The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 25, 2009
Blog back: Court action; a candidate's plan

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

We're out of the office today, but our Bee Capitol Bureau colleagues are on the lookout for breaking state worker news.

This special blog back focuses on just two topics: The furlough lawsuits argued on Nov. 16 in Alameda Superior Court and Meg Whitman's continuing comments about cutting the state workforce.

Nov. 17 From the notebook: More from Monday's furlough hearing, part 1
Nov. 17 From the notebook: More from Monday's furlough hearing, part 2
Nov. 19 From the notebook: More from Monday's furlough hearing, part 3
Nov. 20 From the notebook: More from Monday's furlough hearing, part 4

Much of the problem has to do with the inability of the State to actually pass a busget (sic) on time, regardless of budget deficit spending. The threat of issuing IOUs had nothing to do with a lack of money, but with the State's chronic inability to agree on a budget, deficit spending or no. Were I an appeals Judge, I would have to rule that 'A lack of preparation on the State's Part does not create an emergency on the part of the people.' I don't know what WILL be decided, but I betcha the decision is entirely based on 'what constitutes a state of emergency.'

Click the following link to read more blog backs.

As is often the case when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furlough policy is the topic, the discussion turned to Highway Patrol officers:

I have great respect for the Highway Patrol Officers but I have problems with their being exempted from furloughs because of their "critical importance". That term is entirely relative. Take a laid off worker who has been waiting far longer than normal for UI benefits or a disabled person who has been waiting for 6 months for an SSA Disability decision, each facing delays because of furloughs. I would submit that Unemployment Claims workers or Disability Examiners are of far more "critical importance" to these individuals than Highway Patrol Officers. Again, no knock on the CHP but there is a double standard being used by the governor in regard to who is furloughed and who is not.
... The governor's original argument for not furloughing CHP was that they were operating under the terms of a contract that did not expire until 2010, therefore he could not furlough them. It is the same contract that gave the CHP holiday pay for Columbus Day last month. Now that it is in the court room the governor's attorneys are arguing that the exemptions were necessary? ...
Can sacbee find out how much the sate of california is paying the law firm?

Click here to read the last State Worker post on the Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard contract. Unfortunately, state employee unions have not been as forthcoming with their legal costs. We plan to ask all parties early next year for their furlough lawsuit expenses.

You need to get a transcriber for that tape Jon. You know this is in the forethought (sic) of every state worker. Why keep us hanging? ...

We deciphered and posted the hasty scribbles in our notebook as quickly as we could. (We didn't tape the proceedings; the courts don't allow recordings without prior consent.) Writing the narratives turned out to be more time-consuming than we planned. And other tasks, such as writing the weekly State Worker column and reporting other stories, competed for time. We didn't intend to keep blog users "hanging."

Jon, SEIU's site claims, "Roesch said he planned to issue a written decision later this week." However, your reporting indicates the judge only said he would mail a decision without giving a timeframe. Do you recall if Roesch gave any hint if a timeframe?

We heard nothing that hinted at when the judge would issue a ruling.

Nov. 19 Whitman's state-workforce plan; Brown on legislative pay cuts
Nov. 20 More about Whitman's plan to 'skinny down' state government

These two posts drew more than 200 comments combined. Among them:

Given our State's history with implementing "technology" this should be interesting to watch...I don't think a new Governor is going to be able to change the quality of our "technology" implementation...unless of course she has some buddies and thinks she can circumvent all the regulations...not that others haven't done that before...but the outcome is always the same...lots of taxpayer dollars wasted on "technology" that doesn't do what it should...
The majority of that increase is the staff required to keep so many in prison--how many prisoners beyond what the courts have ordered does Meg intend to release to achieve this personnel level?

Whitman has said that she will be able to persuade policymakers who control parts of state government outside of direct gubernatorial control, such as the university systems, that they should go along with cutting jobs to 2004-05 levels. The candidate believes this persuasive power would come from the clear cut-government mandate voters would give a Whitman administration combined with attrition through a strict hiring freeze, veto threats, ballot initiatives and savvy appointments of like-minded budget cutters to key positions.

Whitman has criticized Schwarzenegger for failing to go far enough to cut employee costs. As we reported here, the governor's office has said Whitman's plan is unrealistic.

Of course, some people see Whitman's call for shrinking government as a matter of simple math:

... All sympathy to state workers, but those hired in the last decade have been working for an agency with a fairytale budget. The problem has come home to roost - and fixes have to happen sometime. We need a governor with a mind for business, that knows what it means to balance a budget. You might hate (sic) for it, but when there isn't enough money, what alternative is there other than to spend less?
A politician with a idea to actually control cost. This lady is just what this state needs. No more actors and no more old politicians. That's why Meg is catching on all over the state!

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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