Tag Archives: Ohio

Prison food costs down, complaints up, report shows

Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, April 26, 2016

Ohio prisons are saving more than $10 million a year by using a private company to feed inmates, a new report shows. But the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee report also shows inmate food complaints are up dramatically, and there are problems with private employees getting fired for having inappropriate relationships with prisoners. The committee is a legislative watchdog over adult and juvenile prisons. Aramark Correctional Services, a private company, was awarded a state contract and took over prison kitchens from state union members in September 2013 and is serving meals to nearly 51,000 inmates. The switch was projected to save the state $30 million a year. The CIIC report issued today showed food services cost the state $64.5 million in fiscal year 2015, a 17.7 percent drop from 2008. However, savings were far higher when compared to other years prior to the private contract when food cost reached nearly $100 million. … The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing prison employees, has been at odds with the state and Aramark about the contract for three years. Union President Christopher Mabe said the report “should be a wake-up call. There’s still problems in our food service. I believe Aramark is undermining our prison security.” Mabe said even though Aramark is supposed to provide security during food service times, corrections officers have to fill in to make sure there are no disturbances.

Related:

OCSEA files prison food service grievance
Source: Ohio Civil Service Employees Association – AFSCME Local 11, AFL-CIO (OCSEA), July 8, 2015

OCSEA has filed a grievance against the Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction (DR&C) for dismissing the union’s food service proposal without serious review. The union submitted a bid in February to take back prison food service from private vendor Aramark and save taxpayers $2.9 million a year. Despite the significant savings–and the well-publicized troubles since Aramark took over the contract two years ago–DR&C rejected OCSEA’s proposal without a fair analysis, says the union. OCSEA has since learned that the agency did not send the union’s full proposal to the Dept. of Administrative Services (DAS) for consideration. This included the exclusion of the union’s exhaustive food cost analysis based on actual vendor bids. Without this information, DAS analysts based their review on food costs from several years ago, arbitrarily adding a 42 percent upcharge to the proposal, says union food service team member Christine Minney. …

Ohio officials nix union’s offer to provide prison food
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, June 24, 2015

Ohio prison officials rejected a labor-union plan to provide inmate food service, which the union says would have saved taxpayers $2.9 million annually. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association said the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction turned down the union’s food-service bid of $1.216 per inmate meal, lower than the $1.275 figure the state is paying Aramark Correctional Services, a private company. A review by the Department of Administrative Services — the business arm of state government — found numerous flaws in the union proposal, including failing to consider higher employee wages under a new union contract and lowballing the cost of food. … Union President Christopher Mabe complained the state rigged the process to sink the union’s $60.5 million bid. “We believe this was a deliberate attempt to ignore our proposal, because we were clearly the cheaper option. We were simply not given serious consideration or any of the allowances that Aramark had been given, and we are deeply disappointed,” Mabe said in a statement.

State dismisses union food service proposal without serious review
Source: Ohio Civil Service Employees Association – AFSCME Local 11, AFL-CIO (OCSEA), Press Release, June 23, 2015

Exactly five months to the day after the state’s Corrections union submitted a food service bid to take back prison food service from the troubled vendor, Aramark, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction informed the union by email and phone today that the union bid was not accepted. The proposal by the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association came in at $1.216 per meal, well below Aramark’s cost of $1.275 and would have saved $2.9 million a year over the contractor. ….

Ohio prison union fights to replace troubled food vendor
Source: Jona Ison, Gannett Ohio, March 7, 2015

State prison officials have a decision to make regarding inmate food: rehire union employees or keep the private vendor that resulted in a 50 percent increase in inmate grievances and 70 percent jump in employee discipline. The Ohio Civil Services Employees Association is hoping the third time is a charm in its attempt to regain about 400 positions across the state. For the first time, the union says it can beat Aramark’s bargain price the state said saved $13.3 million last fiscal year and is projected to save $16.9 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30. A decision on who will prepare more than 136,000 meals a day is expected to come this month. Although the Aramark contract runs through June 30, the state can sign a new contract April 1 and had given the union a March 1 deadline on a new proposal. OCSEA President Chris Mabe is confident members have put together a solid plan to win back food services….

