Tag Archives: Kentucky

Report Of The Audit Of The Kentucky Retirement Systems For The Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2013

Source: Commonwealth of Kentucky, Auditor of Public Accounts, December 2013

From the summary:
… Auditor Adam Edelen on Wednesday released the Auditor’s first statutorily – required financial statement audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, expressing an unqualified, or clean, opinion on the System’s financial statements. The audit contains 19 findings with recommendations related to significant deficiencies in internal controls over financial reporting. This is the first time the Auditor of Public Accounts has conducted a financial statement audit of KRS under a 2010 change in law, which requires the Auditor to conduct an audit of KRS at least once every five years. KRS previously was permitted to contract with a private CPA firm to conduct its annual audits. Last year’s audit contained no findings. …

… Auditor Edelen said he is particularly concerned that auditors found there is no monitoring of contracts. KRS does not have a central listing of all contracts for tracking. The accounting department pays the invoices for the contracts that are received but does not obtain the contracts to ensure that the payment is allowable or appropriate. When auditors requested 12 contracts to review, KRS was unable to locate three contracts procured for fiscal year 2013. One was subsequently located; however, the two additional contracts had expired and the result was $171,197 in payments to vendors without contracts in place…

States Move Forward With Transportation Projects Involving Public-Private Partnerships & Tolling

Source: Sean Slone, Council of State Governments, Knowledge Center, Sean Slone’s blog, November 13, 2013

From the Columbia River Crossing bridge project in the Pacific Northwest to the Illiana Expressway project in the nation’s midsection to Maryland’s Purple Line light rail project, a number of transportation projects that involve public-private partnerships (P3s) and/or tolling have been in the news of late. Meanwhile, a state Supreme Court decision in Virginia appears likely to pave the way for more tolls and P3s in that state. I also have updates on projects in a number of other states as well as links to recent related reports and articles.

School bus company involved in June crash to end operations

Source: Charles Gazaway, WAVE 3 News, November 20, 2013

The company that operated the charter school bus involved in a June accident on Interstate 64 is ending operations. According to a Jefferson County Public Schools spokesperson, JCPS transportation officials have been notified that Commonwealth Bus Service is going out of business. The district tells WAVE 3 News that as of December 1 they will no longer have buses from Commonwealth in their fleet. … A Louisville Metro Police accident report said the tire that blew causing the crash was 11 years old. On November 8, Jefferson County Public Schools announced it was suspending business with Commonwealth Bus Service and Transportation until they could further review the contract between the two. …
Bus service to close, lost business after federal violations
Source: Joe Arnold, WHAS11, November 20, 2013

Under heavy scrutiny after a June bus crash and losing business after a federal compliance review noted dozens of violations, Commonwealth Bus Service and Transportation is going out of business, according to sources and an internal Jefferson County Public School e-mail obtained by WHAS11 News. … The Department of Transportation noted dozens of safety procedure violations at Commonwealth Bus Service, including insufficient drug testing, driver training, driver background investigation, maintenance and inspection records and operating unsafe vehicles. …

Jeffco Schools: Unanimous vote uproots inBloom

Source: Vic Vela, Our Colorado News, November 8, 2013

For months, the Jeffco school board has heard concerns from parents regarding the plans to partner with an out-of-state entity for the purposes of storing student data. Now, after receiving an enormous amount of negative feedback from Jeffco parents, the board on Nov. 7 voted to pull the plug on inBloom, a company that has received resistance from other school districts nationwide. … The board voted unanimously to sever ties with inBloom, a $100 million company, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that provides data gathering technology to classroom dashboards. The district still hopes to create a “virtual classroom dashboard” — a system that would hold students’ academic records in a singular database, something that supporters say would better personalize instruction. But those plans no longer include inBloom. …

