The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 14, 2011
A.M. Reading: Faltering R.I. town a pension test case; state cellphones; Mo. pay raises

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifFaltering Rhode Island City Tests Vows to Pensioners
Cities and local governments make lots of promises: to their citizens, workers, vendors and investors. But when the money starts to run out, as it has in Central Falls, some promises prove more binding than others. Bond lawyers have known for decades that it is possible, at least in theory, to put bondholders ahead of pensioners, but no one wanted to try it and risk a backlash on Election Day. Now the poor, taxed-out city of Central Falls is mounting a test case, which other struggling governments may follow if it succeeds. (New York Times)

Thomas D. Elias: 'Paycheck protection' gets third try
Anti-union sentiment has always been strong in California, with today's particular emphasis on resentment of public employee unions whose members' pay and benefits sometimes equal or exceed the levels to which recession has reduced similar categories in private business. Loathing of unions by some has reached the point where the same forces that tried to eliminate organized labor as a political force two other times in the last 13 years are back again. They are circulating a new "paycheck protection" initiative designed to keep unions from using dues money paid through automatic payroll deductions for political contributions. (New York Times)

California departments fought Jerry Brown's bid to cut cellphones
When Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 50 percent reduction in state-issued cellphones to save money, his office said it would consider exempting employees who needed phones for public safety or other "critical state operations." From the California Highway Patrol to the California Commission on the Status of Women, dozens of state agencies and departments thought that meant them. They requested thousands of exemptions, peppering their appeals with such watchwords as "urgent" and "mission critical." (Sacramento Bee)

California drug enforcement officials scramble to counter budget cuts
Rising prices and increased demand for prescription drugs on the black market have turned addicts, nurses and even a postal worker into alleged thieves. Reports of people illegally obtaining prescription forms and pills continue to rise at what law enforcement leaders say is an alarming rate. And now state and local drug enforcement officers are scrambling to deal with a $71 million state budget cut over two years that could shut down the state bureau in charge of enforcing narcotics laws. (Sacramento Bee)

Editorial: A good first step to fix personnel mess
It hasn't generated a huge amount of attention, but the Brown administration's Government Reorganization Plan Number One has the potential for dramatically changing personnel practices for the state's 230,000 employees. (Sacramento Bee)

State secrets
... This is how it is in the Golden State. Secrecy has seeped into every corner of state government, making it difficult to gauge Sacramento's effectiveness and discretion. An Orange County Register review of the Government Code found at least 500 provisions that exempt specific records or information from public disclosure while another 16 code sections prohibit the release of broad categories of documents, including every complaint filed with a licensing body or investigatory agency, all communications with members of the Legislature and any document whose release does not serve the public interest. (Orange County Register)

Thomas D. Elias: 'Paycheck protection' gets third try
Anti-union sentiment has always been strong in California, with today's particular emphasis on resentment of public employee unions whose members' pay and benefits sometimes equal or exceed the levels to which recession has reduced similar categories in private business. Loathing of unions by some has reached the point where the same forces that tried to eliminate organized labor as a political force two other times in the last 13 years are back again. They are circulating a new "paycheck protection" initiative designed to keep unions from using dues money paid through automatic payroll deductions for political contributions. (Appeal Democrat)

Wisconsin recalls an exercise in wasting money
Another sordid and tragic chapter in our diseased political dysfunction has been playing out in Wisconsin. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Nixon proposes pay raises for Missouri state workers
Governor Jay Nixon has sent a letter to leaders in the legislature outlining his desire to raise salaries for state workers in next years budget. State workers last got a pay hike in 2009 when they received a three-percent cost-of-living increase. (KRCG)

Who gets the state's big bucks? College coaches
OLYMPIA - The best-paying jobs in state government are in higher education. Of those, the very best are in athletics. (Olympic Penninsula Daily News)

Former film office manager seen as both villain and victim
For the past two years, Tom Wheeler has been painted as one of the more reckless stewards of public money Iowa has seen and one of its worst victims of high-stakes politics. (Des Moines Register)

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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