Tag Archives: Texas

Texas bullet train could cost taxpayers $21.5 billion, new report concludes

Source: Bill Hethcock, Dallas Business Journal, February 14, 2017

A new report estimates the Texas bullet train could cost taxpayers $21.5 billion and concludes that privately funded high speed rail is not a feasible mode of transit outside of the Northeastern United States. The report from the Reason Foundation estimates that the proposed Texas Central Partners project between Dallas and Houston will run at a $537 million annual operating deficit over the its first 40 years of operations. The report also touches on the feasibility of other proposed privately funded high speed projects in California and Colorado. It comes at a time when President Trump’s infrastructure wish list apparently includes several high speed rail projects, and the president lamented a lack of high speed rail in a recent meeting with airlines executives. … The Reason report examines ridership trends and projections in the Dallas to Houston corridor, the cost of building a line along the 240-mile proposed route, and other factors, its authors said. … These factors indicate that “high-speed rail has no chance of succeeding in Texas, absent a dramatic change in land use and transit patterns,” the report concludes. It further finds that Texas Central Partners has exaggerated its ridership projections while underestimating costs, which will lead to revenue shortfalls, financial difficulties and ultimately, taxpayer subsidies. …

Dilley’s Immigrant Jail Is A Cash Cow For Private Prison Company, But What About Dilley?

Source: Aaron Schrank, Texas Public Radio, December 21, 2016

President Obama expanded use of family detention camps a couple of years ago to include lockups for thousands of Central American women and children seeking asylum at the Southern border. That’s been a gold mine for the corporate prison industry. Private prison giant CoreCivic–formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America–has put up record profits running a 2,400-bed family jail in the tiny city of Dilley. But some in Dilley worry hosting the hub of a controversial family detention policy hasn’t paid off for locals. … “Well, in general, the whole town is dead,” says Ortiz. “There’s nothing here. This used to be a very big agriculture town. They called it the watermelon capital; you can see the watermelon there.” Ortiz points to the hard-to-miss statue of a half-eaten watermelon—wrapped in Christmas lights. Today, Dilley is known for other things. “Mainly oil and incarceration, says Jose Asuncion, a third-generation Dilley resident. By incarceration, he means the state prison and the so-called family detention center packed with immigrant women and children. Between the two of them: “That’s 3,700 potential incarcerated people,” says Asuncion. “That’s equivalent to the town’s population. I think that’s wrong.” … The Dilley City Council approved its agreement with the private prison company and the man-camp owner in October 2014. CoreCivic agreed to prioritize hiring Dilley residents to fill 600 jobs, but Asuncion hasn’t seen that. … The council’s agenda promised the project would provide $6.9 million in direct economic benefit to Dilley, but it’s unclear that’s come through. The agreement–and appraisal district data–show the city should have brought in less than $2 million in revenue sharing from CoreCivic and property taxes from the center since then. Dilley has also taken out millions in bonds called certificates of obligation—without voter approval—for city projects including a water and sewer line upgrade for the detention center. … In the new contract, CoreCivic agreed to cut costs at Dilley by 40 percent, mostly through reductions in staff. A woman who works for a CoreCivic subcontractor says her pay was cut by more than 30 percent. “Everybody was dropped to $16-something-an-hour,” she says. “Everybody quit in our company. I’m serious. Everybody quit. That’s when I called them and said, ‘I can’t afford my rent here at 16 something.” …

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Private prison stocks are spiking
Source: Robert Ferris, CNBC, October 18, 2016

Corrections Corporation of America shares extended their gains Tuesday on word that a Texas facility would extend their contract. Shares spiked Monday after the company reported it is extending and amending a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the 2,400-bed South Texas Family Center in Dilley, Texas. Corrections Corp. shares closed at $14.55 on Tuesday, up 20 cents, or about 1.4 percent. The contract will extend through 2021, thought ICE will pay a lower monthly fixed rate to the company. The agreement is subject to termination upon 60-day notice. … At the end of September, both stocks posted their worst quarter in roughly 16 years.

