Tag Archives: Rhode Island

Strapped Rhode Island City Presses College to Ante Up / Governor Signs Law Letting Smithfield Charge Bryant University Annual Fee for Safety Services

Source: Jennifer Levitz, Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2013
(subscription required)

As various town-gown battles simmer throughout New England, this small community has just received a rare weapon: the right to bill a local university for public-safety services. Gov. Lincoln Chafee recently signed legislation granting the town the ability to charge private Bryant University an annual fee for taxpayer-funded police, fire and rescue response. The law may be the first of its kind, and the university’s president has said he plans to challenge it in court….
Related:
New Law in Rhode Island Requires Bryant U. to Pay Town for Services
Source: Charles Huckabee, Chronicle of Higher Education, Ticker blog, July 12, 2013

Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee of Rhode Island has signed into law a measure that requires Bryant University to pay the Town of Smithfield for police, fire, and rescue-service expenses, The Providence Journal reported. The university’s president, former U.S. Rep. Ronald K. Machtley, had urged the governor to veto the bill, saying it would set a dangerous precedent for the legislature to force a nonprofit educational institution to make such payments.

The legislation requires Bryant to pay the town $250,000 to $370,000 annually, starting in March 2014, unless the two parties have negotiated a different agreement before then. Earlier this week, Mr. Machtley said that if the bill became law, the university would fight it in court. In a statement issued on Thursday, he said the university would meet with the town but would also “undertake a review and consider all of its options, including litigation.”
Related:
Chafee signs bill requiring Bryant University to reimburse Smithfield for services
Source: Katherine Gregg, Providence Journal, July 11, 2013

…The legislation requires Bryant and the town to negotiate an agreement for payment. If they fail to do so by March 1, 2014, the matching House and Senate bills require Bryant to begin paying the town for the cost….

…After Machtley called a press conference to denounce the legislation last weekend, Winfield, D-Smithfield, said Smithfield averages about 300 calls a year for service at Bryant and, from that, about 50 arrests, which have to be adjudicated. “Well, why is that on the back of the taxpayers? That has nothing to do with us,” Winfield said. Supporters also note that colleges in Providence are voluntarily making payments in lieu of taxes to the city….

National Charter School Study 2013

Source: Edward Cremata, Devora Davis, Kathleen Dickey, Kristina Lawyer, Yohannes Negassi, Margaret E. Raymond, James L. Woodworth, CREDO at Stanford University, 2013

From the press release:
A new, independent national study finds improvement in the overall performance of charter schools, driven in part by the presence of more high – performing charters and closure of underperforming charter schools.

The National Charter School Study 2013, released today by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University, is an update and expansion of CREDO’s 2009 landmark 16-state study, Multiple Choice, the first study to take a comprehensive look at the impact of charter schools on student performance. The 2009 study found a wide variance in quality among charter schools, with students in charter schools not faring as well in the aggregate as those attending traditional public schools.

The National Charter School Study 2013 looks at performance of students in charter schools in 26 states and New York City, which is treated separately as the city differs dramatically from the rest of the state. In those states (and New York City), charter school students now have greater learning gains in reading than their peers in traditional public s chools. Traditional public schools and charter schools have equivalent learning gains in mathematics….

Unions in Woonsocket agree to concessions, Budget Commission OKs contracts

Source: John Hill, Providence Journal, June 29, 2013

The city’s state-appointed Budget Commission Friday approved new contracts with four of the city’s six unions that cut health-care benefits and increased the costs of health insurance for City Hall and School Department retirees…. John Burns of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees said the concessions were difficult, particularly the health insurance increases for workers making less than $30,000 a year. His union also agreed to let the city partially privatize the water plant, costing the union 10 jobs….
Related:
Commission votes in favor of DBO for new water treatment plant
Source: Russ Olivo, The Call, June 17, 2013

