California Watch - All Content en Head of California’s troubled developmental services agency to retire <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/ryan-gabrielson" title="View user profile." class="fn">Ryan Gabrielson</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Public Safety Broken Shield Thu, 29 Aug 2013 00:03:09 +0000 Ryan Gabrielson 18870 at California auditor: Developmental center police failed to protect patients <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/ryan-gabrielson" title="View user profile." class="fn">Ryan Gabrielson</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Public Safety Broken Shield Tue, 09 Jul 2013 15:20:49 +0000 Ryan Gabrielson 18869 at Hospital chain to pay $275,000 to settle federal patient-privacy case <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/lance-williams" title="View user profile." class="fn">Lance Williams</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Health and Welfare Prime Healthcare Decoding Prime Wed, 12 Jun 2013 18:05:57 +0000 Lance Williams 18868 at State attorneys general investigating for-profit colleges <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/data/state-attorneys-general-investigating-profit-colleges" class="imagecache imagecache-image-small imagecache-linked imagecache-image-small_linked"><img src=" flickr photo by Brian Turner.jpg" alt="California Watch" title="California Watch" class="imagecache imagecache-image-small" width="176" height="96" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> California's attorney general has joined the U.S. Department of Justice and several other states in a whistleblower lawsuit against for-profit educational firm Education Management Corp. See which attorneys general in other states have launched investigations of for-profit colleges. </p> </div> </div> </div> Higher Ed for-profit colleges Graph Fri, 03 May 2013 07:00:00 +0000 12560 at Bill seeks to limit school police in discipline matters <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/susan-ferriss" title="View user profile." class="fn">Susan Ferriss</a></span> and <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/ben-wieder" title="View user profile." class="fn">Ben Wieder</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/CPI-LA-citations-protest.jpg" title="Students protest last year in Los Angeles against school police tickets issued heavily at middle schools, low-income schools." /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit"><a class="image-insert-photo-credit-url" href="" target="_blank">Vanessa Romo/</a></span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Students protest last year in Los Angeles against school police tickets issued heavily at middle schools, low-income schools.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>As the national debate grows louder over&nbsp;<a href="">deploying police in schools</a>, the largest state in the union &shy;&ndash; California &ndash; is considering a bill that would require schools to set &ldquo;clear guidelines&rdquo; defining the role of school police and limit their involvement in disciplinary matters.</p> <p>The Golden State joins Texas and Connecticut &shy;&shy;&shy;&ndash; home of the December Newtown school shootings &ndash; in considering legislation that would set limits on how schools involve police officers in discipline. Colorado adopted limits last year.</p> <p>The proposals come amid burgeoning concern nationally over harsh school punishment policies, and police involvement in seemingly routine discipline. Police presence on campuses nationwide has grown steadily since two teens went on a killing spree at Columbine High School outside Denver in 1999. But a growing group of&nbsp;<a href="">juvenile-justice researchers and judges</a>&nbsp;argue that putting students into conflict with officers over minor infractions &ndash; and needlessly placing kids in the justice system &ndash; increases risks students will drop out and get into more serious trouble.</p> <p>Since last December, lawmakers in various states and school administrators have rushed to fortify security in reaction to a young adult&rsquo;s shooting rampage, which killed 20 first-graders and six educators in Newtown, Conn. President Barack Obama and California&rsquo;s own senator, Democrat Barbara Boxer, have urged appropriating money to schools that want to increase security.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>California State Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, a Democrat from Los Angeles, introduced the state school police bill, <a href=";search_keywords=">AB 549</a>, to &ldquo;get out in front,&rdquo; he said, of the drive to put more security personnel in schools. A first hearing on the bill is set for Wednesday before the Assembly Education Committee.</p> <p>California lawmakers are considering restricting other discipline practices critics say have become counterproductive, including suspensions that remove pupils from school for days at a time, often causing them to fall behind in classwork and leaving them unsupervised at home. The Assembly education panel&nbsp;recently approved a bill April 17 that would restrict out-of-school student suspensions and expulsions for &ldquo;<a href=";search_keywords=">willful defiance</a>,&rdquo;&nbsp;the basis of almost half of all suspensions in 2011-2012,&nbsp;<a href=";cType=ALL&amp;cCDS=34673143432572&amp;cName=Statewide&amp;cLevel=State&amp;cChoice=DefByEth">new state data</a>&nbsp;shows.</p> <p>The Jones-Sawyer bill faces opposition from the Association of California School Administrators. Laura Preston, the group&rsquo;s legislative advocate, told the Center that the proposal takes too much control away from local districts and schools because it limits what they can do with school safety dollars.</p> <p>In an April 29 letter, the group argued that the bill&rsquo;s requirements to put police guidelines in school safety plans added up to an imposition &ldquo;without regard&rdquo; for &ldquo;the additional time needed to do this work.&rdquo; Preston suggested &ldquo;a conversation&rdquo; about improving school police training could be an alternative to Jones-Sawyer&rsquo;s bill.</p> <p>Jones-Sawyer&rsquo;s bill does have support from the California Federation of Teachers, the union representing many Los Angeles teachers. That support helps it over one major political hurdle. The California Teachers Association, an even larger union, has no position yet.