The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

110816 Ron Yank.JPGThe Senate Rules Committee has scheduled a 1:30 p.m. hearing today to consider confirming Ron Yank as director of the Department of Personnel Administration.

Gov. Jerry Brown's tapped the former labor lawyer to the state's top DPA post in January. As acting director, he negotiated new contracts with six bargaining units, including the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. CCPOA had been without a labor contract since July 2006.

Brown's decision to tap a former labor attorney who counted CCPOA among his clients drew some fire as a gift to the unions. Later, the labor pacts Yank brokered came under some criticism from the Legislative Analyst's Office for failing to save enough money.

Still, we expect the Yank appointment will be a slam dunk confirmation from the Democrat-controlled committee chaired by Senate President Pro Tem (and former SEIU lawyer) Darrell Steinberg.

110815 Dan Pellissier.JPGDan Pellissier (left), president of California Pension Reform, has been named to the National Advisory Council of UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies think tank.

The council "is responsible for providing guidance and direction to advance the Institute's development and outreach efforts," according to the institute's website. Council members are unpaid volunteers.

Pellissier, a Republican whose long political career was rooted in an internship through the university's Cal-in-the-Capitol program, is now one of California's leading advocates for rolling back public pensions. His group is pushing to put a measure before voters next year.

Gov. Jerry Brown has announced four executive appointments in three departments:

Shelley Rouillard, 55, of Sacramento has been appointed chief deputy director of the Department of Managed Health Care. This position doesn't require Senate confirmation and pays $125,000 per year.

John Shen, 61, of Berkeley, has been appointed chief of the Long Term Care Division at the Department of Health Care Services. This position doesn't require Senate confirmation. Annual pay: $122,196.

110811 Tresh.JPGCol. Keith Tresh (right), 49, of Sacramento, has been appointed director of the Office of Information Security at the California Technology Agency. This job doesn't require Senate confirmation. It pays $156,000 per year.

And, as already reported on our sister blog, Capitol Alert, Brent Barnhart, 68, of Danville, has been appointed director of the Department of Managed Health Care. The job requires Senate confirmation and pays $142,965 annually.

Click here for more details about each of the appointees.

PHOTO: Col. Keith Tresh / courtesy Governor's Office

110606 Larry Wallace.JPGAttorney General Kamala Harris has announced several senior Department of Justice positions, including Larry Wallace, the first African-American named director of the Division of Law Enforcement.

Wallace, a 25-year-veteran of law enforcement, worked with Harris as the former San Francisco district attorney's deputy chief of the bureau of investigations. He started his career with the Berkeley Police Department and spent a decade with the San Francisco Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.

Other appointments that Harris announced include:

110418 McKim.JPGCaltrans Director Cindy McKim has put out the word that she will be retiring, effective May 17. The department hasn't made a formal announcement, but department spokesman Matt Rocco confirmed the news this afternoon.

Gov. Jerry Brown hasn't yet named a successor, Rocco said.

McKim's departure is the third time Caltrans' top administrator has stepped down in less than two years.

McKim's predecessor, Randell Iwasaki, left on April 15, 2010, for a better-paying job with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. (The resignation caught then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unprepared, which upset the administration.)

Iwasaki had replaced Will Kempton, who left the department for a more lucrative job with the Orange County Transportation Authority in August 2009.

McKim was the Caltrans chief deputy director before Schwarzenegger appointed her to the top post in May 2010. She earned $130,322 last year. Her retirement marks the end of more than 30 years with the department.

PHOTO: Cindy McKim /

We never get all of what we learn into a news story like today's report that six employee groups that have resumed the court fight against furloughs -- and this time Gov. Jerry Brown is the defendant. Fortunately, this blog can give users the notes and quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Thumbnail image for 110105 Ron Yank.JPGWe spoke with DPA Director Ron Yank on Thursday about the renewed furlough litigation now in Alameda Superior Court. When we finished talking about the lawsuit for purposes of the story, Yank said that he wanted to discuss two other issues: a much-noted statement he made Wednesday during a joint legislative committee hearing and challenges that the uneven application of furloughs have created at the bargaining table.

