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 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.

August 29, 2013
AUDIO: Embezzler talks about her re-hiring and firing from rail agency

Thumbnail image for NOTEBOOK_use_this.jpgOur story in today's Bee explains how changes on state government job applications led to the High Speed Rail Authority hiring a woman who served prison time for embezzling $320,000 from another department.

Rail officials fired Carey Renee Moore for lying on her job application. When the state blocked her from receiving unemployment benefits, she appealed her case before Administrative Law Judge Katie Zwinski on October 3, 2012.

A recording of that 23-minute hearing was among the public records we received in response to requests filed with the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the State Personnel Board. Documents include the unemployment insurance appeal paperwork Moore filed with Zwinski and the High Speed Rail termination notice that went to the Personnel Board when Moore filed -- and then withdrew -- a challenge to her firing.

Here are some audio clips from the hearing attended by Moore and her mother, a long-time state personnel officer. No one from the state attended the hearing to defend Moore's termination.

Moore discusses her 2007 resignation from Board of Equalization.

Moore's take on the political motive for her firing and how changes to the state's job application gave her an opportunity to return to state service.

How Moore handled rail officials' questions about her absence from state service.

Moore explains how she researched the changes to state job applications to make sure she could apply for work without disclosing her criminal history.

Moore describes what she said was her limited access to a high speed rail credit account.

An emotional Moore says her dismissal from the rail agency was "cruel" and "a little bit of a shock."

ILLUSTRATION: Seattle Times/Gabi Campanario

May 8, 2013
Indiana state worker fired for forwarding anti-Muslim joke email

Check out this report from Indiana, where a state worker is claiming he was treated unfairly for forwarding a joke from his work email account.

Discipline for 3 Indiana state workers over forwarding joke emails - RTV6

April 25, 2013
Bill would require civics orientation for California state workers

Quick: What are the three branches of the federal government?

California state workers who don't know would learn the answers to those kinds of questions if Senate Bill 619 becomes law.

The measure by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would require the state Department of Education to develop an online civics curriculum for state employees by Jan. 1, 2015. Agencies would have to certify with the state's human resources department each year that every employee hired, promoted or reclassified after July 1, 2015 has completed the orientation.

Yee spokesman Dan Lieberman said his boss, who's running for secretary of state, authored the measure after seeing statistics that only a third of Americans can name the three branches of U.S. government.

The senator "has run into a lot of people calling in to state agencies with questions and they couldn't get answers," Lieberman said. State workers by virtue of their jobs, he said, are a natural choice for a little civics brush-up.

Yee's bill mandates the curriculum must "facilitate a basic understanding of the responsibilities and operation of the three branches of government and the importance of civic engagement" and "include practical examples" that would be updated as needed.

There's no estimate of the training mandate's cost, but there's an escape hatch: The state won't go forward with the project unless private money pays at least half the cost of the program.

Labor unions and the California Chamber of Commerce support Yee's bill.

Oh, and the answer to that question? The executive, legislative and judicial branches.

March 13, 2013
California Conservation Corps dance video goes viral

Here's a video of John Griffith, a California Conservation Corps supervisor in Ukiah, showing off his dance moves to a couple of his corps members. Clicks on YouTube are approaching 600,000 since it was posted last summer, and it has recently popped up on TV shows such as "Good Morning America" and "The Today Show."

November 14, 2012
Revamped California public pay site offers more data and utility

121114 govt pay database1.jpgA California state-run website that tracks state and local government employee compensation relaunched this week with major upgrades that aim to make the data more accessible to the public.

The refurbished site,, includes maps, simple search engines and even allows users to build their own custom reports, compare pay rates and download raw numbers for their own research. The State Controller's Office, which maintains the site, says it includes the latest state and local compensation data available -- 2011 for state and higher education, 2010 for cities, counties and special districts.

It's the first time that the numbers include wages and benefit data for 69 of the state's 72 community college districts.

Unlike The Bee's state pay database, however, the SCO's data doesn't include the names of individual employees.

The site "does remain a work in progress, and my office will continue to improve and expand this public pay project," Controller John Chiang said in a news release marking the relaunch.

Click here to open You can view a menu of video tutorials about how to use the site by clicking here.

IMAGE: The report-building page on the state controller's revamped government employee compensation website. /

November 14, 2012
Check out the new DMV 'Answerman' video

California's Department of Motor Vehicles rolled out a new online video campaign featuring "Answerman," who will "not only tickle your funny bone, he will answer many frequently asked questions such as how to register your car for the first time, how to get a California driver license, and what happens if your car fails the smog test among many others," DMV says.

The department has been on the cutting edge of how the state uses technology to interact with Californiai residents, such as deploying ATM-style kiosks in field offices and using the Internet to ease appointments and vehicle registration. It also was an early adopter of Facebook and Twitter.

Here's an example of the department's latest venture:

November 5, 2012
The Sacramento Bee breaks down key ballot measures

The Bee breaks down key ballot measures

Here are three quick videos produced by The Bee's Capitol Bureau staff that lay out the issues and politics of four key measures on the Tuesday ballot.

Storified by Jon Ortiz · Mon, Nov 05 2012 09:18:02

Here are three quick videos produced by The Bee's Capitol Bureau staff, hosted by Capitol Alert blogger Torey Van Oot, that lay out the issues and politics of four key measures on the Tuesday ballot: Propositions 30 and 38, Proposition 32 and Proposition 37.
Props. 30/38thebeecapitolalert
Prop. 32thebeecapitolalert
Prop. 37thebeecapitolalert

Vote results: Customize your races's Election Central: News, photos, video
Voter Guide: Candidates, issues
California propositions
Sacramento Bee endorsements

October 29, 2012
The State Worker on radio today to talk about Proposition 32

100610 microphone.JPGWe're scheduled for an appearance on San Diego's KPBS at noon today for an interview with "Midday Edition" host Maureen Cavanaugh. We'll be talking about Proposition 32.

In you're in the San Diego area you can tune in at 89.5 FM or 97.7 FM in Calexico. Click the this link to join the live stream of the discussion near the top of the hour. You also can listen to the archived show here. We're supposed to be on for about five minutes.

October 26, 2012
Report: Caltrans workers misused rented state trucks, bought booze

This report from CBS2 in Los Angeles includes surveillance of Caltrans employees using department rental trucks for commuting and personal business during work hours, including one worker who made trips to buy liquor. Watch for a heated confrontation between Gov. Jerry Brown and CBS reporter David Goldstein.

Editor's note, 5:02 p.m.: Brown said that Goldstein confronted him after a funeral for former Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally. Read more about Brown's reaction to the CBS 2 story on Capitol Alert.

October 18, 2012
Check out the 'Proposition Song'

From our sister blog, Capitol Alert:

The nonpartisan California Voter Foundation has released "The Proposition Song" to introduce voters to the 11 ballot measures whose fate will be decided in the Nov. 6 election.

Click here for more from The Bee's Jim Sanders and to see the 3-minute video, shot at various locations around Sacramento.

October 8, 2012
Democrat Gloria Romero and Common Cause's Kathay Feng spar over Prop. 32

Former Democratic state Sen. Gloria Romero and Kathay Feng, executive director of Common Cause, faced off last weekend over Proposition 32 on "NewsConference," Southern California's local version of "Meet the Press."

Romero represented supporters of the measure, which would among other things ban payroll-deducted money from use for political purposes. Feng, whose good-government group supports the idea of campaign reform, represents the opposition.

The debate gets heated a few times, challenging the moderation skills of host Conan Nolan. The first segment runs seven minutes. The follow-up runs about five minutes.

View more videos at:

View more videos at:

October 2, 2012
Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses public pensions on Jon Stewart show

121001Schwarzenegger book signing.jpgFormer California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on The Daily Show Monday to promote his autobiography, "Total Recall." The three-part unedited interview with host Jon Stewart touched on California's fiscal woes, with Stewart framing the subject as a political problem created by an initiative process that has allowed voters to refuse to raise taxes and simultaneously demand more government services.

Schwarzenegger pivoted from that point to public pensions, a topic that became a focus of his administration. The California Legislature created a system that now carries "$400 billion" in unfunded pension obligations, the Republican movie star said, money spent "looking backward" to pay benefits for work done that could be used for investing in the future on things such as education and infrastructure.

Stewart, a Democrat who generally sides with organized labor, offered little resistance to Schwarzenegger's pension claims, although the two later sparred over tax policy and the economy.