</p> <p>&ldquo;This is not anti-police. I do believe there is a role for public safety on campuses,&rdquo; Jones-Sawyer said of his bill. &ldquo;But before we get the guns and guards out, let&rsquo;s get some mental health (care) in there for students.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;There should be guidelines for when you&nbsp;don&rsquo;t&nbsp;need police involved in discipline,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p><strong>Troubling history</strong></p> <p>Last year, the&nbsp;<a href="">Center for Public Integrity</a>&nbsp;documented the ticketing of about 10,000 mostly black and Latino students a year,&nbsp;<a href="">including middle-school-age children</a>,&nbsp;in lower-income neighborhoods in the&nbsp;<a href="">Los Angeles Unified School District</a>. L.A. Unified is the nation&rsquo;s second-biggest school district, and with more than 300 officers and additional security guards, it has the country&rsquo;s largest district-controlled school police agency. At one point, school police were issuing about 1,000 tickets, or court citations, a month in 2011.</p> <p><a href="">New York City police</a>&nbsp;in schools, by comparison, issued 1,666 tickets to students during the entire 2011-2012 school year, according to records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU is suing New York City police for alleged abusive treatment of students, which the department denies.</p> <p>Arguing that citations had spiraled out of control, community activists and juvenile-court judges have in recent months&nbsp;<a href="">pressured L.A. Unified and police</a>&nbsp;to seek other ways of handling some seemingly minor allegations &ndash; allegations like vandalism or possession of a marker to commit vandalism, trespassing, marijuana and tobacco possession, daytime-curfew violations and many charges of disturbing the peace or public fighting.</p> <p>Fresh data obtained by the Center shows that L.A. Unified&rsquo;s tickets have fallen sharply, driven mostly by a drop in daytime-curfew and tardiness violations. Between January and March, about 60 students were ticketed for minor cases of tardiness, or skipping school. The truant or tardy students were referred directly to counseling under a new agreement.</p> <p>For other alleged legal violations, L.A school police issued 316 tickets this past January, 454 in February and 282 in March.</p> <p>In January of last year, by comparison, officers issued more than 650 tickets.</p> <p>Despite the decline, the new data also shows that certain L.A. Unified middle schools in lower-income areas continue to remain hot spots for ticketing pupils who are almost all black or Latino. The most frequent allegation for younger students is disturbing the peace &ndash; a charge that often stems from student fights, shouting matches or allegations of threats to fight.</p> <p>Out of 1,590 tickets issued from last November through March, half went to children 14 and younger.</p> <p>In fact, if ages are considered separately, fewer 16- and 17-year-olds were cited than students who were 13, 14 or 15 years old. Black students represent 10 percent of the district&rsquo;s enrollment, but were more than 37 percent of those ticketed for disturbing the peace. And 56 percent of black students cited for this infraction were between 11 and 14 years old.</p> <p>L.A. Unified officials did not respond to a request for comment on the Center&rsquo;s new findings or Jones-Sawyer&rsquo;s proposal. Last December, the district said it was continuing &ldquo;to work&nbsp;with our internal and external stakeholders to identify and evaluate non-penal alternatives to various minor violations.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Another way?</strong></p> <p>Jones-Sawyer, 56, attended L.A. Unified schools and remembers kids who scuffled being taken into the office of a vice principal, who put an arm around their shoulders and talked through problems. &ldquo;We have to find out why kids are angry,&rdquo; the assemblyman said. Reprimands were not in the form of police citations back then, he said.</p> <p>He acknowledged educators&rsquo; complaints that California&rsquo;s school counselor ranks have been decimated by budget cuts, leaving schools less able to deal with kids&rsquo; conflicts. Compared with a national average of&nbsp;<a href="">457 students for every counselor</a>, California&rsquo;s ratio of 814 students for every counselor in 2008-2009 was rock bottom among the states, according to data gathered by the&nbsp;<a href="">American School Counselor Association</a>.</p> <p>Nonetheless, critics of involving officers in discipline matters say peer counseling, intermediate steps prior to police involvement and other cost-effective alternatives exist and are practiced in other states, and in schools in Oakland and San Francisco now as well.</p> <p>Jones-Sawyer&rsquo;s bill says schools&nbsp;&ldquo;shall consider existing strategies and model approaches to minimize the involvement of law enforcement in pupil conduct and minor offenses that do not rise to the level of a serious and immediate threat to physical safety.&rdquo;</p> <p>In addition to requiring that schools&rsquo; mandatory safety plans define police roles, the bill would also require schools to &ldquo;prioritize&rdquo; federal and state public-safety funding on mental-health aid and other supportive behavioral-intervention programs &ndash; not just police. Schools would also have to publicly develop &ldquo;memorandum of understanding&rdquo; about officers&rsquo; duties.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think this bill is a huge shift in how we are talking about school safety,&rdquo; said&nbsp;<a href="">Zoe Rawson</a>, a lawyer with the Labor/Community Strategy Center, a community group listed as a nonlegislative &ldquo;sponsor&rdquo; of Jones-Sawyer&rsquo;s bill. The Strategy Center has represented students who received tickets and is negotiating with L.A. Unified and school police on standards that limit police involvement on district campuses.</p> <p>The legislation gives &ldquo;leverage&rdquo; to local communities to set standards, Rawson said. &ldquo;Right now, there is nothing required around police having frequent contact with young people.