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Archive for the ‘Layoffs’ Category

It’s small wonder that Gov. Bobby Jindal wanted to get out of town quickly—he departed the state for an extended trip to Asia to recruit business and industry investment in Louisiana—given the flak he is receiving from the legislature and radio talk show hosts over his hiring of a consulting firm at a cost of $4.2 million to somehow magically find $500 million in state government savings. http://theadvocate.com/csp/mediapool/sites/dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls?STREAMOID=sZuDzNJoJK2fudmeRm9FJpM5tm0Zxrvol3sywaAHBAlauzovnqN0Cbyo1UqyDJ6gE0$uXvBjavsllACLNr6VhLEUIm2tympBeeq1Fwi7sIigrCfKm_F3DhYfWov3omce$8CAqP1xDAFoSAgEcS6kSQ–&CONTENTTYPE=application/pdf&CONTENTDISPOSITION=Alvarez%20Marsal%20Government%20Savings%20Contract.pdfhttp://theadvocate.com/news/8045923-123/vitter-super-pac-raises-15

And that contract doesn’t even take into account Pre-Jindal recommendations by the firm that may ultimately end up costing taxpayers $1.5 billion which, of course, would more than offset any $500 million savings it might conjure up that the Legislative Fiscal Officer, the State Treasurer, the administration, the legislature and the Legislative Auditor have been unable to do, largely because of a time honored political tradition affectionately known as turf protection.

One might even ask, for example, why representatives of the consulting firm, Alvarez & Marsal, who somewhat smugly call themselves “efficiency engineers,” were wasting their time Friday at the gutted Office of Risk Management. Isn’t there already a promise of $20 million in savings on the table as a result of Jindal’s privatization of that agency four years ago? For just that one small agency, that’s 4 percent of the entire $500 million in savings Jindal is seeking through the $4 million contract. (The elusive $500 million savings, for the real political junkies, represents only 2 percent of the state budget.)

The Baton Rouge Advocate also got in on the act on Saturday with Michelle Millhollon’s excellent story that  noted that the actual contract contains no mention of a $500 million savings. http://theadvocate.com/home/8131113-125/vaunted-savings-not-included-in

That revelation which is certain to further antagonize legislators, including Senate President John Alario (R-Westwego) whom Jindal will now probably try to teague for his criticism of the governor’s penchant for secrecy.

Hey guys, your contract is only for four months, so why waste your time in an agency that supposedly is on the cusp of a $20 million savings? That ain’t very efficient, if you ask us.

Legislators immediately voiced their displeasure at the contract. “There’s a lot of people who don’t like it,” said Rep. John Schroder (R-Covington), a one-time staunch Jindal ally.

Rep. Tim Burns (R-Mandeville), chairman of the House Governmental Affairs Committee (if he hasn’t been teagued by now), said when the dust settles any cost cutting will ultimately be the responsibility of state officials. “Even the best PowerPoint presentation isn’t going to cut government,” he said. “The trick is to make the political choices.”

The contract raises immediate questions how Jindal, now entering his seventh year in office, could justify the move in light of his many boasts of efficiencies his administration has supposedly initiated.

Ruth Johnson, who is overseeing the contract for the Division of Administration, defended the deal with the simplistic and less than satisfactory logic that “Sometimes you have to spend money to save money.”

And while Jindal has indicated he wants a final set of recommendations in April, the contract runs through 2016, meaning the final cost could far exceed the $4.2 million Alvarez & Marsal is scheduled to receive for its review.

Jim Engster, host of a talk show on public radio in Baton Rouge, on Friday predicted during an interview with State Treasurer John Kennedy that Alvarez & Marsal’s final report will most likely bear an uncanny resemblance to the 400-plus-page interim report of Dec. 18, 2009, by the infamous Commission on Streamlining Government.

The hearings by that commission, you may remember, gave birth to the term teaguing, a favorite tactic employed by the Jindal administration when a state employee or legislator refuses to toe the line. A state employee named Melody Teague testified before that commission and was summarily fired the following day. Six months later her husband, Tommy Teague, was fired as head of the Office of Group Benefits when he was slow in getting on board the Jindal Privatization Express. Mrs. Teague appealed and was reinstated but her husband took employment elsewhere in a less volatile environment.

The Alvarez & and Marsal representatives have pleaded ignorant to questions of whether their report will draw heavily from the four-year-old commission report and even professed to not know of its existence.

A curious denial indeed, given that Johnson was also the ramrod over the streamlining commission during Jindal’s second year in office. Does she not share this information with the firm or was all that commission work for naught? Or part of Jindal’s infamous deliberative process? Curious also in that Alvarez & Marsal is specifically cited—by name—no fewer than six times in the report’s first 51 pages, each of which is in the context of privatizing the state’s charity hospital system. The report quoted the firm as recommending that:

  • “The governor and the legislature authorize and direct the LSU Health System to adopt the recommendations of Alvarez and Marsal for the operation of the interim Charity Hospital in New Orleans. The governor and legislature direct every other charity hospital in Louisiana to contract for a similar financial and operational assessment with a third party private sector consulting firm, such as but not necessarily Alvarez and Marsal, that specializes and has a proven track record in turnaround management, corporate restructuring and performance improvement for institutions and their stakeholders.”

That’s right. That is where the seed was apparently first planted for the planned privatization of the LSU Hospital system, even to the point of directing the LSU Board of Stuporvisors to vote to allow a Shreveport foundation run by one of the LSU stuporvisors to take over the LSU Medical Center in Shreveport and E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe. Alvarez & Kelly performed that bit of work under a $1.7 million contract that ran for nine months in 2009, from Jan. 5 to Sept. 30 (almost $200,000 per month).

Alvarez & Marsal also received a $250,000, contract of a much shorter duration (10 days) from Jindal on April 9, 2013, to develop Jindal’s proposal to eliminate the state income taxes in favor of other tax increases. That quickie, ill-conceived plan was dead on arrival during the legislative session and Jindal quickly punted before a single legislative vote could be taken

But Alvarez & Marsal’s cozy if disastrous relationship with state government goes back further than Jindal, even. http://www.alvarezandmarsal.com/case-study-new-orleans-public-schools It’s a relationship that could become one of the most costly in state history—unless of course, the state chooses to ignore a court judgment in the same manner as it has ignored a $100 million-plus award (now in the neighborhood of a quarter-billion dollars—with judicial interest) stemming from a 1983 class-action flood case in Tangipahoa Parish.

In fact, the state probably has no choice but to ignore the judgment as an alternative to bankrupting the state but that does little to remove the stigma attached to a horrendous decision to accept the recommendation of Alvarez and Marsal which subsequently was rewarded with a $29.1 million three-year state contract from April 4, 2006 to April 3, 2009 to “develop and implement a comprehensive and coordinated disaster recovery plan in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.”

