Louisiana has saved more than $10 million in the first two years of a privatization contract for claims processing and loss prevention services for the Office of Risk Management, auditors told lawmakers Thursday …. Procopio said the two-year savings through June 30, 2012, were more than double the initial forecast of $4.8 million. … The contract was supposed to cost $68 million, but it was bumped up to $75 million in 2011.
The state corrections agency reversed course on a contract that provides medical care for inmates in state prisons. Legislators had complained when the state Department of Corrections chose a Texas firm to provide “telemedicine services” to replace LSU….Corrections Undersecretary Thomas Bickham said Monday that talks with LSU have resulted in LSU’s School of Medicine retaining the contract to provide services for prisoners in south Louisiana penal facilities. The Texas firm — U.S. Telehealth — will have the telemedicine pact for state prisons in north Louisiana, he said. Bickham said final negotiations are taking place on three, one-year, renewable contracts. He estimated total costs of contracts with LSU and U.S. Telehealth would run about $1.8 million annually.
La. lawmakers question hiring Texas firm for prisoner care
Source: Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press, June 23, 2013
Louisiana lawmakers are questioning a decison by the state Department of Corrections to hire a Texas company for telemedicine services for prisoners, rather than continuing to use the LSU health system. The change is set to take effect with the new fiscal year that begins July 1. It’s part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s push to privatize the university-run hospitals and clinics, which includes reworking the way prisoners receive health services that have been provided through LSU…. Louisiana lawmakers reviewing LSU hospital privatization deals said they were displeased that the state would contract with an out-of-state company rather than use its own university system for the services…
…According to information provided by the department, LSU proposed doing the work for $2.9 million a year, compared to $1.7 million for US Telehealth, which was the cheapest of the five bids submitted to the state. Three companies offered bids lower than LSU did, and the corrections department said the university system’s proposal didn’t include services for north and central Louisiana prisons….As part of the Jindal administration’s hospital privatization efforts, the corrections department will receive $50 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year to cover the costs of prisoner care, which had previously been paid through the LSU health care system….
..Murray said the corrections department should have returned to LSU to determine if the university system could match the price offered by US Telehealth. He said the loss of the contract will shrink funding for the medical schools, which he said likely will either ask lawmakers for more money to fill the gap or seek tuition increases on its students….
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.”…
The path is now clear for Jefferson’s public hospitals to be leased to one of three companies after the Parish Council removed a requirement that such a privatization be put to a vote of residents….
…The vote comes after years in which both East Jefferson General Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center have seen their financial fortunes decline. The institutions are now operating in the red or on razor-thin margins. That prompted the hospitals’ boards to consider a privatization effort aimed at shoring up the medical centers. But proponents of that measure said that deal would be quashed if they had to slug it out in a public vote in which competing health care companies could try to undermine the effort….
…The Legislature scrapped the state law requiring a public vote earlier this year, at the request of parish and hospital officials. That left only the parish ordinance as a hurdle in the privatization effort. Under the proposal approved by the council, the hospital boards will be able to come to agreements with a private company that would take over the hospitals. However, the outright sale of the hospitals would still require a proposition be put before the voters….
…The hospital boards are currently considering proposals from three companies: Oschner Health Systems, which owns a large number of hospitals in south Louisiana; Louisiana Children’s Medical Center, which owns Children’s Hospital in New Orleans and is partnered with the state to run the New Orleans public hospital; and HCA, which runs Tulane Medical Center….
From the press release:
A new, independent national study finds improvement in the overall performance of charter schools, driven in part by the presence of more high – performing charters and closure of underperforming charter schools.
The National Charter School Study 2013, released today by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University, is an update and expansion of CREDO’s 2009 landmark 16-state study, Multiple Choice, the first study to take a comprehensive look at the impact of charter schools on student performance. The 2009 study found a wide variance in quality among charter schools, with students in charter schools not faring as well in the aggregate as those attending traditional public schools.
The National Charter School Study 2013 looks at performance of students in charter schools in 26 states and New York City, which is treated separately as the city differs dramatically from the rest of the state. In those states (and New York City), charter school students now have greater learning gains in reading than their peers in traditional public s chools. Traditional public schools and charter schools have equivalent learning gains in mathematics….
New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux says the state Department of Education wasted nearly $33 million in taxpayer money by overpaying the company that is overseeing the city’s $1.8 billion school building master plan. Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard objected strongly to the findings, calling them “totally inaccurate.”
