Tag Archives: Connecticut

State police to bring back emergency dispatchers to Montville, other barracks

Source: Greg Smith, The Day, May 18, 2015

State police have abandoned the controversial consolidation of emergency dispatchers into regional call centers and plan to divert 911 calls back to local barracks by the end of the year. Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora B. Schriro made the announcement on Monday, following a yearlong review of a move that sent many 911 calls from eastern Connecticut to a consolidated dispatch center in Tolland. …. Osten had proposed legislation ending the consolidation, which was widely criticized shortly after it was initiated and led to what some had called a disconnect by dispatchers unfamiliar with the areas they were covering. ….
Related:
Dispatchers say money-saving efforts are jeopardizing public safety
Source: Jason Frazer, Joseph Wenzel IV, WFSB, December 11, 2013

A move to consolidate 911 dispatch centers for the Connecticut State Police is supposed to save money. However, some first responders told Eyewitness News it’s putting your safety in jeopardy when you dial 911. Dispatchers said they are overtired and overworked. In some cases, they have been forced to work 17 to 18 hours per day for six days in a row. They added they’re drinking a lot of coffee to stay awake….

… Last year, the state police started merging troops. It started in the western part of the state when two troops merged into Troop L in Litchfield. Soon thereafter, troops based in Hartford and Bradley International Airport combined. In October, three state police troops in the eastern part of Connecticut, including one in Danielson, are all merging into Troop C in Tolland. That’s where the union said there have been problems. …

Stratford town attorney says waste-treatment petition won’t hold

Source: John Burgeson, May 5, 2015

A polite, but determined group of about 45 people, all opposed to the town’s impending sale of its waste treatment plant, arrived Tuesday at Town Hall to deliver a 6,000-signature petition demanding the matter be put to a referendum. That effort, involving more than a hundred people over the last month, might not amount to much, however, because Town Clerk Susan M. Pawluk, flanked by Town Attorney Tim Bishop, said state law prevented her from accepting the petition. Bishop said the state statute specifically prohibits public referendums on joining regional waste treatment districts. …. Harkins said Tuesday afternoon that the sale will be “hugely beneficial” to the town because the sale of the plant to the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority would mean sewer fees that would increase far more slowly than if the town were to hang onto the plant, as well as keeping taxes lower. The Town Council OK’d the deal a month ago. Stratford will get two seats on the regional authority’s board of directors which will then have 11 seats. The WPCA now includes New Haven, Hamden, East Haven and Woodbridge. Officials say the town will see $16 million in cash and the removal of $37 million in Stratford’s bonded debt when the transaction is finalized, which is expected in a few weeks. ….

Related:
Letter To the Editor: Invite the water treatment authority to bid on operation
Source: Letter To the Editor, Stratford Star, January 31, 2014

It was recently reported that the Harkins administration is reviewing three scenarios to reduce cost at the Water Treatment plant. My interpretation of the three scenarios reported boils down to one question. Do we privatize or not privatize the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA)? History continues to reveal how towns are falsely lured into privatization of water treatment plants expecting savings, only to realize they spend more and regret their decision. Before the Harkins administration decides to privatize I hope they consider the following: ….

Sewer rates would go up
If you want to see your sewer use fee go up 63%, then don’t bother reading the rest of this letter. Because that is exactly what the mayor and town hall are planning to do to you. Under the Harkins administration, our state-of-the-art water treatment plant has been charged a $600,000 annual rent by the town. No other town department is burdened with this “expense.” Meanwhile, the state refunds generated by the high quality of our plant are not logged in that same budget. What does this mean? It means that town hall is trying to make the Water Pollution Control (WPC) department look like a liability that we should get rid of. What happens when towns privatize sewer and water systems? Rates go up, service goes down, and the taxpayers are left holding the bag….
Source: Letters to the Editor, Stratford Star, January 31, 2014

Union’s complaint against Norwalk school’s custodial outsourcing recommended for dismissal

Source: Nancy Chapman, NancyOnNorwalk.com, April 16, 2015

…The expected dismissal of the Municipal Prohibited Practices (MPP) complaint will be appealed, AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Council 4 spokesman Larry Dorman said. “We respectfully disagree with the recommendation of the Labor Board,” Dorman said. “Specifically, we feel that, contrary to their statements, the Norwalk Board of Education is in fact trying to destabilize and ultimately eliminate the union representing Norwalk’s school custodians. So we fully intend to go forward.” The complaint filed on Sept. 9 alleged that the BoE violated the Municipal Employee Relations Act (Act) by taking actions over the prior six months “…. to eliminate employees and positions within Local 1042 due to their unionized status, with the goal to eliminate the union entirely.”…

Related:
School board approves custodian outsourcing for Columbus, Jefferson
Source: Korey Wilson, Hour, August 20, 2014

Despite resistance from school district custodians, the Norwalk Board of Education voted in favor of a contract that would outsource custodial services at Columbus Magnet and Jefferson Science Magnet this coming school year. With a vote of 4-3, the school board authorized Norwalk Public Schools to enter into an agreement with custodial service provider, United Services of America. The move will fill seven custodian vacancies throughout the school district and is expected to save more than $182,000….

