Tag Archives: California

Rep. Kevin McCarthy locks the door on California Medicare activists

Source: Vergil Lewis, People’s World, January 30, 2017

Nearly 1,000 people from all over the state of California descended on the Bakersfield office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy Friday to demand that he drop plans to privatize Medicare and Medicaid and instead “protect, improve, and expand” these programs that are so vital to people in his district and across the country. … Speakers at the rally included healthcare workers, patients, teachers, and representatives of several unions, including the California Nurses Association, United Domestic Workers, and United Farm Workers. Latinos were especially well represented, including patients and workers from the Clínica Monseñor Oscar Romero. … Surgical nurse Sandy Reding of the California Nurses Association reported often seeing patients who require surgery because they had to choose between putting food on the table and paying for medications or seeing a doctor. Editha Adams of United Domestic Workers (UDW), a union representing 98,000 home care workers in the state, noted that 61 percent of home care funding for seniors or others needing it comes from Medicare and Medicaid, so that any move that restricts funding or access to these programs directly threatens their clients who cannot manage without the services they provide. …


Brown Vows to Fight to Protect Medicare from Privatization Attempts That Would Hurt Millions of Ohio Seniors
Source: Senator Sherrod Brown, Press Releae, November 30, 2016

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today vowed to protect Medicare from privatization attempts that would erode the care Medicare provides to more than two million Ohio seniors. … “Congressman Tom Price – who has been nominated as HHS Secretary – has supported Speaker Paul Ryan’s privatization plan that would yank care away from Ohio seniors and our most vulnerable, and replace it with meaningless vouchers that will take money out of the pockets of Ohio seniors and hand it over to Wall Street,” said Brown. “This is also the same crowd that has tried to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. Folks like Tom Price and Donald Trump who wear suits and work in this town might be able to work until 67, but tell that to waitresses and nurses and steelworkers who work on their feet all day.” Brown also stressed the need to protect Social Security from privatization. “Soon I will be introducing a bill that will protect and expand Social Security – because we know when this crowd goes after Medicare, Social Security can’t be far behind,” said Brown. …

Democrats will hold firm against Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, Pelosi vows
Source: Greg Sargent, Washington Post, November 21, 2016

In an interview with me, House Dem leader Nancy Pelosi argued that history might repeat itself, if House Speaker Paul Ryan — with Donald Trump’s blessing — makes good on his hints to press forward with his plans to privatize Medicare. Pelosi vowed that Democrats would remain united in the battle to stop Ryan’s plan, a goal she described as crucial to defeating it, just as unity enabled Dems to block Bush’s Social Security plan. … In that 2005 fight, Pelosi recalled, Democrats actively avoided developing an alternative plan to Bush’s. Instead, Democrats said their plan was to defend Social Security, a very popular government program.  At the time, some Democratic strategists warned against uncompromising opposition. But the gamble paid off. Observers noted that Bush’s plan sank in popularity as Dems remained unified behind a refusal to budge in defense of Social Security, a move that was widely credited with helping to put Dems on track to winning back Congress in the 2006 elections. Pelosi argued that if Republicans did try to privatize Medicare, it would afford a chance to underscore “the difference between Democrats and Republicans” at a time when Democrats are trying to regain their footing after this year’s loss. “This is such a stark difference that people know we have to be unified,” Pelosi said. … Opponents of Ryan’s plan argue that, since these voucher payments would not rise as fast as health care costs, it would merely save money by forcing seniors to pay more out of their own pockets over time. They also point out that Obamacare has already improved Medicare’s fiscal outlook. It’s unclear whether Trump will go along with Ryan’s plan — doing so would require Trump to reverse himself on his campaign promise not to touch entitlements. But Trump does not appear to care as deeply about this debate as Ryan long has, and it’s reasonable to surmise he might be willing to go along with Ryan’s plan in exchange for other things he wants. …

Paul Ryan is determined to gut Medicare. This time he might succeed
Source: Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, November 14, 2016

