Tag Archives: Nebraska

Taking the P3 Route to Reinvent Downtown

Source: Charles Renner, Public Management, July 27, 2017

… The past decade has seen a steady increase in the use of P3 structures, and 2016 was something of a watershed year with multiple high-profile projects coming online that address a variety of public needs, including a $1 billion water infrastructure project servicing San Antonio, Texas, the site of ICMA’s 2017 Annual Conference. In each case, the public sector identified a future need aimed at supporting the attraction of mobile talent, evaluated the limits of going it alone, engaged a P3 partner, and found leadership to achieve results. …

A Sioux Falls Renaissance … A key part of the updated Downtown 2025 Plan is increasing the CBD’s available commercial and residential real estate. To help accomplish this, Sioux Falls opted for a P3 solution to design, build, operate, and maintain a mixed-use facility with retail, office, and residential uses that will ultimately increase the density of downtown. …

Nebraska Innovation Campus and P3 … Located adjacent to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, NIC is a research campus designed to facilitate new partnerships between the university community and private businesses. …

San Antonio’s Vista Ridge … As a result, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) crafted the vision of a 142-mile water pipeline project called Vista Ridge that will deliver enough water for some 162,000 new families by 2020, providing a 20 percent increase in water supply. … SAWS opted for a P3 undertaking in order to engage private equity and much needed development expertise in securing and constructing a resource delivery project that requires roughly $1 billion in investment, thousands of private water commitments, along with the 142 miles of built-to-last water pipeline. …

State works on emergency agreement for child welfare services in Omaha area

Source: JoAnne Young, Lincoln Journal Star, May 6, 2017

Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Merv Riepe announced to state senators last week that child welfare services in the Omaha and Sarpy County area could be in jeopardy. The state withdrew its intention to award a five-year, $70 million-a-year contract to Nebraska Families Collaborative on Thursday and rejected all bids after an opposing bidder filed a challenge to the bid award. The lack of a contract could lead to a gap in services for vulnerable children and families beginning in July, Riepe said. The department is attempting to negotiate a one-year emergency contract with Nebraska Families Collaborative, and then to restart the bidding process, he said. …

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Nebraska HHS official recommends extending child welfare contract for another year
Source: Martha Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald, March 18, 2015

A top state official is recommending that Nebraska continue contracting out management of Omaha-area child welfare cases for another year. In a letter to lawmakers, Tony Green, acting children and family services director for the Department of Health and Human Services, said a contract extension would allow time to choose the best course of action for the future. Green said he would start negotiating the extension on April 1, unless the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee objects….The state’s contract with the Nebraska Families Collaborative, an Omaha-based nonprofit, expires June 30. It was originally signed in 2009 and has been extended once already for one year. The contract this year is worth up to $59.5 million….

Nebraska privatization of child welfare hasn’t produced ‘any measurable benefit,’ new study finds
Source: Martha Stoddard, Omaha.com, February 6, 2015

Nebraska’s five-year experiment with privatizing child welfare has not produced “any measurable benefit” for the state, according to a study report released Thursday. The study compared results achieved by state child welfare workers and by the Nebraska Families Collaborative, the private agency that manages child welfare cases in the Omaha area. It found no cost savings and no significant difference — either positive or negative — in outcomes for children and families….. They offered three options — staying the course with the private contractor, returning all case management responsibilities to the state or revamping the roles of the state and the collaborative to achieve real reform. ….

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Charter schools bill hotly debated in hearing

Source: Margaret Reist, Lincoln Journal Star, March 18, 2017

Public school advocates and their equally passionate school choice counterparts painted very different pictures of what Nebraska’s education system would look like if it authorized charter schools during hours of testimony at a Legislative hearing Tuesday. … The bill (LB630), introduced by Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill, would allow charter schools in districts with low-performing schools. The charter schools would be overseen by a new Independent Public School Authorizing and Accountability Commission created by the bill. Larson said he planned to offer an amendment to strengthen accountability measures in LB630 and to address constitutional questions raised by Nebraska Department of Education officials. Nebraska is one of seven states that does not authorize charter schools. The full Legislature is unlikely to debate the bill this session because it wasn’t prioritized. Still, that didn’t stop proponents from holding a news conference Tuesday in support of it, or from more than 150 people gathering for a rally in opposition to it. …

