The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 17, 2013
Chuck Reed scheduled for Bay Area, Los Angeles radio shows

100610 microphone.JPGSan Jose Mayor Chuck Reed is scheduled to discuss his new public pension ballot proposal on two radio shows today.

Reed and Robert Sapien Jr., president of San Jose Fire Fighters Local 230 will discuss pensions on KQED's "Forum" at 9 a.m. (Listen live here, or click in later for archived audio.)

A couple hours later, Reed is scheduled for "AirTalk" on Southern California's KPCC to debate with Terry Brennand, representing union coalition Californians for Retirement Security.

Click here to listen live from 11:20 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. The audio file will post on the station's website a little after 1 p.m. Go to the "AirTalk" webpage and scroll down to find the archive link.


October 16, 2013
CalPERS weighs in on new public pension ballot proposal

100607 CALPERS HQ.JPGOfficials with California's massive public pension fund, CalPERS, issued a press statement Wednesday on the new proposed ballot initiative on public employee pensions that restates the long-held position that those pensions are deferred compensation and a vested right under both federal and state law.

"CalPERS is bound by fiduciary duty to deliver the promised pension benefits according to the U.S. and California Constitutions, statutory law and case law," the release says. "The California voters placed these protections and duties in our Constitution to ensure that employees' pensions would be protected by CalPERS as their fiduciary and trustee. CalPERS will continue to support and defend our members' vested rights, in accordance with the laws of the land and our obligations under the federal and State constitutions."

Rather than downgrade pensions for government employees, CalPERS says, "a better solution would be to help those without pensions find ways to save for retirement ... Changes to pension benefit levels should be determined by the employer and the employees, and not at the ballot box. If this initiative were to pass, then all contractual rights in California could be in jeopardy."

You can find the full statement on the fund's website.

PHOTO: CalPERS headquarters in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Jay Mather

October 16, 2013
From the notebook: More quotes on California's public pensions

NOTEBOOK_use_this.jpgAs reported in today's Bee, the battle lines have been drawn now that a new group led by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has filed papers to put a public pension measure on the November 2014 ballot.

What follows are quotes that didn't get into today's story or Tuesday's breaking-news blog post.

October 16, 2013
From the notebook: California public pension initiative papers

NOTEBOOK1.jpgAs we reported in today's fiber/cyber Bee, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed on Tuesday filed a ballot initiative language with Attorney General Kamala Harris that would alter California's constitution to explicitly allow public employees' pensions to be changed prospectively.

Until now, most legal experts have concluded that the state constitution protects pensions promised to workers on their first day at work as a "vested right."

Here are the documents that Reed and four other mayors of California cities submitted as a first step to putting the pension measure on the November 2014 ballot:

October 15, 2013
Reed files public pension ballot proposal with California AG

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed filed papers Tuesday in the first step toward qualifying a public pension measure for a statewide vote in California, a move that drew instant criticism from public employee unions.

"The Pension Reform Act of 2014" would alter California's constitution to allow state and local government employers to cut pensions for current workers prospectively, while the benefits they have already earned would be protected.

"Skyrocketing retirement costs are crowding out funding for essential public services and pushing cities, counties and other government agencies closer to insolvency," Reed said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

Reed was joined by Democratic mayors Pat Morris of San Bernardino, Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana and Bill Kampe of Pacific Grove as well as Republican Mayor Tom Tait of Anaheim in submitting the proposed ballot initiative to the Attorney General's Office.

Union leaders have blasted the proposal and characterized Reed as a self-aggrandizing political lifer and puppet of Wall Street interests.

Dave Low, chairman of the union coalition Californians for Retirement Security, called the proposal an "extreme" one that breaks retirement promises made to millions of public employees. The coalition represents 1.6 million government workers.

Low also predicted that the proposed initiative would stir up the same labor forces that defeated Proposition 32 last November. That measure would have made it harder for unions to collect members' dues.

