The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 31, 2013
California IT snapshot: The failed state payroll overhaul

After test runs failed miserably, state Controller John Chiang earlier this year suspended plans to shift the state's patchwork employee payroll system into a single, nimble program.

But the Human Resources Management System -- dubbed "MyCalPays" and, before that, the "21st Century Project" -- remains on the Department of Technology's tracking list, so we're including it as No. 8 on our list of California's 10 most-expensive IT projects:

Name: Human Resources Management System
Department: State Controller' s Office
Total estimated cost: $ 371 million
Amount spent: Roughly $250 million
Percent of project complete: NA
Estimated time frame: 2003-2004 to 2012-2013 (8.7 years)

What was it supposed to do? Replace the state payroll system that has been paying employees since the Vietnam War era.

The official line: "The State Controller's Office proposes to design, develop and implement an integrated HRMS/Payroll system, called MyCalPAYS in order to modernize the State of California payroll system that pays approximately 294,000 employees."

Red flags: Pilot program launch had numerous errors including under- and over-paying employees, taking incorrect deductions and making late payments.

This is the third installment in a series of daily posts looking at California's 10 most-expensive state computer projects as listed on the Department of Technology's website.

July 31, 2013
Unusual California state government jobs: Gunsmith

_DSC1142.jpgThis is the third installment in our series of interviews with California state employees with unusual jobs.

State worker: Frank Higginson

Job Title: Lead gunsmith for the California Highway Patrol

Number of years with the state: 23

What does a typical week in the life of a gunsmith look like?

July 30, 2013
Unusual California state government jobs: Seed botanist

rprice.jpgThis is the second installment in our series on California state employees whose jobs don't immediately come to mind when you think of government work.

Name: Robert Price

Job Title: Associate seed botanist, Department of Food and Agriculture

Number of years working with state: four

What does a typical week in the life of a seed botanist look like?
"All sorts of things come to our offices (via the mail). Basically, we are sitting at our microscopes. ... The people who have my job are looking for seed purity, looking at seed and plant material to see what is there and analyzing them according the state and federal law. We do both standard kinds of samples, to see that labels are accurate in the state of California, or we do things for companies, certificates for export. ... Farmers ask us to do specific tests on types of products. ... It is very diverse. That is one of the fun aspects of the job, you never know what will happen on any given day of the week."

What is the most extraordinary or interesting thing that has happened while you were on the job?
"People sometimes try to ship in various types of fruits and vegetables that they have not declared in customs. They have dog teams that look for vegetable matter that is not declared. Particularly, they are looking for insects that could damage the state's agriculture (and) we just get all sorts of strange things that we try to figure out what they are. ... (We had) this big shipment of poppy seeds that was flagged by the border agency. They (poppy seeds) have to be non-living for commerce in the United States, but the ones we found were all alive. We were not sure what someone was intending to do with them."

How did you come to be a seed botanist?
"Friends of mine told me that were was an opening in the Department of Agriculture. I have a broad background in botany. I've been a university teacher and I have been a scientific editor and it just seemed like a really interesting job to do."

Is there anything you want people to know about your job?
"It's a very rewarding job to know that we are protecting the field of agriculture in California, which is a billion-dollar industry. We especially ... try to prevent (invasive species) from getting established because they are very hard and offensive to get rid of, so if we can, we keep them out in the first place."

RELATED LINKS:
Helicopter Fire Pilot

Do you have an interesting state government job or know someone who does? Think people would like to read about it? Send a note to agebert@sacbee.com.

PHOTO: Robert Price, associate seed botanist, Department of Food and Agriculture. Courtesy of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

July 30, 2013
California IT snapshot: Board of Equalization's system upgrade

As the state's business tax and fee collector, the Board of Equalization takes in more than $53.7 billion annually. The agency recently put out a call for bids on a massive computer system overhaul, which ranks No. 9 on our list of California's 10 largest state government IT projects.

The tale of the tape:

Name: Centralized Revenue Opportunity System
Department: State Board of Equalization
Total Estimated Cost: $269 million
Amount spent to date: $7 million
Percent of project complete: Not available. The project is 45 percent through its procurement phase.
Time frame: July 2010 - July 2020 (10 years)

What is it? CROS will centralize the functions of old systems to make business registrations, filing and tax collections more efficient. It will also improve fraud detection.

The official line: "BOE proposes, using a benefit based procurement approach, to replace and combine the functions of the Integrated Revenue Information System (IRIS) and Automated Collection Management System (ACMS), implement data warehouse/reporting capabilities and expand e-services to tax and fee payers. The proposed system will increase tax and fee revenues by improving data collection, access to data and sharing of data for improved business efficiencies."

Red flags: The project is having trouble filling vacancies, which is why it is running under budget. State workers are performing much of the work.

Editor's Note, 3:35 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, 2013: This post has been updated. The original story reflected numbers taken from the "Total Percent Complete" section of the California Department of Technology's Project Status Report as submitted by the State Board of Equalization. However, the report only reflected the total percentage complete for the procurement phase of the project, not for the entire project. The Department of Technology and the Board of Equalization are updating the project's status report to reflect the project's current total percent completed. The project's time frame was extended until fiscal year 2020 in the project's Request for Proposal on July 1.

This is the second in a series of daily posts looking at California's 10 most-expensive state computer projects according to the Department of Technology.

