Tag Archives: New York

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.

Colleges, Cities and Pension Funds Pressured to Cut ICE Ties

Source: Candice Norwood, Governing, July 30, 2018
 
Murdoch’s campaign comes amid a sea of calls from students and immigration activists who want state and local governments, public colleges and politicians to sever their financial ties with companies and agencies involved in detaining immigrants. There is also a movement growing to abolish ICE.  While some of the politicians and institutions have given in to public pressure, others continue to defend their relationships with ICE and private prison organizations that operate detention centers. Last week, hundreds of educators petitioned the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), a public pension fund, to divest from private prison operators CoreCivic Inc. and the GEO Group. Both organizations operate immigration detention centers.  Across the country, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli earlier this month divested state pension fund holdings from GEO Group and CoreCivic. California’s pension fund, however, is unlikely to follow New York’s lead. …

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Stop investing in immigrant detention companies, California teachers tell pension fund
Source: Caitlin Chen, Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2018

Hundreds of California teachers and a handful of left-leaning organizations are urging the state’s $225 billion teacher pension fund to pull its money out of for-profit prison companies and immigrant detention centers. The petition going to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System is the latest in a string of calls for California public pension funds to divest from controversial industries, such as fossil fuels and guns. With few exceptions, the pension funds reject appeals for divestment because they prefer to use their clout as major investors to compel industries to change their practices. They also worry that divesting causes them to miss opportunities to earn money, which increases their overall risk. …

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. …

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. …

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. …

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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Jenne introduces bill to create public benefit corporation for Massena Hospital
Source: Abraham Kenmore, Watertown Daily Times, June 1, 2018
 
A bill introduced by Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, on Tuesday would move the publicly owned Massena Memorial Hospital into a public benefit corporation, shifting financial responsibility away from the town while keeping the hospital from going private. … The Massena Memorial Hospital has been looking to find a private hospital to affiliate with for several years now, as the hospital continually operates at a loss. At the end of 2017, the hospital reported it had a net annual loss of $5.6 million — an improvement over the prior year when it had lost $6.8 million. … The bill is supported by the state Civil Service Employees Association, whose Local 887 represents hospital employees.  “This is supported, we have supported in the past and continue to support,” said Mark Kotzin, spokesman for CSEA. “CSEA has always been opposed to privatizing the hospital.”  Mr. Kotzin said the union had been working with Ms. Jenne for some time. …

Massena Memorial Hospital sees big financial improvement, but still finishes January in the red
Source: Andy Gardner, North Country Now, February 28, 2018
 
Massena Memorial Hospital finished January in the red but saw a significantly lower net loss than in previous months, where they were bleeding huge sums of money. The hospital lost $61,556 in January, which is down sharply from the $1.8 million loss they booked for December. … At the December meeting, Kerrie French, the president of MMH’s CSEA chapter, expressed concern over the hospital’s leasing a Da Vinci robotic surgery tool. She questioned the hospital for paying the lease at a time when she says staff are being cut. MMH CEO Robert Wolleben said the tool is being used elsewhere in the region and is bringing in patients who would have gone to other facilities. A statement given to the press at the close of the meeting says the tool “offers patients less blood loss, less pain, shorter hospital stay, and small incisions for minimal scarring.” …

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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. …

Stalled contract talks impact dozens of CSEA union workers

Source: News 12, May 14, 2018

Stalled contract talks are affecting dozens of union workers in Middletown. Middletown CSEA workers have been without a contract since 2014. City officials say the sticking points are money and a cost-saving plan to privatize its Sanitation Department. Union representatives say members won’t agree to “sell out” co-workers for a raise, but Mayor Joe DeStefano says the union already came to an agreement with the city months ago but hasn’t brought it for a vote. …

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Middletown, sanitation union clash over privatization
Source: James Nani, Times Herald-Record, June 25, 2017
 
Major changes to city sanitation services are unlikely to materialize this year after negotiations between city and union officials to privatize waste-hauling reached an impasse. The city and the CSEA union, that represents more than 100 city workers and about 14 city sanitation workers, had been negotiating a new contract since late 2014. … CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo has claimed that the costs of outsourced sanitation have “spiraled out of control in many communities after initial lowball bids” and that outsourcing means surrendering control on prices, scheduling and other factors that can affect price and inconvenience residents. Jessica Ladlee, a CSEA spokeswoman, said members do not want to trade negotiating people out of their union for salary increases.

Middletown explores outsourcing waste hauling
Source: James Nani, Record Online, May 2, 2017

Middletown officials are in negotiations with the union representing city sanitation workers as the city explores outsourcing waste hauling, a move that could eliminate the 14-member department. The talks with the union come as Middletown considers two options to reduce the cost of city sanitation services: either privatizing the services or downsizing and automating part of the department. … But under a push by Alderman Joe Masi, the city last released a request for proposals on the costs of private waste haulers to take over all waste services. As part of the request, any private hauler who wins a contract with the city would have to hire all city sanitation workers for one year. The move has met with resistance by the CSEA, which represents city sanitation workers. …

After issues with Aramark, Broome County continues search for food service provider

Source: Monika Hammer, WBNG, April 10, 2018

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar says the process is underway to find a new service provider for the Willow Point Nursing Home. In February, Garnar announced he would cut ties with a company that provides food service to three Broome County operations. “We’ve had some major issues with the food service provider Aramark and we decided that we want to disengage from the contract for several reasons,” Garnar said. …

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Broome County officials knew of Aramark issues in August, thought they could work it out
Source: Hannah Schwarz, Press & Sun-Bulletin, April 2, 2018

Problems with Aramark’s food service at Willow Point Nursing Home surfaced as early as 2016 — and several Broome County officials were aware of issues as early as August 2017 — but the county didn’t sever its contract with the company until February because officials believed Aramark could remedy the issues. Emails from former Willow Point Interim Director Denise Johnson obtained by the Press & Sun-Bulletin/pressconnects.com, as well as emails between Deputy County Executive Kevin McManus and Aramark Regional Manager John Sidorakis, obtained via a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, show tray line service had been “problematic since ‘day one,'” and the county had been requesting reimbursement for more than eight to nine months. In a July 31 email, Johnson, who left the interim position in September when current director Ryan LaClair took over, said Aramark was requesting $100,000 in additional reimbursement from the county in what she believed was a misinterpretation of the contract. She also said Aramark was providing “untimely” meal service that was not expected to do well at the facility’s upcoming Department of Health inspection, and that Aramark had yet to set up steam table service. …

Aramark details plans for Broome County’s meals
Source: John Roby, Press and Sun-Bulletin, January 14, 2016

Aramark officials detailed the company’s plan to take over Broome County’s food service operations to members of the legislature Thursday in the first public outline of the $3.4 million proposal. … The savings would result largely from the removal of 41 full-time and 34 part-time employees of Central Kitchen and the Willow Point dietary unit from the county payroll. Aramark will employ up to seven inmates to prepare meals — under company and sheriff’s supervision — at the jail, while company employees will cook and serve meals at the nursing home and those for delivery. … Aramark will charge Broome a per-meal fee that is set to increase each year of the five-year deal. Nursing home meals will start at $6.54 and rise to $7.36 in 2020, delivery meals will start at $3.90 and rise to $4.39, and inmate meals will increase from $1.76 to $2.

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