October 15, 2013
VIDEO: Chuck Reed's public pension talk at Hoover Institution

Here's video of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's keynote address on public pensions at Stanford's Hoover Institution on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

As we reported last week, Reed said during a Q&A after his presentation that he would soon file papers to put a public pension measure on California's statewide ballot. That part of the video starts at roughly the 24-minute mark.

Reed, a Democrat, is proposing an amendment to the California state constitution that would allow state and local government employers to cut pensions prospectively for all employees, while pensions already earned would be protected.

October 15, 2013
The Roundup: Pension fears prompt state worker exits; furloughs in OK; climate change and pensions

State workers face furloughs
Nearly 400 Oklahoma state employees could be furloughed this week because of the federal budget impasse, Gov. Mary Fallin said Monday - Tulsa World

State Appeals Ruling On Public Worker Layoffs To U.S. Supreme Court
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut officials have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a court ruling that said former Gov. John G. Rowland's administration violated state employees' constitutional rights when it laid off 2,800 workers based on their union membership in 2003. - Associated Press/CBS Connecticut

Climate and Pension Activists Should Unite
... Climate activists rightfully demonize certain oil and coal companies blocking action on climate change. In this case, the demons are state legislators who don't act on CalSTRS's request because they know the cliff won't be reached during their terms in office. Even more cynically, this year California's legislators patted themselves on the back for a budget they claimed had a surplus but only because they ignored CalSTRS's request. - Huffington Post

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October 14, 2013
Jerry Brown's approval of new hiring law prompts state action

131011-Brown_budget_II.jpgA new law that delays when California state and local public employers can ask job applicants about their criminal histories reflects existing state policy, but it still has state officials thinking about the measure's implications.

Several weeks before Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 218 on Thursday, officials at the Department of Human Resources started meeting to discuss the law's potential impact on the 150 or so entities under gubernatorial authority.

"We really have tried to get ahead of this," CalHR spokeswoman Pat McConahay said in a telephone interview.

The measure, which takes effect July 1, 2014, requires state and local government employers hold off asking a job applicants whether they have a conviction record until after their minimum qualifications for the position are established. Assembly Bill 218 still permits up-front inquiries for jobs within a criminal justice agency and other positions that require a background check.

Government employers can ask anyone whether they have a criminal conviction record after the candidate's minimum qualifications have been established.

The state in 2010 moved two criminal-history questions from its standard job application to a supplemental form that departments distribute as needed. And any department can ask verbally or in writing whether a job candidate has a felony or domestic abuse record once the applicant has cleared minimum-requirement screening.

CalHR has been surveying how departments apply the policy (or haven't). The department intends to issue guidance and launch statewide training for best practices for recruiting, interviewing and checking references, McConahay said, because "we want to make it very clear."

Rule change helped thief return to state of California payroll
AUDIO: Embezzler talks about her re-hiring and firing from rail agency
Poll: When should government ask job seekers about criminal past?
Jerry Brown signs bill to ban felony question on public job apps
The State Worker: Which 'common-sense' view on criminal records will prevail?

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown and first lady Anne Gust Brown share a moment with Sutter, the couple's dog, on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, as the governor signs bills near his office in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

October 14, 2013 comments closed for system change is temporarily closing online comments today while programmers install changes that include a new social media sign-in system.

Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar recently explained the rationale: " is changing reader comments."

Bee editors will host a live chat from noon to 1 p.m. today to share your questions and ideas on what comments at should be like moving forward. You can join the event on the Bee Labs page by clicking here.

The discussion will be left open afterward so that you can continue to add your thoughts and feedback. Editors and staff will jump in and moderate and answer questions through the review period. And you can click here to send a letter to the editor to weigh in with your thoughts.

October 11, 2013
Stanford think tank starts online course on retirement, pensions

The conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University is firing up an online, eight-week class on retirement finance, including a look at public pension systems.

"Finance of Retirement and Pensions," starts Monday. Joshua Rauh, a Hoover senior fellow and professor of finance at the university's Graduate School of Business, is teaching it. The course is free.