July 29, 2013
Unusual California state government job: Helicopter fire pilot

Humann_cockpit.JPGWhat do a gunsmith, a seed botanist, and a fire helicopter pilot all have in common? Each one is someone who may hold a California state government job.

We interviewed state workers holding down those jobs to find out what they do, how they got there and what they think you should know about their work.

Here's the first installment in our series on unusual state employee jobs:

Name: Thomas Humann

Job title: Fire pilot, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Number of years with the state: eight

How did you come to be a fire pilot?
"I did have a fairly decent foundation of helicopter flying. I flew attack helicopters in the Marine Corps and then I was flying Marine One for President George W. Bush. ... In 2003 during the fire siege that occurred in Southern California I had a chance to meet with a bunch of guys from (Cal Fire). ... Then when I got out in 2005 I had the opportunity to move to Sacramento, worked as a department aviation safety officer for four years and then moved out to my current location as a field fire pilot."

What does a typical week in the life of a fire pilot look like?
"It is fairly diverse. We don't know what any given day is going to bring. It is mostly going to be fire response, but we could also get any number of types of rescue calls. Most of what we do is fire firefighting itself. ... We try to capture and contain the fire before it becomes something significant. ... For me, that was a real natural transition (from the Marine Corps)...there was the same type of unit cohesion and camaraderie...they want to save homes and help people."

What is the most extraordinary or interesting thing that has happened while you were on the job?
"I'll mention two things. One was the eye opening experience in 2007 of getting dispatched to the fires in Southern California, where frankly it looked like Armageddon down there. ... We do rescues as well. We went out and got a call fairly late in the day for two little lost girls. Just as it was getting too dark to see, we were able to locate the girls, a couple of guys were able to jump out of the helicopter ... and I was able to pick them up."

Is there anything you want people to know about your job?
"The best thing for people to know is that we are able to contain 90 percent of fires that are 10 acres or less. On a day to day basis, most of time in California, most of these fires amount to basically nothing because of the quick response we are able to provide."


Do you have an interesting state government job or know someone who does? Think people would like to read about it? Send a note to agebert@sacbee.com.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Thomas Humann/Victor Acosta.

July 29, 2013
California IT snapshot: DMV's failed registration overhaul

This is the first in a series that reviews California's 10 most-expensive state government information technology projects, according to the Department of Technology. First up, an infamous trip-up at a department that touches nearly every adult in California.

Name: Information Technology Modernization
Department: Department of Motor Vehicles
Vendor/contractor: HP Enterprise Services (a division of Hewlett-Packard)
Total cost: $208.1 million
Amount spent to date: $135 million
Percent of project complete: Cancelled in January 2013
Estimated timeframe: July 2006 - July 2013 (6.9 years)

What was it? An overhaul of DMV's systems for registering vehicles, and for licensing drivers, driving schools and other driving-related businesses. DMV officials say the licensing part of the job was completed and that they intend to pursue the work related to vehicle registration.

The official line: "This project will incrementally upgrade the Department's core systems and processes over a seven year timeframe by modernizing all components of the existing Driver License, Vehicle Registration, and Occupational Licensing legacy systems applications and programs, transactions processing and database architecture using more current and easier to support technologies."
Red flags: Faulty programming, staffing problems, according to the project's final December 2012 status report.

Source: California Department of Technology

Editor's Note: This post and its headline have been updated to reflect that the licensing work was completed, but that the DMV will pursue the registration work. Updated 9:35 a.m. on July 30, 2013.

July 26, 2013
The Roundup: Audit questions CSU employee's travel; WI raises debated; NC bill changes personnel laws

HA_newspapers3808.JPGCSU audit finds excessive travel expenses by risk management employee
An internal audit by California State University reveals a pattern of questionable travel expenses by one employee in the university's risk management division, including a tour of a giraffe center in Kenya, excessive lodging costs at hotels in London and Tel Aviv and brief overnight stays in San Francisco, St. Louis and New York City that left no time for conducting business in those cities. - The Sacramento Bee

Lawmaker upset raise won't cover all state workers
A Wisconsin Democratic lawmaker wants a 1 percent pay raise for state workers applied to everyone, including those who are still covered by unions. - Associated Press

Changes to state workers rules, health care law near passage
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Gov. Pat McCrory will have more latitude to hire and fire state employees under a bill that will soon be headed to his desk. - WRAL.com

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July 25, 2013
The Roundup: Goodbye furloughs; state workers' paid to stay home

HA_newspapers3808.JPGThe State Worker: An ode to furloughs
It's the end of an era. After more than four years of on-and-off furloughs, most state workers' Aug. 1 paychecks for July will show full hours and pay for the first time since last summer. - The Sacramento Bee

State pays employees to go home
An investigative report by WRAL-TV has found that nearly 900 North Carolina state workers were sent home over the past two years while investigations were conducted into their conduct at work. While on leave, these workers collected a total of $1.7 million in salaries, reports the WRAL team. - Triangle Business Journal

DOC salaries too high? Private prisons pay much less
A letter from Colorado Senate Republicans spotlighting the salaries of roughly 4,000 Department of Corrections workers is drawing fire from the state employee union as well as Senate Democrats. - Pueblo Chieftan

Want more? For stories of interest to state employees, check out the State Worker's new and constantly updated News & Views feed by clicking here.

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July 24, 2013
California takes the lead on new green procurement standards

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The state of California is getting in on a pioneering effort to establish sustainable green standards for procurement practices.