Opponents went down fighting as Mayor Leo T. Fontaine narrowly won the authorization he needs to privatize a proposed $50 million water treatment plant from the Budget Commission. The long impasse over privatization finally broke on a 3-2 vote Friday as Fontaine and Commissioner Peder Schaefer lobbed verbal grenades at each other from opposite sides of the issue….The deadlock over privatization has been going on since at least 2009, when the City Council granted Fontaine permission to procure a new water treatment plant in a process known as design-build-operate, or DBO. That means one company would be granted a long-term contract – probably 20 years – to operate a plant that it has also designed and built…. The controversy seemed to have been put to rest on June 3, when a consulting team assembled by the Providence law firm Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West issued its report. Bruce Tobey, a former mayor of Gloucester, Mass. who led the consulting team, declared that DBO would be save the city about $28.4 million under a 20-year-contract. He said the plant would still cost about $51.6 million.

Tobey said some of the savings will come from reduced personnel costs, but much of the benefit would result from what he called “efficiencies of consolidated labor and planning.”… Many city residents are also against the plant, which they say will expose them to a new round of rate hikes on top of new taxes the commission is seeking as part of its five-year solvency plan…. In a non-binding move, the city council is expected to pass a resolution tonight opposing the DBO….

Pawtucket union seeks injunction to block privatization of trash service

Source: Ethan Shorey, Valley Breeze, May 28, 2013

The union representing sanitation workers in Pawtucket has filed for a temporary restraining order and injunction to prevent city officials from privatizing trash and recycling services. An attorney for the union will be in court Wednesday for a preliminary conference with the judge, according to Augie Venice, president of the Local 1012 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. Seekonk-based MTG Disposal is set to take over the service on June 3….
Related:
Union: ‘See you in court’ on move to private trash service
Source: Ethan Shorey, Valley Breeze, February 12, 2013

With the city’s sanitation services set to go private this Friday, Feb. 15, members of the Local 1012 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees are threatening that a lawsuit may be imminent….Mayor Don Grebien says that he plans to sign a contract with Seekonk-based MTG Disposal on Feb. 15. He gave the City Council a chance to review the document last week, but emphasized that he has ultimate authority to sign the contract without the council’s permission….

Video: Pawtucket trash services set to go private on Feb. 15
Source: Ethan Shorey, Valley Breeze, February 5, 2013

Love or hate the idea, the outsourcing of city sanitation services is about to happen. Mayor Don Grebien told The Breeze he’ll sign the contract with Seekonk-based MTG Disposal on Feb. 15. If he wanted to, said the mayor, he could sign the document immediately, but he’s agreed to allow the City Council to review it first. Members will do so at the council’s regular meeting on Wednesday evening. …The contract to be reviewed by the council Wednesday calls for paying MTG about $11 million over five years, $2.13 million in year one, $2.17 million in year two, $2.22 million in year three, $2.26 million in year four, and $2.3 million in year five….

Rhode Island: Accidents Increase With Red Light Cameras

Source: TheNewspaper.com, April 5, 2013

City data show accidents continue to rise at red light camera intersections in Providence, Rhode Island.

Providence red light camera mapAfter a decade of toying with the use of red light cameras, Providence, Rhode Island has seen a continued spike in the number of accidents at photo enforced intersections. Between 2006 and 2012, the program generated $6,160,975 in revenue, but accidents have skyrocketed over the last three years.

According to the city’s annual reports to the state, obtained by GoLocalProv, there were 28 property damage collisions and 10 injury collisions at red light camera intersections in 2010. In 2011, collisions jumped 189 percent to 81, though injury collisions dipped to 7. Last year property damage accidents increased another 15 percent to 96 while injury accidents grew to 12. Over three years, the number of collisions had grown 242 percent.

The city now has fifteen intersections monitored by cameras that are owned and operated by Xerox.

Privatization hits roadblock

Source: Russ Olivo, Woonsocket Call, January 28, 2013

The Budget Commission has refused to let the city’s plan to privatize a new water treatment plant move forward after hearing from a well-organized band of opponents at its last meeting. But Mayor Leo T. Fontaine, a member of the commission and one of the staunchest advocates of privatization, says the panel could revisit the issue as early as Feb. 5. At issue is whether the city should ask outside engineers to develop bid specifications for the $50 million proposal based on the premise that the new water plant will be designed, built and operated by one for-profit firm. The plant would be owned by the city, but the same company that builds it would also be offered a contract to operate it with its own employees for 20 years….