Stanford spokeswoman Katie Pandes said as of Friday some 20,000 people had signed up.

In January, the class culminates in a symposium titled "Innovative Ideas for the Future of U.S. Public Sector Pensions," to be held at the Stanford business school, according to a university press release. Click here for more information

The course -- and the publicity it brings -- is starting just as San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed is pushing to put a public pension initiative on the 2014 ballot.

Stanford has become a center of pro-pension-change thinking in the last few years. The university's Institute for Economic Policy Research has issued controversial assessments of California's public pension-system debt at the state and local levels. David Crane, former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's pension point man, is a research scholar at the economic policy institute.

VIDEO: Hoover Institution/NovoED

October 11, 2013
Jerry Brown signs Richard Pan bill to limit state outsourcing

131011-Richard-Pan.jpgGov. Jerry Brown on Friday announced signing union-backed legislation aimed at making personal services contracts more transparent to unions.

Assemblyman Richard Pan's measure originally limited so-called "personal services contracts" to two years with no more than one two-year extension. Unions rallied at the Capitol in support of the measure, arguing that the state spends billions of dollars on contract workers at far greater cost than hiring more state employees.

The legislation that Brown signed today is a far less aggressive measure than the one labor interests wanted. Assembly Bill 906 requires that departments merely notify affected unions before they execute a contract for personal services.

Lawmakers removed Pan's time-limit and contract-renewal provisions from the bill. The state may also sidestep the disclosure provision if the services are "necessary due to a sudden and unexpected occurrence that poses a clear and imminent danger, requiring immediate action to prevent or mitigate the loss or impairment of life, health, property, or essential public services."

Still, Pan and AFSCME declared victory in a press release that the Sacramento Democrat's office issued Friday afternoon, quoting union Assistant Director Willie Pelote as saying the new law "will help us build a system of oversight that California needs to prevent overspending on private contractors."

PHOTO: Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, during the first day of session at the California state Capitol in Sacramento on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

October 11, 2013
California takes a small step toward exiting troubled high-rise HQ

131013-BOE-windows-2005-villegas.jpgCalifornia officials have put out feelers for what it would take to leave the state's unofficial money pit -- AKA the Board of Equalization headquarters -- with an Oct. 31 deadline for responses from developers, landowners. politicians (hello, mayors of Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, West Sacramento, etc.) and any other interested parties.

The "request for information" from the Department of General Services asks for ways to consolidate board operations that now spread more than 4,000 employees across several facilities in the Sacramento area, about half of them in the notorious 24-story tower at 450 N Street in Sacramento.

You can expect lots of ideas to build new space, since "there is no facility currently available in the Sacramento region that is large enough to house a consolidated BOE operation," Government Operations Secretary Marybel Batjer told Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg in this Sept. 26 letter obtained by The State Worker.

Steinberg, a Democrat whose Sacramento district includes the 20-year-old high rise, chairs the committee that confirmed Batjer's appointment to the newly-created agency in August. The BOE building came up during that hearing.

Fiscal and marketing obstacles are in the way of moving BOE, however, and the timeframes and costs are subject to change.

Bond debt on the facility stands at around $100 million and it's supposed to be paid off with BOE lease money by 2021. The state would have to pay the bondholders earlier to leave sooner and ante up funding for a new facility. State officials have estimated the 463,000-square-foot building could sit empty for a couple years to rehab it for new tenants.

Assuming that any could be found. The tower has a long history of well-known troubles, from leaking windows and toxic mold to faulty elevators and corroded plumbing. Workers are currently replacing hundreds of exterior panels after one popped off last year and crashed to the sidewalk below.

PHOTO: Wood panels cover openings where two glass windows popped out on the south side of the Board of Equalization building in 2005. Sacramento Bee/Jose Luis Villegas

October 10, 2013
Jerry Brown signs bill to ban felony question on public job apps

130912-Job-fair-pge.jpgGov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that bans government employers from asking job applicants about their criminal record until later in the hiring process, effectively extending the state's policy to some 6,000-plus local and regional government agencies in California.

