Putting the chamber of commerce or other private groups in charge of economic development has long been common at the local level and has been tried in some states, but just over the past few years it has gained popularity in states with Republican administrations, including Arizona, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin. Illinois and Oklahoma are also considering a similar move. …Of course, commerce departments and other public agencies have been guilty of incompetence and malfeasance as well. Perhaps the most notorious example in recent years involves 38 Studios, a video game company founded by former Boston Red Sox star Curt Schilling, which went bust after receiving a $75 million loan from the state of Rhode Island. … At the same time, purely public agencies continue to be responsible for some of the biggest scores in development, including Nevada’s billion-dollar deal with Tesla last year to build a ginormous battery factory outside Reno. This points to what may be the fundamental problem with the whole privatization push: There’s no proof that this approach works any better — or really all that much differently — than old-fashioned development agencies.
As part of these accountability efforts, a growing number of states have enacted laws that require charter schools to close if they do not meet certain performance benchmarks. In states such as Ohio, these laws have sometimes been borne out of state lawmakers’ frustration that authorizers have not been making the tough decisions to close charter schools that have failed to meet the academic goals in their charter contracts. In other states, including Mississippi and Washingon, state lawmakers have enacted such provisions as more of a precautionary measure to ensure that as public charter schools open for the first time in these states, if there are under-performing charter schools, they will actually be closed. This document provides a brief description of existing state policies regarding the automatic closure of low-performing public charter schools. As of September 2015, 15 states had enacted such policies: Alabama, California, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississipi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.
The Reno City Council wants more authority to keep tabs on Waste Management to determine whether the trash and recycling company is living up to its end of the lucrative franchise agreement it has with the city. The council’s decision in 2012 to give Waste Management an exclusive franchise agreement to collect residential and commercial waste in Reno has ignited a bitter legal battle between the trash company and competing recycling companies. … One central issue is whether Waste Management has fulfilled the requirement to build an Eco-Center in Reno to sort its single-stream recycling and provide other services to customers. The city allowed Waste Management to raise rates, in part, to finance the construction of the Eco-Center. According to the franchise agreement, Waste Management was required to “commence and diligently prosecute construction” of the Eco-Center by March 7. Although some work has begun on the center, it hasn’t been completed.
Nye County Emergency Services Director Vance Payne said the use of social media by the animal shelter is helping match lost pets with their owners. Payne recently gave permission for Nye County Animal Control officers to use the medium to alert the community on lost or stray animals, and the effort is now paying off. … The action was prompted by the decision of Tails End Animal Shelter officials who canceled their contract with the county on June 30, forcing county officials to scramble in order to keep the facility running orderly. … Payne also said since the county resumed operations, the facility appears to be running more smoothly than ever. Additionally, Payne said his department is making extra effort to address the situation at the shelter…
Outsourcing happens all the time in the private sector. It should happen far more often in the public sector. But anytime a government agency even contemplates reducing its costs by hiring private firms to do the jobs of public employees — by itself an admission that taxpayers are grossly overpaying for labor — unions and their political allies respond with howls of outrage and indignation. How dare you seek savings and efficiencies that might actually preserve services!
Layoffs loom at Southern Nevada Housing Authority
Source: Yesenia Amaro, Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 14, 2015
The Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority faces program outsourcing and the layoffs of 40 to 45 employees as it addresses a projected budget shortfall of between $1.6 million and $1.8 million for fiscal 2016…The outsourcing of three programs and the layoffs are included in the agency‘s fiscal 2016 budget, which is on the agenda for approval at the authority‘s Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday…A “sustainability plan” was developed to better position the agency in coming years. The plan proposes outsourcing management for four of 26 public housing properties, inspections for housing quality standards and the operation of the family self-sufficiency program. The layoffs would be a direct result of the outsourcing of those services.
The South Lake Tahoe City Council has moved forward with a goal to return the city’s fire department to its primary mission of fire protection and suppression after the council agreed to modify a long-standing partnership. The city council voted Tuesday to unanimously amend the Cal-Tahoe Joint Powers Agreement and make Lake Valley Fire Protection District the sole ambulance provider for the city. “We would be out of the transportation business,” city fire chief Jeff Meston said. Under the revised agreement Lake Valley would take over ambulance services for South Lake Tahoe Fire Department (SLTFD), including the two stationed at the city’s Fire Station 2 across from Tahoe Valley Elementary. While SLTFD would still respond to medical calls and administer on-site lifesaving aid, it would not have to transport patients.
This week the Colorado Supreme Court struck down a policy allowing state education funds to be funneled into private schools on the grounds that giving public money to religious institutions violated the state’s constitution. Here in Nevada, a new law will give any parent who pulls their child out of public school around $5,000 in taxpayer money to spend on whatever education expenses they choose, including religious schooling. It’s the country’s most sweeping voucher program ever enacted….
A prominent Democratic lawmaker who unsuccessfully fought the state’s decision to privatize the youth prison near Las Vegas two years ago is calling for the state to take over operations of the shuttered facility, saying it’s the government’s responsibility to run the prison. Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, believes it was a mistake to re-open the Red Rock Academy at Summit View with a private contractor in 2013…. On Tuesday, state officials began removing the 43 juveniles from Red Rock Academy after dissolving the $11.5 million contract it had with Rite of Passage to operate the prison. The Red Rock Academy was the state’s only maximum security juvenile corrections center. It has been beset by problems throughout its 15-year history. This is the third time the state has closed the facility…. An audit by the Nevada Legislature conducted just six months after the facility opened found ROP staff were not properly tracking medication, often improperly dosing juveniles. They also had failed to properly account for tools and other contraband that could be used as weapons, failed to conduct stringent enough criminal background checks on staff and failed to meet staff ratio requirements. That audit triggered close oversight by the state over the past year. In October, ROP officials testified that they were working diligently to correct the issues, even as various state agencies gave conflicting advice on what was expected of them. They provided a written response to the audit detailing how they were addressing the problem, and noted that they were being closely monitored by both the state and an accrediting agency as they worked to achieve accreditation. At one point, however, ROP was facing potential fines of up to $5,000 a day….
New Mexico’s attorney general on Friday sued one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains over inadequate resident care, alleging that thin staffing made it numerically impossible to provide good care. The novel approach in the lawsuit filed by outgoing Democratic Attorney General Gary King could be applied in other states if it succeeds. It targets seven nursing homes run by Preferred Care Partners Management Group L.P. of Plano, Texas, a privately held company with operations in at least 10 states: Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Under both the company and a previous owner, Cathedral Rock Management L.P., the attorney general alleged that the nursing homes profited by skimping on staff “at the expense of the physical well-being of vulnerable nursing home residents.”
…. Gov. Brian Sandoval and the state’s Board of Examiners last week approved up to $100 million in 20 information technology contracts. According to the board’s official announcement, the contractors will “provide assistance in a variety of information technology consulting and technical specialist levels on an hourly basis to state agencies.” The new contracts highlight a growing trend in state government: hiring the private sector to do public sector IT work.