&rdquo;</p> <p>Any district in California with a school police force, or school resource officers, would be affected by Jones-Sawyer&rsquo;s bill. Oakland&rsquo;s district has its own school police, as does the Central Valley&rsquo;s Kern Union High School District, which has more than two dozen high school campuses in Kern County.&nbsp;</p> <p>After the Newtown massacre, the Obama administration proposed allocating $150 million in federal funds for schools to&nbsp;<a href="">hire police or counselors or install bullet-proof glass</a>&nbsp;or other security technology. The recommendations are in the 2014 Obama budget proposal now winding its way through the budget process.&nbsp;</p> <p>Boxer, a California Democrat, introduced a bill to&nbsp;<a href="">bring back federal funding cut in recent years for school police</a>&nbsp;and offer grants to schools in need from a pool of at least $40 million a year. The measure was folded into the gun bill that stalled in the Senate on April 17, but Boxer is expected to revive it.</p> <p>Various states are also considering how to fund more school police through property taxes or by tapping other state coffers.</p> <p><strong>Urging caution</strong></p> <p>Los Angeles County Presiding Juvenile Court Judge Michael Nash is so concerned about the rush to put police in schools that he wrote &ndash; as president of a national judges&rsquo; group &ndash; to Vice President Joe Biden, who was chairing a post-Newton gun-violence task force.</p> <p>Penned by Nash as president of the&nbsp;<a href="">National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges</a>, the January letter warns that &ldquo;the influx of police in schools&rdquo; in recent years is already &ldquo;one of the main contributors&rdquo; to minors sent unnecessarily into the criminal justice system.</p> <p>Nash told the Center he supports Jones-Sawyer&rsquo;s bill.</p> <p>&ldquo;I like this bill,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I have been asserting that, in considering school safety&nbsp;and enlisting personnel to maintain safety, we have to be clear in differentiating between security and discipline.&rdquo;</p> <p><a href="">Colorado</a>&nbsp;&ndash; the state that was shaken by the 1999 Columbine High School massacre &ndash; enacted reforms last year that require police to &ldquo;de-escalate&rdquo; student fights and for schools to ease up on referrals of students to law enforcement due to &ldquo;zero tolerance&rdquo; policies.&nbsp;<a href="">Denver public school discipline data</a>&nbsp;shows a 71 percent increase in referrals of students to police between 2000 and 2004, with 7 percent of referrals for serious offenses like carrying a weapon, according to analysis by the nonprofit Advancement Project.</p> <p><a href="">Texas legislators</a>&nbsp;are considering a bill that requires schools with police to adopt &ldquo;graduated sanctions&rdquo; and other means rather than having officers send children to court for disruption and disorderly conduct. The bill, which has bipartisan support, also requires school staff to submit sworn statements and prove steps were taken to counsel students before police referral to court. The state Senate has already approved the bill, which is now before its House of Representatives.</p> <p>In&nbsp;<a href="">Connecticut</a>, where legislators are trying to balance new calls for security with concerns about over-policing,&nbsp;the legislature&rsquo;s joint Committee of the Judiciary on April 19 voted overwhelmingly, 40-4, to approve a proposal requiring school boards to draft memorandum of understanding with police to limit their use in disciplinary responses. The proposal says agreements should spell out the need for &ldquo;a graduated response model&rdquo; to discipline problems.&nbsp;The bill is now before the state&rsquo;s House of Representatives and, if approved, will go to the state Senate.</p> <p>A Senate bill in&nbsp;<a href="">Florida</a>&nbsp;that would have required that schools refrain from referring students to law enforcement for &ldquo;petty acts of misconduct&rdquo; or misdemeanors &ndash; without written explanations &ndash; died when it failed to get out of legislative committees this spring.</p> <p><strong>Making changes</strong></p> <p>In March, the U.S. Justice Department&rsquo;s civil rights office reached a court-sanctioned agreement stemming from a federal investigation into alleged excessive involvement of police in discipline meted out in Meridian, Miss.</p> <p>The agreement with the district of 6,100 students in Meridian essentially&nbsp;<a href="">regulates school police on the district&rsquo;s campuses</a>. The district is required to train school police officers in &ldquo;bias-free&rdquo; policing and stop involving police in minor behavioral disputes in the majority-black district. Civil rights investigators said police in Meridian told them they were ferrying students to jail on allegations of defiance and disrespect at schools.</p> <p>L.A. Unified, last summer, started referring most tickets not to court but directly to the Los Angeles County Probation Department. Because of a budget crisis, the county had to close its lower-level juvenile courts, where parents and students were usually summoned to answer to citations school police issued that carried hundreds of dollars in fines.</p> <p>Judges and civil rights advocates saw the closure as an opportunity to keep most students out of court, and instead first divert students, through probation officers, to community-based counseling or other family treatment.</p> <p>Between November and March, the big three infractions students were cited for were allegations of possessing or using less than an ounce of marijuana &ndash; 514 tickets &ndash; and disturbing the peace, for which 496 students were cited. Tobacco or smoking &ldquo;paraphernalia&rdquo; was next with 252 tickets.</p> <p>Rawson, with the Labor/Community Strategy Center, said it is a positive step that most ticketed students at L.A. Unified are no longer sent directly into court.</p> <p>But as a lawyer who has represented students, she&rsquo;s concerned that black and Latino students in lower-income neighborhood schools are &ldquo;over-policed&rdquo; compared to students in more affluent areas. L.A. Unified&rsquo;s school police chief,&nbsp;<a href="">Steven Zipperman</a>, told the Center last year that officers are generally evenly distributed to schools &ndash; mostly high schools &ndash; but that schools of all grade levels can request that officers be dispatched to intervene in a problem.