We've embedded the Daily Show segments below. Scroll to the 5-minute, 50-second mark of the first one to catch the pension discussion. The second clip includes Schwarzenegger explaining why he didn't feel beholden to the Republican Party. He crosses swords with Stewart over tax policy in the third segment, which opens with Stewart asking, "I'm wondering why you aren't a Democrat."

August 22, 2012
Republican Sen. Mimi Walters predicts pension legislation won't be 'comprehensive'

California Edition host Brad Pomerance recently opened his show with a 13-minute interview with state Sen. Mimi Walters discussing public employee pensions.

Walters is a member of the conference committee tasked with crafting pension legislation. State Senate and Assembly leaders have said they will come up with a bill before the current session closes at the end of this month.

Midway through the interview Pomerance asks, "Do you believe that we will see some form of pension reform in this legislative year?"

Walters: "I believe we will see a form of pension reform. Will it be comprehensive? No. Will it make major changes to the issues that we're facing wth pensions? No. I believe that this Legislature will do something to say, 'Hey we took care of a couple of the abuses and now let's hope this issue goes away.'"

Pomerance: "Is something better than nothing, or is nothing better? Because if you do something it won't address the real fundamental problem."

Walters: "My concern is if we just do a little something, it won't address the fundamental concerns that we're facing -- and the issue may very well go away."

A separate interview about voting rights and legislation starts at the 14-minute mark with Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles.

June 15, 2012
Sacramento TV report looks at California state retired annuitants

From Sacramento's News10, this Wednesday night story:

June 14, 2012
Column Extra: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's message to unions: 'Work it out.'

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

Today's State Worker column highlights the tension between labor unions and Democrats over whether the Legislature will confer furlough authority on Gov. Jerry Brown. At the end of the piece, we quote Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, weighing in on union talks with the governor over pay reductions.

The brief video above captures our question about the negotiations and Steinberg's remark at the very end of a Wednesday morning Capitol press conference on the budget.

June 11, 2012
Unions fire Internet blast at California ballot measure

The organized labor coalition fighting a November ballot measure that would end payroll-deducted money for political spending -- the channel through which unions raise funds to play in politics -- has launched a new video blasting the proposal.

The unions' message attacks the measure as an unfair idea that would put new limits on the influence of organizations that speak up for working people while exempting self-interested elites.

As we mentioned in our Sunday story on the battle ahead over the proposition, look for labor to continue connecting the words like "exempt" and "Wall Street" to tar the measure. Backers, meanwhile, will continue to insist that it's an even-handed proposal that would limit influence by both unions and corporations because it bans both sides from making direct contributions to candidates.

The measure does nothing to limit independent expenditure spending. Since unions raise political money through payroll deductions of their members and corporations spend money donated by executives or taken from company funds, the proposition would hit organized labor harder.

June 7, 2012
Stephen Colbert analyzes the analyses of WI recall vote
May 23, 2012
Joint committee hearing convenes to consider Jerry Brown's government reorganization plan

The Senate Governance and Finance and the Senate Governmental Organization committees are meeting this morning to gather information on Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to reorganize state government.

Click here for the live video webcast on Cal Channel. The session started at 10:10 a.m. This link opens an audio feed of the session.

The California Channel also archives video.

May 3, 2012
California state employee logs 70 years of service

May Lee, 91, hired on with the state's Department of Finance in 1943. Today, she continues to crunch numbers as a volunteer and mentor at the Department of General Services.

DGS recently produced a video about Lee's life and career, which DGS executive Joe Mugartegui puts in perspective: "She was our computer before we had computers."

April 17, 2012
From the notebook: The CalPERS computer system report

We never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the data, the notes and the quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

The CalPERS computer system story in today's Bee draws from an item on the agenda of the fund's Pension and Health Benefits Committee, which is meeting this morning.

Here's the report on the system. Click here to watch the committee session live online, starting at 9 a.m. or after the Finance and Administration Committee ends its hearing, whichever is later.
CalPERS Workload Inventory

April 3, 2012
Are American state workers scourges or scapegoats?

Are state workers dragging down state budgets around the nation? Or have public employees and their compensation packages become convenient political scapegoats?

A year ago the PBS news show "Need to Know" took on what it calls "one of the most contentious arguments in the news today." We ran across the report this morning while surveying state worker news. Although the item ran on March 11, 2011, the topic remains relevant today.

Watch Union Salaries and State Budgets on PBS. See more from Need to Know.

February 29, 2012
California game wardens reality show to launch second season

The National Geographic Channel's "Wild Justice," a reality TV show about California game wardens, has wrapped up shooting its second season and has the network's commitment for a third, according to a post on The Outdoor Wire.

The new season debuts Mar. 11. We've embedded a clip from Season 1. For others, click here.

January 27, 2012
Darrell Steinberg: Pension reform must pass 'strength test'

110701 Steinberg Cap Bureau.JPGSenate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Thursday that the Legislature will consider some sort of pension reform bill this session, and he didn't rule out sending a hybrid plan for new hires to Gov. Jerry Brown for a signature.

The Sacramento Democrat talked at length about pensions during a morning meeting with the Capitol press corps on Thursday. The Bee's Torey Van Oot was there and passed this six-minute audio file from the event.

(Warning: To hear the file, you'll need software that plays m4a files, such as RealPlayer or QuickTime.) The recording is clear but low-volume, so turn up the sound on your listening device.)

A few highlights of Steinberg's responses to reporters' questions:

December 9, 2011
CalPERS investment chief talks strategy on CNBC

CalPERS: Inside the Strategy
An interview with CalPERS Chief Investment Officer, Joe Dear, who discusses the European financial crisis and its impact on the U.S. and the retirement fund's strategy. (CNBC)

November 8, 2011
View the LAO video on Jerry Brown's pension reform plan

The Legislative Analyst's Office has released an eight-minute video, embedded below, that sums up its review of Gov. Jerry Brown's pension reform proposal.

"We view Gov. Brown's (pension) proposal as a bold one, and one that should very carefully considered by the Legislature," says the LAO's Jason Sisney.

Still, he says, "we don't understand some key aspects" of Brown's proposals, particularly how putting new employees into a hybrid plan or pushing back new hires' qualifying retirement age would work.

The LAO also has questions about how pensions could be capped and notes that the unfunded liabilities of the CalSTRS and UC pension systems aren't addressed.

"In our view ... it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense to change all of these (UC and CalSTRS) benefits substantially and not think about how they're going to be funded into the future," Sisney says.

And, Sisney notes, the governor's plan is silent on retiree health benefits for local government workers.

October 28, 2011
The State Worker visits 'Insight' radio show this morning

Thumbnail image for 100610 microphone.JPGWe'll be speaking this morning with David Watts Barton on Capitol Public Radio's "Insight" on KXJZ (90.9 FM) between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

This link opens the show's website. Click the "Listen Live" button near the top of the page to hear the interview, which is slated as the first segment. We'll be talking about layoff warnings issued last week by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Gov. Jerry Brown's new public pension reform plans.

"Insight" keeps exhaustive archives, so you can click in later if you miss the live broadcast by selecting today's date on the calendar below the "Listen Live" button.

September 19, 2011
Union video lays out pension fairness issue

The Rhode Island Retirement Security Coalition, a labor organization fighting for public employee retirement benefits, has posted a video that explains the unions' side in that state's pension debate. The arguments in the 10-minute piece are similar to those made by public employee unions in California and elsewhere.

Hat tip to Blog User D for calling this video to our attention.

September 15, 2011
A.M. Reading: CalPERS' 'gift gaffes'; public unions targeted; N.J. needs computer upgrade

The State Worker: Embarrassing CalPERS gift gaffes could have been worse.
It could have been worse. A lot worse. (Sacramento Bee)

R.I. public workers told reform needed to avoid layoffs / Video

CRANSTON -- State Administration Director Richard Licht had a blunt message for union representatives unhappy with possible options they were hearing Monday to resolve Rhode Island's pension crisis. (Providence Journal)

Ponzi scheme? Tax rich? Social Security's white hot again
WASHINGTON -- Social Security suddenly has become a white-hot political issue, as the Republican presidential front-runner blasts the system as a "Ponzi scheme" and liberal Democrats in Congress scramble to find ways to keep the program financed for generations to come. (Sacramento Bee)

August 18, 2011
View more 'Maddy Report' interviews about public pensions

After we posted "Central Valley TV show looks at public pensions" on Wednesday, Blog User S made us aware of more entries of "The Maddy Report" that discuss the same topic.

