The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 14, 2011
P.M. Reading: Bay Bridge construction questions; board overturns dismissals; Texas contracting costs

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifAfter taking a few days off, our daily round up of news returns today with this afternoon edition. Thanks to all who continue to suggest news stories to share. Keep them coming!

Bay Bridge Structural Problems?

A Sacramento Bee investigation raises questions about the structural integrity of the new span of the Bay Bridge. We talk with the investigative reporter and Caltrans officials about the allegations. Host: Michael Krasny (KQED)

Questions raised on Bay Bridge structural tests
The spire of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge eastern span majestically climbs hundreds of feet above the bay, an emerging icon of California's engineering and aesthetic prowess. Scheduled for completion and public use in 2013 at a projected cost of $6.3 billion, the bridge is the largest public works project in state history. Its designers placed one quality above all others: the strength to withstand the strongest anticipated earthquake. Yet a Bee investigation has found that the state Department of Transportation technician who conducted key testing to ensure structural integrity of the span's foundation was later disciplined for fabricating test results on other projects. (Sacramento Bee)

Caltrans fires two implicated in Bay Bridge testing problems
Caltrans fired two employees implicated in a range of problems involving the testing of the Bay Bridge and other freeway structures throughout California, as reported in a Sacramento Bee investigation published Sunday. (Sacramento Bee)

Editorial: Brown must vet integrity of bridge
Once it is rebuilt, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge will be an iconic structure whose majesty should give all Californians a deep sense of pride. (Sacramento Bee)

Little-known state board overturns employee terminations
A nurse's aide accused of stealing money from an elderly patient and a hospital staffer who allegedly beat a disabled patient with a shoe were among those ordered rehired by the Personnel Board. (Los Angeles Times)

Busy week looming for state workers
State workers past and present should stay tuned toward the end of this week -- there's lots of news on the horizon that will directly affect them. (Statesman Journal)

Deal Could Be Near to Keep Seven Illinois State Facilities Open
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A deal could be near to keep seven state facilities open. Michael Gelder, the senior health policy advisor to the governor, told lawmakers studying the governor's plans to close some facilities that it's possible the legislature could find enough money through "re-balancing." (KMOX)

State struggled to assess contractor's bills
During the time that a private contractor was charging the state more than $1 million a month to administer hurricane disaster grants, state employees supervising the work were unable to gauge the reasonableness of the bills or even whether they were allowable expenses under the firm's contract, auditors found. (Austin American-Statesman)

State struggled to assess contractor's bills
SPRINGFIELD -- The state's biggest bill, already at $85 billion, will keep growing. Civic and business groups had hoped lawmakers would cut government pension costs during the fall legislative session. But those hopes ran smack into the reality of union strength, politics and the Illinois Constitution. The session ended without any decisions, either on reducing benefits or making up for state government skimping on past pension contributions. (Associated Press / The Joliet Herald News)

Get set for more labor wars
Last Tuesday's referendum in Ohio was just the latest clash between governors and unions representing state workers. Voters brusquely overturned Gov. John Kasich's signature reform of government labor relations in a referendum. It was a big win for organized labor and its allies in the Democratic Party. They claim Republicans overreached and hope the results portend a 2012 Obama victory in the Buckeye State. Fair enough. But the deeper lessons are rather different. (New York Post)

Bill Cotterell: Hard times clip vacation payout for some state workers
State employees shouldn't start spending their Christmas bonuses just yet, especially if they work in the Department of Environmental Protection. (Tallahassee Democrat)

Malloy keeps 2,300 state jobs vacant
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is leaving vacant nearly 2,300 executive branch jobs -- about 5 percent of the state's work force -- as part of a plan to streamline state government, a figure that includes hundreds of jobs that opened up after a larger-than-expected number of state workers took retirement. (Associated Press / CBS News)

State workers prodded to get healthy or pay more
ATLANTA -- Many smokers find that they gain weight if they put down the cigarettes, but a new wrinkle in the insurance plan that covers state workers and their families will zing their wallets either way. The reason is the state's decision to shift to a schedule of premiums designed to reward healthy lifestyles. (Savannah Morning News)

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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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