Tag Archives: Texas

Mayor Turner, Waste Management reach agreement on recycling contract

Source: Olivia Pulsinelli, Houston Business Journal, March 11, 2016

Just days after a contract was rejected, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Waste Management Inc. (NYSE: WM) have reached an agreement to continue recycling services in Houston. Houston City Council is expected to approve the new agreement after returning from spring break. The current contract is set to expire on March 16, but Waste Management agreed to an extension until March 23, so recycling services will be provided without disruption. The newly proposed two-year contract includes a $90-per-ton processing fee and a guarantee to Waste Management of at least 75 percent of the city’s revenue stream. … Previously, the original negotiated agreement would have locked the city into a six-year contract with a cost of $95 per ton. Mayor Turner then proposed a two-year offer at $104 per ton in case market conditions improve. Waste Management then countered with a deal that would have cost $11.5 million over three years, including $7.6 million over the first two years.

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Editorial: Cutting trash: Long-term sustainability shouldn’t be sacrificed for short-term savings.
Source: Houston Chronicle, March 11, 2016

Mayor Sylvester Turner did say that Houston would have to sacrifice, but who could have guessed that recycling bins would be the first to face the potential incinerator? After all, if you look back a few years ago, City Hall was actually making money from its recycling contract with Waste Management.

City of Houston rejects Waste Management’s recycling contract, seeks alternatives
Source: Laura Furr, Houston Business Journal, March 11, 2016

Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston City Council rejected Waste Management Inc.’s (NYSE: WM) recycling contract and are seeking other bidders, various media reports confirm. Turner said the Houston-based recycling services provider had submitted an $18 million contract, up several million dollars from the previous one, that would last six years, according to Houston Public Media. The mayor said he proposed to share the increased contract cost with Waste Management or gain a contract for a shorter amount of time, but negotiations were unsuccessful. … Under the company’s rejected contract, the city of Houston would pay $95 per ton to process and resell Houston’s recyclables for at least four years, according to the Houston Chronicle. The current contract charges only $65 per ton. Turner had proposed paying $104 per ton for one year, but that contract was rejected by Waste Management, according to the Chronicle. …

More customers step up to complain against Houston trash company
Source: Keli Rabon, KTRK, August 17, 2015

From Spring to Sweeny, Jersey Village to the Galleria, customers of Houston-based Waste Corporation of America, or WCA, say they pay good money for trash pick-up, but they’re getting rotten service in return. … On Thursday, ABC-13 exposed WCA’s inconsistent pickups and unresponsive customer service. Of the 38 Houston-area complaints WCA customers filed with the Better Business Bureau in the last year, 23 remain unanswered. … “It’s overflowing, plastic bags are laying on the ground, feral cats are digging into them,” Taliaferro said. Like many customers we’ve talked to, he’s tired of paying for a service he can’t count on. “WCA’s maximizing their bottom line, at the expense of the customers,” Taliaferro said.

Residents accuse Houston trash company of taking their money, leaving their trash
Source: Keli Rabon, KTRK, August 13, 2015

When Spring resident Sena Bethke hauls her trash can to the street on pickup day, many times she pulls it back home still full. “Rotten shrimp, crab legs, oysters, cat litter,” Bethke says. “Sitting out in a hot can for a week or two, it’s nauseating!” A few months ago, Bethke’s trash provider, Royal, merged with trash-giant Waste Corporation of America, a Houston-based company serving 300,000 local homes. … Bethke pays for once-a-week pickup, but at times she’s waited more than two weeks for WCA to take her trash. And when she called to complain, Bethke says she received more excuses than answers. … From Magnolia to Brazoria, WCA customers have complained to the Better Business Bureau about similar problems. Of the 38 Houston-area complaints filed in the last year, 23 remain unanswered.

