Tag Archives: New York

A NJ Pension Fund Bets on CoreCivic and GEO Group

Source: Max Siegelbaum, Documented, August 16, 2018

As state pension funds pull back from companies that profit from immigration detention, one New Jersey fund has sunk nearly a million dollars into the industry. According to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, the NJ State Employees’ Deferred Compensation Plan purchased 18,000 shares of CoreCivic stock and 20,000 shares of Geo Group stock. The total investment was $964,000, a small portion of the entire fund, worth $559 million. According to SEC filings, the shares were purchased sometime between June 30 and Aug. 2, around the height of the “zero tolerance” policy period. Geo Group runs Delaney Hall Detention Facility in Newark and CoreCivic runs Elizabeth Detention Center, a low slung building in Elizabeth that houses about 300 detainees and an immigration court.

… In 2017, New York City became the first municipality to divest from the private prison industry. … Other cities and states have followed in removing public retirement funds from private prison stock. Philadelphia sold $1.2 million last October. Nashville, Tenn., has also moved to sell its holdings. Other cities like Cincinnati, Ohio, Portland, Ore. and Minneapolis have either divested or moved towards it. Universities like Columbia, Princeton and Stanford have active student divestment movements. …

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Editorial: UC should divest from companies linked with immigration crisis 
Source: Daily Bruin, August 19, 2018

President Donald Trump’s turbulent administration hit rock bottom following revelations that the federal government was separating families of asylum-seekers at the border. Among the list of offenses: caging children, coercing non-English speakers into signing esoteric forms and traumatizing minors seeking a place in this country. Californians have been crying foul ever since. The most prominent display of disdain has come from workers, who have called on state institutions to cut investments in companies linked to border detentions. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, a union representing University of California workers, called on the University in July to divest from contractors linked with the detention of immigrants at the border. And California teachers wrote a letter to administrators of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System earlier that month, demanding it divest from private prison companies and organizations involved in immigrant detention. …

Chicago teachers plan to divest private prison companies
Source: Meaghan Kilroy, Pensions & Investments, August 17, 2018
 
Chicago Public School Teachers’ Pension & Retirement Fund added private prison companies and businesses that operate immigration child detention centers to its list of prohibited investments, said Angela Miller-May, chief investment officer of the $9.8 billion pension fund, in an email. At its Thursday board meeting, the pension fund board directed investment staff to instruct the fund’s investment managers to “prudently liquidate public market holdings in (these) companies as soon as reasonably practical and in accordance with the managers’ fiduciary duties,” Ms. Miller-May wrote. The pension fund estimates it has approximately $548,000 invested in these companies. …

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Massena Hospital & Town Take Step Toward Privatization

Source: WWNY, August 21, 2018

Massena Memorial Hospital and the town of Massena have made a step toward privatizing the institution. Right now, the town owns Massena Memorial, but officials from both entities want to transfer ownership to a private, nonprofit organization. Town Supervisor Steve O’Shaughnessy said in a statement Monday that there was an agreement in principle on a plan to transfer the hospital’s assets from the town to a private entity that would run the institution. …

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Interim hospital chief executive officer says privatization her main focus
Source: Bob Beckstead, Watertown Daily Times, July 26, 2018

The interim chief executive officer at Massena Memorial Hospital says that, during the two months for which she is contracted, the focus will continue to be on a process that was first discussed in 2013 — privatization of the hospital. “My priorities right now are to continue to work with the town and hospital board to become a 501(c)(3) and complete the affiliation,” Ann Gilpin said during this week’s Massena Memorial Hospital Board of Managers meeting. Monday was Ms. Gilpin’s first Board of Managers meeting since she was named interim chief executive officer in June following the sudden resignation of former Chief Executive Officer Robert G. Wolleben. Her contract calls for her to serve as interim chief executive officer for up to two months, at a rate of $40,000 per month.

