The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 24, 2011
A.M. Reading: Audit hammers lands panel; Calif. officials to change high-security prison policies; Ala. and feds eye layoffs

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifAudit slams California lands panel for failing to collect millions from leases
The state is mismanaging oil and other leases on public land, failing for years to collect rent from some companies and costing California millions of dollars in lost revenue, the state auditor said Tuesday. State Auditor Elaine Howle said in a blistering report that the State Lands Commission could have generated as much as $8.2 million in revenue from just a sample of the leases her office reviewed. (Sacramento Bee)

California mental hospitals are dangerous, legislators told
Reporting from Sacramento -- At an Assembly committee hearing on safety issues at the state's mental hospitals, lawmakers Tuesday received testimony about faulty alarm systems, daily assaults and an increasing number of patients with criminal histories. (Los Angeles Times)

N.Y. Still Pursues Case Against Whistle-Blower
ALBANY -- The Cuomo administration is continuing to pursue a two-year-old disciplinary case against Jeffrey Monsour, a state employee at the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities who has been an outspoken critic of the agency's management. (New York Times)

A few California lawmakers release their budgets; others say they'll wait
Assemblyman Roger Dickinson does not plan to release his office budget without a nod from Assembly leaders. The Sacramento Democrat, noting that Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez is creating a task force to consider updating disclosure policies, said, "I'm going to respect that process." Republican Assemblywoman Beth Gaines of Roseville said she supports disclosing budgets for all 80 members. She doesn't want to release hers, however, unless the entire house does so. Meanwhile, tough luck for Californians who want to know if Assembly members are exceeding their budgets in a year of fiscal distress. (Sacramento Bee)

Prison officials promise review of high-security cells
Facing a barrage of criticism over how California inmates are treated inside high-security detention units, a top prison official said Tuesday that new policies will be reviewed and some changes may be made in coming months. "I'm not talking about having another study," Scott Kernan, undersecretary at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said at a legislative hearing. "I'm talking about having some substantive changes." (Sacramento Bee)

NJ appeals court: State has discretion in funding public workers' pensions
TRENTON, N.J. -- A New Jersey appeals court says the state has discretion in how it funds the retirement accounts for firefighters and police officers. Several public-sector unions sued after the Legislature temporarily reduced the amount towns and counties must pay into the pension funds for their workers. (Associated Press / The Republic)

Editorial: New Guard chief tries to restore honor to uniform
Leadership starts from the very top, even more so in a military organization like the California National Guard. So it is absolutely essential that the Guard's new commander, Adjutant General David S. Baldwin, is forthrightly trying to clean up the huge mess he inherited - and is cleaning house where necessary. (Sacramento Bee)

We Have the Money for Pensions, But Not the Governance
The underfunding of public pensions in California is a problem, but a solvable problem, at least as a matter of cash. But the problem goes beyond money. Paying for pensions is a problem for governance, and California is especially weak in this area. Proper pension management requires putting aside the money to pay the future pensions of today's workers today. But this basic concept eludes many of the people who govern us. (NBCBayArea.com)

Public Employees May Pay More For Health Insurance
LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan state lawmakers likely soon will vote on a revised proposal that would require many public employees to pay more for their health insurance coverage. (clickondetroit.com)

Kasich Tries to Calm Ohio Unions Pushing Vote on Bargaining Law
Since Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a law restricting government unions similar to one backed by Wisconsin's Scott Walker, he has spent months trying to avoid a divisive referendum on the measure, using private talks and public pressure. (Bloomberg / San Francisco Chronicle)

Another Round in State's War With Unions
MADISON, Wisc. (CN) - The union representing Wisconsin state prosecutors objects that its members were allowed to take just 10 furlough days in the past 2 years, while other state workers were given up to 16 furlough days. (Courthouse News)

Alabama agencies cutting 1,100 employees
Alabama's state government is going to have 1,100 fewer employees by this fall due to state budget cuts, the end of federal stimulus funding and different standards of care for the mentally disabled. (Associated Press / Bloomberg)

Workers in R.I., elsewhere flee as buildings sway, shudder
PROVIDENCE -- The magnitude 5.8 earthquake that erupted near Richmond, Va., Tuesday sent probing fingers of energy northward along the rock formations that line the Eastern Seaboard, causing many Rhode Islanders to scurry outdoors. The Rhode Island State House, more than a century old, began shaking shortly before 2 p.m. Visitors and state workers fled down the marble steps and were not allowed back until 3:35 p.m. The General Assembly was not in session.(Providence Journal)

Layoff threat rises at U.S. courts
ALBANY -- Layoff threats targeting state workers are on hold, but the prospect of cuts is starting to loom over federal jobholders in New York -- specifically among federal court system employees. (Albany Times Union)

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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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