In December of 2005, the Orleans Parish School Board adopted Resolution 59-05 on the advice of the crack consulting firm that Jindal somehow thinks is going to be the state’s financial salvation.

That resolution, passed in the aftermath of disastrous Hurricane Katrina was specifically cited in the ruling earlier this week by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal that upheld a lower court decision the school board was wrong to fire 7,500 teachers, effective Jan. 31, 2006. The wording contained in the ruling said:

  • “In December 2005, the OPSB passed Resolution No. 59-05 upon the advice and recommendation of its state-selected and controlled financial consultants, the New York-based firm of Alvarez & Marsal. The Resolution called for the termination of all New Orleans Public School employees placed on unpaid “Disaster Leave” after Hurricane Katrina, to take effect on January 31, 2006.1 On the day that the mass terminations were scheduled to take place, Plaintiffs amended their petition to seek a temporary restraining order preventing the OPSB from terminating all of its estimated 7,500 current employees at the close of business on that day. The trial court granted the TRO and this Court and the Louisiana Supreme Court denied writs on the issue. The TRO was later converted into a preliminary injunction that restrained, enjoined and prohibited the OPSB, et al, from “terminating the employment of Plaintiffs and other New Orleans Public School employees until they are afforded the due process safeguards provided in the Orleans Parish School Board’s Reduction in Force Policy 4118.4.” Nevertheless, Plaintiffs and thousands of other employees were terminated on March 24, 2006, after form letters were mailed to the last known address of all employees of record as of August 29, 2005.”

The appellate court upheld the award of more than $1 million to seven lead plaintiffs in the case of Oliver v. Orleans Parish School Board but adjusted the lower court’s damage award, ordering the school board and the Louisiana Department of Education to pay two years of back pay and benefits and an additional year of back pay and benefits to teachers who meet certain unspecified requirements.

Immediately following Katrina, state-appointed Alvarez and Marsal set up a call center to collect post-Katrina addresses for a majority of staff members in time for the anticipated layoffs. But when the state began the hiring process for schools that had been taken over, the terminated employees were never called, prompting plaintiff attorneys to charge that the entire procedure was intentional and part of the state’s plan to take over the Orleans Parish school system.

Plaintiffs said that then-State Superintendent of Education Cecil Picard chose Alvarez & Marsal to prevail upon the school board to replace acting parish Superintendent Ora Watson with an Alvarez & Marsal consultant.

So, Watson was replaced, 7,500 teachers were fired, and the teachers sued and won, leaving the Orleans School Board and the state liable for a billion-five and the firm that started it all is hired by Jindal to find savings of an unspecified amount. What could possibly go wrong?

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Just in time for the college football bowl season, Forbes magazine has rated the LSU football program as the fourth most valuable in the country, prompting an announcement by the Jindal administration to capitalize on the latest data.

With an estimated value of $105 million, the LSU programs ranks behind only the University of Texas ($139 million), Notre Dame ($117 million) and Alabama ($110 million) and ranks ahead of such traditional football powerhouses as Michigan, Florida, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State, Nebraska, Auburn, Arkansas, Southern Cal, Texas A&M, and Penn State—5th through 15th, respectively.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2013/12/18/college-footballs-most-valuable-teams-2013-texas-longhorns-cant-be-stopped/

Upon learning of the ranking, Gov. Bobby Jindal, always the political opportunist, immediately pressured the LSU Board of Stuporvisors to approve a request for proposals (RFP) aimed at the privatization of the LSU football program in time for the start of the 2014 season.

The board approved the plan without discussion or objection.

“We actually have been considering this opportunity for some time,” Jindal said. “The latest story by Forbes simply provides us with the opportunity to negotiate the most favorable contract for the people of Louisiana.”

Jindal said the timing is such that it will be impossible to issue the RFP before the Feb. 5 LSU Bayou Bash recruiting party but he said he felt logistical problems of dealing with new signees could be overcome with assistance from legal counsel Jimmy Faircloth.

“The fact of the matter is, long story short, at the end of the day, there are two things: the LSU football team is overloaded with unproductive players. Applying my well-known ‘do more with less’ mantra, the new team owners will drastically cut the excess fat from the program. All players who do not make the first team on either offense or defense will be dismissed from the team. The kickers and punters will come from the remaining 22 starters.”

He said that move alone would save the program millions of dollars in housing and meal costs as well as costs for extra uniforms, equipment, game tickets and tutors. Other cost saving measures to be initiated by the privatization move include the termination of medical treatment for injured players and suspension of any athletic department financial contributions to academics. “We have already seen that academics can do more with less; now they will have the opportunity to do even more,” he said.

Jindal said in his prepared statement that the 22 players will each be paid on a sliding scale beginning at $100,000 per year. “That should allow LSU to attract the very best starting players in the nation and prevent the raiding of the top two or three high school players that Louisiana produces each year by other colleges—especially by Nick Saban and Alabama,” he said.

“This move will represent a new gold standard of athletic competition,” he said.

He said that a player who is injured and unable to continue in a game will be replaced from a pool of about a dozen standby contract players who will be employed in administrative positions within the Department of Education. In some cases, players will be asked to play on both offense and defense as an example of his “do more with less” crusade.

“The fact that the new owners will schedule only home games also should help us move forward with all due speed,” he said.

Jindal said his latest plan represents a “bold new move” for LSU football. “This should allow us to win the BCS championship virtually every year,” he said. “That fact alone should dispel all arguments that privatization doesn’t work.”

Confidential sources confirmed that one unidentified administration official who raised questions about possible NCAA sanctions for paying players was summarily teagued, a claim that was immediately denied. “That person left on his own accord,” an administration spokesman said. “We had nothing to do with his decision to leave.”

“There is a reason the NCAA would take issue with our proposal,” Jindal said. “I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the head of the NCAA is a former president of LSU and that he is envious of LSU’s success since his departure. If you recall, when Dr. Mark Emmert was at LSU he was the one who hired Nick Saban and because of that, he has a vested interest in the continued success of Coach Saban. So it’s understandable that he would be opposed to this move.”

Jindal then proceeded to verbally attack Emmert and the NCAA over the anticipated encroachment. “Dr. Emmert and the NCAA want to deny a voice to the very people who will be harmed by such ridiculous sanctions,” he said. “They are trying to muzzle fans who simply want to express their support for what will be the most successful football program in the history of intercollegiate athletics. The only thing our fans want is for the finest athletes in the nation to have the opportunity to escape failing programs.