Host Mark Keppler interviews Jason Sisney of the Legislative Analyst's Office in the first two segments. The third installment features Allan Clark, president of the California School Employees Association, and Marcia Fritz, president of California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

August 17, 2011
Central Valley TV show looks at public pensions

Fresno-based TV show "The Maddy Report" has posted several segments about public employee pensions that look at the issue from various perspectives.

Host Mark Keppler interviewed Democratic and labor strategist Steve Maviglio; Paul McIntosh, the Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties; Bee columnist Dan Walters ; Robert Price, editorial page editor for the Bakersfield Californian; and your humble blogger. The show airs on Fresno's NBC affiliate, KSEE 24.

"The The Maddy Report" is produced by The Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno. The think tank is named for former Republican Assemblyman and Sen. Ken Maddy, who died in 2000.

Click the viewers that follow to watch the segments, which run up to six minutes each. The shows were taped in May.

July 1, 2011
Video spoof warns of raising law enforcement's retirement age

Alliance4Safety, which is a new effort by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association to unite law enforcement groups around common interests, has posted the video above on You Tube (CCPOA has also posted it on the union's website.)

The piece uses scenes from a California prison riot and splices an older "correctional officer" using a walker into the frame. He enters the scene from the right.

"Knock it off! You're in trouble now!" the hunched-over officer mutters. "You keep riotin'. I'll be there in a second."

The video ends with the on-screen message: "Raise the retirement age for cops? They're kidding, right?"

June 20, 2011
Robert Reich tells 'the truth about the economy' in two minutes

In the new video above, economist Robert Reich, a secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton, sketches his diagnosis of the U.S. economy's weakness in about two minutes. His diagnosis: Wealth has increasingly concentrated to the upper class at the expense of the middle class, which is the group that drives the national economy.

"Instead of joining together for better wages and jobs, many people are so scared that they're competing with other working people for the scraps that are left behind," Reich says. "So we get union versus non-union, public employee versus private, native-born versus immigrants."

Click the viewer above to see the presentation, which was posted on YouTube on Thursday.

May 17, 2011
President Barack Obama talks about government work

A federal employee who is about to lose her job asked President Barack Obama, "I'm stressed. I'm worried. ... I definitely need a job. ... What would you do if you were me?"

Click the viewer to hear the president's response.

May 13, 2011
A.M. Reading: GOP budget plan; Nev. protest; Ore. budget affects labor talks

GOP state budget plan arrives -- and is blasted as gimmicky
Assembly Republicans issued a state deficit solution for the first time Thursday, relying on more spending cuts, fund shifts and a new spike in state tax revenues to bridge a $15.4 billion shortfall. (Sacramento Bee)

State Workers Storm Capitol Building (KTVN)

May 6, 2011
CalPERS exec defends public pensions, says fund is recovering

CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Joe Dear made an appearance on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" this morning to talk about the fund's investment rebound and the debate over public pensions. Click here to listen to the 4-minute interview.

The NPR discussion hit some of the same points Dear made Tuesday on Fox Business Network's "Closing Bell," the biggest being that CalPERS is a long-term investor and that it is regaining ground lost in fiscal 2008-09. On Fox, Dear also defended public pension systems as a "powerful" and efficient means of building wealth and stimulating the economy.

Click on the embedded viewer above to see the interview with "Closing Bell" host Liz Claman. (Thanks to blog user B for flagging this.)

May 6, 2011
A.M. Reading: Pension debate; 'hoots' for Wisc., Ohio guvs

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifRadio interview: The pension reform battle is back in the Golden State
Pension reform advocates are bracing for a huge fight over two new proposals that could slash up to 40% from public employee pension benefits. The proposals are being pushed by the non-profit California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, which just released an analysis of public employee pensions saying the five biggest pension funds in the state don't have enough money to cover their current financial obligations. The study says that unless public employee pensions are scaled back, California's budget will be further squeezed to make up short falls in pension benefits. Public employee unions are organizing opposition to the proposals, dispatching truth squads to the state Capitol to debunk what they call myths and exaggerations about the burden of public pensions on California taxpayers. Post includes audio download of interviews with Dan Pellissier of California Pension Reform and Steve Maviglio of Californians for Secure Retirement. (KPCC)

CBO: Public pension plans should change reporting, contribution methods
State, county and municipal pension plans should use fair-value accounting and change how they determine contributions, according to a Congressional Budget Office brief. (Pensions & Investments)

Jerry Brown names Fred Klass director of DGS
Gov. Jerry Brown has named a top Department of Finance official as director of the state Department of General Services. Fred Klass has worked at the Department of Finance for more than 20 years, serving as the department's chief operating officer since 2007. Klass has also worked for the Senate Budget Committee, California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office and the Little Hoover Commission. (Sacramento Bee)

Congressional panel debates public pension plans
WASHINGTON -- A congressional panel examined the underfunding of state and local pension plans Thursday with Republicans voicing concern about a possible federal bailout and Democrats charging that it's a veiled effort by the GOP to undermine traditional pensions for teachers, police and firefighters. (Ithaca Journal)

California's deficit should fall, but by how much?
Tax revenues have continued at a strong clip, so state leaders can reduce the deficit with one change in the ledger, as we've noted. The Legislative Analyst's Office reported today that the state is now $2.54 billion ahead of projections based on April data from the Franchise Tax Board and Board of Equalization that accounts for all three major tax sources. The question is how will this affect the bottom line. (Sacramento Bee)

State worker retirement overhaul pending
HONOLULU - New Hawaii government employees will work more years, contribute higher amounts toward their pensions and get paid less after retirement, according to sweeping proposed changes to the state's underfunded pension system. (Maui News)

Pension change proposals raise constitutional issues
The State legislature is considering proposals to reduce pension benefits for current State employees, but Eric M. Madiar, chief legal counsel to Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton and the Senate's Parliamentarian, said welching on public pension promises is not an option for Illinois. (

Opinion: Collective bargaining should remain in N.H.
Our legislators are intent on destroying unions and the collective bargaining process for partisan reasons that have nothing to do with creating jobs or helping to grow the economy. (

Public Employee Retirements Up 123%
Phones have been ringing non-stop at the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds. So many people are calling with questions about retirement that the ETF had to extend its call center hours and shift staff to meet demand. And that has created a back log. (

Renewed PEF push for 'insourcing'
ALBANY -- As it negotiates a new contract for its 56,000 members, the Public Employees Federation has reprised its proposal to save state money by replacing private contractors with state employees. (Albany Times Union)

Editorial: Next In Line To Sacrifice: State Employees
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy likes to talk about shared sacrifice in balancing the state budget, but the one group whose share of sacrifice is still in question is state employee unions. They are key. (Hartford Courant)

Walker, Kasich Tributes To Public Workers Prompt Laughter, Derision
WASHINGTON -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) have decided to pay tribute to state workers. (Huffington Post)

Walker worker award plan draws hoots
Well, at least Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and state workers are speaking to each other again. He's telling them he wants to formally recognize their many fine achievements, and they're telling him to stick it. (Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Statesman)

Chris Rickert: Walker employee recognition program gets well-deserved eye rolls
There may be nothing more entertaining in state politics this week than the contrast between the obliviously upbeat YouTube video Gov. Scott Walker made to solicit nominations for his new state employee recognition program and the decidedly downbeat comments posted in response. (Wisconsin State Journal)

April 4, 2011
Unions to rally, remember civil rights leader's legacy

Unions in California and across the country are organizing National Day of Action events today, to honor the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and, said an AFSCME press release, "to show solidarity with civil servants in Wisconsin and other states who are being returned to 19th century-style working conditions through the loss of their First Amendment rights to assemble, organize, and bargain collectively as free citizens."

The Baptist minister and civil rights leader supported labor unions. He was assassinated 43 years ago today in Memphis, Tenn., where he was preparing a demonstration in support of striking sanitation workers.

The night before his death, King's famous "I've been to the mountain top" speech included this reference to the sanitation workers' cause:

Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we've got to keep attention on that. That's always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers were on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn't get around to that.

Now we're going to march again, and we've got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be. And force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That's the issue. And we've got to say to the nation: we know it's coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.

