Afternoon Coffee: Peter Smith on Public Sector Outsourcing, Food Waste, Deadly H2O in Chicago Hotel

Who really runs the public sector? -- In the second part of a special series into the outsourcing of public sector work to private firms, we profile the big names which win the contracts as well as some of the controversies.

"Food waste is a serious problem that hurts supply chain optimization."
Food waste hurts supply chains -- In spite of some expected losses, much of the waste is avoidable. Produce farmers usually need to have their products comply with certain standards, and a somewhat crooked carrot is often considered unacceptable. This result is a huge amount of perfectly edible but unmarketable food wasted in the early stages of the supply chain. Some farmers are taking advantage of the products that do not meet retailer standards and using them for other purposes to help eliminate food waste. Baby carrots were created by a farmer who cut up his irregularly shaped carrots that retailers would not sell them. Farmers markets are another way for farmers to sell their produce that may not fit retail standards.

When energy saving can go deadly wrong...
2 die in Legionnaires' outbreak linked to Chicago hotel -- Two people have died after contracting Legionnaires' disease in an outbreak linked to a downtown Marriott hotel this summer, Chicago Department of Public Health officials said Monday. The two dead are among eight people who came down with Legionnaires' after staying in the JW Marriott at 151 W. Adams St. between mid-July and mid-August. None of the eight people who contracted the disease are from the Chicago area or are being treated here, but city officials declined to provide any further information about them, citing privacy laws. The conditions of the six surviving people who caught Legionnaires' is not known.

Supplier diversity gone awry.
City Hall bans McMahon firm from contracts amid questions -- The City of Chicago has permanently barred an electrical contractor and four members of the family that runs the business from getting city work on the grounds they lied to skirt city rules meant to help companies owned by women and minorities. Windy City Electric Co. can no longer bid for city contracts, and four McMahon family members are forbidden to work for the city in any capacity after the Procurement Department determined the company was run by two men, John and Anthony McMahon. The company claimed to be run by the duo's wives, which qualified it for preferential treatment in bidding as a women-owned business.

- Sheena Moore

First Voice

  1. Thomas Kase:

    Facts
    * Legionnaires’ disease bacteria (LDB) infect the lungs and can cause a kind of pneumonia.
    * Has to be breathed in to cause infection – enter the respiratory path – but this can happen during normal drinking.
    * Water heaters and warm, stagnant water in general can provide ideal conditions for the organism.
    * Upwards of 50,000 cases in the US per year.

    Greatest dangers
    * Water temperatures between 20°C-50°C (68°-122°F) permit growth and temperatures btw 32°C-40°C (90°-105°F) are ideal for growth. Rust (iron), scale, and the presence of other microorganisms can also promote the growth of LDB.
    * Water mist from cooling towers or evaporative condensers, evaporative coolers (swamp coolers), humidifiers, misters, showers, faucets, and whirlpool baths can be contaminated with LDB and if inhaled or aspirated into the lungs can cause the disease.

    How to prevent – change water conditions to not permit growth
    * Maintain and clean cooling towers and evaporative condensers – twice-yearly cleaning with chlorine or other biocide
    * Maintain domestic water heaters at 60°C (140°F) – temperature of water should be 50°C (122°F) or higher at the faucet
    * Do not allow water to stagnate – large water-storage tanks exposed to sunlight can produce warm conditions favorable to high levels of LDB. Frequent flushing of unused water lines will help alleviate stagnation – another reason why you shouldn’t drink or shower from garden hoses.

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