“Dr. Emmert is attempting to tell our fans to sit down and shut up. That’s never going to happen. Despite whatever evolving legal argument the NCAA comes up with, the voices of hundreds of thousands of fans will be heard,” he said.

“I have already indicated that the NCAA’s effort to deny these kids the right to equal opportunity in football is both cynical and immoral,” Jindal continued. “They (the NCAA and Emmert) can’t have it both ways. Our fans know the real result of any NCAA action, should it be successful, would be to keep great football players in failing programs like those at Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Florida.”

Key losses to Alabama “have pushed a significant number of players to go out of state,” Jindal said. “Threatened sanctions are another intrusion by the NCAA on players’ personal decisions. Players who wish to play for a premier program should not have to seek approval of Dr. Emmert or the NCAA. It is our moral obligation to ensure that every top player who we recruit has access to the best program available.

“America is a nation of opportunity and a quality football program opens the door to opportunity, no matter the social background of the player.

“We in Louisiana are rejecting the status quo because we believe every player should have the opportunity to succeed.”

He said the Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF) has been contracted to help draft the RFP for the administration.

Insiders have intimated that TAF is likely to be the sole bidder on the project, although Spectacor Management Group (SMG), which operates the Mercedes Benz Superdome, the New Orleans Arena, Zephyr Field in Metairie and the Baton Rouge River Center, has not been ruled out.

Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret said whoever wins the contract will receive generous tax incentives and exemptions “for bringing new jobs to Louisiana.”

Jindal said the privatization should save the state “approximately $500 million a year, give or take a few hundred million.”

(We wanted to hold off on this story until April 1, but we just couldn’t wait.)

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BATON ROUGE (CNS)—You may recall Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ill-fated retirement “reform” bills of 2012, all written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and introduced individually by Jindal’s lackeys in the House and Senate.

An example of how those “reforms” would have worked if passed can be found in the case of a single state employee whom we know but who is representative of thousands of state civil service workers.

In her case, she was (and still is, given that no civil service pay raises have been approved for five years now) making $52,000 per year and had 20 years’ service in 2012 (21 now). Her plan was to put in 30 years and retire. At her current pay, with no pay raises for the remainder of her career (which appears more likely with each year of the Jindal administration), she would retire at $39,000 per year. With inflation and no raises taken into account, $39,000 a year won’t go very far.

Had Jindal’s “reforms” passed, however, her annual retirement would have been reduced to $6,000 per year—a $33,000 per-year hit. And state employees do not pay into nor do they receive Social Security benefits. Six thousand dollars per year for 30 years’ service. Period.

And she was not an anomaly; stories like this would have been the case throughout state government.

Jindal claimed his retirement package was aimed at restoring the various state retirement systems to some semblance of stability by reducing the unfunded liabilities. But rather than continue to pay the state’s share of contributions to the systems those payments were actually reduced.

The bottom line is Jindal has complete and total disdain for the plight of those in the trenches—the ones who actually make state government work by showing up for work each day (which is certainly more than he does, given his extensive travel itinerary) and listening to the complaints of hostile citizens who don’t understand why they have so much difficulty getting the services they need—from road repairs to college and university infrastructure repair to services for the developmentally disabled where the waiting list is 10,000 persons—and growing. http://theadvocate.com/news/6739937-123/la-officials-try-to-shrink

And he’s made their job much harder by laying off rank and file employees while fattening the unclassified (appointed, non-civil service) payroll.

At the same time, he has been careful to take care of favored legislators with six-figure, do-nothing jobs which serve only to beef up their retirement benefits, some by more than tenfold.

LouisianaVoice, with the information available, did a before and after calculation of retirement benefits for several of those washed up legislators and local politicians. All calculations were based on the assumption they will remain in their new lofty positions at least three years. Here is what we found:

  • Former Rep. Jane Smith, by virtue of her appointment by Jindal to Deputy Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue at a yearly salary of $107,500, saw her retirement benefits climb from a modest $6,700 a year to $56,400 annually.
  • Former Rep. Kay Katz, appointed to the Louisiana Tax Commission at a $56,000 yearly salary will go from $6,700 per year to $29,400 a year in retirement benefits.
  • Troy Hebert who left the House to assume directorship of the State Alcohol and Tobacco Control Board, went from $4,500 to $37,500.
  • Lane Carson, who recently retired as Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Veterans Affairs at $130,000 after five years on the job will retire at nearly $64,000 instead of about $7,500 on the basis of his service in the legislature.
  • Former St. Tammany Parish President and now Director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) at $165,000 and former St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro, now the $150,000 Director of Hazard Mitigation and Recovery are only guesses. Because we are unsure of their previous salaries or their tenure in office, we have arbitrarily given them 15-year tenures (including their current positions) which put their retirement at $85,000 and $75,000, respectively—estimates both.
  • Former State Sen. Robert Barham saw his modest $7,500 legislative retirement balloon to $84,500 on the basis of his $124,000-a-year position as Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Wildlife and Fisheries.
  • We already wrote about Congressman Rodney Alexander who is leaving Congress to accept Lane Carson’s former position as Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Veterans Affairs at $130,000, a comfortable position that will boost his retirement from 15 years in the Louisiana Legislature prior to his election to Congress from $7,500 to $83,500.
  • But the grand prize goes to former State Rep. Noble Ellington. His 16 years in the House earned him a pension of about $8,900 but his hiring by Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon (at the behest of Jindal—his fingerprints are all over this appointment) as Deputy Commissioner of Insurance brought his retirement to almost $100,000 ($99,750).

Smith, Katz, Hebert, Carson, Barham, Alexander and Ellington qualify or will qualify for a combined retirement of more than $455,000 per year—an increase of $395,700 (667 percent) over their pre-Jindal appointment collective annual legislative retirement incomes of $59,300.

Now we harken back to Jindal’s aborted retirement “reform” which would have reduced our friend’s retirement from $39,000 to $6,000. On contrasting the two scenarios, one must ask, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

What is wrong is we have a governor who is just as slick and oily with the filthy ooze of dirty politics as any governor in the history of this state—while cloaking himself in the mantel of righteousness.

What is wrong is we have a governor who knows how to enrich his friends and stick it to everyone else—while pretending to act in the best interests of the state.

What is wrong is that we have a governor who entered Congress in January of 2005 as a man of modest means but emerged three years later as governor a multi-millionaire—and no one has asked how that happened.

What is wrong is that we have a governor who has demonstrated repeatedly that he has no compassion for the sick, the elderly, the developmentally disadvantaged, the mentally ill, state workers—and certainly not Louisiana citizens in general.

And what is wrong is we have a governor who does all that while hiding behind a façade of honesty, integrity, transparency and a “gold standard” of governmental ethics.