Bursting with the policymaking power that control of both houses of Congress and the White House gives Republicans, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has lost no time in teeing up a favorite goal: gutting Medicare.  In an interview with Fox News Channel last Thursday, Ryan said: “Obamacare rewrote Medicare … so if you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, you have to address those issues as well. … What people don’t realize is that Medicare is going broke, that Medicare is going to have price controls. … There’s no secret about what specifically Ryan has in mind. He intends to replace traditional Medicare, an efficient program offering guaranteed treatment and featuring rock-bottom administrative costs, with a privatized program. Seniors would get a federal voucher to help them pay premiums charged by commercial insurance plans. Ryan calls this system “premium support.” … Ryan’s plan would do nothing to rein in healthcare costs, but would likely increase them, in part because Medicare beneficiaries would be saddled with paying not only for their care, but for the shareholder dividends and executive pay of private insurance companies. The savings Ryan touts would be illusory: They would merely be shifted from government to seniors. … Medicare faces fiscal problems, but it’s not going broke, and according to both the Medicare trustees and the Congressional Budget Office, the Affordable Care Act has in fact alleviated those problems rather than caused them. The trustees reported in 2010 that passage of Obamacare had postponed the projected exhaustion date of the Medicare trust fund by 12 years — to 2029 from 2017. Projections of Medicare spending growth have consistently come down, year after year, at least in part due to changes in the program imposed through Obamacare. The program’s fiscal situation would be “substantially improved,” the trustees said, because the ACA instituted new cost controls and provided new tax revenues for the program. Both those features would disappear if the GOP repeals the ACA, as is its intention. …

Rural/Metro Misses City Mandated Ambulance Response Times Again In October

Source: Tom Jones and Mari Payton, NBC San Diego, December 8, 2016

Rural/Metro ambulances have failed to meet mandated emergency response times again in the City of San Diego, according to a new report released to NBC 7 Investigates.  This latest report shows the ambulance company, now owned by American Medical Response or AMR, missed the city mandated response times in six of the eight medical response zones in San Diego for the month of October. … According to the company’s contract with the city, it is required to meet a response time of 12 minutes or less, 90% of the time.  In an email, Gina La Mantia, Deputy Chief of Emergency Medical Services for the City of San Diego said, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department is “disappointed” Rural/Metro ambulances have not met response time goals but the company has “demonstrated marked improvement in November.” A former Rural/Metro emergency medical technician, EMT, told NBC 7 Investigates he witnessed situations where no ambulances were available to respond to calls. … In a ‘Level Zero’ situation, a page is sent out to all emergency crews alerting paramedics on calls to finish as soon as possible so they can be placed back into the rotation.  Ross said he witnessed ‘Level Zero’ alerts sent to emergency personnel on a weekly basis.  NBC 7 Investigates reached out to AMR, the company that owns Rural/Metro, for comment regarding not meeting mandated response times and ‘Level Zero’ situations. The company declined an on-camera interview and provided a statement to NBC 7 Investigates. …


Ambulance Response Times Benchmark Met, Operator Told Council
Source: Alexander Nguyen, Times of San Diego, November 12, 2015

Officials with American Medical Response said Thursday they’re now meeting the city of San Diego’s benchmark ambulance response times, following months of shortfalls by predecessor Rural/Metro Corp. At a meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, AMR Operations Manager Mike Rice said five ambulances have been added to their San Diego fleet. AMR, which recently completed its purchase of Rural/Metro, became compliant with the city’s response time goals Wednesday, Rice said. The times vary depending on the zone. … The firm is required under a five-year contract with the city — that it assumed after the Rural/Metro buyout — to meet certain response times in four zones 90 percent of the time. However, data from July, August and September showed that the benchmarks were met between 84 percent and 87 percent of the time. Rice told committee members that they haven’t been able to fill all the regular shifts in San Diego, even by offering overtime to employees, so medics were brought in from other regions to fill the void. Those unfamiliar with protocols particular to San Diego are being paired up with employees with experience in the city, he said.

AMR Pledges To Boost San Diego Ambulance Response Times
Source: Steve Walsh, KPBS, November 6, 2015

American Medical Response said it is bringing experts from inside the company to assess why Rural Metro was not meeting the requirement that its ambulances be on scene within 12 minutes at least 90 percent of the time. The new company has already brought in five additional ambulances to serve the city. … Rural Metro had submitted a plan to correct problems to the city on Oct. 16, before the sale was finalized. AMR plans to submit a correction plan to the city. At the moment, the new company does not plan to combine operations with any of its suburban operations.

City didn’t track ambulance complaints
Source: Jeff McDonald and Lauryn Schroeder, San Diego Union-Tribune, November 4, 2015

Under its contract, Rural Metro is required to report complaints like Miranda’s to the San Diego Fire Department every month. The idea is for city officials to track the number of dissatisfied customers — and monitor how the company responds. Section 7.5 of the agreement is titled “Monthly Records,” a paragraph that calls for Rural Metro to provide records detailing the company’s clinical and operational performance within the first 15 days of the next calendar month. … Deputy Fire Chief Colin Stowell said the department does not enforce that provision of the agreement — and hasn’t asked for complaint records or responses in years. After being asked to explain why the city is not enforcing the contract, Stowell said the city would begin collecting the information.