Here are some highlights:


Lance Corcoran, left, who was the face of the California Correctional Peace Officers' Association for several years, passed away Sunday night, according to the union.

A union activist for more than 20 years, Mr. Corcoran died at age 47 after a brief illness.

CCPOA just issued a press release, which you can read by clicking here.

Mr. Corocoran was an officer at the prison in Susanville, and later became the union's lobbyist, spokesman and executive vice president.

Mr. Corcoran's time in the public spotlight was often under a harsh glare. His job required speaking for CCPOA during its pitched labor fights with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2008, he was arrested for drunk driving in San Joaquin County.

Mr. Corcoran didn't shy away from that episode in conversations with the media and he always made himself available 24/7. He was particularly skilled at understanding what reporters needed and delivering a pithy quote. The Bee referenced Mr. Corcoran in 135 stories from 2006 through 2010.

And he didn't hesitate to call reporters if he thought that a story wasn't fair -- or well done. Late last year, before he was admitted to the hospital in January, Mr. Corcoran called me to talk about a state worker story in The Bee that he liked. He had been working on November election matters and, he said, hoped to get back to CCPOA duties soon.

"We'll get together," he said in his baritone voice before hanging up. "I'll call you when I'm back."

Photo: Lance Corcoran, Aug.7, 2006. Sacramento Bee/ Brian Baer

February 23, 2011
Brown pulls CalSTRS appointee

Gov. Jerry Brown has removed a California State Teachers' Retirement System board appointee who helped author a controversial study that criticized the state's largest public pension funds.

Brown's predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, appointed Cameron Percy to the CalSTRS board on Dec. 30. As a graduate student at Stanford, Percy was part of a team that wrote, "Going For Broke: Reforming California's Public Employee Pension Systems." Schwarzenegger often referenced the report's highly disputed claim that California's Big Three pension systems -- including CalSTRS -- faced a collective $500 billion in unfunded liabilities. (Click here for an earlier post about Percy's appointment to CalSTRS.)

Brown revoked Percy's appointment last Friday along with that of another Schwarzenegger pick for CalSTRS, Steven Kram. Kram is chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Content Partners LLC. He also served as chief operating officer for the William Morris Agency from 1988 to 2005.

Bee colleague Dale Kasler, who covers state pension funds, this morning asked Brown spokesman Evan Westrup why the governor revoked the appointments. The answer: "These appointees served at the pleasure of the governor and their services were no longer required."

Another Schwarzenegger appointee who publicly criticized the state's public pensions, David Crane, hasn't been removed from the University of California Board of Regents. Crane was the face of the Schwarzenegger administration's push for pension rollbacks and often blasted the UC pension system, CalSTRS and CalPERS for their accounting practices and investment assumptions.

Patricia K. Macht, the long-time public face of CalPERS, announced Thursday that she is retiring from the fund at the end of June.

Macht, a former journalist who is married to Bee deputy city editor Maury Macht, started with CalPERS in 1995 as its public affairs chief and developed the fund's internal and external communications programs. She was promoted to assistant executive officer in 2002.

CalPERS created a deputy-level position, director of external affairs, and promoted Macht into it in July 2009. The post paid $136,553 last year on a base of $116,743, according to state payroll records.

In a letter to staff this afternoon announcing Macht's departure, fund CEO Anne Stausboll wrote:

Pat has built one of the best communication programs in State government, backed by a talented team of communication professionals. She has led her team with the highest of standards in ethics, openness and integrity, and this has made CalPERS a professional and trusted source of information.

PHOTO: Patricia Macht /

110127 finger-pointing.jpgOn his way out the door, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a controversial pardon and a high-profile thumb-in-your-eye appointment to the UC Board of Regents. But have you heard about Cameron Percy?

Schwarzenegger appointed Percy to a spot on the CalSTRS board (compensation: $100 per diem) in December, as Gov. Jerry Brown's website notes. At 26, Percy has a graduate degree from Stanford and business experience with a couple of companies.

