Tag Archives: Delaware

With New P3, Delaware Partially Privatizes Economic Development

Source: Governing, August 16, 2017
 
Delaware’s economic development efforts are about to undergo a major transformation.  Gov. John Carney signed a bill Monday that replaces the Delaware Economic Development Office with a public-private partnership partially run by some of the state’s largest companies.  “This is a starting point,” Carney said. “The hard work starts now and that’s working together in partnership … to market our state more aggressively and think out of the box about how to develop our entrepreneurial economy.”  Tentatively called the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, the new nonprofit will be responsible for recruiting new employers to the state, supporting the state’s nascent startup community and investing in workforce development programs. …

Maryland’s Move to Pull Children From Group Homes Came Too Late for Teenager Who Died

Source: Heather Vogell, ProPublica, October 13, 2016

Once again, government actions against a controversial for-profit company’s chain of group homes for the disabled may have come too late to protect a child. ProPublica has learned that Maryland had begun pulling about 30 children out of homes owned and managed by AdvoServ in August, but hadn’t yet relocated a teenage girl when she died a month later after being manually restrained by staff. … Maryland, which plans to terminate its contract with AdvoServ at the end of this month, isn’t the only state to have increased its scrutiny of the company since the ProPublica series. In March, Delaware placed the company on probation, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families said. In June, Florida officials said they had begun moving clients out of the company’s facility in the state, and stationed an investigator there. Through a spokesman, the company declined to comment on the decisions by Maryland and Delaware regulators. AdvoServ’s shortcomings add to the growing concerns about for-profit companies taking over delivery of human services, from prisons to hospice care, that were traditionally provided by government or non-profit agencies. … Officials elsewhere have repeatedly backed off from sanctioning the company, which is aided by well-connected lobbyists that include prominent former state legislators. In 2012, for example, Florida reneged on plans to bar an AdvoServ home, where both adults and a child had allegedly been punched and kicked, from accepting new clients for a year. … The girl was not the first teenager to die at an AdvoServ home. In 1997, a 14-year-old autistic boy with epilepsy was found dead in his bed with low levels of anti-seizure medicine in his blood. In 2013, a 14-year-old autistic girl died at the company’s Florida home after a night in which she was restrained — at times fastened to a bed and chair — while she vomited repeatedly. …

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Teenage Girl Dies After Incident at For-profit Group Home
Source: Heather Vogell, ProPublica, September 20, 2016

A teenage girl died last week after an incident at a group home in Delaware run by a for-profit company, AdvoServ, whose long record of problematic treatment ProPublica chronicled last year. Attorney Chris Gowen, who has a lawsuit against AdvoServ concerning a different teen, said he has learned workers were manually restraining the girl when she became unresponsive. He and his clients have spoken to current and former workers about the incident. … Delaware state police and regulators also haven’t said what happened to the 15-year-old from Maryland. The state medical examiner’s office is conducting an autopsy, but a spokeswoman said the results will not be made public. Maryland is one of several states that send difficult cases to AdvoServ because they cannot find beds and schooling closer to home. The company, which is owned by a private equity firm, is based in Delaware and reported last year that it cared for roughly 700 children and adults in that state, Florida, and New Jersey, and was expanding into Virginia. …

… The girl is not the first child to die under questionable circumstances at AdvoServ’s homes and schools. In 2013, Paige Lunsford, 14 and autistic, died at the company’s Florida complex after a night in which she was restrained – at times latched to a bed and chair – while she vomited repeatedly. And in 1997, 14-year-old Jon Henley, who was autistic and had epilepsy, was found dead in his bed one morning after an apparent seizure. An autopsy revealed low levels of anti-seizure medication in his blood. Regulators in multiple states have fielded decades of complaints of abuse, neglect and inadequate medical care at AdvoServ facilities. … A former worker for AdvoServ in Delaware, who asked that his name not be used, said he left three years ago in part because he felt staff did not receive enough training in deescalating conflicts or restraining clients. The company had been trying out new restraint procedures that were supposed to make restraints less forceful by involving more staff members. But, he said, with too few staff often available to carry out the restraints as planned, “It just becomes unsafe.” …

… The company is one of the few group home operators that still use restraint devices to confine clients who become aggressive. As ProPublica has reported, AdvoServ staff used such mechanical restraints on clients at its 200-bed campus northwest of Orlando roughly 28,000 times. Florida officials said in June that they were moving clients out of AdvoServ’s complex and stationing an investigator there to provide extra oversight during the transition, which they expected to take months.

