The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 26, 2009
Blog back: 'Baffle-gab,' budget ideas and baffled about layoffs

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

Blog posts about Meg Whitman's run for governor always draw plenty of comments from users who agree with her assertion that state government jobs should be drastically cut and users who think that she's truly gone 'round the bend.
May 18 Whitman repeats her 10 percent solution for the state bureaucracy

Commission a blue ribbon panel to examine the issue and then form a committee to lead the task force designed to develop the team by reviewing options and scrutinizing applications for the work group selected to actually study the problem. Then empower a steering committee to solicit input from stakeholders with the intent to hire consultants to vet the derivative of your drill down analysis and validate the extensive outcomes with a steady bias towards reducing your spending while maximizing return on investment. Then you take your deliverables and hope the economy has turned around and everyone has forgotten the issue while you have been diligently working towards a resolution.

An outstanding example of bureaucratese that would have made Philip Broughton proud. Broughton popularized the "Baffle-gab Guide," a handy reference for anyone wishing to sound official and mean absolutely nothing. Click here to see his tribute to confused language.


Our take: Whitman has yet to offer specifics about how she would get legislators and institutions such as the university systems that are outside executive control to go along with her vision of downsizing the state workforce. Without those details, it's hard to see how she would achieve her goal of axing 30,000 to 40,000 state employees.

Read more blog backs by clicking the link below ...

May 19 Governor's office: Whitman 10 percent layoff plan 'merely rhetoric'

... SEIU Local 1000 has a long list of suggestions for reducing state spending. How about printing those?

We have. Click here to see the blog post. And last week we posted CCPOA's list of suggestions to cut costs at Corrections. You can see that post by clicking here.

May 20 Another way to layoff, furlough state workers?

As is often the case when we share state worker e-mails, this item prompted plenty of responses:

The e-mail from the State Worker states the exact sentiments of many state workers, I have even had the same thoughts. People should be laid off because of their work ethic and not the amount of service years an employee has.The only problem with that is "work ethic" is completely subjective to your superiors. Now most of us feel that "work ethic" is giving 110% and completing your job without having your hand held every step of the way. What if your superiors do not feel the same way, and you still get the pink slip. Then how would you suggest we take care of layoffs?
It seems to be a waste of time to lay of someone with less then 2 years because they are at the bottom of the pay scale ...

Then there were commenters, like this one, who couldn't manage to agreeably disagree:

Most people in the private sector think that working for the state is this stable, no stress deal. What they don't know is all the threats, mismanagement, and so on you have to deal with. If your lucky enough to survive ten years or so, you have enough time to finally feal safe. Then comes a new guy who says 'its not fair'. Dude, its totally fair. Once you have your 10 or so years in, you will have been thru hell, and deserving of the protection senority gives you. Until then, shut your pie hole.

The problem with using measures other than seniority and special skills (such as, for example, knowledge of a second language) is that they usually involve subjective judgments that leave the employer's layoff decision open to challenge. What is a "productive" employee? When does a worker cross over from "unproductive" to "productive"?

May 20 Still no layoff details from the Schwarzenegger administration

Comments to this post reflected confusion from the top to the bottom of the government about layoff specifics.

Have all of the 5000 people been notified already and the DPA just isn't releasing information yet, or are they still working on the remaining 400 layoff notices? I'm really tired of having to worry about my job!
The employees in our department have been noticed. I think they have until July to leave.
Anyone who received a notice for the first time should have 120 days before being let go. That would be mid September sometime. Our office told us not to worry about it as they are trying to resolve the issue with DPA. I think they just tell us that so we will do our work and not act crazy until they tell us to get lost. Would have been nice if the fools had put some actual dates on the layoff notices.


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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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