As a Stanford grad student, Percy helped author "Going For Broke: Reforming California's Public Employee Pension Systems," which Schwarzenegger and Co. referenced as a source for the oft-cited and highly disputed calculation that California's Big Three pension systems faced a collective $500 billion in unfunded liabilities.

CalSTRS' piece of that, according to the year-old study: $156.7 billion. Fund officials have said that's an overestimation.

(The fund says it had $146.4 billion in assets the end of 2010. Figures posted on its website show that its funding level was 78 percent as of June 30, 2009, but STRS has made investment gains since then. Generally, 80 percent funding is considered the threshold for healthy public pension systems -- although that rule of thumb, like most things about public pensions, has been a topic of debate.)

The Senate has a year to confirm Percy's appointment. We called Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's office and asked when the Rules Committee might take it up. Spokesman Nathan Barankin said there's no firm date yet: "But governors make their own decisions about appointments. Anyone can be yanked with the stroke of a pen."


The Bee's editorial page this morning fixes its skeptical eye on Gov. Jerry Brown's appointment of retired labor attorney Ronald Yank to head the Department of Personnel Administration.

"While some may suggest that Brown is being shrewd - nabbing the opposing team's quarterback," the editorial board writes in a direct reference to our Thursday State Worker column about Brown's pick, "it remains to be seen where Yank's loyalties will lie."

If you haven't already, check out the column by clicking here and catch this post of highlights from Yank's interview with The State Worker.

Then consider our poll question:

With just 400 to 450 words for our Thursday State Worker column, much of what we learn in the ramp-up to writing it never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that don't make the cut.

The State Worker column
in today's fiber and cyber Sacramento Bee looks at Gov. Jerry Brown's pick to head the Department of Personnel Administration, Ronald Yank.

We spoke with several sources in both labor and state government to get a sense of Yank's leadership style and history. We also spoke with him on the phone for about 15 minutes on Wednesday, shortly after the Brown administration officially announced Yank's appointment. The conversation was lively, engaging and frank. Here are some snippets of what he said:

Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed his wife, Anne Gust Brown, to an unpaid special counsel to the governor position and named two executive secretaries. The Bee's David Siders has the story in this Capitol Alert post.

Brown also named his press secretary and two deputy press secretaries. Click here to read Bee colleague Jack Chang's report.

110105 Ron Yank.JPGGov. Jerry Brown has just released a short list of appointees to key positions. As we reported on Tuesday, labor attorney Ronald Yank has been picked to lead the Department of Personnel Administration. Other appointments on today's list include:

>> John Laird, Secretary of the California Resources Agency
>> Marty Morgenstern, Secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency
>> Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board

Brown also made seven appointments to the state Board of Education, including former Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig. Click here to view the press release.

PHOTO: Ronald Yank, 2007 / Courtesy Carroll Burdick & McDonough LLP

The State Worker has learned that a labor attorney who has represented the state prison officers' union will be tapped by Gov. Jerry Brown to run the Department of Personnel Administration.

We'd heard buzz from Monday's inaugural festivities that Ronald Yank would be named to head the department, so we asked this morning. Lynelle Jolley, department spokeswoman, confirmed, but said she had no other details.

Yank's appointment, which could be announced today, sends a strong signal that Brown is eager to get a contract deal done with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. Yank has represented CCPOA as an attorney with Carroll, Burdick & McDonough LLP. His son, Jonathan Yank, also is a lawyer based in the firm's San Francisco office.

Who's Who in American Law indicates that Ronald Yank, 68, has a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and earned a law degree from Harvard University in 1967.

Last weekend, The Bee's Dan Smith reported in this story that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Kari Miner, a Sacramento small-business consultant, to a $128,109-a-year job on the Public Employment Relations Board.

We thought that state worker blog users would be interested to know that Miner, referred to in the administration's press release as "an independent consultant to small businesses focusing on image and efficiency" since 2003, is the wife of Paul Miner, formerly Schwarzenegger's chief deputy cabinet secretary. (He left to become a lobbyist for General Electric.)

And Kari Miner's independent consulting work? That's admin-speak for interior designer. Click here for a reference to her Sacramento-based job in a recent edition of Sacramento Magazine.

