Tag Archives: Louisiana

Meet The Man Who Runs New Orleans’ Entirely Privatized (And Controversial) City Surveillance System

Source: Eric Markowitz, International Business Times, August 26, 2015

…The result is Project NOLA, perhaps the country’s first and most extensive private surveillance network, run, improbably, by one man and a ragtag group of volunteers. … This is how it works: New Orleans residents who have chosen to participate install a surveillance camera on their home or business. The cameras must face toward the street and broadcast a high-resolution feed. The videos feed directly to Project NOLA’s headquarters. Lagarde says that those who host a camera are also given the username and password, and can access the videos whenever they’d like. … This is where relations with the police department have gotten somewhat uncomfortable. Gamble, the police spokesman, says that while the police appreciate all the help they can get, Lagarde has overstepped on a number of occasions. … Gamble adds, “He’ll watch his video cameras and he’ll listen to feeds of the police scanners. And then he’ll call the command desk and get someone to try to give him information.” Gamble says Lagarde has even tried to re-route officers to a particular scene, and called schools to urge them to go into lockdown after something he saw on a video feed….


Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans? How a rich entrepreneur persuaded the city to let him create his own high-tech police force.
Source: David Amsden, New York Times magazine, July 30, 2015

…. In the United States, private police officers currently outnumber their publicly funded counterparts by a ratio of roughly three to one. Whereas in past decades the distinction was often clear — the rent-a-cop vs. the real cop — today the boundary between the two has become ‘‘messy and complex,’’ according to a study last year by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Torres’s task force is best understood in this context, one where the larger merging of private and public security has resulted in an extensive retooling of the nation’s policing as a whole. As municipal budgets have stagnated or plummeted, state and local governments have taken to outsourcing police work to the private sector, resulting in changes that have gone largely unnoticed by the public they’re tasked with protecting.

Mayor Landrieu to sign New Orleans ‘Living Wage’ law

Source: Richard Rainey, New Orleans Times-Picayune, August 17, 2015

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu plans to sign into a law a measure that requires large city contractors to pay their workers at least $10.55 an hour. Known as the ‘living wage’ ordinance, City Councilman Jared Brossett steered it to a unanimous vote from his colleagues earlier this month. The law applies to those companies that have public contracts worth $25,000 or more or that have received grants worth $100,000 or more in a year.


‘Living wage’ ordinance approved by New Orleans City Council to address worsening inequality
Source: Jeff Adelson, The New Orleans Advocate, August 7, 2015

City Council members unanimously approved a “living wage” ordinance for those workers on Thursday, couching the measure as a blow against inequality and a moral duty for the city to pay its residents a decent salary and to put employees performing public functions through private companies on a more equal footing with their government counterparts. … The ordinance requires companies with city contracts worth $25,000 or more to pay their workers at least $10.55 an hour and provide them with at least one week of paid leave each year. Companies that receive subsidies from the city — such as tax breaks, direct assistance or reduced rents — worth $100,000 or more in a 12-month period would face the same requirements and would also have to continue to pay that rate for 10 years from the date of the agreement or from their final payment by the city, whichever was later. …

UNO to outsource janitorial and grounds work, saving money but putting 80 jobs in jeopardy

Source: Richard Thompson, New Orleans Advocate, August 1, 2015

The University of New Orleans plans to outsource its building services work this fall, a cost-cutting measure that the cash-strapped Lakefront school expects will save more than $1 million in five years at the expense of nearly 80 workers whose jobs are thrown into question. … UNO spokesman Adam Norris said Wednesday that affected employees were notified about the possible change two weeks ago. The Building Services Department includes janitorial and grounds employees. Norris said 66 classified employees, those covered by Civil Service, and 10 unclassified employees will be affected. … UNO President Peter Fos eventually recommended eliminating six academic programs, one department and 22 faculty and staff positions in a push to save $1 million this academic year and $2.8 million next year. Since taking the helm in 2012, Fos has eliminated at least 140 positions.

No resolution on Medicaid privatization effort; Decision will wait for new governor

Source: Marsha Shuler, The New Orleans Advocate, August 6, 2015

The administration already has contracted with private managers to handle the medical and behavioral health components of the state’s $8 billion Medicaid program. The long-term care portion would have been the third and final installment of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s privatization of the government insurance program for the poor. Under privatized “managed care,” the idea is to provide needed services to people at the right time and in the most appropriate and generally less expensive setting. The state’s powerful nursing home industry sought to exempt itself. Advocates for the elderly and disabled wanted them included, hoping that dollars would be shifted to more home- and community-based services where there are long waiting lists. The industry’s objections had stalled release of a request for proposal that would seek a private company to manage care for some 72,000 people who are getting their care in either institutional or home-based settings.

Jindal administration privatizes family, medical leave program oversight across 9 agencies

Source: Associated Press, August 6, 2015

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is privatizing management of some state worker benefits, hiring a Chicago-based company to oversee family and medical leave programs across nine agencies. The administration announced Wednesday the hiring of ComPsych, for a one-year contract that will cost $497,000 and could be renewed for two additional years. … ComPsych will handle the programs for nine cabinet agencies, including the economic development, public safety, corrections, health, transportation, social services, juvenile justice and revenue departments and the Division of Administration.

