The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 1, 2010
Blog Back: 'Damage control'

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

Many blog users hailed our May 21 post about a May 11 meeting between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chief Justice Ronald George as proof of a conspiracy at the highest levels to deny a fair hearing of furlough litigation.

We then wrote last week's State Worker column questioning whether the fix was really in. We knew that some readers would fire off charges that we're a shill for the court and/or the Schwarzenegger administration.

A sample of what the critics said in a related "Column Extra" blog post:

May 27 Column Extra: More about Ronald George

Jon - You have made it very clear what side of the fence you are on. The Schwarzenegger administration should be very grateful for your service.

Jon who are you trying to convince that there was no conspiracy? If you are trying to do damage control, too late! The judge with all his distinguished years of service to the state, should have known the appearance of inappropriate contact with GAS was going to be at the forefront of public's perception. The perception of people is what puts politicians in office and criminals in prison. If you want this story to go away try just dropping it or load the blog with a bunch of fluff pieces to keep it from being at the front, it seems you have had some success with this tactic before.

After looking at the evidence and talking to the players -- including union representatives with a stake in the litigation -- the best that we could come up with was an alignment of circumstances. That doesn't rise to the level of a conspiracy.

If anything, the public nature of events seem to indicate the opposite. Why? Because conspirators generally don't document their meetings or hold their discussions with aides in the room, as was the case here. A private telephone conversation would be a more likely vehicle for hatching a grand plan to exchange a favorable legal decision for budget money. many more articles shall we expect to see here attempting to convince us what an ethical person George is? Feeling some pressure there at the BEE Jon????????

With the state Supreme Court now center stage in the furlough fight between state employees and the governor, we thought the news was a good opportunity to educate ourselves about the court. And we thought it made good sense to pass along what we learned, since we'll all be watching the court for the next few months, at least.

Jon the instigator stumbled upon the real deal and now the involved parties are getting very uncomfortable. Thus, Jon and the Bee are trying hard to diminish the impact of this little finding-but fortunately it is too late for this. Great job Jon. Hehe...

Mr. Ortiz...I was proud of your true journalism in the previous story. I am sad to see that you were probably called upon the carpet by your boss and told to re-write your story. Reading between the lines, I feel your pain. Your boss is not as smart as you. Your boss does not respect your journalistic integrity and would rather see your bloggers tear you apart with their stinging words. I for one will applaud your courage with the first story.

"Courage" implies some sort of threat. My editor encouraged the May 21 post. No one with the Schwarzenegger administration, the court or the unions has ever objected to anything I've written about that meeting or subsequent events.

No one pressured me to write the May 27 column or the related Column Extras. I am solely responsible for the content of both the column and the blog. My name is attached to everything I write for a reason.

What's interesting is that some readers see that first blog post and the subsequent column as conflicting. I see the May 21 piece as an initial daily report that points out facts and gives the parties opportunity to explain what The Recorder reported.

The subsequent column expands on that original reporting and draws conclusions.

Many readers obviously disagree with those conclusions. Some got personal:

Jon you have proven once again why you can never be, or never will be taken serious as a journalist. You are a joke. You are nothing but a hack. No wonder you don't do any serious reporting and are just a blog reporter.

I love how Jon will censor any criticism of the Sac Bee and himself. This paper is good for lining a a litter box and that is it. You are a joke Jon.

Comments are flagged by users and then reviewed by online editors according to criteria laid out above the comments section of every blog post, opinion piece and news story on Criticism of The Bee or its writers isn't on the list of things that kill a comment. Click here to read the rules.

Shifting gears ... The following comment makes a very valid point. Perhaps the chief justice's connection to politics and funding needs to be changed.

We State Workers are constantly warned/advised to avoid any improprieties, i.e. improper behavior that can reflect a negative image on our job. We strive to be careful to not give a wrong public perception at all times. Therefore any PUBLIC or government employee is subjected to the same guidelines and is aware he/she is facing adverse actions if they violate the trust of the public. Even judges know this, so it is naive to assume the man is a saint in this case. I don't buy it!

And we'll close with this voice of reason:

Everyone should calm down. Furloughs have not fared well in front of judges who aren't named Marlette. The Supremes just might do the right thing and correctly apply the law.

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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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