The State of California Department of General Services and the City of San Francisco have joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office Depot, FedEx, the National Association of Procurement Officers, various universities and market advisers as founding members of the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council.

The council was created to do for procurement what the LEED U.S. Green Building Council council has does for architecture--create a set of green standards and leverage sustainable knowledge across sectors, whether, private, government, or academic--for the purchase of green goods.

"What we don't have is an integrated program for agencies to holistically address their purchasing responsibility," said Allison Kinn Bennet, senior advisor to the EPP Program for the EPA. "Dare I say, institutional purchasers are overwhelmed by all the cooks and cookbooks in their kitchen."

Those cookbooks including varying standards for what constitutes a green product, as well as a multitude of different sustainable rating systems and a lack of ways to measure outcomes.

"Consumption, that is purchases of goods and services, is the demand engine that drives our economy . . . [and] that [engine] drives all of the social and environmental impacts of that economic and industrial activity," said Jason Pearson, executive director of the council, who presented the plan in a webcast Tuesday.

Council members said that purchasers don't recognize the power they have to protect the environment and the planet.

"Procurement is a tremendous point of leverage in our economy," said Kevin Lyons, professor of Supply Chain Management at Rutgers University.

Of the $15 trillion spent on consumption each year in the United States, 17 percent or $2.6 trillion is spent by the government, Pearson said.

States in particular, due to their size and management infrastructure, have a unique opportunity to take a leadership role in this field, he said.

"Some states have embraced the challenge of implementing sustainable purchasing more than others," he said. "[And] California is one of the states that has embraced sustainable purchasing."

The council expects to roll out a pilot version of its rating systems within 18 months and hopes to have the full program operational within the next two years.

PHOTO: A 'Green Dolphin Street' daylily, center, at the Amador Flower Farm in Plymouth on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee.

July 23, 2013
Two California state workers charged with taking bribes

Two state workers have been arrested for taking allegedly bribes -- including money orders and vacations -- in a office-supply fraud scheme that investigators say defrauded Caltrans and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

A complaint by California Attorney General Kamala Harris claims that Michael Mathison, the 50-year-old owner of Veteran Toner Services, gave inflated office-supply quotes to the the departments along with ginned-up bids from bogus "competitors" at even higher rates.

The San Pedro-based company's website describes the business as "a small service toner organization driven to find the lowest price on quality product for our customers." A person who sounded like a man hung up without comment Tuesday afternoon when reached by telephone.

The attorney general's Bureau of Investigation launched its probe after receiving an anonymous tip in April 2012. It alleges Fish and Wildlife employee Stephanie Clark of Fair Oaks, 42, took bribes totaling $23,800 over the course of five years. including a Disneyland vacation trip and more than 50 postal money orders deposited to her bank account, in return for ordering overpriced supplies from Mathison.

It's not yet clear how much the alleged scam cost the department. Investigators sampled 13 of more than 200 Fish and Wildlife office supply purchase orders to Mathison's firm and found about $50,000 in inflated charges to the department, about $3,850 per invoice. If the average holds true as the state continues its review of Fish and Wildlife orders, the fraudulent charges could surpass three-quarters of a million dollars.

The complaint also alleges that Yuba City resident Danny Gray Compson, 62, submitted Caltrans invoices worth as much as $5,000 per week to be paid, but he never received the product from Mathison.

Clark was booked into Sacramento County Jail and Compson went to Sutter County Jail, with bail for each set at $75,000. Mathison was taken to the Los Angeles County Jail. His bail was set at $250,000. The charges against the trio include bribery, conspiracy and misappropriation of state funds.

Mathison and Clark could facing well over 20 years in prison, said attorney general spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill. Compson faces five years in prison on current charges, but the complaint will likely be amended based on further evidence.

Both state employees could be fined up to $10,000 each for taking bribes. All three will be ordered to pay restitution, an amount that officials have yet to tally while the investigation continues, Gledhill said.

California Attorney General's Complaint by jon_ortiz

July 23, 2013
The Roundup: Controversial hold on video; Ore. contracts; Vernon pension fight


Caught on camera: State worker fired for dangerous restraint of teenage girl
Security-camera footage from the Iowa Juvenile Home shows a state worker dragging a 17-year-old girl out of a chair and pinning her, doubled over, to the floor where he holds her for eight minutes in a position that can cause asphyxiation. - Des Moines Register

Many labor contracts unfinished, state says
Nearly 6,000 state employees still have contracts being negotiated, now that the state's Department of Administrative Services has reached tentative agreements with its two largest unions. - Statesman Journal

Top public pension earner sues Vernon after CalPERS cuts his benefit
The man who was granted California's biggest public pension isn't giving it up without a fight. - Los Angeles Times

Want more? For stories of interest to state employees, check out the State Worker's new and constantly updated News & Views feed by clicking here.

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July 22, 2013
CalPERS to host retirement fairs

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for CALPERS_COURTYARD_JAY_MATHER_2005.JPGCalPERS will host a couple of two-day events in August and September intended to help members plan their financial futures.

The agendas include breakout sessions on a variety of topics and CalSTRS will also have a table at the fairs.

CalPERS will webcast and archive online four sessions the Sacramento event: benefit basics, health benefits, the service credit factor and the Savings Plus program.

Both retirement fairs are free and open to all state government, local government and school employees in the CalPERS system.

The dates, locations and times:

August 23-24
Sacramento Convention Center
1400 J Street
Sacramento
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

September 13-14
The Westin Long Beach
333 East Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Click here for more information and to register.

