Tag Archives: Illinois

Lake Station floats water plant sale plan

Source: Carole Carlson, Post-Tribune, February 10, 2017

Crippled by debt that threatens its future, the city of Lake Station is considering the sale of its water treatment plant to Indiana America Water for $20.7 million. The sale, if approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, would enable the city to pay off its debts and provide about a $9.5 million profit, Mayor Christopher Anderson said. The city has been in talks with Indiana American Water for about 14 months. The city council must approve the sale ordinance before the deal can move forward. … The sale would mean the approximate 2,900 residents, whose water comes from wells operated by the city’s utility plant, would begin receiving Lake Michigan water provided by Indiana American through its plant in Gary. … Anderson hopes the deal goes through so the city can begin to rebound from a $1.8 million general fund shortfall his administration inherited. Anderson said the city is staying afloat with temporary loans that are depleting other funds for general fund bills. …

CPS building engineers say privatization effort will be costly

Source: Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, January 22, 2017

Chicago Public Schools building engineers say a plan to put the rest of the district’s schools under private facilities management companies is going to cost the broke school system dearly. And they’re surprised the district has already planned which schools will be managed by Aramark and SodexoMAGIC before the Board of Education has inked a deal with the two companies, whose past work has drawn complaints. CPS won’t say how much the “integrated management services” might cost, nor would the district demonstrate they would save any money for the school system still begging state lawmakers for $215 million to balance its current operating budget. … CPS wants the transition complete by the summer of 2018. Few details about the new plans have been publicized. … A vote to put the rest of CPS schools under Aramark and SodexoMAGIC for things like pest control, snow removal and some building repairs could come as soon as the school board meeting Wednesday. More than 80 schools are part of a pilot program. … Troy LaRaviere, head of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, said school leaders do want that single point of contact; they just want control over school engineers back. … Carbon monoxide problems in schools last year — namely at Prussing Elementary, where children and teachers were hospitalized — happened after engineers were absent, he said. LaRaviere also questioned why companies that have cost more than projected and continue to draw complaints are being rewarded with more work. CPS paid Aramark more than $7 million extra in its first year of cleaning schools because 3.2 million square feet, including 22 entire schools, weren’t included in original estimates. … About 480 engineers working for CPS will be laid off, though the district says they can reapply for their jobs under a different union. It’s not clear how many will qualify or how much they will be paid.

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Union: Privatizing all CPS buildings could harm city pension fund
Source: Lauren Fitzpatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, May 30, 2016

Chicago Public Schools has doubled the number of schools whose facilities will be managed by private companies, a move the engineers union says won’t save the broke district any money. The president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 143 also warned that CPS’ plan to move all 550 buildings to private managers will come with a larger cost to the city’s struggling municipal employees’ pension fund. … The fund’s executive director, James Mohler, told engineers that a “sudden removal of a large number of contributing employees can be detrimental” to the pension fund. He also warned that a mass termination of eligible workers could lead them to retire sooner, straining the fund to pay benefits for a longer time. Mohler couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The city still is looking for a solution to sustainably fund the municipal pensions, which currently stand at about 33 percent. …

Chicago School Board Moves To Privatize Engineers
Source: Sarah Karp, WBEZ, May 26, 2016

School board members voted on Wednesday to allow two companies to take over the management of engineers in 50 schools. Engineers do upkeep and facility management at schools.  By the 2017-2018 school year, if school district leaders go through with their current plans, all engineers will be working for a private company, as opposed to Chicago Public Schools. … School district officials have argued that privatizing these services is cheaper and more efficient. However, the hiring of Aramark for custodians was met with sharp criticism from principals, who said their schools were dirty as the company cut the number of custodians, changed their hours and gave them different task lists. … Aramark already manages custodians in all the schools where SodexoMAGIC is not. Under the agreement, they will take over managing engineers in 20 schools. CPS will not pay the company’s additional money to assume this extra management, according to the board report. Aramark’s existing contract is for $260 million, while SodexoMAGIC has an $80 million contract.  But taking on this extra work will likely pay off for these companies. In April, Chicago Public Schools announced it was proposals to find a company to provide integrated facilities management for all the 400-some district-run schools. … William Iacullo, president of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 143, questioned board members about why they would give SodexoMAGIC and Aramark the benefit of participating in an expanded pilot program, while the district is in the process of awarding a big contract for the same services.  The expanded pilot program was not bid out, but, because it is expected to be cost neutral, it doesn’t have to be, according to district officials. …

Chicago school board approves expanded private maintenance program
Source: Juan Perez, Jr, Chicago Tribune, May 25, 2016