</p> <p>Conflict with police officers, Rawson said, can leave students with a sense that their citation is a first step toward future clashes with law enforcement. The youngest student cited between March and December was a 9-year-old accused of vandalism.</p> <p><em>The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, independent investigative news outlet. For more of its stories on this topic go to <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <!-- Place with body copy. Can go at bottom if story is not paginated. If story is paginated, please put on every page. --><!-- Place with body copy. Can go at bottom if story is not paginated. If story is paginated, please put on every page. --><div id="cpi_widget">&nbsp;</div> <script type="text/javascript"> (function() { document.getElementById('cpi_widget').innerHTML = '<iframe src=\"'+escape(window.location.hostname)+'&href='+escape(window.location.href)+'&referrer='+escape(document.referrer)+'\" width=\"0\" height=\"0\" frameBorder=\"0\" style=\"border: none; background: transparent; width: 0px; height: 0px;\"></iframe>' })(); </script> K–12 Daily Report citations Los Angeles Unified School District police school discipline Tue, 30 Apr 2013 10:05:02 +0000 Susan Ferriss Ben Wieder 18867 at To mark 1906 quake, resources to teach kids about disaster safety <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/kelly-chen" title="View user profile." class="fn">Kelly Chen</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p>To commemorate the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire and follow up on our investigation into the seismic safety of California&rsquo;s schools, the Center for Investigate Reporting is teaming up with the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter today for a &ldquo;prep rally&rdquo; on seismic preparedness. The event at the California Academy of Sciences will provide resources and tips for families on what to do in an earthquake. It will also feature appearances by sports stars Jerry Rice and Kristi Yamaguchi. Activities begin at 9:30 a.m. <a href="" target="_blank">Click here</a> for more details.</p> <p><object height="300" width="400"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fgroups%2Fcaliforniaearthquakes%2Fpool%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fgroups%2Fcaliforniaearthquakes%2Fpool%2F&amp;&#103;&#114;&#111;&#117;&#112;&#95;&#105;&#100;&#61;&#49;&#54;&#54;&#50;&#53;&#56;&#53;&#64;&#78;&#50;&#51;&amp;jump_to=&amp;start_index=" /><param name="movie" value="" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fgroups%2Fcaliforniaearthquakes%2Fpool%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fgroups%2Fcaliforniaearthquakes%2Fpool%2F&amp;&#103;&#114;&#111;&#117;&#112;&#95;&#105;&#100;&#61;&#49;&#54;&#54;&#50;&#53;&#56;&#53;&#64;&#78;&#50;&#51;&amp;jump_to=&amp;start_index=" height="300" src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400"></embed></object></p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank">Photos of major earthquakes</a> in California since 1906 </em></p> <p>We also have some great resources for children:</p> <ul> <li>In our <a href="" target="_blank">&ldquo;Ready to Rumble&rdquo; coloring book</a>, watchdog Sunny teaches kids what to do during an earthquake. You can color online or order books for your school.</li> <li>Our new Junior Watchdog video explains what you should have in your emergency kit.<br /> English version:<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="600"></iframe> <p>Spanish version:<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="600"></iframe><a href="" target="_blank">Watch more of our finger puppet videos for kids here</a>.</p></li> <li>Is your school located along a fault? <a href="" target="_blank">California Watch</a>, which CIR founded in 2009, <a href="" target="_blank">conducted an investigation</a> that revealed state regulators failed to enforce earthquake safety laws in public schools. <a href="" target="_blank">Our interactive map</a> shows you seismic dangers near California schools in your neighborhood.</li> <li>Want to take this information with you? Download our <a href="" target="_blank">myFault iPhone app</a>. It uses official maps and data to identify potential seismic dangers and hazards around your home, school or workplace.</li> </ul> <p>For the complete investigation of earthquake safety standards in California public schools, check out our series <a href="" target="_blank">On Shaky Ground</a>.</p> Health and Welfare Daily Report children disaster earthquakes Junior Watchdogs On Shaky Ground On Shaky Ground followup On Shaky Ground Thu, 18 Apr 2013 07:05:02 +0000 Kelly Chen 18863 at Bullet train bidder has history of cost overruns <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard">Anonymous</span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/high_speed_rail_8.jpg" title="" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">California High-Speed Rail Authority</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> </span></p> <p>SACRAMENTO &ndash; The lowest-bidding partnership for the first segment of California&rsquo;s high-speed rail line includes a firm with a history of cost overruns and costly lawsuits.</p> <p>The California High-Speed Rail Authority on Friday announced that the American joint venture of Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons was the &ldquo;best apparent value&rdquo; with a low bid of $985 million &ndash; below the $1.09 billion bid by the next-lowest bidder.</p> <p>On construction projects in California, the lowest bidder has a strong advantage in the eventual selection process. Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the authority, declined to comment on bidders as the matter is finding its way to the authority&rsquo;s board of directors.</p> <p>&ldquo;Five world-class teams competed for this opportunity, and the process is ongoing,&rdquo; Wilcox said.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>The first segment of the estimated $68 billion system is proposed to run 28 miles from Madera to Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley.