Tag Archives: South Carolina

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….

Public opposition to S.C. private-school choice flares

Source: Jamie Self, The State, October 23, 2013

Suspicion that private-school choice would dismantle public education and revive a segregation-era expansion of private schools fueled criticism Wednesday of a state Senate bill that would expand the state’s first private-school choice program. Speaking before a Senate panel in North Charleston, the Rev. Joe Darby, a Columbia native, said he worried the program, started with good intentions, would expand and lead to more inequity in the public-school system…. The General Assembly approved a private-school choice program this year. Starting in January, donations made for scholarships to help students with special needs attend private school will be eligible for a tax credit. …

…Jane Pulling, with the League of Women Voters, said the legislation was an effort to circumvent the state’s constitutional obligation to provide a free and quality public school system. “Whether you call it vouchers or whether you call it tax credits, you are still taking money out of the general fund” that could go to education, said Jackie Hicks, president of the S.C. Education Association. Hayes, of EdFirstSC, the teacher advocacy group, said the push for private-school choice in South Carolina is in part coming from Howard Rich, a multimillionaire New York developer who funnels money into the campaign accounts of conservatives who support his causes…..

Williston council talks trash, gangs

Source: David Purtell, People-Sentinel, July 17, 2013

…Also during the meeting, council approved a plan to keep residential garbage collection in-house. The town had been flirting with the idea of privatizing garbage collection to cut costs. The plan was to privatize the service if the cost to residents would stay at $10 a month, but the three bids from companies to operate the service all required increasing the solid waste fee. LeDuc came up with an alternate plan involving two parts, which was unanimously approved by council. The first part requires the town to stop collecting trash from businesses, which would cut garbage collection from five to three days a week. Businesses will have to get their services from a private provider. The town will now collect residential trash two days a week and yard trash one day a week. The second part of the plan calls to use two part-time employees and a one inmate laborer to collect trash. LeDuc said the new plan will lower the solid waste fee to under $9 a month for residents. Current full-time and part-time employees will have the opportunity to re-apply for the part-time positions. The town will also have to purchase a new garbage truck as part of the plan. LeDuc said the town’s current truck, which is six years old, has several mechanical problems. LeDuc recommended buying a truck for $141,545 from Christopher Truck, which had the lowest bid among four companies. The town will either use a loan, bond or a lease-purchase to buy the truck, LeDuc said….

…In other business:
Council approved a contract to use inmate labor. The contract is with the S.C. Department of Corrections and says the town can use up to six inmates per day at $15 a day per inmate. The inmates will work a variety of jobs for the town – from yard work to garbage collection. They will work year-round and will replace seasonal employees the town used in the past. …

The Dirty Thirty: Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of Corrections Corporation of America

Source: Holly Kirby, Bob Libal, Piper Madison, Julia Morris, Kymberlie Quong Charles, Grassroots Leadership and the Public Safety and Justice Campaign, June 2013

From the blog post:
Today Grassroots Leadership released our latest report, The Dirty Thirty: Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of Corrections Corporation of America, with our partners at the Public Safety and Justice Campaign. It’s part of our yearlong campaign to tell CCA and the private prison industry that there is nothing to celebrate about 30 years of private prisons.

Founded in 1983, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) gave birth to the modern for-profit private corrections industry. Over the last 30 years, the company has profited from the “war on drugs” and “tough on crime” policies and found a lucrative market in the detention of immigrants. Now a multi-billion dollar corporation, CCA uses its substantial political influence to make sure its interests are met.

