The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 14, 2009
Blog back: The money, the mandate and the memo

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

Aug. 6 State Fund bonus hits a snag

And, don't forget a point that Ortiz conveniently fails to mention is his post, which is that much of the money used by State Fund to pay its expenses, salaries and claim costs comes not from premiums, but from INVESTMENTS - like all insurers!! How typically misleading of Ortiz to suggest that these puny awards are being directly paid for by our policyholders. Of course, no one objects to the huge bonuses paid by State Fund's BOARD to its president and other CEAs on top of bloated salaries. No surprise -Most of the Board are Arnold appointees! More State Fund and state employee bashing from the Bee as usual. Thanks for nothing Ortiz.

The report that the award money comes from policyholder premiums reflects what we were told by State Fund spokeswoman Jennifer Vargen, and no fund official has since corrected our post. It sounds to us like this is a distinction without a difference, but we'll double-check.

Our intention wasn't to "bash." We wanted to make certain that TSW users understood that the money wasn't coming from the general fund, a point that anyone unfamiliar with State Fund's unique status wouldn't know.

Aug. 7 CHP to graduate largest class in department history today

This post prompted a heated discussion about about CHP officers:

Someone please explain CHP's mission? I find it hard to believe they are even necessary when local and county sheriffs could do the same job for millions less. These guys are so cocky and arrogant because they think they're untouchable. ... Dangerous job? give me a break, I could think of 20 jobs more dangerous for a lot less money and a lot more work. Enjoy it while you can rookies.
FACT: There are now 183 fine officers out there doing something more useful than the whiners on this blog.
They deserve it, and I'm not going to bash these people for going to work just like the rest of us trying to make a living and make ends meet. Am I jealous yes, do I agree no, however anyone that is successful getting anything from the GAS other than a kick in the blank in these times is doing alright (sic), and good for them.

They will need the additional positions when they dump 40,000 plus inmates back on our streets, and this is going to happen real soon.

The court order handed down Tuesday gave the state 45 days to come up with a plan to cut the prison inmate population and two years to execute the plan. A government appeal could string things out longer than that. Click here to read The Bee's report by Denny Walsh and Sam Stanton. And you can read the court ruling by clicking this link.

Aug. 7 Read the letters from DPA to State Fund about the $250 award

The tiff over State Fund's plan to give a little extra cash to all its employees turned thoughts of some state workers to a check they hope to see if/when the courts overturn the governor's furloughs:

Back pay & full pay. They can keep their award...It was a nice gesture (or an attempt anyway) ...
Back Pay, Full Pay, Time, Retroactive, and then damages, should be a nice little settlement!

To read more blog backs, click the link below.

Aug. 7 Judge who ruled in first State Fund furlough case won't hear another

Is there really a lawsuit filed by SEIU1000 against state furloughs for non-SCIF employees? I keep seeing it mentioned but have not actually seen information about it.

SEIU was part of the first furlough case, which was heard in January. That lawsuit that has implications for all state workers because it challenges the legality of the governor's furloughs. The judge ruled against SEIU and the other unions that were plantiffs in that case. It since has been appealed to the Third District Court in Sacramento.

Thumbnail image for boy_dunce-thumb-122x299-thumb-100x245-thumb-60x147.gif

The question now is, who will hear this case since Judge Busch recused himself? If Jon Ortiz were a real journalist and not just a cheap tabloid headline writer, he would have called the court or SEIU's attorneys to find out the next step and included that in his article.

The commenter is correct that we should have included the "what next" in the case. In our haste to post the news, we didn't. This user had answers and shared them:

Judge Busch didn't just back out of this because he didn't want to do it or because there was a pay out! GAS & DPA filed a preemptory challenge. All parties are allowed one preemptory challenge. The case should now go to Judge Woolard in the next courtroom (dept 302). It was supposed to have gone to her in the beginning due to the case #. However, SEIU filed a motion to have Judge Busch hear the case. That is when the other parties filed the preemptory challenge ...

Click here to view the court docket. A hearing is set for Sept. 1.

Aug. 8 Public Health memo about part-time retail work ticks off some state workers

This item about a Bay Area TV story received plenty of comments as users talked about conflict-of-interest rules and whether to tell their state employers about part-time work.

This is one of the ways in which public sector employment differs from that in the private sector. Public sector employees cannot take jobs that give even the appearance of a conflict-of-interest. This means, for instance, that an IT worker could not take a job with a dealer, manufacturer, IT consultant etc., as these entities might have some contact with state government at present or in the future. Some workers who have procurement responsibilities couldn't even take retail jobs, as the state might contract with their side-job employer, and any transaction could be perceived as self-interested on the part of the employee. A state worker also can't sign on to work for an independent contractor who was hired to do work on the employee's furlough Friday.
Furloughs are making everyone very sensitive. Looks like the memo was just trying to give an example of a part time job that would not conflict with State employment.

Aug. 10 Blog back: CalTrans, the calculator and corraling state worker news

SacBee-" If you have a story to tell about furlough-prompted early retirements your department, let us know."

Jon, since you are a reporter, why don't you go interview someone at CalPERS to find out how much retirements have increased since the furloughs began??

Because that would require the BEE to engage in actual reporting rather than rumor mongering based upon anecdotal stories from anonymous readers.

We rarely use anonymous sources in our news stories. The Bee generally doesn't allow it. But we find that asking state workers through the blog share their individual stories is a deep well from which to draw powerful illustrations. Many are willing to go on the record.

Reporting numbers is one thing. Reporting personal impact is another. The two combined make for the best stories.

And here's an interesting point of fact: We post anecdotes, e-mails and personal stories only with the senders' consent -- and those posts tend to be among the best-read items on TSW.

Moving on ... We asked users to send their building stories. Here's one:

The secured doors regularly break down. They require a card key so when the doors break down, there's no way to open them and we're not allowed to prop them open as that is a security risk. The keep "fixing" the doors, but never replacing them. Additionally, there is often a broken stall in the ladies bathroom for one reason or another. Lately, it's been the toilet paper holder that is broken/missing.

The post didn't name the building, so we haven't been able to follow up.

Aug. 12 The State Worker to appear on News10 this morning

We've moved this last item up for this week's blog back because, as of this writing, News 10's Live_Online page is still active with comments weighing in on SEIU Local 1000's strike vote. Click here to see the conversation that continued after the show was over.

What, they couldn't find anyone who actually knows something about State Workers? Because after the endless uninformed drivel you produce on these pages, it's clear you don't have a clue. Just go away Ortiz.
Lol, 50 minutes notice for this? Nice timely reporting there Mr Ortiz. I imagine if you actually gave a decent amout (sic) of "heads up" time you'd be bombarded with folks hammering you with the truth about your anti state worker bias.

We were a last-minute fill-in guest, hence the late notice.

Imagine that! "We'll be appearing from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. today on News10's Live_Online with host Sharon Ito to talk about state worker issues. You can watch live by clicking here at the appointed half hour (or check it out later, since News 10 also archives each show)." Well, as a state worker I would love to watch the show but I will be at W-O-R-K!!! Nice!

Which was why we noted that the show is archived for later viewing.

I was able to get my questions read, and I can't say I was happy with the responses, especially the question on the pay raises and the consumer price index. I think it was a good effort though on their behalf.

Whenever we're finished with a TV or radio appearance, we always think that we were wise to stay out of broadcasting. It's a tough medium.

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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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