The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 23, 2011
A.M. Reading: Bay Bridge hearing; legislators' car deal; no Black Friday off for N.J. workers

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifOn The Money: Judges Blow Whistle On State Agency's Hiring (CBS 13)

State senators see broad management problems in Caltrans
In a sometimes contentious legislative hearing Tuesday, state senators told California Department of Transportation officials that their management of data falsification by a technician in one of the agency's testing units suggests pervasive management problems. (Sacramento Bee)

Viewpoints: Problems at Caltrans show need for state to reform the agency
The recent public revelation that a Caltrans employee submitted fabricated safety test results and destroyed testing data for the $6.3 billion Bay Bridge project is deeply troubling. (Sacramento Bee)

Viewpoints: Caltrans, engineers serve public and take responsibility seriously
Taking shots at Caltrans doesn't require a license. The season is always open. Anyone can do it, and if you have a microphone, a pen or a computer, you can advertise the shot to anyone who is willing to hear it or read it. (Sacramento Bee)

State lawmakers could come out ahead in car expense plan
The decision to pay state lawmakers mileage for using their cars on business instead of a $300-per-month transportation allowance could end up costing taxpayers more. (Los Angeles Times)

How viral video put Occupy UC Davis on the map
A week ago, the Occupy movement at sleepy UC Davis didn't resonate strongly beyond, say, Dixon. One videotaped pepper spraying later, and the campus name is being evoked by millions around the globe as a touchstone of civilian protest and alleged police brutality. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Brian Doyle: San Jose's assault on vested rights is patently illegal
As an attorney who has worked for the city of San Jose for 21 years, I am frustrated by the recurring call for employees to agree to a reduction in their pension benefits so that services can be saved. The California Supreme Court has consistently held that governments cannot invalidate their own contracts without running afoul of the federal and state constitutions. This applies to contracts with developers, city-issued bonds and, yes, pension obligations. City workers are simply asking the city to not breach its contract with them. (Mercury News)

500 Romanian retirees protest pension freeze
BUCHAREST, ROMANIA -- Hundreds of retirees from all over Romania have gathered outside the government headquarters to protest a freeze on pensions. "Don't bury retirees alive!" and "Down with (President Traian) Basescu" they yelled Tuesday during the two-hour protest. (AP / Bloomberg)

Settlement reached
Bank of America Corp. settled securities fraud claims by a group of Countrywide Financial investors that opted out of a $624 million class-action settlement last year. Countrywide, acquired by Bank of America in 2008, was accused of misleading shareholders about its finances and lending practices. Plaintiffs in the new settlement include the California Public Employees Retirement System, or Calpers, the nation's largest public pension fund. (Bloomberg / Democrat and Chronicle)

OUR VIEW: Alabama's new law on gifts creates problems for students who want to give their teachers Christmas presents
We've heard complaints about Alabama's new ethics law from lobbyists and lawmakers. Something about how complicated and vague the law is, and besides, lawmakers' votes can't be bought by a swanky meal, or golf outing, or free ticket to their favorite college's football games. But the group that may have the biggest complaint is parents of children in public schools. That's because the law may make the always-challenging chore of what to get their children's teachers for Christmas even tougher. Who needs that headache? (Birmingham News)

Tax glitches hit hundreds of state workers
A retroactive income tax hike reaching back to January is causing year-end headaches for the state and for private companies and their employees who are being hit with inaccurate withholdings in their paychecks. (Connecticut News Times)

New Jersey Workers Won't Get Free Post-Thanksgiving Holiday, Christie Says
New Jersey state employees won't be given the day after the Thanksgiving holiday as excused time off, Governor Chris Christie said, breaking with tradition. (Bloomberg)

State shutdown was a wash for state, but woe to workers
Minnesota's 20-day government shutdown in July cost taxpayers about $59 million, state finance officials said Tuesday. But the loss to the state treasury was offset by $65 million in wages that weren't paid to the 19,000 state employees who were laid off while government offices were closed, according to a report from the Minnesota Management and Budget department. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

head
State Street Corp. and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. have both come under fire for overcharging clients on foreign-exchange trading, but the allegations haven't hurt business. ...Last summer, the nation's largest public pension fund, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, rehired State Street as its custodian bank, less than a year after California's attorney general filed suit against the bank for allegedly overcharging the fund $56 million over eight years. (The Boston Globe)

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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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