The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 18, 2009
Blog back: Pensions, 'pot stirring,' poor spelling

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

Nov. 5 Column extra: Are state workers enabling bad government?

It would be interesting to see a story about how many state personnel have retired or quit due to the furloughs. I'm (sic) my agency the retirees are leaving in droves.

It's difficult to determine why people retire or leave state service. We've been told the state doesn't have a standardized exit interview process. It's clear that an increasing number are leaving and that the pace has picked up since furloughs started. Here's a story we wrote about the phenomenon.

Nov. 5 Pension overhaul measures filed

Pension benefits have been a hot-button issue on The State Worker almost from the first day we launched the blog more than a year ago. As the economy has worsened and pension-change groups have stepped up their efforts to cut back benefits for new hires, it looks like this could become a big political football for the November 2010 election.

A complete and utter violation of the Ralph C. Dills Act. It will never stand judicial muster.

Should the measure make the ballot, there's no doubt that the unions will make every effort to defeat it. Should it pass, the fight will move into the courts.

These guys are the ones who put up the $100,000 pension lists. They get people all worked up because some high-powered managers and politicos get big salaries and pensions, and safety groups get high pension benefits and salaries. Granted safety pay and benefits are extreme, but hey, do you want to guard prisoners all day? Or scrape up the aftermath of a violent wreck?

So this group's attack is on all government workers. The fact is that most workers don't get the high level of benefits and pay they claim. If this initiative passes, good luck hiring and retaining future workers. They should focus on the pay and benefits at the highest levels and not look to kill us all in one shot.

Nov. 9 SEIU staff and state worker trade blows, accusations

A trend surfaced in many of the nearly 100 comments that this post drew: Union supporters generally believed Hamidi is a liar and a self-promoter. Union critics tended to side with Hamidi.

In the grand scheme, how is this story in any way newsworthy? Stop stirring the pot needlessly, Sac Bee. Many state workers are hurting greatly, so why not focus on this, rather than on one mean spirited attention seeker.

The Hamidi story couldn't be ignored. We received more than a dozen e-mails wondering why this blog didn't report events when other news outlets had. (Your humble blogger was out of town.) Some wondered if we were ignoring the news to benefit the union. (No.)

As to newsworthiness, Hamidi is a well-known figure. Union leaders were present when the altercation happened on Local 1000 property. The police were called. We also had information that had not been reported earlier. All of those considerations prompted us to post the item.

Huh! Didn't even know CPPEA existed until now. ... this is a good way to publicize it. Maybe that was Hamidi's true intention?
Ken may be a bit of an odd ball. I think even he would admit to that. However, to miss the vast SEIU conspiracy is to bury your head in the sand. SEIU is about stealing money from state employees. Dues have essentially doubled since SEIU took over from CSEA and representation staff has been reduced by more than 60%. SEIU has yet to negotiate a contract that even comes close to the average CSEA contract and they still are dead last in terms of how their employees are doing compared to the market. ... Hamidi is just trying to get people to pay attention

Nov. 11 Correctional supervisors group files furlough lawsuit

Jon, add another field to that spread-sheet, one more for the road..........

We did. Click here to check it out.

The next comment reminded us of the question raised Monday by Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch as lawyers for the governor and CCPOA's attorneys argued over furloughs: How can a closed system with a limited number of staff working a limited number of hours absorb furloughs equal to nine 40-hour work weeks per year?

As a personnel supervisor (non-uniformed) at a correctional facility, we were instructed to make our subordinates schedule their furlough days through next June. After doing that, we were later told to begin canceling some of those furloughs, since it was causing a backlog in our workload. My opinion is that I could care less. They want us to be at work 85%, but keep doing 100% of the work? Don't forget that furloughs (as well as the "implemented terms" on CCPOA) have caused a MASSIVE increase in workload with all of the additional calculations and paperwork. We get the 'double-whammy' in that, we are forced to take furloughs, yet deal with the additional volume of work caused by it.
What is going to happen when the Governor makes State Workers live on minimum wage? That is the one thing he hasn't done yet!

The governor can't order that as long as the state has a budget in place with funds appropriated for employee pay, even if the budget is in the red. So, the earliest that this issue might resurface is at fiscal year-end in June.

Nov. 12 The impact of 'Sandwich Thursday'

Why should state employees be criticized for taking the day off with pay, when, by coming up with lame topics like this one, Bee writers are essentially doing the same thing?

Clearly, not every blog post will please every user. Some newspaper readers skip political coverage and go straight to the sports page. Does that mean that no one should write about politics?

Besides, nothing about the blog post criticized anyone for taking a day off, and the story never got off the ground.

We have found from watching blog hit counts closely that these kinds of posts are often among the most popular. Why? Because blogs, unlike news stories, can be more interactive. And let's be honest: How can one reporter find out what's happening at state work sites all over California? It's impossible. We value the comments and observations of State Worker blog users enough to ask what they're seeing and give their observations a voice -- even when they see mistakes on this blog:

"...took today off then normal...". Um, it's "than", not "then". I expect this sort of error from the readers, but not the JOURNALIST who's writing the piece.

An embarrassing slip of the finger, oh sharp-eyed user. We expect better, too. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to be the last such error.

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



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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