</p> <p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">an August report</a> by <a href="" target="_blank">The Bay Citizen</a>, sister site of California Watch, 11 major projects in the San Francisco Bay Area completed by Tutor in the last dozen years cost local governments $765 million more than they expected, or 40 percent above the initial bids.</p> <p>A company spokesman did not return a message seeking comment. CEO Ron Tutor said in the August report that attacks against him were unfounded and overruns were caused by contracting agencies changing the projects in midstream.</p> <p>At San Francisco International Airport, the city alleged in a 2002 lawsuit that the company purposely bid low to win a $626 million expansion contract, then charged $980 million for the job. Tutor said there wasn&rsquo;t &ldquo;a single fact&rdquo; justifying the city&rsquo;s position but eventually agreed to pay $19 million to settle.</p> <p>The company&rsquo;s list of projects includes an extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit to the San Francisco airport, the Alameda Corridor rail line and the San Diego Convention Center.</p> <p>In 1993, the Port of San Diego paid the company $17 million to settle a $53 million lawsuit over the convention center project. In the lawsuit, the company blamed port-hired construction managers for delays that cost the company money.</p> <p>Kevin Williams, a former San Francisco contracting officer who has testified in court against Tutor, said his experience with the company goes back decades.</p> <p>&ldquo;Tom Bradley, the late mayor of Los Angeles, said it best: Ron Tutor was the change-order artist, the king, and he&rsquo;s proven himself to be just that,&rdquo; Williams told U-T San Diego on Monday.</p> <p>Williams said Tutor &ldquo;is going to make up the difference somehow by lowballing. That is as old as history itself in the construction industry.&rdquo;</p> <p>Kevin Dayton, president and chief executive of Labor Issues Solutions and a critic of the bullet train project, said the rail authority is going to have to monitor change-order requests very closely.</p> <p>&ldquo;People are always accusing each other in the construction industry of pulling the change-order racket: winning the low bid and then piling up costs afterward,&rdquo; said Dayton, a former lobbyist for Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. &ldquo;Sometimes, it is a matter of architectural errors, but everyone always blames everybody else for it, saying, &lsquo;The drawings were bad; the engineering was bad, et cetera.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p> <p>Dayton also questioned whether the four losing teams &ndash; who are eligible to be paid a $2 million stipend to cover their costs for seeking the contract &ndash; might now be required to sign statements agreeing not to publicly challenge the process.</p> <p>The next-lowest bidder was Dragados/Samsung/Pulice. Officials there could not be reached for comment.</p> <p>In a statement posted on its website before the announcement, the team said with a combined value of $8 billion in executed design-build projects in the last five years, it offers the authority and building communities &ldquo;a proven successful record of compliance, execution and on time delivery of complex infrastructure projects all over the world.&rdquo;</p> <p>Five teams submitted proposals to design and build the first segment. The proposals were evaluated and ranked based 70 percent on cost and the remainder for technical merit. Officials said factors such as an understanding of the project, schedule capability, approach and safety were part of the technical scoring.</p> <p>The lowest-bidding partnership &ndash; Tutor Perini Corp. of Sylmar, Zachry Construction Corp. of Texas and Parsons Corp. of Pasadena &ndash; received the highest overall score of 90.55 out of 100.</p> <p>The trio received a perfect 70 percent for its price proposal and received the lowest score &ndash; 20.55 &ndash; for its technical proposal.</p> <p>Rail officials say they expect to present a contract to their board of directors in the coming weeks. The agency&rsquo;s cost estimate for the first segment was $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion.</p> <p>If they are unable to award the contract to the best-value bidder, they may proceed with the next most highly ranked, officials said.</p> <p><em>This story resulted from a partnership among California news organizations following the state&#39;s high-speed rail program, including The Fresno Bee, The Sacramento Bee, California Watch, The Bakersfield Californian, The Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise, U-T San Diego, KQED, the Merced Sun-Star, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo and The Modesto Bee.</em></p> Money and Politics Daily Report California High-Speed Rail Authority construction high-speed rail Ron Tutor High-speed rail Tue, 16 Apr 2013 17:24:26 +0000 Christopher Cadelago 18862 at CIR’s California Watch again named finalist for Pulitzer Prize <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/LarryIngraham_7_13_0.jpg" title="Larry Ingraham's mantle includes mementos of his brother, Van Ingraham, including an old family photograph with a young Van playing with Larry, a 1999 Polaroid of Van and a ceramic angel." /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Photo by Nadia Borowski Scott</span> <span class="image-insert-description">Larry Ingraham&#39;s mantle includes mementos of his brother, Van Ingraham, including an old family photograph with a young Van playing with Larry, a 1999 Polaroid of Van and a ceramic angel.</span></p> <p>For the second year in a row, the Center for Investigative Reporting&rsquo;s California Watch today was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize &ndash; this time for uncovering systemic failures in protecting residents at the state&rsquo;s developmental centers.</p> <p>The California Watch series Broken Shield was a finalist in the public service category. The award went to the South Florida Sun Sentinel for its story on speeding police officers.</p> <p>&ldquo;This series truly gave a voice to the voiceless and held the government accountable,&rdquo; said CIR&rsquo;s Executive Director Robert J. Rosenthal. &ldquo;The results of the series have been extraordinary. Being recognized as a finalist is a terrific achievement. We are very proud of the newsroom.