In Sacramento, SEIU Local 1000, AFSCME, the California Teachers Association and other groups are meeting at Cesar Chavez Plaza Park at 5 p.m.. From there, they'll march to the U.S. courthouse 501 I Street.

April 4, 2011
A.M. Reading: CalPERS exec on CNBC; Brown and pensions; Fla. group's urine sample protest

Labor Pains & Pensions
Joe Dear, CalPERS chief investment officer, made an appearance Friday morning on CNBC's "Squawk Box," along with former SEIU President Andy Stern. The segment covers a lot of ground, starting with Dear's observation that "bashing" public employees doesn't help recruiting and retention. Stern predicts, "We haven't seen the real job cuts that are going to happen in state and local government. This will be the worst year ever," particularly for teachers. The interview runs about 8 minutes.

Car perk will get scrutiny
California is the only state that provides lawmakers with a car, gas and maintenance paid largely by taxpayers. The perk has withstood the recessionary economy and several rounds of budget-cutting, including $11.2 billion in measures the Legislature approved and Gov. Jerry Brown signed in March.

State streamlining its email system: Some ask, is it necessary?
For more than a decade, every state department followed its own path in developing the most basic of technical tools: email.

March 31, 2011
VIDEO: Public employees protest Niello's dealership

Between 40 and 50 public-sector workers marched in front of Niello BMW in Sacramento on Wednesday morning, chanting, "Take your money somewhere else! Don't shop Niello!"

Labor coalition Californians Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security organized the protest -- and a boycott against all the Niello family auto dealerships -- after former Assemblyman and dealership minority owner Roger Niello filed initial paperwork to put a public pension rollback measure before voters. Niello is also considering a run for either the state Senate or a statewide office.

Niello's family owns and operates the BMW dealership and a dozen other auto retailers in the Sacramento region. The company released a statement that noted Roger Niello's minority stake in the company and said he isn't active in its business operations. The company said it doesn't take positions on political issues.

VIDEO: Union members protest at Niello BMV on Wednesday. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

March 23, 2011
Budget panel discussion broadcast set for 10 a.m. today

110323 Brown countdown.jpgBee Capitol Bureau colleague and state budget brainiac Kevin Yamamura is one of nearly a dozen journalists, lawmakers and interest group representatives scheduled to chat about the state's fiscal struggles on Capital Public Radio at 10 a.m. today.

Clicking here will get you to Fixing California's Budget: Brown's Countdown and Beyond, moderated by Insight host Jeffrey Callison. The panel discussion is a product of cooperative budget coverage this year between The Bee and Capital Public Radio.

We expect the hour-long chat will veer into topics of keen interest to State Worker blog users, such as public employees' pay and pensions.

The show also will air live on Capital Public Radio's four news & information stations in Northern California: KXJZ (90.9 FM) in Sacramento, KKTO (90.5 FM) in Lake Tahoe and Reno, KUOP (91.3 FM) in Stockton and Modesto and KQNC (88.1 FM) in Quincy, and it will be distributed to more than 50 public radio stations in California on Capital Public Radio's statewide news network.

If you miss this morning's live discussion, you can catch the rebroadcast from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. today.

As of Tuesday night, Kevin was scheduled to appear with ...

March 10, 2011
A.M. Reading: Wis. surprise; Brown and the Calif. budget

Today's news roundup focuses on developments in Wisconsin and California with a smattering of items from other states.

VIDEO: NBC15, Madison, Wis.

With Democrats absent, Republicans advance collective bargaining changes
With Democrats still in Illinois, the state Senate abruptly voted Wednesday night to eliminate collective bargaining provisions for most public workers that have stood for decades, sending a flood of angry protesters into the Capitol.

March 9, 2011
Online public pension debate set for this morning

Live Video streaming by Ustream

The pro-business Bay Area Council is hosting a panel discussion on public employee pensions today at 8:45 a.m. The panel brings together some of California's most visible advocates on both sides of the ongoing debate:

Jeff Adachi, San Francisco Public Defender
Bob Foster, Mayor of Long Beach
Marcia Fritz, President of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility
Dave Low, Chair of Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security
Joe Nation, Stanford Professor and former State Assemblymember
Harvey Robinson, President of the Retired Public Employees Association of California

University of San Francisco political science professor Corey Cook, director of the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good, will moderate.

The Bay Area Council is streaming the discussion live online, and we've embedded the viewer above so you can watch the event from this site. You can also see it at

March 8, 2011
A.M. Reading: Furlough price tag; Wa. retirees who get paychecks; looking for 'Wisconsin 14'

Welcome to your Tuesday roundup of state employee news from California and around the country, including a piece on how furloughs have affected Corrections ... Washington state's crackdown on state workers who get a state pension and a full-time paycheck ... "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" goes in search of the "Wisconsin 14."

Result of furloughs - $1 billion liability: Prison guards, supervisors rack up millions of hours in paid time off
California prison guards and their supervisors have racked up 33.2 million hours of vacation, sick and other paid time off - an astounding accumulation that amounts to nearly half a year per worker.

Viewpoints: All labor has stake in Wisconsin standoff
Autoworkers sat down to win collective bargaining rights during a cold Flint winter in February 1937. For the last few weeks, 14 Wisconsin state senators have been sitting in motel rooms somewhere in Illinois to preserve those rights for public workers. In both cases, thousands of supporters braved the cold in solidarity. Flint was a watershed moment; Wisconsin could clearly become one. What are the stakes?

March 4, 2011
Column extra: Roger Dickinson talks about pensions, fairness

110304 Dickinson Randal Benton 2010.JPGWith 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.

This week's column about pensions and fairness was inspired by two sources: The Little Hoover Commission's Feb. 24 report, which concludes public employee pensions need to be radically changed, and what Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, said about public pensions during his visit to The Bee Capitol Bureau the next day.

We weren't able to attend the Dickinson interview, but we listened to an audio recording of it later. Here are some of the highlights, with an interesting clip at the end that you can download.:

On whether pension legislation will come from the Democrat-controlled state Legislature: "I do think that Democrats are prepared to do so. I do think the Democrats will point to some of the concessions made by state employees. ... There's a recognition by Democrats that pension issues need to be addressed."

On the rhetoric sparked by public pension policy: "The average state worker pension is 30,000 bucks a year. ... There's some effort out there by some parties in some quarters to create the impression that everybody who spends five years in government service somehow retires to Hawaii and eats out at an expensive restaurant every night and drives a Cadillac or a Mercedes ... and that's not the case."

On public safety employees' pensions: "I do think that safety retirement is an area that's going to get looked at carefully. ... There's a growing recognition, even among public safety unions, that they're going to have to look at some adjustments to their pensions."

The discussion then turned to defined benefit pensions when The Bee's Kevin Yamamura asked, "What about this concept of defined benefit vs. defined contribution? Can we sustain these kinds of defined benefit programs going forward where basically the government bears the risk?"

Dickinson suggested that the problem isn't government pension security, but rather the relative lack of it for private sector workers.

Click here to download an audio clip of what he said. (Hat tip to Capitol Alert's Torey Van Oot for sharing the clip.)

PHOTO: Assemblyman Roger Dickinson / Randall Benton, Sacramento Bee, Dec. 8, 2010

February 22, 2011
Union ad supports Wisconsin public employees

Public employee unions in Wisconsin are going after Gov. Scott Walker for proposing legislation that would essentially end union representation of government workers in the state.

The 32-second spot (click the viewer above) features Racine firefighter Mike DeGarmo proclaiming solidarity with other public employees. "Governor Walker, public employees have agreed to the cuts you asked for. And now they're simply asking that you not take away their rights. We stand together or we fall together, and we're asking the people of Wisconsin to stand with us," he says.

According to The Washington Post, the ad was created by advisers to the national AFL-CIO, SEIU, and AFSCME, National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and other unions. The Wisconsin AFL-CIO paid for it.

Worth noting: Walker's plan to rollback public employee bargaining rights doesn't affect firefighters or police unions.

January 18, 2011
Legislative Analyst launches video primer on the state budget

Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor explains the state's finances in a new 10-minute video titled Introduction to the California Budget (above). The topics include the difference between general and special funds, the state's major sources of revenue, and the state's largest categories of expenditure.

The video is part of a new initiative by the Legislative Analyst's Office to broaden its reach. It now has an LAO_CA Twitter account and has started a new section on its website that explains fundamental issues and concepts.