Assembly Bill 218, by Sacramento Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, requires public employers determine a job applicant's minimum qualifications before they ask about the person's conviction history.

Practically speaking, that means removing the check-box questions common on many applications that ask, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?"

Once the law takes effect on July 1, 2014, employers will have to wait later in the hiring process to inquire about a job candidate's criminal past. Applications and initial interviews for jobs that by law require a conviction background check, such as police officers, are exempt. The state, for example, includes the question on a supplemental application form given for California Highway Patrol officer candidates.

October 10, 2013
San Jose mayor says he'll file pension initiative language soon

131010-chuck-reed-courtesy-san-jose.jpgSan Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said Wednesday that he will soon file papers to place a public pension measure before voters.

'I hope we'll in the position of filing for the title and summary in a few days," Reed said during remarks at Stanford University's conservative Hoover Institution.

The Democratic mayor said that "time is of the essence" for cutting government pension obligations that he says have strained municipal budgets statewide. For several months Reed has been recruiting support for a measure that would alter California's constitution so that state and local governments could lower pensions prospectively for current employees, while keeping their earned benefits intact.

Prevailing legal wisdom says that retirement promises to current employees are constitutionally protected. A voter-approved rollback for San Jose city employees that Reed promoted is testing that theory in court.

Although lawmakers last year dialed down retirement benefits for new hires and required most current employees to contribute more toward their retirement funds, "we have to go further than the Legislature did in 2012," Reed told the Hoover audience.

Unions have rejected Reed's ideas and have challenged the San Jose law in court. A statewide measure would undoubtedly trigger a massive response from organized labor a la its successful campaign to defeat a 2012 initiative that would have made member-dues collection more difficult.

Experts figure Reed will need between $2 million and $4 million to collect the 1.3 million signatures required to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot. There are signs that a Texas millionaire is willing to kick in to the cause. Silicon Valley money from conservative backers such as Charles Munger Jr. could pour in as well.

PHOTO: Chuck Reed. Courtesy City of San Jose.

October 10, 2013
Column Extra: Read the ruling that slams Corrections' contract

Our column in today's fiber/cyber Bee reports the latest developments in the fight over two contracts totaling $11 million for outsourced legal services for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Check out the column and then, if you really want to get into the weeds (attention, all state attorneys!), read through the State Personnel Board's decision, which it telegraphed by putting a verbal smackdown on the state's attorney during an August hearing.

State Personnel Board Decision and Order

October 9, 2013
Open enrollment for CalPERS health insurance closes Friday

CALPERS_COURTYARD_JAY_MATHER_2005.JPGA reminder to all the state government, local government and school district employees who receive medical insurance through CalPERS: You have until Friday to choose your health coverage for 2014.

The menu of options for next year includes four new HMO providers -- Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Sharp Health and UnitedHealthcare - in addition to current providers Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente.

The fund, which administers health insurance for about 1.4 million members and their qualified dependents, spent $7 billion on medical coverage in 2012 on behalf of more than 3,000 government organizations. Among U.S. employers, only the federal government spends more.

Some pertinent links:

CalPERS 2014 Health Plan Summary lays out which plans are available according to county.
The Health Plan ZIP Code Search allows users to search for health insurance options by ZIP code.
The Health Plan Chooser is a tool allows you to enter information about your employer's medical insurance contribution and your health history to generate a chart that compares plans and your projected out-of-pocket costs.

PHOTO: The courtyard at CalPERS headquarters in Sacramento is shown on Nov. 8, 2005. The Sacramento Bee/ Jay Mather.

October 8, 2013
University of California union to ask members to authorize strike

131008-berkeley-campus.jpgThe bare-knuckles contract brawl between the University of California and one of its larger unions has entered the next round, with an announcement Tuesday that AFSCME Local 3299 is planning to take a strike vote at the end of this month.