&rdquo;</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>Added Editorial Director Mark Katches: &ldquo;Our main objective for telling these stories is to draw attention to a problem &ndash; and that attention has already produced significant results for the residents of the state&rsquo;s developmental centers.&rdquo;</p> <p>The series &ndash; which had already won the George Polk Award, top honors from the Online News Association and two awards from Investigative Reporters &amp; Editors &ndash; &nbsp;has prompted far-reaching change, including a criminal investigation, staff retraining and new laws.&nbsp;</p> <p>Reporter Ryan Gabrielson&rsquo;s 18-month investigation about the Office of Protective Services snowballed over the course of 2012 &ndash; resulting in five major installments from February to November. The police force was set up specifically to protect the developmentally disabled living in the state&rsquo;s five remaining board-and-care centers. But Gabrielson found that the department&rsquo;s officers and detectives often fail to secure crime scenes and routinely delay interviews with key witnesses and suspects &ndash; leading to an alarming inability to solve crimes.&nbsp;</p> <p>Gabrielson detailed that dozens of women were sexually assaulted inside state centers, but police investigators didn&rsquo;t order &ldquo;rape kits&rdquo; to collect evidence, a standard law enforcement tool. Police waited so long to investigate one sexual assault that the staff janitor accused of rape fled the country. The police force&rsquo;s inaction also allowed abusive caregivers to continue molesting patients &ndash; even after the department had evidence that could have stopped future assaults.</p> <p>In one egregious physical abuse case, a caregiver was suspected of using a Taser to inflict burns on a dozen patients. Yet the internal police force waited at least nine days to interview the caregiver, who was never arrested or charged with abuse. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to Gabrielson, several staff members in the newsroom contributed to the project &ndash; most notably Agustin Armendariz, who provided data analysis; Carrie Ching, who produced two videos for the series; Monica Lam who produced a broadcast video distributed to TV partners; and Robert Salladay, who edited the project along with Katches.</p> <p>Last year, California Watch was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in the local reporting category for its series On Shaky Ground, about faulty seismic safety oversight at K-12 schools.</p> </div> </div> </div> Public Safety Department of Developmental Services Office of Protective Services patient abuse Pulitzer Prize Broken Shield Mon, 15 Apr 2013 19:05:21 +0000 California Watch 18859 at Winning bid to start high-speed rail far below estimates <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/tim-sheehan" title="View user profile." class="fn">Tim Sheehan</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 300px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/high_speed_rail_5_2.jpg" title="" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">High-Speed Rail Authority</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> </span></p> <p>A trio of American companies outbid four other teams of contractors vying for the contract to build the first segment of California&#39;s proposed high-speed train system in the San Joaquin Valley &ndash; and for several hundred million dollars less than state engineers estimated.</p> <p>The consortium of Tutor Perini Corp. of Sylmar, Zachry Construction Corp. of Texas and Parsons Corp. of Pasadena offered the low bid of less than $1 billion. Five construction teams submitted bids in January to the California High-Speed Rail Authority for the first stretch of the rail line from east of Madera to the south end of Fresno.</p> <p>Engineers for the rail authority &ndash; the state agency in charge of developing the statewide train system &ndash; had at one time estimated that the 28-mile portion would cost between $1.5 billion and $2 billion to design and build. More recent estimates suggested the bids would likely come in at $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>The Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons bid of $985,142,530 was deemed the &quot;apparent best value&quot; by the rail authority, based on a total score that considered both the price and the technical expertise of the competing companies. While Tutor/Perini/Parsons had the lowest technical score of the five bids &ndash; 20.55 out of 30 possible points &ndash; it also racked up 70 out of 70 points in the financial assessment.</p> <p>The other four bids were:</p> <ul> <li>$1,085,111,111 by Dragados/Samsung/Pulice, a joint venture of Dragados SA of Spain; Samsung C&amp;T America, a subsidiary of South Korean multinational Samsung Group; and Pulice Construction Inc. of Arizona</li> <li>$1,263,309,632 by California High-Speed Rail Partners, composed of Fluor Corp. of Texas, Swedish-based Skanska and PCL Constructors of Canada</li> <li>$1,365,770,098 by California Backbone Builders, a consortium of two Spanish construction firms: Ferrovial Agroman and Acciona</li> <li>$1,537,049,000 by California High-Speed Ventures, made up of Kiewit Corp. of Nebraska, Granite Construction of Watsonville and Comsa EMTE of Spain</li> </ul> <div>Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the rail authority, said a contract proposal will be presented to the agency&#39;s board within weeks in anticipation of awarding a contract in time for construction to begin this summer. <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>By that time, Wilcox said, the rail authority expects to have begun acquiring the land it needs for the right of way. About 75 parcels are needed by the end of September, and a total of 356 pieces of property will be needed &ndash; in whole or in part &ndash; for the entire Madera-Fresno section.</p> <p>Once a contract is awarded, he added, &quot;there will be a ramp-up of hiring&quot; by the contractor for workers. Detailed reports from 2011 estimated that rail construction would be directly responsible for about 1,300 jobs each year in the Valley during the four- to five-year construction period, with additional spin-off jobs resulting from the activity.