The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 31, 2012
Airtime window closes today; higher taxes on Jan. 1 checks

An era ends today when CalPERS stops taking applications for additional retirement service credit purchases. Meanwhile, Jan. 1 state paychecks for workers paying into Social Security will reflect a new 2 percent tax increase on wages .

Starting tomorrow, CalPERS members can no longer buy up to five years of additional service time for purposes of pension calculations. Applications for airtime must be time-stamped by CalPERS' mail room by 5 p.m. today.

It's an expensive benefit, but a pretty good deal for those who can afford it, since the money is guaranteed by the fund to give the same return on investment that CalPERS assumed on its investments when the purchase was made.

For members who have applied for a cost estimate since Mar. 15, the guaranteed rate of return is 7.5 percent.

Few state workers will be hit by airtime's end, but most state workers who received their pay via direct deposit today have already noticed that their Social Security tax has gone from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent.

The increase anticipated the end on New Year's Day of a 2 percent payroll tax cut for Social Security. Even though the Jan. 1 paychecks are for the December pay period, IRS instructions say the rate change affects state paychecks issued on Jan. 1.

Here's the memo from State Controller John Chiang's office that explains the situation in more detail:

December 31, 2012
Engineers put Prop. 32 defeat at top of 2012 political priority list

California's state engineers union gave top priority to defeating Proposition 32, contributing $600,000 to efforts that turned back the campaign finance measure at the November polls.

Professional Engineers in California Government's PECG PAC's contributions to the No on 32 campaign accounted for more than one-third of the $1.7 million the engineers gave to campaigns, parties and causes, according to the 13,000-member union's political contribution filings.

Total political spending by PECG came to $2.2 million this year. Professional services ranked a distant second on the union's expense list, with the money going to a pair of well-known Sacramento-based consulting firms, Blanning & Baker Associates ($56,000) and Aaron Read & Associates ($28,000).

Blanning & Baker is the consulting/lobbying/labor relations firm co-founded by Bruce Blanning, PECG's executive director. (Click here for a piece ithat profiles Blanning as one of The Bee's Californians to Watch in 2013.)

As you look through the data below, tabs at the bottom of the table open other worksheets that parse the numbers in a few different ways.

Expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs such as fees paid to political consultants and attorneys. Contributions pages break out donations given to political campaigns and causes.

For groups that are not independently organized, such as SEIU, AFSCME, IUOE and others, the data don't reflect spending by their umbrella organizations.

December 29, 2012
Top 10 posts of 2012: Public pension ballot measure dies

countdown 9.JPG This is the latest in a series counting down this year's most-viewed State Worker blog posts, with a little hindsight analysis.

The latest push to end defined-benefit public pension plans officially died on Feb. 8 with the announcement that a ballot measure campaign to alter public retirement plans was suspended.

The announcement took pressure off lawmakers to quickly act on their own pension reform plan to counter California Pension Reform's measure. When the Legislature finally rolled out AB 340 at the end of the 2011-12 session, the bill put a six-figure cap on defined benefit pensions instead of ending them.

The February news also meant that unions a would be able to put everything they had into defeating Proposition 32, the campaign finance reform initiative that did make the Nov. 6 ballot, and supporting Brown's tax measure, Proposition 30.

Here's your pass to a stroll down memory lane with our 9th most-viewed post: California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign

December 28, 2012
Top 10 of 2012: State worker posts nearly 5,000 comments

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for countdown 10.JPGThis is the first in a series of posts counting down the most-read State Worker blog items of 2012 -- with a little hindsight twist.

When the state auditor reported that a Department of Education employee had posted 4,900 sacbee.com comments on his work time, our post about it drew enough attention to earn it 10th place in our countdown of this year's most-viewed State Worker blog items.

While the unnamed state worker's comment tally was astounding, Bee managing editor Tom Negrete to put the number in perspective for media blogger Jim Romenesko.

"As commenters go, he would not make our top 20 commenters, who each average 1,000 comments a month or more. We've spoken to most of those on the top 20 list, and they are mostly retired folks." Negrete said. "... so impressive to have a day job and still post about 600 comments a month."

