Tag Archives: New York

Private Toll Road Investors Shift Revenue Risk to States

Source: David Mildenberg, Bloomberg, November 27, 2013

Companies that build private toll roads are pressing states to assume more financial risk of traffic not meeting expectations, a change that benefits the operators while threatening to increase taxpayer costs. Illinois and Indiana are among states offering set payments instead of the right to keep toll revenue, the standard financing method in the past. A similar approach is being used in Florida to expand highways in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, and by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for a bridge to Staten Island. The new financing arrangement decreases the risk for operators, which include Madrid-based Ferrovial SA and Sydney-based Macquarie Atlas Roads Group, after at least 11 private U.S. toll projects since 1995 have struggled financially due to traffic not meeting projections….

…States are agreeing to make regular payments, often on a monthly or annual basis, provided toll-road operators build and maintain projects according to the contracts they negotiated. Under the arrangements, states receive toll revenue and have to augment it with money from their operating budgets should traffic fail to generate enough to cover costs. The terms typically call for the states to take over the roads after several decades….

Stop the privatization of Broome County Transit

Source: Molly McGrath, Pipe Dream, November 25, 2013

…. The Broome County Legislature’s plan for the privatization of BC Transit will drastically impact these residents, transit workers and off-campus students who rely on buses for transport to campus. Privatization must be stopped, and it is our duty as students to voice our disagreement with the Broome County Legislature. … In Schuyler County, the privatization of the transit system led to increased fares, the cutting of essential bus routes and reliance on Tompkins County in order to continue service.

Fiscal Impacts of Charter Schools: Lessons from New York

Source: Robert Bifulco, Randall Reback, Education Finance and Policy, Early Access, Posted Online November 14, 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This brief argues that charter school programs can have direct fiscal impacts on school districts for two reasons. First, operating two systems of public schools under separate governance arrangements can create excess costs. Second, charter school financing policies can distribute resources to or away from districts. Using the city school districts of Albany and Buffalo in New York, we demonstrate how fiscal impacts on local school districts can be estimated. We find that charter schools have had fiscal impacts on these two school districts. Finally, we argue that charter schools policies should seek to minimize any avoidable excess costs created by charter schools and ensure that the burden of any unavoidable excess costs is equitably distributed across traditional public schools, charter schools, and the state. We offer concrete policy recommendations that may help to achieve these objectives.

New York Looks to Cut Emissions by Private Trash Haulers

Source: Winnie Hu, New York Times, November 11, 2013

As aging garbage trucks rumble down the streets of New York, their fumes draw protests from residents and environmental advocates and raise concerns about asthma and other health effects. The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, which has made cleaner air a priority, has taken steps to modernize the city’s fleet of diesel-powered vehicles — including about 2,000 trucks used for picking up residential waste and recyclables — with newer, less-polluting models. Under a law the mayor signed in September, by 2017 at least 90 percent of these vehicles must meet the tougher emission control standards for diesel trucks that the federal Environmental Protection Agency set in 2007. But those trucks are not the only ones on the streets. Now the administration wants to impose similar requirements on private haulers who dispose of the city’s commercial garbage and recyclables, as well as construction and demolition debris. A new proposal would require about 8,300 private collection trucks to meet the same federal emissions standards by 2020, three years after the deadline for the municipal fleet. The proposal, which requires the approval of the City Council, is part of a larger package of revisions to the city’s air pollution control code….

Jeffco Schools: Unanimous vote uproots inBloom

Source: Vic Vela, Our Colorado News, November 8, 2013

For months, the Jeffco school board has heard concerns from parents regarding the plans to partner with an out-of-state entity for the purposes of storing student data. Now, after receiving an enormous amount of negative feedback from Jeffco parents, the board on Nov. 7 voted to pull the plug on inBloom, a company that has received resistance from other school districts nationwide. … The board voted unanimously to sever ties with inBloom, a $100 million company, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that provides data gathering technology to classroom dashboards. The district still hopes to create a “virtual classroom dashboard” — a system that would hold students’ academic records in a singular database, something that supporters say would better personalize instruction. But those plans no longer include inBloom. …