The head of the labor union representing Chicago Public Schools’ building engineers called plans to privatize his group’s work a “money pit scheme” as the district’s board approved an expansion of a privately managed maintenance program. The unanimous vote by the Chicago Board of Education doubles the size of an upkeep program managed under contract of up to $80 million won by SodexoMAGIC, a company partly controlled by former NBA superstar and Mayor Rahm Emanuel supporter Earvin “Magic” Johnson. … CPS has requested proposals to standardize the custodial program — known as “integrated facilities management” — at all schools by the 2017-18 school year. That would affect hundreds of building engineers covered by a district labor contract that expires next month. … Iacullo said the union offered terms for a five-year contract but CPS rejected the terms. Under the integrated facilities management model, SodexoMAGIC handled custodial and engineering services, snow removal, landscaping and pest control at 33 district schools. The expansion approved Wednesday adds 30 schools to the company’s purview, CPS said. SodexoMAGIC also oversees CPS’ entire school facilities management system. ….

Illinois Launches Pay-For-Success Initiative For Dually-Involved Youth

Source: Open Minds, January 3, 2017

On November 18, 2016, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) announced the launch of a four-year, pay-for-success pilot project for youth dually involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The goal is to reduce or prevent time in institutional care, discourage repeat criminal behavior, and foster successful transitions to adulthood. Outcomes of the treatment group will be compared to a control group. To launch this project, DCFS contracted with Conscience Community Network LLC (CCN), a network of six Illinois non-profit provider organizations to deliver intensive care coordination and timely access to . . .

Fisher approves study to privatize water system

Source: Carol Thilmony, Rantoul Press, December 13, 2016

The Fisher Village Board approved a contract for $5,000 plus expenses with Gerald Hartman of Florida to analyze the feasibility of privatizing its water and sewer systems and prepare a “decision document.” Hartman will come to town Dec. 19 and 20 to do onsite analysis of Fisher’s two systems. Last month village attorney Marc Miller said Hartman has contacts with the major private companies that buy municipal systems in Illinois. Miller said then he foresees at least a “seven-figure sales price.” If a company decides to buy the systems, any additional Hartman expenses would be picked up by the buyer. … Hartman will line out the next 10 years of expenses the village would incur in keeping its systems up to date. But rates under a new owner would be frozen for two years. Any rate increase would have to go before the Illinois Commerce Commission. …

Chicago nursing home fined after residents overdose on heroin

Source: David Jackson and Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2016

State and federal health officials are seeking penalties totaling more than $100,000 from a North Side nursing home after five residents overdosed on heroin inside the facility in February, the Tribune has learned. The residents of Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center were hospitalized and recovered, but at least two used heroin again hours after they were returned to the facility, even though they were supposed to be on close watch, Illinois public health department inspectors allege. One of the two overdosed again. … Illinois law requires nursing homes to notify the Department of Public Health of unusual events that put patients at risk, but state officials said they learned of that case only when the Tribune filed a query about it. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, has imposed civil monetary penalties totaling $76,000 for alleged violations in the February incident. Continental is contesting an additional $25,000 fine from the state public health department, which says the facility failed to properly monitor and treat residents with drug addictions. … Continental, which has housed a mix of older residents and younger adults with mental illness, did not admit deficiencies when it outlined corrective actions it would take — plans that were accepted by CMS in April. “The facility has ceased admitting any residents with active substance use,” its plan said. In a brief interview with the Tribune, Continental part-owner Moishe Gubin said he was not aware of any heroin overdoses or other problems at the facility. … Continental is part of a rapidly growing, South Bend, Ind.-based nursing home operation that includes more than 50 facilities in eight states, records show. Their 13 northern Illinois facilities include one that earned a top, five-star rating for overall quality from CMS. Four others, including Continental, were given a one-star quality rating, the lowest possible, and police and public health inspection records have alleged unsanitary conditions and negligent care at Continental and some other northern Illinois homes. Medicaid and Medicare last year paid those 13 facilities a total of roughly $150 million, and the facilities reported a combined 2015 profit of $6 million, according to cost reports filed with the state. Similar data was not available for a recently added 14th northern Illinois facility. …

Emanuel’s privatizing mental health clinic in Roseland raises concerns

Source: Curtis Black, Chicago Reporter, November 3, 2016

When Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed six of the city’s 12 mental health clinics four years ago, the decision sparked sustained protest.  With his announcement last month that the city’s Roseland clinic will be privatized, it looks like the mayor has decided it is now safe to go after the remaining clinics. This move should not happen without public discussion, according to the Mental Health Movement, a coalition of clinic clients, grassroots groups and unions, has called for hearings on the Roseland clinic’s fate. The Health Movement initially withheld judgment when the city announced on Oct. 7 that the Cook County Health and Hospital System would take over management of mental health services at the Roseland Neighborhood Health Center, one of the remaining Chicago Department of Public Health clinics. In fact, the county seems to have a stronger commitment than the city to providing public health services, an organizer said. … Activists are concerned because last year, C4 announced that it was closing its doors due to billing problems, sending its 10,000 patients elsewhere.  A few weeks later, C4 announced it was joining CountyCare and would stay open. … The city describes C4’s takeover as an “increase [in] service options,” since the nonprofit would extend mental health services to children.   Again, Carter points out that activists have long called on the city to expand services. …