The union represents some 22,000 employees who provide staff support and medical services at UC hospitals. Contract talks have been deadlocked for more than a year.

AFSCME officials have said they are pressing for changes to policies that waste public money and put public health at risk. The university counters that AFSCME's concerns are a smokescreen to hide its real agenda to curtail pension changes that other unions have already accepted.

The union plans to take its unfair labor practice strike vote from Oct. 28 to Oct. 30.

AFSCME's move comes after the Public Employees Relations Board last month charged the UC system with intimidating employees who participated in another strike last summer.

And 10 Democratic lawmakers recently sent this letter to the UC's new president, Janet Napolitano. The letter notes the imposed working terms on AFSCME-represented service staff affect some of the UC's lowest-paid employees, "90% of whom are immigrants and people of color."

UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said that the university's terms for service employees gave them a 2 percent pay raise this year following 5 percent raises during each of the last two years and that they earn more than counterparts in the California State University system or the private sector.

Last August, neutral factfinder Paul D. Roose summed up the relationship between AFSCME and the university like this:

Arguably, the parties are tens of millions of dollars apart in their economic proposals. And, in the opinion of the neutral, each side is vigorously attempting to take away rights traditionally reserved to the other party.

The parties surely recognize that they are a few short steps away from a collision - in the form of a unilateral implementation and / or work stoppage - that will benefit neither side and will harm many other stakeholders in the University community.

Napolitano is planning to meet with AFSCME leaders soon, Klein said, as part of her effort to meet various UC constituencies as she learns her new job, but "not to collectively bargain."

PHOTO: People walk through Sproul Plaza near Sather Gate on the UC Berkeley campus on June 1, 2011. Associated Press/Eric Risberg

October 8, 2013
The Roundup: CO lottery spending; NJ considers GPS for state cars; federal workers file for unemployment

HA_newspapers3808.JPGAudit: Colorado Lottery spending too much, including $400K on bonuses
A state audit released Monday criticized the Colorado Lottery for high prize payouts and administrative costs -- including nearly $400,000 of employee bonuses last year -- which siphoned away millions of dollars from public-school construction and parks, recreation and open space. - Denver Post

Editorial: Install GPS devices to track use of state-owned vehicles in N.J.
It's only human nature. When the boss is in the vicinity, keeping an eye on employees, workers pick up the pace, cleave to the corners that might otherwise be cut, and carefully carry out their tasks. And when the boss is away, employees may be more relaxed about the job, perhaps devoting some time to personal business. - The Times of Trenton

Maryland state workers busy -- processing federal workers' unemployment claims
Furloughed federal workers have filed more than 16,000 unemployment insurance applications -- more than four times the number typically received from that sector in a year. - PUBLICATION

Enron billionaire expands craven plot to abuse workers
A week after the simultaneous release of my Institute for America's Future report and Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone investigation into John Arnold, huge news hit California: The Enron billionaire whose former company wrecked the Golden State's economy appears to be using a shadowy Texas front group to now try to loot the Golden State's public pension system. As the Sacramento Bee reports ... - Salon

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October 7, 2013
Incumbents win re-election to CalPERS board

J.J. Jelincic and Michael Bilbrey have again won terms on the board of California's largest government retirement system, according to an uncertified tally of votes by CalPERS.

Roughly 57 percent of the ballots cast supported Jelincic and handed defeat to three challengers.

Bilbrey, who joined the board in 2012 after winning a special election to fill a vacant spot on the 13-member Board of Administration, beat one opponent with about 66 percent of the vote.

The results aren't official until certified by the Secretary of State's office. The new terms for both men begin Jan. 16, 2014.

CalPERS sent out 1.2 million ballots to CalPERS members for the month-long election that ended Sept. 27. About 140,000 members participated.

The constitutionally-independent CalPERS Board of Administration oversees retirement funds covering 1.6 million state and local government employees, retirees and their beneficiaries.

