Tag Archives: California

State Auditor’s Report Highlights Growing Management Bloat, Lackluster Charity Care And Financial Transparency Problems At UC Medical Centers

Source: AFSCME Local 3299, Press Release, January 30, 2014

In a report released earlier today, the California State Auditor has released its findings in a review of the finances and staffing levels at two of the University of California’s five medical centers—UCLA and UCSF.

The report uncovers several troubling trends at UC’s two most highly profitable, taxpayer subsidized public hospitals. Specifically, dramatic growth in highly compensated management staff, substandard levels of charity care, and a range of financial transparency problems. While the report does not address the rising tide of government fines and deficiency reports being levied against UC Hospitals for patient safety problems, it does show declining patient satisfaction rates and frontline staffing levels at UCLA Medical Center.

The Audit was requested by Assemblyman Adam Gray, who chairs the State Legislature’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee last summer. Read the report summary here, and the full report here….

Reality Has Turned the Tide Against Private Prisons

Source: Donald Cohen, Huffington Post, January 21, 2014

… Coast-to-coast, governments are realizing that outsourcing corrections to for-profit corporations is a bad deal for taxpayers, and for public safety. That realization isn’t always a result of facts (A recent editorial in the Arizona Republic noted that pro-private prison lawmakers in that state repealed a statutory requirement to compare costs between public and private facilities when those comparisons showed the public prisons to be a better deal.) Rather, the tide has turned against private prisons because reality is setting in….

Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget calls for more state workers, less job outsourcing

Source: Jon Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, January 19, 2014

After several years of tamping down the size of California’s state bureaucracy, Gov. Jerry Brown is ready to grow it again. The governor’s new budget proposal barely increases the number of government workers in the coming fiscal year, but about halfway through the voluminous 271-page summary, Brown makes clear that he wants to expand the civil service corps. The trade-off: less work for outside contractors. …

… Brown’s 2014-15 budget and Coupal’s comments about it distill a long-running debate over a central question: Does government run more efficiently with civil service employees or when it outsources tasks to the private sector? The governor’s plan for next year converts some work now handled by contractors for the state teachers’ retirement system and a few departments providing technology, health care and social services. Those changes would create 102 new civil service jobs, nearly all of them information technology positions that maintain computer programs. One of the agencies, the Department of Child Support Services, also would convert contracted work in 2014-15 and 2015-16, adding another 65 in-house positions over the two-year span. Brown estimates a small savings from the moves….
Related:
From the notebook: Does new contracting law have teeth?
Source: Jon Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, January 20, 2014

One piece of of reporting for the story that didn’t make the final cut referenced union-backed legislation Brown signed last year that aims to make departments more accountable for farming out government work to private firms. Written by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, the first version of Assembly Bill 906 mandated legislative approval for personal services contracts, limited how long the agreements could run, and clamped down on extending them. It also required an appropriation by the Legislature before departments could sign an agreement for personal services contracts. Those provisions had been drained from the bill by the time it reached Brown’s desk. The measure signed into law requires the state set up a certification process for an existing law that requires that unions be notified of contracts that outsource work their members might be able to perform. As our story notes, departments don’t always tell state labor groups about such agreements. The Department of General Services earlier this month issued a memo to departments that says no personal service contract will be executed until the affected union acknowledges receiving notification of the pending agreement and a copy of the contract. …

From the notebook: See which outsourced job contracts Jerry Brown wants converted to civil service positions
Source: Jon Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, January 19, 2014

…here are the details passed along by Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer. The number of state positions added by converting the contracted work is in the far right column.

California State Job Conversions, 2014-15 (projected)

Fields of dreams / A closer look at publicly financed stadiums

Source: Derek Prall, American City and County, January 21, 2014

…Publicly funded stadiums are a contentious issue, with proponents harping on the positive economic impact sports stadiums can bring, while critics say public funding can be better spent.

Santa Clara was lambasted recently in the media for the deal on the 49ers new stadium, which will cost around $1.3 billion. The city will kick in $116 million in public funds, but the “private” funding will come from a new entity, the Santa Clara Stadium authority, borrowing $950 million. Should something go wrong, the taxpayers will likely take the hit….

When the Cincinnati Bengals, who for decades shared a stadium with the Cincinnati Reds, put pressure on the county to build a new stadium, the county agreed to pick up the $400 million tab. But after a decade of belt tightening and budget slashing, the deal was labeled “one of the worst professional sports deals every struck by a local government,” by The Wall Street Journal….

…Long found that by 2001, the public sector, including local, state and federal governments had paid approximately $16 billion to participate in the construction of the 100 major league ballparks, stadiums and arenas currently in use. Long warns that publicly financed stadiums can be financially treacherous, and even those where private interests share in the funding, costs can quickly spiral out of control due to complex development and leasing agreements….