Concerns over lunch quality at Waukegan schools prompts district review

Source: Emily K. Coleman, Chicago Tribune, October 26, 2016

Concerns over the quality and variety of lunches being provided in Waukegan School District 60 schools has prompted staff to rethink cafeteria operations at Waukegan High School’s Brookside campus. A two-week investigation by staff found that listed menu items were often being substituted or just not available, deliveries sometimes came so close to lunchtime at the elementary schools that the lunch period had to be delayed, and later lunch periods at the middle school sometimes missed out on items because there wasn’t enough to meet demand, Senior Deputy Superintendent Mary Lamping said. … The district currently contracts its food-service operations to Aramark, which directly provides the food at the middle and high school levels but hires a subcontractor to handle the packaged food at the elementary schools, she said. The board could consider breaking those contracts up to have more control over the elementary school side. The nutritional content of the food served is dictated by the National School Lunch Program, which provides the district reimbursement on meals but also lays out guidelines on the nutritional content required and portion sizes, Lamping said. There is a concern that the frequent substitutions could lead to violations of those rules. …

Editorial: Kudos to E.M., union leaders for deal that’s good for all

Source: Dispatch Argus, October 18, 2016

After more than two years of talking trash, the city of East Moline and one of its public employee unions have reportedly inked a deal to privatize the city’s garbage service. On Monday,Mayor John Thodos told aldermen that the coming switch from city-provided service is the result of a pact reached with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME and some residents in the city had opposed the garbage plan since it was first suggested in 2014. … The change made sense then, city staff said, because contracting for garbage service would have allowed East Moline to get out of the garbage business without any layoffs. The staff report also said the move would save money through lower employee costs and allow the garbage department’s resources and money to be sold or shifted to other areas. It’s hard to keep a good idea down, however. Indeed, continued tough economic times and budget pressure ensured the idea would resurface. As a result, the city decided to go ahead with the private vendor in early March 2015. That was derailed, however, when AFSCME filed a complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board, sending the parties back to the bargaining table where the current deal apparently was ironed out. … We salute both sides for their commitment to doing what’s right for the residents of the city. Not only will taxpayers no longer be on the hook for repairing and replacing garbage trucks, which the mayor said cost about a quarter of a million dollars each — there will be long-term savings from eliminating four positions despite not laying off any workers. Republic Services, the only bidder for the job in March, won’t begin picking up garbage in East Moline until the first part of 2017, Mayor Thodos said. The company will work with residents to determine the size of garbage cans they prefer and will buy the city’s garbage trucks, he said. …

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East Moline, AFSCME end trash talk, reach garbage agreement
Source: Leon Lagerstam, Dispatch Argus, October 17, 2016

City council members on Monday heard of an agreement recently reached with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to privatize garbage service. The city had planned to privatize the service in early March 2015, but AFSCME filed a complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board which required the idea to return to the bargaining table. Mayor John Thodos shared the news of the agreement during his “Report by the Mayor” part of Monday’s 20-minute city council meeting. He said he was glad a resolution was reached on the issue, calling it “good” for the city and union. No one loses their job, and the city projects it will save about $130,000 in revenue by letting Republic Services do garbage pickup, Mayor Thodos said. …

No private garbage service in East Moline
Source: Anthony Watt, Quad-Cities Online, June 27, 2015

A planned switch to private garbage service for residents won’t begin next week as planned because of an ongoing labor complaint. In March, the city council approved a contract with Republic Services to replace the current city-run garbage service to cover an $81,000 deficit in the general fund. The change was to include no layoffs — the city’s four garbage workers were to move to other city positions. The changeover is being contested by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents city employees….

EM [East Moline] moves closer to private garbage collection
Source: Anthony Watt, qconline.com, February 19, 2015

City officials may privatize East Moline’s garbage service to cover an expected general fund deficit. At Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting, aldermen voted 4-3 to privatize the city’s garbage collection. …. A report provided to aldermen stated a seven-year private garbage contract with Republic Services would include about $141,000 in landfill host fees paid to the city. About $81,000 of that money could be used to cover the deficit, with the other $60,000 helping to control garbage service costs for residents. Still, the plan includes higher rates for East Moline’s 6,290 garbage service customers through the life of the contract. If host fees are used to offset costs, the monthly fee first will increase to $7.43 in 2016. By the final year, customers will pay $8.33 per month. …

