Jacksonville State University police are set to return to in-house dispatch services in July, less than a year after outsourcing those duties in the expectation of improved efficiency. JSU officials now say contracting out the emergency and non-emergency medical calls hasn’t made the dispatch service more efficient. The JSU police will instead use a combination of professional dispatchers and student workers to handle all emergency and non-emergency calls moving forward. JSU police Chief Shawn Giddy sent a letter to Calhoun County 911 Monday stating his department no longer wanted the organization to manage its dispatch services. …
Alabamians voted strongly in support of Amendment 2, protecting the state parks’ revenues from being used by the legislature for other purposes. With 57 of 67 counties reporting, more than 79 percent of votes cast were in favor of Amendment 2, according to unofficial results posted on the Secretary of State’s web site, with more than 1 million ballots for and 275,000 against. It was the widest margin of any of the 14 amendments on the ballot. Alabama State Parks System Director Greg Lein said the vote validated the widespread concerns over the state parks’ budget woes. The system saw $15 million transferred to the state’s general fund over the past five years. Five state parks closed last year and others had to defer planned maintenance projects. … Though there was little organized opposition to keeping revenues generated by the parks within the park system, a second part of the amendment raised fears of state park privatization. That language came from a previous bond issue (Alabama Amendment 617), which gave the parks $110 million for long-term maintenance and construction projects, but prohibited those parks from using private contractors or outside vendors. Opponents of Amendment 2 — most notably former Lt. Gov. and attorney general Bill Baxley and former Conservation Commissioner Charley Grimsley — argued that removing that language would open the door to completely privatizing state parks. …
Amendment 2 focuses on funding and “privatization” of state parks
Source: Candace Murphy, WTVM, November 2, 2016
The Alabama State Parks’ website says since 2012, the legislature has transferred 15 million dollars from the Alabama State Parks Fund, to the General Fund, resulting in the closure of five state parks in 2015. If approved, Amendment 2 would to ban the transfer of park funds which are primarily generated by tax dollars. In addition to providing permanent funding, Amendment 2 allows outside vendors to run non-state entities like hotels, restaurants and golf courses at state parks. Former Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources Charley Grimsley strongly opposes the amendment, writing in an editorial, “Amendment 2 would allow state park privatization, and turning our state parks over to private corporations is something we should never do.” … If Amendment 2 passes, MacTaggart thinks there needs to be some regulation. “Probability a citizen’s oversight than a civil services oversight like the state,” he said. Amendment 2 says transfers from the state park fund to the general fund would be allowed if the park revenue exceeds 50 million dollars. …
Opinion: Amendment 2 will protect our parks, not privatize them
Source: Bob Baumhower and Greg Lein, AL.com, October 25, 2016
Alabama’s State Parks have received much attention during the last few years, including reports of crippling transfers of park funding, the closing of five locations, and now Constitutional Amendment 2, which will be on the ballot Nov. 8 and is needed to protect park funding. Amendment 2 – the State Parks Amendment – will prevent park revenues from being siphoned off to support other needs in state government. It constitutionally protects the future of Alabama’s State Parks’ funding. … Some say the amendment will “privatize” state parks, but that is not true and that word does not even appear in the language the people of Alabama will see on their ballot in November. If it were true, State Parks staff, outdoors organizations, chamber of commerce, tourism offices and the many other park partners (https://alparkspartners.com/park-partners/) would not be supporting Amendment 2. Amendment 2 simply gives more parks the flexibility to partner with businesses to develop and/or maintain attractions at the parks as they have done for years. … Agreements with private entities could also be good for parks or amenities that the state otherwise cannot afford to operate. While we’d rather not be in this position, the option to bid out parks and amenities to private businesses is better than being forced to immediately close them to park guests. It’s not privatization. It’s smart business sense. … The bottom line: if we want to ensure we have a well-maintained parks system and that money spent at the parks stays at the parks, we encourage you to vote YES for Amendment 2. A yes vote for amendment 2 is a vote to protect parks funding and a vote to ensure that more park attractions will be open to the public. A no vote will guarantee more uncertainty for our state parks system and its future. Please join us in voting YES for Amendment 2 – the State Parks Amendment. …
Opinion: Amendment 2 would allow privatization of state parks
Source: Charles Grimsley, AL.com, October 24, 2016
Amendment 2 on State Parks has been advertised as a way to protect state park revenues. If that were all it did, it would be good. But like a Trojan horse, hidden inside is something you probably didn’t know. Amendment 2 would allow state park privatization, and turning our state parks over to private corporations is something we should never do. Look at the following description of Amendment 2 from the website Ballotpedia (the privatization language is highlighted): “A ‘yes’ vote supports this proposal to prohibit reallocating state park funds for other uses and allow the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to contract with non-state entities for the operation and maintenance of land and facilities that are part of the state park system.” This means that if Amendment 2 passes, we would be voting to hand over our state parks, land, lodges and all, to private corporations. … Years ago the state leased the major state park lodges to private companies, and the experience was an abysmal failure. The companies made millions, but because they did not properly maintain the facilities, at the end of the leases we the people inherited state park lodges that were in a terrible state of repair. To fix this mess, in 1998 we the people approved Amendment 617 of the Alabama Constitution that authorized a $110 million bond issue to renovate the state park with the express condition that privatization of the renovated parks could no longer occur. But now that we are on the hook for a $110 million bond issue caused by the first privatization mess, with Amendment 2 the politicians are asking us to jump right back into the fire by privatizing them again. ..