Here's the Dec. 11 item: California state employee posts nearly 5,000 online comments from work

December 27, 2012
The Roundup: Wall Street firms fined; how labor beat Prop. 32; Maine workplace settlements cost $2 million

The Roundup: Wall Street firms fined; how labor beat Prop. 32; Maine workplace settlements cost $2 million

Storified by Jon Ortiz· Thu, Dec 27 2012 09:48:55

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Five Wall Street investment banks fined for using bond sale proceeds to pay California lobbyist - The Sacramento BeeIn a case involving California municipal bonds, five Wall Street investment banks were fined today for using proceeds of bond sales to pa...
The State Worker: Public jobs now more public than ever - The Sacramento BeeSay your neighbor is thinking about a job with the state. What advice would you offer? Sacramento Assemblyman Roger Dickinson said last w...
Labor beat Prop. 32 via social mediaLeaders of the California unions that spent $75 million to defeat Proposition 32's union-busting campaign in November discovered somethin...

December 27, 2012
Column Extra video: Roger Dickinson cautions prospective public employees

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

This week's column springs from Assemblyman Roger Dickinson's hour-long visit with the Bee Capitol Bureau's reporters last week. During the discussion we asked the Sacramento Democrat what advice he would give to someone considering a career in state service.

We expected he would focus on the usual "P-words" that come up in government job discussions: "pensions" or "pay." Instead he surprised us with a different word: "privacy."

Here's a snippet of what Dickinson said:

December 26, 2012
California DMV employee invents language, loses control of it

If you tend to stereotype state workers or know someone who does, refer them to "Utopian for Beginners," a recent story in The New Yorker about John Quijada, a former Department of Motor Vehicles employee who spent decades creating his own language, Ithkuil.

Writer Joshua Foer weaves Quijada's life story into a tale of how he gains notoriety among linguists and then loses control of his invention. At one point in the narrative, Quijada describes explaining to his managers that he is a conlanger -- a person who invents language -- and that he's been asked to speak at a conference in Kalmykia in the Russian federation:

"People at work now held me in some sort of state of half awe, because this guy obviously has more going on in his head than being a manager at this dopey state agency, and half in contempt, because I've now proved myself to be beyond whatever state of geekery they might have previously thought about me," Quijada said. " 'You're a what? A con man?' 'No, boss, a conlanger.' "

Click here to read the story from the latest edition of The New Yorker.

Editor's note, Dec. 21: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referenced Quijada as asking his DMV managers for leave. Quijada has also worked for the Board of Equalization. The story doesn't say from which department's management he requested leave.

December 26, 2012
The holidays: A blessing or a curse for state workers?

This morning's light freeway traffic and no-hassle parking were testament to how many people in Sacramento aren't working between Christmas and New Year's Day. The Legislature and their 1,100 or so staff are off. Sacramento State's fall semester ended. Many private businesses also close for the holidays.

But what about the region's biggest employer, the vast state bureaucracy? From Caltrans engineers to Franchise Tax Board accountants to Employment Development Department staff, Sacramento County is Workplace Central to about 61,000 of state workers, many of those jobs within walking distance of the Capitol.

Our sense from our drive in is that like everywhere else, many state employees take leave during the holidays. Is that what you're seeing? And is the week from Christmas through New Year's Day a reprieve or a hassle compared with the rest of the year?


December 21, 2012
Report: California parks department lacks budget controls

A new report has concluded that state Parks and Recreation officials need to rebuild trust and tighten reporting procedures after flawed internal controls gave them room to hide tens of millions of dollars collected from fees, even as they planned to cut services and close facilities for lack of funds.

Department of Finance auditors concluded that Parks needs to more tightly control its budgeting and purchasing procedures. They also concluded that a special department fund that takes in gifts, bequests, and donations also is poorly administered and at risk for abuse.

In a letter that accompanied its assessment, the Department of Finance told Parks Director Anthony L. Jackson to deliver a plan to correct the lapses within 60 days.

Jackson's responses to the criticisms, which are included with the report, generally concur with what auditors found and their recommendations to fix the problems.

The finance report comes just a few days after Controller John Chiang's office released a scathing audit of the department's pay policies that included overpaying some employees.