Rival buys Rural Metro ambulance company
Source: Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, October 28, 2015

The sale of Rural Metro Corp., which has a city contract to provide ambulance services in San Diego, closed on Wednesday. The Scottsdale, Arizona, company was sold to the parent company of rival American Medical Response, or AMR, based in Greenwood Village, Colorado. The sale price was announced as “approximately $620 million.” The company said Rural Metro generates $590 million in annual revenue, and the buyer expects operating savings of up to $28 million through 2017 by integrating the two services. …

Ambulance firm seeks better response times
Source: Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, October 26, 2015

Fined $230,000 earlier this month for failing to meet required response times, San Diego’s ambulance provider said Monday it plans to offer double-time pay to current employees and $3,000 signing bonuses to qualified applicants to reduce delays in service. Rural Metro Corp. also will add 800-plus unit hours per week, for a new total of 5,453 hours a week, so more paramedics and emergency medical technicians are available to transport patients. … Rural Metro likely could have been sanctioned for failing to meet response standards between January and June except a glitch in the city’s computer system incorrectly recorded times for 911 calls and the resulting dispatches and arrivals.

City Fines Ambulance Company for Missing Response Time Goals
Source: Wendy Fry, NBC San Diego, October 21, 2015

The city of San Diego is fining its ambulance contractor, Rural Metro, $230,000 for failing to meet emergency response-time requirements, according to a city compliance report. The company’s contract with the city requires its ambulances to arrive at high-priority medical emergency calls within 12 minutes at least 90 percent of the time. Documents released to NBC 7 Investigates show Rural Metro has not met that 90 percent mark during the last three months. According to the report, ambulances arrived within the 12 minute time window 87 percent of the time.

Editorial: Ambulance delays must be reduced
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, October 16, 2015

The Rural/Metro explanation is a plausible explanation for some of the problems with ambulance delays, but it is not an acceptable one for a matter involving public safety. Fixing this problem shouldn’t just be a top priority for Mainar. It should be for Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council as well. With Rural/Metro having secured a new five-year contract with the city in June, the company might not be inclined to address this issue with the urgency it deserves.
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California continues to bet on public-private partnerships. Will it pay off?

Source: Adam Ashton, Merced Sun-Star, November 20, 2016

In the rolling greens of a defunct county golf course next to California’s youngest public college, tractors turned earth earlier this month for a long-awaited project that would double UC Merced’s footprint at an unprecedented pace. The heavy equipment on campus these days is breaking new ground in another way, too. It’s a sign of the University of California’s biggest-yet experiment with a construction project drawing substantially on private funding, committing the campus to a 39-year deal with a single developer that ultimately costs more than $3.6 billion. Known as UC Merced 2020, the project is distinct in its scale and its long-term contract with an international developer called Plenary Group. Plenary stands to earn about $1.77 billion over time for its role designing, constructing and maintaining the new buildings. … That contract adds UC Merced to a small but growing list of public agencies in California that are turning to the private sector for help with projects that otherwise might wait indefinitely for state funding. The roster includes a new city hall complex in Long Beach and a tunnel off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Each likely will tie up public finances for decades. At UC Merced, the university expects to pay about $103 million a year from 2020 to 2055 for an upcoming growth spurt. It’s so expensive that the 12-year-old university might not be able to afford another development until it pays off the current expansion. … At UC Merced, Plenary is putting up almost $600 million of its own funding for initial construction, which helped clear the way for the expansive project favored by the campus’s chancellor, Dorothy Leland. Campus leaders also were won over by the prospect of quickly building expensive structures, and by a commitment to keep them well-maintained through the life of the contract, Feitelberg said. …


UC Merced Closing In On Execution Of Massive P3
Source: Kyle Glazier, Bond Buyer, June 23, 2016

The University of California, Merced, is closing in on formal execution of a $1.1 billion public-private partnership to nearly double the physical capacity of the campus by 2020. The university announced earlier this month that Plenary Properties Merced (PPM) was the winning bidder for the school’s next major phase of campus development, which the UC Board of Regents gave conceptual approval to last November. … Fitch Ratings earlier this month cited the UC Merced project as a primary example of how colleges and universities are increasingly finding P3s an attractive option for financing their campus infrastructure. College campuses provide public services that can generate revenues attractive to private investors, the rating agency pointed out, also noting that large flagship universities with strong credit ratings are less likely to go the P3 route because they have ready access to low-cost borrowing through traditional muni market access. …