January 13, 2011
The State Worker visits 'Insight' this morning

Thumbnail image for 100610 microphone.JPGWe'll be speaking this morning with Jeffrey Callison on Capitol Public Radio's "Insight," which airs weekdays on KXJZ (90.9 FM) between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

This link opens the show's website. Click the "Listen Live" button near the top of the page to hear the interview. We'll be talking about the state budget, Brown's plans for state workers and the governor's recent cell phone crackdown.

"Insight" keeps exhaustive archives, so you can click in later if you miss the live broadcast.

January 11, 2011
A.M. Reading (and Viewing): Budget analysis, reaction; unions weakened; Fla. pension fund 'myths'

Here's our morning round up of news and views of interest to State Worker blog users.

Brown's Countdown, Day 2: Governor looking for three-sided trick shot on budget
Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a delicate trick shot Monday to balance California's budget: Persuade Democrats to slash social services, ask Republicans to place taxes on the ballot, then persuade voters to pay additional money for five more years.

State workers unhappy with Brown's budget plan (video above)
A lot of people are upset about Gov. Jerry Brown's plans to cut spending and raise revenue, especially tens of thousands of state workers.

State of the unions
The Great Depression invigorated the modern American labor movement. The Great Recession has crippled it.

January 10, 2011
A.M. Reading: Gingrich's bankruptcy idea; Wash. slims down; Conn. workers' savings ideas; no Tenn. layoffs planned

Click the headlines below to open these news and views pieces from around the country. We also put the links in this searchable archive and post links throughout the day on our Twitter account, TheStateWorker.

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifGingrich seeks bill allowing state bankruptcy to avert bailouts
Former House Speaker and possible GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich is pushing for federal legislation giving financially strapped states the right to file for bankruptcy and renege on pension and other benefit promises made to state employees.

Prison assistant returns gift from Fabian Núñez family
... Esteban Núñez arrived at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione last June, and some time before Christmas the warden's administrative assistant got a package in the mail from the Núñez family containing a new Kindle, corrections spokesman Oscar Hidalgo confirmed Friday. The assistant's job includes helping families understand procedures and rules, and she had helped the Núñez family in that role, Hidalgo said, adding that she had done nothing more than for any other family. Like every gift she receives she returned it, Hidalgo said.

Public employee pensions draw new scrutiny
(T)he attention on public pensions reveals as much about the benefits that private-sector workers have lost over the past three decades as it does about the perks that public employees still receive.

Unions' day of reckoning arrives
As Nevada welcomes a new governor and prepares for the start of the 2011 Legislature, two concepts ought to dominate the political landscape. No, not tax increases and spending cuts.
Try 401(k) plans and collective bargaining. Nevada needs to openly discuss instituting the former and outlawing the latter for public employees.

State job losses keep adding up
Washington's state government work force has been on the Great Recession diet plan for the past two years, but the slimming is far from over. Layoffs and attrition since the global financial crisis of 2008, which forced the state to cut $5 billion in spending, have shrunk the number of workers on Washington's state agency and college payrolls to its lowest level in several years. The total number of full-time jobs in state agencies, colleges and universities is down by about 5,890 since late 2008, according to the Office of Financial Management.

Calif., New York Budgets Build On Shaky Ground
State employee unions have been a major political powerhouse in California. They were the financial force behind Jerry Brown's successful bid for governor. But now, state workers are wondering if Brown will be friend or foe as he tackles a $28-billion state budget deficit. It's a situation comparable to another big state's dilemma; New York, where newly elected Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes a one-year pay freeze for state workers as part of his emergency plan to get New York on stable ground. (Click here for audio download.)

January 3, 2011
Schwarzenegger records last moment in office

Thumbnail image for 110103 Schwarzenegger video.JPGNow-former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger posted a Twitter video this morning of his last moment in office -- literally. The 10-second post shows him shutting off the lights, cigar in mouth, with what appears to be the state seal under his arm. A cinematic end to the actor-turned-governor's seven years in office.

Click here to open the video on Twitter.

PHOTO: Screen capture,

January 3, 2011
Watch Brown inaugural address

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100720 Jerry Brown.JPGThe Cal Channel is broadcasting Gov. Jerry Brown's inaugural. Click here to view it. It's scheduled to start at 11 a.m.

PHOTO: Sacramento Bee file.

December 30, 2010
Inmate posted on Facebook from prison

From Sacramento's Channel 13:

California prison officials have launched an investigation into a convicted felon's postings on Facebook from inside a state prison.

Frederick Garner, who is serving a 22-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter at Cocorcan State Prison, had a Facebook profile under the name "Brotherbo Garner" and used it to make a number of posts in recent weeks.

Click the viewer to see the report.

Hat tip to Blog User R for flagging this for The State Worker.

December 24, 2010
A holiday gift: 20 years of Schwarzenegger screams

He's been bitten in the neck, impaled on a spike, clubbed in the head and slugged in the place no man wants to be slugged. Now you can see 20 years of Arnold Schwarzenegger taking his lumps -- and inflicting a few -- distilled into 7 minutes and 39 seconds. Click the video embedded above for "Every Arnold Scream from Every Arnold Movie."

Happy holidays, State Worker blog users!

December 22, 2010
State firefighters' group to march in Rose Parade

101222 Honor guard logo good.jpgThe CDF Firefighters Honor Guard is scheduled to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1 in Pasadena. The 80-member group that will perform at the parade includes a 22-member band.

The honor guard, established in 1994, serves at funerals and memorials, presents the colors at academy graduation ceremonies and performs at other functions. It's partnering with Farmer's Insurance to perform in the parade.

Click here to read more about the honor guard. This link opens a press release about its upcoming Rose Parade appearance. If you have Windows media player, clicking here will stream a 1- minute 44-second video of the guard's pipe and drum corps.

December 20, 2010
A.M. Reading (and Viewing): State budgets; National Guard probe

A sampling of the news stories pulled together as today's "Recommended Links" on the right side of this page:

Day of Reckoning
60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft reports on the financial conditions many states are facing, with a focus on Illinois and Pennsylvania. Click the viewer above to see the piece. It runs about 14 minutes.

'Double-dipping' probe targets Air National Guard pilots in Fresno
They called it "dozing for dollars." Pilots with the California Air National Guard 144th Fighter Wing based in Fresno had a lucrative arrangement: After their normal day jobs flying F-16 Fighting Falcon warplanes, they often grabbed shifts on alert at full pay.

Jerry Brown buttons up to focus on budget
For someone who liked to joke about his lack of "message discipline" in the campaign, Jerry Brown sure has buttoned up. By announcing just two appointments and sharply limiting public appearances, the governor-elect has avoided distractions common to gubernatorial transitions while closeting those wandering, occasionally off-color musings that have tripped him up before. The effect has been to focus public attention almost exclusively on California's financial troubles.

December 3, 2010
Poll: AFSCME campaign takes on 'lies' about public workers

Editor's note: An earlier version of this post was accidentally deleted. This version adds a poll question.

The American Federation of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees has launched a new campaign to "Stop the Lies" by politicians and the media that public employees' pay and pensions are sinking government.

AFSCME argues in an open letter on its website that business and the media are scapegoating government workers:

The only thing attacking public service workers does is divert attention from the real culprits of our country's economic troubles and inequality: You, greedy Wall Street CEOs, politicians in Washington who turn a blind eye, and all right-wing talking heads who spin lies.

The website also has a one-minute "Stop the Lies" video. The viewer above launches an expanded 5-minute, 49-second version.

Do you think that this sort of campaign works? Specifically, does the AFSCME video move the needle of public opinion in favor of government workers? Or is the union merely preaching to the choir?

November 30, 2010
Feds investigate private prison firm with California ties

The Associated Press is reporting that federal officials in Idaho are investigating whether guards at a private prison facility in Idaho violated inmates' civil rights.

Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, which has contracts with California and has played in the state's politics, runs the Idaho Correctional Center. Accusations have surfaced that staff "uses inmate-on-inmate violence to force prisoners to snitch on their cellmates or risk being moved to extremely violent units."

The AP story by Rebecca Boone and published here by The Bee, includes video footage from overhead cameras that shows one prisoner beating another while correctional officers look on. No one intervenes, even after the attacker takes a break before resuming the beating after the the victim lapsed into unconsciousness.

The State Worker has written a bit about CCA, including this report about California's recent private prison agreements and this detailed look at the company's political spending.