Despite maggots, Prisons aim to renew food contract
Source: Jona Ison, Gannett.com, January 26, 2015

Maggots in prison food and sexual misconduct with inmates haven’t turned officials off of renewing the state’s food service contract with Aramark. The current contract expires June 30 but was written in a way for the state to easily re-up for another two years without rebidding or renegotiating the contract. The Department of Administrative Services, which handles state contracts, confirmed that the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction requested the contract be renewed, and a letter was drafted Oct. 30 and sent to Aramark. The renewed contract can’t be signed, though, until April 1 at the earliest, prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said. ….

State Renews Contract With Troubled Prison Food Service Provider
Source: Jim Letizia, WCBE, January 25, 2015

Public records show the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections agreed to renew a two-year contract with the troubled food-service contractor, Aramark Correctional Services, on October 30th. The department did not publicize the contract’s renewal. The Ohio Department of Administrative Services is handling the 110 million dollar contract. Aramark began feeding prison inmates in September 2013. Since then, problems with maggots in kitchens and unserved food, staffing and food shortages, and inappropriate employee conduct with inmates have been reported at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville and other prisons….

Officials quietly agree to renew food-service pact with Aramark
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, January 24, 2015

State prison officials quietly agreed nearly three months ago to renew a two-year contract with their often-criticized food-service contractor, Aramark Correctional Services, to continue to prepare meals for nearly 51,000 inmates. …. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and Aramark agreed on Oct. 30 to renew a contract through mid-2017 at the same cost of $110 million — a meal cost of about $3.60 per day per inmate. The contract was to expire June 30….

IN-DEPTH COVERAGE: More than 100 food workers banned from state prisons
Source: Amanda Seitz and Josh Sweigart, Dayton Daily News, September 28, 2014

More than 100 food-service employees have been banned from state prisons for violations such as smuggling cellphones or drugs and sexually abusing inmates during the first year of a contractor’s deal to feed state prisoners, an investigation by this newspaper found. Taxpayers have saved more than $13 million since Philadelphia-based Aramark took over the job in September 2013, but the agreement with the state of Ohio has been tarnished with maggot-ridden food and security concerns. State records show 62 food workers were fired and banned from working in prisons over innapropriate relationships with inmates. Two Aramark employees “struck inmate with food” while others were accused of security violations or bringing inmates contraband…. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, which previously provided food service at the state’s 26 prisons, proposed to a legislative watchdog agency that it could take back the contract and next year save the state more than $12 million….

113 food workers banned from state prisons for smuggling, sex crimes, other violations
Source: Norwalk Reflector, September 29, 2014

Taxpayers have saved more than $13 million since private company took over the job. More than 100 food-service employees have been banned from state prisons for violations such as smuggling cellphones or drugs and sexually abusing inmates during the first year of a contractor’s deal to feed state prisoners, an investigation by this newspaper found….

Meal contractor Aramark below state standards at 7 Ohio prisons
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, September 8, 2014

State prison officials’ “aggressive and unprecedented monitoring” of Aramark Correctional Services, the vendor serving meals to inmates, reveals that the food service is struggling to meet state standards at seven prisons. The most-recent inspections of Aramark meal service by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows that officials generally are satisfied with what is placed before inmates at most of the 26 state-run prisons. …. The state has fined Aramark $272,300 for a variety of violations since it took over food-service operations from unionized prison employees last fall under a two-year $110 million contract that promised to save the state millions.

Inmates seek food outside cafeteria
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, August 31, 2014

Junk food and cell-made meals cobbled together with commissary items appear to be the preferred bill of fare for some Ohio inmates with distaste for the prison-provided food. Purchases at prison commissaries have jumped since Aramark Correctional Services took over meal service last fall, with some prisoners complaining about food quality and quantity. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has fined Aramark $272,300 in ordering it to fix problems while accepting shared responsibility for the presence of maggots in some food-service areas. A Dispatch analysis of commissary food-sales figures suggests that some inmates are using their limited pocketbooks to vote on the desirability of prison meals that Aramark provides at a cost of $3.61 a day per inmate. At Noble Correctional Institution near Caldwell in southeastern Ohio, monthly commissary food sales have increased an average of 14.5 percent since unionized prison employees stopped making meals….