ICE Renews Private Prison Contractor To Run Largest Family Detention Center
Source: Roque Planas, Huffington Post, October 18, 2016

Immigration and Customs Enforcement revised and extended a contract on Monday for a private company to keep running the country’s largest family detention center as a for-profit business for another five years. ICE renewed the contract with Corrections Corporation of America, despite a recent surge of criticism against the government’s reliance on private prison contractors. The South Texas Family Residential Center, which the Obama administration hastily constructed at the the tail end of 2014 to detain a sudden influx of Central American mothers and children, has also faced its own controversies, with lawsuits questioning the legality of the White House’s family detention policy. … Under CCA’s extended contract, the company will receive less money than before to run the Southern Texas Family Residential Center, according to a news release posted to the CCA website. The contract originally awarded to CCA to run the Dilley detention center was worth nearly $1 billion over four years and the company received the money regardless of how many people were locked up there. …

Private Prisons Are Cashing In on Refugees’ Desperation
Source: Antony Lowenstein, New York Times, February 25, 2016

The Dilley center holds people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a government agency, but it is run by the Corrections Corporation of America, America’s largest private prison and detention company. It is one part of a worrisome global trend of warehousing immigrants and asylum seekers at remote sites maintained by for-profit corporations. The United Nations estimates that one in every 122 people on the planet is displaced. This is a crisis that requires a humanitarian solution; unfortunately, some people view it as a business opportunity. … It has become a multimillion-dollar industry. The company Hero Norway runs 90 refugee centers in Norway and 10 in Sweden, charging governments $31 to $75 per refugee per night. Australia’s government has contracted the company Broadspectrum to manage two detention camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea for asylum seekers. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government awarded the security firm Serco a seven-year contract in 2014 worth over $100 million for running the Yarl’s Wood immigrant detention center. … In its 2014 annual report, the Corrections Corporation of America worried that changes to American immigration policy could cut into the company’s bottom line.

Family Detention Centers Apply for Child Care Licenses
Source: Seth Robbins, Associated Press, October 16, 2015

A Texas agency will inspect two of the nation’s largest immigrant family detention centers to determine whether to issue them residential child care licenses as part of an effort to keep the facilities open amid a legal challenge. … The detention centers are overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and run by private prison companies, which are applying for the licenses. According to an application filed by Corrections Corporation of America, the 2,000-bed facility in Dilley would provide child care services that can include handling children at risk to themselves or others and restraining children physically. The application filed by The GEO Group, the contractor at the 500-bed facility in Karnes City, asked only for child care services. … Filings about the Dilley facility mention untreated or unrecognized ailments that resulted in children being hospitalized, lack of medicines, erroneous vaccine dosages and long waits. Corrections Corporation of America would not comment on the allegations or the licensing process, deferring to the Homeland Security statement.

Federal judge orders Obama administration to release detained mothers and children
Source: Franco Ordonez, Miami Herald, August 22, 2015

A federal judge ruled late Friday night that the Obama administration has just over two months to begin releasing hundreds of migrant mothers and children who have been locked up in government family detention centers as they await their asylum hearings. In a 15-page ruling that quoted Mahatma Gandhi, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Central California delivered a scolding rebuke of the government’s expanded use of family detention centers. But she also granted the government one of its key requests for additional time – as much as 20 days – to continue to hold mothers and children under extenuating circumstances like last year’s surge of nearly 70,000 Central American families into the United States. … Gee rejected a last minute plea by the administration to reconsider her July ruling that the government acted in violation of a 1997 settlement regarding child migrants. She called the government’s arguments improper and speculative. … Homeland Security officials could not be immediately reached for comment, but they are expected to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But they’re also likely relieved. Gee did not issue a blanket order prohibiting the detention of all families under any circumstances beyond five days as they had feared.

