Tag Archives: New York

Lawsuits Allege Private Prison Company Covered Up Youth Sex Abuse

Source: Chris Kirkham, Huffington Post, January 13, 2014

A pair of recent lawsuits against a private youth prison operator in Florida amplify claims that the company, Youth Services International, has frequently covered up reports that staff sexually abused young people held inside its facilities.

According to a suit filed in October in federal court, the top administrator at one YSI youth prison regularly made sexual advances toward teenage boys held there in 2010 and 2011 and on at least one occasion brought inmates home with him and into his bedroom. A separate case filed in Florida court in November alleges that a female guard at another YSI facility in 2012 began an “intimate and sexual relationship” with a 14-year-old inmate.

Florida officials at the Department of Juvenile Justice did not investigate these alleged incidents until months and even nearly a year after they occurred, according to accounts from the mothers of the victims and documents obtained by The Huffington Post. This was in part because the for-profit prison operator failed to immediately report the alleged episodes as required under its contracts with the state….

Related:
Florida Senator Pushes For Abusive Youth Prison Company To Face Hearing
Source: Chris Kirkham, Huffington Post, December 10, 2013

A top lawmaker in Florida is calling for a legislative hearing on abuses at the state’s juvenile prisons run by the troubled for-profit contractor Youth Services International. …

Prisoners of Profit
Source: Huffington Post, October 2013

Private Prison Empire Rises Despite Startling Record Of Juvenile Abuse
By Chris Kirkham, Huffington Post, October 22, 2013
This is the first in a two-part series.

From a glance at his background, one might assume that James F. Slattery would have a difficult time convincing any state in America to entrust him with the supervision of its lawbreaking youth.

Over the past quarter century, Slattery’s for-profit prison enterprises have run afoul of the Justice Department and authorities in New York, Florida, Maryland, Nevada and Texas for alleged offenses ranging from condoning abuse of inmates to plying politicians with undisclosed gifts while seeking to secure state contracts.

In 2001, an 18-year-old committed to a Texas boot camp operated by one of Slattery’s previous companies, Correctional Services Corp., came down with pneumonia and pleaded to see a doctor as he struggled to breathe. Guards accused the teen of faking it and forced him to do pushups in his own vomit, according to Texas law enforcement reports. After nine days of medical neglect, he died…

…Despite that history, Slattery’s current company, Youth Services International, has retained and even expanded its contracts to operate juvenile prisons in several states. The company has capitalized on budgetary strains across the country as governments embrace privatization in pursuit of cost savings. Nearly 40 percent of the nation’s juvenile delinquents are today committed to private facilities, according to the most recent federal data from 2011, up from about 33 percent twelve years earlier….

Florida’s Lax Oversight Enables Systemic Abuse At Private Youth Prisons
Source: Chris Kirkham, Huffington Post, October 23, 2013
This is the second in a two-part series.

Youth Services International confronted a potentially expensive situation. It was early 2004, only three months into the private prison company’s $9.5 million contract to run Thompson Academy, a juvenile prison in Florida, and already the facility had become a scene of documented violence and neglect.

One guard had fractured an inmate’s elbow after the boy refused instructions to throw away a cup, according to incident reports. Another guard had slammed a boy’s head into the floor after an argument. The prison was infested with ants and cockroaches, toilets were frequently clogged and children reported finding bugs in their meager portions of food. …

Legal matters delay Nursing Home sale

Source: Lohr McKinstry, Press-Republican, January 9, 2014

Essex County has had to appropriate $775,000 to run Horace Nye Nursing Home for one more month. … The legal issues include two local corporations that the Centers for Specialty Care created to own and operate the Nursing Home. Essex Operations Associates LLC will run Horace Nye Nursing Home, and Essex Land Associates LLC will own the Horace Nye building and real estate. Ownership will be transferred to those two entities, instead of the Centers for Specialty Care directly…… The nullification of the Nursing Home’s collective-bargaining agreement is expected to take effect when the transfer occurs, although parts that apply to layoff, recall and retirement will continue……Some employees at the home will retire or move to other county departments instead of going to work for the new owner.