And now that same governor is attempting to call the shots in the election to fill the unexpired term of Rodney Alexander by promoting his puppet State Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) for Congress. He did this by manipulating (a) the timing of Alexander’s retirement, (b) his immediate offer of a cushy job to Alexander, (c) turning over former Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell and chief fundraiser Allie Bautsch to work on Riser’s behalf, and (d) sewing up endorsements from State Sen. Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe) and a host of Louisiana Republic congressmen, including former Payday Loan magnate John Fleming of Minden.

We in Louisiana are used to being conned by crooked politicians but they did it with so much more class than Jindal and his gaggle of sycophants.

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The best little hurricane response company no one ever heard of has been handed a contract by the Jindal administration to provide physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, licensed social workers and clerical and administrative staff in case a major hurricane strikes Louisiana.

And the company is in Wisconsin.

Response Systems, Inc., a company in Oconomowoc (can I buy a vowel?), Wisc. was named recipient of the $871,000 contract, apparently because it is more qualified in hurricane relief than any other company from Texas to Florida.

Funny thing is, no one in Wisconsin seems to know squat about the firm.

A business reporter for the Milwaukee Journal knew nothing of the company other than a story that ran several years ago naming a new vice president/general manager who is no longer with the firm.

Even stranger, Bob Duffy, Director of Economic Development for Oconomowoc, drew a blank when asked about the company on Monday. “I never heard of them,” he said.

One would reasonably think that the director of economic development in the very town in which Response Systems, Inc. is domiciled would know of the company and whether it was a viable, thriving member of the local business community.

It required a fairly extensive search, but a web page for the company was finally found which offered some information about the company. http://www.disasterpreparation.net/about-news.html

LouisianaVoice attempted to call Response Systems but got the voice mail of the firm’s registered agent, Todd Grainger.

Here’s what we do know:

  • The contract with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) runs from Feb. 1, 2012 to Jan. 31, 2016 and is for emergency preparedness and readiness training—something we just assumed in our own naïve way was the responsibility of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. After all, what is the function of a state agency with a current budget of $1.3 billion—unless it’s just to be sure the state has a sufficient supply of ice for the next hurricane?
  • The company will get even more money in case it has to do anything—like providing medical teams in the event of a disaster.
  • Response Systems would be called out for a minimum five-day deployment at a cost of $290,714, plus travel and meals—that’s over and above the $871,000 contract amount.
  • The company may provide staffing of more than 150 licensed personnel to ensure operational efficiency and recovery in the event of a mass medical surge or evacuation.
  • The company must have teams in place within 48 hours of call-up.
  • Response Systems, Inc. employs fewer than 10 people and had revenues of less than $500,000 last year, according to an online business profile service.
  • The company was first incorporated in January of 2009, was sent a notice of administrative dissolution for failure file an annual report on Oct. 1, 2010, and was restored to good standing after filing its report on Oct. 28, 2011—barely three months before entering into its contract with DHH.

In perhaps the irony of all ironies with this administration, DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert was quoted as saying, “If the event (a hurricane of some like disaster) goes on for a prolonged period of time, we didn’t have the staff to really staff those shelters appropriately.”

Might this be because Jindal has gutted state agencies with widespread layoffs so that he could contract with these private firms? Could this be another CNSI on a somewhat smaller (like $200 million smaller) scale?

While LSU has provided professional staff in the past, state public health nurses are getting fewer in number with the cutbacks and Kliebert said hospital privatization changes which have occurred recently made the contract necessary. Really?

State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry added that while it was nice to have had support from LSU in the past, “It’s a new day. Business is different. We have to get a little more creative.” Really again.

The company’s website says Response Systems, Inc. has contracts with several other states, including Colorado, Washington and Kansas for similar services.

The web page said it is actively recruiting medical teams to assist with on-demand mass evacuation operations on the Gulf Coast.

“We are respectful of the large responsibility Louisiana DHH has tasked us with,” said Grainger on the website. “Our ability to successfully carry out past response missions in Louisiana is a key building block to insure a now larger statewide construct of support.”

The website described the company’s role in assisting DHH following Hurricane Gustav in 2008.

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BATON ROUGE (CNS)—Poor Gov. Jindal; he just can’t catch a break.

No sooner does he try to put a positive spin on six straight months of increased unemployment rates in the state than 24/7 Wall St., the financial news and polling firm, publishes a survey showing that Louisiana is second only to Tennessee among the worst states in American in which to be unemployed.

Even Mississippi, at 10th worst, ranks eight notches higher than Louisiana.

Jindal, who loves to cite any survey that puts Louisiana in a favorable light, is likely to overlook the latest 24/7 findings which indicate the following for the state:

  • The 24.6 percent of average weekly wage covered is lowest in the nation (the national average is 33 percent);
  • The average weekly payout of $201 is second lowest;
  • The 30 percent of unemployed who are receiving benefits is tied with Tennessee for fifth lowest (again, the national average was 45 percent);
  • The 1.1 percent one-year job growth is 19th lowest;
  • The state’s unemployment rate of 7 percent puts it in the middle of the pack at 25th lowest—but Louisiana is one of only a handful where the unemployment rate actually rose from the previous year.

Jindal (through Lansing, of course; he never takes tough questions from the media) denies that the increased unemployment rate and the 3,800 state employees who received their pink slips in the last budget year are linked in any way.

Wow. As they say, figures don’t lie but liars figure.

Claiming that many of the state employees found new jobs with the private companies that took over state services, Sean Lansing, who apparently has taken Kyle Plotkin’s place as lead Jindal apologist, said, “Louisiana’s economy is continuing to thrive as we consistently outperform both the national and Southern economies. Suggesting otherwise can only be done by ignoring a slew of statistics and metrics that prove just how well we’re doing.”

Speaking of ignoring “a slew of statistics,” figures released by the Louisiana Workforce Commission indicates there were 146,800 unemployed in June in Louisiana, or 7 percent, up from 6.8 percent in May and the sixth straight month of increased unemployment.

Unemployment rates, it should be noted, count only those unemployed who continue to seek jobs, not those who have given up looking. That said, the fact that only 30 percent of the state’s unemployed (tied with Tennessee for fifth lowest) are receiving unemployment benefits would seem to contradict the administration’s rosy outlook.

Lansing, of course, fell back on certain business surveys which seem to come out every week painting the state as some kind of idyllic garden spot for business climate—all while Louisiana’s college graduates continue to leave the state in droves in search of better opportunities elsewhere.

If Louisiana is such an attractive magnet for business and jobs, someone please explain how this state has managed to go from eight to six congressmen (congressional representation is based on population, remember) and is projected by some experts to drop to five with the next census. (If all those people who have left the state had stayed, we can’t help but wonder what the unemployment rate would be.)