Nebraska Modifies Its Privatized Medicaid; Iowa’s Called “A Disaster”

Source: Deborah Newcombe, Omaha Public Radio, January 4, 2017

Effective January 1st, Nebraska has made modifications in the administration of its Medicaid program by private insurance companies.    All Nebraska Medicaid recipients who did not pick one of the available plans by December 1st were automatically enrolled in one.  Molly McCleery, Staff Attorney for the Health Care Access Program at Nebraska Appleseed, stresses that recipients who are not happy with their plan have 90 days to change. … A recent Des Moines Register editorial calls Iowa’s privately managed Medicaid program, now less than nine months old, “a disaster.” Claiming Iowa’s Medicaid  costs had been among the lowest in the country, it says the state recently agreed to pay $127 million more than anticipated in state and federal funds – while recipients complain of being denied services and providers of not being reimbursed. McCleery says with profit margin a factor, a similar scenario could play out in Nebraska. …

Public meeting held to raise support in keeping Hamilton County ambulance service

Source: Austin Miller, NBC Nebraska, August 12, 2016

Dozens of Hamilton County community members are voicing their concerns about a plan to privatize the county’s ambulance service. More than 40 people attended a town meeting Thursday night in Giltner to show their support for the current ambulance service. The meeting was organized by the Giltner Fire Department, which opposes the county’s proposal. Last week county commissioners proposed a plan to privatize the service and said they believe can save the county money. … During Thursday’s meeting, members of the ambulance service spoke about the concerns they have. One of which is that while the county could save money up front, they believe a private company could take away all of the county’s ambulance equipment and leave, if the company doesn’t find the area profitable. … Barbara Preissler said she’s willing to pay the tax to keep the current ambulance service said she’s worried about the quality of care a private service could provide.. …

Sioux Falls protests VA privatization

Source: Jack Taylor, KELO, July 26, 2016

If your going by the Sioux Falls VA between 11 a.m. and noon today you’ll see a protest against privatizing the government hospitals. Jane Nygaard with the American Federation of Government employees says the Koch brothers are behind “Concerned Veterans of America” which is working to privatize the VA. Nygaard asks why would the nation privatize VA hospitals when that act wouldn’t provide the specialized care that veterans need. … he says polls nationwide show that 80% of veterans say they do not want the VA privatized.  She says the VA Commission on Care report says the VA gives the best quality care to veterans and for lesser cost to taxpayers. …

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Union, veterans protest potential VA privatization
Source: Matt Murphy, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, July 7, 2016

Concern over Congress privatizing Veterans Affairs health-care services led local union members and military veterans to protest near Cheyenne’s VA Medical Center Wednesday morning. A couple dozen people stood on either side of Pershing Boulevard near the roundabout at Converse Avenue beginning at about 7 a.m. They waved small American flags and held blue signs with gold lettering that read, “Veterans for a Strong VA,” “Staff the VA” and “VA Workers for a Strong VA.” … If the system is privatized, he said, there is concern that level of care will be lost. Further, Massan said there is concern that portability, or the ability for military veterans to use VA facilities nationwide, could disappear. Talk of privatizing VA medical services has come up at the federal level through the years, including this year. The Commission on Care, a panel created by Congress to analyze the services provided by the VA, has been studying the issue for several months – including privatization. The panel issued its final report Tuesday, which recommended overhauling the VA system and expanding access to private health care, but not full privatization, according to the Federal Times and the Wall Street Journal. …

Local private sector help for VA projects backed at Senate hearing
Source: Joseph Morton, Omaha World-Herald, June 30, 2016

A proposal to build new veterans health facilities through public-private partnerships received a warm reception Wednesday at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., presented legislation to allow those partnerships, saying Americans’ confidence in the care provided to veterans has been shaken. … It’s a key issue for the Omaha area, which has seen a $560 million replacement for its aging VA hospital stalled by cost overruns and delays on other VA projects. Local donors have rallied to the idea of a public-private partnership that would instead construct a $136 million ambulatory care facility — a scaled-down but presumably much more achievable approach. Involving the private sector in VA construction projects can help them progress more smoothly, Fischer said. … It’s unclear exactly when the bills will come up for votes, but Ashford and Fischer talked about seeking congressional action by September and certainly before the end of the year. Several veterans organizations on Wednesday offered testimony supporting the legislation. The VA also offered its strong support for the bill while raising a technical issue on some of the language.