Parks has come under scrutiny since The Bee reported that officials in the department squirrelled away some $54 million over many years and secretly cashed out employees' leave time. Meanwhile, it cited extreme budget constraints to persuade private-sector interests to give money and resources to keep facilities open.

The audit focuses on Parks' Administrative Services Division at the center of the scandal, which brought down longtime Director Ruth Coleman.

Matt Weiser, the reporter who broke the parks pay scandal, has also taken a look at the Finance audit. Look for even more details from Weiser in Saturday's Bee.

December 20, 2012
VIDEO: Caltrans Choir delivers holiday humor and good cheer

We spent the time with the Caltrans Choir this afternoon as the group performed at the Capitol rotunda during the prime lunch-hour slot, mixing Yuletide standards with a few venerable songs whose lyrics had been humorously redesigned with a nod to state employment.

This video captures one of the latter, "Oh Tinker Toys," set to the music of the classic, "Oh Tannenbaum." You can follow the lyrics below the video.

(And before you ask, the singers and Director Rex Cluff practice and perform during meal times and breaks, not state time.)

December 20, 2012
Column Extra: CalPERS weighs in on investments, social good

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Today's column chips off a small piece of the tension that exists between public pension funds' obligation to transparency and their marriage with less-than-open Wall Street partners to achieve the shared mission of hitting their investment targets.

We contacted several sources as we reported the column. One was CalPERS, which sent us the following statement. Since we couldn't get it into the column, we wanted to give spokesman Joe DeAnda's comments an airing, along with more thoughts from a few other sources we interviewed on Wednesday:

December 19, 2012
CalPERS state employee retirements flat for 2012

The number of state workers who applied for their pensions in 2012 was essentially unchanged compared with the previous year, new data from CalPERS shows.

From mid-December 2011 to mid-December of this year, 10,596 state employees took their pensions, just 75 fewer than the number who headed for the exits the year before. CalPERS counts applications from mid-month to mid-month, so the final two weeks of December 2012 will be counted in the January 2013 tally.

December 19, 2012
Jerry Brown appoints new Department of Corrections secretary

From Bee Capitol Bureau colleague David Siders:

Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed a former Pennsylvania prison chief secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Brown's office announced this morning.

Click here for more information on Brown's appointee, Jeffrey Beard.

December 18, 2012
California firefighters' political spending reflects grudge

Among the hundreds of campaign expenses incurred by the state firefighters' union political action committees this year, two relatively small line items reflect a grudge the organization has held for years.

The California Department of Forestry Firefighters Small Contributor PAC made 147 contributions to state and local candidate campaigns in 2012. It also made two independent expenditures totaling $10,500 to oppose Curt Stracener's bid to keep his El Dorado County Superior Court judgeship.

Before former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the bench in 2010, Stracener worked as a senior litigator for the administration who helped shape furlough strategy.

December 17, 2012
From the notebook poll: Should state audits name bad-acting workers?

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Last week's state audit, a follow-up story and an editorial in The Bee prompted several calls and emails to The State Worker about the California Whistleblower Act and the anonymity given to state employees caught acting badly -- including those whose actions land them in jail.

The dozen opinions we fielded were evenly split between those who agreed with the blanket application of anonymity provisions in the law and those who thought employees convicted of crimes should be named.

If you've never read the law, Government Code Section 8547-8547.13, you can click here to view the fine details. The auditor references 8547.5 through 8547.7 as prohibiting the release of individuals' names, even those convicted of crimes.

Then weigh in on our poll:

December 16, 2012
The Roundup: CalPERS v. San Bernardino; most MI state workers exempt from new anti-union law; NV governor sidesteps state pay raise issue

The Roundup: CalPERS v. San Bernardino; most MI state workers exempt from new anti-union law; NV governor sidesteps...

