Tag Archives: California

Numerous violations cited at Sacramento foster care shelter campus

Source: Karen de Sá, Cynthia Dizikes, and Joaquin Palomino, San Francisco Chronicle, September 17, 2017

A Sacramento agency running one of the few remaining foster care shelters in California has violated health and safety laws and the personal rights of children more than 120 times in recent years — a number matched only by state-licensed facilities that have been shut down or placed on probation. State citations since 2012 at the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento describe poorly trained staff, mishandled medications and filthy dorms. This year, an employee was terminated for an “inappropriate relationship” with an underage client and for smoking marijuana with runaway foster youth. On Sept. 8, a state inspector was unable to remain in a bedroom because the stench of urine overwhelmed her. The privately run facility has a troubled history of poor performance it has not yet overcome. Three years ago, state regulators placed the Receiving Home on an extensive 12-month correction plan, after its failure to make earlier, promised reforms. … A Chronicle investigation published this year revealed additional hazards for youth placed at the facility. The report documented hundreds of questionable arrests on shelter campuses following minor misbehavior by foster youth. …

CalOptima Takes Mental Health Administration In-House

Source: Thy Vo, Voice of OC, September 11, 2017

CalOptima, the county’s health care plan for low-income and elderly residents, now will administer its own mental health care services, after the agency voted to phase out its $41 million-a-year contract with Magellan Health. The agency’s Board of Directors voted Sept. 7 to take administration of mental health services for a majority of the health plan’s members in-house, including responsibilities like contracting with mental health providers, processing reimbursement claims and overseeing therapy programs for patients with autism. Patients still will see outside specialists for treatment. This will be the third time in three years the agency has made a major change in the management of its mental health services, and the change comes just one year after the agency approved its original contract with Magellan. … CalOptima is the federal and state financed health plan for about 800,000 county residents, roughly a quarter of the population. … The change was prompted in part by a contract dispute between CalOptima and Magellan in July, which may have left some patients without mental health care for nine days when the company refused to process Medi-Cal payment claims. …

Silicon Valley billionaire loses bid to prevent access to public beach

Source: Sam Levin, The Guardian, August 10, 2017

A California court has ordered a Silicon Valley billionaire to restore access to a beloved beach that he closed off for his private use, a major victory for public lands advocates who have been fighting the venture capitalist for years. An appeals court ruled on Thursday that Vinod Khosla, who runs the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures and co-founded the tech company Sun Microsystems, must unlock the gates to Martins Beach in northern California by his property.
The decision is a major blow to Khosla and other wealthy landowners who have increasingly tried to buy up the internationally celebrated beaches along the California coast and turn public lands into private property. …

Higher Rates, Missed Pickups: L.A. is Hearing a Rash of Complaints About its New Waste Removal System

Source: David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2017

Eight months ago, the Los Angeles City Council voted to overhaul the way trash is picked up at tens of thousands of businesses and large residential buildings, giving the work exclusively to a select group of companies. Backers of the program, championed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, said the new system would increase recycling, roll out cleaner-fuel trash trucks and improve workplace safety for sanitation workers. But the new program, known as RecycLA, is not being universally welcomed by the businesses and residents who will rely on it for their trash pickup. In recent weeks, customers have begun complaining about soaring prices, uncollected trash and calls to their new waste hauling companies going unreturned. …

3-year, no-bid extension for Alameda County’s ambulance contract, despite firefighter criticism

Source: Matthias Gafni, Bay Area News Group, May 10, 2017

Alameda County supervisors extended their ambulance contract with Paramedics Plus by three years despite fierce criticism by firefighters complaining the process wasn’t open for competitive bids and changes in service delivery were not included. … The agreement will lessen fines for failures to hit response times, saving the company about $3.5 million, along with other givebacks from the county, such as reimbursements for some 5150 (mentally unstable) transports and a continued break from paying support fees totaling about $5.5. million annually. The company has said it is bleeding money during its contract and needed the breaks, especially from the “draconian” fine system. Firefighters have complained that the extension should not have been awarded without a proper open bidding process. They believe ambulance service has suffered, and a change to the delivery system, similar to the Contra Costa County model pairing firefighters with private ambulance companies, is preferable. The vote came days after a judge dropped Alameda County from a federal lawsuit alleging it accepted illegal kickbacks from Paramedics Plus. The county was dropped from the suit because it agreed in April to pay $50,000 to the feds and $21,000 in attorney fees for accepting payments from the ambulance company. The company claims the agreement was legal. …

