Tag Archives: New York

NIFA report suggests eliminating crossing guards, closing Marine Bureau

Source: News 12 Long Island, August 31, 2017
 
A new report by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) suggests the county should eliminate crossing guards, privatize ambulance services and close its Marine Bureau in an effort to close a $54 million deficit.   CSEA President Jerry Larrichuita says he’s outraged by language in the report that suggests many of the proposed cuts would not have an impact on county services.  “I think they should stick to banking, which is their job, and stay out of government operations,” says Larrichuita. …

State workers to return to help desk jobs that had been outsourced

Source: Rick Karlin, Times Union, July 21, 2017
 
Less than a year after it started, the state Office for Information Technology Services is backing away from the outsourcing of its help desk, and will be once again have state workers assume many of those responsibilities. Soon after it began last fall, representatives of numerous state agencies complained they couldn’t get through to the newly privatized help desks, which were based in Buffalo but were backed up in Boulder, Colo. There had also been worries about the cost of the outsourcing. …  The agency said it will continue to work with its main outsourcing contractor, IBM, but state employees will provide on-site assistance at the various state agencies. The process will begin this month in the Capital Region. …

School board rejects plan to privatize food services

Source: Christina Daly, Long Beach Herald, July 13, 2017

The Long Beach Board of Education voted 3-2 to reject a plan to privatize the school district’s lunch program that administrators said would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars. At a contentious July 6 meeting, the board rejected a bid by Chartwells, a food- service company, to take over the district’s food operations and help fill a budget gap. School officials said the district lost about $400,000 in food services in each of the past two years due to a lack of student participation in the federally funded National School Lunch Program, which partially reimburses the district for lunches that the agency considers healthy. …

Authorization To Fix The Crumbling BQE Faster Stalls In Albany

Source: Emma Whitford, Gothamist, July 12, 2017
 
Legislation that the Department of Transportation predicted could shave years and millions of dollars off of critical Brooklyn Queens Expressway repairs floundered in Albany this session, to the frustration of local politicians, policy groups, labor unions, pro-business groups, and residents who live alongside the decaying BQE triple cantilever in Brooklyn Heights. … There is a basic resistance in Albany, and upstate generally, to what is considered privatization of the state contracting process,” she added. “The main opposition comes from public service unions that are concerned about their jobs somehow disappearing or being diminished.” (“We wanted to ensure that men and women in the state workforce, who are perfectly trained and qualified to do the work, didn’t lose their jobs because of design build outsourcing,” stated Emily Cote, director of communications for the Civil Service Employees Association.) …

Lawmakers Question Trump’s Stake in Subsidized Housing Complex

Source: Yamiche Alcindor, New York Times, July 10, 2017
 
Two congressional Democrats are demanding more information about President Trump’s potential conflicts of interest stemming from his part ownership of the nation’s largest federally subsidized housing complex, which they say could benefit financially from decisions made by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. … Mr. Trump stands to make millions from his 4 percent stake in Starrett City, a sprawling affordable housing complex in Brooklyn, according to a 10-page letter written by Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the House Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, whose district includes the complex. … The men added that they also worry that Mr. Trump’s proposed budget would make steep cuts to many housing programs but “would leave the type of federal aid that flows to the owners of Starrett City mostly intact.” … Mr. Cummings and Mr. Jeffries are also concerned about the appointment of Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump family associate, to lead the department’s New York and New Jersey office.

Re-privatized NYRA has mostly the same directors

Source: Rick Karllin, Times Union, June 8, 2017
 
The New York Racing Association, which in April was returned to private control after five years of state oversight, has a new board of directors. Under the privatization deal, lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to let the current board’s executive committee name eight of the 17 board members. As expected, they mostly reappointed themselves to the eight seats. There are, however, two new voting members, Richard Violette and Jeff Cannizzo, both with the state horsemen and breeders associations.

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New York Racing Association Privatization Plan Approved
Source: Tom Precious, Blood Horse, April 8, 2017
 
The New York Racing Association, operating under the control of the state government since 2012, will be returned to private hands under a deal that came together April 7 at the New York Capitol.  The measure was quietly and tentatively agreed to days ago, but it was caught up in a larger fight over the state budget that halted passage of it and dozens of other unrelated matters. That fight ended late Friday night. …

Governor Cuomo vetoes NYRA privatization bill
Source: NEWS10, February 2, 2017

The New York Racing Association won’t be going public anytime soon. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have switched public control of NYRA to the private sector. The governor left the bill unsigned past its deadline, triggering an automatic veto. The state took over NYRA in 2012, however, Governor Cuomo has laid out more plans in his 2017 budget to eventually re-privatize the horse racing association.

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Lawmakers Tour Penn Station as Christie, Cuomo Call for Privatization

Source: Lucy Yang, WABC, May 12, 2017
 
New Jersey state lawmakers toured Penn Station Friday to get a first-hand look at infrastructure in desperate need of repair after an ongoing wave of delays have left commuters frustrated and angry. And it comes as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo are pushing to privatize the transit hub. … The legislators got an eye-opening glimpse at the scope of work that Amtrak will undertake this summer, including the spaghetti junction of tracks and switches that needed to be replaced after a train derailment last month paralyzed service on New Jersey Transit, LIRR and Amtrak lines for a week. … On Thursday, Christie and Cuomo issued a joint letter declaring they have lost all faith in Amtrak. … If Amtrak agrees to contract out the running of Penn Station, the governors also want the right to approve any future, private contractor. …

Niagara County pushes for new county-wide ambulance service

Source: Jenn Schanz, News 4 Reporter, April 3, 2017

Officials in Niagara County want Mercy EMS to provide county-wide ambulance services. The non-profit would replace Twin City and American Medical Response, which are currently providing services to the county. The conflict started in the summer of 2016, when American Medical Response pulled out of the majority of Niagara County. … Kelemen stated response times for rural mental health patients have been so bad so that law enforcement has had to help. … That often deters patients from wanting to call for help again, Kelemen told us. Schultz pointed out it also takes deputies off the street. …