Storified by Jon Ortiz · Sun, Dec 16 2012 11:48:37

Follow @TheStateWorker on Twitter and check out The State Worker community page on Facebook for links, comments and insights into our reports, blog posts and columns. Sign up in the box at the top of this page to receive State Worker news alerts.
CalPERS fight tries to salvage full pensions - The Sacramento BeeThe bland bureaucracy that dispenses pension checks to half a million Californians has taken on a new identity: fierce and unyielding cha...
Editorial: State audits need to name names - The Sacramento BeeThe Bureau of State Audits has a well-deserved reputation for issuing solid reports on important topics, particularly misuse of public mo...
Michigan Official: Union-Dues Ban Spares State WorkersMore than two-thirds of Michigan state employees won't be covered by laws that prohibit paying union dues as a condition of employment, a...
Californian's $609,000 Check Shows True Retirement CostCalifornia employees accounted for 39 percent of that total. Since 2005, the state's workers collected $1.4 billion for accumulated leave...
Click the link below to open PAGE 2

December 13, 2012
Column Extra: CalPERS rationale for adding 86 staff jobs

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Today's State Worker column takes a look at CalPERS decision this week to add 86 new positions, mostly in its investments and information technology divisions.

Here's the Board of Administration agenda item that piqued our interest in the issue:
CalPERS Finance and Administration Agenda Item 5a

December 13, 2012
The Roundup: CalPERS hangs out 'help wanted' sign; Bloomberg series highlights California state wages; feds consider social media rules

The Roundup: CalPERS hangs out 'help wanted' sign; Bloomberg series highlights California state wages; feds consider...

Storified by Jon Ortiz · Thu, Dec 13 2012 07:14:15

Follow @TheStateWorker on Twitter and check out The State Worker community page on Facebook for links, comments and insights into our reports, blog posts and columns. Sign up in the box at the top of this page to receive State Worker news alerts.
What follows is a mix of interesting (and sure to be controversial) stories over the last few days, including the first three installments in a six-part series by Bloomberg that leads off a look at California state pay.
The State Worker: CalPERS is filling pricey jobs - The Sacramento BeeCalPERS, the state's massive public pension system, is back in hiring mode, big time. The fund's board of administration moved Wednesday ...
Biggs and Richwine: The Underworked Public EmployeeWith state and local governments struggling to balance budgets in a still sluggish economy, government employment has fallen by 562,000 j...
$10 million Bay Bridge contract included book deal, video - The Sacramento BeeState officials overseeing construction of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge agreed this year to pay a public relations company ne...
Gov. Jerry Brown undergoes treatment for prostate cancer - The Sacramento BeeGov. Jerry Brown is being treated for prostate cancer, his administration said Wednesday, characterizing the condition as "localized" and...
Click the link below to open PAGE 2

December 12, 2012
CalPERS announces fax numbers for service credit applications

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100607 CALPERS HQ.JPGWith CalPERS' window soon closing on additional retirement service credit purchases, officials during this morning's board meeting noted that it has set up two fax lines to receive applications for the benefit.

Lawmakers approved a package of public pension changes last summer that include terminating the airtime purchase program on Jan. 1.. The benefit allows pension fund members with at least five years of service to pay both their pension costs and their employers' pension costs for up to an additional five years. The credit is then factored into employees' pensions when they retire.

CalPERS expects to receive a flood of airtime cost requests over the next several days, so do yourself a favor and follow these steps if you're considering a purchase, says fund spokeswoman Amy Norris:

Make sure you meet minimum eligibility requirements. Only active CalPERS members (that means currently working for a CalPERS employer) with five years of qualifying service time with a CalPERS employer member at the time of faxing or mailing the request can apply.

Visit the Additional Retirement Service Credit website. It has instructions about the process and an online cost-estimate tool. Use the tool, because you may quickly find out that the benefit is outside your price range and save yourself and CalPERS a lot of needless work doing paperwork for a benefit you'll end up rejecting.

If you're still interested after completing the cost estimate exercise, download and complete the service credit application found on the "Service Credit Estimate Results" page. It's under the paragraph entitled "IMPORTANT".

Then, either fax or mail the request to the CalPERS office.
The phone numbers to FAX costing requests are (916) 795-1224 and (916) 795-4019.

Don't fax and mail the form -- you'll only delay processing.

All requests must arrive at CalPERS and be date stamped in its mailroom by 5 p.m. PST, December 31.