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Opinion: Contra Costa ambulance deal slightly helps response time, but has taxpayer risk
Source: Daniel Borenstein, Contra Costa Times, November 2015

The private-public partnership, apparently the first in California, is probably the best option available because it should slightly speed response time and reduce service duplication, and might enable the county to tap some federal dollars that would otherwise be lost. … But Contra Costans should realize that the plan carries downside financial risk and, contrary to some suggestions, probably won’t provide significant upside benefits for the beleaguered Contra Costa Fire Protection District for years, if at all. … An outside consultant, using current collection rates, estimates that the fire district will collect $39 million the first year and pay out, primarily to AMR, $37 million, netting a $2 million profit. But there are two major caveats. First, the consultant, former Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Chief Stewart Gary, warns in his analysis that declining numbers of patients with insurance to fully cover ambulance bills makes projections difficult and presents “one of the largest risks.” Second, the new venture will need about $9 million of seed money to cover early operations before bill payments start coming in. That advance will come from the fire district’s reserves and must be repaid.

Supes approve new cost-saving ConFire/AMR pact
Source: Martinez News-Gazette, July 26, 2015

In a search to further savings in a cash-strapped district, Contra Costa Fire has proposed a new partnership with its longtime ambulance provider, American Medical Response. ConFire will take over responsibility for billing and collecting insurance reimbursements as well as the liability if anticipated revenue doesn’t materialize. AMR will essentially function as a subcontractor providing ambulances and paramedics for a set fee. The new approach comes with added risks for taxpayers, but CityGate said that declining insurance reimbursements threaten all public agencies responsible for providing ambulance services. If private providers can’t turn a profit, they said, taxpayers could be asked to keep them afloat. Alameda County’s ambulance provider, Paramedics Plus, recently asked for an injection of $5 million of public funds to cover some of its losses. Contra Costa supervisors said they were still on board with ConFire’s plan and directed the county to proceed with negotiating a five-year contract that would take effect next year.

Union-backed bill to cut contractor work draws ire

Source: Kate Bradshaw, The Almanac, May 3, 2017
 
A California Assembly bill, backed by government unions, that would set limits on how cities contract for services has drawn vehement opposition, and some support, from Menlo Park residents who emailed the City Council in recent days. … Backed by union organizations – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, and the California State Council of the Service Employees International Union – the bill would require cities and counties to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of using city employees to do the job versus hiring a contractor. Government agencies would have to show that no city workers would be displaced, demoted or given fewer hours because of the contract. Also, the contractor would have to reimburse the city for the cost of the analysis. …

California bill would blacklist contractors involved in U.S.-Mexico border wall project

Source: Katy Murphy, San Jose Mercury News, April 25, 2017

Contractors would have to choose between building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and doing business with California under a legislative proposal that advanced in the Senate Tuesday.  As California continues to fight the Trump administration’s agenda, Senate Bill 30 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, would blacklist companies who help to build the controversial border wall that President Donald Trump has promised to build — a project estimated to cost more than $20 billion, funding the president has yet to secure. …

In a bid to ease student debt, California considers a role in helping refinance private loans

Source: Melanie Mason, Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2017
 
State treasurer and gubernatorial hopeful John Chiang is wading into the increasingly high-profile debate over college affordability with a new push for California to play a role in alleviating the burden of high-interest private student loans.  Chiang is sponsoring legislation that would create a $25-million fund that would offer a degree of protection to student loan providers. With the state assuming some of the risk, the measure’s proponents say financial institutions will be more likely to offer lower interest rates to those carrying student debt. … The proposal, which is being carried in the Legislature by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), is among a swell of measures introduced in the Legislature this year aimed at tackling the high cost of college. Allen and Chiang will unveil the legislation at a Capitol news conference Tuesday. …

Oakland, CA sues California Waste Solutions over recycling contract error

Source: Cole Rosengren, Waste Dive, March 27, 2017

The city of Oakland, CA has filed a lawsuit against its recycling service provider, California Waste Solutions, in Alameda County Superior Court over a “draftsman’s error” that allows the company to charge significantly more than intended​ for moving recycling bins, as reported by SFGate.
Single-family homeowners are charged $27.85 to have their recycling bins pulled to the curb and that fee was supposed to be the same for residents in multi-unit buildings. Instead, the contract allows California Waste Solutions to charge up to $776.13 for this service at multi-unit buildings. That fee is meant for full-size dumpsters, not standard bins. While no one has reported the company charging this full amount yet, multiple customers have seen rate increases since the city’s current contract began in 2015. The city is suing to cap the rate at its intended amount and recuperate an unspecified amount of overcharges, with interest, that resulted from the higher rate. …