U.S. Marshals Are Arresting People in Texas Who Have Outstanding Student Loans

Source: Samuel Lieberman, New York Magazine, February 16, 2016

Texas congressman Gene Green explained to Fox 26 that the federal government has been contracting out student-loan collections to private debt collectors, who are allowed to deploy the U.S. marshals as their enforcement arm. … Around Houston, that “better way” involves 1,200 to 1,500 arrest warrants. Student debt is at an all time high in the U.S., where students hold an average of $35,000 in federal debt, according to an analysis of government data on Edvisors.

Aramark Educational Services LLC in Lubbock, Texas, settles charges of gender and race discrimination with US Labor Department

Source: Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, November 23, 2015

Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Aramark Education Services LLC has entered into a conciliation agreement to resolve claims of systemic hiring discrimination. OFCCP found that the contractor discriminated against 335 male and African-American applicants for food service worker positions with Aramark, a federal contractor in Lubbock. … The agreement concludes an investigation from Aug. 16, 2008 through Aug. 16, 2010, by OFCCP that Aramark failed to comply with Executive Order 11246, which prohibits race and sex discrimination by federal contractors that do business with the government. Under the agreement, Aramark will pay $165,000 in back wages, interest, and benefits to the affected class members. The company, while not admitting liability, will also make 53 job offers to original applicants as positions become available. Finally, the company will review and revise its selection process and provide better training to its hiring managers to eliminate practices that result in gender and race stereotyping.

County looking at outsourcing jury summons

Source: Nathaniel Miller, OA Online, November 13, 2015

Officials are hoping outsourcing the mailing of jury summons in Ector County not only helps streamline the process, but also brings in more potential jurors as the courthouse looks at more jury weeks in 2016. The process of sending out physical jury summons is still handled by staff in the Ector County district and county clerk offices, but on Monday Ector County Commissioners approved bid specifications for hiring an outside vendor to mail physical copies of the summons. …

New ambulance provider coming to Brown County next year

Source: KTXS, November 9, 2015

Brown County residents will be seeing a new ambulance provider next year. The Brown County Commissioners discussed and approved a five year contract for Lifeguard Inc. on Monday. The contract is worth a little more than $100,000, but it’s less than the previous contract with Allegiance Ambulance.

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County commissioners to discuss ambulance contract
Source: Brent Addleman, Brownwood Bulletin, November 8, 2015

Brown County could potentially get a new ambulance services company in 2016. The Brown County Commissioners have placed on the agenda for Monday’s 9 a.m. meeting at the Brown County Courthouse, the “consideration and possible approval of contract with LifeGuard, Inc. for ambulance services.” … The contract for ambulance services would begin on Jan. 1, 2016. The committee, comprised of representatives from Brownwood, Bangs, Early, Brown County, Brownwood Regional Medical Center and an independent medical officer, heard proposals from five ambulance companies, according to Kelton.

Brown County to Begin Negotiations for New Ambulance Service
Source: Lisa Tipton, Brownwood News, September 21, 2015

Brown County Commissioners took the first step in securing a new ambulance service in Brown County Monday morning.  Commissioners voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the Brown County Ambulance Selection Committee to begin negotiations with LifeGuard Ambulance Services for the county’s EMS and ambulance services. The committee began the selection process by requesting proposals on July 15, 2015 for emergency ambulance and EMS service which will begin on January 1, 2016.  This date is when the county’s contract with the current service provider, Allegiance Ambulance Service, ends. …

Dallas County approves halfway house lease with controversial Corrections Corporation of America

Source: Conor Shine, Dallas Morning News, November 3, 2015

Despite unease at doing business with a for-profit prison company with a history of alleged inmate mistreatment and abuse, Dallas County commissioners approved a lease Tuesday allowing Corrections Corporation of America to operate a county halfway house, largely because they didn’t have any other options. … Commissioner Theresa Daniel said she was “aghast” when she found out the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America would be running the halfway house for recently released prison inmates who don’t have a place to live. The commission’s decision Tuesday addressed a legal technicality to reflect that the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America is taking over operations from the nonprofit Lifestyle Management Inc. as part of a larger business acquisition.

