The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 5, 2008
Blog back: The librarian, layoffs and liberals

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

Dec. 1 Blog back: ... the 'trade' with Seattle

The State Librarian, Susan Hildreth, is an experienced library administrator. The fact she is leaving the top librarian post in the state is a sympton (sic) that other places have more to offer. In the last five years, the budget of the state library for journals that state workers use for their jobs has been cut 5 fold. Next year's budget will be worse.

Many California county law libraries now have bigger budgets than does the state library. So lawyers in state service now enter court with a professional disadvantage. The State Library, and some state agency libraries house and lend the materials that state workers need to carry out their daily jobs. Diminished information resources make it harder for state workers to do their jobs.

Apt points. An earlier Seattle Times story outlined the city's gleaming new library facilities and strong public support for the system. Also worth noting: Hildreth made $153,000 annually, according to state pay records. The Times reported that her successor in Seatte, Deborah Jacobs, made $178,000.

We asked Emily Heffter, the Seattle Times reporter who has been following the story, if she knew how much Hildreth's new job will pay. Heffter said that as of Monday the final terms had not been announced.

Dec. 2 Schwarzenegger: State now 'almost forced' into layoffs

What is he waiting for? Fire 50% of the state workforce NOW. We don't need 75% of what they do. Let the people keep their money. If you state workers don't like it, go get a job that actually generates revenue instead of relying on coercively extracted tax dollars from your fellow Californians.

As we noted a few weeks ago in our Thursday column, you could fire every single state employee paid with general fund money and still not completely close the budget gap. And we haven't seen any studies or audits supporting the assertion that "we don't need 75 percent" of what state workers do. Data, please.

Dec. 2 More details about possible state worker layoffs

Even if layoffs don't come to pass, it's likely that the next budget will have a more extensive furlough. For example, two or three days a month. Or a shift to a four-day workweek, a.k.a. four days a month furlough. With that in mind, plan ahead: Don't go overboard on your holiday partying and gift-giving. Cut back on spending and conserve your cash as 2009-2010 is going to be a very unpleasant fiscal year.

Our Bee business colleague and newbie Home Front blogger Dale Kasler on Tuesday wrote that the year-old economic recession is "shaping up as a long one." That means the state's tax revenues will take another beating next year and, according to some experts Dale has interviewed, maybe into 2010. Read his insightful Home Front post by clicking here.

Dec. 3 Still more about possible layoffs

This could also be Arnold's version of "The Shock Doctrine." According to author Naomi Klein repressive right-wing governments have a well established history of using crises and emergencies to push through radical economic changes that would be rejected by the populace under normal circumstance. Arnold has wanted to bust the public service unions and dismantle CalPERS for a long time. Now he can use the "shock and awe" of the present budget crisis to try and do so again.

An interesting take. We would extend that observation to left-leaning administrations, such as FDR's Depression-era public works programs and Social Security and LBJ's War on Poverty in the 1960s. Right wingers don't have a monopoly on pushing radical economic change in a time of crisis.

Jon - Did you even think to ask Ms. Jolley if she even has a "plan" to reduce the State workforce? Or do you agree that just whacking people indiscrimately (sic) is the best way to proceed? What amount of disruption in State operations does Ms. Jolley expect? What will be the criteria for laying people off? Performance Reviews? Seniority? What about contractors who get paid more then State workers? Will they be let go as well, or will we hire more of them? How many people let go does Ms. Jolley expect to never return to State service, resulting in an increase in costs of retraining later on? Are there any specifics at all?

We're working getting answers to those questions and more. In the interest of speed, we've put up information as we've learned it instead of holding back information until every jot and tittle is defined.

You asked, "Or do you agree that just whacking people indiscrimately (sic) is the best way to proceed?" Our answer: No.

Our sense as of this writing on Thursday afternoon is that layoff details haven't been hammered out. One frequent State Worker blog user sent an e-mail with this theory:

I think this threat can also be something towards the union to passive aggressively say (as opposed to saying anything to our faces or say "let's sit down together and work something out") we (the state) are not willing to negotiate for any increases, don't push us or we'll just cut some of your jobs.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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