November 27, 2010
Reality show about Calif. game wardens debuts Sunday night

"Wild Justice," a new reality TV show about California game wardens, premieres with two hour-long episodes on Sunday at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel. Click here to read Bee colleague Matt Weiser's story about the program, which is produced by the same folks behind "Deadliest Catch," the popular reality show that chronicles Alaskan commercial fishing.

Click the viewer for a clip of "Wild Justice." This link opens the National Geographic Channel's website.

October 18, 2010
Schwarzenegger: Republicans tried to block pension reform

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's pension reform bill nearly died during in the wee hours of the Legislature's marathon budget session -- and it was the governor's own party that nearly did it in, he said in his weekly radio/video address.

"I expected organized labor to oppose me; that was a given. And since most Democrats are in bed with labor, I expected them to oppose me too ..." the governor said in prepared remarks on Friday. "But what I was really surprised about is (sic) to see the Republicans also in bed with the same unions, only hidden under the sheets."

Bee Capitol Bureau colleague David Siders has the story here. Click the viewer above to hear Schwarzenegger's account of what happened, and how two GOP Assemblymen changed their opposition vote after the fact.

October 11, 2010
From the Notebook: Schwarzenegger's budget press conference

101008 schwarzenegger presser photo.JPGFrom the Notebook blog posts give you the notes, quotes and details that don't get into our state worker news stories but that inform the writing nonetheless.

Our Sunday story on changes made to state employee pensions in 2010-11 budget legislation included a quote from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's at his Friday morning press conference.

You can hear what else the governor said about pensions and the budget by clicking here. Schwarzenegger starts talking about pensions at around the 3-minute mark. (Note: Listening to the 21-minute recording requires an MP3 file player.)

Photo: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, talks to the press after lawmakers approved the budget at the Capitol Friday morning. Sacramento Bee / Hector Amezcua

October 9, 2010
Union, pension politics fuel Brown campaign's 'whore' remark

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100720 Jerry Brown.JPGThe Jerry Brown campaign's "whore" whodunit has received a lot of attention the last few days for it's language, but the recording at the core of the controversy also is an unvarnished, behind-the-scenes look at how union and pension politics are playing out in this year's gubernatorial race.

September 29, 2010
View Brown-Whitman debate highlights; Whitman's 'nannygate'

Several State Worker blog users have asked whether Tuesday night's debate between Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman can be viewed online. The Bee has posted eight segments from the faceoff on this web page.

Speaking of Whitman, click here for news that broke today about allegations that the former eBay CEO hired an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper and a nanny. Click here for the Whitman campaign's response to the charge.

August 13, 2010
Schwarzenegger: State employees 'not in touch with reality'

State employees fared better in the economic crisis than those in the private sector, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told an audience at the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce today.

"They say when we do furloughs that it's unfair because it will be an enormous pain on state employees," said Schwarzenegger. "They're not in touch with reality."

Pointing to a chart comparing job losses in the private sector versus the public sector, Schwarzenegger said that the economic crisis has had "no effect" on state employees. He noted that the straight yellow line representing job losses in the public sector showed no decline.

Over at Capitol Alert, Dan Walters has more on the governor's speech.

Watch the video below. The governor's comments on state workers start at about the 26-minute mark.

July 29, 2010
McLear, Blanning face off on furloughs

In case you missed it, Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear and Bruce Blanning, head of Professional Engineers in California Government, talked about the governor's new furlough order Wednesday on Sacramento's KCRA (Channel 3).

McLear defined the governor's program as a move forced by the state's looming cash crunch and the budget impasse: "The week the controller came out and said we're running out of cash ... The Legislature is now seven weeks past their deadline to pass a budget."

Blanning said that the order was a political ploy by a "frustrated" governor who hasn't been able to get what he wants from labor and the lawmakers: "It's pretty much a political move to put pressure on the Legislature and to put pressure on those unions that haven't reached agreement with him."

Click here to view the discussion with KCRA's Kevin Riggs. You can read our furlough story in today's Bee by clicking here.

July 24, 2010
A.M. Reading (and viewing): Brown on pensions; Ariz. court blocks benefits ban; workers blast furloughs

Look on the right side of this page for these "Recommended Links" and others:

Jerry Brown Talks Pension Reform (video, above)
California still doesn't have a state budget and Governor Schwarzenegger says he won't sign one unless it contains significant pension reform. The governor has called state pensions "the single biggest threat" to California's fiscal health. Attorney General Jerry Brown, who's running for governor, agrees with Schwarzenegger that pension reform is needed.

Brown slides rightward on pension overhaul
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, long a supporter of public employee retirement rights, is staking out territory in what is traditionally Republican ground: government pension reform.

Ariz. court blocks benefits ban for gays
Calling it illegal discrimination, a federal judge has blocked the state from canceling insurance benefits for the domestic partners of gay and lesbian state and university employees.

Ill. state workers: Furloughs are unfair
Mike Bull, a supervisor at the Illinois Department of Transportation, said the 9.2 percent pay cut isn't the only pain he feels from Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to double the amount of furlough days for non-union state workers this year.

July 16, 2010
Utah Governor: State systems breached to produce immigrant list

All week long, a list of 1,300 people accused of being in Utah illegally has been the focus of a state investigation. Now it appears a state worker, or group of workers, is behind it. Click the viewer to see the latest report by KSL 5 News, Salt Lake City.

July 16, 2010
A.M. Reading: Union pickets Whitman's house; minimum wage; Missouri finances Ford tax break with pension changes

Look for these stories and opinion pieces under our "Recommended Links" on the right side of this page:

CHP officer arrested - suspected of solicitation to commit murder
A California Highway Patrol officer arrested in May on drug and weapons charges, was arrested again today on suspicion of solicitation to commit murder, as well as three Health and Safety Code violations.

Over 1,000 Nurses Protest Outside Whitman's Home
More than 1,000 nurses picketed outside the Atherton home of Republican candidate for governor Meg Whitman on Thursday. The California Nurses Association has been at odds with Whitman, holding numerous protests ... The nurses' union has endorsed Democrat Jerry Brown. The organization has been critical of Whitman's plans to layoff 40,000 state workers and streamline business and labor rules. (Includes video clip.)

Commentary: Minimum wage for state workers hurts more than helps
Commentator Ginger Rutland thinks Governor Schwarzenegger got a lot of mileage out of his minimum wage threats and order, but now it's time to give it up.

Nixon signs bill for $150 million in auto tax breaks
Surrounded by autoworkers and their families, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed a tax break bill Thursday aimed at keeping Ford Motor Co. making vehicles at its Kansas City-area plant ... The plan to save Ford jobs will be financed by a bill that would modernize Missouri's employee pension system. That bill requires Missouri employees hired after January 2011 to delay their retirement age, raises the retirement age for most state workers from 62 to 67, and requires workers to contribute 4 percent of their salary toward the pension fund.

Conn. State Settlements Are A Costly Outrage
Many taxpayers probably were disturbed -- if not outraged -- to learn that the state of Connecticut paid out nearly $100 million in legal settlements over the past seven years. Courant reporters Dave Altimari and Matthew Kauffman described the settlements in a recent Page 1 story, which implicitly raised questions about negligence, incompetence and malicious actions by state employees that led to multimillion-dollar payouts.

July 14, 2010
Videos: Chiang talks about lawsuits, minimum wage, leadership

Bee videographer Hector Amezcua has compiled about eight minutes of video of Controller John Chiang during his visit today with The Bee's Capitol Bureau staff. Click here to see a menu of clips that capture Chiang's thoughts on minimum wage, lawsuits, the budget and leadership.

July 14, 2010
John Chiang responds to charge in minimum-wage battle

Controller John Chiang visited The Bee's Capitol Bureau offices this morning for a wide-ranging conversation with reporters and editors about the state budget, his campaign for reelection and his legal battles with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over paying state workers minimum wage.

In this clip, Chiang responds to charges that he is fighting the governor's minimum-wage pay instructions at the behest of public employee unions.

Videographer Hector Amezcua is editing more clips. We'll post them as they become available throughout the day.

July 11, 2010
Controller John Chiang and Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear talk about minimum wage order

Controller John Chiang and Aaron McLear, spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, were interviewed on "News Conference," the long-running NBC4 newsmaker interview show in Los Angeles. Host Conan Nolan hit on several issues with both men -- pensions, the influence of public employee unions, the state water bond initiative -- but the bulk of the two interviews focused on state worker minimum wage.