Waste Management facing $40k in violations in Delaware

Source: Leanne Guyette, WMDT, April 25, 2016

DNREC says Delaware’s Solid Waste Recycling Law, also known as the Universal Recycling Law, requires all waste service providers to separate containers for recyclables, to ensure that these items are not put into landfills, or the incinerator. DNREC says they documented solid waste violations by Waste Management of Delaware, Inc. in Wilmington, Lewes, and Selbyville at various times during 2015, which apparently include combining trash and recyclables from separate collection containers into one truck compartment, or by Waste Management not providing curbside recycling service as required by law. … Officials say the Order includes a penalty of $40,000, and $3,660 in cost recovery for the Department. The Secretary’s Order can be found on the DNREC website.

Law Enforcement Investigations and Actions Regarding For-Profit Colleges

Source: David Halperin, Republic Report, Updated October 9, 2015

This is a list of pending and recent significant federal and state law enforcement investigations of, and actions against, for-profit colleges. It also includes some major investigations and disciplinary actions by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Defense.  It does not include investigations or disciplinary actions by state education oversight boards.  It also does not include lawsuits prosecuted only by private parties — students, staff, etc. To date, 37 state attorneys general are participating in a joint working group examining for-profit colleges, according to the office of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. Many of those are actively investigating specific for-profit colleges in their states.

Newark rejects outsourcing municipal trash service

Council scraps plan to outsource trash collection
Source: Karrie Simmons, Newark Post, October 13, 2015

Newark’s trash, recycling and yard waste services will continue to remain in-house after council decided Monday night to reject a plan that would have outsourced collection to a private hauler and saved the city millions of dollars. The board unanimously voted against transferring all refuse collection to Republic Services — a Phoenix-based conglomerate that has approximately 14 million customers, 27,000 of which are in Delaware. The company is already under contract with 12 other municipalities in the state, all of which are in Kent and Sussex counties. The seven-year deal would have saved the city $4.9 million, but outsourcing waste hauling would have meant selling the city’s refuse fleet and cutting eight jobs, and many residents were not happy with the sacrifices.

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Source: Xerxes Wilson, The News-Journal, October 13, 2015

Newark City Council on Monday rejected a proposal to outsource municipal trash collection, an idea that led to calls from some residents for a tax increase in lieu of the change. … The administration-supported plan to outsource collection for city residences and businesses was panned by many local residents who didn’t want to part with their current garbage man and feared the quality of service would drop under a private company. …

Newark pitches privatization of trash service
Source:Xerxes Wilson, The News Journal, September 22, 2015

Newark officials pitched privatization of city garbage collection to a disapproving crowd of residents Monday night. City administrators have recommended Newark City Council award garbage collection to Republic Services, a national refuse collection company headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. More than 100 residents gathered at the Church of the Nazarene to pan the plan over fears the new service would be inferior to the current, city-provided trash collection. … Residents said they doubt the city can derive the outlined savings. … City officials said of the seven of the employees that currently provide trash collection for the city are eligible for retirement or will be in the next six months. They are also working on ways to incorporate the others into other positions in the city’s workforce.

Private port backers seek Delaware aid for early work

Source: Jeff Montgomery, The News Journal, May 22, 2015

A last-minute legislative push is on to reshape Wilmington port expansion plans, with backers of a proposed new private container wharf south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge seeking state aid for initial studies and tighter links to the existing, public Port of Wilmington. ….. Others have questioned the bid for state money, however, saying it could bog down efforts to modernize and expand the long-established Wilmington port at a time when operations are growing healthier but competition for business along the Delaware River is rapidly increasing. ….