The Dirty 30 offers 30 examples from the company’s history intended to shine a spotlight on the grave consequences of privatization for incarcerated people, prison staff, and the public at large, and brings a critical eye to the role of for-profit prison firms in criminal justice and immigration policies. …

Chapters include:
1. Auspicious Beginnings: “Just Like Selling Hamburgers,” CCA Opens First Detention Center in Houston, TX
2. A “Groundbreaking” Example of Prison Privatization: Squalor and Violence at Lake Erie Correctional Institution
3. Keeping Costs Low and Profits High Through Employee Mistreatment
4. A Disturbing Culture of Staff Misconduct
5. A Testament to Ineptitude: Escapes and Mistaken Releases
6. Riots Spiral Out Of Control
7. Denial and Death: Cutting Operational Costs Through Basic Medical Care
8. “Gold Star” Accreditation and “Impartial” Research
9. Tax Loopholes and Avoidance
10. UK Aspirations: Unlawful Death and a Violent Legacy
11. Fines, Failures and Scandal: Chased Out Of Australia
12. CCA Attempts Takeover of Entire Tennessee Prison System
13. Columbia Training Center Juvenile Abuse
14. 1990s REIT Disaster and Near Bankruptcy
15. CCA, A True Community Player
16. Oklahoma: Tulsa Takes Back Its County Jail
17. “Our Country Should Be Ashamed”: The Idaho ‘Gladiator School’
18. CCA Lobbies Against Transparency
19. CCA and ALEC’s Conservative Agenda
20. The Revolving Door: Insider Connections Win Big Contracts for CCA
21. CCA Helps Develop the Detention Business, Profits from Arizona’s Immigration Law SB1070
22. Family Detention and Sexual Abuse at Hutto
23. “It’s Been A Nightmare”: Violence and Death at Youngstown
24. Securing Beds in Colorado
25. Mismanagement and Violence at the Kit Carson Correctional Facility
26. The Death of Estelle Richardson
27. Paving the Schools-to-Prison Pipeline
28. Hawaii Women Removed from Otter Creek in Kentucky After Sexual Assaults
29. Murders at Arizona’s Saguaro Correctional Center
30. “No baby should be born in a toilet in prison”: Indifference Leads to Death at Dawson State Jail in Texas

State legislators’ ties to nonprofit groups prove fertile ground for corruption

Source: Nicholas Kusnetz, Center for Public Integrity, June 12, 2013

…Since 2010, at least eight New York lawmakers or their related charities have been investigated, charged or convicted of pillaging public funds. Earlier this year, former state Sen. Shirley Huntley pleaded guilty in two separate cases, one in which she sent state grants to a nonprofit she had founded before pocketing the money, the other in which she helped her niece and a former aide steal funds she directed to another group that, yes, Huntley herself created.

New York’s legislators outshine their peers in this department, but they’re not alone. Two former Florida state senators repeatedly directed state funds to a struggling group on whose board they sat, apparently not a violation of state law. A Pennsylvania charity had its state funding frozen after a state audit found it allegedly gave no-show jobs worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to a pastor and his aide at the direction of a state lawmaker. Illinois, Ohio and South Carolina all have seen similarly close ties between certain legislators and charities they helped fund.

While several examples led to criminal charges of theft and fraud, others appear to be perfectly legal: public officials are simply tipping the scales in favor of groups they are associated with or have a family member working for….

…In Texas, one lawmaker who worked for a nonprofit wanted to solicit contributions for the group (Texas, like most states, has a part-time legislature). The Ethics Commission said that solicitations “could be viewed as improper under certain circumstances” and advised the legislator to use “extreme caution,” but in January the body gave its approval. Two 2006 advisory opinions from Colorado’s Ethics Board allowed lawmakers to vote on or sponsor legislation that benefited nonprofits they were associated with, one as a paid director, the other as an unpaid board member….

Improving Social Services in an Era of Budget Cuts: Social Impact Bond Competition Gives Six States the Tools to Lead the Way

Source: Kippy Joseph and Jeffrey Liebman, Huffington Post, June 12, 2013

…A new financial instrument, called a “social impact bond” or “SIB,” has emerged to enable this type of contracting to occur. Private investors, both commercial and philanthropic, are providing the upfront operating funds for the service providers in exchange for receiving most of the results-based payments that result from successful service delivery from the governments. This instrument introduces market discipline into the social services field since only those service providers who can convince investors that they can achieve the performance targets will be able to attract funding. In addition, the private investment is what allows these projects to overcome the inability of cash-strapped governments to make investments in preventive services.

