Tag Archives: Virginia

Students sat in for worker rights across nation

Source: Berger-Marks Foundation, June 1, 2011

Solidarity with Sodexo food service workers
At the University of Washington in Seattle, 27 students were hauled out in handcuffs from the President’s office on May 12. Their crime? They had sat down, in an effort to get the president to meet with them. They wanted the university to “take a stand for worker rights” by ending its $3.4 million contract with the union-busting Sodexo company to operate concessions at the athletics stadium.

Undaunted by the arrests, the next week U of W students took over the Athletic Director’s office, where 13 of them again got arrested defending worker rights.

Meanwhile, students at Western Washington University celebrated victory after eight months of protests over the same issue. That university agreed to end the $150 million deal that allowed Sodexo to operate its dining facilities. Students had acted after a worker who was fired by Sodexo in the Dominican Republic visited the WWU campus to speak against Sodexo’s global human rights abuses….Actions in Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio…

…More student actions against sweatshops

At the University of Texas in Austin, students stepped up an eleven-year campaign for worker rights by sitting in at the president’s office until he agreed to meet with them. They call on the university to affiliate with the Workers Right’s Consortium (WRC), an independent labor rights monitoring group affiliated with 180 colleges and universities.

Cornell’s Students Against Sweatshops held a “study-in” their President’s office to demand that the University break off from the corporate-run Fair Labor Association (FLA) and support the WRC instead.

Students at Rutgers University in New Jersey and the College of William & Mary in Virginia also held peaceful sit-ins for better treatment of campus custodians and other university workers. Several were handcuffed and arrested.

And University of Maryland student activists occupied their President’s office over union-buster Daycon, whose workers have been on strike for a year. The Student Government Association had unanimously called on the President to immediately terminate the University’s contract with Daycon….

Va could privatize sex-offender commitment program; residents threaten to sue if double bunked

Source: Dena Potter, Associated Press, May 26, 2011

An unsolicited proposal has Virginia officials considering if privatization is the best way to control the state’s costly and rapidly expanding program to indefinitely detain sex offenders for treatment after they have completed prison sentences….

…The department decided to seek requests for proposals after Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO Care submitted an unsolicited proposal to run Virginia’s program. It costs the state about $97,000 per year to treat each civilly committed offender. While specifics are confidential during the bidding process, GEO Care said it could provide the treatment and increase capacity for “significantly less.”…

….GEO Care is a subsidiary of The GEO Group, which operates prisons, detention centers and sex- offender and mental-health facilities in 15 states. Last year it had revenues of more than $1 billion from government contracts.
It currently operates Virginia’s only private prison, the 1,500-bed, medium-security Lawrenceville Correctional Center.

The Toll Road to Serfdom

Source: Ellen Dannin, ACS Blog, March 15, 2011

If you want to experience a real disconnect, find out how highway privatization actually works and then read the glowing raves by infrastructure privatization boosters.

They claim that privatization transfers risk to the private contractor, while providing high quality infrastructure that a cash-strapped public cannot otherwise afford. They say that the public will have easy drives with new roads and new lanes, all assisted by the installation of the latest tolling and messaging technology.

But when you look into the history and details of infrastructure privatization, reality differs. Take the VirginiaBusiness.com story, “Public project, private risk: Virginia looks to partnerships to tackle major jobs” that praises the 1995 California State Route 91 private toll lanes built in the median of a public road. Those private lanes have a troubled history that is still relevant to today’s privatized infrastructure. The SR 91 deal forbade the state from doing repairs and maintenance on the public lanes in order to herd drivers to the private toll lanes. As the public lanes were left to deteriorate, potholes led to car damage and dangerous road and, eventually, public anger that toppled politicians.

JLARC report says McDonnell’s liquor plan is off by millions

Source: Anita Kumar, Washington Post,Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s original proposal to privatize the state’s 76-year liquor monopoly may have overstated by tens of millions of dollars the amount of money Virginia could make from selling the entire system, according to a legislative study released Tuesday. The report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found that in many instances, the Republican governor’s staff was too rosy in its estimates, but in others it simply made mathematical errors. For example, auditors found, the state could receive less than half of the $160 million McDonnell expected from selling wholesale licenses and up to $81 million less from auctioning retail licenses. And the price of distilled spirits in Virginia could rise.
Governor says he’ll renew push for ABC privatization
Source: Tyler Whitley, Times Dispatch, June 30, 2011
Plenty of proposals to get state out of liquor business
Source: Sean Gorman, Politifact, September 26th, 2011

McDonnell unveils plan to privatize Va. liquor sales, but skeptics question taxes

Source: By Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post, Thursday, September 9, 2010; B01

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell unveiled his signature proposal to privatize the state’s 76-year monopoly on the sale of distilled spirits Wednesday, he presented the plan as a fulfillment of a campaign promise to find money for transportation without raising taxes.