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Waste Management Launches Referendum Drive to Win Back Oakland Garbage Contract
Source: Sam Levin, East Bay Express, September 4, 2014

…Now, Waste Management is taking another route to fight CWS’ award — collecting signatures from voters in the hopes of passing a referendum to overturn the council’s decision. Waste Management, a Texas-based corporation, has hired local political strategist Larry Tramutola to help lead the referendum effort, according to David Tucker, director of community and public relations for Waste Management. Tucker told me that the company began collecting signatures over the weekend and has to turn in petitions within thirty days of the city finalizing its decision to award the garbage contract to CWS. That means that by September 26, Waste Management has to collect roughly 21,000 eligible signatures, representing 10 percent of the city’s voters. If successful, the award of the contract to CWS would be put on hold until Oakland voters have an opportunity to directly weigh in on a referendum overturning the city’s ordinances authorizing CWS to take over the franchise. …

Waste Management sues Oakland over $1 billion trash contract
Source: Will Kane, San Francisco Chronicle, August 18, 2014

The nation’s biggest trash hauler sued the city of Oakland on Monday claiming that the City Council illegally steered a $1 billion contract to a local garbage company with which it has “personal and political connections.” The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court by Waste Management, claims that Oakland’s City Council at the last minute steered the 10-year contract to collect garbage, recycling and compost in Oakland to an ill-prepared local company over the objections of city staffers, who argued the big Texas firm was in the best position to win the deal. The council awarded the contract to California Waste Solutions, a West Oakland recycling company that, the suit said, had not held a garbage-hauling contract in the United States, submitted proposals that were late and did not comply with the city’s contracting rules. In addition, the city gave that company confidential information about Waste Management’s pricing and proposal, the suit said. The suit asks the court to overturn that decision and effectively award the contract to Waste Management….

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State-Funded Child Care Agency 4C Council Placed Under Audit

Source: Jennifer Wadsworth, San Jose Inside, March 22, 2017

… The Community Child Care Council of Santa Clara County—known as 4Cs, or 4C Council—lost Renales’ case file and fell behind on paperwork. She found out that the publicly funded nonprofit overstated her income by $5,800 a year, understated her family size and miscalculated her subsidy. The agency, which relies on roughly $45 million a year in government funding, has also fallen several thousands of dollars behind on payments to her child care provider, Action Day Primary. … Employees at 4Cs say that at least 100 cases went missing at one point, prompting a manager to order staff to stop what they’re doing and go on a “scavenger hunt” until they found them. Another source say 4Cs is so backlogged that in addition to missing files, there are more than 1,000 unassigned cases. … Last week, a handful of attachés from the California Department of Education (CDE)—the nonprofit’s primary funder—walked into the 4Cs north San Jose headquarters to begin an in-depth audit. … The 4C Council is responsible for subsidizing child care for more than 5,500 children in Silicon Valley. Since last fall, San Jose Inside has reported about the rampant dysfunction, crippling staff turnover, shuttered day cares and missing retirement payments at the 45-year-old agency. New details now indicate that the future of 4Cs—the South Bay’s single largest taxpayer funded nonprofit—grows increasingly uncertain. …

… Under Villaseñor’s leadership, day care centers have closed and families that depend on subsidies fear losing them because 4Cs misses deadlines. Day cares that depend on 4Cs to reimburse them have gone months without getting paid. … Contractors have operated with little oversight, leading to a lawsuit filed earlier this year against 4Cs for allegedly failing to prevent two girls from being sexually assaulted by an employee at one home day care. Despite tens of thousands of children in need of child care, according to a Santa Clara Child Care Needs Assessment, 4Cs struggles to meet enrollment targets and routinely fails to hire enough teachers to meet the one-per-eight student ratio. It’s not for a lack of funding either, as the nonprofit has returned millions of dollars in federal grant money in years past. … Other problems have only come to light because of a protracted battle between employees who voted to unionize. In February, San Jose Inside reported on a retiree’s pension payments being withheld. Two weeks after that story was published and seven months after her last day on the job, the retiree, Gloria Pena, got her first check in the mail. Meanwhile, four sources familiar with the situation say the nonprofit’s attorneys have admitted at the negotiating table that both pension accounts run afoul of federal law. According to union reps, Villaseñor also excluded an entire category of staffers from receiving pensions, misclassifying teachers and their aides as temps even if they worked at 4Cs for several years. …