Click the viewers below to see the separate discussions.

View more news videos at:

View more news videos at:

July 11, 2010
A.M. Reading: Views of minimum wage; Schwarzenegger political profile; Bee state worker coverage

You can read these news and opinion pieces, and others of interest to State Worker blog users, by clicking the headlines under our "Recommended Links" on the right side of this page:

State pay cut could ravage Sacramento region
A summer of minimum wage for state workers would likely make Sacramentans nostalgic for Furlough Fridays.

The Loneliness of Governor Schwarzenegger
If the mark of a real independent is lack of friends, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the quintessential nonpartisan in American politics right now.

State Workers Caught In Calif. Minimum Wage Fight
California politicians are battling over how to meet state workers' salaries in the midst of the latest budget crisis. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to cut salaries of some 200,000 state workers temporarily down to minimum wage, but the state controller, John Chiang, is refusing to make the cuts. (Audio report)

Editorial: Lessons From Calif.
Oh, those cut-ups on the Left Coast. Facing a budget deficit that by some estimates could ultimately top a trillion dollars and all concede runs into the billions already, the California legislature has been unable to agree on a budget for months. When the new fiscal year began July 1, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, channeled his inner Terminator and ordered the pay of some 200,000 state workers to be cut to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, starting with the checks due Aug. 1.

From the Editor: State workers make big news and some noise
Sparks began flying early at when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the eve of the July Fourth holiday weekend, ordered minimum-wage pay for most state workers.

Editorial: Don't mess with paychecks
Imagine, for a moment, that you are a worker who has spent the last few weeks doing your job and now it's payday. But rather than receiving the paycheck you've been promised, your boss hands you one for far less and says you'll get the rest at some later date. What would you do? More to the point, what should 200,000 California state workers do? That's exactly the scenario they are facing at the end of this month.

July 6, 2010
Video: Aaron McLear talks about minimum wage, says state workers 'do a great job'

Aaron McLear, who often speaks on behalf of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, talked with KCRA (Channel 3) on Friday about the legal fight over withholding state worker pay to minimum wage and connected it with the state budget stalemate.

During the interview McLear expresses regret that "valuable public servants who do a great job for the people of California" face an increasing likelihood of "minimum wage, more furloughs and layoffs" as budget talks drag on into the new fiscal year.

Click the viewer above to see the interview.

June 30, 2010
Systems Integration director set for Thursday interview

Benedetto.jpgPaul Benedetto, director of the Office of Systems Integration at the California Health and Human Services Agency is scheduled to be interviewed Thursday at 11:30 a.m. on TechLeader.TV. The show, hosted by John Thomas Flynn, will touch on several aspects of the state's tech efforts, including the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Project.

Click this link for more info about the show or to watch Thursday's interview, which will be archived on the TechLeader.TV site.

PHOTO: Paul Benedetto /

June 25, 2010
Radio show cage match: Chiang vs. McLear on minimum wage

Controller John Chiang and Schwarzenegger administration spokesman Aaron McLear crossed swords Thursday on Patt Morrison, a Southern California public radio show that airs on KPCC (FM 89.3). Union representative Dave Low also joined the discussion for the first part of the broadcast.

The discussion mostly focused on the state worker minimum wage battle in the 3rd District Court of Appeal. Chiang's opening rhetorical question: "Why are innocent taxpayers and public servants always the first to suffer whenever the governor and legislature fail to do their jobs?" He said he's trying to protect the state from big fines because the state's payroll processing methods won't allow his office to withhold wages and then restore full pay within federal fair labor standards.

June 22, 2010
The State Worker visits 'Insight' this morning

100610 microphone.JPGWe'll be speaking this morning with Jeffrey Callison on Capitol Public Radio's "Insight," which airs weekdays on KXJZ (90.9 FM) between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. .

This link opens the show's website. Click the "Listen Live" button near the top of the page to hear the interview, which will probably start the show.

"Insight" keeps exhaustive archives, so you can click in later if you miss the live broadcast.

June 17, 2010
Old video goes viral, stirs up state workers

In the last two days, we've received roughly 50 e-mails like these:

Governor extended furlough to the end of the year? Look at the video link below.

Jon! Big news!

The now-viral video records Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's remarks about furloughs is from March. Here's The State Worker report, which includes an audio download of those same comments.

June 11, 2010
KQED's 'California Report' looks at state worker minimum wage

We spent a few minutes this morning in a "California Report" interview about the looming threat on state worker pay. You can listen to the discussion with host Rachael Myrow of KQED (88.5 FM in San Francisco and 89.3 in Sacramento) by clicking the player below.

After a brief introduction, the segment launches into clips of Controller John Chiang and H.D. Palmer with the Department of Finance. It ends with comments from state workers who talk about the politics of the budget and the impact of events on their lives.

Want to listen on the radio? This link opens a page with air times around the state for both "The California Report" daily broadcast and the weekly magazine show.

May 25, 2010
Alberto Torrico talks about public employee pensions

The Bee Capitol Bureau this morning hosted Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico for a wide-ranging discussion of his run for state Attorney General, the budget, education, prisons and state politics. Click on the viewer above to watch Torrico's response to the question, "What do you think about the governor's push for lower retirement benefits for new employees?"

May 17, 2010
Meg Whitman talks about Schwarzenegger's budget cuts

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman said after a Roseville event this morning that she supports the state employee salary cut contained the budget revision that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released on Friday. She also crticized the governor for failing to do "the hard work" over the last few years to cut government costs.

Worth noting: Schwarzenegger has tried several of the ideas that Whitman and her GOP rival Steve Poizner have proposed, such as reviewing state government to root out waste, fraud and abuse. For more about that, check out this Sunday story written by Bee colleague Jack Chang with a hand from your humble blogger.

In related news, Whitman also talked about forming a state grand jury to go after waste, fraud and abuse, as Torey Van Oot reports on our sister blog, Capitol Alert. Whitman's campaign released this press announcement, outlining the candidate's get-tougher plan, which includes elevating the inspector general to a cabinet-level post with "real teeth."

Click here to view Bee videographer Hector Amezcua's clip of Whitman talking about some of Schwarzenegger's budget proposals.

May 17, 2010
A.M. Reading: Calif. candidates' 'solutions;' NY's mess; Fla. pensions OK

Here are some of the news and opinion pieces now listed under our "Recommended Links" on the right side of this page:

Promises often exceed performance for state's candidates for governor
The top three candidates for governor this year are making sweeping promises about how they'll cope with California's fiscal failure. How they'll make good on such promises is another matter.

Gubernatorial Candidates Provide Little In Deficit Solutions
The new revised budget numbers that governor Schwarzenegger released Friday show the deficit has grown to $19 billion highlight, and a hole that large almost certainly means that the next governor will have to make cuts even more painful that Schwarzenegger has. So how would Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner and Jerry Brown approach the problem? (Includes video clip.)

Idling in Albany: Short fuses, long faces, no budget
trolling through the state Capitol, you wouldn't know that New York's budget is 44 days late. Or that the state is $9.2 billion in debt. Or that the governor is being sued by workers' unions, and the entire Legislature is walking on eggshells because of November's elections.

NY Gov. Paterson's proposed furloughs leave 100,000 state employees in life-changing limbo
State workers dodged a bullet when a federal judge last week temporarily blocked New York's first furloughs from going into effect. That doesn't mean the employees are free and clear.

Bill Cotterell: Florida Retirement System is far from broke, or broken
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," goes the deliberately ungrammatical rule of the Legislature. But, where state employment is concerned, conservative Republican legislators find "fixes" hard to resist.

May 13, 2010
Column Extra: Steve Poizner talks about unions and pensions

Our State Worker column in today's Bee references Steve Poizner's remarks that state worker pension deals should be put to a public vote.

Click the viewer above to see what the Insurance Commissioner and GOP gubernatorial candidate said at a Tuesday evening Tea Party rally in Shingle Springs about how he would curb state employee union power and pensions.

VIDEO CREDIT: Jack Chang, Sacramento Bee

May 11, 2010
A.M Reading: New York in budget and furlough turmoil

We've rounded up these reports on New York's furlough day and state worker reaction under our "Recommended Links" on the right side of this page:

New York Legislature Approves 1-Day Furloughs
The Legislature approved an emergency budget bill on Monday that would authorize Gov. David A. Paterson to furlough about 100,000 state employees, roughly half the state's work force, without pay for one day. Public employee unions contended that the furloughs, which officials said would be the first for state workers in New York, would be illegal, and they said they would seek a temporary restraining order in Federal District Court here to block Mr. Paterson's plan.