Lansing also pointed to decreases in Medicaid and food stamp enrollment and improved per capita income statistics to bolster the administration’s claim that Jindal is some sort of economic miracle worker.

But wait! Let’s take the food stamp enrollment first. “A state can have a great program, but if they make it really, really hard for people to qualify for benefits, then it’s just a great program sitting there that no one can use,” said Rebecca Dixon, policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.

And those decreases in Medicaid were brought about in large part by the administration’s policies that have drastically reduced payments to doctors for treating Medicaid patients. As their own push back, many doctors have simply quit accepting new Medicaid patients. One doctor recently told LouisianaVoice that he can see a Medicaid patient “but if I have to order any procedures on that patient, Medicaid won’t pay, so I just don’t take any more Medicaid patients.”

Likewise, Baton Rouge area hospitals have very quietly begun laying off nurses and other personnel—a move directly attributable to the cutback in Medicaid payments approved by the Department of Health and Hospitals under the Jindal administration.

Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the Legislative Fiscal Office, took issue with Jindal’s claim that the climb in unemployment was not related to state layoffs.

“It can’t be the only factor, but to say they’re unrelated seems to be unrealistic and mathematically it can’t be,” he said. “I don’t think you can say the unemployment rate is not influenced by government employment layoffs.”

Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret, ever the optimist at $320,000 per year (and who wouldn’t optimistic be at that salary?) said he expects the unemployment rate to drop because the state has thousands of jobs “in the pipeline” because of a large number of “just huge” projects in the works across the state. “As I look at the next few years, I see tens of thousands of new jobs,” he said. “I’m quite optimistic about the future.”

Tens of thousands? Wow again. Dude, there are people in this state who can’t hold out for the future, even for a “few years.”

Let’s go back to that 24/7 Wall St. report:

Job growth was relatively slow in the worst states to be employed because new job opportunities were taking longer to materialize. “In most of these states, the number of nonfarm jobs grew slower than the 1.3 percent national rate between June 2012 and June 2013,” it said.

In Louisiana, the nonfarm jobs grew at a whopping 1.1 percent during that time frame. So much for that healthy business climate.

Tens of thousands of new jobs on the horizon?

That’s a lot of guys standing on street corners dancing around like a dog in need of worming while playing air guitar on a cardboard pizza store sign.

That’s a lot of burgers and soft drinks.

You want fries with that?

 

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John White just doesn’t get it. A few months ago he went ballistic over information leaked to LouisianaVoice and sources inside the Department of Education (DOE) told us he launched an in-house investigation, including employee emails, in an effort to learn the source of the leaks.

We responded to that report by sending an email to White informing him that none of his employees were as careless with emails as he (remember the “Dude, you are my recharge” email he sent to Pete Gorman, senior vice president of News Corporation’s education division Amplify when Gorman asked White to dinner?).

We informed White that the information we received had been downloaded on a flash drive and passed along to us. We even offered to supply White with a blank flash drive in case he had any information he would like to provide. He never responded to our offer.

Then there was that mysterious email accidentally copied to us from DOE legal counsel Joan Hunt to Troy Hebert, director of the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) as a result of one of our many requests for public records that DOE loves to ignore until they’re hauled into court and hit with fines, court costs and attorney fees. The message to Hebert, who apparently has wormed his way into Gov. Jindal’s inner circle, said, “Troy, we need to reply and say that.”

That’s it. Nothing else. And when we tried to obtain a copy of that email, we were informed that it was subject to attorney-client privilege despite the fact that Hebert, as head of ATC, is not affiliated with DOE, is not an attorney, and certainly is not a client of Hunt.

But now, a new twist has surfaced that may be (or maybe not) related to that exchange between Hunt and Hebert.

Were they laying the groundwork to set up a couple of internet bloggers who have been an ongoing nuisance to White and DOE? If current reports are accurate, it could well be.

Word out of DOE is that administrative types (we have their names but we are not prepared to release them at this time) are leaning hard on DOE employees in the Information Technology (IT) section, even to reviewing all their emails and harassing them in attempts to learn who is leaking information to Jason France of the Crazy Crawfish blog and to Tom Aswell of LouisianaVoice.

Also part of the alleged game plan is to plant tantalizing—but bogus—stories in an effort to get our sources to leak the information to us and to get us to publish them so that we can be discredited publicly and revealed as hacks—and so the leakers can be nailed to the wall.

Silly rabbits, you can’t even devise a plan to plug leaks without the plan itself being leaked. You couldn’t plant petunias without growing a crop of ragweed. I’ve known mayonnaise farmers in Missoula, Montana, who were better at planting things.

As we said earlier, we know the identities of three of the administrative types at the center of this little high school stunt but we’ll keep them confidential for now with the option of releasing them down the road.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not remind White that our sources are not stupid, nor are they careless. Anything they reveal to us will never be through a state computer—unlike the state employee (Department of Public Safety) who used his state email account to log a commit on our blog today (Tuesday)—at the bottom of our June 28 IT consolidation story—asking us if racism was at the root of our criticism of Jindal. (First of all, we’re anything but racist. Secondly, Lord knows we don’t need racism as grounds for offering legitimate criticism of this administration.)

Finally, Mr. White, we have already been investigated by the best (in Gov. Jindal’s eyes, apparently, and of course, in his own mind). Mr. Hebert ordered an investigation of us some months ago and that came up empty.

Seems we’re actually pretty boring but you’d never know it by the amateur sting operation being concocted by DFA (Detectives for America, the investigative arm of TFA— Teach for America).

Wonder if we should submit a public records request for interoffice emails dealing with planting fake news stories with a couple of pesky blogs?

ESSAGEMAY OTAY OURCESSAY: IXNAY NOAY HETAY TATESAY OMPUTERSCAY.

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“We approached the state…about how we might be able to help solve the problem with Southeast closing.”

—Meridian Behavioral Health Systems CEO Wes Mason, discussing his company’s selection as the private firm to take over operations of the privatized Southeast Louisiana Hospital (SELH) last October.

“Meridian was the only company that met all of DHH’s requirements and expectations…”

—DHH Public Information Officer Ken Pastorick, on the selection of Meridian, which operates Northlake Behavioral Health System, formerly SELH. (Northlake has been notified by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services that deficiencies at the facility have caused it to lose eligibility to participate in Medicare.)

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It’s been all of nine months since Meridian Behavioral Health Systems took over operation of Southeast Louisiana Hospital (SELH) in Mandeville in what we like to call the Jindal Swindle and already the facility has been notified that it has been found to have deficiencies serious enough to threaten its eligibility to continue participation in Medicare.