A year after the Decatur City Council chose not to outsource the city’s garbage service, privatization is no longer under consideration. The financials are better, city leaders are more content and sanitation employees whose jobs were threatened are happier and more relaxed. … Mayor Don Kyle, who has two weeks left in his term, said privatization is not an option anymore, especially considering the financial and service improvements. The department budget shows a $336,677 decrease in expenses from last year, down to $3.25 million for fiscal 2016 through Friday. Finance Supervisor Charlene Brueggeman said some expenses from September are still outstanding. The city budget shows expenses in the city garage, where because of aging vehicles most of the budget overruns occurred, were down $421,308 from last year to $252,815 for fiscal 2016 through Sept. 30, with some September expenses remaining through Friday. …
City-run garbage collection gets reprieve
Source: Bayne Hughes, Decatur Daily, September 17, 2015
… Kyle said some council members want him to give Sanitation Department workers a chance to improve service before they’re willing to consider the controversial move to privatization, which would mean layoffs of more than 30 employees. The city has five months remaining in which to award a contract on the four bids submitted Aug. 20 by private garbage companies. … The bids submitted by four companies Aug. 20 ranged from $12.52 a month per customer to $24.40 a month, with each adding annual increases as part of a three-year contract. The city’s 17,000 customers pay a monthly garbage rate of $16.50. However, Kyle estimates the city’s true costs for garbage service, which also include administrative costs and vehicle upkeep and purchases, are about $26 a month per customer. … Aging garbage and loader trucks and the cost of sending the trucks to private garages for repairs have been blamed for Sanitation’s major cost overruns. Through the end of August, Public Works had spent $295,336, easily surpassing its $160,000 budget, on sublet repairs. “If we had updated equipment, a majority of the additional costs wouldn’t have ever happened,” Woods said. “Our crew can be just as efficient, and we know the city.” …
Mayor says he will recommend privatizing garbage service
Source: Bayne Hughes, Decatur Daily, September 6, 2015
Mayor Don Kyle said he will recommend privatizing the city of Decatur’s garbage service, a controversial decision that’s been under consideration for at least a year. Kyle said he made the decision Wednesday after meeting with two garbage companies bidding to take over the financially struggling service. He plans to present the companies’ proposals to the City Council as soon as a work session can be scheduled. The mayor said the private companies are able to provide the same service more efficiently with fewer employees and new equipment. … A group of Sanitation Department employees who met with The Decatur Daily last week said they were disappointed to hear of the mayor’s plans, which could put at least 30 jobs at risk. …
On the eve of a $700 million debate in the Alabama Legislature about whether to build four new prisons, the president and CEO of the nation’s largest private corrections company was the speaker at Tuesday’s Kiwanis Club of Birmingham meeting. Was it a coincidence that Damon T. Hininger, president and CEO of Corrections Corporation of America was at Tuesday’s lunch this week? … Corrections Corporation of America or CCA is the largest private corrections company in America. It manages 65 prisons and detention centers that combined hold up to 90,000 inmates. The company has passed the $1.7 billion mark in revenues. While there are no CCA managed prisons in Alabama, the company operates a number of prisons that virtually ring Alabama including facilities in Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. Hininger told the group that his company, which is based in Nashville, has over 30 years of experience operating and managing prisons for governments. Hininger said CCA gives governments greater flexibility in how to spend corrections dollars and that is a big plus for governments which are usually struggling to meet a variety of needs with not enough dollars to meet them.
