The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 18, 2011
A.M. READING: Brown's hiring freeze; Ohio's collective bargaining battle; Mont. hunts for game wardens

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifJerry Brown grants bulk of state hiring freeze exemption requests
In the seven months since imposing a hiring freeze to deal with the state's fiscal woes, Gov. Jerry Brown has greenlighted nearly three-fourths of all requests for exemptions to hire state workers. Most of those jobs were low-paying positions without benefits, a Bee analysis of state data from March through May shows. Exclude those approvals, and Brown turned down more hiring requests than he allowed. (Sacramento Bee)

Perception is everything
Considerable public anger has developed over Stockton's police chief retiring one day and being rehired the next as the interim chief. Double-dipping is the moniker applied to the practice. It's never meant as high praise. The public perception, and in some cases with justification, is that public employees are gaming the system. (Stockton Record)

SEIU Local 1000 executive pay increase is shelved
SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker on Saturday pulled back a proposal that would have tripled her income and significantly boosted the pay for the local's three vice presidents. (Sacramento Bee)

Archer profited when job shifted from civil service to appointment
Madison - By far the biggest beneficiary of a move earlier this year to turn three dozen civil service jobs into political appointments is Cindy Archer, the one-time top aide to Gov. Scott Walker whose house was raided by the FBI last week. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Editorial: State pension: Passing the buck
During a radio interview the other day Gov. Bob McDonnell intimated that state workers might have to cough up more dough to help fund their own retirement plans. The Virginia Retirement System, he said, faces an $18 billion unfunded liability that "even tremendous stock market returns" cannot offset. If so, the fault does not lie with state workers. Nor does it lie with the professional managers who run the VRS. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Op ed: Retirement system reform adds insult to injury
Happily, a new school year has begun. Sadly, the devastating financial impact of recently enacted LD 1043 to retired educators has also begun. Most people know that the Maine Legislature enacted a law this year to "reform" the state retirement system. Most were not made aware, however, of the enormous affect the changes will inflict on those already retired. (Lewiston Sun Journal)

Saturday State News Briefs: Man who dumped beer on Rep. Vos turns himself in
MADISON - Madison police report 26 year old Miles Kristan turned himself in yesterday, admitting he was the one who dumped a beer on Republican state Representative Robin Vos of Burlington. ... He was apparently upset over (Vos') support of Governor Scott Walker's efforts to end collective bargaining rights for unions representing state workers. Pierce County Herald)

Editorial: Raise the Retirement Age
We don't envy the 528,000 state employees and retirees relying on the state's retirement system the coming months. Faced with a $17 billion gap between assets and liabilities, the system appears poised to be the center of a strong debate when the legislature reconvenes in January. The fate of their promised retirement income will be in the hands of state lawmakers, many of whom will be running for re-election in the coming year. (Sun News)

Valley Views: Gov. Cuomo deserves praise for his public pension plan
According to the Manhattan Institute, New York state taxpayers have a $205 billion unfunded pension liability for state and local government employees. Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared his top goal in 2012 will be curbing public pensions. "This will be the bar for next year," Gov. Cuomo said of his pension proposal. (Poughkeepsie Journal)

As president, Obama acts as shop steward in chief
President Obama has been at pains to convince voters that he cares about jobs. It seems to be a hard sell. But he certainly can demonstrate that he cares about certain jobs -- the 7 percent of private-sector jobs and 36 percent of public-sector jobs held by union members. (Washington Examiner)

Stakes high for both sides in SB 5 battle
COLUMBUS -- As the multimillion dollar Senate Bill 5 campaigns ramp up, Ohioans will be bombarded with claims and 
counterclaims, pleas and appeals, and images and sound bites delivered in 30-second TV ads. Voters can expect robo-calls and glossy literature about what the collective bargaining reforms could do for Ohio or could do to public employees. (Dayton Daily News)

History of public employee collective bargaining in Ohio
A timeline. (Dayton Daily News)

In the hunt ... for game wardens
Wanted: Montana game wardens. Must be willing to work evenings and weekends, especially during hunting season, and be on call 24/7. Job includes confronting armed suspects, investigating boat crashes, searching mountains for poachers, chasing moose through cemeteries and tranquilizing bears and mountain lions. (Helena Independent Record)

Pension talk raises anxiety for workers
Suzanne Ahlvin is one of several public school educators who worry that a commission created to study state pensions could lead to drastic changes in retiree benefits. The 49-year-old Canton school librarian has been teaching for 25 years - "paying in that whole time," she says. (Clarion Ledger)

PERS plan becoming a political hot potato
Normally, a study wouldn't raise much interest, but Gov. Haley Barbour's PERS Study Commission has awakened a sleeping political giant - public employees and retirees - which could impact elections. That politically active group is suspicious of anything that could be perceived as changing the retirement system. (Clarion Ledger)

Union leader Hetty Rosenstein claims average pensions are $23K for state workers, $14K for local government employees
Politifact analyzes rates the statement "half true" on its Truth-o-meter. (Star-Ledger)

DC 37 feels pinch
The shoe's suddenly on the other foot in the Bloomberg administration's epic battle with municipal unions over spiraling pension and health-care costs.
District Council 37 -- whose leaders claim Mayor Bloomberg is wildly exaggerating the need to contain the cost of benefits for 300,000 city employees -- is in a financial bind due to those very same costs for its own work force of 355. (New York Post)

R.I. judicial pensions a lightning rod for public ire
When Joseph F. Rodgers Jr. retired as the presiding justice of the Rhode Island Superior Court two years ago, he qualified for an annual pension equal to his final salary: $185,000. When his daughter, Kristin E. Rodgers, was appointed at the same time to fill another Superior Court judgeship, she entered a different pension landscape. (Providence Journal)

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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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