Calls continue to end prison food contract /Prison inspector suggests researching new vendors
Source: Jona Ison, Marion Star, August 23, 2014

The director of state prison inspections has recommended the state begin researching prison food vendors after a series of well-publicized incidents including maggots in food. The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee this week received a compilation of preliminary recommendations submitted after a late July update on problems with Aramark. The food service vendor took over operations in Ohio’s prisons in September and has been fined a combined $272,200 for contract violations that came to a public head after reports of maggots in or around prison food….

Ohio prisons may invite food service inspections
Source: Associated Press, August 8, 2014

Ohio’s prisons agency is developing plans to invite local health inspections of each prison’s food service operations in the wake of complaints about problems including maggots in kitchen areas.

Prison director takes responsibility for some maggot problems
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, August 7, 2014

Union leaders and legislative aides were watching workers power-wash the kitchen of the Ohio Reformatory for Women yesterday afternoon when maggots floated out from beneath steel floor plates. Prisons Director Gary Mohr then told The Dispatch that his agency accepts shared responsibility with meal contractor Aramark Correctional Services for conditions that have spawned maggots at the Marysville prison. ….

Inmates protest maggots by throwing away lunches /Fly larvae were found under a stainless-steel serving line during a pre-meal inspection
Source: Norwalk Reflector/Columbus Dispatch, August 6, 2014

Protesting another discovery of maggots, about 1,000 inmates at the Ohio Reformatory for Women at Marysville dumped their lunches in the trash yesterday. The fly larvae were found under a stainless-steel serving line during a pre-meal inspection, and the area was sanitized, said JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. However, after the report circulated among the 2,700 prisoners, about 1,000 women dumped their lunches, which consisted of macaroni and ham, coleslaw, greens, an apple and bread, she said. ….. The report of maggots was the second in the Marysville prison and the eighth confirmed case in a state prison this year. Maggots also were found yesterday on a shelf near the meal serving line at the Trumbull Correctional Institution near Warren in northeastern Ohio, Smith said. …

Lawmakers Hear About Food, Security Problems In Prisons Blamed On Private Vendor
Source: Karen Kasler, Ohio Public Radio, July 30, 2014

There are problems with maggots, food shortages and contraband in state prisons, and the committee that inspects those facilities is blaming a private vendor hired by the prison system. The head of the state’s prison inspection team told lawmakers on the panel that oversees it Wednesday that there are problems with Aramark related to sanitation, food quality and supply, security training, staffing and documentation. ….. AJ Frame says he’s seen the maggot problem firsthand where he works as a corrections officer at the Noble Correctional Institution in southeast Ohio…… The Ohio Civil Service Employees Union says if the prisons department is spending resources to deal with these issues, it doubts Aramark is saving the state much money at all….

Ohio slaps 2nd fine on Aramark for prison food problems
Source: Associated Press, July 31, 2014

The state on Wednesday announced a second fine against the private vendor – Philadelphia-based Aramark – that took over the job of feeding inmates last year as the company defended its operations before a prisons oversight committee. The $130,200 fine against Aramark Correctional Services covered continued staffing shortages, unacceptable food substitutions and shortages and sanitation issues, including maggots observed in food service operations at five prisons this month and last, according to Ohio’s July 23 letter to the company….

Ohio prison director gives food vendor ultimatum after reports of maggots
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, July 31, 2014

Prison inmates are not going to give four stars to the food when the combined cost of their three daily meals amounts to less than the price of a Big Mac. However, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction director told lawmakers yesterday that its food-service vendor must clean up its act — and its food — or face the loss of its contract. Director Gary Mohr revealed that Aramark Correctional Services was fined $130,200 last week — on top of a previous $142,100 fine — for ongoing problems including lack of cleanliness, food shortages and other contract violations….