Gov. Jindal record: 8,400 state employee layoffs

Source: Marsha Shuler, Advocate, June 10, 2015

More than 8,400 classified state employees have been laid off since Gov. Bobby Jindal took office, state Civil Service reported Wednesday. Jindal mainly shrunk the workforce through moving many traditional state government activities to the private sector. Most of the activity occurred in the prior two state fiscal years and were associated with LSU hospital public-private partnership deals.

Bill sent to Gov. Bobby Jindal would give legislators more say on contracts to privatize government services

Source: Mark Ballard, Advocate, June 9, 2015

With little discussion, the Louisiana House agreed Tuesday that legislators should have a greater say in the contracts the governor’s administration enter to privatize government services. ….. HB137 would require that agreements with the private sector — valued at more than $5 million — that would take over tasks being done by government would first have to go through the competitive bidding process; require the legislative auditor to analyze the costs, including the so-called “legacy” expenses, such as insurance and pensions of state employees; and require legislative oversight of the contract. The bill also would require the records related to the privatization contract be available under the state’s public records law.

Louisiana school voucher program before US appeals court

Source: Janet Mcconnaughey, Associated Press, Monday, June 1, 2015

A federal appeals court in New Orleans is set to hear arguments on whether the state must report to the U.S. government about schools and families in Louisiana’s program to provide some students with taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear an appeal by pro-voucher groups who say the Justice Department is trying to stifle the program. It provides tuition to some low- and moderate-income families whose children otherwise would go to low-performing public schools.
Teachers union loses first round of Louisiana charter school lawsuit
Source: Associated Press ∙ November 14, 2014

A state judge in Baton Rouge refused Friday to shut down the flow of money to 33 charter schools authorized by Louisiana’s education board. Judge Wilson Fields said the Louisiana Association of Educators failed to show it would be irreparably harmed because money from the public school financing formula was going to these schools. The union asserts that it was unconstitutional to use $60 million from the formula to pay for charter schools that operate outside of local public school systems.

Pro-voucher group seeks to undo order in La. case
Source: Kevin McGill, Associated Press, August 27, 2014

A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge’s order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state’s voucher program. …. A group of voucher families, represented by the conservative Goldwater Institute, say the ruling resulted from a Justice Department effort to “stifle” the voucher program. …

Pro-voucher group wants judge to back off order requiring state to report to federal officials
Source: Kevin McGill, Associated Press, May 5, 2014

Supporters of a private school tuition voucher program asked a federal judge Monday to cancel his April order requiring that Louisiana provide regular reports on the program to federal officials. U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle’s order requires that Louisiana provide federal officials with a variety of reports, including lists and information on voucher applicants and periodic reports on enrollment and racial breakdowns at state public schools.

Court: Louisiana must report voucher data
Source: Stephanie Simon, Politico, April 8, 2014

The Department of Justice has prevailed — at least in part — in a long-running and politically charged battle with Louisiana over the state’s private school voucher program. Starting this fall, Louisiana must provide the agency with timely information about the racial background of participating students each year so the Justice Department can monitor the program’s effect on school segregation, a federal judge ruled Tuesday night.

Gov. Jindal balks at Justice Dept.’s new plan for reviewing La. school voucher program
Source: Will Sentell, Advocate, November 20, 2013

The U.S. Department of Justice proposed a new plan to review Louisiana’s private-school voucher program, setting off a wave of claims and counterclaims Tuesday over what the shift in approach means. In court papers filed Nov. 15, the department said the proposed oversight would provide a “streamlined and orderly process” for the state without being unduly burdensome…. The governor’s comments were included in a news release issued Monday night. They pertain to an ongoing controversy between state and federal officials over vouchers, which are state aid for some low-income students attending troubled public schools to attend private and parochial schools. About 6,800 students in 125 schools get the aid this year. Earlier this year the Justice Department filed legal papers that said the vouchers risked upsetting federal desegregation orders….

Much Ado about Politics (and Much Ignored about Research Evidence): Analyzing the Voucher/Desegregation Dispute between Gov. Jindal and the US Department of Justice
Source: Kevin G. Welner, National Education Policy Center, NEPC Policy Memo, November 2013

From the abstract:
In this Policy Memo, Kevin Welner explains that Louisiana Gov. Jindal and other opponents either misunderstand or misrepresent the actions of the US Department of Justice, which is attempting to bring Louisiana’s voucher program within the scope of existing law and to avoid predictable harm to children that would occur if their racial isolation were increased. Research evidence does not support claims that vouchers advance educational or civil rights. The evidence does, however, establish that racial isolation is harmful to children and to society. Such racial isolation was not acceptable when Freedom of Choice plans were first proposed in the 1960’s, and it is no more acceptable today. Whereas the goal 45 years ago was to maintain segregation, the goal today is to forcefully push aside concerns about segregation. Neither goal is consistent with core American values.
See also:
Press Release

Vouchers on the Move: Return to School Segregation?