Meridian, a Florida-based company chosen to run SELH after Gov. Bobby Jindal chose to close the hospital, has been running the 58-bed facility under the name of Northlake Behavioral Health System.

Jindal announced last year that he was closing the hospital, effective Oct. 1, a move that left mental patients in all of southeast Louisiana, including the New Orleans, Houma and Thibodaux metropolitan areas, with no access to any state mental treatment facility. The move threw more than 300 SELH employees out of work.

Formed as a company less than a year before taking over the Mandeville hospital, Meridian had never handled a facility the size of SELH and in fact, listed no facilities it had ever run on its application.

And it didn’t take long for that inexperience to surface.

Northlake Behavioral Health System CEO Richard Kramer was notified by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on June 3 that Northlake no longer qualified for participation in Medicare.

“After a careful review of the May 23, 2013, survey report, we have determined that Northlake Behavioral Health System no longer meets the requirements for participation in the Medicare program,” wrote Greg Soccio, manager of the CMS Non-Long Term Care Certification and Enforcement Branch.

“Although the deficiencies do not constitute an immediate threat to the health and safety of patients, the deficiencies have been determined to be of such a serious nature as to substantially limit your hospital’s capacity to render adequate care and prevent it from being in compliance with all the conditions of participation for hospitals,” Soccio’s letter said. “Consequently, we plan to terminate participation in the Medicare program if compliance is not achieved within the given timeframes specified.”

Soccio, in his letter, gave Sept. 1, exactly 11 months after Meridian took over the facility, as the date of its termination in Medicare. “CMS will monitor your progress in correcting the deficiencies cited,” he said. “You must submit by June 14 a plan of correction with acceptable time schedule.” His letter, while imposing a July 3 deadline for completion of corrective action, listed criteria Northlake must meet for recertification:

• The plan must address correcting the specific deficiency cited;

• The plan must address improving the processes that led to the deficiency cited;

• The plan must include procedures for implementing the acceptable plans of correction for each deficiency cited;

• A completion date for the implementation of the plans of correction for each deficiency cited;

• All plans of correction must take a QAPI (Quality Assurance/Performance Improvement) approach and address improvements in its systems in order to prevent the likelihood of the deficient practice reoccurring;

• The plan must include the monitoring and tracking procedures to ensure that the plan of correction is effective and that specific deficiency cited remains corrected and/or in compliance with the regulatory requirements;

• The plan must include the title of the person responsible for implementing the acceptable plan for correction.

Subsequent to Soccio’s letter, Kramer submitted a 43-page plan of correction to CMS on June 14, the deadline given by CMS.

As serious as the letter may have been to Northlake and as welcome as it may have been to those opposed to the privatization, it did leave one gigantic loophole for Jindal:

“The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) will conduct a focus Medicare survey of your facility to assess your hospital’s compliance with the conditions of participation that were found out of compliance and assess your corrective actions,” Soccio’s letter said.

“Compliance must be achieved at the time of this revisit if further action is to be avoided. If you remain out of compliance at the time of your revisit, you can expect to receive another letter advising you of the continuation of the termination process and your appeal rights.

“You will again be asked to submit an acceptable plan of correction to our office and we may conduct one final revisit before the termination date,” it said.

That July 3 deadline was more than a week ago and a CMS spokesperson in Dallas said on Wednesday that no new paperwork had been received on Northlake by his office.

But allowing DHH to make the determination of compliance? This is the same agency that, under former Secretary Bruce Greenstein, was allowed to manipulate specifications to allow Greenstein’s former employer, CNSI, to bid on and win a $280 million contract that is now the subject of a federal investigation.

Greenstein may be gone but his successor, like Greenstein, was appointed by Jindal and does anyone really doubt that the governor maintains an iron grip over DHH? And Jindal doesn’t like to admit he ever made a mistake.

Anyone care to take any bets on the outcome of that DHH focus Medicare survey of Northlake?

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If you think Gov. Bobby Jindal’s veto of $4 million to provide in-home services to the developmentally disabled was merely an aberration, an inadvertent blip on the budgetary radar, you may wish to reassess your decision to give the governor a pass on this issue.

Jindal, of course, offered his own spin in his pushback against criticism he has received from proponents of the measure but he simply can’t get around the fact that cutbacks of services to the poor appear to be the norm in several states these days. Surely he has not forgotten his closure of Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville less than a year ago that put mental health treatment by state facilities out of reach for many in southeast Louisiana.

No one denies the current budgetary shortfalls—brought about in large part by Jindal’s stubborn refusal to seek new means of tax revenue except through the New Orleans hotel fee increase (which is not a “tax,” in the land of Jindal-speak, but an “enforceable obligation,”) and college tuition increases (“fees,” not taxes). But were it not for the more-than-generous tax incentives doled out in the form of corporate welfare, er, industrial incentives the state’s coffers would be $5 billion richer each year.

It’s not like he couldn’t have trimmed a couple of million or so from the $1.285 billion appropriation for his Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Of course, to suggest there might be the remote possibility of waste in a budget of nearly $1.3 billion for a pet agency would be blasphemy.

The Louisiana State Racing Commission got its full share of funding—$12.2 million. Surely, there’s no waste there. Likewise, the $82.7 million appropriation for the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District administered by a commission made up 100 percent of generous Jindal campaign donors.

Then there’s the Department of Economic Development and the Office of Business Development which combine to receive the full complement of their $36.6 million appropriation in order to ensure the uninterrupted flow of those $5 billion in tax incentives, rebates and exemptions to attract all those new jobs that are supposed to retain current residents and bring in new ones—even though the state’s population has shrunk to the extent that we now have only six congressmen instead of the eight we had a few years ago.

And we’re not even going to go into detail about all those washed up ex-legislators hired by the various agencies at six-figure salaries—or the glut of administrative personnel with limited experience with which John White has loaded down his Department of Education, also at six-figure salaries. Or White’s slipshod management of the disastrous voucher program that allowed New Living Word School in Ruston to rip off DOE to the tune of nearly $400,000—money that will never be recovered, by the way.

Sorry, folks, the money’s not there for the developmentally disabled. You just should have had the good sense to be born developmentally abled or better yet, rich.

And as we said in the first paragraph, that veto was no accident. It was planned from the get-go as will future cuts of medical benefits to the poor.

Why do you think Carol Steckel was brought here in the first place?

Steckel was Alabama’s Medicaid Commissioner from 1988-1992 and again from December 2003 until her move to Louisiana in November of 2010.

While at Alabama she issued a ruling that poor amputees in that state didn’t really need artificial limbs. In January of 2008, she submitted the state’s Medicaid budget that cut programs that pay for prosthetics and orthotics (used to provide support and alignment to prevent or correct deformities) because, in her words, the programs were optional, not mandatory.