The funds come out of the FEMA settlement that allows the city to rebuild and renovate its devastated school buildings. Many campuses were dilapidated even before Hurricane Katrina and the city had too many seats for the student body, necessitating a complete overhaul.
Quatrevaux argued in a letter Thursday that the state should have reduced Jacobs/CSRS’ contract in line with reductions in the number and dollar amount of school building projects. However, state Superintendent John White and Jacobs/CSRS director John Wallace said in letters released earlier this month that the company got a flat fee, and there was no way to reduce the payments. …
…The 2007 contract called for Jacobs/CSRS to manage about $484 million in school building construction. But only 48 percent of those projects were completed. Therefore, the company should have received only 48 percent of its contract, Quatrevaux said. The figures are similar for the 2010 contract: Only about half of the estimated $983 million in projects got done. …
…In reality, trigger laws, which allow parents to intervene in a struggling school, are a lot more complicated and controversial. Versions of parent trigger laws have been proposed in at least 25 states and adopted by seven, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In real life, parent triggers have been attempted only a handful of times….Opponents say parent trigger laws are a veiled attempt to privatize schools and that they have caught on only because of the money being poured into groups like Parent Revolution, whose funders include the Walton Family Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (There really was a Hollywood movie, “Won’t Back Down,” produced by Walden Media, about two mothers, one a teacher, who join forces to save their failing school.) According to tax documents, Parent Revolution received $7.5 million from 2007 to 2011 to support its efforts….
…In addition to Parent Revolution, parent trigger laws have been promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit coalition promoting conservative principles that provides model legislation to its members. ALEC claims 2,000 state lawmakers among its membership.
In Florida, a parent trigger bill died in a dramatic tie vote in the state Senate on April 30, echoing the defeat of a similar bill last year also in the Senate. Proponents, including former Gov. Jeb Bush, argued the legislation would have empowered parents. Teachers unions and parents’ groups countered the measure was an attempt to privatize education by handing over schools to private charter school operators.
A parent trigger bill in Georgia sailed through the House this spring but was withdrawn in the Senate in March for lack of votes. Under the bill, parents or teachers could have petitioned to convert public schools into charter schools or to impose a turnaround model, such as removing school personnel or allowing parents to send their children to other public schools.
In Oklahoma, a parent trigger bill that would have allowed parents to convert an underperforming public school to a charter school or fire administrators cleared the Senate but not the House….
In Louisiana, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal in June signed into law what might be considered a reverse parent trigger bill, which will allow parents to shift control of a failing school from the state-run Recovery School District back to the local public school system. Louisiana’s original parent trigger law, approved by the legislature last year, allows parents to shift control of a failing school to the Recovery School District, which is run by the state’s Department of Education and helps manage chronically low-performing schools.
In California, the only state where parents have actually succeeded in activating the so-called trigger, the principal at Weigand Avenue Elementary School in Watts lost her job in May after parents petitioned to oust her. The California law allows parents to activate the trigger if a school has been subject to corrective action under No Child Left Behind for at least one academic year and scores below 800 on the state’s Academic Performance Index (on a scale of 200 to 1,000). The law also excludes the lowest-scoring 5 percent of school districts, which qualify for other turnaround strategies….
The privatization of Louisiana’s lines of insurance and loss prevention services, initiated in 2010, is on track to save the state millions of dollars over the next few years. But due to an increase in contract costs as well as a dependence on old data, the total savings could drop by as much as 30 percent under current estimates. The contract awarded to F.A. Richard & Associates has been projected by the Office of Risk Management to save the state $22 million by the time the pact ends in 2015, according to a report released by the state Legislative Auditor’s Office on Monday. But the audit is based on old numbers and dependent on an acceleration in savings in the last two years of the contract, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said.
The New Orleans Inspector General’s Office, in a joint effort with the FBI, exposed a group of New Orleans police officers getting paid to review photo citations off-the-clock. The New Orleans Inspector General, E.R. Quatrevaux, released a report detailing how New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Eighth District Commander Edwin Hosli formed a Limited Liability Company called Anytime Solutions, allegedly to conceal his role in the management of an off-duty detail reviewing traffic camera violation images. The Inspector General’s report notes it is against NOPD policy for an officer to form a company to manage a detail, and an ethics violation for a New Orleans employee to contract with the city. Anytime Solutions billed Affiliated Computer Services, the company originally tasked with reviewing red light footage, $9,075 for its “services,” with Hosli collecting $2,055 directly over a four-and-a-half-month period, according to TheNewspaper.com, an online driving-issues journal….
