Tag Archives: Kentucky

EKU weighs outsourcing custodians, ground workers

Source: Dan Klapheke, The Eastern Progress, September 15, 2016

In Kentucky’s current state of budget-strangling and uncertainty, Eastern Facilities Services in the hotseat with the possibility of outsourcing custodial and grounds maintenance staff. The news came August 29 after the office of Finance and Administration informed Facilities Services personnel that EKU would be requesting proposals from third party vendors for custodial and grounds services. The request for proposal (RFP) was sent out September 9. … According to the RFP, companies that bid on the project must include proposal for both custodial and grounds services together, as well as one for each service separately. It also stipulates that all current EKU custodial and grounds employees be offered a full 40-hour, 52-week position with the new company and no break in health insurance coverage, according to the RFP. … But workers are worried. Rumblings and rumors have circulated throughout the affected employees, and eight year custodian Carl Shanks said staff is frustrated and waiting anxiously. …

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EKU will look at outsourcing custodial, grounds services
Source: Bill Robinson, Richmond Register, August 30, 2016

As Eastern Kentucky University looks for cost savings in the wake of continued state funding cuts, it has asked for proposals from vendors that could take over its custodial and grounds-keeping operations. As directed by the board of regents, facilities services personnel were told Monday that a request for proposals from potential vendors will be advertised as early as next week, according to a statement released Tuesday on behalf of Barry Poynter, EKU Vice President for Business/Finance. … If it chooses to outsource custodial and grounds keeping services, EKU’s goal will be to have current staff hired by a third-party vendor that will offer “comparable benefit packages,” the statement added. It acknowledged the RFP would likely raise “questions and concerns” among university employees, which it did. Some contacted The Register and said they feared the briefing was an early warning that custodian and grounds employees could eventually lose their jobs or find themselves working for a third-party employer that offers less desirable benefits. EKU employees receive tuition waivers as well as health insurance and retirement contributions from the university. … RFP responses are expected by Oct. 10. They will be evaluated and presented to the regents for review at their October meeting, according to the statement. …

State politicians debate private prison contract

Source: Elizabeth Murray, Burlington Free Press, August 23, 2016

After the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would eliminate the use of private federal prisons last week, Vermonters are weighing in on whether the Green Mountain state should follow suit. Vermont Department of Corrections Commissioner Lisa Menard said in an email last week that her agency is focused on applying best correctional practices to manage its inmate population and reduce the number of inmates held for lack of housing. Menard said this focus has helped reduce the number of out-of-state prisoners, but the state’s reliance on private prison contracts for inmate overflow has remained intact. …

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DEFENDER GENERAL REASSURED ABOUT INCIDENT AT PRIVATE PRISON
Source: Elizabeth Hewitt, VT Digger, June 13, 2016

After an investigation into an incident at an out-of-state prison that houses Vermont inmates, a leading state official said he is not concerned. Two attorneys from the prisoners’ rights division of the defender general’s office traveled to Michigan last week to investigate a smattering of reports about conditions, including some reports that inmates were left without clothing and food. …

REPORTS FROM MICHIGAN PRISON PROMPT CONCERNS ABOUT CONDITIONS
Source: Elizabeth Hewitt, VT Digger, June 8, 2016

A series of disturbances at a private prison in Michigan that houses Vermont inmates prompted investigation by state officials. In late May, the advocacy group Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform heard reports that inmates in the segregation unit of the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan, had been stripped and their mattresses removed from their cells. The prison, which holds 236 Vermont prisoners, is run by the GEO Group. … Suzi Wizowaty, of Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, said it is very difficult to get the full truth behind reports that come out of the private prisons that house Vermont inmates out of state. … According to Defender General Matt Valerio, the details of the incidents are still unclear. The reports have varied greatly, he said, and he will hear from the attorneys after they return to Vermont. … Defender general’s office staff members are in correctional facilities in Vermont every day, he said. They have relationships with superintendents, caseworkers and officers, and have opportunities to hear about issues directly from inmates. Distance is a challenge when it comes to maintaining oversight of the conditions out of state, Valerio said. The GEO Group has always been “accommodating and pleasant and professional” with the prisoner’s rights office, Valerio said. He added that he can’t say his office has “a close working relationship with them at all.”

