Planters, famous for their peanuts and other snacks, has announced a plan to transform unused land in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco into “natural, green spaces” called Planters Groves. Interestingly, leading landscape architect Ken Smith, ASLA, has signed on to design these peanut-shaped urban parks made of reclaimed materials and featuring native trees and “plants from the legume family.” Each park will be designed to blend with the local feel of the city, but will include a well-positioned Mr. Peanut statue on a peanut bench (no joke).
BATON ROUGE — Central Louisiana lawmakers are questioning the wisdom of transferring state corrections facilities to parish sheriffs’ offices and selling some to private companies that would then be paid to house state inmates. In announcing state plans to transfer two state prison operations to the sheriffs in Rapides and Avoyelles parishes, in addition to selling the Avoyelles, Allen and Winn correctional centers, Corrections Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc said the state’s financial problems are driving the actions….
State Reps. Robert Johnson, D-Marksville, and Chris Roy, D-Alexandria, and state Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, said they have received numerous calls from constituents — many of them prison employees — concerned about the future of the facilities. Their main complaints are that they were not informed about the plans, they have seen nothing to prove that the state would save money and that employees could lose their jobs or have salaries cut…
…When told that Wagner didn’t want to take over the Dabadie Correctional Center, Roy said, “I’m glad to see Charles smoked that out. It’s like ‘Let me sell you my house so I can rent it from you.'” Le Blanc said that if sheriffs would run the facilities, the state could save millions of dollars. It costs the state $48.94 per day to care for a prisoner, but the state pays sheriffs $28 a day. Johnson said that at that amount, state employees would either be out of a job or see pay cuts. “No one goes to work for a prison for a low salary because of the risk involved,” he said. He said he expects that a private provider would want more because it has to make a profit. “The state doesn’t have to make a profit. It just has to break even.”…
Despite criticism from legislators, Gov. Bobby Jindal said he is moving forward with the possibility of selling state prisons in Allen and Winn parishes. The governor said he also is pursuing the privatization of a state employee health plan to create cash in what is expected to be a financially tight budget year. Jindal said he is having “good conversations” about the ideas, which he first floated last month as a way to resolve a $1.6 billion state budget shortfall. He estimates the prison sales and the health plan privatization would generate $160 million…
…Jindal also suggested selling surplus state land, selling investors a portion of the growth in lottery proceeds and selling state buildings and leasing them back. He said the ideas — coupled with the sale of prisons and the health plan privatization — would whittle away more than half of the shortfall expected in the fiscal year that starts July 1. The question is whether he will propose any or all of them….
Source: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (LA), OCTOBER 15, 2010
BATON ROUGE — The state Department of Corrections is contemplating the sale of prisons and the closure of an inmate isolation unit to cut costs during difficult budget times.
….. In the past week, the agency, which operates the state’s prisons, made $1.2 million by selling a piece of property that was used to distribute newborn cattle. Also for sale: 2,000 acres on the Mississippi River near Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel.
Inside Outsourcing: A Year in the Life of City Contracting
Source: Bureau of Governmental Research, November 2010
From the press release:
Previous investigations by government agencies have focused on specific
contracts or types of contracts. However, BGR’s 822-contract review takes
a broader look at contracting issues. Among BGR’s key findings:
– The City evaded its competitive selection process through excessive
expansions of some contracts. Examples included technology and financial advisory contract amendments that led to significant growth in scope from the original contracts.
– The City misclassified certain nonprofessional services as professional services, improperly placing them in a selection process with greater discretion in choosing the winning proposal. One example was a contract to operate the City’s ill-fated 311 call center.
– The City contracted heavily for basic functions that it could have handled more efficiently in-house. The City essentially outsourced its technology department and some of its most basic accounting activities.
– Utility regulation contracting has strikingly high costs compared to those for regulating the rest of Louisiana.
– The City wasted taxpayer money on contracts that failed to deliver the promised results. The City spent tens of millions of dollars on information technology services, yet its systems continue to suffer from a lack of integration and functionality.
– The City wasted money on contracts for projects that never came to fruition, such as contracts to design buildings that the City won’t build and to create a website that the public can’t access.
– The City spent taxpayer money on legal and technical contracts that would have been unnecessary if the City had managed its public records responsibly. In a series of public records disputes, the City incurred costs totaling approximately $330,000.
– Despite its crushing fiscal situation, the City directed flexible CDBG funds to privately owned developments when it could have used the money to cover unmet public sector needs in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Specifically, the City spent $3.5 million to buy property for two private projects.
– The City failed to impose reasonable caps on contracts to provide federally-funded home elevation grants, leading to absurdly disproportionate grant awards. The largest grants to elevate homes exceeded, by large amounts in some cases, the appraised value of the properties as recorded on the 2010 tax rolls. The awards also exceeded the pre-Katrina values of those properties. One property, valued at just above $200,000 in 2010, received a grant award of more than $600,000.
Soruce: Kathleen Hickey, Federal Computer Week (LA), Sep 01, 2010
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s technology outsourcing cost the city an unnecessary $1 million more than if the work had been done in-house, according to a new report from Ed Quatrevaux, the city’s inspector general.
The report, issued Aug. 30th, found the city’s contract with Telecommunications Development Corp. wasted more than $750,000 in an eight-month period from salaries alone.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plans to hire outside contractors to run some of the state’s inpatient psychiatric treatment facilities would face stumbling blocks, if lawmakers agree to a proposal backed Wednesday by a House committee. The bill would give lawmakers the ability to review — and reject — any privatization contracts involving the state’s mental hospitals, including two the Jindal administration proposes to privatize in the upcoming budget year that begins July 1. …
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
Source:By Robert Travis Scott, Times Picayune (LA), Tuesday, May 05, 2009
…… Another amendment that would let the state contract with
a collection agency on a contingency basis would likely increase tax
collections under the amnesty program well beyond the expense of hiring the
outside firm, revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges said.
A private firm would make
more contacts with taxpayers by letter and phone than the agency would be able
to handle, Bridges said. Similar amnesty programs in Indiana
collected about four times the amount originally targeted by using outside management
firms, she said.
Source: By SARAH CHACKO, Advocate (LA), May 23, 2008
Legislation that would have allowed the state to privatize a facility for certain mental health patients failed to get approval from a House committee Thursday.
Contamination, riots, rate increases, scandals. From Atlanta to Manila, cities are confronting the true cost of water privatization.