Source: Jonas Persson, PR Watch, April 28, 2015

Twenty-five years ago, Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson signed the nation’s first school voucher bill into law. Pitched as social mobility tickets for minority students, Wisconsin vouchers allow children to attend private, and sometimes religious, schools on the taxpayers’ dime. But as shown by the murky history of the voucher movement, and by the way voucher programs have developed in Wisconsin and other states, racial equity had nothing to do with it. It was a scheme cooked up out of an ideological disdain for public schools and teachers’ unions, and first used to actually preserve school segregation in the South. Today, vouchers bills are on the move in multiple states and on Capitol Hill. GOP presidential hopefuls, who want to boost their free market bona fides for a 2016 run, have been outbidding themselves in touting vouchers as educational panaceas that will not only help minority children close education gaps, but cut corporate and property taxes in the process…..

….Viewing the result of the 1978 ballot proposal as a partial success, ALEC would go on to inundate lawmakers with a massive nationwide push toward private school vouchers in 1981. A voucher bill was sent to “16,000 state and federal officials, including every state legislator in the country,” ALEC boasted in the November 1981 issue of the internal newsletter The State Factor. In a lengthy analysis of what the implications of school vouchers might be, ALEC admitted to a few disadvantages, such as ”flight of the middle-class from inner-cities to private schools, thereby causing segregation and racial tension.” But this, ALEC went on to argue, is more than made up for by the fact that vouchers are true to the principles of federalism by empowering individuals at the expense of government…..

Audit: Louisiana has long wait list for Medicaid community-based services

Source: Marsha Shuler, The Advocate, May 5, 2015

Louisiana’s elderly and developmentally disabled wait longer than people in other states to get community-based services through Medicaid, the legislative auditor reported Monday. As of October, the auditor said 54,677 people remained on lists for the various Medicaid programs with wait times ranging from 21/2 to 10 years. The national average for home and community-based programs serving the elderly and individuals with physical disabilities is 10 months to 13 months, the audit report said. … The Legislative Auditor’s report is designed to provide information on the current use, cost and quality of care in Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services in order to have a baseline for evaluation after privatization. …
Louisiana legislators want to see more information about Bayou Health
Source: Marsha Shuler and Mark Ballard, The Advocate, May 4, 2015

After three years in operation, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature effort to privatize Medicaid might be saving taxpayers millions of dollars and providing about 20 percent of the state’s population with better health care. Or it might not. …… Judging the success of the privatization initiative has proven complicated.

Nursing home industry’s resistance to privatization stalls bidding process to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Medicaid long-term care plan
Source: Marsha Shuler, The Advocate, April 22, 2015

Louisiana’s nursing home industry is trying to exempt itself from the final phase of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Medicaid privatization. The industry’s objection is stalling release of initial steps in the bidding process — called request for proposals or RFP — that would seek a private company to take over management of long-term care programs for the elderly and developmentally disabled. Under “managed care,” the idea is to provide needed services to people at the right time and in the most appropriate and generally less expensive setting. About 72,000 people considered elderly, developmentally disabled or disabled by an adult-onset condition are getting their care covered by Medicaid in either institutional or home-based settings. The price tag is $2.1 billion. The Jindal administration already has contracted with private managers to handle the medical and behavioral health components of the state’s $8 billion Medicaid program. The long-term care portion is the third and final installment….

Auditor questions data used in health department review of Medicaid privatization program
Source: Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press, August 18, 2014

An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal’s privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday. Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office raised questions about the report that Jindal’s Department of Health and Hospitals submitted to lawmakers in January. … The auditor’s non-partisan review said the report included “mathematical errors and inconsistencies” and used primarily self-reported data from the managed-care organizations that the department didn’t appear to verify.

Department of Health and Hospitals – Consideration of the Bayou Health Transparency Report
Source: Louisiana Legislative Auditor, Informational Audit, Audit Control #:80140104, August 13, 2014

Bayou Health faces changes, and queries from legislators
Source: Marsha Schuler, Advocate, July 8, 2014

The state’s Medicaid privatization initiative is approaching its third birthday and the Jindal administration claims it’s resulting in taxpayer savings. But the administration has been unable to provide the numbers that would compare the costs of traditional government-provided Medicaid versus the costs under the private healthcare model. It’s an elusive number because of the complexity of the program, state Department of Health and Hospitals Chief of Staff Calder Lynch said. But legislators have been asking for specific numbers as the first contracts are set to expire and as the administration contemplates changes in how health care services are provided to about 900,000 Louisiana residents — most of them pregnant women and children — for the next few years. … Legislators have received “no proof of savings” promised when the administration launched its privatization effort, agreed state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, who serves on appropriations and health care committees. …

La’s Medicaid privatization rollout rocky
Source: Associated Press, Posted Jan 16, 2012

Medicaid privatization firm selection challenged again
Source: Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune, August 23, 2011

Louisiana Medicaid makeover attracts 12 corporate applicants
Source: Jan Moller, Times-Picayune, June 30, 2011

Twelve companies have applied to participate in the state’s new “coordinated care networks” initiative, which will steer nearly 900,000 Medicaid recipients into private managed-care plans starting early next year.