EM [East Moline] to privative garbage service; fees to stay the same for 1st year
Source: Anthony Watt, qconline.com, September 15, 2014

The aldermen have tentatively approved a contract that will privatize city garbage service. The aldermen have been debating for weeks how to handle the service. The debate is based on the upcoming retirement of four public works employees, said city administrator Cole O’Donnell. The retirements would let East Moline’s four garbage department employees move to other positions as staff bid for the open public works spots. That would let the city close the garbage department without layoffs, a move Mr. O’Donnell said could mean long-term savings for East Moline through employee benefits. The city has been negotiating with Republic Services and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees simultaneously, and, during Monday night’s committee of the whole meeting, voted to go with the Republic offer. The vote was 4-1 with Ald. Ed DeJaynes, 4th Ward, voting against and Alds. Helen Heiland, 1st Ward; and Jeff Stulir, 3rd Ward, not present. The contract would be for seven years and the fees for residents would stay the same as they are now for the first year: $7.15 per month, according to a report provided to the aldermen. After that, the bill would increase, going to $7.43 per month in the second year, and rising to $8.33 per month by the final year of the contract. These rates would be based on the city making use of a fee paid to it by Republic, which owns the landfill, and also using some of the levy capacity from the former garbage fund, the report states. The rest of that capacity would go to the general fund. … b

Chicago could become first city to bargain cap on charter schools

Source: Lauren Fitzpatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, October 17, 2016

If teachers ratify the agreement that barely staved off a strike, then Chicago would become the first American city to cap its number of charter schools using a union contract. Contained in the deal to be considered this week by Chicago Teachers Union delegates is a provision to impose limits on both the number of charter schools in Chicago Public Schools as well as those schools’ total enrollment over the duration of the four-year agreement. … The CTU has long called for a moratorium on any new charters, saying they siphon children and money away from ailing district schools, and they often play by different rules than district-run schools. Chicago budgets a fixed amount of money to a school for each student enrolled, so as overall enrollment continues to decline and budgets to further tighten, those calls have grown louder. Originally established to be free of bureaucracy, charter schools in Chicago don’t have to use union teachers. The schools that have since unionized belong to a local separate from the CTU. …

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Chicago Charter School Network first in U.S. to strike
Source: Columbia Chronicle, October 17, 2016

Teachers and staff of the Chicago UNO Charter School Network will make history Oct. 19 as the first charter school known to go on strike if its management and district cannot reach an agreement, according to an Oct. 6 press release from the United Educators UNO  staff website. On Oct. 6, 531 members voted to confirm the strike authorization. Similar to the Chicago Teachers Union and the public school system, UNO negotiating a new contract. The union is asking for a 32-student classroom cap, shorter hours and no increase in pension and health insurance contributions, according to United Educators UNO spokeswoman Erica Stewart. … Stewart added that UNO is hoping management will compromise and meet UNO halfway on some of its demands. Overall, management at UNO Charter School Network wants to deduct total teacher pay by more than $500,000 per year by improving teachers’ schedules, deny teachers’ cost of living increases for two years, deny support staff either cost of living or step increases for 2016–2017, and only grant 1 percent raises for 2017–2018 if the networks budget is reduced, according to the press release. …

Nursing home operator from Chicago jailed as feds allege $1 billion scheme

Source: David Jackson and Gary Max, Chicago Tribune, October 4, 2016

For years, wealthy nursing home operator Philip Esformes seemed to live in perpetual motion, using private jets to travel between his Water Tower Place condominium and his mansions in Miami and Los Angeles. Now federal authorities are applying extraordinary court pressure to keep Esformes locked in a Florida detention cell where he awaits trial for allegedly orchestrating an unprecedented $1 billion Medicaid and Medicare bribery and kickback scheme … His confinement in the Miami Federal Detention Center marks a new challenge for a business family that has withstood two decades of Justice Department probes and Tribune investigations into allegations of patient abuse, corruption and substandard conditions at their Illinois, Florida and Missouri nursing home facilities. From their Lincolnwood offices, Esformes and his father and business partner, Morris Esformes, took in millions of dollars annually from federal programs for the sick and disabled. … The Esformeses sold their Illinois nursing facilities about four years ago but kept their headquarters in the Chicago suburbs as they continued to operate 20 or so homes in Florida, government records and Tribune interviews show. The new federal indictment alleges that Philip Esformes and a handful of Miami co-conspirators bilked Medicaid and Medicare for 14 years by cycling some 14,000 patients through various Esformes facilities, where many received unnecessary or even harmful treatments. Drug addicts were allegedly lured to the facilities with promises of narcotics, and prosecutors say some received OxyContin and fentanyl without a physician’s order to entice them to stay. In recent court filings, prosecutors have gone beyond the allegations of the indictment to reveal new claims of patient harm and corruption. …