UC Merced Picks Company For $1.14 Billion Expansion
Source: Inside Higher Ed, June 16, 2016

The University of California, Merced, is moving forward on a $1.14 billion campus expansion plan designed to use a public-private partnership to allow the newest campus in the University of California System to grow by 3,300 students. UC Merced on Wednesday named international investor and infrastructure developer the Plenary Group as the lead developer on a project to increase the size of its campus by 2020. The plan calls for new facilities to be built within a 219-acre site currently supporting the existing campus. Under the public-private partnership, private companies will design and build new facilities, then operate them over a 39-year contract. Funding will include private financing from the developer, money from UC Merced and up to $600 million in revenue bonds issued by the University of California Board of Regents….

Charter Schools Accused Of Discrimination In Admissions Process

Source: Shirin Rajaee, CBS Sacramento, October 27, 2016

More than two 200 California charter schools are accused of violating state and federal laws. A recent report by The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California says those charter schools are discriminating when admitting students. They say just like public schools, there needs to be equal access for all students enrolling. About 20 of the flagged charter schools are in and around the Sacramento region. . The study looked at 1000 of the state’s 1,200 charter schools and their online enrollment policies. … The ACLU accuses charter schools of violations that include:

  • Discrimination against English learners
  • Requiring parents to volunteer
  • Pre-enrollment essay requirements
  • Requirements that discourage undocumented students and
  • Exclusion based on Academic performance


ACLU: Charter schools illegally exclude students
Source: Beau Yarbrough and Stephen Wall, San Bernardino County Sun, September 1, 2016

More than 250 of California’s 1,228 charter schools, including dozens in Southern California, violate state law by keeping out low-performing students and creating unfair admission policies, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. A new report from the ACLU, “Unequal Access,” accuses the schools — including 16 in San Bernardino County — of posting online enrollment policies or forms that bar students from enrolling due to low grades or test scores. Some allegedly discriminate against English learners, require essays or interviews, force parents to volunteer or discourage undocumented students from applying. … The report, released Aug. 1, calls on the state Department of Education to order the accused schools to change their policies and inform parents of their practices. The department of education did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Charter schools are taxpayer-funded public schools that have more flexibility than traditional public schools to create education programs aimed at fostering innovation. By law, the schools must admit all students, provided space is available. …

California teachers union launches campaign to link billionaires with charter schools
Source: Michael Janofsky, EdSource, August 31, 2016

Fresh off a victory in a lawsuit that would have changed state employment rules for teachers, the California Teachers Association is launching a statewide radio campaign calling for more “accountability and transparency” of California charter schools. The campaign, which started Wednesday, is aimed at calling attention to “a small group of billionaires” the union says support charter schools to the detriment of traditional public schools. … The CTA’s campaign is called, “Kids Not Profits.”  The union  says it is designed to expose a “coordinated agenda by a group of billionaires to divert money from California’s neighborhood public schools to privately-managed charter schools” to “cherry-pick” students by “weeding out and turning down students with special needs” and to spend millions of dollars to influence the outcomes of local, legislative and school board elections. … The CTA’s effort comes in the wake of a major push by charter school advocates to dramatically expand charter enrollments in California.  A plan, apparently backed by the Broad Foundation, surfaced last August that would double the number of charter school students in Los Angeles Unified.  In March, the California Charter Schools Association announced its “March to a Million” campaign — to enroll one million California students in charter schools by 2022. That would almost double the current  charter  enrollment of 581,000 students — nearly 1 in 10 of all public school students in the state. …

What’s a ‘walk-in’ and why were they happening at L.A. schools today?
Source: Sonali Kohli and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2016

The rallies come against the backdrop of an effort to rapidly expand charter schools in L.A. Unified. Charter schools are publicly funded but can be privately run. Most are nonunion. Parents at 20th Street filed a petition earlier this month to convert the school into a charter school. To make the change, they’re using the state’s “parent trigger law” that allows parents to decide who will take control of a low-performing campus once the school district confirms that a majority of parents had signed a petition.  The parent group hasn’t yet chosen an organization that would run the charter school. Under state law, only parents who signed the petition will have a vote. The advocacy group helping them, Parent Revolution, is backed by nonprofit organizations that support the growth of charter schools, including the Walton Family Foundation, the Wasserman Foundation, the Arnold Foundation and the Broad Foundation. …