Dems press White House to end family detention centers
Source: Mike Lillis, The Hill, July 31, 2015

House Democrats are escalating their calls for the Obama administration to shutter the family detention centers housing thousands of illegal immigrant women and children. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, 178 Democrats contend the centers — which were established last summer, largely to accommodate the flood of immigrants arriving at the southern border – are illegal and impose prison-like conditions that risk physical and mental harm to detainees. …
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ICE releases nearly 500 from Dilley, Karnes City detention centers over weekend

Source: Jason Buch, My San Antonio, December 6, 2016

A legal aid group representing immigrant families at two controversial detention centers in Karnes City and Dilley said the federal government released 460 women and children, about 25 percent of those being held, over the weekend. Some of the families had been in detention only a short time and have not yet had their credible fear interviews, the first step in the asylum process, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services said in an announcement about the releases. … ICE, however, said the releases “were scheduled as a part of normal operations and not in response to the court ruling.” “ICE is currently reviewing the court’s ruling on the matter of the operating license for the South Texas Family Residential Center,” spokesman Carl Rusnok said. “Operational activities continue without interruption at this time.” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sought licenses for the facilities last year after a judge in California ruled that the Karnes and Dilley centers were in violation of a court settlement governing the treatment of immigrant children. …

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Immigration detention centers will continue operating despite judge’s ruling
Source: Julian Aguilar, Texas Tribune, December 6, 2016

Two privately run immigration detention centers in Texas will continue their normal operations despite a Travis County judge’s ruling last week that prevents the state from licensing the facilities as child care centers. Late Friday, state District Judge Karin Crump ruled that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services could not issue the licenses, which are needed to comply with a federal judge’s order issued last year. The centers are in Dilley and Karnes City and are operated by Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group, respectively. The companies are under contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to run the centers holding some of the tens of thousands of Central American women and children that have illegally crossed into Texas since 2014. The centers have been criticized by rights groups for allegedly operating more like prisons. … In an email an ICE spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the ruling but said “operational activities continue without interruption.” The Texas Attorney General’s office filed an appeal of the ruling on Monday but declined to give additional details about the case.

Texas Judge Says “No More!” to Licensing Detention Facilities as Day Care Centers
Source: Ruth McCambridge, NonProfit Quarterly, December 6, 2016

In Travis County, Texas, Judge Karin Crump has ruled that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services must end the practice of licensing immigrant detention centers run by private prison groups as childcare facilities, whether or not they meet basic standards. The Texas facilities in question are in Karnes and Dilley; together, they can hold 3400 women and children. They are run by the two mega-groups in the private prison industry, GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, and for the convenience of the feds are designated “state-regulated childcare centers.” The state made the concession, apparently, to “help out” the federal government after it was successfully sued twice for the conditions in which children were being held. The latest suit was brought in California and produced a ruling that advocates hoped would prevent further large-scale detention of families.

Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit opposing the use of private prisons, brought the suit, using as counsel Jerry Wesevich, an attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA). Wesevich says there was never any intention of putting the child’s interests first in this arrangement:

The state’s executives admitted in documents and testimony that DFPS wanted to license these facilities to help the federal government, and not the children. Motive matters, and we believe it was the key to the case.

My Turn: What it’s really like inside immigration ‘baby jails’
Source: Sambo Duz, Arizona Republic, September 20, 2016