Inmate sues private prison company alleging he was sexually harassed by a prison nurse
Source: Casey Tolan, Fusion, June 8, 2016

An inmate in Michigan is suing the second-largest largest private prison company in the country, alleging he was sexually harassed and molested by a nurse at his prison. In a handwritten lawsuit he filed against the GEO Group last week, Bernard Carter says a nurse at the North Lake Correctional Facility forced him to expose himself to her and touched him sexually without his consent. … But his suit is only the latest example of misconduct claims from Vermont inmates like himself who are sent across the country to the private facility. … According to Carter, 46, his harassment began in August 2015, soon after he arrived at the prison. It started with the nurse talking about his penis and how she wanted to have sex with him, but soon escalated, even after he told her to stop. … There are currently 195 inmates from Vermont who live at North Lake (at a cost to the state of $61.80 per person per day). …

Vermont’s Arrangement to House Inmates in Michigan Could Be at Risk
Source: Mark Davis, Seven Days, April 19, 2016

A plan gaining momentum in the Michigan Senate would see that state’s DOC close two of its oldest prisons, and send  inmates to North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Mich., which is privately owned by The GEO Group. The state of Michigan would lease the entire prison and run North Lake as a state facility, according to various media reports. Currently, 230 Vermont inmates are held in North Lake under a two-year, $30 million contract inked by the Vermont DOC and GEO last year. That contract allows either party to void it with five months notice. The Vermont DOC is aware of the proposal and has been in contact with key officials at GEO and the Michigan DOC in recent weeks, said Mike Touchette, Vermont DOC’s director of facility operations. … But Vermont may no longer be an important client for GEO. The DOC has slashed its out-of-state population to 236 inmates, down from 340 a year ago and  500 in 2014. …

Vermont Inmates Pine for Their Old Kentucky Prison
Source: Mark Davis, Seven Days, December 2, 2015

Five months later, inmates and the officials who advocate for them say they were better off in Kentucky. They claim the transition to the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Mich., has been rife with problems. Inmates accustomed to the open dorm-style living in Kentucky are now stuck in Michigan in windowless cells and allowed little freedom of movement. They no longer have access to many of the jobs, classes and activities that helped them pass the time — and stay out of trouble — in Kentucky. … Inmates who engaged with Seven Days described a chaotic transition during which rules were unclear and GEO seemed ill prepared to host them. North Lake, which had been mothballed for several years, received them just two months after GEO announced the two-year, $30 million contract with Vermont and began hiring new guards. In fact, the Vermonters are the only inmates in the 1,740-bed prison, which is about three hours northwest of Detroit.

Vermont official: Ky. prison monitored inmates before fight
Source: Wilson Ring, Associated Press, August 12, 2015

Vermont’s top advocate for prison inmates said Wednesday the staff at a private Kentucky prison did all it could to monitor two inmates before they got into a fight that landed one in the hospital in the weeks before his death. … A Kentucky State Police official said earlier that the agency had begun an investigation into the fight that injured Nicholson, but they learned of his death after being asked about it by The Associated Press. At Wednesday’s hearing Vermont Corrections Department officials told members of the committee that Corrections Corporation officials had informed the Kentucky State Police that Nicholson had died. After the hearing, Dominic Damato, the out-of-state manager for Vermont Corrections, said Vermont officials were told June 2 by Corrections Corporation that the Kentucky State Police had been informed of Nicholson’s death, but he could not say when that notification was made. … Corrections Corporation officials were asked repeatedly by the AP about why they hadn’t notified police of Nicholson’s death and they never answered specific questions about the notification. Jonathan Burns, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, on Wednesday referred any additional questions to the Vermont Department of Corrections or Kentucky State Police.
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States Diversifying Use of Public-Private Partnerships in Infrastructure

Source: Sean Slone, Council of State Governments, May June 2016

When U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx finished his remarks at the recent InfraAmericas conference on public-private partnerships, or P3s, in New York City, Kentucky state Rep. Leslie Combs was first to the microphone for the Q&A. “We just passed P3 legislation in Kentucky,” said Combs, who this spring authored the legislation that allows Kentucky, like 33 other states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, to enter into P3s to build infrastructure projects. … But Kentucky’s first announced infrastructure P3 is not a toll road or a major bridge project. In fact, at the behest of anti-toll interests in the northern part of the state, Kentucky’s legislation specifically prohibits the use of tolls on any P3 project connecting Kentucky and Ohio, such as a potential replacement for the functionally obsolete Brent Spence Bridge. Instead, the commonwealth’s first P3 project is KentuckyWired, a partnership to create a statewide, open-access fiber optic broadband network. …

… Indeed many of the infrastructure P3 projects garnering the buzz at this year’s InfraAmericas forum were somewhat different from those the U.S. P3 industry has become accustomed to over the last decade. The conference highlighted projects at major U.S. airports and on university campuses. There were transit project P3s, alternative fuel, highway lighting and water infrastructure projects and a variety of social and civic infrastructure projects—public buildings and the like—in the spotlight as well.