LA Unified explores becoming an all-charter school district
Source: Sarah Favot, Los Angeles Daily News, November 17, 2015

The discussion comes as the board grapples with the Broad Foundation’s 44-page charter proposal, “The Great Public Schools Now Initiative,” that would spend $490 million on 260 new charter schools enrolling at least 130,000 of Los Angeles Unified’s roughly 647,000 students, or about one student in five. To put that in perspective, LAUSD has an annual budget of $8 billion for the 2015-16 school year. Charter schools are publicly funded but operate without many rules that govern traditional public schools and are typically nonunion. LAUSD has more than 200 charter schools already, the most of any district in the nation. … Many questions about the process remain, including how it would affect the district’s funding from the state and what are some examples of waivers that charter schools receive. The committee members requested answers to those questions at its next meeting on Dec. 15.

Charter school expansion could reshape L.A. Unified, officials say
Source: Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, November 12, 2015

In the first public discussion involving the foundation’s efforts, Executive Director Gregory McGinity said that charter schools have transformed education, and he challenged critics who say charters don’t serve all students. He also disputed fears that the growth of charters could drive the L.A. Unified School District into bankruptcy. … Facing off with McGinity was school board President Steve Zimmer, who swiftly and strongly opposed the Broad plan when The Times made it public in September. Zimmer said that he is not sure L.A. Unified can survive the charter plan, and that students would be harmed as a result.

L.A. Board of Education will weigh Broad charter-expansion plan
Source: Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2015

One of those would have the school board go on record opposing plans by the Broad Foundation and others to enroll half the district’s 650,000 students in charter schools within the next eight years. The other would require charters to disclose much more information about their operations, including salaries, actions taken by the board against the schools and the services available to disabled students. Both proposals are supported by the United Teachers Los Angeles union, which has emerged as the most vocal opponent of the charter expansion. Over the last few weeks, the union has held protest rallies, forged an alliance with organized labor in the city and even created an effigy of Eli Broad, the philanthropist spearheading the charter plan.

Unions forge alliance to fight growth of charter schools in L.A.
Source: Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, October 13, 2015

The union representing Los Angeles teachers has pulled together a coalition of other employee unions to oppose a controversial plan to more than double the number of local students attending charter schools. The linking of the unions is a potentially significant step in the showdown over charter expansion, which, if successful, would alter the education landscape in the city. … L.A. Unified already has more than 100,000 students in charters, the most in the nation. … Joining the teachers union on Tuesday, in a presentation to the Board of Education, was Rusty Hicks, leader of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Also joining in were the other seven district employee unions, including those representing administrators, other managers, police officers, clerical workers and other non-teaching campus employees.

Thousands of LAUSD teachers’ jobs would be at risk with charter expansion plan
Source: Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2015

If a proposal for a massive expansion of charter schools in Los Angeles moves forward, the casualties probably would include thousands of teachers who currently work in the city’s traditional public schools. … The Great Public Schools Now proposal makes no mention of recruiting instructors from the ranks of L.A. Unified — even though the foundation acknowledged this week that the charter growth would require about 5,000 instructors. The plan talks about hiring from an expanded Teach For America and other groups that work with young, inexperienced instructors. … The number of teachers in L.A. Unified has shrunk to about 25,600 over the last six years from about 32,300. About half that decrease stems from the growth of charters, according to the district. Charters enroll more than 100,000 students, about 16% of the total in the nation’s second-largest school system. Charters typically employ younger, less-experienced teachers who remain in the classroom for a shorter period of time, according to research from UC Berkeley and a 2015 analysis from the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass.

L.A. Unified highlights magnet school performance compared with charters
Source: Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, September 24, 2015

The Los Angeles Unified School District this week released an analysis of test scores showing that its magnet schools are outperforming charter schools. This comes as private foundations are proposing a huge expansion of charters in the city. … On the English language arts portion of the test, 55% of LAUSD magnet students met or exceeded the state’s new learning standards, compared with 39% of students in local charters, the district report showed. In math, 44% of magnet students met those targets, compared with 28% of students in charters.

