The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 10, 2011
A.M. Reading: Pension obsession; cellphone smuggling; R.I. raises

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifViewpoints: Public pension vitriol is in fashion - and unfair
In a nation ever gripped by its latest obsession, there is a new fixation. It's not some starlet's stint in rehab or a fad diet. It is an attack on the generally modest checks collected by retired firefighters, teachers, public health workers and more. (Sacramento Bee)

Guard in court on charges of smuggling cellphones into Susanville prison
A correctional officer accused of smuggling cellphones and tobacco into a Northern California prison in return for cash payments made his first appearance in Sacramento federal court Friday. (Sacramento Bee)

California's fraud suit against Villalobos can proceed, judge rules
For nearly a year, Alfred Villalobos has been able to use the bankruptcy laws to sidestep a state lawsuit accusing him of bribing officials at the California Public Employees' Retirement System. Now California officials have won the right to pursue the $95 million case against Villalobos. (Sacramento Bee)

Flamboyant Financier Refocuses After Fall
Victor B. MacFarlane was a winner. Then he was a loser. Now, like many others brought low by the financial crisis, he is intent on being a winner again, though on a much humbler scale. For 18 years, Mr. MacFarlane's real estate development and asset-management firm in San Francisco invested huge sums for the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the nation's largest pension fund, and other institutional investors. (New York Times)

'Move over' rule to be touted in traffic safety campaign
Stunned by three Caltrans worker deaths in less than two months, state officials will launch a statewide freeway safety campaign Monday, including digital billboards in Sacramento highlighting a little-known safety law. (Sacramento Bee)

Educators' late-career pay raises strain CalSTRS pension system
These are the kind of year-to-year bumps many workers dream about but never see. They are also the kind of pay raises many of the region's highest-paid educators do get, just before retirement. (Sacramento Bee)

Opinion: State budget vs. union benefits
Mediation continues in Salem between two major labor unions and Gov. John Kitzhaber's team over public employee benefits. (Satesman Journal)

What happened to Oregon PERS reform?
Advocates for further reform of Oregon's public employee pension system had good reason to feel optimistic heading into this year's legislative session. (Statesman Journal)

Union law draws second federal lawsuit
MADISON -- Two unions representing about 2,700 public workers in Madison and Dane County have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Wisconsin's new law restricting collective bargaining powers. (AP / Appleton Post-Crescent)

Op-ed: Spreading lard throughout public sector
There is nothing like a severe, persistent, financial shortfall to sharpen one's focus on what is essential and what is excessive. As governments across the nation agonize over budget cuts, public employee pay and benefits continue to be scrutinized and questioned. (Santa Maria Times)

State's decision to limit fines for destroying public records draws fire
Columbus -- The Ohio Legislature has significantly reduced the civil penalties for improperly destroying public records, drawing fire from newspaper publishers and others who say the change effectively does away with a deterrent that prevented local governments from ridding shelves of controversial items. (Hudson Times)

Prison clerk's lack of headset costly to taxpayers -- $128,424 in medical bills so far
CHESTER -- Prison finance clerk Angela Grott complained to her supervisors that file drawers at her work station jammed, the computer keyboard was set too high and her chair was hard to move, according to state workers' compensation records. (Belleville News-Democrat)

R.I. state workers get a second 3-percent raise in six months
PROVIDENCE -- State employees got a 3-percent raise in their paychecks on Friday, their second 3-percent raise in six months. (Providence Journal)

For links to more news, views and video, check out The State Worker's Individurls page. To see our vast archive of searchable A.M. Reading headlines, go to Publish2.

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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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