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Dallas County gets key concessions from for-profit prison operator
Source: Stephen Young, Dallas Observer, November 3, 2015

It may have been impossible to stop CCA — a company that ran both a Kentucky prison that was shut down after the discovery of widespread sexual abuse of inmates by guards in 2009 and a Tyler immigration detention center whose supervisor went to prison for sexually assaulting female detainees — from taking over the halfway house, but commissioners did delay the vote to accept the lease transfer for two weeks. In taking over the lease, CCA will be required to provide transportation for residents of the halfway house, have a maximum of 300 beds at the facility and not use the Cabana as anything but a halfway house. CCA will also not be allowed to accept anyone civilly committed by the state of Texas as a resident. Civil commitment is the process by which certain sex offenders who have completed their prison sentence are required to enter a state treatment program.

Prison firm with troubled history could soon operate Dallas County halfway house
Source: Melisa Repko, Dallas Morning News, October 22, 2015

A Dallas County halfway house may soon be operated by a large, for-profit prison company that’s been accused of abusing and mistreating inmates. Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America is set to take over a transitional housing program for sex offenders released from prison. The company is assuming a 40-year lease for the halfway house site through a deal with Lifestyles Management, a nonprofit that held the county contract. … The transitional housing program CCA is set to take over in Dallas County provides a home for about 125 people who have no job, family or place to live after their prison term. They stay in the former Bill Decker Correctional Facility on Stemmons Freeway. Early next year, residents will move into a new, 300-bed facility at 1200 Langdon Drive near Hutchins on a 10-acre site that’s owned by the county. The former jail has been sold to Lincoln Property, which plans to build a data center. … Jenkins said he wants answers about CCA’s plans and contract terms. Before the vote, he said he wants to make sure the company cannot use the land for a detention center or any program without a mission of rehabilitation.

One community welcomes bid for detention center, another rejects it

Source: St. John Barned-Smith, Houston Chronicle, October 29, 2015

Emerald Correctional Management approached city officials in Shepherd on Monday, asking for permission to pursue a bid to build the facility in the small municipality of about 2,000 people an hour northeast of Houston. The Louisiana-based company is among three expected to submit bids to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency for a 1,000-bed detention center the federal organization wants to build in the Houston area. Before Shepherd signed off on the proposal, Emerald approached nearby Cleveland, where leaders narrowly rejected the deal. … The company has made headlines in years past for its business practices, persuading small towns across the country to build the jails on speculation – like one in Hardin, Mont., that stood empty for years, leading officials there to offer to house suspected terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At another, in the small south Texas town of Encinal, in LaSalle County, Emerald’s operations came under additional scrutiny after it abruptly pulled out of the center after the inmate population dropped, saddling county officials with a facility with a leaky roof, about $20 million in debt, and scrambling to find a new operator to save the jobs of the 100 guards and staff.

CCA deal boosts investment in half-way houses

Source: Getahn Ward, The Tennessean, October 29, 2015

Corrections Corporation of America now also touts itself as the largest domestic owner of community corrections beds after buying Oklahoma-based halfway house operator Avalon Correctional Services on Thursday. With that $157.5 million deal, CCA now operates 17 re-entry facilities totaling 4,365 beds. For Nashville-based CCA, the push into the residential reintegration market is aimed in part at expanding relationships with existing clients such as the federal Bureau of Prisons. On any given day, that agency has roughly 9,000 inmates in re-entry facilities nationwide and has been seeking additional funding to expand that program. … The $157.5 million price includes $7.5 million in earn-outs incentives. CCA expects the acquisition to increase its annual revenues by up to $40 million.

Shattered dreams: Immigrants in lock up

Source: The Stream, Aljazeera America, October 27, 2015

Every year, 400,000 undocumented foreigners are locked in US facilities that can feel more like prison than a processing centre. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) monitors them, but a new report slams the government agency for obscuring and perpetuating “widespread abuses of detained immigrants”. Is the US whitewashing or cleaning up immigration detention? … The report accuses ICE of being complicit in hiding human rights abuses and unexplained deaths at detention facilities. It says that despite documented violations of federal standards, ICE has given passing inspections to immigration detention centres in order to keep government funds flowing to them.

