Tag Archives: Maryland

Costly contract requirement scrapped for sole bidder of Alabama’s $224 million inmate health care contract

Source: Casey Toner, AL.com, September 7, 2014

A competitor for Alabama’s $224 million inmate health care contract claimed in a letter critical of the process that a costly stipulation helped push the firm out of the bidding race. The Alabama Department of Corrections required that the winning vendor had to buy a $5 million performance bond in order to get the contract. But when the deal was signed two years ago, the Alabama Department of Corrections scrapped the requirement altogether. Private prison health care firm Corizon was then awarded the 34-month contract after it submitted the only bid for the work. AL.com is examining the health contract in light of a lawsuit the Southern Poverty Law Center filed against the state. The suit, which is pending before a federal judge, alleges that inadequate healthcare was provided to the state’s 25,000 inmates. Corizon has hired powerful lobbying firm Maynard Cooper & Gale to fight the lawsuit on behalf of Alabama. Two lobbyists at the firm, a fundraiser for Gov. Robert Bentley and Bentley’s former special counsel, have represented Corizon in 2012, and 2013 and 2014, respectively

Parent company of Alabama prisons’ health care provider ‘speculative’ investment, investor service says
Source: Casey Toner, AL.com, July 30, 2014

The firm that owns the company the Alabama Department of Corrections hired to supply health care to its 25,000 inmates was labeled “speculative” and given a negative rating outlook last year by Moody’s Investor Service. A Moody’s report from September 2013 says that Valitas Health Services, the owner of ADOC health care supplier Corizon, faces “earnings pressure” following prison contract losses in Maine, Maryland, Tennessee (excluding mental health), and Pennsylvania. It says Valitas’ financial obligations are “subject to high credit risk.” The report calls Valitas the largest provider of prison health care and offers some hope for the firm’s future. “Recent business wins” are expected to inject money into the company in 2014, according to the report. However, Moody’s estimates that Valitas’ “competitive environment will remain challenging,” and the company’s “liquidity profile will remain weak.”…

….Previously, AL.com reported that two firms hiring the husband of the ADOC’s top healthcare official were hired by Corizon to X-ray Alabama’s inmates. State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said he planned to meet with ADOC officials amid questions he had about the relationship and a lawsuit the Southern Poverty Law Center filed against the ADOC and others alleging inadequate health care for inmates…. Beecken Petty O’Keefe & Company, a Chicago based private equity management firm, owns a majority of Valitas, a private company. Valitas reported revenue of about $1.2 billion for the year ending on June 30, 2013…..

Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks among new UMES food brands

Source: Deborah Gates, DelmarvaNow, August 26, 2014

Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks are among the dining opportunities this academic year at UMES as the campus welcomes its first national fast-food chains. The eateries are part of a major makeover and expansion of food services at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and also their debut in Somerset County.
A centerpiece of the makeover is the student dining center in the Student Services Center, where new private food services operator Thompson Hospitality Inc. of Reston, Virginia, promises more entree selections, vegetarian and vegan items, and soup, pizza and salad stations, along with deli and grilled food choices…. A recent effort to reach Thompson for a comment regarding jobs and the placement of former UMES food services workers was unsuccessful….
UMES to outsource dining services
Source: Deborah Gates, Delmarva Now, April 9, 2014

University of Maryland Eastern Shore has announced plans to outsource campus dining services over the protest of workers who fear the loss of dozens of jobs. ….. For the up to 80 dining services employees who would have to re-apply for their jobs, the outsourcing could mean unemployment or at best, a hefty reduction in their per-hour average pay of about $11, according to the union representing some of the workers, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. …According to a request for proposals issued by UMES last fall, the contractor would have exclusive rights to provide dining services for students, faculty and staff, cash facilities and concessions. The contract would include operations of the Plateau main dining room, Oasis faculty and guest dining room, the Hawk’s Nest snack bar and the Cafe Grande coffee shop and cyber cafe. In the 2012-2013 academic year, total cash sales alone in dining services were just more than $1 million. The university justified withholding the name of the recommended vendor by saying state policy precludes disclosure until the proposal is vetted by the University System of Maryland and other state agencies….

