The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 15, 2011
A.M. Reading: CalPERS takes on Murdoch; scapegoating labor; Ohio bargaining battle heats up R.I. longevity bonuses

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifCalpers Plans Front-Running, Personal Stock-Trading Restrictions
The California Public Employees' Retirement System, the largest U.S. public pension fund, is considering a proposal to restrict personal stock trades by employees as a way to avoid conflicts of interest. The proposed rules would require about 700 Calpers employees and their spouses and domestic partners to get approval before trading a stock for their personal accounts. (Bloomberg)

Threat to state workers' pension perk causes rush at CalPERS
California government employees, fearing that lawmakers may soon shut down a controversial program that boosts their retirement payouts, have flooded the state's largest pension system with inquiries and requests to purchase the benefit. (Sacramento Bee)

Murdoch board seat targeted by CalPERS
CalPERS took on Rupert Murdoch again, voting its shares of News Corp. stock against the media baron's re-election to his company's board of directors. (Sacramento Bee)

Pension Funds Challenge News Corporation Board
A week before the News Corporation's annual shareholder meeting, the company is facing a growing chorus of investors rallying against company leadership after a phone-hacking scandal in Britain and a controversy this week over an unorthodox circulation arrangement in Europe. On Friday, California's two huge public sector pension funds said they would withhold support from some or all of the News Corporation's board nominees, including the chairman and chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, and push for the election of an independent chairman. (New York Times)

California Assembly rejects request for more information about its spending
The Assembly has balked at releasing additional information about the office spending of its 80 members. (Sacramento Bee)

Pension critics question Allen's role on state reform committee
Assemblyman Michael Allen's selection to a high-profile state committee that will address a crisis with public employee pensions is drawing concern given the Santa Rosa Democrat's long history of advocating on behalf of unions that support those employees. (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

State workers getting smaller share of budget
New Washington state figures show the cost of paying state employees shrank as a share of government costs over the past decade. (Seattle Times)

Retirements surge for state workers, teachers
ALBANY -- Public workers in New York are filing for retirement at a record pace, up more than 50 percent between the past two years for both teachers and government workers, records show. Retirement incentives offered last year, the threat of potential layoffs and pay freezes, and an aging work force contributed to a surge in people packing up and leaving the public payroll, officials said. (Ithica Journal)

Closed-door talks continue on 3,500 NY layoffs
Closed-door negotiations continue in Albany to reach an agreement that would avoid laying off 3,500 New York state employees. (Associated Press / Bloomberg Businessweek)

Lottery director resigns amid uproar over plush new headquarters
Kathryn Densborn has left the Hoosier Lottery's expensive new headquarters for the final time as executive director. Her resignation Friday followed two weeks of questions over a $2 million lottery office upgrade. (Indianapolis Star)

Walker slow to make good on pension campaign promise
Madison - Gov. Scott Walker failed to keep his campaign promise to pay more for his state pension immediately on taking office. Walker had promised in June 2010 on the campaign trail to start paying more on his pension "immediately" because "everyone should pay their own way, including me." But spokesman Cullen Werwie said Friday that Walker didn't start paying more on his pension until August, when legislation championed by the Republican governor took effect and required him and all other state employees to make higher payments. Werwie had no comment on why Walker had waited. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Ohio Voters Weigh Repeal of Controversial Collective-Bargaining Law
A controversial new Ohio law aimed at restricting the collective-bargaining rights of 360,000 unionized public employees has led to a major political fight and a voter referendum in this battleground state. Gwen Ifill reports on the issue that has both sides spending millions to mobilize their voters for an off-year election. (PBS Newshour)

Blog: Shameless in Ohio
By now you may have heard about that 78-year-old grandmother who is fully against Ohio's new push to roll back collective bargaining rights for public employees -- but who had her words brazenly torn out of context and put into an ad advocating for the measure. (Washington Post)

Experts: Unclear whether use of Ohio grandma OK
(AP) COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Backlash to footage of a Cincinnati great-grandmother advocating for the repeal of Ohio's contested collective bargaining law being used in the TV ad of a rival group caused stations throughout the state to pull the spot, and experts disagree as to whether its use is legal. (CBS News)

Police union leaders visit Ohio in collective bargaining fight
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Leaders of the nation's largest law enforcement union are visiting Ohio amid the ballot fight over the state's collective bargaining overhaul, rallying members who hope to overturn the law that limits bargaining for more than 350,000 public workers. (The Post Crescent)

Mystery Surrounds $6 Million Bonus Payments
This month about 3,100 political appointees and state managers are getting longevity bonuses even though 30,000 rank and file unionized employees will not get theirs. This glaring inequity is the result of some deft behind the scenes maneuvering that changed the language in the bill approving the state's budget. (Hartford Courant)

Pension plan to raise retirement ages
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - With the state's unfunded pension liability pushing seven billion dollars, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Governor Lincoln Chafee are preparing to unveil their plan for pension reform to lawmakers. ... Governor Chafee confirms the proposal will freeze cost of living adjustments until state pension funding reaches at least 70%. The bill also raises the retirement age for some employees, and creates a hybrid plan for state employees, which would include a smaller pension, and a 401k style plan. (WPRI)

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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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