Legislative committee will hear update on complaints facing Ohio prisons food vendor
Source: Associated Press, July 30, 2014

The state on Wednesday announced a second fine against the private vendor that took over the job of feeding inmates last year as the company defended its operations before a prisons oversight committee. The $130,200 fine against Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services covered continued staffing shortages, unacceptable food substitutions and shortages and sanitation issues, including maggots observed in food service operations at five prisons this month and last, according to Ohio’s July 23 letter to the company….

Legislative committee to hear update on complaints facing Ohio prisons food vendor
Source: Associated Press, July 26, 2014

A legislative committee is getting updates on complaints facing the private food vendor that won the contract to feed Ohio inmates. Reports indicate employees with Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services have repeatedly failed to provide food or run out of it since beginning work last September.

Maggots in food among new prison food complaints
Source: Associated Press, July 15, 2014

Maggots in food, staffing shortages and reports of running out of foods are among new complaints facing the vendor that won the contract to feed Ohio inmates. Reports obtained by the Associated Press through records requests found numerous problems reported since April, when the state took the rare step of fining the vendor because of contract failures…At issue is a bigger national debate over privatizing prison services — from food preparation to the running of entire facilities — to save money at a time of squeezed state budgets. Proponents say private industry can often do the job more efficiently and more cheaply, unencumbered by union and administrative rules, while opponents say a focus on the bottom line leads to cutting corners that creates danger for inmates and employees….

Maggots in food, running out of food among new complaints facing Ohio prisons food vendor
Source: Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press, July 15, 2014

Maggots in food, staffing shortages and reports of running out of foods are among new complaints facing the vendor that won the contract to feed Ohio inmates. Reports obtained by The Associated Press through records requests found numerous problems reported since April, when the state took the rare step of fining the vendor because of contract failures. The records show 65 instances where Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services failed to provide food or ran out of it — usually the main course, such as hamburgers or chicken patties — while serving inmates, leading to delays and in some cases security concerns as inmates grew frustrated. Substitute items were provided in most cases.

Maggots found in third Ohio prison kitchen
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, July 10, 2014

Maggots turned up at a third Ohio prison yesterday, prompting officials at the Noble Correctional Institution in Caldwell to shut down a food line and throw away food. The maggots, which are fly larvae, were not in the food but were seen crawling out of drains in the serving equipment on the food line, said Jo Ellen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. …. All Ohio prisons have food service provided by Aramark Correctional Services, the Philadelphia company that feeds inmates under a $110 million state contract.

Maggots Found In Food At Prisons In Marysville, Trumbull County
Source: Steve Brown, WOSU, July 8, 2014

Newly-unveiled documents show maggots have been found in food and serving equipment at two Ohio prisons. Documents obtained by the Columbus Dispatch shows Aramark Correctional Services, the private company the feeds Ohio inmates, said maggots were found in food at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. Another report from June said live maggots were found in a warming tray at a Trumbull county prison.

Maggots found in kitchen at Trumbull Co. prison
Source: WKBN, July 8, 2014

Tuesday, an Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Spokesperson confirmed to WKBN that her department is concerned about the food service provided to several state prisons by Aramark. Ohio DRC Communications Chief JoEllen Smith said that Aramark has made plans to have a third-party organization inspect their food preparation. Workers found maggots on food preparation devices twice within the past week, once at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio and once at the Trumbull Correctional Institute in Leavittsburg, Ohio. Tuesday, the ACLU of Ohio urged the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) to end its contract with Aramark Correctional Services, the prison system’s private food vendor, according to a press release from the ACLU….

Ohio Should End Contract with Prison Private Food Vendor /New Reports of Maggots in Prison Food Emerge After Months of Problems with Aramark
Source: ACLU of Ohio, Press Release, July 8, 2014

Today, the ACLU of Ohio urged the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) to end its contract with Aramark Correctional Services, the prison system’s private food vendor, after months of documented problems. News reports on Monday indicated that maggot infestations were found in Aramark food in two Ohio prisons, including two separate incidents at the Ohio Reformatory for Women and one incident at the Trumbull Correctional Institution. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated problem for Aramark in Ohio.

