Tag Archives: Maine

Oxford County Sheriff scraps coverage agreement with state police

Source: Peter L. McGuire, Sun Journal, November 20, 2013

The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office is abandoning its longtime call-sharing agreement with Maine State Police and taking primary responsibility for law enforcement response in the county.
Oxford County Sheriff’s Office. According to Sheriff Wayne Gallant, the agreement established a decade ago “doesn’t seem to work well” and leaves gaps in coverage. … Residents regularly contact the Sheriff’s Office to complain that officers either did not respond to a call or were hours late, Gallant told commissioners. He admitted sheriff’s deputies were also responsible for coverage shortfalls. County residents are also discouraged when they call the county’s dispatch center in South Paris for police service and are transferred to the state police barracks in Gray because a trooper has responsibility for the zone, he said. With the new arrangement, the Sheriff’s Office will take over primary coverage for the entire county. Calls for police service and 911 calls to the Oxford County Regional Communications Center in South Paris will be automatically directed to deputies. If residents want to have a trooper respond, they will still be able to call the state police in Gray directly, he added. …

Surry bus driver accused of putting Hello Kitty duct tape on students’ mouths

Source: Nell Gluckman, Bangor Daily News, November 14, 2013

A bus driver will no longer be transporting students to and from Surry Elementary School after she was accused of putting Hello Kitty duct tape on students’ mouths. Surry Elementary School principal Cathy Lewis said she became aware of the issue on Nov. 6 when two fourth graders came off the bus complaining that they were silenced with duct tape even though they weren’t the loudest students on the bus. Lewis said she was shocked and immediately asked the bus company, First Student, that employs the driver, to investigate…. On the afternoon that Lewis became aware of the alleged duct taping, she rode home on the bus with the students because First Student did not have a replacement driver available. The driver was replaced the next day. …

Scarborough school custodians fight to keep jobs

Source: Kelley Bouchard, pressherald.com, October 8, 2013

Scarborough school custodians have started a campaign to keep their jobs in the face of a year-long effort by the superintendent and the school board to outsource cleaning duties to a private company… The proposal, which stalled recently in protracted negotiations, would cut $250,000 to $350,000 from the district’s $1.2 million annual cleaning bill, school officials said Monday. Custodians and other members of the Scarborough Education Association said the savings could come at the cost of having unsafe, dirty schools….

…The proposal, which stalled recently in protracted negotiations, would cut $250,000 to $350,000 from the district’s $1.2 million annual cleaning bill, school officials said Monday. Custodians and other members of the Scarborough Education Association said the savings could come at the cost of having unsafe, dirty schools….

…The district sought proposals from private cleaning companies last year and received three qualified bids that offered savings of $259,000 to $356,00 per year, Entwistle said. The companies were UGL, a national company with 65 employees in Maine; BSC Cleaning Services of South Portland; and Benchmark Cleaning of Portland….

Scarborough explores outsourcing of school custodial services
Source: Duke Harrington, Current, March 28, 2012

>As it heads into what town officials concede will be a tough budget year, the Scarborough School Department is looking to save money by outsourcing custodial services at its six buildings – a move the local union promises to oppose. On March 13, the department issued a request seeking cleaning companies capable of taking on the 612,631 square feet of space now maintained by an in-house staff of 30, a little more than half of whom are full-time employees….According to Facilities Director Todd Jepson, three firms – BSC Cleaning and UGL-Unicco, both of South Portland, and Benchmark Cleaning Services of Portland – met the March 26 deadline to submit evidence they can handle the job….According to Jepson, the district feels a private contractor may be able to find efficiencies in hourly labor, in part because most cleaning companies train employees to specialize in specific tasks, while school custodians do a little bit of everything within an assigned area. At the very least, Jepson said, outside workers may not get health and retirement benefits as generous as what the school pays, if they get any at all, which would mean a bottom-line savings for taxpayers.
Related:
Scarborough school custodian deal headed to mediation
Source: Duke Harrington, Current, March 27, 2013

Plans to outsource janitorial work at Scarborough schools have sent contract negotiations to state mediation.

Access Restored for Food Stamp Users, Xerox Says

Source: Associated Press, October 12, 2013

People in Ohio, Michigan and 15 other states found themselves temporarily unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards on Saturday, after a routine test of backup systems by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure. Xerox announced late in the evening that access has been restored for users in the 17 states affected by the outage, hours after the first problems were reported….Earlier Saturday shoppers left carts of groceries behind at a packed Market Basket grocery store in Biddeford, Maine, because they couldn’t get their benefits, said shopper Barbara Colman, of Saco, Maine. The manager put up a sign saying the EBT system was not in use. Colman, who receives the benefits, called an 800 telephone line for the program and it said the system was down due to maintenance, she said. … Wasmer said the states affected by the temporary outage also included Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Ohio’s cash and food assistance card payment systems went down at 11 a.m., said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Johnson said Xerox asked retailers to revert to a manual system, meaning customers could spend up to $50 until the system was restored. …

Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets

Source: In the Public Interest, September 2012

From the press release:
For years, corporations have joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for the opportunity to develop legislation that diverts public dollars into their corporate coffers. A new report by In the Public Interest, “Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets,” exposes ALEC’s extensive privatization agenda. The report details how private prison corporations, online education companies, health care corporations, and major industry players pay large membership fees to ALEC in exchange for valuable and unfettered access to state legislators. Corporations are able to work with ALEC lawmakers to craft bills that allow private control of public functions, and guarantee a steady stream of tax dollars to enhance profits.

