $1.1million less than the second-place bid by Corizon Inc. of Brentwood, Tenn.
A Glendale Republican lawmaker is moving to preclude the next bus strike in Arizona before it occurs.
Sen. Rick Murphy has crafted language he said would make it illegal for anyone working for a company that contracts with government to provide public services to walk off the job. HB 2848 would make it illegal even to threaten to strike.
In the midst of a statewide controversy over private prisons, the Arizona State Legislature’s budget bill released last week eliminates the requirement for a cost and quality review of private prison contracts. The move would ensure that the public would have no way of knowing whether the state’s private prisons are saving money, rehabilitating prisoners, or ensuring public safety.