Maggots found in food at two Ohio prisons
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, July 8, 2014

Food and serving equipment contaminated with live maggots have been found at two Ohio prisons.  Aramark Correctional Services, the private company that feeds inmates under a $110 million state contract, said maggots found at the Ohio Reformatory for Women at Marysville on June 30 were “one issue that was resolved last week.”  However, reports obtained by The Dispatch show two previous incidents of maggots, which are fly larvae, at prisons earlier this year.   …..

Vendor fined $142,100 for prison-meal problems
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, April 19, 2014

The vendor that feeds state prison inmates was fined $142,100 yesterday for contract violations that include failing to hire enough workers to prepare and serve meals. But the union that represents the 341 government workers replaced by employees of Aramark Correctional Services claims that the problems following the privatization of prison food service go much deeper. Since Sept. 26, state officials have banned 76 Aramark employees from prisons for “serious misconduct” that includes unspecified relationships with inmates, security violations and importing contraband….

Ohio lawmaker wants private prison vendor canned
Source: Associated Press, April 21, 2014

An Ohio state lawmaker says the state prisons department should terminate its contract with a private food service operator after fining the company last week for repeatedly failing to meet promised staffing levels. Democratic state Rep. Matt Lundy said Monday that deficiencies identified in Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services’ performance reaffirm his and other opponents’ concerns about privatization. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction fined Aramark $142,100 Friday. The private food vendor took over feeding Ohio’s 50,000 prisoners from state employees in September. The contract goes to June 30, 2015. The ACLU says the fine should trigger a reevaluation of the deal….

OCSEA questions timing of food service fine; says more proof DR&C has lost control
Source: OCSEA, Press Release, April 18, 2014

With just two business days before an arbitration begins between the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association and the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction on the privatization of prison food service, the agency has fined vendor Aramark $142,000 for failing to adequately staff food operations. But the union is questioning DR&C’s motives, particularly since one of the largest arbitrations the union has ever undertaken is set to start next week. “What took them so long? It’s not as if understaffing just began. Aramark has never adequately staffed food service,” questioned OCSEA President Christopher Mabe. Prison employees have logged thousands of incidents caused by the food service changeover including: menu substitutions; food line delays; doctoring recipes; poor food quality; small portions; sanitation and food safety; cost increases; reduction in service; and security issues. The most serious issues involve the increase in security breaches, including a sharp rise in contraband, inappropriate sexual relationships between Aramark staff and inmates, as well as theft….

DR&C returns prison food service to vendor that overcharged state by $2 million in 1998 / DYS to retain state-operated food service
Source: OCSEA, Press Release, June 21, 2013

Despite a competitive bid from the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association to save 11 percent on inmate meal costs without sacrificing safety or jobs, the Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction announced that an out-of-state private company will oversee food service operation in Ohio’s state-run adult prisons. Approximately 500 food service employees will be impacted by the change. The Dept. of Youth Services will retain state-operated food service. The private company, Aramark, had previously been charged with overseeing food service operations at Noble Correctional Institution from 1998 to 2000. Their failed tenure resulted in rampant cost overruns, security problems and fraud, including charging the state for phantom inmates. With near-riot conditions as result, DR&C asked that OCSEA bring food services back in-house at a savings of 20 percent.

SOCF union expects loss of 27 food service jobs
Source: Frank Lewis, Portsmouth Daily Times, June 25, 2013

State to privatize prison food service to close budget gap
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch Friday June 21, 2013


Ohio will privatize prison food service this fall in a $110 million deal

Source: Stan Donaldson, Plain Dealer, June 21, 2013


Ohio Prisons Plan To Privatize Meal Service To Save Money

Source: Associated Press, June 23, 2013

…Philadelphia-based Aramark won the two-year contract with a bid to spend about $3.61 per day per inmate, the state said….