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……

When Freedom Isn’t Free

Source: Alysia Santo, Washington Monthly, March/April/May 2015

ALEC and the bail bond industry have a new plan to empty prisons—for a price…. Bail is an essential lubricant of American justice, asserted Nicholas Wachinski, executive director of the American Bail Coalition, a trade group for insurance companies that underwrite bail bonds. But now bail agents are under siege by so-called reformers, who argue that the traditional bail system forces poor defendants to choose between paying fees they can’t afford and sitting in jail until they go to trial. A growing number of states—New Jersey, Colorado, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Hawaii, and others—are limiting the use of bail for defendants who don’t pose a threat, or replacing for-profit bail with government supervision. Of course, Wachinski said, the bail bond industry will continue its tireless lobbying to protect its lucrative franchise, but he was there with another message: Innovation! New products! New markets! “A brave new world!” Why should bail bonds be only for defendants who are awaiting trial? How about bail bonds for a whole new class of customers: people who have already been convicted…. Mississippi has been a kind of laboratory for bail industry experiments. The state is the country’s poorest and has the third-highest per-capita incarceration rate. The Mississippi Bail Agents Association exercises strong legislative influence, boasting on its website that “[s]ince 1992, there have only been two years in which the MBAA did not succeed at making changes to the state bail statutes.” The bail industry has given more in campaign contributions per capita to state politicians in Mississippi than anywhere else. Versions of post-conviction bail legislation have also passed in South Dakota and Michigan, a victory celebrated by bail agents but not yet put into widespread practice….

Federal Lawsuit Accuses For-Profit Schools of Fraud

Source: Richard Pérez-Peña, New York Times, February 19, 2014

It was the electronic monitor around a student’s ankle that first gave Kelli J. Amaya serious doubts about the Harris School of Business. The young man with the monitor was studying to be a pharmacy technician, and Ms. Amaya, who worked at Harris, a for-profit chain of trade schools, knew that the most widely recognized certification for pharmacy technicians excludes anyone convicted of a felony or even a low-level drug offense. But the student received federal financial aid, and for the school to keep collecting it, he had to remain in the program and complete an internship. So Ms. Amaya said she was told to find him an internship, even if that meant deceiving the employer….

…Her charges are part of a federal lawsuit filed by seven former employees against Harris and its parent company, Premier Education Group, which owns more than two dozen trade schools and community colleges operating under several names in 10 states. The suit contends that while charging more than $10,000 for programs lasting less than a year, school officials routinely misled students about their career prospects, and falsified records to enroll them and keep them enrolled, so that government grant and loan dollars would keep flowing.

Though they vary widely in quality, for-profit schools have drawn scrutiny in recent years for aggressive recruiting, high prices, low graduation rates and heavy borrowing by students who often have poor job prospects afterward. They have been a particular target of overhaul efforts by the Obama administration. Much of the attention has gone to a handful of large, visible national chains, like the University of Phoenix, DeVry University and Corinthian Colleges, that are publicly traded. But like Premier, which had 17,000 students in 2012, most are privately owned and receive far less scrutiny….

…Some of the complaints against Harris, which has eight campuses in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, echo those made against other for-profit schools, and were documented in investigations directed by the Government Accountability Office, Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, and others. Those include high-pressure enrollment tactics and misleading promises about job prospects upon graduation….

Out of Control: The Coast-to-Coast Failures of Outsourcing Public Services to For-Profit Corporations

Source: In The Public Interest, December 2013

From the abstract:
Eager for quick cash, state and local governments across America have for decades handed over control of critical public services and assets to corporations that promise to handle them better, faster and cheaper. Unfortunately for taxpayers, not only has outsourcing these services failed to keep this promise, but too often it undermines transparency, accountability, shared prosperity and competition – the underpinnings of democracy itself. As state legislatures soon reconvene, policy makers likely will consider more outsourcing proposals. Out of Control: The Coast-to-Coast Failures of Outsourcing Public Services to For-Profit Corporations serves as a cautionary tale for lawmakers and taxpayers alike.

Out of Control: The Coast-to-Coast Failures of Outsourcing Public Services to For-Profit Corporations