CalPERS Election Raw Results

October 4, 2013
Jerry Brown sues U.S. Labor Department over pension law

As he announced last month, Gov. Jerry Brown today sued the U.S. Department of Labor over its ruling that California's new pension-reform law violates mass-transit workers' collective bargaining rights.

The Sacramento Regional Transit District joined Brown's Department of Transportation as a party to the complaint which seeks to overturn federal decisions that have withheld $54 million from the Sacramento district, including $14 million for light rail construction to Elk Grove that cannot be recovered.

A 1964 law requires that the Labor Department certify agencies are preserving their employees' collective representation as a condition of receiving federal mass-transit grants.

October 3, 2013
Column Extra: California pension-change effort and its Texas tie

131003-john_arnold_ap-2009.jpgOur State Worker column in today's fiber/cyber Bee looks at San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's push for a pension-change measure on next year's statewide ballot and how a Texas nonprofit has helped out.

Here's more:

The disclosure form filed by Reed that details the $200,000 behested donation from Action Now Initiative to the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce.

An email from the chamber's president and CEO Matt Mahood, sent in response to a telephone call to the organization's spokesman, who was unavailable on Wednesday. (We didn't see the email until this morning.)

Action Now Initiative's Form 990, which nonprofits must file with the IRS. Scroll to the bottom and you'll see that John and Laura Arnold are listed as directors of the organization.

The IRS list of "Approved Tax-Exempt Applications For Advocacy Organizations" as of May 2013. Action Now is fifth on the alphabetized roster.

Laura and John Arnold Foundation website page dated Aug. 12, 2013, titled, "Laura and John Arnold: Let's Prevent Another Detroit." It lays out arguments and ideas that parallel what Reed and like-minded mayors are saying about pensions. (Reed filed his behest disclosure 16 days later.)

An informative, readable explanation of 501(c)(4) organizations by The Washington Post's Sean Sullivan. Includes amusing video from "The Colbert Report."

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, the documents and the observations that inform what's published.

PHOTO: John Arnold in 2009. Associated Press

October 3, 2013
The Roundup: Texas money helps CA pension reformers; federal shutdown affects MN state workers; OR reduces retiree COLA

The State Worker: Pension reformers retooling with help from Texas
With the first deadline looming for a new public-pension proposal to make the November 2014 ballot, a Texas nonprofit has emerged in a behind-the-scenes battle poised to break into public view next year. - The Sacramento Bee

Special session is successful despite its difficulties
In just three days, the Oregon Legislature cut retirements for public employees, raised taxes on the wealthy, cut taxes for small businesses, dedicated a cigarette tax to mental health services and passed a bill regulating agricultural seeds. - The Statesman Journal

Caltrans entirely rebuilds I-80 from Auburn to Nevada state line
A half-dozen years ago, then-Caltrans Director Will Kempton says he was so embarrassed by the cracks and ruts while driving Interstate 80 that he wanted to pull over and cover the Caltrans logo on his car. Wednesday, Kempton, now head of a coalition of companies that worked on the road, joined government officials at the Donner Summit rest area to celebrate what they call the biggest freeway renovation project in California in years. - The Sacramento Bee

3,000 state workers at risk of furlough in shutdown
MINNEAPOLIS - The governor's office said Wednesday that up to 3,000 state workers are at risk of being furloughed during a prolonged government shutdown. - KARE 11

Walker: Self-insured health plan for state workers needs more study
MADISON -- More time is needed to study options about whether it makes sense to shift state employees from health maintenance organizations to a state self-insured program, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday. - Associated Press/Green Bay Press Gazette

Nebraska state employees in charge at the federal Meat Animal Research Center - KHAS-TV

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

Follow @TheStateWorker on Twitter and check out our community page on Facebook for links, comments and insights into our reports, blog posts and columns.

October 3, 2013
'Colbert Report' spoofs federal shutdown with 'Breaking Gov'

Satirist Stephen Colbert blends AMC's "Breaking Bad" finale and the federal government shutdown in this recent installment from his Comedy Central show.