…The company’s data gathering capabilities has generated controversy nationwide, primarily having to do with privacy and security concerns on the part of critics. inBloom’s technology is capable of storing thousands of data points on students, including academic information like reading and math scores. But it can also hold personal data, such as a student’s health information or disciplinary records. Jeffco officials have long-said that the district would decide what information is provided to inBloom, and not the other way around. And the district has insisted that the dashboard — which will be provided by a separate software company called LoudCloud — will only collect pertinent academic information that is already being gathered through existing databases, such as grades, enrollment information and student demographics. With Jeffco serving ties with inBloom, it leaves only two states that are currently partnering with the company or that will be doing so in the near future — New York and Illinois. Prior to the school board’s decision, inBloom has seen other school districts in other states back away from their partnership plans….
Related:
Parents sue NY over student data-sharing system
Source: Associated Press, November 13, 2013

A group of New York City public school parents filed a lawsuit Wednesday to block state education officials from sharing student information with the data-storage firm inBloom. The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Albany, is based on the claim that disclosing identifiable student data without parental consent violates state privacy laws. … New York has signed up with Atlanta-based inBloom, which has received $100 million in grant money to create a system to store student data on servers accessed through the Internet. Parents in New York and elsewhere have raised privacy concerns about the company. …

Student education data collecting initiative inBloom puts sensitive information at risk
Source: Leonie Haimson, New York Daily News, March 14, 2013

The proposal to store complete sensitive personal information along with grades, test scores, health records and disciplinary records on a cloud comes from the officials who dreamt up ARIS supercomputer boondoggle….The most sensitive confidential data is being shared, including children’s names, emails, phone numbers, photos, which will be stored along with grades, test scores, health conditions, disabilities and detailed disciplinary records….
Related:
Gathering Student Information at Grade Schools Across America
Source: Occupy.com, April 24, 2013

…InBloom, a three-month-old database, is funded primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. built the infrastructure for the new electronic portal. The state spent $50 million in federal grants to partner with inBloom and finalized its agreement in October to share data with the fledgling company. … Other states that have already signed on to release student data to inBloom are Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Louisiana….

K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents
Source: Stephanie Simon, Reuters, March 3, 2013

An education technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will clang with bells and whistles as startups eagerly show off their latest wares.

But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.

In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion.

Local education officials retain legal control over their students’ information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.

Bus riders pressure city against Loop consolidation

Source: John Davis, Poughkeepsie Journal, November 11, 2013

Some City of Poughkeepsie residents are putting pressure on Mayor John Tkazyik to not replace the city bus service with an expanded Dutchess County Loop service. A recent study by the Poughkeepsie-Dutchess County Transportation Council concluded that at no extra cost to the county, the city could save $400,000 a year if the county were to retain 50 percent of the city’s current ridership. …

NYC: New school bus contracts to save $210 million

Source: Thomas McMahon, School Bus Fleet, November 12, 2013

School busing contracts that were opened up for public bid last spring and awarded in May will save the city an estimated $210 million over the next five years, the New York City mayor and education chancellor said on Monday. The savings is in addition to the $100 million saved from bids awarded last winter and the $95 million saved from pre-kindergarten contracts that were publicly bid in 2011. But the contract bids were not without opposition. Early this year, New York City’s biggest school bus driver union went on strike for more than a month, calling for the continuation of job protections, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg maintained that the city was “not legally allowed to provide” those job protections. …The mayor also announced plans to place the expiring contracts for an additional 4,100 bus routes up for public bidding. These routes serve about 39,000 students with disabilities and 96,000 general-education students. City officials expect the public bidding to save hundreds of millions of dollars….

Editorial: County budget: new low tax, same old story

Source: Spotlightnews.com, October 16, 2013

This year, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy has presented a fiscal plan in his tentative budget that breaks with recent convention and proposes a reasonable bump to the property tax levy. Coming in at a modest 1.6 percent hike, the tentative budget bears little resemblance to what McCoy rolled out last year, which included an 8.9 percent tax hike. McCoy’s predecessor, Michael Breslin, pitched a 2012 budget that included a whopping 19.2 percent increase in the tax levy. So for homeowners in Albany County, news of a 2014 proposal that comes in under the tax cap should come as welcomed relief. The problem is, this budget comes in low for much the same reason these previous plans came in high. McCoy, like Breslin before him, continues to use the budget as a playing piece in a game of brinkmanship with the County Legislature over the Albany County Nursing Home. Only instead of making a scene by pitching an enormous tax hike, he’s proposing to cut funding off mid-year. It might not make as many waves today, but the aim is just the same….
Related:
Benedict to McCoy: Veto ‘ill-conceived’ nursing home legislation
Source: Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, Times Union, July 18, 2013