UMES to Outsource Dining Services in Somerset Co.
Source: Mikea Turner, WBOC, April 9, 2014

…The college has run its own food services for nearly 20 years. It is one of three institutions that operate that way. Nine of 12 University System of Maryland institutions contract their campus food services with a commercial provider. UMES will soon do the same….

UMES Opts To Privatize Dining Services, Dozens Of Jobs At Risk
Source: Jemie Lee, WMDT, April 9, 2014

…The contract with the commercial company still needs to be approved at the state level. Once it goes through, the company is supposed to match the salary levels that were current at the time of the bid, if any of the current workers are hired. But union reps from The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees say the move forces workers below the poverty line….

Donald Cohen’s Opinion: Outsourcing control at UMES is bad for taxpayers
Source: Donald Cohen, Delmarvanow.com, February 21, 2014

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore proposal to outsource food service jobs at a rate of $8.50 an hour, below both the poverty level and the proposed Maryland minimum wage, isn’t just pennywise and pound foolish. It’s been tried before and resulted in disaster. …. In the Public Interest is supporting four Maryland bills to reign in predatory contracting of government services. These proposals will help Maryland taxpayers reclaim control of their services, and make sure that their tax dollars are spent wisely, rather than used to line money pits created by for-profit contractors. It is a commonsense agenda.

Bell to meet with food workers / Outsourcing of operation looms
Source: Deborah Gates, delmarvanow.com, December 10, 2013

UMES President Juliette Bell plans to meet with members of the union for workers in food services to discuss campus jobs threatened as the university weighs whether to outsource the operation. … UMES food services workers and union members protested the university’s “exploratory” request for bidders to run the operation, citing up to 70 full- and part-time jobs at stake as well as the unit’s profitability. About a dozen full-time UMES workers in the operation are AFSCME members and have state benefits. … The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is among three campuses in the University System of Maryland with an in-house food services operation. The others are Salisbury University and the system’s flagship University of Maryland. …

Union Calls For UMES To Rethink Slashing Dining Service
Source: Kelly Rule, WMDT, December 3, 2013

The decision on whether or not the University of Maryland Eastern Shore will use a private contractor for food services may be far off. Members of their employee’s union, AFSCME Maryland, have asked President Bell to take six months to consider the option…

UMES extends RFP deadline for food services operation
Source: Deborah Gates, delmarvanow.com, November 18, 2013

UMES Food Services workers apparently will learn their employment fate during the Christmas holidays or later. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore on Monday announced it had extended the deadline for private vendors to submit a bid to run the operations. Dec. 2 is the new deadline to submit proposals, pushing back the Nov. 18 deadline and a decision by UMES whether to contract out food services or continue to keep the operations in-house. An estimated 70 full- and part-time jobs are expected to be impacted by the decision. UMES officials have stipulated that a winning contractor must allow current food services workers to apply for a job. Also, the contractor would be “obligated contractually” to pay food services workers at UMES a minimum of $8.50 per hour during the first year of the contract. In the second year, workers would earn a minimum of $9 per hour. ….

UMES employees lobby to save food-service jobs / Effort made to stave off impact of food-service cut
Source: Deborah Gates, delmarvanow.com, October 11, 2013

A group of employees are collecting student signatures and contacting elected officials for support to keep UMES food services operations in-house — and the employees with university jobs. Over the last week, food service workers who are union members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees collected over 600 petition signatures from mostly students at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The petition calls for “no layoffs” among the estimated 80 food service workers whose jobs would be on the line if the operation is contracted out to a private vendor. A group of employees are collecting student signatures and contacting elected officials for support to keep UMES food services operations in-house — and the employees with university jobs. Over the last week, food service workers who are union members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees collected over 600 petition signatures from mostly students at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The petition calls for “no layoffs” among the estimated 80 food service workers whose jobs would be on the line if the operation is contracted out to a private vendor….