State skips union, picks private food service
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, June 23, 2013

Ohio farms out its prison food to a private contractor / The prison workers’ union says that discounts special security training state food-workers have
Source: WKSU, June 21, 2013

Could Ohio’s plan to privatize prison food cause deadly riots to erupt?
Source: Julie Kent, Cleveland Dealer, February 11, 2013

Governor John Kasich is planning to hire a private food vendor to feed the 50,179 inmates in the Ohio prison system in an effort to cut costs. The Kasich administration argues that outsourcing prison food will save the state as much as $16 million, but some suggest that it could come with another kind of cost and put the safety of its prison workers in jeopardy.

Switching to a private vendor to supply the state’s prisons with food could make notoriously unappetizing prison food even more unappealing. Private vendors, unlike state-run cafeterias, are permitted to skip the federal nutrition guideliens for school lunches at the juvenile detention facilities that they serve. They’re permitted to skimp on food quantity, quality, and staffing, all in the name of profit….

DRC calls for cutbacks and outsourcing at state prisons
Source: Frank Lewis, Portsmouth Daily Times, February 6, 2013

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will look for ways to cut costs and that will mean, among other things, a Request for Proposal for prison food service operations statewide. In a letter to prison officials, DRC Director Gary Mohr said austerity measures are going to be required nearly across the board and among those costs is food service within prisons such as Southern Ohio Correctional facility at Lucasville.

Warren County to privatize employment service center

Source: Laurence Budd, Dayton Daily News, April 17, 2016

After 45 years, Warren County is expected to sever ties with an employment services center for about 150 residents with developmental disabilities. The planned privatization of Production Services Unlimited (PSU), in response to a federal mandate, will affect about 150 adults with developmental disabilities currently developing work skills at the facility and 60 employees. It is also expected to result in sale of the building — where the employment and other day services have been provided since 1971. … The changes were mandated in Ohio in 2014 by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to end potential conflicts of interest between those providing employment services and other daytime services, as well as transportation, and overseeing care of those with developmental disabilities. Service providers around the country face the same mandates. Options considered by the DD board included privatizing PSU; finding a private operator; or closing it entirely and finding providers for the services. The federal guidelines are designed to provide continued services, while curbing the costs of serving those funded through Medicaid and Medicare.

ACLU sues Ohio corrections department on behalf of hearing-impaired inmate convicted of murder

Source: Eric Heisig, Cleveland.com, April 7, 2016

A hearing-impaired inmate serving 15-to-life for a 2002 Portage County killing filed suit against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, saying the department’s refusal to replace his hearing aids is a safety risk. James Handwork, 55, is serving his sentence at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed suit on his behalf on Tuesday in federal court in Cleveland. … Prison officials have refused to replace both hearing aids and said they would only give him one new one, the ACLU says. The officials told Handwork that the corrections department’s policy only requires staff to ensure that an inmate can hear from one ear. … The suit says that the prison system is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and Handwork’s Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. The ACLU is asking a judge to issue an injunction requiring the prison to give Handwork new hearing aids and to change their policy to accommodate people who are hard of hearing.

Youngstown privatizing trash collection May 1

Source: The Vindicator, April 7, 2016

Youngstown will start its own residential garbage collection May 1 that city officials say will be cheaper than remaining with a private company. With about three weeks before the program is to begin, the city has yet to purchase nine garbage trucks and 21,500 garbage bins and hire employees. But the program will start on time, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public-works department. … The trucks will take about two to six months to arrive, so the city will lease trucks until then and won’t order the bins until the vehicles are just about ready so both will be ready about the same time, Shasho said. The city hired private companies for decades to handle its residential garbage collection.