Backers want half of LAUSD students in charter schools in eight years, report says
Source: Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, September 21, 2015

Backers outlined an ambitious strategy to place half of the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District into charter schools over the next eight years, a move they said would serve as a model for the rest of the nation, according to documents obtained by The Times. The 44-page report is dated June 2015 and outlines a campaign of fundraising and building political awareness aimed at reaching the goal, which the report said would require $490 million. The report cited numerous foundations and individuals who could be tapped to raise money, including the Bill and Melinda Gates, Bloomberg, Annenberg and Hewlett organizations. Among the individuals cited as potential targets for fundraising were Eli Broad, Irvine Co. head Donald Bren, former entertainment mogul David Geffen and Tesla’s Elon Musk. It also suggested a strategy of grassroots organizing and civic engagement designed to generate more interest among parents in charter schools.

Major charter school expansion in the works for L.A. Unified students
Source: Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2015

A prominent local education foundation is discussing a major expansion of charter schools in Los Angeles aimed at boosting academic achievement for students at the lowest performing campuses. … The people who attended the meetings said organizers displayed maps showing Los Angeles neighborhoods where they said thousands of students are going to under-performing public schools. An ambitious expansion of charter schools would be costly and would likely face a political fight. And it’s not known what kind of funding commitments the organizers have locked down. One person who attended a meeting said the goal was to enroll in charter schools half of all Los Angeles students over the next eight years. Another said there was discussion of an option that involved enrolling 50% of students currently at schools with low test scores. A source said the cost was estimated to be $450 million; another said hundreds of millions of dollars are needed. … Currently, more than 100,000 L.A. students attend charters, about 16% of district enrollment, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District. L.A. Unified has more charters, 207, and more charter students than any other school district in the country. … School board President Steve Zimmer said that while some charters serve students well, a rapid expansion could undermine the district’s own school improvement efforts. L.A. Unified enrolls students who are more difficult and expensive to educate than those at charters, he said. Those students would be left with fewer resources if there were an exodus to charters, Zimmer said.

California counties look to private firm to run new state psychiatric hospital

Source: Annie Gilbertson, SCPR, October 27, 2016

A statewide consortium of county mental health officials is planning to create California’s first privately-run state mental health hospital. It says it’s the fastest way to address the persistent shortage of beds for the state’s most dangerously and severely mentally ill. But critics of prison privatization worry care will worsen, pointing to past problems with the contractor, Correct Care Recovery Solutions, a spinoff of the private prison giant GEO Group. The proposed facility would serve around 250 civilly-committed patients – those hospitalized because they’re deemed a danger to themselves or others. That would allow the current network of state hospitals to continue to house people who are charged with crimes but found mentally incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity. … In June, the list of people waiting to get in reached a five-year high of 700. On average, patients found incompetent to stand trial waited two months to get a hospital bed, but some can wait several months. Many are waiting in county jails, predominately in Los Angeles County, where they are entitled to basic mental health care, but long-term psychiatric treatment can be delayed. Civilly-committed patients are housed in local psychiatric hospitals, which can charge between $600 to $1,300 a day in Los Angeles County. … Graziani points to South Florida State Hospital as an example. The facility was one of the first state mental health hospitals in the U.S. to be privatized. It was managed by a division of GEO Group until 2014, when Correct Care Solutions bought the unit. In 2011, Florida’s Department of Children and Families, which oversees adult protective services, launched an investigation into the facility after three patient deaths that year.  In one case, a heavily-medicated man was found dead in a bathtub. The water was so hot, staff reported, the patient’s skin sloughed off his body. Florida investigators determined Correct Care staff was fixing the problems, yet adult protective services continued to find abuse and neglect at the hospital. Between 2011 and 2015, investigators verified 19 claims that staff abused, neglected or poorly supervised those in their care, records show. …

Metro gets its first round of private partnership proposals to accelerate big projects

Source: Meghan McCarty, KPCC, October 12, 2016

About a month before voters decide on Measure M, a sales tax increase to fund transportation projects, Los Angeles County’s transit agency has announced new, potential private partnerships that would accelerate construction of some big projects included in the initiative. Last year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched a program inviting private companies to propose partnerships with Metro. The public-private partnerships are intended to speed up construction of major projects with an infusion of private investment, expertise and shared risk. … To complement the program, called P3, Metro has also launched an effort to make more projects “shovel ready” should unanticipated funds become available through a private partnership. “Shovel ready” means completing initial environmental reviews, feasibility studies and design work for projects seen as likely to attract funders’ interest, like an extension of the Crenshaw line north to West Hollywood. The agency has received about 50 unsolicited proposals so far, according to Joshua Schank, Metro’s chief innovation officer. Several have the potential to speed up specific Measure M projects, including the West Santa Ana Branch light rail connecting Artesia to downtown L.A. and the Purple Line subway to Westwood. …

Moreno Valley City Council turns aside privatized storm drain system

Source: Imran Gohri, The Press Enterprise, October 11, 2016

Moreno Valley city officials don’t want their city to be the first in California to consider privatizing its storm drain system. Southwest Resources Services has been working with the city for about two years on a proposal to do that. The company’s plan called for $250 million in improvements to increase water conservation and address flood control, CEO Bruce Cash said. But the City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night, Oct. 11 not to hear a fuller presentation from the company.