…The company’s data gathering capabilities has generated controversy nationwide, primarily having to do with privacy and security concerns on the part of critics. inBloom’s technology is capable of storing thousands of data points on students, including academic information like reading and math scores. But it can also hold personal data, such as a student’s health information or disciplinary records. Jeffco officials have long-said that the district would decide what information is provided to inBloom, and not the other way around. And the district has insisted that the dashboard — which will be provided by a separate software company called LoudCloud — will only collect pertinent academic information that is already being gathered through existing databases, such as grades, enrollment information and student demographics. With Jeffco serving ties with inBloom, it leaves only two states that are currently partnering with the company or that will be doing so in the near future — New York and Illinois. Prior to the school board’s decision, inBloom has seen other school districts in other states back away from their partnership plans….
Parents sue NY over student data-sharing system
Source: Associated Press, November 13, 2013

A group of New York City public school parents filed a lawsuit Wednesday to block state education officials from sharing student information with the data-storage firm inBloom. The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Albany, is based on the claim that disclosing identifiable student data without parental consent violates state privacy laws. … New York has signed up with Atlanta-based inBloom, which has received $100 million in grant money to create a system to store student data on servers accessed through the Internet. Parents in New York and elsewhere have raised privacy concerns about the company. …

Student education data collecting initiative inBloom puts sensitive information at risk
Source: Leonie Haimson, New York Daily News, March 14, 2013

The proposal to store complete sensitive personal information along with grades, test scores, health records and disciplinary records on a cloud comes from the officials who dreamt up ARIS supercomputer boondoggle….The most sensitive confidential data is being shared, including children’s names, emails, phone numbers, photos, which will be stored along with grades, test scores, health conditions, disabilities and detailed disciplinary records….
Gathering Student Information at Grade Schools Across America
Source: Occupy.com, April 24, 2013

…InBloom, a three-month-old database, is funded primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. built the infrastructure for the new electronic portal. The state spent $50 million in federal grants to partner with inBloom and finalized its agreement in October to share data with the fledgling company. … Other states that have already signed on to release student data to inBloom are Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Louisiana….

K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents
Source: Stephanie Simon, Reuters, March 3, 2013

An education technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will clang with bells and whistles as startups eagerly show off their latest wares.

But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.

In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion.

Local education officials retain legal control over their students’ information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.

Kentucky Chamber calls for more public-private partnerships

Source: John R. Karman III, Business First, July 23, 2013

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce released a report Tuesday that calls for the creation of more public-private partnerships to tackle major development projects struggling for funding. … The 21-page report is titled “Private Solutions to Public Problems: Partnerships to Build a Better Government.”…

…The chamber report recommends that Kentucky:
– Enact legislation to enable the creation of public-private partnerships for a wide range of infrastructure projects at all levels of government;
– Consider the creation of a state office or unit to foster the development of public-private partnerships;
– Create legislation to form the Kentucky Competitive Government Council to identify opportunities within state government for the use of private partners, promote transparency and monitor the implementation of partnerships….

Private Prison Company Increases Profits as More Blacks Land in Prison

Source: Freddie Allen, Atlanta Daily World, July 16, 2013

Corrections Corporation of America opened its first immigration detention center in a renovated motel in Houston nearly 30 years ago and now leads the nation’s for-profit prison industry, generating billions of dollars in revenue for housing prisoners, most of whom are Black and Hispanic… As Black and Brown incarceration rates soared, over the last three decades, companies such CCA profited from that growth. “Now a multi-billion dollar corporation, CCA manages more than 65 correctional and detention facilities with a capacity of more than 90,000 beds in 19 states and the District of Columbia,” stated the report. “The company’s revenue in 2012 exceeded more than $1.7 billion.”…

…“The low wages of most CCA employees certainly do not extend to its top executives,” stated the report. “In 2011, CEO Damon Hininger was paid $3,696,798, while Chairman of the Board John Ferguson received a salary of $1,734,793.” According to the most recent self-reported industry statistics recorded in 2000, “the average turnover rate was 53% in private prisons, 16% in public prisons.” Experts say that the practice of cutting benefits and pay to workers to increase corporate profits greatly impairs the sensitive prisoner-corrections officer relationship, often endangering public safety as poorly-trained, overworked, underpaid guards resort to breaking the law to make quick cash….