Corporate and legislative ALEC members work together to jointly develop pro-privatization model bills, and then legislators introduce and push these bills in their state legislatures. These bills make it easier to create virtual public schools, encourage states to privatize vital health programs that help vulnerable populations, force state governments to sell public prisons to prison corporations, and help other industries take control of public assets and services.

In 2011 and 2012, ALEC model bills that sought to privatize core public functions were introduced in states across the country, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Many ALEC bills fail their first time, but examples of success expose their real goal: enhancing corporate pocketbooks with lucrative government contracts.

Lubec may be without routine police coverage for more than a year

Source: Tom Walsh, Bangor Daily News, June 14, 2012

This remote Washington County coastal community may go more than a year without routine law enforcement services after a long-standing contract that now provides police protection through the Washington County Sheriff’s Department runs out in 15 days.

Lubec, which has a population of 1,300, has no police department. For the past eight years, law enforcement needs here have been met under a contract with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. That contract ends June 30 and won’t be renewed.

Due to manpower shortages within his own department, Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith has pulled the plug on renewing the agreement. The police protection contract provides Lubec with an 86-hours-a-week, two-officer patrol system at a cost of $181,358 a year, the equivalent of $500 a day.

Service Charities Seek Ways to Help Their Lowest-Paid Employees Get By

Source: Nicole Wallace, Chronicle of Philanthropy, April 29, 2012

Across the country tens of thousands of nursing assistants, child-care employees, home-health aides, group-home employees, people who work at after-school programs, and others provide vital services at health-care and human-services charities. The work is physically and emotionally taxing, yet because wages are so low, these employees face many of the same financial challenges as the people they serve.

Nonprofit employers say they want to pay frontline workers more but can’t because of low government-reimbursement rates and the challenge of raising money from donors to improve wages….Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans employs more than 160 personal-care attendants who provide services that allow people with intellectual disabilities to live on their own. The average wage for those positions is $8.70 an hour.

In 2006, Louisiana increased its Medicaid reimbursement rate to $16 an hour, which allowed the charity to increase wages to their current rate, says Jim LeBlanc, head of Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans. But the state has since lowered the rate to $14.68.

In addition to covering the attendants’ wages, the charity uses the reimbursement to pay for workers’ compensation and liability insurance, supervisors to oversee the attendants, and other program costs.

Workers do not currently receive health insurance, but Mr. LeBlanc is already anticipating that the charity may have to provide it in 2014 under the new federal health-care law….

The Other Debt Crisis – Public universities will take on more debt as states decrease spending on capital projects

Source: Kevin Kiley, Inside Higher Ed, April 10, 2012

…For institutions that can take on more debt — those that have low debt loads or are growing enrollments and revenues, typically flagship universities — the financing change will have little impact on their bottom lines. They might have less money to spend on other priorities, but most expect revenues to keep pace with the amount of debt they’re assuming.

But other public institutions aren’t so lucky. Many can’t issue cheap debt, either because they’ve run up against statutory limits or because their internal finances won’t let them….

…Other institutions have tried to find ways to continue to grow and pay for renovations without taking on as much debt. The most prominent avenue for this has been to strike public-private partnerships, whereby private developers get the capital to construct facilities and then universities strike long-term leases to occupy the space. It also allows for alternative uses of space, such as for-profit ventures, that might be prohibited under tax-exempt bond funding.

According to a 2010 report, the University of California has about 60 such partnerships….The University of Maine system’s Board of Regents recently asked system administrators to give board members an accounting of the space that could be removed either through sale or demolition, and the space that will become available soon.

Prison Health Care Contractor Under Scrutiny

Source: A.J. Higgins, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, January 6, 2012

The president of the Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said a state agency review of a company that provides medical services to Maine prison inmates documented problems that rise to “a systemic constitutional dimension.”…Last year’s review of the state’s contract with Corizon produced some of the most dramatic findings ever identified by the agency. The company that oversees the delivery of medical services at most Maine prison facilities was found to have failed to adequately fulfill many of its contractual obligations. The report concluded that 50% of Corizon’s medication records were in error and that records could not even be found for nearly 10% of the prisoners treated. Staff training was insufficient according to the OPEGA report which said many of the prisoners never received their annual physical exams. Now, after an eight-year relationship with the state, Corizon’s $12 million annual contract may be in jeopardy and for the first time, the company will have to compete with other firms for the state’s business.
See also:
Health Care Services in State Correctional Facilities – Weaknesses Exist in MDOC’s Monitoring of Contractor Compliance and Performance; New Administration is Undertaking Systemic Changes
Source: Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability
of the Maine State Legislature, Final Report, Report No. SR-MEDSERV-09, November 2011

Brewer hires cleaning company to replace school custodians

Source: Nok-Noi Ricker, Bangor Daily News, April 04, 2011

The issue was the last item on the school board agenda and no public comments were made before the panel voted unanimously to hire ServiceMaster to clean the new 156,000-square-foot, two-story Brewer Community School, a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school that will open in the fall.

The cleaning contract eliminates the need for six of the school department’s 12 custodians and will save around $100,000 annually, Superintendent Daniel Lee told the group of around 50 at the meeting before the vote.