New York announces $2.4 million settlement in overcharging scheme / Company will reimburse hundreds of state and local government entities

Source: Larry Conley, American City and County, January 18, 2013

Nearly 1,000 New York government entities will receive a check for overcharges as part of a $2.4 million settlement with one of the nation’s largest medical waste disposal companies. Under the agreement, Stericycle, Inc., will fully reimburse New York police and fire departments, schools, hospitals, prisons and other entities for a scheme to charge automated price increases without notice and in violation of contract terms. … Government entities affected by the overcharges are located throughout New York. Some entities receiving the largest compensation include the WF Bruen Rescue Squad, Rensselaer, $26, 671.16; Albany Sheriff’s Correctional, $22,160.28; Broome Community College, Binghamton, $13,966.86; Clinton Correctional Facility, Dannemora, $21,094.35; and Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, $9,409.46. …
Related:
Lawsuit: Stericycle systematically overcharged governmental agencies
Source: Jeremy Carroll, Waste & Recycling News, January 8, 2013

Stericycle Inc. systematically overcharged governmental agencies throughout the country, including the federal government, a whistleblower lawsuit alleges. The suit, first filed in 2008 in Illinois, was unsealed Jan. 8. Former employee Jennifer Perez is named as a plaintiff, along with 14 states, the federal government and the District of Columbia. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alluded to the lawsuit after he announced a $2.4 million settlement against the Lake Forest, Ill.-based medical waste giant Jan. 8. …

From the lawsuit:
Stericycle is a company that collects and disposes of medical waste throughout the United States. Stericycle has defrauded federal, state and local governments by knowingly or recklessly overcharging its governmental customers and by withholding accurate pricing data from its customers when it agrees to pick up medical waste. Stericycle tails to inform its customers that despite the contract price it has agreed to, Stericycle intends to and adds unallowable surcharges to each bill, in addition to an undisclosed 18% across the board increase every 9 months. Stericycle conceals its intent to add these increases to each bill because it knows governmental customers would never agree to them if disclosed in advance.

AFL-CIO to make Pawtucket a ‘battleground’ city

Source: Ethan Shorey,Valley Breeze, November 27, 2012

The Rhode Island AFL-CIO is planning a major offensive against efforts to privatize municipal departments across the state, and Pawtucket is expected to be the launching point…According to Venice, state union leaders currently see the threat to unions in Rhode Island as being the greatest in Pawtucket, where Mayor Don Grebien is in the process of negotiating with a private company to take over trash services.There is also a preliminary proposal from food service provider Sodexo to assume control of school custodial and maintenance services….

Sodexo offers to take over school custodial services

Source: Ethan Shorey, Valley Breeze, November 19, 2012

The privatization train is picking up steam in Pawtucket, where union workers are desperately seeking ways to derail it. The latest proposal is for privatizing custodial and maintenance departments in Pawtucket schools. According to Superintendent Deborah Cylke, the schools’ food service provider, Sodexo, has offered to provide the services at a reduced cost to the district.

Public money spent on private business can be a gamble

Source: Jason Hidalgo, Reno Gazettte-Journal/ USA Today, July 30, 2012

… As founder and chairman of video game developer 38 Studios, Schilling convinced Rhode Island officials in 2010 to give his company a $75 million loan guarantee in exchange for relocating from Massachusetts. It was a public-private partnership that was supposed to bring in 450 new jobs and kick start a new industry that Rhode Island could grow. … The spectacular rise and collapse of 38 Studios serves as a cautionary tale about what can go wrong when public money is used to support private enterprise….. In some cases, jobs produced by companies being incentivized do not match expectations, said Thomas Cafcas, a research analyst who tracks Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states for national policy resource center Good Jobs First….