PHOTO: CalPERS' courtyard at its Sacramento headquarters. The Sacramento Bee/Jay Mather.

July 19, 2013
The Roundup: Ore. union contract; British employee cashouts; N.M. management turmoil

HA_newspapers3808.JPGState worker union deal eliminates furloughs, adds COLA and step increases
Oregon's largest public employee union announced early this morning it has reached a tentative deal with the state on a two-year contract that would end unpaid days off, averting a possible strike. - The Statesman Journal

State workers given £2.7 billion in pay-offs in a single year
Nearly 3,500 staff received compensation packages worth more than £100,000, and more than 14,000 were awarded "golden goodbyes" of between £50,000 and £100,000. - The Telegraph

State workers: Hostile bosses impede jobs
The state agency charged with vetting terrorism threats and helping New Mexicans during disasters has been embroiled in turmoil for the last year, which some employees say has hindered their ability to do their jobs. - The New Mexican

Want more? For stories of interest to state employees, check out the State Worker's new and constantly updated News & Views feed by clicking here.

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July 19, 2013
Fake signs say CHP using drones enforce speed limit

CBS Bay Area affiliate KPIX 5 reports that someone mounted professional-grade signs along a highway that falsely caution drivers the speed limit is "enforced by drones." The sign also shows a drone firing a weapon.

The signs have popped up on Highway 37 and other locations, according to the report. Authorities are investigating.

July 18, 2013
Column Extra: The first try at CHP pay parity

Our column in today's Bee takes on the question: How did CHP officers' pay become set by law?

The answer is a story than spans four decades, Republican and Democratic governors and battles wages in the statehouse, the courthouse and the ballot box.

Ironically, Caifornia voters rejected a measure to guarantee CHP officers receive pay comparable to the maximum paid their counterparts statewide. Gov. (and former actors' union president) Ronald Reagan signed the first CHP pay parity law.

The documents below include the 1972 ballot measure's title and summary in a letter from then-Attorney General Evelle Younger to -- that's right -- former Secretary of State Jerry Brown.

Proposition 16 Title and Summary

July 18, 2013
The Roundup: CHP's pay parity; pension hypocrisy; La. layoffs

HA_newspapers3808.JPGThe State Worker: How CHP officers' salaries became law
Of all the state employee unions that bargain with Gov. Jerry Brown, the group that recently got what will likely be the biggest bump this year wasn't even part of a contract negotiation. - The Sacramento Bee

AP Exclusive: Pension funds keep elective travel
California's two public pension systems continued to fly top officials around the globe for conferences, workshops and speaking engagements even after Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a ban on discretionary travel while the state was trying to emerge from years of budget deficits. - Associated Press

Dan Morain: Hypocrisy and Rep. McClintock's pension
Tom McClintock used the occasion of a 2005 hearing into state pensions to denounce government workers' rich retirement benefits, as was his wont back when he was in California's Senate. - The Sacramento Bee

3,800 state workers laid off in last budget year
BATON ROUGE, La. -- The layoff figures for the just-ended 2012-13 budget year have grown to show that more than 3,800 employees received pink slips from the state. - Associated Press

Want more news? For stories of interest to state employees, check out the State Worker's new and constantly updated News & Views feed by clicking here.

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July 17, 2013
Jay Leno previews CHP's Ford Explorer, drives vintage cruiser

"The Tonight Show" host and car enthusiast Jay Leno recently posted an online preview of the new CHP Ford Explorer and reviews of five classic cars the department has deployed over the years.

CHP Capt. Matt Guthrie goes through the Explorer's features with Leno while former Commissioner Spike Helmick talks about the old days and the old cars.

The Explorer's "police interceptor package" sports a 3.7-liter, V6 engine with 300 horsepower. It goes from zero to 60 in 7.8 seconds, and its top speed meets the CHP's specs in the 122 mph to 128 mph range. And no, Joe Citizen can't buy it.

Some of the current Crown Vics have 200,000 miles on them, Guthrie said, but the CHP is running the cars until the Explorer comes off production in the coming weeks.

Midway into the 12-minute mark, Leno and Helmick jump into a vintage Dodge Polara and take it for a spin.

July 16, 2013
University of California, AFSCME contract talks deadlocked

130716-AFSCME_UC_REGENTS_Protest.JPGDespite more than a year of bargaining, a two-day strike and union accusations that its medical facilities are understaffed and poorly managed, the University of California's contract talks for its 15,000 hospital workers remain deadlocked.

Now the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 says it's prepared to make concessions on pensions, including higher contributions from all workers and later retirement ages for future hires, but it wants the UC to hire more hospital employees and cap high-end pensions.

July 16, 2013
The Roundup: California's prison problems; good year for CalPERS, CalSTRS; Greek protests

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CalPERS, CalSTRS pension funds post double-digit gains, still face funding shortfalls
CalPERS says it earned 12.5 percent on its investment portfolio in the latest fiscal year, well above its official forecast. - Sacramento Bee

California Is Facing More Woes in Prisons
Just six months after declaring "the prison crisis is over in California," Gov. Jerry Brown is facing dire predictions about the future of the state's prison system, one of the largest in the nation. - The New York Times

Thousands of Greeks Join Strike Against Public Sector Layoffs
Tens of thousands of Greek workers walked off the job on Tuesday and rallied in front of parliament in a noisy protest against government plans to fire public sector employees to satisfy foreign lenders. - Moneynews.com

Want more? For stories of interest to state employees, check out the State Worker's new and constantly updated News & Views feed by clicking here.