Related:
Horace Nye Home sale proceeding
Source: Lorh McKinstry, Press-Republican, August 21, 2012

Essex County is prepping workers for the upcoming transfer of Horace Nye Nursing Home to private hands. County Personnel Officer Monica Feeley said she’s been meeting with staff at the home, which will be sold to Centers for Specialty Care of the Bronx for $4 million. …. Word had been circulating that workers wouldn’t be able to retire if they qualified, or they’d lose seniority if they took a job in another county department. The current retirement is under the state system, Feeley said, and could even be transferred to another job in local government. …. The home has about 150 full- and part-time employees, many of whom belong to the Civil Service Employees Association union.

Editorial: An especially nasty rip-off

Source: Editorial, Albany Times-Union, December 17, 2013

THE ISSUE:
Initial audits find millions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse in special education….

THE STAKES:
The governor has an opportunity to authorize the comptroller to crack down on this….

…State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli last year began looking at the special ed system and found millions of dollars in misspending and outright rip-offs. It prompted him to push a bill mandating that his office audit the more than 300 special ed providers in the state and hold them to a level of accountability that the state has so far been incapable of enforcing. The bill awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature, with a deadline to act today.

Mr. DiNapoli has already been auditing the state Education Department’s oversight and management of New York’s $1.4 billion-a-year preschool special education program, which serves about 75,000 children with physical, developmental and emotional disabilities. So far, 18 audits of providers have uncovered $16.5 million in improper payments, including reimbursements for no-show jobs, questionable bonuses and raises, and teachers who lacked required certification. The audits also found money being spent on personal uses — cars, travel, entertainment, home furnishings and landscaping. Five people have been arrested; three have pleaded guilty.

Those audits included several Capital Region providers. In one case, full-time rates were being billed by a director who lived near Myrtle Beach, S.C.; in another, taxpayer funds were used for a $12,000 home entertainment center, a Disney World vacation, and tickets to Dave Mathews Band and Phish concerts.

All in all, the audits found that the state Education Department isn’t monitoring the special ed system well enough to prevent or detect such misuse of public funds, nor holding the executives, directors and private auditors of the firms accountable. State Education Commissioner John King last year acknowledged his department simply isn’t up to the task. He suggested Mr. DiNapoli’s auditors would be better suited for it. …

Crowdfunding for municipal projects

Source: Mark Feinberg, Government Procurement, December 13, 2013

Crowdfunding technology is bringing together community members, nonprofits, socially-minded businesses and private foundations to finance critical projects that municipalities struggle to fund. This model is changing the game for four primary reasons:

1. Virtual Public-Private Partnerships …
2. Transparency …
3. Funding Power …
4. Idea Exchange …

Audit of NYS Office of Children and Family Services contract TM09M1 with Homeowners Association, Inc.

Source: State of New York, Office of the New York State Comptroller, December 10, 2013

From the press release:
A Brooklyn contractor helped herself to state-funded equipment, including an iPad used by her granddaughter and a laptop her husband used for personal purposes, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The contractor, Homeowners Association, Inc., was paid by the state Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to train Brooklyn residents on ways to improve their financial situation. … Homeowners’ president, Carolyn Faulkner, received the grant through a state legislative member item to purchase equipment for workshops, seminars, meetings and newsletters on homeownership, credit worthiness and foreclosure preventions for residents of East New York, Brownsville and Canarsie in Brooklyn. Instead, DiNapoli’s auditors found, from 2010 to 2011, Faulkner spent all of the $20,000 on equipment that was used primarily for her family’s personal activities. …

Watchdog: Private-public initiatives at crux of scandal

Source: David Riley & Gary Craig, Democrat & Chronicle, December 4, 2013

…Navitech Services Corp., the main contractor on a pair of county projects at the center of an alleged bid-rigging scheme, may be the first local business that could feel financial pain from the scandal.