The ‘P3’ dilemma: States learn partnerships come with hazards

Source: Len Boselovic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 13, 2014
(part 4 of 4 part series)

Many government officials see public-private partnerships as a convenient solution to their infrastructure woes. Enlisting investors and private sector know-how gets roads, bridges and other projects built long before government could do the work on its own. And it comes without career-jeopardizing tax increases, and sometimes with deal-sweetening upfront payments. “It’s such an easy sell to politicians, which is why we have such a hard time stopping it,” said Terri Hall, founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, a citizens group fighting toll roads being built and operated by private investors in that state. One need look no farther than the federal highway trust fund, recently rescued from the brink of insolvency by a stopgap funding measure approved by Congress, to appreciate the lack of political will to do something about America’s deteriorating infrastructure. But states using public-private partnerships, or P3s, are discovering that what sounds like a straightforward, efficient process can be fraught with hazards. Those include negotiating an agreement that protects the public interest and monitoring that agreement over the decadeslong life of the project. Federal financing for many projects sparks concerns that taxpayers may be left on the hook. More importantly, critics question the fundamental premise of P3s: that they cost less. They say if P3s save one part of government money, there are costs incurred elsewhere.

Bridge initiative promises savings and efficiency
Source: Len Boselovic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 12, 2014
(part 3 of 4 part series)

Pennsylvania has ambitious plans to use a public-private partnership to erase its dubious distinction of having more structurally deficient bridges than any other state in the nation. Before the end of the year, state Department of Transportation officials are expected to select from one of four interested consortiums to design, build and finance about 600 of the nearly 4,200 state-owned bridges in dire need of replacement. More than 100 bridges in Allegheny County and the rest of Western Pennsylvania are being considered for the project. Construction of 50 to 100 of the bridges is slated to begin next year. At the end of the contract, which is expected to last 25 to 35 years, the private investors will turn over the bridges to PennDOT. The investors will be penalized if the bridges aren’t in good condition….

The’P3′ dilemma: Partnerships often fall short of taxpayers’ expectations
Source: Len Boselovic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 11, 2014
(part 2 of 4 part series)

When public-private partnerships work well, they are a boon to government and investors. They deliver much needed infrastructure years sooner and at a more affordable price. However, they frequently don’t live up to expectations. The result: citizen outrage over rapidly escalating user fees; unanticipated costs; a lack of transparency; and risks to taxpayers from the billions of dollars of federally guaranteed loans financing the projects. A prime example of the potential that so-called P3s offer can be found in Baltimore, one of the nation’s busiest ports. …

The ‘P3’ dilemma: How effective are public-private partnerships?
Source: Len Boselovic, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, August 10, 2014
(part 1 of 4 part series)

Cash-strapped governments around the country that are reluctant to raise taxes are increasingly plunging forward with bold experiments: enlisting investment banks, pension funds and other eager investors to fund billions of dollars of highway, bridge and other infrastructure projects…. Over the next four days, The Post-Gazette will examine why states are pursuing public-private partnerships, what kinds of projects they are undertaking, the private sector players involved, and whether the partnerships are living up to their potential. …

Commentary: Selling city parking garages makes sense/ Baltimore’s proposal to unload four parking garages will allow investments in higher prioritiesEditorial – Baltimore’s parking economics

Source: Leonard Gilroy – Reason Foundation and Christopher Summers – Maryland Public Policy Institute, Baltimore Sun, August 11, 2014

Running parking garages is not a core function of government, so Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s plan to sell off city-owned garages would be an encouraging step toward shedding non-essential city assets and investing in more important priorities for the city’s residents and long-term fiscal health.
The mayor proposes selling four downtown city-owned garages to generate between $40 million to $60 million in net proceeds (after paying off $24 million in garage debt) that would be used to make improvements to city recreation centers. Many privately owned garages and lots already serve the downtown area, and there’s no reason the city should be trying to compete with them. The mayor’s plan would not see the city exit the garage business entirely, but it’s at least a promising start….
Editorial – Baltimore’s parking economics
Source: Baltimore Sun, July 29, 2014