I recently spent a week at the euphemistically named South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, the largest of the Department of Homeland Security’s “baby jails.” As a volunteer attorney with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, I conducted legal orientations and worked with recently arrived mothers and children to prepare them for the first step in the very long asylum process: the credible fear interview, in which asylum seekers must demonstrate a credible fear of returning to their country and a significant possibility of establishing asylum eligibility. … In the Dilley detention center, the tables are round and the outlets are covered — the place is baby-proofed, because babies are among the detained. Several times each day, a Corrections Corporation of America guard would knock on the door of the legal consultation room and ask the mother I was meeting with whether this lost, crying toddler was hers. … Last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that children should not be detained in unlicensed and secure detention centers and that the government’s detention policy violates the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, which governs the standards for the detention, release and treatment of minors in immigration custody. Indeed, as a recent report by Human Rights First details, detention for any amount of time exacerbates the trauma these children have already suffered. And a growing body of medical literature has found that detention can have long-lasting health and developmental consequences for children. … Last month, Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the establishment of a subcommittee to evaluate whether DHS should follow the lead of the Department of Justice and phase out the use of private prisons. This announcement comes on the heels of Immigration and Customs Enforcement soliciting proposals for 1,000 additional family detention beds in Texas. …

Largest Private Prison Company Could Lose Lucrative Family Detention Contract
Source: Roque Planas, Huffington Post, August 12, 2016

The country’s largest private prison company saw its stock price dip this month, after revealing to investors that it might lose a lucrative contract to lock up migrant families in south Texas. Corrections Corporation of America reported in an Aug. 3 earnings call that it has presented a new plan to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reduce costs at the South Texas Family Residential Center, located an hour south of San Antonio. … Immigration authorities have been shopping around Texas for a new family detention center that might replace the Dilley facility or a similar facility in Karnes City, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Losing the contract would put a major dent in CCA’s revenues. The 2,400-bed Dilley facility generated $244.7 million for the company last year, according to its most recent annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in February ― more than 13 percent of the company’s total revenue. …

Licensing of Detention Centers Violates State Law, Hurts Families, Attorneys Say
Source: Alexa Garcia-Ditta, Texas Observer, May 14, 2016

Attorneys representing detained immigrant women and children argued in court Friday that Texas is violating state law and jeopardizing families by approving child care licenses for the state’s two family detention centers. Lawyers for the state and private prison companies that operate the facilities maintained that the families’ lawsuit will keep Texas from ensuring that children are fully protected. … Robert Doggett and Jerry Wesevich — Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorneys representing the plaintiffs — argued before Travis County Judge Karin Crump that DFPS that does not have the legislative authority to issue licenses to immigrant detention centers. The state’s main motivation, they said, is keeping them open and in compliance with the 1997 Flores v. Meese agreement, which prohibits detention of children in unlicensed facilities. Last summer, a federal judge in California reaffirmed the Flores agreement and ordered that children in unlicensed centers be released. … Jay Brown, an attorney representing the Corrections Corporation of America that operates the Dilley facility, argued that the immigrant facilities do not meet the state’s definition of “secure detention center,” which the Legislature wrote before the centers began housing children. …

Judge weighs fate of South Texas family immigration detention centers
Jazmine Ulloa, American-Statesman, May 13, 2016

As long as immigrant family detention centers remain open in Texas, the state Department of Family and Protective Services should be allowed to regulate them to protect the safety and welfare of immigrant children, state lawyers argued Friday. In a Travis County hearing, lawyers with the Texas attorney general’s office sought to show the benefits of allowing the state agency to provide child care licenses to the controversial facilities in South Texas. … State District Judge Karin Crump on Friday extended a temporary restraining order against the Department of Family and Protective Services, keeping the agency from issuing a child care license to at least one of the centers. Now, she is weighing whether to issue a temporary injunction that would invalidate the new rules all together. … On the other side, immigration lawyers and three immigrant detained mothers argued that jail-like facilities are no place for children. The mothers, who were brought in from Dilley, took the stand in bright T-shirts and jeans they said had been handed to them by detention center officials. They said they escaped gang violence and terror with their children only to end up in a place where they feel incarcerated. Their children have grown depressed and have trouble sleeping at night as guards shuffle through their rooms about every 30 minutes, they said. They said they are served the same dishes over and over, and the water tastes like chlorine and makes their children sick. …
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Texas prisoner’s death casts spotlight on privatized health care