Local 1042 members say custodian outsourcing not good for school community
Source: Korey Wilson, Hour, August 5, 2014

In response to the school district’s plans to outsource custodian services at two schools, representatives of the custodians’ union are planning to attend Tuesday’s Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday to voice their concerns. While Norwalk Public Schools is currently considering recent bids to outsource cleaning services, full-time custodians say the school district will lose a critical part of the school community in their attempt to save money. Members of Local 1042 of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees say they provide more duties to the school district than their job titles of custodians, security guards and maintenance workers would suggest. … The school district is looking to fill seven custodian vacancies throughout the district by outsourcing cleaning duties to an outside agency. The school district recently held a walkthrough for 15 companies interested in the contract. Nine of those companies submitted bids for the contract, according to school officials. Three union representatives came to observe the school tour on July 16 but were asked to leave. Beginning next school year, some custodians will be reshuffled to new schools and an outside agency will handle all custodial duties at Columbus Magnet and Jefferson Science Magnet schools. …

Manchester Shelter To Close Rather Than Admit People Who Are Drunk Or On Drugs

Source: Jesse Leavenworth, Hartford Courant, April 15, 2015

Rather than comply with a state directive to admit homeless people who are active alcohol- and drug-abusers, the organization that runs the local emergency shelter will close the 40-bed facility by July 1. The board of directors of the Manchester Area Conference of Churches Charities decided recently to decline state money for the Main Street shelter, MACC Executive Director Beth Stafford said Wednesday. Funding from the state Department of Housing — $174,000 of the total $330,000 shelter budget — would be contingent on the shelter’s admitting people who are actively drinking and using drugs beginning with the next fiscal year, Stafford said. … The state is not requiring shelters to admit anyone who is an obvious safety risk, DiLella said. However, in some cases, shelter staff have sent homeless people to the emergency room who were under the legal blood-alcohol limit to drive, he said….

Opinion: Time for a moratorium on charter schools – Charters have failed to deliver, and their expansion should be put on hold

Source: Amy B. Dean, Al Jazeera America, April 14, 2015

Charter schools are everywhere. Not long ago, these publicly funded but privately run institutions were a relative rarity. Those that existed served mostly as experimental academies whose successful lessons could be applied elsewhere in their host school districts. But in the last 15 years, swaths of the U.S. public education system have been turned over to charters. In fact, they are being used as a means to crush teachers’ unions and to pursue high-stakes testing.

Charter advocates justify this ascent by promising an antidote to the disappointing outcomes of traditional public schools in segregated and underfunded urban districts. But the research is in: Charter schools have failed to deliver on their promises.

It is time lawmakers freeze their growth and consider how to provide the best education possible for all students.

Underwhelming performance

There are recent precedents for a moratorium on charter schools. Philadelphia, which issued dozens of charter licenses before 2008, did not allow any new ones from 2008 to 2015. The Chicago School District declared a freeze on charters for the 2015–16 school year. Connecticut and Delaware are considering similar actions. Other school boards and states should follow suit.

As a bevy of recent studies prove, charter schools are not substantially outperforming neighborhood public schools. In Arizona, for example, “on average, charter schools in Arizona do no better, and sometimes worse, than the traditional public schools” according to a study by the Brookings Institution. A similar study in Ohio showed that public schools were producing better results than their charter peers in most parts of the state. In Illinois the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity found that Chicago’s charter schools are “less likely to be racially or ethnically diverse” than and “consistently underperform” their public school peers……

Editorial: Aramark proves unethical once again

Source: Cavalier Daily, April 9, 2015

In a new addition to an existing string of offenses, it has recently come to light that Aramark — the same company that serves food at the University — served garbage to inmates at a prison in Michigan. More specifically, prisoners at Saginaw Correctional Facility have been served food that was previously thrown in the trash. In the past, Aramark has also underfed inmates and fed them dog food, worms and scraps of food from old meals, as well as sold generally degraded qualities of food to prisons. This past summer, the University renewed its contract with Aramark and set the contract for 20 years. This decision came with significant concerns regarding wages, as Aramark can pay its employees as little as the federal minimum wage — $7.25 an hour — and, since they are contract employees, they are not eligible for benefits from the University…. Aramark’s investments are a financial incentive for the University to uphold this existing contract, and at this point, with a contract already set, it is highly unlikely the University would undermine its relationship with Aramark and break that contract. So perhaps this can serve as a lesson for the future, if nothing can be done about the contract now. The University is not just a business — it is also an educational institution and a major employer in the Charlottesville area. While it can be swayed by financial decisions, it should not be constrained by them when ethical issues as egregious as Aramark’s come into play. Other schools, like Yale University and Hampden-Sydney College, have ended contracts with Aramark, even, in Hampden-Sydney’s case, after 56 years of partnership….