</p> <p>One component of the contract will be a goal adopted by the rail authority that small businesses &ndash; including companies owned by minorities, women and disabled veterans &ndash; be hired as subcontractors to perform 30 percent of the work.</p> <p>The Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons bid pencils out to about $35.2 million per mile from Avenue 17 near the BNSF Railway freight tracks east of Madera to American Avenue at the south end of Fresno. The construction section will include a bridge over the San Joaquin River; elevated tracks over Herndon Avenue; a tunnel under Belmont Avenue, Highway 180 and a freight railroad line; an elevated railway to cross over Highway 99 at the south end of Fresno; and 12 street or road overpasses.</p> <p>Not included in the contract is the relocation of a 2.5-mile stretch of Highway 99 between Ashlan and Clinton avenues through west-central Fresno. That&#39;s where the six-lane freeway snuggles up against a Union Pacific Railroad yard, leaving no room to shoehorn the new high-speed tracks into their planned route. The rail authority has agreed to pay Caltrans up to $226 million to handle the chore of moving the freeway 100 feet to the west.</p> <p>The Madera-Fresno section is the first of five major construction contracts for the high-speed railroad infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley. The next three contracts cover pushing the line to the northwestern outskirts of Bakersfield, and the fifth pays for laying steel rails spanning the entire 130-mile Madera-Bakersfield section. Together, the five construction packages were originally estimated to cost about $6 billion &ndash; including more than $3 billion in federal stimulus and transportation money from the Obama administration that must be spent by Sept. 30, 2017.</p> <p>For months, rail authority CEO Jeff Morales and other officials with the agency expressed hope that a competitive construction climate would bring bids that were lower than engineers&#39; estimates. Last month, Morales suggested that if those hopes materialized, there could be enough money left to extend construction of the Valley section northward to downtown Merced.</p> <p>The Merced-Bakersfield line is proposed to be the backbone of a 520-mile, $68 billion passenger rail system linking San Francisco and Los Angeles with electric trains capable of traveling at up to 220 mph. Trains are not expected to carry passengers until 2022 at the earliest, when the authority hopes to operate between Los Angeles and Merced, where passengers would connect on existing Amtrak or other commuter train lines to the Bay Area.</p> <p>Obstacles remain in the railroad&#39;s path, however. Two lawsuits are pending against the rail authority in Sacramento County Superior Court. The first, which will be heard by a judge Friday, alleges that the agency violated the California Environmental Quality Act in May 2012 when it approved the Merced-Fresno section. That suit was filed by the Farm Bureau organizations in Madera and Merced counties, the Chowchilla Water District, the grassroots agriculture organization Preserve Our Heritage, and the Fagundes farming family which owns land in Madera and Merced counties.</p> <p>The second case, lodged by Kings County, farmer John Tos and Hanford resident Aaron Fukuda, charges that the rail authority&#39;s plans are illegal under Proposition 1A, the $9.9 billion high-speed rail bond measure approved by California voters in 2008. That suit, which hopes to block the sale of bonds, will be heard in Sacramento in late May.</p> <p><em>The reporter can be reached at 559-441-6319, <a href="&#109;&#97;&#105;&#108;&#116;&#111;&#58;&#116;&#115;&#104;&#101;&#101;&#104;&#97;&#110;&#64;&#102;&#114;&#101;&#115;&#110;&#111;&#98;&#101;&#101;&#46;&#99;&#111;&#109;" target="_blank">&#116;&#115;&#104;&#101;&#101;&#104;&#97;&#110;&#64;&#102;&#114;&#101;&#115;&#110;&#111;&#98;&#101;&#101;&#46;&#99;&#111;&#109;</a> or @tsheehan on Twitter. This story resulted from a partnership among California news organizations following the state&#39;s high-speed rail program, including The Fresno Bee, The Sacramento Bee, California Watch, The Bakersfield Californian, The Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise, U-T San Diego, KQED, the Merced Sun-Star, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo and The Modesto Bee.</em></p> </div> Money and Politics Daily Report California High-Speed Rail Authority high-speed rail High-speed rail Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:14:02 +0000 Tim Sheehan 18861 at Lawmakers mull next steps for developmental centers <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/amy-julia-harris" title="View user profile." class="fn">Amy Julia Harris</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/DCprotest_05-1000px_0.jpg" title="People with development disabilities and their supporters call on lawmakers to shut down the state's developmental centers." /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Max Whittaker/For California Watch</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> People with developmental disabilities and their supporters call on lawmakers to shut down the state&#39;s developmental centers.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>SACRAMENTO &ndash; State lawmakers weighed today whether to appoint an inspector general to oversee state centers for the developmentally disabled and close a center in Sonoma where patients suffered the worst instances of abuse, neglect and sexual assaults.</p> <p>During a daylong hearing, members of a Senate budget subcommittee on health and human services heard testimony from state officials and advocates for the developmentally disabled but did not indicate what action they might take.</p> <p>The proposal to create an inspector general met with opposition from the Department of Developmental Services, which objected to its cost. The idea also found little support among advocates and family members of the disabled, who say the state-run centers should be shut down.</p> <p>The influential state&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Legislative Analyst&rsquo;s Office recommended</a>&nbsp;in its budget analysis that the Legislature create an independent Office of Inspector General to oversee the five developmental centers at a cost of $500,000 to $1 million. The inspector general would have the authority to review patient complaints, conduct audits, investigate allegations of wrongdoing and help prosecute individuals who threaten patients or staff.