It probably will not be the last.

At stake in the case — in addition to the bottom line for a number of local businesses — is the safeguarding of millions of taxpayer dollars, the county’s public safety communications infrastructure, the county’s information technology systems, and perhaps the community’s overall business reputation.

Navitech, created in 2008 to manage lucrative county projects, is on the way to losing them.

Four local men were indicted last month on charges of steering contracts for work on the county’s behalf to favored companies, including Navitech. After the charges became public, County Executive Maggie Brooks directed the boards of two local development corporations, or LDCs, that oversee the projects to sever business ties with Navitech, saying a county review uncovered unspecified “irregularities” in its work….

…LDCs are legally created organizations formed to manage county projects. The LDCs caught up in this case are Upstate Telecommunications Corp., also known as UTC, and Monroe Security and Safety Systems, or M3S….

…A host of other businesses not mentioned in the indictment have had a hand in the projects — sweeping upgrades of the county’s phone and computer systems, its public safety radios and security systems. Some of those companies include LeChase Construction and Harris Corp….

Spotlight on Large Urban Counties: Leadership in Action

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.

Out of Control: The Coast-to-Coast Failures of Outsourcing Public Services to For-Profit Corporations

Source: In The Public Interest, December 2013

From the abstract:
Eager for quick cash, state and local governments across America have for decades handed over control of critical public services and assets to corporations that promise to handle them better, faster and cheaper. Unfortunately for taxpayers, not only has outsourcing these services failed to keep this promise, but too often it undermines transparency, accountability, shared prosperity and competition – the underpinnings of democracy itself. As state legislatures soon reconvene, policy makers likely will consider more outsourcing proposals. Out of Control: The Coast-to-Coast Failures of Outsourcing Public Services to For-Profit Corporations serves as a cautionary tale for lawmakers and taxpayers alike.

Out of Control: The Coast-to-Coast Failures of Outsourcing Public Services to For-Profit Corporations

Penfield aims to privatize plow route

Source: WHAM, December 4, 2013

Penfield’s town operators could soon have a lighter load, but that’s not what they want….LaFountain added that the town has been using contractors for various jobs related to other departments. The town could save approximately $6,000 by using a contractor, according to LaFountain. … Penfield has 17 plow routes. The change would impact one for this year, according to LaFountain….
Related:
Web Essay: Keep snowplowing in town workers’ hands
Source: Flo Tripi – CSEA Western Region president, Democrat and Chronicle, November 13, 2013

…Penfield residents deserve the high quality and reliable services that Penfield highway workers provide. With town employees caring for our streets, residents never have to worry about being stuck in their driveways, unable to go to work, to school, or anywhere else they need to be. Our town workers are professional, efficient and the best people for the job. Penfield employees provide quality, timely service when residents need those services the most. Penfield residents: Do not let the Town Board make a terrible mistake by privatizing your snow plow service….

Gov. Cuomo’s plan to hire ‘best and brightest’ for administration will cost $21M

Source: Glenn Blain, New York Daily News, November 12, 2013

Gov. Cuomo’s drive to hire the “best and brightest” for state government could end up costing taxpayers $20.6 million, the Daily News has learned. That’s the amount the Cuomo administration has quietly agreed to pay a Rochester-area company for “talent acquisition services” over the next five years. Cuomo administration officials defended the contract with the company, Datrose, as a necessary part of the governor’s plan announced last year to reform its recruiting efforts….

…State officials said Datrose was selected after a public bidding process and the contract was signed this spring. They said the $20.6 million figure represents only the maximum compensation the firm could receive. Under the contract, Datrose will be paid for each new hire resulting from one of its referrals. The company will receive up to 20% of the first-year salary of anyone hired through its efforts….