The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 17, 2011
Weekend Reading: Sexual harassment case; rail PR contract; Minn. unions' 'swing and a miss'

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifDan Morain: Madness, Exhibit A: Prison doctor's pay
The man who was the highest-paid California state employee not working for a public university answered his own phone on the first ring, and was more than happy to tell me his side of the story. (Sacramento Bee)

State to pay $750,000 in sex and race harassment case at medical board
The state has agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a 2005 lawsuit that details allegations of rampant sexual and racial harassment within a Sacramento investigative unit of the Medical Board of California. The lawsuit alleges that two former members of the unit faced harassment and retaliation at the workplace in part because of concerns they raised about the behavior of a supervising investigator in the department. (Sacramento Bee)

Editorial: Superintendent takes strong first step -- will state?
It's hard not to like Rick Fauss' style. Fauss, the new superintendent of the Redding School District, had been on the job less than two weeks when he started treating a wound that had festered in the district for more than a year. In his very first school board meeting this week, the sole item on the agenda was a discussion (in closed session) of how to handle Wanell Stolz, the former Sequoia Elementary School librarian who was arrested last year and is facing a trial in August on charges of embezzling from the school and its parent club. Last month, the school board voted to bring Stolz, who'd been on a voluntary leave of absence, back on the school payroll as a librarian and lay off a colleague of hers -- one of the great majority of educators who are not accused felons. (Redding Record Searchlight)

End of the line for firm
From placing ads and calling reporters to prepping officials for interviews and writing opinion pieces for them to sign, the public relations powerhouse Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide for more than a year has had a hand in just about everything the California High-Speed Rail Authority said about its massive bid to build a high-speed rail system. (Includes graphic of firm's charges to the state.) (Sacramento Bee)

California criminal database poorly maintained
Reporting from Sacramento-- The criminal records system California relies on to stop child abusers from working at schools and violent felons from buying guns is so poorly maintained that it routinely fails to alert officials to a subject's full criminal history. (Los Angeles Times)

For governors, a personal toll from budget battles
SALT LAKE CITY -- In one state capital after another, this has been a year of painful budgetary choices and, in some cases, pitched political battles. That's the big picture. On an individual level, it also has been a time of reflection, disappointment and lessons learned for the governors who have been in the forefront of those battles. Will Washington learn from the states? (Washington Post)

Union Yields on Benefits in Deal With Cuomo
New York State's second-largest union of public workers, facing hundreds of layoffs that had been scheduled to take effect within days, agreed on Saturday to significant wage and benefit concessions in order to save the jobs of its members. (New York Times)

Count on SB 5 being on ballot
It's (not quite) official: Ohioans will have the chance to vote yes or no on the controversial public employee collective-bargaining bill known as Senate Bill 5. (Columbus Dispatch)

Malloy unveils details of budget cuts (WTNH)

Malloy's revised state budget slashes arts, courts, technical schools
HARTFORD -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget-cutting plans hit agencies big and small, eliciting cries of protest for the loss of services that will see courts shuttered, arts grants slashed, motor vehicle offices closed, rail fares boosted and social services trimmed. More than 6,500 positions will be cut, with layoffs in the executive branch alone hovering around 3,800, while those in the judicial department total 452, with 150 vacant jobs eliminated. More than 1,000 pink slips already have been sent out. (Westport Miniuteman)

Pension changes in effect
AUGUSTA -- The state will owe less to its retirement system in future years thanks to reforms in its new budget, but retirees aren't happy about changes that will mean smaller increases in benefit checks. (Maine Today)

Sides upbeat on Oregon labor negotiations
The two top state workers' unions will hold a second joint bargaining session with Gov. John Kitzhaber's representatives Monday in hopes of breaking a deadlock about furloughs, pay increases and health care. (Statesman Journal)

Recall elections likely to test both parties
Wisconsin voters head to the polls next week in a series of recall elections that could alter the balance of power in state government and test the appeal of the policies and messages of both political parties in a crucial presidential battleground and beyond. (Washington Post / Bend Bulletin)

Wisconsin's Walker concedes mistakes, defends policies
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose moves to curb state workers' bargaining power brought massive protests, said this weekend he made mistakes but defended the policy steps of his rocky first term. (Reuters)

Minnesota's Mess
Op-ed: Another swing and a miss for public unions
Minnesota's government shutdown -- the longest in U.S. history -- may soon be over. The breakthrough came on July 14, when Gov. Mark Dayton announced he was taking higher taxes -- his signature issue -- off the table. Much remains to be done before the deal is wrapped up. But now is the moment to reflect on what happened, and why. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Lori Sturdevant: How can we swallow this bitter pill?
It's easy for us editorial writers to bash the deal that Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislators struck Thursday to (may it be so) end the shutdown before many more calendar pages turn. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

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 jortiz@sacbee.com.

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