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. …
A state Senator from Omaha says he’ll introduce a bill to sell or privatize the Metropolitan Utilities District. Enlarge image Nebraska lawmakers return to session Wednesday. State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh says the bill he’ll introduce could bring in up to $3 billion. That money would go toward Omaha’s combined sewer overflow project and unfunded pension liabilities. …. Lautenbaugh says he’ll also introduce a measure authorizing charter schools in Nebraska, something he says has “long been a priority.”
A private company could soon be handing out tickets in downtown Omaha, as the city gears up for several shifts in the way it handles parking enforcement. In September, the city outsourced management of its seven garages and five surface lots to Republic Parking. Now officials are looking to add more responsibilities to that company’s Omaha operations: writing citations, collecting fines and maintaining parking meters. Today, the Omaha City Council will get its first look at an ordinance that would add private companies’ employees to the list of people approved to maintain parking meters. It’s a required step before officials return to the council with a new contract for Republic, which would formally make it Omaha’s parking enforcer. … The city currently pays Republic Parking $3,500 per month for its work at garages and surface lots. If Republic takes over enforcement, Smith said, the Public Works employees currently tasked with those duties would be reassigned to the department’s traffic division. …
Source: Katie Bess, Maeghan Gilmore, Jen Horton, Yael Lazarus, Kathy Nothstine, Rob Pressly, Kathy Rowings, Emmanuelle St. Jean, National Association of Counties (NACo), December 2013
From the summary:
Spotlight on Large Urban Counties: Leadership in Action highlights noteworthy initiatives of 23 of America’s large urban counties. Covering such topics as economic development, health, justice, resilience, technology, and transportation and infrastructure, the case studies featured here showcase how county officials have seized opportunities to not only meet critical needs, but to strengthen local communities and improve the outlook for growth.
Viewing these examples collectively, several themes emerge:
– Multi-Sector Partnerships. Counties are partnering with public agencies at all levels of government and collaborating with the private sector more than ever. Miami-Dade County helped to arrange a public-private partnership to develop the $904 million Port of Miami Tunnel, expected to ease congestion downtown and promote growth in port activity. Los Angeles County agencies teamed with the local transportation authority and area businesses to address child sex trafficking and provide specialized treatment for hundreds of young victims.
– Investments to Drive Economic Growth. Counties are placing a premium on catalytic public investments that will offer economic and community benefits for years to come. Hennepin County (Minn.) brokered a public-private partnership to develop a major mixed-use transit hub that will spur investments and change the landscape of downtown Minneapolis. Shelby County (Tenn.) is working with local governments, industry leaders and a host of other stakeholders to develop a long-term regional plan to guide infrastructure development and economic growth.
– Streamlined Services for Dependent Populations. Counties are working to better serve dependent populations who frequently cycle through county jails and health care facilities at high costs to the public. King County (Wash.) created a set of strategies to serve people living with mental illness and substance abuse, aimed at reducing unnecessary involvement in justice and emergency medical systems. Travis County (Texas) partnered with a nonprofit to serve inmates with addictions, reducing likelihood of recidivism and promoting long-term recovery.
– Youth Engagement. Counties are investing in young people to train a skilled workforce and engage youth in the community. For example, Multnomah County (Ore.) established an internship program to provide low-income and disadvantaged youth with quality employment opportunities. Douglas County (Neb.) developed a collaborative public art project that engages young artists and juvenile offenders.
From the abstract:
Privatization, or contracting with non-governmental agencies for provision of state or federally funded services, is a strategy that has gained recent attention from policymakers as a potential tool for successful child welfare reform. The Child Welfare Privatization Initiatives Project was created in 2007 as a joint effort between the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The framework identified by this project produced twelve key considerations for states moving toward a privatized system. This case study considers these twelve considerations in a description of the large-scale effort to privatize child welfare services in the state of Nebraska that began in 2008. Problems leading to a need for child welfare reform and possible factors that motivated policymakers to shift services from the public to the private sector are also described. While proponents of privatization appeared to expect rapid increased efficiency and cost-savings, this case study explores multiple reductions in quality and availability of services for children and families served by the child welfare system that occurred during the effort. Further, the cost of child welfare services in Nebraska increased by 27% and the private agencies invested over $21 million of their own funds as they attempted to uphold contracts. Recommendations for practitioners and policymakers considering participating in efforts to privatize child welfare services in the future are made based on Nebraska’s recent experience.