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Town of Niagara ends ambulance roulette, signs with Mercy EMS
Source: Al Vaughters, WIVB, August 11, 2016

Town of Niagara lawmakers met in an emergency session Wednesday, to approve a contract with Mercy EMS for ambulance services, rejecting an offer from the previous ambulance provider to continue its services. Local officials across Western New York have struggling with complaints about the reliability of ambulance services, across the board, which can often be the difference between life and death. Niagara town officials settled on Mercy because they were getting fed up with the AMR/Rural Metro’s lack of commitment, said Town Supervisor Lee Wallace … Rural Metro, and its successor AMR Emergency Medical Services, had been providing ambulance service for years, then last month, AMR gave town officials a 30-day notice they were terminating their contract. … In fact, AMR notified public safety officials they were pulling out of Niagara County altogether, except for the City of Niagara Falls, St. Mary’s Hospital, and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. Then when local officials started looking to other ambulance services, an about face by AMR–they would like to stay with the Town of Niagara. Wallace said that was just too much uncertainty, so the town is going with Mercy ambulance service starting Monday, rather than returning to the bargaining table with AMR. …

Governor agrees to direct-care worker raises

Source: Ben Gocker, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 30, 2017

Gov. Andrew Cuomo surpassed the state Legislature Tuesday in offering pay raises to people who work with those with disabilities. Cuomo’s $55 million goes beyond $45 million proposed by both the state Senate and Assembly. Cuomo had not included any increases for these workers in his initial state budget in January. The size of the increase will be worked out in ongoing budget negotiations between the two legislative chambers and the governor. The additional funds would help direct-support professionals who work for nonprofit organizations that contract with the state, such as the Adirondack Arc and Citizen Advocates, but not workers for state agencies such as the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, who tend to have better pay and benefits. … #bFair2DirectCare, a statewide coalition of advocates for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, their families and their direct care providers, has been fighting for better pay for these private-sector workers. … Most of the funding Adirondack Arc receives comes from Medicaid, and CEO Sadie Spada said consistent cuts to Medicaid affect her organization’s ability to pay workers what they deserve. …

New York’s largest for-profit SNF operator kept nurses in ‘indentured servitude,’ lawsuit claims

Source: Emily Mongan, McKnight’s March 14, 2017

New York’s largest for-profit nursing home group allegedly kept more than 350 Filipino nurses in “indentured servitude” and sued those who tried to quit, according to a class action complaint filed last week. The complaint was filed against SentosaCare by former employee and registered nurse Rose Ann Paguirigan. She said she was recruited from the Philippines to work for SentosaCare and eventually signed a contract to work for a Staten Island facility operated by the provider. The contract stated that Paguirigan would be employed full time as a registered nurse and paid a base salary; instead, she was employed as an RN manager, given 35 hours of work each week and paid less than the wage stated in the contract. Similar contracts were signed by hundreds of other foreign nurses recruited by the company, although SentosaCare and its recruiter, Prompt Nursing Recruitment Agency, have “policies and practices” to not give foreign nurses full time work or pay them the prevailing wage, Paguirigan’s complaint states. The filing also claims that the provider maintains a “deliberate scheme, pattern and plan” meant to convince foreign nurses that they would “suffer serious harm” if they quit the company or tried to find work elsewhere. This scheme included a reported $25,000 penalty placed in the nurses’ contracts that they must pay if they left SentosaCare before the end of their contract term. …

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How N.Y.’s Biggest For-Profit Nursing Home Group Flourishes Despite a Record of Patient Harm
Source: Allegra Abramo and Jennifer Lehman, ProPublica, October 27, 2015

Charlie Stewart was looking forward to getting out of the nursing home in time for his 60th birthday. On his planned release day, in late 2012, the Long Island facility instead called Stewart’s wife to say he was being sent to the hospital with a fever. When his wife, Jeanne, met him there, the stench of rotting flesh made it difficult to sit near her husband. The small wounds on his right foot that had been healing when Stewart entered the nursing home now blackened his entire shin. … Doctors told Stewart the infection in his leg was poisoning his body. To save his life, they would have to amputate above the knee. Stewart had spent about six weeks recovering from a diabetic emergency at Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation & Health Care Center on Long Island. The nursing home is one of several in a group of for-profit homes affiliated with SentosaCare, LLC, that have a record of repeat fines, violations and complaints for deficient care in recent years.

Despite that record, SentosaCare founder Benjamin Landa, partner Bent Philipson and family members have been able to expand their nursing home ownerships in New York, easily clearing regulatory reviews meant to be a check on repeat offenders. SentosaCare is now the state’s largest nursing home network, with at least 25 facilities and nearly 5,400 beds. …

The decision maker in these deals is the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council, a body of appointed officials, many from inside the health care industry. The council has substantial leverage to press nursing home applicants to improve quality, but an examination of dozens of transactions in recent years show that power is seldom used. Moreover, records show that the council hasn’t always had complete information about all the violations and fines at nursing homes owned by or affiliated with applicants it reviewed. That’s because the Department of Health, which prepares character-and-competence recommendations for the council, doesn’t report them all. … Thirteen of SentosaCare’s homes (though not Avalon Gardens) have Medicare’s bottom score for nurse staffing. Inspection reports also show that at least seven residents have wandered away from the SentosaCare affiliated facilities in recent years — including one who froze to death in 2011. Inspectors and prosecutors have found that staff falsified records in some cases. Dozens of patients at SentosaCare homes have experienced long delays before receiving necessary care; some ended up in hospitals.