…CCA joined the American Legislative and Exchange Council’s (ALEC) model to promote legislation “to increase drug law enforcement presence on public school campuses and tougher sentencing for drug offenses in drug-free school zones.”…

…“This is a company that reinvests millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions to ensure that its interests are met,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. “It’s a very troubling trend in criminal justice and immigration and it’s difficult for us to move forward on a path where we are able to reduce the prison population and make smart public policy choices when you have a corporation that has that kind of political power involved in the game.”…

Audit findings on Aramark prison food service

Source: Associated Press, July 14, 2013

Audit findings involving contracts between state corrections departments and Aramark:
OHIO, 2001:
State auditor finds that, as a result of a verbal amendment to Aramark’s two-year contract, the state corrections department paid Aramark for serving almost 4.5 million meals rather than the 2.8 million actually served from November 1998 to October 2000, adding $2.1 million to the contract cost. On-site visits also found “inexcusable” sanitation conditions, a lack of training and “a near riot” at breakfast over Aramark’s strict adherence to contractual portion sizes.

FLORIDA, 2007:
An internal audit by the state Department of Corrections concludes Aramark’s practice of charging the state per inmate rather than per meal created “a windfall for the vendor,” with the company being paid for some 6,000 meals a day that it didn’t serve. Aramark was also found switching menus to substitute less expensive ingredients without passing savings on to the state. The review said state outsourcing of food service hadn’t met its objective and recommended modifying, rebidding or abandoning the contract. Aramark served its last prison meal in Florida in January 2009.

State audit prompted by 2009 prison riot at Northpoint Training Center finds Aramark overbilled the state by as much as $130,000 a year, received inmate-grown food against contract terms, failed to follow approved recipes and couldn’t properly document the safety, quality and quantity of food. Some pertinent records had been destroyed in the riot. The review found Aramark charged for the meals of as many as 3,300 inmates that were shown through head counts not to be incarcerated. The state says it has since instituted new contract monitoring protections.

Audits: Philly-based prison vendor Aramark charged for unserved meals

Source: Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press, July 14, 2013

A private vendor in line to begin feeding roughly 100,000 prison inmates in Ohio and Michigan has a track record of billing for food it doesn’t serve, using substandard ingredients and riling prisoners with its meal offerings, past audits in several states show…. The audits in Ohio, Florida and Kentucky found Aramark charged states for meals not served, changed recipes to substitute cheaper ingredients and sometimes skimped on portions.

A 2001 audit by then-Ohio Auditor Jim Petro found a verbal amendment to Aramark’s two-year contract led the state prisons department to pay Aramark for serving almost 4.5 million meals rather than the 2.8 million meals it actually served. That added $2.1 million to the contract cost. An internal audit by Florida’s prisons department in 2007 concluded Aramark’s practice of charging the state per inmate rather than per meal created “a windfall for the vendor” after a large number of inmates stopped showing up for meals, reducing company costs by $4.9 million a year. The review found the company was paid for some 6,000 meals a day that it didn’t serve. Aramark stopped serving Florida’s prison meals in 2009. Kentucky’s state auditor launched a review of Aramark in response to the 2009 prison riot at Northpoint Training Center sparked over food issues. Auditor Crit Luallen’s 2010 report found Aramark overbilled the state by as much as $130,000 a year, charging for the meals of as many as 3,300 inmates that were shown through head counts not to be incarcerated.