PHOTO: CalPERS headquarters in Sacramento / Sacramento Bee file

December 12, 2012
California prison health care receiver issues lay off notices

Thumbnail image for kelso.jpegCalifornia Correctional Health Care Services has issued lay off warnings to 2,200 of its employees with a goal of axing 829 positions early next year.

The cuts will touch nearly 60 job classifications around the state, from doctors to custodians and impact 38 jobs in Sacramento County. The statewide cuts take effect Mar. 31, 2013.

The state normally issues three lay off warning notices for every position it cuts, and workers in danger of losing their jobs can displace less-senior counterparts in state government, so it's not clear how many staff will actually lose work. Officials don't have an estimate of savings from the reductions.

"Ultimately there is a lot of realigning of staff between facilities and classifications so there is no way to quantify the potential savings associated with the layoffs," Health Care Services spokeswoman Liz Gransee said in an email.

December 11, 2012
State education department issues statement on audit

In response to a new audit that highlights a state employee's misuse of state resources during work hours, the Department of Education released this statement today:

SACRAMENTO--The California Department of Education responded today to the report issued by the California State Auditor.

"The Department has taken a number of steps that address issues raised in today's report by the State Auditor," said Communications Director Paul Hefner. "Prior to the report's release, the Department installed upgraded software that restricts employees from posting content to social media Web sites without authorization. The first supervisor named in the report has received additional training. In addition, while the Department was evaluating information provided by the Auditor, the employee involved voluntarily left employment with the Department."

RELATED POST:
California state employee posts nearly 5,000 online comments from work

December 11, 2012
Read the latest CalPERS - San Bernardino pension court filing

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100609 gavel.jpgFrom biz reporter Dale Kasler's story in today's Bee:

CalPERS must now confront a powerful group of foes in its multimillion-dollar fight with bankrupt San Bernardino: the city's bondholders.

A group of major bondholders filed a 114-page legal protest against CalPERS on Monday, saying the pension fund is trying to win preferential treatment in San Bernardino's case. CalPERS has been demanding the right to sue the city, which has fallen behind on $6.9 million in payments to the giant pension fund after filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in August.

The San Bernardino case and another municipal bankruptcy involving the City of Stockton are testing whether public pension protections or bankruptcy laws reign supreme.

If you haven't read it already, check out Dale's story then peruse the court filing he sent to The State Worker:

December 11, 2012
Updated: California state employee posts nearly 5,000 online comments from work

Editor's note, 1:02 p.m.: This post has been updated with more information about disciplinary action taken and recommended against the employee who is the focus of the story and his supervisor.

A California Department of Education employee posted approximately 4,900 comments on The Sacramento Bee's website between December 2010 and December 2011, according to a state report released this morning that details several lapses, abuses and illegal acts by state workers and agencies.

Investigators found that the education employee posted comments on sacbee.com 195 days of the 208 days he was at work, averaging about 25 comments per day. On his most active day he wrote 70 comments during business hours.

Quizzed by auditors, the unnamed employee offered several explanations.

First, he said, his online postings were limited to his break times. Auditors looked at online comment records and found otherwise.

Then the employee said his commenting activity fulfilled his job obligation to follow educational technology news. Auditors knocked that down, too: "Although the employee's duty statement allocated 15 percent of his time to technical research and analysis, it made no mention of using state time to post public commentary regarding the results of his research."

Finally, the serial commenter said that for most of 2011 he had a lot of time on his hands because he didn't have any work to do, despite asking for more.

Federal government changes had indeed lightened the employee's workload, a supervisor confirmed, but management "had been able to find other projects to fill approximately 80 percent of the employee's time."

Auditors reported that education took "some informal action against the employee as a result of this investigation" and nothing more. The employee continued to use state resources to post comments.

The report recommends blocking the employee's computer from accessing sacbee.com for a "specified period," and taking "appropriate corrective action" against the serial commenter for misusing state resources and against his supervisor for allowing it to happen.

Auditors also found that the employee misused state time and equipment for his private contracting business during work hours.