WKU staff respond to news of new employer

Source: Monica Kast, WKU Herald, May 5, 2016

Employees who will be moving to employment by Sodexo will receive a pay increase, and the starting wage will now be $10.26, one dollar more than the current starting wage. Sodexo will also reimburse employees who want to take courses that will further their career path, according to Russell. Despite the welcome of Sodexo and assurances from administration, not every employee is confident that the change is for the best. Brenda Whitaker has been an employee at WKU for 26 years. She currently works as a BSA on campus. Because she is near retirement, she will remain employed by WKU, but she said she didn’t agree with moving others to Sodexo. … At the forum, BSA employees were able to voice some of that negative feedback. Most concerns were about retaining vacation days and potentially losing tuition benefits that are currently offered to employees. Yost said employees would begin acquiring vacation and sick days with Sodexo on August 1. “Holidays will be determined by Sodexo USA management,” Yost said. “Under Sodexo USA, employees will be awarded a beginning vacation leave balance based upon their years of service at Western Kentucky University. Effective August 1, 2016, employees will accrue vacation and sick time, both of which will be based upon Sodexo USA’s accrual schedule and their years of service to Western Kentucky University.” …

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Frustrations and concerns voiced at WKU budget cut forum
Source: Aaron Mudd, Bowling Green Daily News, April 29, 2016

Frustrations and concerns about a planned budget cut of more than $6 million at Western Kentucky University brought students and staff together for an open forum Thursday. … On Wednesday, the university announced a plan to spread out a $6,039,200 budget cut in fiscal year 2017. The cut was possible by trimming from 24 different areas, Ransdell said, and it had to be done without threatening filled faculty positions, credit-bearing academic programs and core student services.  Some programs were consolidated, reduced or eliminated, Ransdell said. About six current WKU employees will lose their jobs, he said.  Ransdell said a move to transfer 202 building services and grounds employees to private contractor Sodexo will save 25 jobs and about $750,000. A 48 percent employer contribution increase to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System is a notable cost to WKU. … Compared to the 10 vacation days WKU provides in December, Sodexo provides three days. Bryan Russell, WKU’s chief facilities officer, said the university will buy out any unused vacation time when the employees transfer to Sodexo in July.  Despite the budget cut, WKU is also phasing in a 3 percent salary increase for all full-time employees between July 1 and July 1, 2017. …

WKU Building and Grounds Employees Voice Concerns in Budget Forum
Source: Lisa Autry, WKU Public Radio, April 28, 2016

The president of Western Kentucky University says building services attendants will get “pretty similar” benefits when their work is transferred to a private contractor. … Under the change, employees will get fewer sick days. That’s a concern for Paul Barbour, whose wife works as a BSA.  Barbour says she’s taken a lot of time off because of ailments related to a car accident. Barbour fears the Sodexo will put productivity over people. … Sodexo is also expected to offer less paid vacation time around Christmas time.  Employees will get three days off in December compared to the 10 days they were given by WKU.   No BSAs will lose their jobs.  They’ll also receive a one dollar per hour raise when they transfer to Sodexo.

WKU plan privatizes 202 staff positions
Source: Jacob Dick, WKU Herald, April 27, 2016

WKU custodial, building services, groundskeeping and waste management employees working on the Bowling Green campus will be employed by a private company starting in August to save money in the 2016-17 budget. On Wednesday, university administration informed faculty and staff that Sodexo, a private employment management service, would be taking over as employer for an additional 202 WKU workers. The change is supposed to save $745,000 for the next fiscal year. … Chief Facilities Officer Bryan Russell confirmed at a media briefing Wednesday that 18 staff with 20 or more years of employment would remain under WKU. … Russell said employees hired at the starting rate of $9.26 would receive that raise, and staff who were paid more than that amount will have their salaries adjusted with smaller raises. Russell also said children of staff currently enrolled in the university will still receive tuition discounts for attending WKU. Staff will receive discounts until 2017. … WKU has had a contract with Sodexo for 20 years, and the contract will be amended at the end of the fiscal year to include additional staff.

WKU ground and service employment to be privatized
Source: WKU Herald, April 27, 2016

WKU custodial, building services, landscape and waste management employees working on the Bowling Green campus will no longer be employed by the university effective this August. On Wednesday, employees were informed that their employment with the university would end in July and that a private employment management service, Sodexo, would be taking over as their employer. … It continued to state that areas within the Department of Facilities Management, Housing and Residence Life and Downing Student Union would not be impacted.