She also awarded a $3.7 million contract to Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) in 2007 even though that company’s bid was $500,000 more than the next bid. ACS had hired Alabama Gov. Bob Riley’s former chief of staff Toby Roth, which probably greased the skids somewhat.

Sound familiar? ACS, which is now part of Xerox, was awarded four state contracts totaling $45.55 million and ACS contributed $10,000 to Jindal political campaigns. Jan Cassidy, sister-in-law to Congressman (U.S. Senator wannabe) Bill Cassidy, previously worked for ACS and then for Xerox as Vice President, State of Louisiana Client Executive. Where is Ms. Cassidy today? She heads the State of Louisiana Division of Administration’s Procurement and Technology Section at a salary of $150,000. Toby Roth in reverse?

Steckel was imported from Alabama and given the title of Chief of the Department of Health and Hospital’s (DHH) Center for Health Care Innovation and Technology. She created quite a stir when she failed at first but eventually succeeded at terminating 69 information technology positions at DHH and giving the contract to the University of New Orleans to run. The 69 employees moved over to UNO’s payroll, saving the state zero, and UNO began collecting an administrative fee of 15 percent to run the IT operations for DHH. Thus, instead of a savings, the state is now paying an additional 15 percent for privatization.

Steckel has moved on again, this time to work her magic as Medicaid Director for North Carolina.

Now let’s move about 400 miles to the west—to Austin—and examine what occurred when similar legislation was passed in Texas a decade ago.

Dave Mann (not to be confused with the premier political analyst of our era, Bob Mann), then a reporter for the Texas Observer, covered the story in June of 2003 and predicted a train wreck would result from the legislation pushed through by Republican Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth. Mann, it turns out, was dead-on in his predictions, which could explain in part why he is that publication’s editor today.

HB 2292 amounted to a “massive rewrite of the state’s social services safety net,” Mann wrote by squeezing 11 existing state agencies into four, all under the control of a powerful governor-appointed commissioner. It also cut many relatively inexpensive healthcare services for the poor, wiping out 1,000 state jobs in the process by privatizing several core state functions (again, sound familiar?)

The bill cut services under the Children’s Health Insurance Program and threw up bureaucratic barriers that purged an estimated 160,000 kids from its rolls. It abolished an entire section of Medicaid that offered temporary aid to families who were unable to pay high medical bills because of illness or accident—knocking an additional 10,000 people month out of medical coverage. It also put the squeeze on nursing home patients by reducing their “personal needs” allowances by 25 percent—from $60 per month to $45 (money nursing home residents spent on such things as toothpaste, shampoo, and shoes).

Proponents of the bill crowed that it would eliminate more than 3,000 state employees and hand over several core functions to large corporations, many of whom were major campaign contributors to key Texas politicians.

Among those outsourced functions were four privately run call centers with operators charged with making the determination of which families would be eligible for state programs like Medicaid, CHIP, Supplemental Security Income, welfare and food stamps.

Would anyone care to guess which company tried desperate to jockey itself into position of grabbing a call center contract? None other than our old friend, ACS, which was already running Medicaid programs in 13 states, including Texas.

ACS ended up not getting the call center contract, but if it had, it would have created the mother of conflicts of interest because by virtue of running the Texas Medicaid program, it was charged with keeping administrative costs down. Thus, the fewer Medicaid cases on the books, the lower the costs and the more money ACS would have stood to make. Thus, had it run the call center in the dual role as guardian of the program, it would have had a financial incentive to approve as few people as possible for Medicaid benefits.

Mann, contacted Monday, said though ACS did not get the call center contract, the operation nonetheless “fell apart within months.”

He said the error rates skyrocketed “because experienced state employees who knew the system were gone” and the contractors knew precious little about the system. “The enrollment process was messed up from the start,” he said, and the state was handed a substantial fine by the federal government.

He said Texas had to try and rehire all the former state employees who had been doing the job before. “They had to bring them back in and have them salvage the system,” he said.

Now, if you happen to wonder how four states—Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and with Carol Steckel now on the scene, most probably North Carolina—could each stumble into the same scenario with Medicaid reforms and privatization of support staff, rest assured it was not a coincidence.

Efforts in Texas, Louisiana and Alabama (and presumably North Carolina) to slash health care benefits under the states’ Medicaid programs come to us courtesy of our old friend, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Though we have not visited ALEC for some time, the organization of some 2000 state legislators and scores of corporate underwriter-sponsors has never been very far from the action.

Among the major targets of ALEC are state health, pharmaceutical and safety net programs, including:

• Opposing health insurance reforms with state constitutional amendments;

• Opposing of efforts to advance public health care;

• Eliminating mandated benefits intended to ensure minimal care for American workers;

• Supporting Medicare privatization;

• Creating barriers to requiring important health benefits;

• Privatizing child support enforcement services.

ALEC’s number-one priority has been to encourage its members (legislators) to introduce bills that would undercut health care reform by prohibiting the Affordable Health Care Act’s insurance mandate.

Led by PhRMA, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer and GlaxoSmithKlein, ALEC’s model bill, the “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act,” has been introduced in 44 states. Utilizing ideas and information from such groups as the Heritage Foundation, the National Center for Policy Analysis, the Cato Institute, the Goldwater Institute, the James Madison Institute, and the National Federation of Independent Business, ALEC even released a “State Legislators Guild to Repealing ObamaCare” in which a variety of model legislation, including bills to partially privatize Medicaid and SCHIP, is discussed.

Pardon our skepticism, but after the disasters of the Office of Risk Management privatization and the Department of Education voucher fiasco, we can’t help being a bit leery of these quick-fix schemes. The sweetheart CNSI contract with DHH has already proved to be a major $200 million scandal—and that may well be only the beginning.

Up next is an ambitious program to privatize the IT operations of 20 agencies under the Executive Branch. That privatization could mean the loss of some 1100 more state jobs and their duties turned over to a private firm with no grasp of how things are done. That sad scenario has already played out in other states and invariably resulted in cost overruns and repeated failure. There is no reason to expect a better outcome this time.

It was Albert Einstein, after all, who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

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The Division of Administration (DOA) on Friday issued a new request for proposals (RFP) for the consolidation of the information technology (IT) departments of 20 departments within the state’s Executive Branch. http://wwwprd1.doa.louisiana.gov/OSP/LaPAC/agency/pdf/5479100.pdf

July 12 is the deadline for submissions and Aug. 16 is the target date to announce the awarding of the contract, tentatively set to begin on Aug. 30, according to the RFP.