Our view: The mayor’s proposal to sell garages to fund new rec centers is an appealing idea — provided it really generates the kind of windfall she’s advertising. … What Mayor Rawlings-Blake is proposing is quite different. For starters, it amounts to swapping one city-owned asset for which there is a viable private market, parking garages, for another asset for which the private sector is not well suited, recreation centers. (The Rawlings-Blake administration, during recession-induced rounds of budget cutting, touted privatization as an answer for the city’s aging recreation facilities as well, but the feasibility of such a scheme has proved limited.) The city envisions a deal that would net as much as $60 million in profit and would retire the $24 million in debt owed on those four facilities, which would itself free up money for maintenance on other garages or construction of new parking in other neighborhoods. As for the fact that the city would be giving up revenue-producing assets, the finance department estimates the loss would net out to about $728,000 a year after factoring in reduced maintenance costs and the return of the garages to the property tax rolls. …. But therein also lies a potential pitfall for the proposal. If the market limits the possibility of rate increases, and the garages are already well run, as the city insists, why would private operators pay anything like the $84 million the city expects them to fetch? The four garages currently generate a profit, though city officials could not immediately say how much. Would such a deal to pay off for investors without a fundamental change in the garages’ economics? They are already privately operated and have already made the shift from cashiers to automated payment technology, which means a new owner would not be taking over for some bloated government bureaucracy. A private owner would not be able to finance capital improvements through tax-exempt bonds, as the city can, meaning long-term maintenance costs could be higher. And a private entity would have to pay property tax, which the city does not. …

Baltimore mayor wants to sell garages for revenue
Source: WBALTV.com, July 28, 2014

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to announce a proposal to sell four city-owned parking garages to generate cash for urgent priorities and infrastructure. The mayor’s office said Rawlings-Blake will announce her plans Monday to introduce new legislation to sell the parking garages to generate $40 million to $60 million. The proceeds would be used for urgent priorities, such as eliminating blight, without adding to the city’s debt….

Maryland VA looks to private docs to speed up care

Source: John Fritze and Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun, July 28, 2014

The medical system charged with caring for Maryland’s veterans is seeking help from private physicians in the Baltimore region to address a primary-care backlog that has become one of the worst in the nation, federal officials said Monday. With Central Maryland’s veterans waiting months to schedule an initial visit with a primary-care doctor, the Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System is hoping to tap into whatever reserve capacity is available in the area’s extensive network of private clinics, according to a formal solicitation. While the agency’s move is unusual, it comes as lawmakers in Congress unveiled a bipartisan agreement Monday to spend $10 billion to expand access to medical care outside the traditional VA system for veterans who live more than 40 miles from a medical center or face long wait times….

A RAD-ical Housing Experiment Baltimore public housing tenants will serve as guinea pigs for a new national privatization plan

Source: Rebecca Burns, In These Times, July 30, 2014

With little information on offer, many residents fear that new building owners will usher in harsh regulations, infringements on their organizing rights, and, ultimately, rent increases that they can’t afford. After decades of decay, public housing in the United States could soon be relegated to the dustbin of history, thanks to a new Obama administration initiative called the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. A pilot launched last year in response to a $26 billion backlog in needed repairs, RAD will hand over 60,000 units of public housing nationwide to private management by 2015. … Though public housing residents have been assured that RAD will fund long-overdue repairs while keeping housing affordable and preserving tenants’ rights, similar promises have been broken by would-be free-market saviors before. Critics say RAD shares key features with past privatization initiatives that have displaced hundreds of thousands of public-housing residents. In the last decade and a half alone, more than 100,000 units of public housing have been lost to demolition or sale. The first round of RAD is a pilot that allows for the conversion of only a limited number of units. But with HUD already seeking Congressional approval of further conversions, tenants are scrambling to determine the scope of RAD and stem the tide of privatization in their communities. The city of Baltimore, where more than 40 percent of public housing units are slated to undergo conversion within the next year, is shaping up to be the first major RAD battleground. On June 12, about 60 public housing residents and building workers rallied in front of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) to protest what they say has been a lack of transparency. Chanting “housing is a human right” and “rethink RAD,” residents demanded a voice in the process. …

Morgan State dining contract upsets Franchot

Source: Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, marylandreporter.com, May 15, 2014

Comptroller Peter Franchot turned up the heat on Morgan State University officials at the Board of Public Works Meeting Wednesday, accusing them of selecting their dining services contractor with a biased eye. … Morgan State turned down bids from Metz Culinary Management and Sodexo before looking at the numbers. Maryland’s procurement regulations dictate that if the bidder doesn’t meet the basic standards, financial information is sent back to the proposer unopened, according to Morgan State spokesman Clinton Coleman.