Benefits from prison plan disputed

Source: Laura Bischoff, Dayton Daily News, April 2, 2016

… Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokesman Grant Doepel was unable to provide a bottom line on how much money Ohio taxpayers have saved from privatizing the prisons in Conneaut and Marion. He noted that the average annual cost to house inmates at the privately-run prisons is between $15,432 and $16,472, which is less than the DRC system-wide average annual cost per inmate of $24,715. …

Related:

Workers, Prisoners’ Rights Considered in Ohio Supreme Court Ruling
Source: Lauren Sega, Columbus Underground, February 18, 2016

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 5-2 last week that the state’s sale of a prison to a private corporation is constitutional. The sale was OK’d in the Ohio budget for the fiscal year 2012-2013. Five prisons are authorized for sale in that budget, and one of them sold for almost $73 million to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Lake Erie Correctional institution, previously overseen by the Management and Training Corporation (MTC), sold to CCA and, months later, devolved into chaos.

Ohio Supreme Court says sale of state prison constitutional
Source: Robert Higgs, Cleveland.com, February 11, 2016

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state’s sale of a prison did not violate the Ohio Constitution.  In a 5-2 decision, the court found that authorizing the sale in the state’s budget bill did not violate the single-subject rule in the constitution, nor did it involve the state joining with a private entity in a business. … The case arose after the state legislature included language in the 2012-13 budget that allowed for sale of up to six prisons. The state ended up selling one — the Lake Erie Correctional Facility in Ashtabula County — to the Corrections Corporation of America for nearly $73 million. It also agreed to pay CCA $3.8 million a year to handle Ohio inmates. … And while Ohio’s constitution prohibits the state from lending its credit to a business or jointly owning property with private entity, it does not prevent the state from selling its property or contracting for private services, French wrote.  Paying an operating fee is not a gift or loan of state credit nor does it mean co-ownership in a business.

Prison sale did not violate Ohio Constitution, justices rule
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, February 11, 2016

Averting an unprecedented line-by-line legal review of the state budget, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 5-2 today that the sale of a prison in a state budget bill was constitutional. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, which represents prison employees, and public policy group ProgressOhio had challenged the 2012-13 budget bill as violating the one-bill/one-subject provision of the Ohio Constitution.

Cleveland approves private ambulance companies for RNC

Source: EMS1, March 24, 2016

The city of Cleveland has approved contracts for two private ambulance companies to help provide EMS services during the Republican National Convention this summer. Fox8.com reported the companies will transport patients from the convention to the hospital, leaving city ambulances free to respond to calls. The city has promised not to pull any Cleveland paramedics to cover calls from the RNC.

Charter school scandal haunts John Kasich

Source: Kimberly Hefling, Politico, March 14, 2016

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is an avid proponent of school choice, but his home state’s notoriously problematic charter school sector is often held up as an example of what can go wrong. In the last year, he successfully pushed for revisions to Ohio’s charter school oversight, but the sector remains embroiled in scandal. At the epicenter is David Hansen, Kasich’s former charter school chief, who resigned last summer after acknowledging that he didn’t include the grades of online charter schools in ratings of their oversight agencies. The online schools are generally low-performing and have ties to GOP donors, which led critics to pounce. And Hansen is married to Beth Hansen, who is Kasich’s campaign manager for his bid to be the next president. … Kasich has denied any involvement in Hansen’s calculations or the grant application, and no evidence has surfaced to indicate he was aware of what was going on at the time. But the scandal has remained stubbornly in the spotlight as Kasich struggles to remain relevant in the GOP presidential race. Kasich has vowed to maintain his campaign at least through the Ohio primary Tuesday, but it’s unclear what path his campaign would take beyond that if he doesn’t win his home state.

Related:

Will Ohio ever get around to setting new charter-school regulations?
Source: Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch, February 24, 2016

Charter sponsors want to delay new evaluations of their performance, arguing that they deserve the same protections that traditional schools are getting this school year. The Ohio Department of Education reportedly is concerned that such a delay could jeopardize a $71 million federal grant that the state is already struggling to keep hold of in the wake of a charter data-scrubbing scandal. … Later this year, the Ohio Department of Education is expected to release sponsor evaluations for both the 2014-15 school year and 2015-16. It appears likely that lawmakers will ensure sponsors will get protection from the 2014-15 results, but there is much debate about whether the current year results should count. … The state’s grant application for the charter money included inflated claims, such as saying Ohio had no poor-performing charters in 2012-13 even though about a third of schools didn’t meet a single standard on their report cards.