…The report states that in September 2010, Anytime Traffic Solutions, who had by then contracted Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) to handle red light camera violation tickets, began using “Hosli’s Detail Officers.” The report states Mendoza “admitted that he violated procedures by not notifying his superiors that he was expanding ACS’s contract. He also admitted that he again violated procedures by not bringing this to the attention of the City Council, for the purpose of expanding ACS’s contract.”
Louisiana: Cops Used Red Light Cameras For Personal Profit / Cops in New Orleans, Louisiana set up a company to earn extra personal cash from red light camera tickets
Source: TheNewspaper.com, June 17, 2013
…The unusual arrangement began with the city’s contract with Affiliated Computer Services (ACS, now Xerox) to collect parking tickets. In 2010, the red light camera vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) subcontracted photo ticket collections to ACS, a firm that would ordinarily would be considered a competitor since it also runs turnkey red light camera programs in other jurisdictions. Another unusual aspect of the program came about when then-Police Chief Warren Riley insisted no on-duty police officers could be spared to “review” the photo tickets generated by ATS and processed by ACS. As a result, ACS began using a off-duty officers who were paid to approve tickets as part of what became known as “Hosli’s detail officers.” Robert Mendoza, then the head of the city’s public works department, was responsible for setting up the deal….
Report of Inquiry into The selection of New Orleans Police Officer Edwin Hosli to Coordinate the Red Light Camera Detail
Source: Office of Inspector General, City of New Orleans, Final Report, June 14, 2013
The Investigations Division of the Office of Inspector General conducted an investigation into the facts surrounding how New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) 8th District Commander Edwin Hosli obtained the “Detail” to manage the review of traffic camera violation images, also known as the red light cameras. The investigation concluded that Commander Hosli formed a Limited Liability Company (LLC) called Anytime Solutions through which he managed the aforementioned Detail. This was in violation of NOPD policy. The investigation found that the former Director of Public Works, Robert Mendoza, violated City policy by improperly expanding the Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) contract. …
NOPD Chief Serpas did not help his pal Hosli get lucrative detail, inspector general finds
Source: Naomi Martin, Times-Picayune, June 14, 2013
…It was actually Lt. Joseph Valiente who helped get Hosli the job, according to the report. In August 2010, city Department of Public Works operations chief Zepporiah Edmonds approached Valiente, an acquaintance, and asked if he knew anyone who could manage the detail. Valiente suggested Hosli, who was then the commander of the 8th District, which patrols the French Quarter. Edmonds told investigators she picked Hosli based on that recommendation.
Aside from Hosli, only one other city employee was disciplined in the matter: then-Public Works Director Robert Mendoza. He was fired in August 2011.
Mendoza violated city policies by improperly expanding the contract of Affiliated Computer Services, the company that handles parking tickets and booting for the city. That company subcontracted with Hosli’s firm to process the city’s payments to him; an ACS manager is quoted in the report as saying that ACS served as a “pass through” for Hosli’s company to be reimbursed by the city indirectly.
Mendoza did not notify his superiors in the administration or the City Council about expanding the ACS contract to include the payments for off-duty cops, the report says.
…Last week, the Wisconsin legislature’s Joint Finance Committee approved new tax deductions for families that put their kids in private school as part of its 2013-2015 budget. The plan allows for families to deduct up to $4,000 for every student in kindergarten through eighth grade and up to $10,000 for every high school student. With nearly 100,000 Wisconsin students enrolled in private school, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the deductions are expected to cost the state $30 million annually. The plan must now be approved by both chambers and Gov. Scott Walker…..
…Wisconsin is the most recent state to propose tax deductions for families who send their children to private schools, but it isn’t the first. In 2011, North Carolina approved a more limited plan, which set aside a $6,000 annual deduction for parents of special needs students who move their child from a public to a private school. Earlier this year, Alabama lawmakers passed a new school choice law that included a provision allowing a $3,500 tax credit to help parents whose children attend failing public schools to transfer them to a private school.
According to the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education reform think tank, five other states, prior to 2013, offered tax deductions or credits for parents who enroll their children in private school: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana and Minnesota…