To be fair, Miner does have other credentials. The administration's announcement of the appointment noted she was a statewide development and programs officer at the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs from 1996 to 2002. Before that, she spent three years as a paralegal for a Sacramento-based law firm.

David Shaw.jpgInspector General David Shaw, whose office has come under scrutiny for assigning sworn peace officer status to its lawyers and auditors, on Monday told the department's staff that he is retiring.

Acting Chief Deputy Inspector General Bruce Monfross will take over for the 54-year-old Shaw, whose last day on the job is Thursday, said Laura Hill, special adviser to the inspector general.

"He's retiring after many years of state service to move on to other opportunities," Hill told The State Worker.

The sudden announcement comes less than two years into Shaw's six-year term as the head of the Office of the Inspector General. The 150-employee, $26 million department investigates staff and management crimes, misconduct, waste, fraud and other abuses within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

101227 Borucki.JPGEditor's note, 11:14 p.m.: This post has been corrected to reflect the California Lottery's administrative costs. An earlier version incorrectly stated that the amount was $396,000.

It's begun.

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown has told Lottery Director Joan Borucki her services are no longer needed. Her last day is Sunday, according to a Dec. 23 e-mail obtained by The State Worker. Brown takes the oath of office the next day.

The incoming administration has asked Lottery Chief Deputy Director Linh Nguyen to serve as acting director, according a Nguyen e-mail to staff.

The California Lottery's nine games took in nearly $2.95 billion in sales during the 2008-09 fiscal year, according to it's last published report. About one-third, or $1.04 billion, went to education programs. Prizes accounted for $1.56 billion and administrative expenses took the rest, about $396 million.

Look for many more changes at the tops of departments in the coming days as Brown begins to recast key positions in government. As Nguyen notes in his e-mail, "That is the nature of appointed positions."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this post included a Scribd display of the SEIU Local 1000 announcement. For purposes of easier readability, this version links directly to the announcement on the local's website.

SEIU Local 1000 has hired Nolice Edwards as its new chief of staff. Union President Yvonne Walker announced the decision in the following memo.

The memo, which you can read here, doesn't disclose what the union is paying Edwards, who earned $190,000 in 2009 as Assembly Speaker Karen Bass' chief of staff.

We've asked the local how much Edwards will make in her new post, but it's not a government job, so SEIU isn't obligated to disclose the information. Still, union spokesman Jim Zamora said he would check. If he comes back with an answer, we'll update this post.

100816 Teri_Takai2.jpgCalifornia's chief information officer, Teri Takai, has resigned from state government's top tech job effective Nov. 5. Chief Deputy Director Christy Quinlan will taking over as acting CIO.

In an e-mail to department staff sent this afternoon, Takai confirmed that she is leaving to take a job in President Barack Obama's administration. The job had been on hold for several months, as we reported here.

Takai's resignation comes a week after her deputy CIO, Mike Locatis, took the top CIO post with the federal Department of Energy.

Here's Takai's e-mail:

Thumbnail image for 100607 Locatis.JPGFederal News Radio, which follows the inside game in Washington, D.C., has reported that California's Deputy Chief Information Officer Mike Locatis will take the top CIO post with the federal Department of Energy this week.

100816 Teri_Takai2.jpgYou'll recall that Locatis came from Colorado last summer. At the time, conventional wisdom was that he would take state CIO Teri Takai's job when she left of a Department of Defense job for which President Barack Obama nominated her. The DOD job hit a snag, however, and now it looks like her deputy will head east before she does.

Hat tip to state government IT guru John Thomas Flynn at TechLeader.TV for passing along the info to The State Worker.

PHOTO CREDITS: Michael Locatis /; Teri Takai /

101015 Tharratt Photo.jpgFederal Receiver J. Clark Kelso has named Dr. Robert "Steven" Tharratt, M.D. to become the Statewide Medical Executive for California Prison Health Care Services. The former director for California Emergency Medical Services Authority assumes his new post on Oct. 25, where he'll oversee medical services in the state's 33 adult prisons.