Source: Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN, October 27, 2016

With five prison guards on his back, Michael Sabbie takes a blast of pepper spray point-blank to the face. Guards then frog-march him to a nurse for a 40-second exam, take him to a shower, where he collapses, then toss him in an isolation cell. In the span of 10 minutes, Sabbie drools, spits, apologizes, pleads. He never asks the guards to lift up his pants, despite his genitals and buttocks being exposed as he’s led through the halls of Texas’ Bi-State Jail. … The next morning, on July 22, 2015, Sabbie was found dead in an isolation cell. A medical examiner said he died from natural causes. The case illuminates an ongoing debate about the quality of privatized healthcare in American jails and prisons, which critics say sacrifices the well-being of inmates to satisfy bottom lines. Prison and prison health care companies counter that they save governments money and their services meet national standards. … Still, the family blames the for-profit firm running the jail, LaSalle Corrections, which they accuse of ignoring accepted medical procedures. They also say the company refuses to provide transparency into the father of four’s death. … The autopsy lists hypertensive arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease as the cause of death. Erik Heipt, an attorney for Sabbie’s family, says the respiratory distress Sabbie experienced was a result of pulmonary edema, also cited in the autopsy. Common symptoms include coughing up blood, wheezing, rapid breathing, sweating and speech inhibited by shortness of breath, all of which Sabbie was experiencing, Heipt said. The nurse should have monitored his lungs, blood pressure, heart and breathing rate, the attorney said, adding he thinks Sabbie’s condition would have been treatable with simple measures including diuretics, nitrates, oxygen and medication. … Like many private prisons, the contract between LaSalle Corrections and Bowie County, Texas, has a clause indemnifying the county for costs and claims “arising from any and all acts done or omitted to be done by operator.” …

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East Texas jail sued by family of dead inmate
Source: Associated Press April 7, 2014

The family of a man who died in custody in a Texarkana jail is suing the private company that operates the facility. The Texarkana Gazette reports that the sister and two daughters of James Hankins have filed a lawsuit in federal court against Community Education Centers, which is contracted to run the Bowie County Jail.

Students petition to remove Aramark services from campus

Source: Paul Cobler, Daily Texan, October 27, 2016

About 5,000 UT students have signed an online petition in one week calling on the university to cancel its food services contract with Aramark due to animal abuse concerns. The petition, created by public relations senior Zoe Wright, cites cruelty toward poultry raised on Aramark factory farms through a rapid growth process, improper slaughtering procedures and inhumane living conditions as reasons for UT to cancel its contract with the company.  Wright, a campus outreach intern for animal rights group The Humane League, created the petition as a part of a national campaign against Aramark on college campuses. … Aramark currently provides food services for University Unions Catering at UT and is one of the largest supply companies in the country.  Taylor Ford, The Humane League’s Corporate Campaign Manager, said The Humane League seeks to have the largest impact possible when addressing animal rights, and Aramark is the first target of their campaign. … Aramark established an animal welfare policy with the Humane Society of the United States that included poultry and egg treatment in August, the same month The Humane League’s campaign began. According to a press release, Aramark will address various animal welfare issues, including those cited in Wright’s petition. …

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UT hired company accused of human rights violation
Source: Megan Strickland, Daily Texan, March 21, 2012

Outsourcing labor for dining venues formerly run by Texas Athletics allowed the department to profit more than $3 million last year. But reports from human rights groups indicate an unseen human labor cost may be tacked onto the price of food and drinks bought at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

In 2011, 11 universities and athletics departments across the nation ended their contracts with Sodexo Services, a French-based company with 125,000 employees in North America serving 9.3 million meals each day to take in $8 billion in revenue annually, according to the company’s website. Sodexo Services is currently responsible for concessions at all UT athletic events, except for dining at the University of Texas Club at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. UT has a separate contract with Sodexo and paid the company $926,122.62 in the 2011 fiscal year, according to a report of University purchases to the State Comptroller’s office.,,,