But if he wants to win approval for his plan, McDonnell (R) will have do more to convince legislators, including some skeptical members of his own party, that the package of new fees — including a 2.5 percent tax on restaurants and bars that choose to buy liquor directly from wholesalers instead of retailers — does not represent tax increases.



Map of States that retained control over liquor sales after prohibition

Washington Post: Editorial: Liquor privatization insufficient for transportation


Crash of Va. computer network has implications for tech world, state politics

Source: By Rosalind S. Helderman and Anita Kumar, Washington Post (VA), Thursday, September 2, 2010; B01

RICHMOND — The data storage unit that failed in a warehouse outside of Richmond last week, wreaking havoc in the computer networks of a number of Virginia agencies for more than a week, is a ubiquitous bit of technology used by virtually every major company and government in the country.

The crash — still baffling to state officials — exposes the vulnerability of modern, massively complex interconnected computer networks, and is being closely watched by information technology professionals across the country.

CIO Sam Nixon Tries to Fix Virginia’s IT Outsourcing Effort

Source: By Chad Vander Veen, Government Technology (VA), Aug 18, 2010,

When Bob McDonnell took office as governor of Virginia in early 2010, he brought with him renewed hope that the state’s troubled IT outsourcing contract with Northrop Grumman could be salvaged.

……On March 15, McDonnell signed legislation that restructured the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) and put the state’s CIO directly under the governor’s authority. Shortly thereafter, McDonnell appointed longtime Virginia lawmaker Sam Nixon to this post. Nixon, who has several decades of IT experience, was one of the lawmakers who helped write VITA into existence in 2003.

Don’t Mess with Texas: 7 Lessons From State IT Outsourcing Disasters

Source: Stephanie Overby, CIO, August 4, 2010

Major IT services disputes in Texas, Indiana and Virginia provide a rare peek behind the curtain at what happens when outsourcing relationships go south. Here are lessons any enterprise should take away from these outsourcing relationship meltdowns.

Two weeks ago, the CIO of Texas penned a seven-page letter outlining the “chronic failures”of the state’s nearly four-year outsourcing relationship—a deal the Texas governor had briefly suspended in 2008 citing service delivery problems that he said put the state’s agencies in danger.

In May, Indiana sued its former IT services provider for $1.3 billion for breach of contract, following the 2009 gubernatorial cancellation of a deal to streamline the state’s welfare system.

Last summer, the CIO of Virginia was fired after criticism by state officials that the 10-year, $2.3 billion outsourcing deal he signed to transform the state’s IT systems was costly and inefficient and he withheld payments to the vendor. …

State facilities for the disabled called antiquated, but some rely on them

Source: By Henri E. Cauvin, Washington Post (VA), Thursday, July 22, 2010


…….Across the country, states have been closing such places for years, moving people with mental disabilities into community homes and out of the institutions that defined care of the developmentally disabled for much of the 20th century.

…. Nationwide, the number of developmentally disabled people in institutions has been falling for decades as the country’s attitudes and laws have evolved. The shift culminated in a 1999 Supreme Court decision that said “confinement in an institution severely diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals.”

Although several states have closed all of their large institutions, most still operate some. The number they house has fallen to about 33,000, from 186,743 in 1970 and 84,239 in 1990, according to the Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota.

Is IT Outsourcing Still In? High-profile problems and emerging technologies are changing attitudes about the would-be savior of enterprise IT.

Source: Chad Vander Veen, Governing, June 1, 2010


….. There’s a lot that can go wrong in a huge government IT outsourcing deal–too much, according to many critics and experts who track these partnerships. Even those at the helm of IT outsourcing efforts seen as paradigms for other agencies to emulate agree that traditional outsourcing arrangements may be on the way out. Key among the reasons these mega-projects are trouble is the weak governance used to oversee such projects, and lack of focus on the actual goal for outsourcing IT


….. States and localities are in a unique but difficult position thanks to numerous and varied stakeholders and, often, no single authority to which a public enterprise must answer. In the private sector, all roads lead to the CEO. In government, the reality is different, which is why outsourcing pieces of the enterprise–usually multiple, alternative methods–is growing in appeal.