With CEO’s resignation, Massena council will push hospital to privatization, affiliation
Source: Bob Beckstead, Watertown Daily Times, June 19, 2018
 
With Monday night’s surprise resignation of Massena Memorial Hospital’s CEO, town officials will seek a contract with another hospital to run Massena Memorial Hospital and complete the privatization work already underway. Ann Gilpin was hired as interim chief executive officer following Monday’s immediate resignation by Robert G. Wolleben, but it will be a temporary position, Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said. … Last month, Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, introduced a bill that would move the hospital into a public benefit corporation rather than privatizing, which would shift financial responsibility away from the town while keeping the hospital from going private. But Mr. O’Shaughnessy said that was off the table. …

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Goshen nursing home’s troubles reflect larger for-profit trend

Source: Daniel Axelrod, Times Herald-Record, August 12, 2018

Nurses picketed, state Department of Health inspectors swarmed, and complaints streamed to local elected leaders and the Times Herald-Record in the months after for-profit owners bought the former Elant nursing home in Goshen. Now, nearly a year after the home became Sapphire Nursing and Rehab at Goshen, a Westchester law firm has filed a scathing lawsuit against the business, and the attorneys are seeking class-action status. The plaintiffs, a current resident of the home and the estate of a deceased resident, accuse the owners of slashing staff so deeply that residents often sat in their own waste, begging visitors for bathroom help, meals and care.

… Sapphire’s troubles under its new leadership reflect a larger trend, according to nursing home experts. Facing challenges like inadequate government reimbursements and a lack of self-funded patients, New York’s nonprofit nursing home companies are increasingly selling to commercial operators that cut staff to boost revenue. Trouble began in Goshen when Brooklyn investors Richard Aryeh Platschek, Esther Farkovits, Machla Abramczyk and Robert Schuck acquired the nursing home and three others in Beacon, Newburgh and Wappingers Falls from nonprofit Elant Inc. in September. They immediately began shedding staff in Goshen, which led to a “failure to maintain a safe, clean, comfortable and homelike environment,” according to the state DOH and a state-ordered corrective action plan. As a result, residents were left unattended for hours, medication errors occurred and patients were not kept hydrated, properly nourished and infection-free, according to the DOH. …

Children poisoned by lead on U.S. Army bases as hazards go ignored

Source: Reuters, August 16, 2018

Like most family housing on U.S. bases today, the home wasn’t owned and operated by the military. It was managed by Villages of Benning, a partnership between two private companies and the U.S. Army, whose website beckons families to “enjoy the luxuries of on-post living.” … The results: At least 113 spots in the home had lead paint, including several peeling or crumbling patches, requiring $26,150 in lead abatement. Villages of Benning moved the Browns into another old house next door. The heavy metal had stunted JC’s brain, medical records reviewed by Reuters show. At age two, he was diagnosed with a developmental disorder caused by lead. Now eight, JC has undergone years of costly therapy. … The Browns’ story and others, told publicly for the first time here, reveal a toxic scourge inside homes on military bases. Previously undisclosed military and state health records, and testing by Reuters for lead in soldiers’ homes, show problems at some of America’s largest military installations.

… Reuters tested five homes at Benning, using a methodology designed with a Columbia University geochemist. All five contained hazardous levels of deteriorating lead paint within reach of children, in one case exceeding the federal threshold by a factor of 58. Testing turned up problems elsewhere as well. At West Point, New York, home of the United States Military Academy, paint chips falling from a family’s front door contained lead at 19 times the federal threshold. At Kentucky’s Fort Knox, whose vaults hold much of America’s gold reserves, Reuters found paint peeling from a covered porch where small kids play. It contained 50 percent lead by weight, or 100 times the threshold. … These homes put military kids at risk. Reuters obtained medical data from the Army showing that at least 31 small children tested high for lead at a Fort Benning hospital over a recent six-year period. …

State orders $293,000 in refunds for Sea Cliff water customers

Source: Mark Harrington, Newsday, August 9, 2018

A state agency on Thursday ordered New York American Water to refund nearly $293,000 to Sea Cliff customers, as a Nassau County probe revealed that water bills issued by the company had spiked at two county parks. The developments come as American Water customers on Nassau’s North and South shores call for public takeover of their water supply after complaints of high bills and the Department of Public Service probe. There also are separate reviews of customer complaints by the Nassau district attorney’s office and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The state Public Service Commission said it ordered the company to refund $292,804 to Sea Cliff district customers as a result of the company’s “gross mishandling” of its property tax filings. A state probe earlier this year found a $2.3 million tax overpayment by New York American Water resulted in $281,421 in overpayments by customers in the Sea Cliff district. According to the PSC, although the company paid the $2.3 million, the vast majority was never billed to customers. A second stage of the investigation found that certain company employees intentionally deceived state regulators during rate-hike proceedings in 2016. …

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Public Service Commission seeks court order against New York American Water
Source: Chau Lam, Newsday, July 12, 2018