Council moves ahead with janitor outsourcing, nixes rezoning for Bosqueville project

Source: J.B. Smith, Waco Tribune, September 20, 2016

Waco City Council on Tuesday agreed to seek proposals to privatize the city’s janitorial services but told nervous custodians the decision to outsource has yet to be made. The council voted 5-0 to authorize City Manager Dale Fisseler to seek the proposals from companies using the “competitive sealed proposal” process, which considers qualifications and service details as well as price. The outsourcing discussion drew at least a dozen interested members of the public, including some janitors who spoke of their fears of losing jobs and benefits. … Fisseler has suggested janitorial privatization as a way to save $294,000 a year, more than 30 percent of this year’s cleaning budget. But he said he won’t make an official recommendation on outsourcing until the proposals come back. Councilman Dillon Meek said he won’t be comfortable supporting privatization until he can get some key questions answered. He wants to know more about the private companies’ benefits and their use of part-time workers, the job opportunities for existing janitors and the effects on service quality, Meek said. He also wants to discuss the possibility of phasing in the private contractor based on attrition with the existing staff. … Privatization could affect 22 full-time janitors who get vacation time, health insurance and retirement, as well as three part-timers. Charles Reed, a former mayor of Waco, implored the council to reconsider the direction of privatizing janitorial jobs. “The only way this is going to save money is by cutting the pay and benefits of people who work for the city,” Reed said. “I ask each of you to search your conscience and ask, No. 1, is this necessary? And No. 2, is this the right thing to do?” …

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Waco to privatize janitorial service in upcoming budget
Source: J.B. Smith, Waco Tribune, July 12, 2016

The city of Waco is considering replacing its janitorial staff with private contractors in an effort to save $294,000 a year. City staff and three council members discussed privatizing the service at a budget and audit committee meeting Tuesday, three days before City Manager Dale Fisseler releases his preliminary budget for 2016-17. If the council agrees, the city would bid out the janitorial services now performed by 22 full-time and three part-time employees, reducing janitorial costs from $950,000 to an estimated $656,000 a year. Current employees earn between $9.94 and $14.10 per hour, plus benefits for full-time workers. …

Charter Schools and Labor Market Outcomes

Source: Will Dobbie & Roland G. Fryer Jr., NBER Working Paper No. w22502, August 2016

We estimate the impact of charter schools on early-life labor market outcomes using administrative data from Texas. We find that, at the mean, charter schools have no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings. No Excuses charter schools increase test scores and four-year college enrollment, but have a small and statistically insignificant impact on earnings, while other types of charter schools decrease test scores, four-year college enrollment, and earnings. Moving to school-level estimates, we find that charter schools that decrease test scores also tend to decrease earnings, while charter schools that increase test scores have no discernible impact on earnings. In contrast, high school graduation effects are predictive of earnings effects throughout the distribution of school quality. The paper concludes with a speculative discussion of what might explain our set of facts.

Jury finds against union, awards $5.3 million in damages to cleaning firm

Source: L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle, September 6, 2016

A Harris County jury on Tuesday awarded a Houston commercial cleaning firm $5.3 million in damages, finding that a labor union’s aggressive organizing campaign went too far when it maligned the reputation of the company. It opens the door for more employers to sue unions over hardball tactics often used in membership drives and contract disputes. The jury, by a 10-2 vote, found for Professional Janitorial Service in a suit the company brought nine years ago against the Service Employees International Union, which targeted the company as part of its “Justice for Janitors” organizing campaign and wrongly claimed Professional Janitorial Service had violated wage, overtime and other labor laws. The case was the first time that a jury has found against a union in a business defamation or disparagement case, according to a search of legal records by the company’s law firm, AZA of Houston. … The union said it would appeal the verdict. In a statement, the SEIU called the outcome an assault on free speech rights and said the trial was “riddled with procedural errors and blatant appeals to the prejudices of the jury.” The union said the company failed to prove the union’s statements were “false, defamatory, malicious” or that it suffered economic damages. … The case stretches back more than a decade, when SEIU launched its “Justice for Janitors” campaign in Houston, organizing workers at the city’s five biggest commercial cleaners and negotiating contracts with them. Professional Janitorial Service, the sixth largest, refused to recognize the union without first giving workers a chance to vote in a government-supervised election. SEIU went on the attack, accusing the company of forcing employees to work off the clock and firing them for union activities and using its connections with politicians and pension funds, which invest in commercial real estate, to steer cleaning contracts away from Professional Janitorial Service, according to court documents. …