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July 15, 2013
California Lottery director Robert O'Neill resigns

130715-Robert-T-O'Neill-KP.JPGAfter less than two years on the job, the head of the California Lottery has resigned his post.

Robert O'Neill announced his sudden departure on Friday in an email to staff obtained by The Bee, saying he will "pursue other personal and professional interests." His resignation took effect today.

Leadership of the $4.3 billion lottery has turned over three times during Gov. Jerry Brown's third term in office. Brown dismissed Lottery Director Joan Borucki in 2010 and named Linh Nguyen her interim replacement. A year later, Brown appointed O'Neill, a former executive with the global audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP.

Brown's office hasn't yet returned a call seeking comment on O'Neill's departure or who will replace him. The natural choice -- at least in the interim -- would be the lottery's No. 2, Chief Deputy Director Paula LaBrie.

Here's O'Neill's email to staff:

July 12, 2013
Caltrans ad contractor gets nine years in prison for fraud

130712-yoda.jpgAn Elk Grove man who defrauded the state of nearly $2 million has been sentenced to nine years in prison and must forfeit personal property -- houses and a collection of Star Wars memorabilia -- under terms of a plea deal announced this afternoon.

Eric Hodgson, the 43-year-old owner of Phenix Print & Image, was arrested in April on 22 counts of grand theft after allegedly taking more than $1.8 million to advertise new construction contracts to bidders as required by state law. Caltrans paid the 2008 and 2009 contracts but cancelled a third in 2011 for more than $800,000 before any invoices were paid.

Caltrans staff found evidence of the alleged fraud during a routine request for proof of the advertisements' publication in local newspapers. California Department of Justice investigators subsequently found Hodgson defrauded the state with bogus documentation and used the money to pay off a mortgage, buy toys and comics and purchase "exotic trips" for himself and company employees, according to a news release from Attorney General Kamala Harris' office.

Hodgson pleaded guilty to seven of the 22 counts. In addition to his prison sentence, he will forfeit two residences, two cars, several retirement accounts and a collection of Stars Wars items worth more than $10,000 (including the 3-foot-tall Yoda pictured above) that will be auctioned off.

PHOTO: This "life-size" rubber Yoda will be auctioned off as part of Eric Hodgson's plea deal with the state of California. Courtesy of California attorney general's office.

July 12, 2013
Blog Back: The CalPERS pension database

130711-blog-back.JPGBlog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

News this week that CalPERS planned to launch a retiree pension database on its website -- and then delay it -- drew hundreds of comments on this blog and on Thursday's more expansive news story. A sampling:

July 8 CalPERS to disclose retiree pensions on website

Shame on CalPERS Board and its executive staff for deciding it wasn't important to first notify its retirees. Posting online retiree names, pension amounts and their last employer is not the problem. CalPERS has decided to give out more information than what is released about active state employees. You are creating a serious security issue for elderly retirees.

Since CalPERS wants to be transparent, it should include in that online database 1) the employee names, positions and the amounts of the bonuses of those who receive those bonuses; 2) the names, positions, and pension amounts of those who received $10,000 or more final comp due to a bonus and/or a large leave credit when they retired; and 3) the names, positions, and pay of those employees who retire and are rehired as retired annuitants and consultants. Taxpayers should know that senior managers are the lucky recipients in all three groups.

At least one retiree group knew about the database. Check out page 7 in the July edition of the California State Retirees' newsletter.

July 11, 2013
Jerry Brown signs SEIU Local 1000 contract

Thumbnail image for Jerry Brown 2012 amezcua.jpgGov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed into law a new contract agreement between the state and SEIU Local 1000.

The governor's signature was the last step needed to ratify the three-year agreement, which gives approximately 95,000 SEIU Local 1000 members a 4.5 percent raise by 2015.

Earlier this week, SEIU announced that the contract had been approved by 90 percent of its voting members, meeting the requirement that union membership, in addition to the state Legislature, approve the contract.

"This agreement recognizes the important role state employees have played in helping stabilize California's financial outlook over the last few years, " said Pat McConahay, a spokesperson for the Department of Human Resources. "As a result of their contributions, they will receive modest pay increases to be phased in beginning July 1, 2014. Those increases, however, will depend on the state's economic health at that time."

On Wednesday, the state's psychiatric technicians' union became the second union to announce it had reached a tentative deal with the governor. It calls for more than 6,000 state psychiatric technicians to receive a 4.25 percent raise by 2015.

Nine of the state's 21 bargaining units have yet to strike a deal with Brown. Until then, workers continue to operate under the terms of their expired contracts.

PHOTO: Governor Jerry Brown, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

July 11, 2013
California state worker retirements up 4 percent in 2013

The number of California state employee retirements rose 4 percent during the first half of this year when compared with the same period in 2012, according to the latest data from CalPERS.

Meanwhile, retirements by all state, local and school district employees in the pension system rose a little over 8 percent.