School Wheels Direct Takes Over Management of Atlantic Express Operations in California

Source: Ryan Gray, School transportation News, January 9, 2014

A bankruptcy court and debtors of Atlantic Express chose School Wheels Direct, a division of school bus contractor Student Transportation Inc., to manage all California operations beginning tomorrow to avoid disruption of service to thousands of local students. …

Oakland looks into more surveillance, drones to fight local crime

Source: Aarti Shahani, Al Jazeera America, December 30, 2013

Despite concerns about government snooping and tech incompetence, the progressive city is considering spy centers. … …Council members and citizens butted heads over the Domain Awareness Center— a surveillance hub that elected officials said would use thousands of live feeds from cameras, gunshot detectors and license-plate readers to protect the public. Critics worried it would violate rights….At the City Council hearing, protesters calling themselves “Seymour Butts” and “Edward Snowden” hinted at these reasons when they asked questions such as “Who pays if the project goes over budget?” and “What happens if the center is hacked?” The council members did not have answers. But they did have a grant deadline. If Oakland didn’t approve the project, it risked losing $2 million in federal money. Six of the seven members voted to move forward. … New York and other cities are working with companies such as IBM and Microsoft to use big data in policing. … It’s hard to turn down federal grants, but experts said the funding is not enough to cover the costs. Oakland has set an annual operating budget of $1.25 million for its surveillance center…. A 2012 investigation by the Oakland auditor indicated the city has a poor track record. The audit found that police spent at least $1.87 million on “never used or underused technology” and their purchases “have drawn down Oakland’s very limited financial resources without significant benefit to the citizens of Oakland.” … The city has not decided if the head of the surveillance center will be a public official or a private contractor. The contractor the city hired for the first phase of the project, Science Applications International Corp., paid New York City $500 milion in a settlement over contract fraud and overcharged Oakland for services. …

Stadium janitors walked off job / Action by unpaid workers took place days before Chargers game

Source: Trent Seibert, San Diego Union-Tribune, January 9, 2014

Qualcomm Stadium was left in the lurch with two days before the Chargers playoff-clinching victory against the Kansas City Chiefs, as its janitorial staff walked off the job. Outside contractor Jani-King, which is paid $750,000 a year by the city, had not paid its workers, city officials said. Thirty-five employees walked out on Dec. 27, interim Mayor Todd Gloria’s office confirmed on Thursday. That left the city wondering how the stadium would be cleaned for the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30. “When Jani-King failed to pay its employees and it was truly unable to perform the duties for which it was contracted, the city enacted an emergency sole source contract with ARAMARK,” spokeswoman Katie Keach said….

…The city has had troubles with the contractor before. A city performance inspection of Jani-King’s work dated Sept. 29 through Oct. 4 rated the company “very poor” and “poor” on cleanliness….
Related:
Editorial: Janitorial fiasco: City must do better
Source: U-T San Diego Editorial Board, San Diego Union-Tribune, January 11, 2014

The truth about charter schools: Padded cells, corruption, lousy instruction and worse results

Source: Jeff Bryant, Salon, January 10, 2014

Charter schools are sold as an answer. With awful discipline and shocking scandals, many really cause new problems…

…Imagine your 5-year-old boy went to a school where he was occasionally thrown in a padded cell and detained alone for stretches as long as 20 minutes.

Or you sent your kid to an elementary school where the children are made to sit on a bare floor in the classroom for days before they can “earn” their desks.

Or your kid went to a school where she spent hours parked in a cubicle in front of a computer with a poorly trained teacher who has to monitor more than 100 other students.

Maybe you don’t have children or send them to private school? So how do you feel when you find out the local school that you pay for with your taxes is operating a scam that diverted millions of dollars through fake Medicaid billing?

Or the school used your tax dollars as “grants” to start up other profit-making enterprises … or pay lavish salaries – $300,000, $400,000 or more – to its administrators … or support a movement linked to a reclusive Turkish cleric being investigated for bribery and corruption.

Welcome to the world of charter schools….

…The actual academic results of these schools seems to hardly anyone, despite report after report showing that these schools tend to do poorly on state and national tests and fail at providing equitable education to underserved students.

Yet lobbying for more of these schools continues unabated with more money funneled into the campaigns of politicians who support charters and more efforts to press state lawmakers to lift any provisions currently in place to regulate how these schools operate and are held accountable to the public….

[editor’s note: schools include: KIPP, Rocketship, K12, and Options Public Charter School]

Students and faculty blindsided by for-profit school’s closure

Source: Christine Mai-Duc and Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times, January 9, 2014

Amid financial trouble, Career Colleges of America loses accreditation and closes, leaving students ineligible for financial aid. … The for-profit school, which opened in 1988, provides training in such medical fields as surgical technology, medical assistance, and alcohol and drug counseling. About 800 students are enrolled at campuses in South Gate, mid-city Los Angeles and San Bernardino. “We were informed this afternoon that the school lost accreditation, and when that happens we have to terminate student aid eligibility,” said Chris Greene, a spokesman for the U.S Department of Education. Greene said the school had initially told authorities that it was closing for about a week and intended to reopen, but the loss of accreditation put that plan in doubt. In August, the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training had placed the school on “show cause” status — a step before revoking accreditation — over budgeting and other fiscal issues. The accrediting panel was notified that the school had closed as of Wednesday, executive director William Larkin said. The private accrediting agency evaluates colleges based on their programs, operations and financial stability. Schools must be accredited in order to offer federal assistance….

Santa Rita Jail death lawsuit settles for $1 million

Source: Matt O’Brien, San Jose Mercury News, December 13, 2013

The death of an inmate at Santa Rita Jail three years ago is costing Alameda County and its jail health care provider $1 million to settle a federal lawsuit. … Alameda County is forking over $500,000 as part of a settlement with Harrison’s 10-year-old son. The other half-million is coming from Tennessee-based Corizon Health, which contracts with the county to provide health services at the jail. … The lawsuit accused deputies of using extreme and deadly force against Harrison, causing him to be transferred to the jail infirmary and eventually a nearby hospital, where he died after having a heart attack. It also claims he did not get proper medical care from Prison Health Services, which later merged with Corizon. Four adult children of Harrison are also pursuing their own litigation with the county and Corizon. That case has not been resolved….