San Francisco proves that city-startup collaboration can work

Source: Laura Marinaro, ReadWrite, September 27, 2016

It’s tough for startups – with shorter capital runways and track records – to work with the long sales cycles, aging systems and bureaucratic requirements of cities. And governments often find themselves frustrated, working with legacy systems that need the support of new technology to keep up with the increases in urbanization and use of services. But these startups have amazing solutions for cities, and in San Francisco, the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation implemented their new Startup in Residence (STIR) Program. It aims to mentor startups through the process of working with government and helps simplify paperwork. Binti, one of their graduate startups, created a mobile-friendly web app for new foster care parents working with San Francisco’s Human Services Agency (HSA). The Binti/HSA team built a new public website, sfcaresforkids.org, and developed software that makes it easier for potential foster parents to complete their application process online. The HSA said this tool could save city social workers up to 20-40% of their time, so they can do more outreach and less paperwork. … Working on such a critical government-delivered need — “It’s always better when kids are placed with a supportive and caring family,” said Rhorer — may seem daunting to some startups, but this is where STIR helps. … In addition to the savings of time and money to San Francisco’s HSA, the wider world of dealing with cities has opened up for Binti with this STIR effort. “HSA has recommended us to other counties in California, so we can start scaling our impact and expanding our business,” said Curcuru. …

How Charter Schools Bust Unions

Source: Hella Winston, Slate, September 29, 2016

Alliance educators began their push to unionize in large measure, Mernick says, because they were concerned their employer was not “actualizing its core values,” including the establishment of smaller classes and a personalized learning environment for its students, most of whom are poor and Latino or black. Mernick says that teachers who have signed on to the union effort want more input into decisions regarding curriculum and pedagogy. They’re also questioning how the school assesses their performance and discloses how it spends its funds. Making changes in these areas, Mernick believes, will help Alliance retain the kinds of qualified teachers it prides itself on hiring. … Attempts by charter school administrators to thwart teachers’ efforts to unionize are hardly unique to Alliance. While there are charters that have voluntarily agreed to recognize a teachers union at their school—or have even taken the lead in crafting collective bargaining agreements with employees—many others have refused to do so, fighting unionization at every turn. A 2014 study found that in 2012 about 7 percent of charter schools were unionized. (The same year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 68 percent of public school teachers were represented by unions.) And a survey of organizing efforts involving close to 50 schools across 10 states reveals that administrators engage in a wide variety of tactics to try to prevent that percentage from growing. These actions include harassment and outright intimidation of teachers by the administration; anti-union appeals to school parents and, in some cases, even students; the use of hired guns to try to influence teachers and others to oppose unionization; and the deployment of a variety of management strategies to stall the unionization process, leaving the teachers and schools in limbo. … While the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools maintains state and national data on charters, there is no comprehensive information about how many charters have unionized or attempted to do so. I surveyed nearly 50 schools where efforts to unionize had taken place. At almost all of them, teachers have alleged—at times in formal complaints to labor boards—being subjected by management to a variety of tactics to get them to reject unionization. This information came from press reports, official complaints, and interviews with teachers, staff, and union representatives. …


When Charters Go Union
Source: Rachel M. Cohen, American Prospect, June 19, 2015

Most charter school funders hate unions and unions generally hate charters. But more and more charter teachers want to unionize, and labor is helping them do it. …. For teachers, unions, and charter school advocates, the moment is fraught with challenges. Traditional unions are grappling with how they can both organize charter teachers and still work politically to curb charter expansion. Charter school backers and funders are trying to figure out how to hold an anti-union line, while continuing to market charters as vehicles for social justice. Though 68 percent of K-12 public school teachers are unionized, just 7 percent of charter school teachers are, according to a 2012 study from the Center for Education Reform.