Local union workers and veterans protest VA privatization
Source: Ethan Levin, Michigan Daily, June 22, 2016

About 50 veterans, union employees and family members gathered at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Hospital Wednesday to protest the proposed federal privatization of veteran health care. The protest was organized by the American Federation of Labor and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). … Amie Pounds, a national organizer for AFGE, and James Jr. agreed that the congressional commission’s assessments have been not only inaccurate but also swayed by private corporations’ profit interests. According to Pounds, of the 15 members on the commission, not one can be linked to a mainstream veterans service organization. Rather, the panel is comprised of primarily private hospital executives who stand only to benefit financially from privatizing the VA. …

Vet Groups Uniting To Oppose Privatized Care, Defend VA
Source: Terry Howell, Military Advantage, June 23, 2016

The nation’s leading veteran services organizations are rallying behind the Department of Veterans Affairs and its beleaguered health care system, touting the experience of staff, the breadth of services and its holistic approach to care delivery that they argue the private sector cannot match. The VSOs are warning of politicians and groups with agendas that constantly criticize VA health care, refuse to acknowledge reforms and thus advance a camouflaged campaign to dismantle VA health care. They also say it is time to better educate their own members on actions being taken to improve to the healthcare system that millions of veterans rely upon. …

Law Enforcement Investigations and Actions Regarding For-Profit Colleges

Source: David Halperin, Republic Report, Updated October 9, 2015

This is a list of pending and recent significant federal and state law enforcement investigations of, and actions against, for-profit colleges. It also includes some major investigations and disciplinary actions by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Defense.  It does not include investigations or disciplinary actions by state education oversight boards.  It also does not include lawsuits prosecuted only by private parties — students, staff, etc. To date, 37 state attorneys general are participating in a joint working group examining for-profit colleges, according to the office of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. Many of those are actively investigating specific for-profit colleges in their states.

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….

Water district bags rural fire hydrants

Source: Adrian Whitsett, KETV, April 2, 2014

Firefighters in Plattsmouth are fired up about water after a private company put trash bags over hydrants. Millard announces superintendent pick Hydrants shut down along Highway 66 could mean up to a 12-mile trip to fill up for Plattsmouth volunteers. “It’s going to require more manpower, different equipment and may take more than just our department. We’ll have to have mutual aid,” said Plattsmouth Volunteer Fire Chief Mike Wilson. … Water district manager Glen Van Westen said the is water for farms and homes, not fires. Van Westen worries that pumping water from what he calls “flush valves” could destroy the system. “Their worry is that the fire trucks will collapse the water main, which would cause damage to the supply,” said Wilson. But Wilson said they’re not pumping water. He told the Rural Fire Board Wednesday that the hydrant is made for fires, not flushing….

Nebraska Lawmaker Wants Her State To Stop Paying Private Prisons For Empty Cells

Source: Alan Pyke, ThinkProgress, February 1, 2014

Promising to keep private prison cells full will be illegal in Nebraska if a proposal from state Sen. Amanda McGill (D) becomes law.

McGill, who is running for higher state office this year, has introduced legislation banning the government from guaranteeing payment to private contractors regardless of the level of service the contractor provide. While that may sound so obvious as to be unnecessary, states often make those kinds of promises to corporations when they privatize public services.

The most notorious examples are private prison contracts that guarantee companies like the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) a certain minimum occupancy level at prisons, and promise to pay CCA the difference should prison populations sag below that level. Such “lock-up quotas” appear in two-thirds of all prison privatization contracts, according to a report last fall by the anti-privatization group In The Public Interest (ITPI).

McGill’s legislation would ban those kinds of payment guarantees across all state contracts, but is specifically targeted at prison contracts. The bill also would amend the state’s corrections contracting law in a variety of ways to both protect taxpayers and regulate prison companies more tightly. …