July 11, 2013
The Roundup: CalPERS delays database; Oregon pay hike; California hiring to help feds

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CalPERS holds off on launching pension database Amid an outcry from worried retirees, a lawsuit threat and talk of legislative action, CalPERS on Wednesday delayed plans to launch a website that would disclose pensioners' names, their retirement allowances and other public pension information. - The Sacramento Bee

State workers may see double-digit pay raises
Oregon state employees would receive pay increases of 8.7 percent to 15.4 percent under the current contract offer from the state's Department of Administrative Services, according to a memo DAS Director Michael Jordan sent to agency heads on Wednesday. - The Statesman Journal

Calif. hiring state workers to help VA with claims
California is moving to help the federal government cut the backlog of veterans' disability claims with a new law creating a 36-member state strike force to help the Veterans Affairs Department process claims. - Military Times

The State Worker: Water department worker becomes published author
She's a second-generation state worker who has endured a decade of insecurity, a cubicle dweller who writes about fantastic worlds, an 8-to-5er who wakes up inspired to create at 4 a.m. Now, after years of frustration and fighting self-doubt, Stacy Garrett is a published author. - The Sacramento Bee

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July 10, 2013
CA psychiatric technicians reach tentative deal with Jerry Brown

RCB_SHARON_VISITS_NAPA_ID.JPGState psychiatric technicians and Gov. Jerry Brown reached a tentative three-year agreement Wednesday that includes a 4.25 percent pay raise for the unit by 2015.

The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, which represents about 6,000 psychiatric technicians in state service, became the second union to reach a new three-year deal after its contract with the state expired July 1.

The new agreement is similar to the deal struck earlier this summer between Brown and SEIU Local 1000, under which members got a 4.5 percent raise. Like the SEIU deal, psychiatric technicians will either receive the raise in two parts -- 2 percent in 2014 and 2.25 percent in 2015, or all 4.25 percent in 2015 if the state determines it does not have the funds for the raise in 2014.

Under the agreement, furloughs and PLP time will be prohibited for the duration of the contract.

"We sought to make improvement in both economic and non-economic contract language," said Brady Oppenheim, a consultant for California Association of Psychiatric Technicians. "And we feel we achieved modest, but fair improvements in this latest tentative agreement."

More psychiatric technicians who make up bargaining unit 18 work in state developmental centers, hospitals and prisons to provide care for developmentally disabled and mentally ill clients.

The agreement will now head to both the Legislature and union membership for voting.

PHOTO: Sharon Benda shows her license as ID to gain entry to visit her mentally ill son at the Napa State Hospital in Napa on Saturday September 4, 2004. The Sacramento Bee/Renee C. Byer.

July 10, 2013
CalPERS delays pension database launch

California's largest government retirement fund has decided to delay launching an online database of public pension information, citing moves by a retiree group to pursue legislation that would narrow how much of that information would fall under the state Public Records Act.

Here's the email announcing the fund's decision sent to member associations early this morning by CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco:

July 9, 2013
SEIU Local 1000 members overwhelmingly approve contract

20120620_HA_WALKER0026.JPGNinety percent of SEIU Local 1000 voters approved a new contract with Gov. Jerry Brown, the union announced late Tuesday.

The Legislature ratified the contract last week, and the union says it expects Brown to sign the deal on Wednesday. It includes a 4.5 percent pay raise for SEIU members by 2015. It also bans furloughs for the length of the contract period and increases travel and business reimbursements.

"Our new contract delivers on each of the four top priorities identified by our members," union president Yvonne R. Walker said in a prepared statement. "It protects retirement, preserves our 80/20 health benefit premiums, prohibits new furloughs or PLP days, and includes a wage increase for everyone."

The union, which has about 95,000 members, is the largest representing state workers.

PHOTO: Yvonne Walker, president of California state employees' largest labor union SEIU Local 1,000, smiles as she talks with Senator Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles on June 20, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

July 9, 2013
Poll: Weigh in on CalPERS' online pension database plan

Our cyber/fiber report on the CalPERS plan to launch a searchable database of retiree pension information that is considered public information has prompted plenty of response, particularly from pensioners who object to the idea.

We've received several calls and emails today from outraged CalPERS members who are certain that their privacy will be violated, that they will be more vulnerable to predators who target the elderly.

The courts have determined that the information CalPERS said it will put online is public record. The fund has answered requests for the information for several years. The difference now is that it will be more easily accessed via the Internet. For those who advocate for government transparency, the CalPERS database is a step forward. But for the people who have contacted us during the last two days, it's a step or two backward.

What do you think?

July 8, 2013
CalPERS to disclose retiree pensions on website

CALPERS_COURTYARD_JAY_MATHER_2005.JPGCalifornia's mammoth public retirement system will fire up a new searchable pension database this month, according to a notice sent recently to member organizations.

The database will provide retiree information that is considered public: pensioners' names, their monthly gross pension payment, their base allowance, the Cost of Living Adjustment, their years of service, when they retired, their pension benefit formulas, final compensation and last employer.

July 8, 2013
Read the California Highway Patrol's contract addendum

The California Association of Highway Patrolmen's annual salary calculation, which is based on the salaries of five local law enforcement agencies, yielded a 5.9 percent raise for the union this year.

California Highway Patrol officers pay is determined by a formula which calculates the average total compensation of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland police departments.

Three of those agencies have negotiated raises recently. Los Angeles police officers received a 2 percent raise last year and are scheduled to receive 4 percent increase this year. San Diego officers negotiated a 7 percent raise over 5 years and the Los Angeles sheriff's deputies made a deal to get a 6 percent increase over two years.

Read the addendum below.