Outsourcing on the Table

Source: Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, September 27, 2016

Information technology staff members across the University of California system are holding their breath to see if the layoffs and outsourcing at the San Francisco campus represent an individual cost-cutting measure or the beginning of a trend. The UCSF Medical Center told staffers this July that — because of decreasing federal health care reimbursement and cost increases associated with the Affordable Care Act — it would cut 97 IT jobs by Feb. 28. Some of the positions will be outsourced to the Indian IT services company HCL Technologies. The university has also contracted with Dell and FireEye for data center and cybersecurity services, respectively. … The layoffs affect UCSF’s IT office broadly, covering staff members responsible for application support and development, email and phone systems, and data center and network center operations and more, according to an email from university CIO Joseph R. Bengfort. Excluding contract and vacant positions, 49 career employees will lose their jobs. … Other staff members bristled at the thought of training the workers who will replace them. To aid the outsourcing efforts, some staff members have had their organizational goals updated with a target of completing the transition plan by Feb. 14, with a stretch goal of Jan. 31. A staff member with about 20 years of experience at the university said he feels as though the university is rewarding employees for making themselves expendable as fast as they can. …


University of California hires India-based IT outsourcer, lays off tech workers
Source: Patrick Thibodeau, ComputerWorld, September 7, 2016

The University of California is laying off a group of IT workers at its San Francisco campus as part of a plan to move work offshore. 9 things to check after installing wireless access points Whether you’re upgrading equipment or building out a whole new Wi-Fi network, use this handy checklist READ NOW The layoffs will happen at the end of February, but before the final day arrives the IT employees expect to train foreign replacements from India-based IT services firm HCL. The firm is working under a university contract valued at $50 million over five years. … UCSF, which runs professional schools in dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy as well as a medical center, has a 565-member centralized IT department. This layoff affects 17% of UCSF’s total IT staff, broken down this way: 49 IT permanent employees will lose their jobs, along with 12 contract employees and 18 vendor contractors. This number also includes 18 vacant IT positions that won’t be filled, according to the university. …

UC San Francisco Outsourcing IT Ops to India
Source: Dian Schaffhauser, Campus Technology, September 9, 2016

The university is focused entirely on health areas, with four schools: dentistry, nursing, medicine and pharmacy. According to UCSF’s website, there are currently 3,114 students enrolled in degree programs, 1,479 residents and 1,127 post-doctoral scholars. However, that small student body belies the size of the overall institution, which is currently the second largest employer in the city. UCSF’s paid workforce comprises 22,000 staff and nearly 2,800 faculty. … The work being taken over by HCL primarily includes what some might consider “commodity” services: data center and network operations, as well as unified communications and application maintenance for PeopleSoft, C#, .NET and Java. University representatives told Thibodeau that the service provider would also deliver “application development augmentation services.” The individuals affected include 49 IT permanent employees, 12 contract employees and 18 vendor contractors, the article stated. Also, the university will stop attempting to fill 18 vacant IT jobs. … What isn’t being outsourced, Bengfort stated, were IT functions “that require direct knowledge of UCSF and its mission.” Those include jobs requiring skills in developing new programs for analytics and high-performance computing. Likewise, those jobs with a “direct and consistent interaction with end users” will remain with university employees; that includes the help desk. …

University of California’s outsourcing is wrong, says U.S. lawmaker
Source: Patrick Thibodeau, ComputerWorld, September 9, 2016

A decision by the University of California to lay off IT employees and send their jobs overseas is under fire from U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and the IEEE-USA. 9 things to check after installing wireless access points Whether you’re upgrading equipment or building out a whole new Wi-Fi network, use this handy checklist READ NOW The university recently informed about 80 IT workers at its San Francisco campus, including contract employees and vendor contractors, that it hired India-based HCL, under a $50 million contract, to manage infrastructure and networking-related services. The university employees will remain on the job until the end of February, but before then they are expecting to train their foreign replacements. … Peter Eckstein, the president of the IEEE-USA, said what the university is doing “is just one more sad example of corporations, a major university system in this case, importing non-Americans to eliminate American IT jobs.” This engineering association has some 235,000 members. … HCL, and other firms in the offshore industry generally, use H-1B temporary visa workers. HCL was one of the contractors at Disney, which cut around 250 workers last year. Two former Disney employees filed a lawsuit in January in federal court challenging HCL, a second contractor and Disney over the use of foreign workers. … The H-1B visa program was intended to provide people for specific workforce needs. But over the last 20 years, the program’s major users have been IT services firms that use visa workers to help outsource work overseas. U.S. IT workers have complained repeatedly about having to train workers on temporary visas as a condition of severance, and often accuse the U.S. government as being a party to their layoff. …