Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Government records database launched

Source: By David Spett, Post-Gazette (PA), Wednesday, July 23, 2008

State Treasurer Robin L. Wiessmann yesterday showed off a new Web site that features a database of government contracts the public can access. She said the state’s new right-to-know law required creation of the database, known as the Pennsylvania Contracts e-Library. The open records law, signed in February, increases public access to government records.

…… She said “virtually all” government departments are required to post their contracts with private companies in the database.

……… . Lawmakers granted a few exemptions to certain departments, like the Department of Justice, that wanted to have their own separate databases.

Edison Schools settles lawsuit over sex assault

Source: By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer (PA), July 1, 2008

Days after claiming it was not responsible for the safety of its pupils, Edison Schools Inc. has settled a lawsuit brought by the family of a boy raped in one of its Philadelphia schools.

…… Stetson, in Kensington, was managed by Edison from 2002 until the end of this school year. Edison lost contracts to run Stetson and three other schools after the district found the schools lacking in academic performance and school climate, a measure that includes violent incidents. Two other schools run by different providers were also taken back by the district.

In 2004, a 12-year-old boy was sexually assaulted by an 11-year-old classmate in Stetson Middle School after the two argued over a ball. The 11-year-old pleaded guilty to the assault.

Phila. taking back 6 privatized schools

Source: By Kristen A. Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer (PA), Thu, Jun. 19, 2008

In a blow to the Philadelphia School District’s historic privatization experiment, the School Reform Commission voted yesterday to seize six schools from outside managers and warned them that they are in danger of losing 20 others if progress is not made.

…… Of the 38 schools run by outside managers, 16 percent – the poorest performers – will return to district control, 53 percent will get one year to show accelerated progress, and 32 percent will get new, three-year contracts.

Violence, deaths trigger Mayview review

Source: By Joe Fahy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA), Saturday, June 21, 2008

State mental health officials plan to meet with representatives from the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic to discuss the state’s latest investigation of serious incidents involving former Mayview State Hospital patients and other local residents receiving community mental health services.

………. Officials said eight serious incidents, known as “sentinel events,” have triggered investigations since the state announced in August that it plans to close Mayview by the end of this year. Five sentinel events have been investigated since January and three others occurred earlier.

One incident involved a person who set a fire at a Washington County group home and had not been a patient at Mayview, officials said. The other seven sentinel event investigations involved four former Mayview patients who died and three others who were arrested.

…… After announcing Mayview would be closed, the state made the decision to probe sentinel events not only involving former Mayview patients, but others receiving community mental health services in an effort to improve care, Ms. Erney said.

City union contests garbage collection

Source: By Steve Ferris, Herald-Standard (PA), 06/14/2008

The union representing Uniontown’s sanitation workers has filed a grievance aiming to stop City Council from proceeding with its plans to turn over the garbage collection service to a private contractor, a union official said. The grievance was filed last month after council voted to award a three-year contract to Veolia Environmental Services of German Township, said Richard Caponi, director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 84.

……. Council never notified the union that hiring a private contractor was being considered and didn’t notify the union that it was going to be replaced with a private contractor until after the grievance was filed, he said.

Water Department workers oppose privatization move

Source: Jeff Shields, Philadelphia Inquirer (PA), Wed, Jun. 4, 2008

Heavy-equipment operator Mike Impagliazzo spends his days shoveling human waste-turned-fertilizer at the city sludge plant, steeped in the odors of his trade, loving his job “like a second wife.” “But this one doesn’t take the money,” the 33-year Water Department veteran shouts over the rumble of his front-end loader. “It gives money.” ….. And this troop, 60 strong, many of them committed and highly trained, is battling the Water Department’s efforts to privatize its sludge operation because the workers don’t believe anyone can do their jobs better.

……. Even so, for District Council 33 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, opposition to the plan is instinctive – some see it as a slippery slope to privatizing other areas of the Water Department.

Parking partners hit impasse with union

Source: By David Dagan and Eric Veronikis, Central Penn Business Journal (PA), 6/2/2008

Members of Harrisburg’s parking union are not budging despite the latest round of wooing by a private partnership offering to lease the city’s parking facilities for $215 million. It’s been more than two weeks since the partnership led by New York City-based real estate investor Jacob A. Frydman mailed individual letters to union employees that promised higher pay and job protections if the deal goes through. …… The letter was sent after union members voted unanimously not to negotiate with the partnership, Harrisburg Public Parking. Many parking authority employees declined to talk last week when approached by reporters. A handful who did were adamantly opposed to the lease.

……… . Lewis said the employees have watched enough takeovers to believe that what is promised does not match up with the real outcome. The union is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 521b. A clause in the union’s contract requires that union workers remain employed by the city’s parking authority in the event of a lease.

Hidden costs will make Turnpike deal a bad one

Source: By Ellen Dannin and Phineas Baxandall, Ellen Dannin teaches law at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. Phineas Baxandall is senior analyst for tax and budget policy at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Philadelphia Inquirer (PA),
Tue, May. 27, 2008

The prospect of $12.8 billion to invest in public infrastructure and promises that investing the payout would yield more than $1 billion every year for the life of the 75-year Pennsylvania Turnpike deal may sound like a godsend to a commonwealth filled with crumbling roads and bridges.

Aside from some grumbling about increased tolls for drivers, many regard these potential proceeds like free cash. The truth is the money would have huge hidden costs far greater than the projected toll increases. These costs would leave Pennsylvania poorer rather than better off.

Waste plan not down drain / A bill in Council would allow a private sludge plant in S.W. Phila.

Source: By Jeff Shields, Philadelphia Inquirer (PA), May 16, 2008

Water Commissioner Bernard Brunwasser says a new, privatized sludge plant in Southwest Philadelphia would reduce the human waste stored on site, require fewer diesel trucks to haul that waste, and eliminate the putrid smell that can extend more than a mile in any direction from under the Platt Bridge.

What seems like an easy sell has been anything but because, in part, it would eliminate 60 union jobs at the city’s current “biosolids” plant, a nice name for the not-so-nice mess that comes out of the city’s wastewater. The Nutter administration introduced legislation yesterday in City Council that would allow a private partnership, led by the country’s largest biosolids contractor, to take over disposal from the city’s wastewater treatment facilities.

The initiative, introduced by Mayor John F. Street in early 2006, had stalled because of opposition from District Council 33 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents workers at the current plant. Union officials could not be reached yesterday.

Parking company to union: Let's partner

Source: By David Dagan, Central Penn Business (PA), 5/16/2008

The deal is on the table for members of the Harrisburg Parking Authority union. The private company that wants to lease the city’s parking facilities yesterday mailed a letter to members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 521b. The union local has publicly opposed the deal.

The letter promised an hourly pay increase of 75 cents, a cash bonus equal to 20 percent of salary and other perks if the union agrees to remove a contract clause blocking the $215 million, 75-year lease.