November 12, 2012


MN: Lapses in prison medical care have produced tragic results for inmates

Since 2000, at least nine prisoners have died after medical care was denied or delayed by corrections staff, a Star Tribune investigation has found, and another 21 have suffered serious or critical injury. …The Minnesota Department of Corrections has contracted since 1998 with Corizon Inc., a private, for-profit corporation based in Tennessee. The firm, formerly known as Correctional Medical Services, is the nation’s biggest prison health care company, holding contracts with 31 state and local prison systems… Working for a fixed annual fee — $28 million last year — Corizon has an incentive to maintain strict cost control. A review of Corizon’s state contract shows how lean the operation can be. Doctors employed by Corizon leave their prison clinics after 4 p.m. and do not work weekends. Prison nurses generally finish their last shifts by 11 p.m.   Star-Tribune

PA: Gov. Corbett: State has ‘an obligation’ to look at privatizing state’s lottery system

On Friday the Commonwealth announced it had developed a framework for the agreement. It includes annual profit sharing requirements and that ownership and ultimate control of the system will remain in state hands. Over the next two months that state will work with selected qualified firms to nail down a contract that both sides can agree on and will review business plans to ensure the selected firm can deliver as promised…. “We’ve said from Day One we’re looking to see what all we can privatize,” said Gov. Tom Corbett on Friday at an unrelated press event..,Not everyone agrees with the state’s proposal. AFCME, which represents about 160 of the lottery’s 200-plus employees, has objected to plans to privatize management of the system. The Patriot-News

LA: Lawmaker, Jindal clash over costs of privatizing insurance benefits

A state lawmaker is questioning why, if the state is saving money through transferring state employee and retiree health insurance policies to a private management firm, Office of Group Benefits administrative costs go up $154 million in next year’s budget.  Alexandria Town Talk

TX: Central Texas 85 mph toll road now charging

The free ride has ended for drivers on the Central Texas toll road with the nation’s fastest speed limit at 85 mph. The SH 130 Concession Co. on Sunday began charging on the new segment, which is meant to help relieve traffic on Interstate 35. The company developed and manages the toll road through a contract with the Texas Transportation Commission. Motorists with state electronic toll tags must now pay about 15 cents per mile, up to $6.17 for the full 41 miles. Drivers without toll tags will be billed $8.21 for the full length. Rates are higher for trucks.  San Francisco Chronicle

FL: Critics: Florida oversight lax for contractors like LightHouse

Looking for a lesson in how government outsourcing is working in Florida? Try this: Organizations that win business with the little-known state Division of Blind Services can bill taxpayers $58 an hour for travel time to meet with a blind person. The same organizations can charge taxpayers $2,000 or more to place one phone call. If the deal sounds good for the groups that win the no-bid state contracts, it’s because it is. Why? Because the private third-party vendors largely dictate the terms and receive little oversight, former Division of Blind Services employees say.

CA: Long Beach Courthouse Cost Up to $160 Million Too Much

The independent California Legislative Analyst’s Office has found that the public-private partnership now building the state’s $490 million Gov. George Deukmejian Courthouse in downtown Long Beach is costing $160 million more than it should because cost estimates were flawed.  Long Beach Patch

CA: Los Angeles Prepares City’s First Toll Road           

Metro officials will turn on signs and computers at Los Angeles’ first toll road tonight at 10 p.m., ending the 70-year L.A. tradition of a completely “free” freeway system… The project is a one-year experiment, and Metro and Caltrans will survey traffic speeds and roadway capacity on the 110 Freeway to see if variable tolls can improve speeds. Average tolls are expected to run from $4 to $7, but could go as high as $15.40.  Woodland Hills Patch

TN: School Privatization Picks Up Steam in Memphis

A teacher writes to report that the privatization movement plans to take over her school and several others in Memphis. Tennessee now has a solid rightwing majority in the state legislature, a rightwing governor, and a TFA state commissioner dedicated to advancing privatization. Stand for Children is a major presence in the state, assuring that Wall Street money will be available to facilitate privatization and portray it as part of the “civil rights issue” of our day.  Diane Ravitch