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

Thanks to blog user H for sending this our way.

October 2, 2013
The Roundup: Stockton's bankruptcy proposal includes taxes; CA inmate abuse alledged; federal shutdown affects NC state workers

HA_newspapers3808.JPGStockton city manager: 'We need new taxes'
STOCKTON - Officials in this struggling city made the case Tuesday for their plan to exit bankruptcy, saying the brunt of the burden will be shouldered by taxpayers and municipal employees and retirees. - The Sacramento Bee

Dramatic videos open latest salvo in California prison battle
Claiming that California prisons use force against mentally ill prisoners too often and overzealously, attorneys for inmates opened their latest attack on the system Tuesday in federal court by playing two graphic videos of inmates in their cells being pepper-sprayed, then rushed by a team of guards who forcibly subdued them. - The Sacramento Bee

State workers in North Carolina feel effect of federal shutdown
RALEIGH -- The federal government shutdown caused the furlough of hundreds of state government workers whose jobs are fully or partially federally funded Tuesday, and state officials said several thousand more jobs could be be affected. - Charlotte Observer

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

Follow @TheStateWorker on Twitter and check out our community page on Facebook for links, comments and insights into our reports, blog posts and columns.

October 1, 2013
State launches annual benefit for domestic-violence victims

130930-VCP-benefit.jpgCalifornia state government and local businesses today started a month-long campaign to collect clothing for domestic-violence victims and their children.

This is the third year that the California Victim Compensation Program has sponsored the annual benefit during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In the past, the "Suited for Success" drive has focused on collecting professional attire for women to wear for job interviews and to work. This year, organizers have tweaked the title to "Suited for Successful Families" and have expanded their collection efforts to include new and gently-used professional attire for women and men, children's clothing, diapers, and new toys.

Donations collected through Oct. 31 will go to nonprofits that serve domestic-violence and sexual-assault victims, including WEAVE, My Sister's House, Plumas Rural Services, A Community For Peace, and the Sacramento Children's Home.

In 2012, state employees, businesses, legislative staff, and Sacramento residents donated nearly 2,000 suits, slacks, dresses, shoes, and belts.

The Department of General Services, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer's Office, the Commission on Teaching Credentials, the Folsom Police Department, the City of Folsom, First 5 California, and the Office of Emergency Services also are participating.

Sacramento businesses Chicory Coffee at 1131 11th St. and Vallejo's Restaurant at 1100 O St. have set up collection bins to take donations from the public.

PHOTO: From left: Christina Robleto, Officer Cyndi Mitchell, Sgt. Andy Mayo (all from the California Highway Patrol) and Victim Compensation Program Outreach & Communications Coordinator Anne Gordon load women's clothing to take to WEAVE's thrift store in this October 2011 picture. Courtesy California Victim Compensation Program

October 1, 2013
The Roundup: Federal shut down impacts; pensions 'looted'

HA_newspapers3808.JPGShutdown would hurt Sacramento's recovery but not kill it
Sacramento's wobbly economic recovery wouldn't be crushed by a shutdown of the federal government, but the region would surely feel the pain of employee layoffs and the likely jolt to consumer confidence. The heaviest burden would likely fall on hundreds if not thousands of federal employees in greater Sacramento facing the prospect of not collecting a paycheck. - The Sacramento Bee

State workers in North Carolina may feel effect of federal shutdown
RALEIGH -- The federal government shut down could effect as many as 6,000 state government workers whose jobs are fully or partially federally funded, North Carolina officials said Tuesday. - The News & Observer

State governments shut down, too
It may be the first time in 17 years for the federal government, but states are no strangers to government shutdowns.. - Washington Post

Looting the Pension Funds
In the final months of 2011, almost two years before the city of Detroit would shock America by declaring bankruptcy in the face of what it claimed were insurmountable pension costs, the state of Rhode Island took bold action to avert what it called its own looming pension crisis. - Rolling Stone

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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