So far only one pay-for-success project is operating in the United States — New York City has established an initiative to deliver services to young offenders jailed at Rikers Island. The City will make payments only if the services manage to reduce recidivism rates.

But this approach is beginning to spread. Massachusetts and New York State are developing projects that would house homeless individuals, serve youth aging out of the juvenile correction system, and provide transitional employment for recently released adult offenders….
Can investors make money in social services?
Source: Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post, June 10, 2013

Six states are moving to develop so-called social impact bonds, marking a broad expansion of an experiment that taps private investors to fund capital-hungry social programs. Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Ohio, South Carolina and Colorado won a competition initiated by Harvard University and the Rockefeller Foundation, which will provide them technical assistance with developing bond programs. In the coming months, the states plan to write contracts for social service programs that taxpayers would pay for only if they prove to be successful. The initial outlays for the programs would be financed by private investors, who would reap a profit years later if the programs work as promised. … The deals typically require investors to put money into programs operated by nonprofit groups with government contracts.

No talk of strike, but Durham bus drivers fired up about bus safety

Source: Sujata Jain, WCSC, April 17, 2013

Moments of anger and frustration Tuesday night as bus drivers described their day-to-day working conditions. … Roughly six weeks after successful contract negotiations with their employer, Durham School Services, bus drivers and monitors from Charleston, Dorchester District 2, and Beaufort say the company and state-owned buses are unsafe and maintenance minimal to non-existent. …
School bus drivers’ union to hold press conference, forum today
Source: Island Packet, April 16, 2013

S.C. county to privatize inmate health

Source: Triangle Business Journal, December 20, 2012

Late last year, North Carolina was looking at ways to privatize the delivery of health care for its 40,000 inmates to a single provider under a seven-year $1.5 billion pact. But that deal never materialized and early this year, the state shelved the idea of contracting out the medical and mental care of inmates. But a Charlotte-based company, Southern Health Partners, may have found a way to get business out of another governmental agency — specifically in Anderson County, S.C.

Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets

Source: In the Public Interest, September 2012

From the press release:
For years, corporations have joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for the opportunity to develop legislation that diverts public dollars into their corporate coffers. A new report by In the Public Interest, “Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets,” exposes ALEC’s extensive privatization agenda. The report details how private prison corporations, online education companies, health care corporations, and major industry players pay large membership fees to ALEC in exchange for valuable and unfettered access to state legislators. Corporations are able to work with ALEC lawmakers to craft bills that allow private control of public functions, and guarantee a steady stream of tax dollars to enhance profits.

Corporate and legislative ALEC members work together to jointly develop pro-privatization model bills, and then legislators introduce and push these bills in their state legislatures. These bills make it easier to create virtual public schools, encourage states to privatize vital health programs that help vulnerable populations, force state governments to sell public prisons to prison corporations, and help other industries take control of public assets and services.

In 2011 and 2012, ALEC model bills that sought to privatize core public functions were introduced in states across the country, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Many ALEC bills fail their first time, but examples of success expose their real goal: enhancing corporate pocketbooks with lucrative government contracts.

Custodians worry as OCSD 5 considers hiring private firm

Source: Dale Linder-Altman, Times and Democrat, June 11, 2012

Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five custodians are on edge after learning that the district is considering hiring a private company for custodial services and grounds management….

….Meanwhile, some employees say they’re concerned moving to a private contractor could harm their ability to provide for themselves and their families. They’ve asked not to be identified because they worry about their jobs. One custodian said she recently asked officials if employees would be able to keep their benefits if the district hires private contractors to supply the services. “They did not respond,” she said…