Alabama Senate approves $800 million plan to build four prisons
Source: Mike Cason, AL.com, April 5, 2016
Gov. Robert Bentley’s plan to bill four state prisons with an $800 million bond issue passed the Alabama Senate tonight. The plan, initiated by Bentley and Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn, includes closing most of the existing prisons. Bentley and Dunn say it is the best way to resolve the overcrowded and understaffed conditions that have plagued state prisons for decades. They say the state can pay off the debt with the money it can save by replacing aging prisons with new ones with modern, uniform designs. They also say the new prisons will allow more vocational training and other programs to reduce recidivism, efforts that they say take a backseat to security concerns now. …
In the Mississippi Delta town of Greenwood, a for-profit company promised city leaders it could take over its cash-strapped probation system without any expense to taxpayers. Not only that, but the company said it could actually turn a profit for itself, and the city, by collecting fines. Just eight months later, nearly 10 percent of the town’s 15,000 population was on probation for minor offenses like traffic violations and owing fees to the company. By the time city leaders realized the damage, the company had entitled itself to profits of at least $48,000 a month, all paid for, as one county official said, “off the backs of the poor people.” …..
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.
This is a list of pending and recent significant federal and state law enforcement investigations of, and actions against, for-profit colleges. It also includes some major investigations and disciplinary actions by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Defense. It does not include investigations or disciplinary actions by state education oversight boards. It also does not include lawsuits prosecuted only by private parties — students, staff, etc. To date, 37 state attorneys general are participating in a joint working group examining for-profit colleges, according to the office of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. Many of those are actively investigating specific for-profit colleges in their states.
As part of these accountability efforts, a growing number of states have enacted laws that require charter schools to close if they do not meet certain performance benchmarks. In states such as Ohio, these laws have sometimes been borne out of state lawmakers’ frustration that authorizers have not been making the tough decisions to close charter schools that have failed to meet the academic goals in their charter contracts. In other states, including Mississippi and Washingon, state lawmakers have enacted such provisions as more of a precautionary measure to ensure that as public charter schools open for the first time in these states, if there are under-performing charter schools, they will actually be closed. This document provides a brief description of existing state policies regarding the automatic closure of low-performing public charter schools. As of September 2015, 15 states had enacted such policies: Alabama, California, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississipi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.
The Franklin County Commission has renewed its ambulance contract with Shoals Ambulance Service for an additional year as the county’s sole ambulance service provider. Probate Judge Barry Moore said the one-year contract renewal came at the request of the county’s Emergency Medical Services Committee, which was formed after the county passed its initial ambulance ordinance in February 2014. The county, along with the cities of Red Bay and Russellville, operate under the ordinance and contract. The town of Phil Campbell opted out of the ordinance and continues to use Phil Campbell Rescue Squad as its ambulance service provider. … In the new contract, Shoals Ambulance will have two 24-hour Advanced Life Support units, one 12-hour Advanced Life Support unit, and one fully equipped ambulance located at the Russellville Ambulance Station. These will be staffed by “call-in crews as needed to maintain adequate level of service.”
County renews ambulance contract
Source: Alison James, Franklin County Times, September 16, 2015
In a called meeting Monday preceding the county commission’s regular work session, commissioners renewed the county’s ambulance contract with Shoals Ambulance. … The approval represents a reduction in service as it relates to staff hours – although not in terms of total ambulances, as one will remained equipped at the ambulance station – cited as being necessary because of the impact of Pleasant Bay Ambulance Company’s continued “non-compliant” operation in the county, which has affected call volume for Shoals Ambulance.
Military retirees and federal civilian employees in the Wiregrass now have the opportunity to live in housing at Fort Rucker, and their children will be able to attend the installation’s Department of Defense schools, according to officials. Brandon Masters, regional public affairs manager for Corvias Military Living, said the installation’s Allen Heights residential area opened recently to military retirees and federal civilian employees…“All excess earnings are placed in a reserve account that is controlled by the military to be used for the long-term sustainment of the housing and ancillary facilities over the next 50 years. Corvias will not make extra profits as a result of this change.” Corvias is a privately-owned company that was awarded the 50-year military housing contract in 2006.