This is sure to be yet another contract to be awarded to some company who will in all likelihood underbid the cost and come back later with expensive contract amendments like F.A. Richard and Associates (FARA) with the Office of Risk Management and CNSI with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to mention two that come quickly to mind.

But even more important, it appears that possibly hundreds—maybe more than 1,000—of state IT employees will be losing their jobs as a result of the new contract which probably will end up costing the state more money than the current in-house IT systems.

The Office of Information Services (OIS) is responsible for the development, implementation and support of the Integrated Statewide Information System (ISIS) application as well as the DOA programmatic and desktop application, including traditional application development of large complex systems run on the DOA mainframe, client service applications run on midrange computers and Web-based applications.

Remember when Carol Steckel tried to fire 69 IT employees and to contract out DHH’s Center for Health Care Innovation and Technology services to the University of New Orleans?

In that case, she got a little ahead of herself by holding a conference call with the IT employees last December to announce that their jobs would be gone in January. The employees returned to their work stations after that call only to find they had been locked out of their computers. These were the employees who, among other things, help other state employees with their computer problems.

After the Civil Service Commission, in a rare moment of lucidity, denied Steckel’s layoff plan because of insufficient information, UNO backed out of its agreement to take over the agency’s IT services.

An IT employee with DHH’s Center for Health Care Innovation and Technology wrote LouisianaVoice that employees had been misinformed on future employment by DHH executives on three separate occasions. “At each meeting, we felt as though we were being threatened with furlough without pay, having to pay 100 percent of COBRA to maintain our insurance, (and) being threatened (with) not receiving our 300 hours of saved annual leave,” the employee wrote.

In March, Jan Cassidy, sister-in-law of Congressman Bill Cassidy, was hired to head DOA’s Procurement and Technology section at a salary of $150,000 per year, prompting one observer to ask, “What is she going to procure? The state is broke and there’s an expenditure freeze.”

Apparently we will be getting the answer to that question when the proposals start coming in from vendors and a contract is awarded.

Jan Cassidy previously worked for Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) for 20 months, from June 2009 to January 2011 and for 23 months, from January 2011 to November 2012, for Xerox after Xerox purchased ACS.

As Xerox Vice President—State of Louisiana Client Executive, her tenure was during a time that the company held two large contracts with the state.

The first was a $20 million contract with DHH that ran from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011 and paid Xerox $834,000 per month.

The second contract was for $74.5 million, 100 percent of which was funded by a federal community development block grant (remember how Jindal abhors federal money?) and which ran from March 27, 2009 to March 26, 2012 and required ACS/Xerox to administer a small rental property program to help hurricane damaged parishes recover rental units.

A state contract data base search by LouisianaVoice turned up four contracts with ACS totaling $45.55 million and campaign finance reports revealed three ACS political contributions totaling $10,000 to Gov. Bobby Jindal.

In Texas, an ACS contract awarded by the Rick Perry administration quadrupled to $1.4 billion as Texas Medicaid spent more on braces in 2010 ($184 million) than the other 49 states combined but which an audit found that 90 percent of the reimbursements were not covered by Medicaid.

The Wall Street Journal said statewide fraud reached hundreds of millions of dollars as ACS spent more than $6.9 million lobbying Texas politicians from 2002 to 2012.

In June of 2007, ACS agreed to pay the federal government $2.6 million to settle allegations that it had submitted inflated charges for services provided through the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Labor and Health and Human Services by submitted inflated claims to a local agency that delivered services to workers using funds provided by the three federal agencies.

http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2007/07/11/acs-settles-federal-fraud-case.aspx

In Washington, D.C. the Department of Motor Vehicles reimbursed $17.8 million to persons wrongly given parking tickets. The contract that operated the District’s ticket processing was ACS.

http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2007/07/11/acs-settles-federal-fraud-case.aspx
In 2010, ACS settled charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had backdated stock option grants to its officers and employees.

http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/2010/lr21643.htm

In Alabama, Steckel, then director of the state Medicaid agency, awarded a $3.7 million contract to ACS in 2007 even though the ACS bid was $500,000 more than the next bid. ACS, of course, had a decided edge in getting that contract: it hired Alabama Gov. Bob Riley’s former chief of staff Toby Roth. And Steckel, of course came to Louisiana to work for DHH though she still maintained her residence—and, apparently, her vehicle registration—in Alabama. http://www.ihealthbeat.org/articles/2007/8/22/Alabama-Contract-for-Medicaid-Database-Sparks-Controversy.aspx

http://harpers.org/blog/2007/09/the-inside-track-to-contracts-in-alabama/

Steckel first said the proposed contract with UNO would save DHH $2.1 million over three years but later revised that figure upward to $7 million, prompting members of the Civil Service Commission to express “zero confidence” in her figures and to reject her layoff plan.

Jan Cassidy also worked for 19 years, from 1986 to 2005, for Unisys Corp. where she led a team of sales professionals marketing hardware and systems applications, “as well as consulting services to Louisiana State Government,” according to her website.

Unisys had five separate state contracts from 2002 to 2009 totaling $53.9 million, the largest of which ($21 million) was with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and which was originally signed to run from April 1, 2008, through Nov. 30, 2009, but which State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson cancelled in April of 2009, saying he was dissatisfied with the work and that his staff could complete the project.

That contract called for an upgrade to the state computer system that dealt with driver’s licenses, vehicle titles and other related issues within the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles.

http://www.wafb.com/global/story.asp?s=10152623

Altogether, the 23 agencies account for 1,158 IT employees who stand to lose their jobs with the awarding of a contract for the consolidation.

The agencies and the number of filled positions to be affected are as follows:

• Executive: 275;

• Public Safety: 142;

• Children and Family Services: 120;

• Transportation and Development: 111;

• Health and Hospitals: 62;

• Revenue and Taxation: 88;

• Retirement Systems: 58;

• Workforce Commission (formerly Labor): 45;

• Civil Service: 8;

• Agriculture: 13;

• Corrections: 39;

• Economic Development: 3;

• Education: 44;

• Environmental Quality: 29;

• Insurance: 8;

• Natural Resources: 30;

• State: 25;

• Treasury: 3;

• Wildlife and Fisheries: 24;

• Culture, Recreation and Tourism: 14;

• Juvenile Justice 5;

• Public Service Commission; 7;

Given problems and cost overruns in other states, there have to be concerns over similar problems or questions whether there even is a company out there willing to submit a proposal that has not gotten contracts under questionable circumstances or which found it necessary to come back later for costly contract amendments.

In the movie Saving Private Ryan, the operative term was FUBAR. In administration Jindal, the concern should be whether or not we might be headed for another CNSI or ACS/Xerox scenario.

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