Other highlights of the State Auditor's report covering investigations completed between April 2011 and June 2012 (summarized here and embedded below):

December 10, 2012
State dedicating Sacramento freeway interchange to fallen employees

121210 State Engineer Memorial Exhange.jpgEarly next year, the state will officially name the junction of Interstate 5 and U.S. 50 in Sacramento to honor Caltrans employees killed in the line of duty,

Assembly Concurrent Resolution 100 lists the State Engineer Memorial Interchangeas one of 26 new highway designations that recall the distinguished service of groups and individuals who have passed away.

Ryan Endean, spokesman for Professional Engineers in Calfornia Government, expects an official naming ceremony in spring 2013.

Since 1924, some 178 California Department of Transportation employees have been killed on the job. The leading cause of death: errant drivers who strike road workers.

PHOTO: The Interstate 5 - State Route 50 interchange / courtesy Professional Engineers in California Government.

December 7, 2012
Bill extends social media protections to public-sector workers

121207 Facebook.JPGPublic-sector employers in California wouldn't be allowed to ask their employees or job applicants for access to personal social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook, under the provisions of a measure introduced this week.

Assembly Bill 25, authored by Assemblywoman Nora Campos should be a slam-dunk. The San Jose Democrat wrote a similar measure that sailed through the Legislature virtually unopposed during the last session. Gov. Jerry Brown signed it in September to take effect Jan. 1.

AB 25 tweaks that new law, which failed to specify that government employers may not request social media usernames or passwords from their employees or prospective hires. The amendment also bans disciplining, terminating or otherwise retaliating against anyone who refuses a request for their social media information.

Here's the bill language:

December 7, 2012
Law officer union gave $630,000 to initiative, Democratic Party

The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association's largest political expenses this year have been contributions to Proposition 32 and the state Democratic Party, according to the union's most recent campaign filings.

CSLEA gave a total $350,000 to efforts backing Gov. Jerry Brown's successful tax proposal and another $280,000 to the party. The union also spent $292,000 on printing expenses.

The union focused its independent expenditure resources on a handful of legislative races. It spent $114,000 to support Riverside Democrat Richard Roth's successful run for the Senate and another $102,000 for Santa Rosa Democrat Michael Allen's unsuccessful bid for re-election to the Assembly.

CSLEA also divvied up a little more than a quarter-million dollars among 80 campaign committees controlled by politicians, an average of $3,145 per committee.

As you look through the tables below, tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheets open worksheets with more detailed information.

Remember that expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs such as political consultants and attorneys. Contributions pages break out donations given to political campaigns and causes. Late contributions are money that came in after the regular filing deadline.

For groups that are not independently organized, such as SEIU, AFSCME, IUOE and others, the data don't reflect contributions from their umbrella organizations.

December 6, 2012
Column Extra: More on new California state retirement formulas

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Today's state worker column considers how the change to cheaper pension formulae for state workers hired on or after Jan. 1, 2013, will impact the workplace -- and whether the law will stick. In particular, we looked at the change in the "normal" retirement age from 55 for most of today's workforce to age 62 for most workers hired next year and later.

Because of space constraints, we skipped over several details that would have complicated the column's essential point: The new rules create a de facto second-class employee whose total compensation is lower than that of more-senior colleagues under the better formulas.

For example, we didn't mention that miscellaneous state employees hired after Jan. 15, 2011, were put into a plan at 2 percent at 60. And we made just a passing reference to public safety employee pensions because, while those groups receive some of the most costly benefits, they represent a smaller percentage of the state workforce. Miscellaneous employees constitute about two-thirds of the state's 217,000 workers, so we focused on that category.

But State Worker blog users generally want more information than casual Bee readers, so what follows are some of the resources that lay out more details:

December 5, 2012
State attorneys union's top expenses: No on 32, consultants

The state lawyers' union political action committee is one of the most ... frugal? ... of any state employees PAC.

The 3,700-member California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment (which goes by the economized acronym, CASE), filed just $516,000 of political expenses with the Secretary of State's office -- for both 2011 and 2012.

It's top expenditure: $100,000 to the No on Proposition 32 campaign. It's No. 2 expense: $55,000 to Ellison Wilson Advocates for campaign consulting.