County Legislature Minority Leader Christine Benedict is calling on County Exec Dan McCoy to veto the two resolutions the legislature’s Democratic majority passed last week related to the county-run nursing home. One authorizes McCoy to start negotiations with law firm Hodgson Russ to help steer the county through the process of forming a local development corporation to manage the nursing home and another authorizes McCoy to negotiate with a group of downstate nursing home administrators to consult on how to improve the operations. McCoy has unequivocally said he will not deal with the nursing home administrators the legislature wants him to hire. But his administration has also suggested it need not actually veto the resolutions because all they did was authorize him to negotiate with the firms….

Comptroller: Sell the Albany County Nursing Home as delays mount
Source: Associated Press, May 14, 2013
Albany County Comptroller Michael Conners suggested selling the county’s nursing home during his annual State of the Fisc report to the legislature Monday. Last year, County Executive Dan McCoy proposed privatizing the home through a lease agreement with Upstate Services Group, but the plan has been stuck in committee at an estimated cost of $1 million each month. The legislature delayed voting as it continues to consider a management agreement deal….

Comptroller enters nursing home fray
Source: Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, Times Union, May 13, 2013

County Comptroller Michael Conners, long a staunch defender of the county-run nursing home, on Monday urged lawmakers to follow the lead of Saratoga County and hand control of the facility over to a local development corporation. But if the development corporation, working with a private management firm and the facility’s unions, cannot reduce the annual red ink within a year or two, he said, the facility should be sold….Conners devoted nearly his entire speech to the legislature to the issue, breaking his long public silence on County Executive Dan McCoy’s plan to privatize the 250-bed Colonie facility with a 10-year lease. Conners, who battled former County Executive Michael Breslin’s attempts to close it, acknowledged that he never thought he would entertain the idea of selling it. …

Standing room only crowd largely criticizes plan to privatize Albany County Nursing Home
Source: Jamie D. Gilkey, Record, April 03, 2013

For nearly four hours Albany County lawmakers spent their Tuesday evening listening to a parade of witnesses who discussed the fate of the county’s nursing home. The lengthy gabfest was attended by a standing room only crowd that loudly cheered critics of County Executive Dan McCoy’s plan to lease the facility to a private operator while giving a lukewarm response to supporters of the proposal. During the meeting two speakers even noted that all but one supporter of the proposed operator, Upstate Services Group, are employees of the company.

Loan part of home deal / Albany County weighing plan to lend $12M to help private firm take nursing home reins
Source: Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, Times Union, November 12, 2012

A little-discussed element of the negotiations between Albany County and the private company angling to take over its nursing home focuses on a $12 million loan from the county to the firm, according to several officials briefed on a version of the proposal. County Executive Dan McCoy’s office — which has publicly discussed the proposed pact at the center of his 2013 budget only in general terms — declined to comment on the loan, citing ongoing contract negotiations with the firm, Upstate Services Group.

Privatization proposed for nursing home
Source: Kenneth C. Crowe II, Times Union, March 5, 2012

The Albany County Nursing Home could be privatized under two options that County Executive Dan McCoy offered for consideration Monday night. … Requests for proposals will go out in the next several weeks, the county executive said. The one that would privatize the nursing home operations would require recognition of the unions at the facility, McCoy said.

Atlantic Express files for bankruptcy

Source: Thomas McMahon, School Bus Fleet, November 5, 2013

A union battle, bidding issues and challenging earnings are key factors in school bus contractor Atlantic Express Transportation Corp.’s filing for bankruptcy, company officials said on Monday.

With a fleet of more than 5,000 school buses, Atlantic Express is the fourth-largest contractor in North America. The company has operations in New York, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania.

Atlantic Express and its subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for debt relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Officials said that during the Chapter 11 process, the company will continue normal operations and will “remain committed to providing its customers and passengers with safe, reliable and timely student and commuter transportation service.“…