The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 16, 2011
A.M. Reading: Bureaucrats needed; caustic online comments; Bay Bridge; lawmakers' cars; N.Y. snooping

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifAmerica needs more powerful bureaucrats
Following the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, President Barack Obama appointed a little-known civil servant to become its public face. Displaying a genius for publicity, including self-promotion, the American infrastructure czar became one of the most visible figures in American public life. (Salon)

Editorial: Caltrans must end the dodge ball on Bay Bridge testing
Inspecting bridges and freeways in quake-prone California is arguably the most crucial work Caltrans performs. These inspections not only safeguard lives now and in the immediate future, but for an engineering project like the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, they provide a safety factor that is expected to last for decades. (Sacramento Bee)

Viewpoints: Anonymous online commenting only encourages civic bile
It was with some trepidation that I logged on to sacbee.com and scrolled down to reader comments on Jennifer Garza's recent story about the inclusive philosophy of St. Mark's United Methodist Church and its gay and straight congregation. Stories that mix religion and gay rights are always ripe for the most outrageous comments from both sides of that divide. So I feared the worst and those fears very quickly proved to be well-founded. (Sacramento Bee)

Brown pension plan: no early employer savings?
A key part of Gov. Brown's 12-point pension plan, the only change quickly yielding sizable savings for struggling government employers, could have a serious legal problem. (Calpensions)

State panel to review Bay Bridge work
A state oversight committee announced Tuesday that it had requested a formal review of the foundation of the new Bay Bridge tower by the state's Seismic Safety Peer Review Panel. (Sacramento Bee)

Two California mental hospitals released from federal oversight
Two California mental hospitals have been released from federal oversight, ending a five-year court-ordered reform effort that implemented major changes in patient treatment. (Los Angeles Times)

California's enterprise zone program lets companies cash in on existing workers
Against a snapshot of $100 bills, the Wincentive Corp. asks on its website, "ARE YOU LEAVING MONEY ON THE TABLE?" The cash isn't generated from sales or casinos, but state taxpayers. As California struggles to combat an 11.9 percent unemployment rate, a $581 million economic development program designed to create jobs has drawn scrutiny for rewarding companies that hired workers years ago. (Sacramento Bee)

Legislators face deadline in two weeks to turn in state cars
State lawmakers are scrambling to find new transportation as the Dec. 1 deadline approaches for them to give up their state-owned cars. (Los Angeles Times)

Judge orders release of L.A. County pension data
A Los Angeles judge Tuesday ordered the release of all pension data for 50,000 Los Angeles County government retirees, rejecting arguments by union and retirement system attorneys that the records are confidential. (Los Angeles Times)

Eric Ernst: For state workers, 'above average' benefits are too good
They haven't gotten a raise in five years. They've lost retirement benefits, and they're paying more for what they've got left. Now, we're thinking about raising their costs for health insurance. It's OK, though. "They" are public employees, working for the state of Florida, and fair game if they're getting anything "above average" in the workplace. That seems to be the prevailing attitude these days. (Herald-Tribune)

Editorial: Port Authority caught hiding big bonuses to public employees
If you accept a position on the public payroll, your salary is public information because it comes from public money. Teachers, police officers, firefighters, mayors and dog catchers -- New Jersey's laws allow those paying the salaries to know exactly how much public servants are making. If that's problematic, there's a simple solution: Work in the private sector. (Star-Ledger)

Opinion: Fashionable to criticize: Public employees deserve our praise, not ridicule
... It's easy to criticize public employees these days. It seems fashionable, even. On Sunday, The Oregonian ran two stories on its front page that implied public employees are incompetent or not worth their pay. Enough. (Portland Oregonian)

Retiree pension profile varied
CONCORD - While the six-figure-a-year pensions for New Hampshire public employees get the headlines, more than half of those receiving a government retirement check in 2010 got less than $15,000. (Nashua Telegraph)

Snoop case snares 16 state workers
ALBANY -- Sixteen employees of the state Office of Children and Family Services have been suspended for allegedly snooping in confidential files relating to a co-worker.
The victim of the alleged snooping, Kristen Trapalis, was arrested in May and charged with possession of marijuana and endangering the welfare of a child, but those charges were later dropped. (Albany Times Union)

What to do with the flooded Waterbury state offices? Pitches include ski jump and art center
Two architectural firms teamed up to suggest the state should construct an earthen berm to protect the Waterbury office complex from future flooding and transform some buildings into business incubator space, art classrooms and galleries, even sports training facilities. And to call attention to the revitalized complex and town, the architects proposed building a ski jump on the campus. (Burlington Free Press)

Thomas Cole: Ranks of State Employees Thinned 14%
State government is a lot trimmer today than it was three years ago, in large part due to the tough economic times. At the start of this month, there were 21,826 full-time equivalent jobs in government, down 3,581, or 14 percent, from Nov. 1, 2008. (Albuquerque Journal)

Atlantic City Expressway Votes To Privatize Toll Collection
Atlantic City Expressway, Privatize, South Jersey Transportation Authority
HAMMONTON, N.J. (AP) -- Tolls on the Atlantic City Expressway could be collected by private hands instead of state workers. (CBS News New York)

Atlantic City Expressway Votes To Privatize Toll Collection
Madison - Taking the next step in a battle that's been in the works since February, organizers planned a midnight kickoff to efforts to gather more than a half million recall petitions against GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

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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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