Besides payments for unserved meals, the audits found Aramark sometimes substituted cheaper ingredients — receiving inmate-grown food against contract terms or substituting less expensive meat products, for example — without passing savings on to taxpayers. During an Ohio site visit, inspectors reported witnessing a “near riot” at breakfast when Aramark adhered strictly to its contractual portion sizes. …

Kentucky ending private prisons

Source: Tom Loftus, Courier-Journal, June 25, 2013

The state will not renew a contract with the private Marion Adjustment Center when it expires on Sunday meaning that for the first time in nearly 30 years Kentucky will soon be housing none of its inmates in privately-run prisons….Kentucky began contracting out the care of some inmates to private prisons in 1985, Brislin said, and for many years had three private prisons under contract….

Corrections Corp Of America : Kentucky Elects Not to Renew Contract at Marion Adjustment Center
Source: Corrections Corporation of America, news release, June 26, 2013

CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) announced today that the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC) elected not to renew its contract at our owned and operated 826-bed Marion Adjustment Center. During 2012, the facility generated approximately $12 million in revenue and approximately one million dollars in facility operating income.

The Dirty Thirty: Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of Corrections Corporation of America

Source: Holly Kirby, Bob Libal, Piper Madison, Julia Morris, Kymberlie Quong Charles, Grassroots Leadership and the Public Safety and Justice Campaign, June 2013

From the blog post:
Today Grassroots Leadership released our latest report, The Dirty Thirty: Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of Corrections Corporation of America, with our partners at the Public Safety and Justice Campaign. It’s part of our yearlong campaign to tell CCA and the private prison industry that there is nothing to celebrate about 30 years of private prisons.

Founded in 1983, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) gave birth to the modern for-profit private corrections industry. Over the last 30 years, the company has profited from the “war on drugs” and “tough on crime” policies and found a lucrative market in the detention of immigrants. Now a multi-billion dollar corporation, CCA uses its substantial political influence to make sure its interests are met.

The Dirty 30 offers 30 examples from the company’s history intended to shine a spotlight on the grave consequences of privatization for incarcerated people, prison staff, and the public at large, and brings a critical eye to the role of for-profit prison firms in criminal justice and immigration policies. …

Chapters include:
1. Auspicious Beginnings: “Just Like Selling Hamburgers,” CCA Opens First Detention Center in Houston, TX
2. A “Groundbreaking” Example of Prison Privatization: Squalor and Violence at Lake Erie Correctional Institution
3. Keeping Costs Low and Profits High Through Employee Mistreatment
4. A Disturbing Culture of Staff Misconduct
5. A Testament to Ineptitude: Escapes and Mistaken Releases
6. Riots Spiral Out Of Control
7. Denial and Death: Cutting Operational Costs Through Basic Medical Care
8. “Gold Star” Accreditation and “Impartial” Research
9. Tax Loopholes and Avoidance
10. UK Aspirations: Unlawful Death and a Violent Legacy
11. Fines, Failures and Scandal: Chased Out Of Australia
12. CCA Attempts Takeover of Entire Tennessee Prison System
13. Columbia Training Center Juvenile Abuse
14. 1990s REIT Disaster and Near Bankruptcy
15. CCA, A True Community Player
16. Oklahoma: Tulsa Takes Back Its County Jail
17. “Our Country Should Be Ashamed”: The Idaho ‘Gladiator School’
18. CCA Lobbies Against Transparency
19. CCA and ALEC’s Conservative Agenda
20. The Revolving Door: Insider Connections Win Big Contracts for CCA
21. CCA Helps Develop the Detention Business, Profits from Arizona’s Immigration Law SB1070
22. Family Detention and Sexual Abuse at Hutto
23. “It’s Been A Nightmare”: Violence and Death at Youngstown
24. Securing Beds in Colorado
25. Mismanagement and Violence at the Kit Carson Correctional Facility
26. The Death of Estelle Richardson
27. Paving the Schools-to-Prison Pipeline
28. Hawaii Women Removed from Otter Creek in Kentucky After Sexual Assaults
29. Murders at Arizona’s Saguaro Correctional Center
30. “No baby should be born in a toilet in prison”: Indifference Leads to Death at Dawson State Jail in Texas