The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 26, 2008
Blog back: the badge, the budget, bad real estate and bad names

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

Dec. 22 Perata transfers another $400K in campaign money to his legal defense fund

Jon, I guess I'm starting to your point here about Perata or CCPOA. I only ask because this is the second time you have done this. Funny thing is, all the good stories about Correctional Officers out there and they never get printed and you can bet there is never a picture of a badge next to the story either. It almost appears as if you have dropped into the SACBEE habit of writing what sells, anti-CCPOA garbage. Let me know when you want to write about some of the hero's I work with every day.

News is that which is out of the ordinary. Both of Perata's financial moves meet that definition. So does the response to the first move by CCPOA's leadership.

We spent a bit of extra time retracing our steps because of the volatility of the story. We wanted the post to show all of the commentary and reporting on Perata and CCPOA leadership up to that point. But make no mistake: We do not confuse union activity with the difficult daily work of California's correctional officers.

And as to the use of the badge image, we quickly selected it to add visual interest. In retrospect, it was a poor choice. A photo of Perata would have served the blog better.

How come the Bee doesn't talk about all the money Citibank donated to politicians and the Bentleys the exec.'s drive. I guess it's OK for a corporation to get political access through campaign contributions but not for unions. The Bee is once again trying to sell lies and slam the union in hopes of privatizing so Arnold and the republicans can get more kickbacks.

This is the State Worker blog. If Citibank at some point becomes an agency for the State of California, we'll be happy to comment on its excesses. Until then, we'll remain focused on issues specific to civil service.

As to any "lies" contained in the post, please make us aware of any errors and we'll be quick to correct them.

Dec. 22 Unions, lawmakers react to furloughs, layoffs

Jon Ortiz - When is the Bee going to start investigating the hundreds of millions spent on crony contracts? Top executives leave Agencies and Departments and then go to work for consultants doing business with the agencies and departments they just left, often under contracts they themselves approved and facilitated while employed by the State. Does the Bee not see an ethical problem here?

We welcome any specific, credible tips that you might pass our way. Unfortunately, journalists don't have superpowers of discernment. We often need folks who know what's really going on to guide us to information.

Dec. 22 Wall Street Journal: CalPERS takes giant hit on real estate

Two blog users, two interpretations:

Amazing that this isn't getting more attention from state employees. CalPERS didn't lose 100% of your money, they lost 103% of your money. That means it was a scam. People should be outraged, but perhaps people are not educated enough regarding investment matters to understand what has happened here. YOUR RETIREMENT IS NOW IN TROUBLE.
Um, I hate to break this to you folks but there is a severe recession underway. If CalPERS was losing money when the economy was doing well then I would say, yes, there is a problem. But on Monday a large number of commercial real estate brokers asked Washington for a bailout, and they have other investors besides CalPERS. Furthermore, in case you haven't looked at your 401-K statement your mutual funds are down big time as well. So if CalPERS investment philosophy is wrong so is the entire retirement philospohy preached to millions of American workers from Wall Street these last 30 years. Take that you right-wing swine!

Here are a couple of links to put CalPERS' recent losses in perspective. Here's Bee colleague Dale Kasler's story from last month, "CalPERS' housing portfolio drops $3.2 billion."

Then check out how CalPERS and the LAO responded to a story last month that predicted a dire future for pension funds, including CalPERS.

By the way, name-calling ("right-wing swine") diminishes even the strongest points.

Dec. 22 Unions, lawmakers react to furloughs, layoffs

Wonderful! The Democrat legislature and the extortionist unions have collectively spent this state broke, and now the SEIU fascists will try to sue to keep the state paying even, if there isn't anymore money! State expenditures grew over 100% in the last 10 years, while population either rose slightly or stayed the same. Why was the money spent? Cut the expenditures now and keep it that way forever!!!

Sadly, neither liberals nor conservatives have a monopoly on tired labels ("extortionist unions," "SEIU fascists") that dilute their arguments.

Dec. 22 Budget impasse: Why the emphasis on state workers?

"What message is Schwarzenegger sending by pressing these two issues? What is the governor's aim in including them on this no-go list?"

As most of the posts before this one indicate: the Gov's actions are clearly meant to bust the unions.

Why now?

Two reasons.

One, he's lost a lot of favor with this GOP pals which he'd need to win back before trying for a US Senate seat.

Two, thanks in LARGE part to the Bee's anti-union "reporting" (and poor PR from SEIU, et al), the public sees state workers as "them" and not "us". The perception of this entity which employs over 230,000 people is held to a very different standard than any other large corporation. And, frankly, they don't realize all that we do for them because civil service, when it works, is practically invisible. Things We don't have a million dollar ad campaign like Apple or Coke. We just keep doing the job delivering services that make this state run.

Thoughtful "us" versus "them" analysis and a reasoned explanation of why government's good work often goes unnoticed.

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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


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