Lives in Peril: How Ineffective Inspections Make ICE Complicit in Detention Center Abuse
Source: National Immigrant Justice Center, October 2015

This report by the National Immigration Justice Center (NIJC) and Detention Watch Network (DWN), exposes how the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspections process for immigration detention centers obscures and perpetuates widespread abuses of detained immigrants. Lives in Peril: How Ineffective Inspections Make ICE Complicit in Detention Center Abuse draws on information from ICE inspections documents for 105 immigration detention facilities and features focused analyses of inspections for detention centers in Arizona, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Georgia and Illinois. NIJC obtained the inspections through a federal court order resulting from three years of litigation under the Freedom of Information Act. NIJC and DWN’s review of the documents reveals fundamental inconsistencies within and between inspection reports for individual detention centers which suggests that the immigration detention inspection process is a sham – designed to perpetuate a broken and abusive system. For this second of a series of reports, NIJC released hundreds of inspection reports and the deposition of the chief of ICE’s Detention Monitoring Unit, who provided insight into ICE’s inspections system.

Read full report.

Campaign for America’s Future: New Report: Federal Funds for Charter Schools Go Into a ‘Black Hole’

Source: Jeff Bryant, National Education Policy Center, October 27, 2015

America’s experiment with charter schools has thus far generated academic results that are mixed, at best. Another promise, that these schools would be more educationally “innovative,” is also generally unfulfilled so far. Adding to those uncertainties posed by charter schools is another: Very little is known about how these schools have spent over $3.7 billion the federal government has used to fuel expansion of the charter industry since 1995. That’s the principal finding of a new report published by the Center for Media and Democracy, which looked for information about how much tax money coming from the federal government’s Charter School Program (CSP) goes to charters and how that money is spent and found that information is often “severely lacking.” … What the report does reveal, though, for the first time, is a list of actual schools that received grants from the CSP for start-up and “planning” expenses. In examining charter recipients of federal grants in just 12 states, mostly from 2010-2015, CMD investigators found millions in federal grant money going to charter schools that were closed after brief periods of service and to “ghost” charter schools that never opened. … Despite the obstruction to its information gathering, CMD’s report reveals startling examples of how individual charters that have received federal grant money under CSP have produced very little education benefit for students wile channeling taxpayer money to unknown pockets.

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Charter School Black Hole: CMD Special Investigation Reveals Huge Info Gap on Charter Spending
Source: Center for Media and Democracy, October 26, 2015

Indeed, no one even knew how much the federal government had spent on its program designed to boost the charter sector. So CMD reviewed more than two decades of federal authorizations and appropriations to calculate the sum, which is now more than $3.7 billion—as noted in this new report. CMD also found that the federal government was not providing the public with a list of all the charter schools that received federal tax monies and how much. CMD also found that many states have not provided the public with ready information about the amounts of federal funding each charter has received under the federal “Charter School Program” (CSP) for state education agencies (SEAs), and that most states have not provided the public with information about the amounts in state and federal tax dollars that have been diverted to charters rather than spent strengthening traditional public schools. … In this investigation, CMD pursued numerous open records requests under federal or state law about how much federal CSP money had been given to charters and how that money was spent in 12 states. As a result, CMD found that public information about funds received and spent by charters is severely lacking. It also documented how little is known about spending by closed charters, and identified “ghost” schools, where federal grants were awarded to charters that never opened.

Below are a few key findings from the report:

Michigan: In 2011 and 2012, $3.7 million in federal taxpayer money was awarded to 25 Michigan “ghost” schools that never even opened to students. …

Ohio: Out of the 88 schools created by planning and implementation grants under CSP between 2008 and 2013, at least 15 closed within a few years; a further seven schools never even opened. These charters received more than $4 million in federal taxpayer money. Despite this track record, Ohio landed the biggest one-year grant by far in the 2015 competition for federal funding: $32.6 million. …

New York State: CMD discovered that almost every single application for the New York subgrants was written by the same multi-million-dollar charter consultancy firm: Charter School Business Management. …

Read full Report.