Privatization an option for highway infrastructure fixes

Source: Bill Cummings, News Times, April 5, 2015

As Gov. Dannel P. Malloy scrambles to fund his $100 billion transportation improvement plan, one possible option — privatizing public highways — would place the state on a path towards electronic tolls.
Related:
DOT Chief Pitches 30-Year Transportation Improvement Plan
Source: Don Stacom, Hartford Courant, March 26, 2015

A long-term overhaul of the state’s transportation network would cut air pollution and save time for commuters, but perhaps more importantly would help shore up Connecticut’s economy, Transportation Commissioner James Redeker told lawmakers Thursday. In drawing up a 30-year, $100 billion proposal this winter, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the transportation department were focused on attracting new development and retaining current businesses, Redeker said…. The governor has said he’s interested in public-private partnerships as well as new forms of long-term investor financing, specifically aimed at pension funds that can wait longer than private equity managers to get a return on investment. He’s also said he is “agnostic” about the prospect of putting all-electronic toll systems on Connecticut’s interstates as another source of revenue….

Public Service Department union wary of town hall decision to hire outside contractors

Source: Esteban L. Hernandez, nhregister.com, February 6, 2015

Members of the Public Service Department union are criticizing Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr.’s decision to hire private contractors after 14 public service workers called in sick Tuesday. John Longley, president of Local 1303-119 Council 4, said Thursday that many of his fellow union members felt they should have been able to finish clearing streets after Monday’s storm instead of being sent home. ….. Longley, who spoke alongside union spokesman Larry Dorman, said public service crews were called in Monday at 2 a.m. The workers clocked out at 1 a.m. Tuesday after being sent home by Parente…. His spokesperson, Frank Gentilesco, said the private contractors worked a six-hour shift Tuesday, coming in at about 10 a.m. and leaving before 4 p.m. He said each truck cost $230 per hour, which included the sander, truck and driver; Gentilesco said he couldn’t yet provide an estimate of the final costs.
Gentilesco said the decision to hire private contractors was made at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday after they were notified of the 14 absences…..

Happier Holidays: A Tale of Union Resilience in Bridgeport

Source: AFSCME Council 4, The 4 Word, December 2014

Employees of the Bridgeport Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) are breathing a little easier as they head into the holiday season. A year ago, their futures hung in the balance as the City prepared to hire an English company to run the WPCA, which operates two wastewater treatment facilities and maintains the sewer system in Bridgeport…..Kron and his co-workers have a brighter outlook thanks to a deep reservoir of patience, determination and old-fashioned union solidarity that enabled WPCA employees to maintain their union rights and secure a first contract with their new employer, Severn-Trent…. The struggle to which Tindal refers has its roots in the City of Bridgeport’s decision to sub-contract plant management under the regime of former Mayor Joseph Ganim. The workers transitioned to the private sector, but kept their full rights as AFSCME members. Late last year, however, the WPCA Board moved to hire a new plant operator to replace KGI, whose contract expired Dec. 31, 2013; unfortunately, the Request for Proposal (RFP) did not obligate the successor company to retain the current workforce or recognize the WPCA unions, including the two Council 4 units, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Teamsters. …. That’s when the unions kicked into gear, holding a community rally and press conference, speaking before the WPCA Board of Commissioners and City Council and meeting with Mayor Bill Finch. Their message: The WPCA was a public asset best protected by retaining a skilled workforce. Once the City selected Severn-Trent, Local 1303-362 and 1303-459 members signed union authorization cards to present to their new employer. All of the 60-plus members signed cards indicating their desire to be a part of Council 4. “Everybody worked together. It was unity in action,” said Local 1303-362 President Carlos Agosto, a Sewer Plant Maintainer…..

Publisher Files Federal Complaint Against Prison Company

Source: Christopher Ayers ∙ WFYI ∙ December 2, 2014

The publisher of Prison Legal News, or PLN, has filed a federal complaint after New Castle Correctional Facility staff failed to deliver copies of the magazine to several of its inmates. The complaint was filed last week in U.S. District Court for Indiana’s Southern District on behalf of the Human Rights Defense Center, the publisher of PLN. It claims that GEO Group, the Florida-based private prison company that operates the New Castle Correctional Facility, violated the publisher’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying inmates access to Prison Legal News—effectively censoring the publication.