Addendum to the California Association of Highway Patrolmen Contract

July 5, 2013
California Highway Patrol to receive immediate 5.9 percent raise

RCB_20110502_MEMORIAL00691.JPGCalifornia Highway Patrol officers and cadets are receiving a nearly 6 percent raise this week, a reflection of average pay increases that have gone to five other law enforcement agencies in the state.

The change, posted on the website of the California Department of Human Resources late Friday, is based on a law that requires the state to survey compensation packages provided to other law enforcement officers each fiscal year and adjust CHP wages accordingly.

The 5.9 percent raise for rank-and-file CHP officers was calculated using the average total compensation of five law enforcement agencies: the San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland police departments, as well as the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office.

The first 4 percent will be a direct salary increase, and the rest will be allocated to pre-fund the union's health care benefits.

PHOTO: Members of the CHP San Jose paid their respects to the fallen officers, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Renee C. Byer.

July 5, 2013
Read the agreement for CA Department of Water Resources raises

On Wednesday, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the state reached an agreement to raise the pay of select water department workers.

The agreement affects the pay for job classes which that state says it has had difficultly staffing due to wages that are below what is being paid by other agencies. The raises range between 17.9 and 37.4 percent and are effective immediately.

Read the agreement and transmittal letter below.

July 3, 2013
Jerry Brown grants raises for some water department workers

Jerry Brown 2012 amezcua.jpgGov. Jerry Brown has agreed to increase pay by up to 37 percent for water department workers in positions the state has had difficulty staffing.

Brown and representatives from International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) finalized an addendum to the union's contract Wednesday to raise the pay by 17.9 percent to 37.4 percent for 741 employees for 34 job classifications in the Department of Water Resources. The raises are effective immediately and are estimated to cost the state $18.3 million.

State and union officials have said the raises are needed to prevent the drain of State Water Project employees to other higher-paying jobs. The vacancy rate in jobs responsible for running and operating the vast project has run between 10 percent and 15 percent for the last two years.

The agreement comes after California Water Commission Chairman Joseph Byrne warned of a staffing "crisis" in the department. In a April 23 letter to Resources Secretary John Laird, he noted some employees were being paid "65 percent below the industry's median."

In some cases, the state has spent $300,000 to $400,000 to train employees, only to see them lured away from state service by higher salaries elsewhere, department officials have said.

In effort to retain existing staff in the short term, the agreement prevents workers from immediately using the extra pay to bump up their retirement. The deal says workers cannot apply any of the raise toward their pension calculation if they retire before July 1, 2014 and only half of it if they retire before July 1, 2015. After that, their full salary could be used for pension calculations.

The agreement will affect 19 rank-and-file classes, three manager classes and 12 supervisor classes.

"As one of the largest utilities in the world, it is vitally important that the Department of Water Resources retain highly skilled professionals to ensure timely, efficient deliveries of water to 25 million Californians and thousands of farms and ranches," Richard Stapler, deputy secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, said in a prepared statement. "California's economy relies on a secure, reliable supply of water, and a loss of these professionals to other utilities could also cost the state millions of dollars in missed water deliveries."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

July 3, 2013
SEIU Local 1000 contract agreement passes California Senate

MAJ_STATE_CAPITOL_2008.JPGSome California state workers inched closer Wednesday to a long-deferred raise after the state Senate ratified a new contract agreement.

The agreement, negotiated between the state and the Service Employees International Union Local 1000, would boost salaries 4.5 percent by 2015. The Assembly has already given it the green light, and rank-and-file union members have until Monday to cast ratification votes.

Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, described the contract as a "modest agreement," particularly given the money workers have surrendered through furloughs over the last few years.

Several Republicans voted against the bill, which passed 27-8. Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Oakdale, said the bill contradicted the will of voters who passed Proposition 30 in the fall by putting a chunk of the resulting revenue windfall towards state workers rather than schools.

"What happens when Prop 30 runs out, that tax money runs out?" Berryhill said. "The taxpayers are going to be on the hook."

In response, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said state workers have earned a raise after enduring years of budget-fueled cutbacks.

"It's easy to pick on state workers, but the facts are the facts," Steinberg said. "They have suffered, if you will, and lived through the same pain and difficulty that other people who rely on the state budget have suffered over the last five or six years."

PHOTO: California Capitol. The Sacramento Bee file, 2008/ Michael Allen Jones

July 3, 2013
What California state workers earn: The grand finale

ha_SEIU44713.JPGWith state worker unions at the bargaining table negotiating with Gov. Jerry Brown for more pay, among other issues, The State Worker has been running a series looking at what the state workforce earned in 2011 and 2012..

There are still 10 bargaining units at the negotiating table after contracts for most state workers expired Monday. The only contract to be renegotiated so far, that for the nine bargaining units represented by SEIU Local 1000, is still awaiting ratification. Local 1000 members will continue voting on the contract through next Monday.

Salaries are a big negotiating point for unions after years of pay cuts, furloughs and personal leave time.

Below are the links for the series, which shows salary statistics for each bargaining unit:

SEIU Local 1000, Part 1
SEIU Local 1000, Part 2
State Lawyers
Highway patrol officers
Prison and parole officers
Law enforcement
Firefighters
Engineers
Scientists
Operating engineers
Doctors and dentists
Psychiatric technicians
Health and social services

Also, check out The Bee's state worker pay database here.

