For starters, see the governor's press release and the official proclamation ending TYC's conservatorship. See also a promising initial letter to employees by the new Executive Commissioner Cherie Townsend.
TYC's original conservator from 2007, Jay Kimbrough, has left his post at Texas A&M to take a slot as Rick Perry's Chief of Staff, meaning he'll continue to have a big say over the agency's future even with the conservatorship ended.
Meanwhile, the newly leased Eagle Lake facility in Colorado County has yet to open, the Austin Statesman reports, but TYC is taking heat for paying a Florida company $22,500 per day for the space. The agency pas paid the company more than $1.26 million since July. Apparently "Youth Commission officials agreed to pay for empty beds to cover the startup costs of the company." Reported the Statesman's Mike Ward:
Attributing recent delays in filling the lockup to inspection issues, Townsend said 18 youths will be transferred to the Eagle Lake site today. Plans call for it to house more than 100 youths in the future, she said.
Under the terms of the contract, the Youth Commission agreed to lease up to 132 beds for $189.50 per youth per day, guaranteeing they would pay for 119 beds starting on the date the contract was signed. Over a span of three months, that totals more than $2 million, but records indicated that the state had paid the company only about $1.26 million as of Thursday.
In 2006, the Youth Commission spent $128.66 to $162.88 a day for each youth in its care, according to the agency's Web site.
"Starting upon execution of the contract, payment will be made at the minimum guaranteed amount until 119 beds capacity is reached at which time payment will be made upon the actual capacity," the contract states.
"Guaranteed minimum" contracts — in which state agencies agreed to pay for a minimum number of beds or a level of service, whether it was used or not — were highly controversial two decades ago, when most agencies stopped doing it. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice prohibits the practice, officials there said.
"We only pay for filled beds," said Michelle Lyons, a spokeswoman for the prison agency.
The Youth Commission's contract gives the company 90 days to get the lockup ready for operation. During that "startup" period of hiring and training staff, the contract has several pages covering many other activities, including recruiting staff and arranging trash service.