</p> <p>Shawn Martin, representing the Legislative Analyst&#39;s Office, testified that a new layer of oversight is needed because having the Department of Developmental Services responsible for its own facilities hasn&#39;t worked.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>&ldquo;They have to be independent in order to be effective,&rdquo; Martin said.</p> <p>But Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, the most outspoken member of the Senate budget subcommittee, indicated he would favor shutting the troubled Sonoma Developmental Center and moving patients to a new center.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;We really need to look at Sonoma&rsquo;s facility,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;For both the existing clientele and future residents, it&rsquo;s worth considering whether to sell and move the center to another location.&rdquo;</p> <p>His comments drew cheers from dozens of families of people with disabilities who packed the Capitol meeting room for the hearing.</p> <p>The senators were debating the future of the state&rsquo;s five developmental centers after an 18-month investigation by California Watch detailed chronic abuse and a breakdown in oversight. The centers house about 1,600 patients with cerebral palsy, mental retardation and severe autism.</p> <p>The California Watch investigation found 36 cases of alleged rape and molestation at the centers, with one-third of the rapes occurring at the Sonoma Developmental Center, the largest board-and-care center in the state.</p> <p>The Office of Protective Services, the internal police force assigned to protect residents of the state facilities, routinely mishandled cases by failing to collect evidence, waiting too long to interview witnesses or suspects, and not ordering rape kits in cases of alleged sexual assault, California Watch found.</p> <p>The stories prompted&nbsp;a <a href="" target="_blank">citation by the U.S. Department of Justice&#39;s Civil Rights Division</a>&nbsp;and caused the state to strip the Sonoma Developmental Center of its primary license to operate in December. The loss of state certification in Sonoma means California taxpayers will lose tens of millions of dollars in federal funding that is contingent on assurances the facility is properly managed.</p> <p>Among those who testified at the budget hearing was Terri Delgadillo, director of the Department of Developmental Services, which oversees the five centers.</p> <p>She told the crowded hearing room that her department made major changes in overseeing the Sonoma center after the abuses came to light, including replacing top officials in Sonoma. She said&nbsp;46 employees have been disciplined as a result of complaints, the center has created a new electronic incident reporting system and staff members have been trained on sexual assault response.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;re heading in the right direction and feeling positive, but there&rsquo;s still a lot to be done,&quot; she said.</p> <p>Nevertheless, she opposed the appointment of an inspector general, saying the department could not afford it within its proposed $4.9 billion annual budget.</p> <p>&ldquo;There is a lot of oversight today &ndash; state licensing, federal licensing, disability rights groups audits, professional licensing boards,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I do struggle with how we will pay for (an inspector general). The way we got to the problems at Sonoma today was unallocated reductions in our budget. I don&rsquo;t know where you get the resources.&rdquo;</p> <p>Before the hearing, more than 100 protesters wearing painted T-shirts and signs emblazoned with the words &ldquo;equality for all&rdquo; gathered on the steps of the Capitol and called on the Legislature to shut down the centers.</p> <p>&ldquo;It is stunning and spine-chilling to know the state allows &ndash; and taxpayers fund &ndash; this outrageous abuse,&rdquo; said Kiara Hedglin, an advocate with the group Seeking Equality through Education and Demonstration who has developmental disabilities. &ldquo;To fix the problems, the state must shut down the developmental centers. They are decaying institutions with an alarming record of abuse that demonstrates an astounding, appalling and atrocious standard of care.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p>While disability rights advocates lauded the push for heightened oversight of the developmental centers, they said it was not enough. The only solution, they argued, was shutting the centers.</p> <p>Kim Williams, who has cerebral palsy, said she was born in a state-run institution and lived at the Sonoma Developmental Center for five years. She told her story of her time at Sonoma on the steps of the state Capitol, calling Sonoma a &ldquo;hellhole.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;I felt like a prisoner, but I never committed any crime,&rdquo; Williams said, communicating through a speaking device. &ldquo;I knew I wanted freedom, and I knew I had to leave. If I had to go back, I&rsquo;d take my own life.&quot;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>After the hearing, DeSaulnier was more direct in calling for an end to the state-run centers.</p> <p>&quot;Personally, I would do away with the developmental centers,&quot; he told California Watch. &quot;They are a big investment based on a 1950s model. They&#39;re not working.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p>He said the Sonoma Developmental Center should be shut down and relocated to a facility that was less costly and better able to provide care to patients.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;When you have a campus like Sonoma that is a huge fixed asset for the state that is only half-used, it makes no sense financially,&quot; DeSaulnier said. &quot;And when you factor in the other problems like abuse and neglect, it&#39;s just stupid to keep it open as is.&quot;&nbsp;</p> Health and Welfare Daily Report Department of Developmental Services Office of Protective Services patient abuse Sonoma Developmental Center Broken Shield Fri, 12 Apr 2013 02:09:00 +0000 Amy Julia Harris 18858 at