PHOTO: Blanche Espinoza, of Stockton, writes a message on a banner in support of state workers as a large group of SEIU Local 1000 members and supporters gathered at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 to protest the proposed cut to their salaries to the federal minimum wage. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

July 3, 2013
What California state workers earn: Health and social services

PK_PENSION_NAPA_ESCAPE.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees represents the state's health and social services professionals. Its bargaining goals sound much like the deal between Gov. Jerry Brown and SEIU Local 1000: an across-the-board salary increase, differential pay bumps and increased employer health benefits contributions, according to the local's its website.

A look at Bargaining Unit 19 by the numbers:

July 3, 2013
What California state workers earn: Psychiatric technicians

RCB_SHARON_VISITS_NAPA_ID.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

Although Ken Murch retired in 2012 after decades as the executive director of the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, he returned this year to bargain for the union. It's a plus for CAPT. Murch and Gov. Jerry Brown have a relationship that dates back to the governor's first go-round in office.

Meanwhile, California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana Dooley has established a task force that will consider the future of state's developmental center system. Many of California's psychiatric technicians work at the four large developmental centers and one small community facility that serve roughly 1,500 residents with an annual budget of $545 million.

Number of employees in 2012: 5,484
2012 average pay: $48,525
2012 median pay: $56,430

Number of employees in 2011: 5,627
2011 average pay: $46,833
2011 median pay: $53,418

2012 Largest job class: Psychiatric Technician (Safety) (2,858)
Highest paid job class (2012 average): Psychiatric Technician Instructor ($64,742)
Lowest paid job class (2012 average): Psychiatric Technician Training Candidate ($811)

This chart shows the average and median pay for Bargaining Unit 18 in 2011 and 2012.

With talks and ratification votes for new state employee contracts on the agenda over the next few weeks, The State Worker is taking a first-ever look at what unionized workers earned over the last two years by bargaining unit.

The numbers feeding the series come from the State Controller's payroll database. The figures include only regular pay issued to full-time employees represented by the 21 bargaining units that negotiate contracts with the state. The number of employees includes only full-time workers who were paid during the calendar year. University of California and California State University employee earnings are not included in these figures. The data covers calendar 2011 and 2012.

Check out The Bee's state worker pay database here.

PHOTO: Sharon Benda shows her license as ID to gain entry to visit her mentally ill son at the Napa State Hospital in Napa on Saturday September 4, 2004. The Sacramento Bee/Renee C. Byer.

July 2, 2013
What California state workers earn: Doctors and dentists

RDB090.JPG By Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

Licensed medical staff are generally among the highest paid state employees, so it's no surprise the members of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists earned more on average than any other group of rank-and-file employees in 2011 and 2012.

Last year, for example, UAPD members' median wage of $229,000 more than doubled the $106,000 median paid to the runner-up group, state legal employees such as attorneys and administrative law judges.

The numbers:

July 2, 2013
What California state workers earn: Operating engineers

RCB_20121010TEENJOBS_0087.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

The International Union of Operating Engineers represents two state employee groups. Unit 12 covers craft and maintenance employees while Unit 13 bargains for stationary engineers.

Unit 12 negotiators, including president Tim Neep, have argued that the state needs to pay more to keep key employees who work on the massive State Water Project.

The Brown administration, according to the union, has resisted that push for fear of opening up the issue for other groups.

Here's what members of those two bargaining units earned over the last two years:

July 1, 2013
California state union contracts expire today

130124 Jerry Brown Amezcua.JPGContracts expire today for most of the state government workforce, as Gov. Jerry Brown and representatives for 10 bargaining units continue to negotiate new deals.

Brown reached agreement with the state's largest union, Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, last month, but the contract has yet to be ratified. The contract, which includes a 4.5% pay increase for rank-and-file members by 2015, cleared the state Assembly on a 63-8 vote last week and is awaiting action in the Senate. SEIU members, meanwhile, will continue to vote on ratification through July 8.

The SEIU deal covers nine of the state's 21 bargaining units. Two other units -- those covering the California Highway Patrol and state firefighters -- extended their previous deals until 2018 and 2017, respectively.

But unions representing workers in 10 other bargaining units, including those for prison guards, scientists and engineers, are still at the table.

Until the new contracts are renegotiated, the unions will continue to operate under the terms of their current contract.

Asked about the status of contract negotiations this afternoon, Brown said, "the process continues."

He said, "I never like to characterize these negotiations," but he added, "The state is productively engaged."

David Siders contributed to this post.

July 1, 2013
What California state workers earn: Scientists

RB_Salmon_10.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

For years, the California Association of Professional Scientists has argued that its members are underpaid, not only relative to counterparts in other governments and private business, but also when compared to what other state employees earn for doing exactly the same work.

The disparity has hit the union hard as its members leave for jobs represented by other unions, particularly engineer classifications.

CAPS also has filed a grievance over what it says are violations of its contractual telecommuting provisions.

A look at what state scientists earned in the last two years:

July 1, 2013
What California state workers earn: Engineers

20120814_HA_CATRANS0203.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

Professional Engineers in California Government was the last employee group to negotiate pay parity for its members with contracts that dramatically increased wages over a number of years.

But the last big pay bump was five years ago. Since then, PECG has fought to hold the line on wages and curtail outsourced engineering and inspection contracts, and also has battled furloughs all the way to the state Supreme Court. Now union leaders say it's time to look again at what members earn compared to their local- and regional-government counterparts and boost travel reimbursements that have been stagnant for many years. (Oh, and the union also wants managers to earn more, since wages tend to roll downhill.)

Here is a look at what state engineers earned in the last two years:



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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