The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 6, 2011
A.M. Reading: Assembly's budget tricks; Schwarzenegger's take on state; unions occupy Wall Street

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifEditor's note, Oct. 6, 1:05 p.m.: The Marin Independent Journal report in today's news roundup incorrectly identifies a state worker arrested on bribery and drug charges as a correctional officer. The state pay database identifies his job classification as a Materials and Stores Supervisor I.

California Assembly reports on lawmakers' spending mislead the public
... The Assembly routinely underreports the amount of money used to run legislators' personal offices and overreports the operating costs of committees that do the brunt of the policy work in the house. The practice obscures how the lower house's $146.7 million budget truly is spent at the Capitol and protects legislators from public criticism of their spending. (The Sacramento Bee)

The State Worker: Are unions sincere about helping private sector workers?
A new report this week concludes that nearly half of Californians will retire in or near poverty status. It's the kind of news you usually see from conservative think tanks, often with the kicker that public pensions unfairly shield government employees from the pain everyone else is feeling. Surprise! The UC Berkeley Labor Center published the report with the support of Service Employees International Union and labor coalition Californians for Retirement Security. (The Sacramento Bee)

California and Bust
The smart money says the U.S. economy will splinter, with some states thriving, some states not, and all eyes are on California as the nightmare scenario. After a hair-raising visit with former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who explains why the Golden State has cratered, Michael Lewis goes where the buck literally stops--the local level, where the likes of San Jose mayor Chuck Reed and Vallejo fire chief Paige Meyer are trying to avert even worse catastrophes and rethink what it means to be a society. (Vanity Fair)

San Quentin guard arrested in drug, bribery investigation
A veteran San Quentin guard was arrested Wednesday on allegations of selling drugs at the prison and seeking or accepting bribes, according to the Marin County Jail. Robert Alioto, 48, of Petaluma was booked on suspicion of requesting or receiving a bribe, possession of marijuana for sale, sales or transportation of marijuana, conspiracy and selling drugs to a person in custody. Bail was set at $50,000. Alioto bailed out Wednesday evening. (Marin Independent Journal)
Nationwide Strike Follows Latest Round of Greek Cuts
ATHENS--Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through the Greek capital on Wednesday to protest austerity measures the government says it must take to secure badly needed aid from its international creditors. (Wall Street Journal)

Wall Street: Welcome To The Occupation
Members of the city's biggest labor unions put on their marching boots and picked up banners to walk in solidarity with the hundreds of people who have camped out in the Financial District for more than two weeks to protest the excesses of the richest 1%. (New York Daily News)

Shumlin: Vt. workers seeking more pay for working during Irene are contrary to recovery spirit
MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Gov. Peter Shumlin lashed out at the state employees' union Wednesday, saying 90 members who had filed a grievance demanding double-time pay for working during the initial recovery from the remnants of Hurricane Irene were doing "an extraordinary disservice to the rest of our employees." (Associated Press / The Republic)

AP Exclusive: Okla. sends 4 state workers to weeklong Paris Air Show, costs taxpayers $84,000
OKLAHOMA CITY -- As Oklahoma wrapped up a fiscal year that saw deep budget cuts, four state officials were sent to the Paris Air Show for a week this summer to promote Oklahoma's aviation industry -- and it cost taxpayers $84,000, records show. (Associated Press / The Republic)

State will appeal healthcare withholding for employees to state Supreme Court
The $72 million plus State workers have contributed toward retiree health care since November of last year will remain in escrow for the time being. Kurt Weiss, spokesman for the state Department of Technology, Management and Budget, said today the state "is filing an application for leave to appeal with the Supreme Court." On Nov. 10, 2010 employees, as required by the Legislature, began paying 3 percent of their salaries toward retiree health care. But on Aug. 26 the state Court of Appeals ruled the Legislature's action was unconstitutional. The state had 42 days to give the money back, or appeal. That time was to run out Thursday. (Lansing Statesman Journal)

EDITORIAL: State is playing 'shell game' with bonuses
Somehow, management always wins. While unionized Connecticut state workers who are eligible have given up their October longevity bonus, the eligible nonunion administrators will be collecting theirs.The longevity bonuses are no mere trifle. Paid twice a year, the April payout was more than $20 million -- $13.2 million to union workers, $7 million to others.The payments count when calculating individual's pensions. (The Register Citizen)

State Workers tout merits of South Carolina retirement system
CLEMSON -- University workers, school teachers, law enforcement officers, retirees from various South Carolina state agencies and private citizens came to Clemson on Wednesday to air views on changes to the state retirement system. (Greenvilleonline.com)

Double Dipping a Drain on State Budgets
DALLAS -- At a state agency in Texas, the executive director is receiving a $123,000-a-year salary even as he is drawing a government pension, as he has for the past eight years. In a struggling Michigan school district, 10 administrators retired, started drawing pension checks and returned immediately as contract employees. A school administrator in Illinois makes a combined $409,000 a year in pension payments and salary for overseeing a public boarding school. (Associated Press / Murray Ledger & Times)

Protesters hold biggest anti-Wall Street demonstration
The biggest Occupy Wall Street protest took place in New York on Wednesday, as several major unions joined ranks and swelled the crowd to thousands. (Politico)

Hoosier Lottery officials defend pricey new headquarters
Hoosier Lottery officials this afternoon defended the organization's move to nicer, more spacious digs that carry a higher price tag. (Indianapolis Star)

Arbitrator rejects Quinn's layoff, closure plan
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's administration will appeal an arbitrator's ruling that Quinn violated a labor agreement when he decided to lay off nearly 2,000 state employees and shutter seven state facilities, including Jacksonville Developmental Center and Logan Correctional Center. (Peoria Journal Star)

Christie's Cuts - Disabled face uncertain future
Every two weeks for 29 years, Vito and Mary Colletti have traveled 100 miles to Vineland just to spend time with their daughter. They take Karen Lee on a drive around the region, grab a bite to eat and bring her home to the Vineland Developmental Center before ending their day with another 100-mile drive back to Middlesex County. Those days can be long and taxing on the elderly couple, but for years the Collettis have taken comfort in knowing their daughter is happy and well cared for at the developmental center. Gov. Chris Christie's state budget process this year, however, shook their confidence. (Asbury Park Press)

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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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