A disjointed, inefficient and money-losing city golf program could be rebuilt into a self-sustaining and possibly profit-making venture for Lincoln, according to a report by the National Golf Foundation. The $40,000 report, paid for through fees paid by golfers and city keno funds, said management and maintenance of the four 18-hole courses would thrive if turned over to a private company. …. The NGF has conducted similar studies of teetering golf programs in Omaha and Aurora, Colo., and in state park systems in Utah and Georgia.
Related: National Golf Foundation study
A Bellevue information technology contractor’s move to Washington, D.C., could result in more jobs back home in Nebraska, its president and chief executive officer said Tuesday.
Lisa Wolford said relocating her firm’s headquarters to the nation’s capital will help CSSS.NET build relationships with the government agencies she hopes to do business with, including a growing focus on civilian agencies as well as the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs work that has been the firm’s bread and butter.
The City of Omaha is looking to outsource the operation of city parking garages and also might hire a private contractor to handle on-street parking enforcement. ….Smith said the city isn’t set on turning on-street parking duties over to a private company. But he said officials want to see how potential contractor costs compare with current expenses. If a private company were hired to oversee that function, the funds collected from parking meters and parking tickets still would go to the city and the Omaha schools fund….Smith said he won’t propose any changes to rates or hours in garages until a private operator has been hired. The company will be responsible for a total of 4,199 parking spaces in seven city garages, along with 483 spaces in five surface lots…. It’s not clear how city employees’ responsibilities would change if private workers handled parking. Smith said many of the city employees who handle parking also work on traffic duties, and would likely spend more time on that work.
After a unanimous vote from the Region V Systems governing board Monday, the plan to privatize Lancaster County’s mental health services is complete and awaiting signatures on contracts. Beginning July 1, three private, local agencies will take over the county’s mental health services at the Community Mental Health Center. The center, a $6.2 million operation with more than 70 employees, provides services each year for about 3,500 low-income people with serious mental illnesses. It will keep the same location at 2200 St. Mary’s Ave….
* Lutheran Family Services will run core services for about 3,000 people, including outpatient counseling, day treatment, managing medicine and community support. Lutheran Family Services has a history of providing all of those services but day treatment, according to information provided county commissioners.
* CenterPointe, with a history of providing day rehabilitation services, will run the 24-hour crisis line and the county’s day rehabilitation services for about 180 people at MidTown, 2966 O St. CenterPointe provides services to people with addiction and mental health issues in Lincoln.
* Omni Behavioral Health will operate psychiatric residential rehabilitation programs for 22 people at The Heather, 2039 Q St. OMNI has said it will retain the current management structure….
Related: Lancaster County mental health services privatized
Source: Associated Press, June 11, 2013
The University of Nebraska Board of Regents rejected a 36-year contract Friday with Bryan Health to operate and build a new home for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s student health center. Bryan had planned to take over operations of the University Health Center in its current location at 1500 U St. on July 1. Bryan expected to substantially complete construction of a new $14.4 million building by December 2014. On Friday, five of the eight regents voted against the proposal, as well as all four student regents, whose votes don’t count toward the vote total…. No universities in the Big Ten Conference or Big 12 Conference currently have private student health centers, nor do any of UNL’s peer institutions….
…UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said the agreement would have allowed the university to avoid the uncertainties of providing health care under new federal guidelines set forth in the Affordable Care Act. It also would have helped UNL stabilize costs imposed on students for health services, he said….
The University of Nebraska Board of Regents has hired Deloitte consulting to answer its questions about Chancellor Harvey Perlman’s proposed plan to privatize student health care at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Although the consultant group will work with university administration and health center staff to assess the plan and need for privatization, it will give its final report to the regents, according to Regent Tim Clare. He said he expects the consultant will give its report in late April or early May, in time for the June 17 meeting….Since Perlman presented his privatization plan to the community, health center employees have jumped ship, seeking employment at other areas around campus to maintain benefits or simply seeking work elsewhere. Roughly a dozen employees have left the health center, including a couple physicians, the lead pharmacist, marketing coordinator and insurance coordinator….