County Officials, Jailers Ask Bevin To Veto Private Prisons Provision

Source: Ryland Barton, WFPL, April 27, 2016

County officials have asked Gov. Matt Bevin to veto language in the state budget bill that would allow three private prisons to reopen in Kentucky. The budget language would allow the state to recommission private prison contracts in Floyd, Marion and Lee counties if those counties’ jails become overpopulated. … Representatives from the Kentucky Jailers Association, the Kentucky Association of Counties, the Kentucky Judge/Executives Association and the Kentucky Association of Magistrates and Commissioners sent a joint letter to Bevin recently asking him to use his line-item veto power to excise the provision from the final budget bill. The group estimates that it currently costs the state about $35 per day to house inmates in county jails versus $55 per day in private institutions. … Otter Creek Correctional Center, located in Wheelwright (in Floyd County) and owned by CCA, closed after widespread reports of sexual abuse forced the state to transfer female inmates out of the institution. In the letter, the associations say private prisons have already been given a chance to operate in Kentucky “and they failed to operate safely and in a fiscally sound manner.” … The private prison language was added in the state House of Representatives’ proposed version of the budget.

Governments Struggle to Root Out Fake Minority Contractors

Source: Mattie Quinn, Governing, April 2016

It’s a problem that’s shown up all over the place. In Louisville, Ky., the metro sewer district banned two minority businesses from receiving future contracts after it was discovered that they were subcontracting with nonminority-owned businesses. An audit in Pittsburgh found the city didn’t even have a way to track how much work was going to DBEs. The city of Denver has also been dealt a blow by contracting scandals in recent years. … Nationwide data on DBE contracting programs is spotty. The National Association of State Procurement Officials doesn’t monitor them, and relies on state offices to track fraud and abuse. But states’ efforts vary widely. A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2011 found that the Federal Highway Administration did not have the right tools to properly monitor states’ DBE programs for transportation construction. The GAO has published a smattering of reports over the past 25 years on women- and minority-owned contracting programs with two main conclusions: More information was needed, and the contracting world in general lacks women and minorities. … Overhauls like the ones in New Orleans and Minnesota are cause for optimism, says the National Association of Minority Contractors’ Stemley. And while he says there’s plenty of room for improvement in DBE programs across the country, he believes the high-profile cases of fraud and noncompliance are the exception to the rule. Still, he says, the onus is on states and cities to step up their efforts to attract more minority- and women-owned businesses.

Public-private partnership bill passes the House

Source: Jonathan Greene, Richmond Register, February 12, 2016

A bill that would allow the state and local governments in Kentucky to complete large-scale projects with assistance from the private industry has cleared the House. If House Bill 309 should become law, it would provide the regulatory framework for those entities to enter into public-private partnerships. For the state, there would be required public postings, hearings, and legislative oversight, and no project costing $25 million or more could be done without the General Assembly’s authority.  Local governments would largely mirror the same process, an LRC release stated Friday. …

A closer look at Ville Grille ratings over the last four years

Source: Emily Curtsinger, Louisville Cardinal, November 2, 2015

A week after the Ville Grill was inspected and received a ‘C’ rating, a re-inspection cleared them with a 100% score. Problems contributing to the rating included ineffective food storage and sanitation of utensils. This is the third C that the Ville Grille has received in the last four years. … The process of inspection, a branded ‘C’ rating, and remediation within a week has become a cycle for the Ville Grill. However, the primary factors to the failing grades have gradually increased over the years. … The 2012 failure was attributed to a dishwasher that didn’t properly sanitize dishes. Jordan Barnes is a senior who worked at Ville Grill during that time. She explains that the dishwasher was not reaching the temperatures necessary to ensure plates were sanitized. … Two years later the cycle repeated, with the exception of how they received the grade. The 2014 failure involved factors such as, improper drink storage and hand sanitation between using gloves. … Sodexo commented on the recent issue, saying its intention is to increase efforts and respond pro-actively to health policies.

Got enough nurses? Nurse groups cite Kentucky case to support push for staffing ratio laws

Source: Sabriya Rice, Modern Healthcare, October 24, 2015 (Subscription Required)

… A federal investigation found the patient may not have been moved for “an extended period of time” because the hospital, part of the not-for-profit 10-hospital Appalachian Regional Healthcare system, was understaffed. Its policy required one RN for every six patients in this unit where most patients required intensive care. But that day, one registered nurse was caring for about a dozen patients, while the certified nursing assistant on duty had 14. Experts say it’s physically impossible for one nurse to attend to that many very sick patients. In April, the CMS placed Hazard ARH in “immediate jeopardy” of losing Medicare funding due to failure to provide adequate staffing. That status was lifted in May. The hospital did not respond to requests for comment for this article…

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.