Ohio lawmakers tackle charter school bill after scandal, ruling
Source: Julie Carr Smyth and Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press, September 16, 2015

Recent charter school developments have put additional pressure on Ohio lawmakers trying to tighten regulation of the schools via pending legislation. … A bipartisan bill cracking down on the publicly funded, privately operated schools is pending in the Republican-controlled Legislature. House and Senate leaders and Gov. John Kasich have all said strengthening the charter school law is a priority this year. The bill would crack down on low-performing Ohio charter schools and impose a host of new accountability standards on sponsors.
Continue reading

Empty Promises: Something Still Stinks in Michigan and Ohio’s Prison Kitchens

Source: Stephen Katz, Cleve Scene, February 17, 2016

A series of reports over a two-year period in Michigan told of disturbing incidents in which the company served food tainted by maggots on multiple occasions, knowingly served rotten meat, ordered inmates to serve food pulled from the garbage, handed out food on which rats nibbled, and served moldy food. … Things were no better in Ohio. The Buckeye State cited Aramark 240 times in 2014 for shorting inmates on food. The state’s prison kitchens have also seen issues with maggots, mice turds, employee shortages, substandard food, and unsanitary conditions. … In Ohio, the prisons’ unions offered to run the kitchens for less money than Aramark, but Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction opted to extend Aramark’s contract in June while boosting its pay from $110 million to $130 million over two years. As a precautionary measure, Michigan and Ohio hired more monitors to ensure prisoners aren’t starving or eating larvae. So there’s that. … Aramark, the world’s largest institutional food conglomerate, and Trinity, plop meals onto prisoners’ trays at around 950 detention centers in North America, according to the companies’ websites. But that figure is dropping, mostly because Aramark is establishing itself as the poster child for all that’s wrong with privatization, due in no small part to widely publicized incidents in Michigan and Ohio. Trinity’s record is better than Aramark, but the bar is low. Last year the Southern Center for Human Rights considered suing the company for allegedly starving inmates in Georgia.

Ohio bypass project: ‘Boondoggle’ or boon?

Source: Kathiann Kowalski, Midwest Energy News, February 5, 2016

Ohio’s first public-private partnership deal for a highway bypass project is a waste of taxpayers’ transportation dollars, claims a report released last month by two consumer advocacy groups. The Portsmouth Bypass project will build a new 16-mile highway with limited access so through traffic can avoid the downtown area of Portsmouth, Ohio. The new joint report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and the Frontier Group labelled the project a “highway boondoggle.” Leaders in Portsmouth, however, say the project is sorely needed and could help drive new business development to the area, especially because of the new road’s proximity to a major natural gas pipeline. … Portsmouth Gateway Group will borrow extensively and build the road for an estimated cost of $429 million. That private group will also be responsible for maintaining the road through 2053. However, state funds will pay back any loans, interest and related charges over time. The state will reimburse maintenance and repair costs as well. The total public outlay over the deal’s 35-year term could be as much as $1.2 billion, the Columbus Dispatch reported last year. …

Welcome to Jobs Inc., Where States Have Little Say in Economic Development

Source: Alan Greenblat, Governing, November 2015

Putting the chamber of commerce or other private groups in charge of economic development has long been common at the local level and has been tried in some states, but just over the past few years it has gained popularity in states with Republican administrations, including Arizona, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin. Illinois and Oklahoma are also considering a similar move. …Of course, commerce departments and other public agencies have been guilty of incompetence and malfeasance as well. Perhaps the most notorious example in recent years involves 38 Studios, a video game company founded by former Boston Red Sox star Curt Schilling, which went bust after receiving a $75 million loan from the state of Rhode Island. … At the same time, purely public agencies continue to be responsible for some of the biggest scores in development, including Nevada’s billion-dollar deal with Tesla last year to build a ginormous battery factory outside Reno. This points to what may be the fundamental problem with the whole privatization push: There’s no proof that this approach works any better — or really all that much differently — than old-fashioned development agencies.