New Dining Company Replaces Aramark on Campus

Source: Univeristy of Texas-Tyler Patriot Talon, September 1, 2016

The University has expanded dining options, such as tacos and upgraded convenient store, beginning this school year by hiring a new company in charge of food on campus. The company is called Sodexo and it has replaced the previous leadership of Aramark.  Sodexo is bringing with it better quality and selection in the Met, facility upgrades to the C-Store, later upgrades to Chick-fil-A and Subway, Wholly Habaneros and Einstein Brothers Bagels, University Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Business Officer William O’Donnell said. … O’ Donnell said the contract with Aramark was expiring and the University had to accept proposals from other interested companies.   “Five companies submitted proposals to operate the UT Tyler dining operation.  The campus was seeking the best option to provide quality food, reasonable pricing and better catering for the benefit of students, faculty and staff,” O’Donnell said.  Sodexo was chosen because there would be no increase in the meal plan rates for students, food quality would improve, its selection and service and quality catering, O’Donnell added. …

Inside the administration’s $1 billion deal to detain Central American asylum seekers

Source: Chico Harlan, Washington Post, August 14, 2016

As Central Americans surged across the U.S. border two years ago, the Obama administration skipped the standard public bidding process and agreed to a deal that offered generous terms to Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison company, to build a massive detention facility for women and children seeking asylum. The four-year, $1 billion contract — details of which have not been previously disclosed — has been a boon for CCA, which, in an unusual arrangement, gets the money regardless of how many people are detained at the facility. … In hundreds of other detention contracts given out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, federal payouts rise and fall in step with the percentage of beds being occupied. But in this case, CCA is paid for 100 percent capacity even if the facility is, say, half full, as it has been in recent months. … The rewards for CCA have been enormous: In 2015, the first full year in which the South Texas Family Residential Center was operating, CCA — which operates 74 facilities — made 14 percent of its revenue from that one center while recording record profit. CCA declined to specify the costs of operating the center. … Before Dilley, CCA’s revenue and profit had been flat for five years. The United States’ population of undocumented immigrants had begun to fall, reversing a decades-long trend, and the White House was looking to show greater leniency toward illegal immigrants already in the country. But under pressure to demonstrate that it still took border issues seriously, the administration took a tougher stance toward newly arriving Central Americans. …

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The Obama Administration’s $1 Billion Giveaway to the Private Prison Industry
Source: Eric Levitz, New York Magazine, August 15, 2016

For the first time in modern American history, the government decides to detain all Central American women and children seeking asylum in the U.S., instead of allowing them to live freely until their days in court. The policy change is intended to send a message to anyone else seeking refuge from a plague of gang violence below our southern border: Don’t believe everything you read on the Statue of Liberty. And to implement this draconian proposal, the government awards a well-connected private prison company with a $1 billion no-bid contract — one that promises to pay the firm $20 million a month, no matter how few migrants its facility is responsible for housing at a given time. Then federal courts rule that this policy of mass detention isn’t actually legal. But the contract is already signed, and so the Corrections Corporation of America collects millions in taxpayer money to maintain a nearly empty detention center. This may sound like the kind of cruel, incompetent policy-making you’d expect from Donald Trump’s administration. But it’s actually the work of Barack Obama’s. …