Click here for more about Tharatt's appointment.

PHOTO: Dr. Robert "Steven" Tharratt / Courtesy California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

100816 Teri_Takai2.jpgIt looks like state Chief Information Officer Teri Takai's (left) move to a federal Defense Department post has hit a snag.

On Aug. 3, the Senate Armed Services Committee was supposed to consider her nomination by President Barack Obama to become assistant secretary of defense for networks and Information Integration. But the committee removed her name from the panel of nominees, which you can see by clicking here.

Two days later, Federal Computer Week reported that the hearing was iced "while Defense Secretary Robert Gates makes good on his promise to slash the defense budget by reviewing the organization's structure."

100816 Locatis.JPGWe called the state Office of the State Information Officer for comment, particularly what this means for Michael Locatis (right), the former Colorado CIO who Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hired into a deputy post just below Takai, apparently to position him to take her place. The office has referred us to the Defense Department. You can read more about the Locatis hiring here.

Hat tip to John Thomas Flynn of and an anonymous caller for flagging this for The State Worker.

PHOTO CREDITS: Teri Takai /; Michael Locatis /

100727 rowe.JPGThe State Compensation Insurance Fund Board of Directors has named Thomas E. Rowe as the fund's new president and chief executive, effective Aug. 2.. He replaces Jan Frank, who left last October. State Fund's Chief Risk Officer, Doug Stewart, had served since then as interim president and CEO.

According an announcement released this morning, Rowe comes to State Fund from T. Rowe Strategies, which provides consulting for the commercial property and casualty industry. He has also held senior posts with Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. and Trilogy Insurance Services.

Click here to read the State Fund release.

10:45 a.m. addition: Click here for Rowe's biography.

PHOTO: Thomas E. Rowe, courtesy State Compensation Insurance Fund

100607 Locatis.JPGGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced several appointments to the Office of the State Information Officer, including Michael Locatis to the chief deputy director post.

Locatis, Colorado's chief information officer since 2007, would be positioned to take over for California CIO Teri Takai if she receives congressional confirmation to become CIO of the U.S. Department of Defense. President Barack Obama nominated her for that job in March.

The chief deputy CIO job pays $148,000 per year and doesn't require Senate confirmation, according to this administration press release. Government Technology profiled Locatis in this 2008 article.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Locatis /

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has promoted Caltrans Chief Deputy Director Cindy McKim to the department's top post.

McKim, 57, is Caltrans' third director in less than a year. She replaces Randell Iwasaki, who left last month to become executive director for the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. His new job pays $190,000 per year.

Iwasaki replaced Will Kempton, who quit Caltrans to work for the Orange County Transportation Authority to the tune of $255,000 annually.

Caltrans' top job pays $142,965 per year and requires Senate confirmation.

Assuming McKim is confirmed, the appointment will be the 11th time she has changed jobs a 25-year Caltrans career that included a stint as the department's chief financial officer from 2004 to 2009.

McKim lives in Roseville and is a registered Democrat. She graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor of Science degree in organizational behavior.

April 9, 2010
CalPERS names HR chief

In a memo sent to staff on Thursday, CalPERS Deputy Executive Officer of Operations Stephen Kessler announced the fund has hired Michael A. Willihnganz to head its Human Resources Division. Willihnganz is leaving his current post as Napa County's assistant director of Human Resources to start his new job on April 26.

Click here to read the CalPERS memo.

President Barack Obama is nominating Teri Takai, California's state chief information officer, for a position in the Department of Defense.

It's not clear when Takai might leave Sacramento to become assistant secretary of networks and information integration at Defense. Office of the Chief Information Officer spokesman Bill Maile deferred questions Tuesday to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office for a comment. Other stories got in the way of making that call until today, and Schwarzenegger's press office is closed in observance of Cesar Chavez Day.

You can read the White House press release by clicking here.

About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz started The State Worker blog and column in 2008 as a member of The Bee's business staff, where he covered workplace and labor issues. He moved to the Capitol Bureau in January 2009 to cover state employment issues full time. Join him for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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