The New York State Public Service Commission on Thursday asked its chief lawyer to get a court order directing New York American Water to follow all its regulations, including providing accurate information during rate-hike proceedings. The commission, which regulates the state’s utilities, called for judicial intervention to “help restore consumer confidence” after its report last month revealed that the water company’s employees intended to deceive state regulators in 2016 when the company requested — and regulators approved — its increase to customers’ water rates. The report said company employees were aware of “material errors” in tax calculations starting in 2013, but failed to disclose those errors to state regulators at the time the company was seeking approval for rate hikes. The errors led to customers in the Sea Cliff water district being overcharged, state officials found. … In December 2017, after state regulators had approved the company’s request to hike rates, the company’s senior management and legal counsel admitted the errors to the Department of Public Service, the investigative arm of the PSC. … Assemb. Michael Montesano (R-Glen Head), who has called for criminal investigations into the water company, said that with a court order, New York American would face harsher penalties if it violated state regulations in the future. …

Latimer: Airport privatization in the legislature’s hands

Source: Matt Coyne, Rockland/Westchester Journal News, August 13, 2018
 
The county announced a slew of new initiatives at the airport today, but the status of privatization is unclear.  County Executive George Latimer said Westchester would, among other steps, improve the noise complaint system, but would only say there is a dialogue going on with the Board of Legislators as to whether the county-owned airport would be leased to a private operator long-term. He would not say if the $1.1 billion offer from Macquarie Infrastructure Corp. is still on offer. … Latimer, a Democrat, campaigned against former Republican County Executive Rob Astorino’s controversial plan to lease Westchester County Airport for 40 years, first in a $140 million deal with Oaktree Capital Management in fall 2016, then last fall in a $1.1 billion deal with Macquarie. …

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Rob Astorino Westchester privatization deals under review by George Latimer
Source: David McKay Wilson, Lohud, March 29, 2018
 
Rob Astorino’s Westchester privatization legacy hangs in limbo. Three months into County Executive George Latimer’s tenure, a list of Astorino’s ambitious privatization plans is teetering on collapse. Proposals for Westchester County Airport, Playland amusement park and the county’s deteriorating WestHELP affordable housing complex are all under reconsideration. Astorino’s airport privatization deal stands as Latimer’s biggest challenge in this arena. Latimer has huge revenue needs, such as the long overdue Civil Service Employee Association contract, which could cost as much as $60 million to settle. There’s the temptation to pursue Astorino’s 40-year lease proposal with Macquarie Infrastructure Corp., which Astorino announced the day after Latimer vanquished him in the November election. … The Playland privatization deal, one of Astorino’s major legislative victories in 2016, remains in flux, two years after the county and Standard Amusements agreed on a 30-year deal. … Legislators also wants committees to review the 2016 contract to determine if extensions granted by Astorino were valid. … At WestHELP in Greenburgh, Latimer’s pledge to promote affordable housing in stands its first test at the deteriorating 108-unit complex. He’s up against the town of Greenburgh, and Supervisor Paul Feiner, who has failed to rent out the apartments since the town took over management of the complex for 20 years in 2011. The Latimer administration wants to expand the plan proposed by Astorino in late October 2017, which would give Marathon Development Group a 65-year lease….

More about Westchester airport privatization.

More about Playland privatization.

Westchester cancels its garbage contract with Joseph Spiezio’s firm

Source: Jonathan Bandler, Rockland/Westchester Journal News, July 17, 2018

A company owned by Mount Vernon’s controversial deputy police commissioner, Joseph Spiezio, lost its contract to pick up garbage at Westchester County facilities because of a $4.2 million civil judgment for failing to pay employee benefits. The county Board of Acquisition & Contract last week approved an emergency six-month solid waste contract with City Carting for $720,000 to replace Spiezio’s R&S Waste Services. … But in late March, R&S was found liable for a $4.2 million judgment for violating the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. That decision was for a 2012 federal lawsuit by trust and pension funds of Local 813 of the Teamsters union. It accused Spiezio and the company of not making benefit contributions for employees after the company was formed and took over the financially troubled Rogan Brothers Sanitation in 2011. … The county has paid R & S just over $1.7 million since 2012, including about $400,000 since the start of 2017. County officials could not immediately explain why a contract for just six months would amount to more than $700,000.