A New Breed of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships

Source: Sean Slone, Council of State Government, E-Newsletter, Issue #137, May 8, 2014

A light rail project in Maryland and a bundle of 600 bridges in Pennsylvania are not just examples of states turning to the private sector to tackle transportation needs in the face of dwindling public revenues. These projects also represent a new breed of public-private partnerships, also known as P3s, far removed from the toll road concessions that defined the industry in the United States for much of the past decade. They already may be providing important case studies for other states seeking solutions to their own infrastructure challenges. …

Upper Chesapeake Health System to Pay $180,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Press Release, April 15, 2014

Health Care System Unlawfully Fired Employee Because of Vision/Hearing Impairment and to Punish Her for Seeking Accommodation, Federal Agency Charged

Upper Chesapeake Health System, Inc., a leading health care provider in northeastern Maryland, will pay $180,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle an EEOC disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today. According to the EEOC’s suit, Deborah Ropiski consistently received good performance evaluations and positive patient feedback during her 19 years of employment with the Upper Chesapeake Health System. The EEOC charged that the health care system failed to reassign Ropiski as a reasonable accommodation after it removed her from her position as a pulmonary function technologist at its Bel Air, Md., medical center based on its perception that her disability, Usher’s syndrome, interfered with her ability to do her job. Usher’s syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by varying levels of vision and hearing loss. According to the lawsuit, Upper Chesapeake Health System terminated Ropiski because of her disability and in retaliation for her requests for accommodations. The EEOC also charged that the health care system later failed to rehire Ropiski into a vacant position for which she was qualified because of her disability and in retaliation for her filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC….
University Of Maryland Medical System Celebrates 25th Anniversary As A Private, Non-Profit Health System
Source: University of Maryland Medical System, Press Release, October 29, 2009

The University of Maryland Medical System is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its transformation from an aging, state-run hospital in 1984 to a successful private, non-profit network of 11 academic, community and specialty hospitals throughout Maryland with more than 15,000 employees and almost $2.5 billion in annual revenue…. The transformation took place when the Maryland General Assembly and then-Governor Harry Hughes enacted a law in 1984 enabling the University of Maryland Hospital, located in downtown Baltimore, to change its governance from the state to a private, non-profit corporation led by a board of directors comprised of top area business, legislative and community leaders…. The University of Maryland Medical System includes: University of Maryland Medical Center …. Baltimore Washington Medical Center …. Chester River Health System …. Kernan Hospital …. Maryland General Hospital …. Shore Health System …. Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital …. University Specialty Hospital …. Upper Chesapeake Health System ….

The Privatization Backlash

Source: Molly Ball, Atlantic, April 23, 2014

…In states and cities across the country, lawmakers are expressing new skepticism about privatization, imposing new conditions on government contracting, and demanding more oversight. Laws to rein in contractors have been introduced in 18 states this year, and three—Maryland, Oregon, and Nebraska—have passed legislation, according to In the Public Interest, a group that advocates what it calls “responsible contracting.” … Doing it right, according to Cohen, means ensuring that contractors are subject to standards of transparency and accountability. Private companies doing government work and their contracts should be subject to open-records laws: In 2011, the city of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, hired a contractor to videotape city meetings, then claimed the tapes weren’t public records. (A state appeals court eventually ruled otherwise.) Companies should be held responsible for cost overruns, and governments should be making sure they’re actually saving money: Many private prisons cost more to operate than public ones, the group claims….The vogue for privatizing government began in the Reagan years, experts say, when an ascendant conservative ideology painted the public sector as a callous and sluggish bureaucracy and the private sector as inherently more innovative and efficient. The trend accelerated in the ’90s, and today, Cohen estimates that $1 trillion of America’s $6 trillion in annual federal, state, and local government spending goes to private companies….