Like we said, frugal. To be fair, the union is one of the smallest bargaining units . Its members are widely agreed to be among the lowest paid professionals in state government, particularly when compared with their counterparts in local government and the private sector.

And CASE dues are among the lowest among rank-and-file state employees, a flat $45 per month, of which $10 goes to the union's PAC.

As you look through the tables below, tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheets open worksheets with more detailed information.

Remember that expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations given to political campaigns and causes. Late contributions are money that came in after the regular filing deadline.

Political spending via larger umbrella organizations, such as SEIU California, is not reflected in the data.

December 4, 2012
Highway Patrol Officers' union spends on Proposition 32, fundraisers

In an unusually detailed filing, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen's political action committee has reported some $405,000 in expenses for this year, much of it on political fundraising events such golf outings and dinners.

Two of the union's three biggest political expenses went to fundraisers: $50,000 for Darrell Steinberg's Pro Tem's Cup in March and another $50,000 for Assemblyman John A. Pérez's Speaker's Cup in May.

CAHP also gave a total $50,000 to successful efforts to defeat Propostion 32 and $10,000 to support Gov. Jerry Brown's successful tax measure, Proposition 30.

Many of the remaining 140 or so entries in the CAHP report read like a roster of Sacramento's social and dining hotspots for political grip-and-grin fundraisers:

• $5,000 at Mulvaney's (Attorney General Kamala Harris)
• $5,000 at the Sterling Hotel (Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome)
• $2,500 at the Citizen Hotel (Treasurer Bill Lockyer)
• $2.000 for a Kings game (Sen. Bob Huff)
• $1,500 at Mikuni (Assemblywoman Beth Gaines)

There's no doubt that other state employee unions spend similarly, but none detail their expenses to the degree CAHP does.

As you look through the tables below, tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheets open worksheets with more detailed information.

Remember that expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations given to political campaigns and causes. Late contributions are money that came in after the regular filing deadline.

For groups that are not independently organized, such as SEIU, AFSCME, IUOE and others, the data don't reflect contributions from their umbrella organizations.

December 3, 2012
State worker's sentencing for fraud delayed until January

100602 yolo county gavel.jpgSentencing for a former California state employee convicted of fraudulently applying for worker compensation benefits has been delayed until next month.

Lisa Trevino-Angelo was arrested in 2009 after claiming that chronic pain, anxiety and fatigue left her virtually homebound without the strength to hold her baby, drink from a coffee cup and unable to perform her duties as a personnel specialist for the DMV.

A CalPERS investigation gave a Sacramento Superior Court jury in October enough evidence to convict the 41-year-old Trevino-Angelo of submitting a false benefit claim and making false statements to support it. Each crime is punishable by up to one year in prison. Sentencing was scheduled for last week but is now rescheduled for Jan. 4.

RELATED POSTS
Former California DMV worker convicted of disability claim fraud
View Trevino-Angelo disability fraud documents

IMAGE: www.yolocourts.ca.gov

December 3, 2012
SEIU critic plans to press for more Local 1000 financial records

121202 Noujaim.JPGMariam Noujaim, an SEIU Local 1000 member who contends her union lacks transparency, plans to continue her efforts to see more of its financial records.

In a summary of what she found during her recent inspection of the local's records, Noujaim says she doesn't believe she was given access to all of the documents she requested. She also contends she was shorted an hour of inspection time and that the exercise itself, conducted in a Sacramento hotel meeting room, symbolized the wastefulness of the union.

"This inspection is not to our satisfaction," Noujaim wrote. "We will be conferring with our lawyer on how to proceed to have full transparency of our dues."

This blog offered to forward Noujaim's summary, posted below in its unedited form, to Local 1000 for comment. The union did not respond to our messages, but in the past has said that Noujaim is a self-promoter and noted, correctly, that she supported Republican Meg Whitman's 2010 gubernatorial run.

RELATED POSTS
Disgruntled union members say SEIU documents show waste
VIDEO: SEIU Local 1000 critic discusses union financial records

PHOTO: Mariam Noujaim / Sacramento Bee 2012 file, Randall Benton



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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State Pay Database

This database allows you to search the salaries of California's 300,000-plus state workers and view up to four years of their pay history.

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