… Criminal charges this year accusing the mayor of stealing campaign funds and failing to report tens of thousands of dollars in gifts detailed how Spiezio’s companies paid off Thomas’ personal credit card bills during the campaign. … R&S was sued last year for $780,000 by the New York State Insurance Fund, which claimed the company failed to pay premiums for workers compensation insurance. … Spiezio now runs his garbage business through another company, Waste Services Inc., which has municipal contracts for garbage collection in Rye Brook, Pelham and Carmel. The Rye Brook contract began last month in less than stellar fashion, with the village posting on its website that there had been many missed collections and the company had to work into the evenings to get accustomed to its new routes. …

Manlius nursing home residents go without food, medicine; NYC owner fined

Source: James T. Mulder, syracuse.com, July 10, 2018

A Manlius nursing home without enough staff to clean, feed and toilet residents has been fined $22,000 by the state. An inspection of the Onondaga Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing conducted in February found the facility was so short-staffed some residents did not get insulin and other medications on time or at all. The 80-bed home, formerly known as the Crossings, was bought last year by Centers Health Care, a New York City-based for-profit chain that owns 53 nursing homes in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island. The state Health Department recently posted information about the fine on its website. … The report cited the facility for 24 deficiencies, at least three of which resulted in harm to residents. Many of the problems were repeat deficiencies. … Three certified nurse aides during the day and one to two aides at night typically cared for 35 to 40 residents. … Some residents did not get lunch until after 1:30 p.m. because there were not enough staff to deliver meal trays. … One resident had to be hospitalized after becoming dehydrated because there was no registered nurse on duty to provide fluid intravenously. … Seven residents did not get proper care to heal and prevent bed sores.

… The nursing home made a profit of $1.8 million in the first eight months of 2017 before it was acquired by Centers Health Care, according to SNFdata, a company that reports nursing home financial data. Financial results since Centers Health Care took over were not available. … The state recently fined another one of the chain’s nursing homes in Queensbury near Lake George $10,000 after a resident died in a nursing home van accident last year. …

Unions try to thwart $250M Southampton hospital project

Source: Aidan Gardiner, The Real Deal, June 12, 2018
 
Three unions — the Civil Service Employees Association, New York State United Teachers and the Public Employees Federation — are trying to block state legislation necessary to build a $250 million hospital on Stony Brook’s Southampton’s campus, 27 East reported. The unions don’t like the plan for operating the hospital once it’s built, saying that the majority of the employees would not be subject to civil service laws. The legislation, which needs to be voted on before the legislature closes on June 20, would allow Stony Brook to lease the property to the nonprofit Southampton Hospital Association, which would then raise the money to build the hospital. …

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State Unions Throw Up Roadblock To Key Bill Clearing The Way For New Hospital In Southampton
Source: Joseph P. Shaw, 27 East, June 8, 2018
 
State unions are working to block legislation to clear the way for Stony Brook Southampton Hospital to begin raising money for a new facility on the college campus, apparently concerned about the potential future impact on the workers they represent. … But a trio of state unions representing workers at hospitals like Stony Brook University Hospital, which is owned and operated by the State University of New York system, have formally opposed the legislation, worried that it might be an attempt to move jobs from the public sector to the private sector. At issue is the unusual arrangement at the heart of plans for the new hospital, a key to the affiliation agreement between the former Southampton Hospital and the Stony Brook system that was finalized less than a year ago, according to Mr. Chaloner. … Three state unions—the Civil Service Employees Association, New York State United Teachers and the Public Employees Federation—issued a memo strongly opposing the legislation. Their concerns, Mr. Chaloner said, are rooted in the fact that Southampton Hospital was a private entity, and its workers remain represented by a different union focusing on the private sector, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. …

Hell on Wheels

Source: Kiera Feldman, ProPublica, June 4, 2018
 
Even in the bruising, often chaotic world of New York’s nighttime trash collection, Sanitation Salvage cuts a distinctively brutish profile. Its role in Diallo’s death — and, in April, the death of an elderly Bronx man run down while crossing the street with a cane — has set off a firestorm for the company as well as the city agency that oversees the commercial trash industry.  An investigation by Voice of America and ProPublica, drawing on thousands of pages of public documents and interviews with more than a dozen current and former workers, depicts a workplace environment in which concerns about safety, as well as workers’ rights and compensation, are flouted despite years of complaints from workers to regulators.  Records show that more than three-quarters of Sanitation Salvage trucks have been ordered off the road after federal safety checks. Yet the company has paid lobbyists to fight local legislation that backers say would compel haulers to improve on working conditions and safety. …