State Workers To Governor Paterson: 'Furlough You'
Some workers gave up their lunch hour, others took vacation days. They grabbed signs, whistles and voices to protest plans by Governor David Paterson to force them to take furloughs until a budget is passed. The Governor says the furloughs will save the state millions of dollars. State labor unions say forcing workers to take a day off without pay is illegal under their contract. (Includes video clip.)

Furloughs and Layoffs In Other States: Hard To Implement
Half of the states in the US have had to turn to either layoffs or furloughs or both to try and balance their budget over the past three years, according to research from the National Conference of State Legislatures. And of the 16 who have tried furloughs, only six have been able to make them stick.

May 11, 2010
Jerry Brown talks about lawsuit against former CalPERS officials

We're still digging out from under a mountain of e-mails, news and information that accumulated while we were on vacation last week. Here's one item:

Bee photographer/videographer Hector Amezcua shot video of Attorney General Jerry Brown's Friday press conference, during which the presumptive Democrat nominee for governor announced that he is suing former CalPERS officials for a kickback scheme to illegally influence decisions on how the fund invested billions of dollars. Click here to see the 2-minute, 34-second video clip.

You can click here to read Bee colleague Dale Kasler's report on the lawsuit. This link opens the court complaint against former CalPERS board member Alfred Villalobos and former fund CEO Fred Buenrostro.

May 10, 2010
Morning Reading: New York furloughs; NJ caps; SEIU's new prez

Check out this stories under our "Recommended Links" list on the right side of this page:

Gov. On WBEN: State Will Approve Furloughs Today
New York Governor David Paterson says that furloughs for 100,000 state workers will go into effect May 17, once legislators approve his emergency spending extension later today, and at least one WNY union official concedes that lawmakers will not be able to stop the furloughs. (Includes audio clips of interview.)

NH House votes on laundry list of budget fixes
New Hampshire house will vote on various spending cuts, including layoffs for 30 state workers at the state youth reformatory and 12 unpaid furlough days for state workers.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie proposes 2.5% yearly cap on public raises
Governor Christie is proposing a permanent 2.5 percent limit on annual raises for public workers, including police, firefighters and teachers, and will allow towns to discard civil service rules governing employee hiring and firing.

NJ Public Workers Cry Foul Over Christie's Cost-Cutting Plan
Gov. Chris Christie is proposing a package of legislation in Trenton on today, aimed at reducing personnel costs for the state and for other public employers ... The Communication Workers of America -- which represents some 60,000 public employees -- has already produced ads to fight the measure.

Powerful SEIU selects first woman as presidentThe Service Employees International Union selected Mary Kay Henry, head of the union's health care division, to lead the 2.2 million member union. She replaces Andy Stern, who is leaving after 14 years of high profile, and sometimes divisive, leadership.

April 30, 2010
Meg Whitman pressed to detail how she'd cut 40,000 state jobs

CBS 13 reporter Steve Large interviewed GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and pressed her for specifics on her pledge to cut the state workforce by 40,000 jobs. Click the viewer above to see the segment that aired Thursday.

April 26, 2010
Aaron McLear on Fox; 'Saturday Night Live' airs public workers bit

Aaron McLear, spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, appeared briefly this morning on the Fox Business Network to talk about pensions on "Varney & Company".

Click here to see the video clip and transcript.

What the clip doesn't show you is Varney's lead into the interview: a snippet of last week's "Saturday Night Live" sketch about public employees. Click the viewer below to see the seven-minute bit. As you might expect, the sketch isn't flattering to civil service workers.

April 23, 2010
Read testimony from Thursday's Little Hoover pension hearing

The bipartisan Little Hoover Commission met yesterday to hear testimony about public employee pensions. The commission, which conducts its business openly, has posted an agenda from the hearing that includes links to prepared statements made by witnesses.

(Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's economic adviser, David Crane, spoke from an outline that was provided to the commission. Staff also gave commissioners op-eds Crane has written about public employee pensions.)

Click here to open the commission's agenda page. We hear that the commission staff plans to post public comments made at the hearing, so check back to the Little Hoover site soon for those.

This link opens our previous report about the hearing and when the commission might issue a report.

Click here for Crane's comments at a January CalPERS forum on pensions that included the infamous David-vs.-David spat with lobbyist Dave Low.

April 22, 2010
Column extra: Schwarzenegger talks with press about pensions

Our column in today's Bee looks at Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth's bill to roll back pension benefits for new hires, SB 919.. and the politics surrounding the issue. Click the viewer above to see Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's response to a question about public pensions during Wednesday's press conference to announce the measure.

The SB 919 language is now online. Click here to read it.

VIDEO CREDIT: Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee

April 21, 2010
Little Hoover Commission to hold public pension hearing

The bipartisan Little Hoover Commission is holding its first public hearing about California public pension systems on Thursday at 9 a.m. in Room 437 at the Capitol.

The agenda, which you can view here, includes comments from the following:

  • Girard Miller, a Malibu-based retirement plan investment consultant

  • Tony Oliveira, Kings County supervisor, and a member of the CalPERS Board of Administration

  • Ron Cottingham, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California

  • Richard Stensrud, chief executive officer of the Sacramento County Employees' Retirement System

  • David Crane, special adviser to the governor for jobs and economic growth

The public can speak to the commission at the end of the hearing and submit comments on public pensions in writing.

Thursday's hearing is the first of two, commission Executive Director Stuart Drown said Tuesday afternoon. He wouldn't speculate whether the commission might issue a report or recommendations before the fall elections or even by the end of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's term.

"I hesitate to put an end date on (the process)," Drown said.

The California Channel will make Thursday's hearing available online, although it wasn't clear as of this morning whether it will be streamed live or available only as an archived event. We've asked the folks at Cal Channel, and we'll post more details when we find out.

April 8, 2010
A.M. reading: Georgia Medicaid cuts; NY workers don't want raise

You'll find these stories and more in our "Recommended Links" on the ride side of this page:

Georgia Medicaid, food stamp cases exploding
The number of Georgians receiving Medicaid and food stamps has skyrocketed over the past year, stressing a social service system that is facing budget cuts at a time of increasing need ... But even as the numbers grow, state officials plan to cut 137 of the workers who process applications for Medicaid and food stamps. That has alarmed advocates, who say they are already seeing the increasing numbers cause delays in approvals, lost paperwork and cases falling through the cracks.

Rank-and-file Union Members in NY Seek Concessions
Ignoring a hard line by union bosses, some rank-and-file public union members statewide are pushing to suspend their raises to save tax dollars, help rebuild the economy and avoid layoffs in New York's fiscal crisis.

One Thousand More Show-Me State Jobs Will Go
Another one thousand Missouri state employees are going to lose their jobs in the coming weeks. Governor Jay Nixon spoke of the cuts as he met with UMKC faculty and students. (Includes audio clip.)

March 30, 2010
The State Worker scheduled for KCBS interview this morning

We've been asked to talk about the latest state employee furlough news on San Francisco radio station KCBS (740 AM and 106.9 FM). The interview, which should run about 4 minutes, is tentatively set for today at 11:20 a.m. Click here to open the station's home page. The "Listen" link is in the upper right corner.

March 25, 2010
The State Worker scheduled for radio interview today

We'll be visiting this morning with Jeffrey Callison on Capitol Public Radio's "Insight," which airs weekdays on KXJZ (90.9 FM) between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. We'll probably be on early in the hour.

This link opens the show's Web site. Click the "Listen Live" button near the top of the page to hear the interview.

"Insight" keeps exhaustive archives, so you can click in later if you miss the live broadcast.

March 23, 2010
Public radio segment looks at public pensions

National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" is airing a 5-minute report on California's public employee pension situation. Click here to read it or click here to download the audio file.

March 21, 2010
Sunday reading: Brown the populist; Frank's State Fund pay

Here are a few of the stories we've noticed as we scan the news for items of interest to State Worker blog users. Click the headlines in our list of "Recommended Links" on the right side of this page to read these reports and others:

Jerry Brown takes on populist tone
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown unveiled a new, populist line of attack Saturday by portraying himself as the defender of working Californians against Wall Street business titans profiting off the woes of ordinary people ... Brown also defended defined-benefit pension plans, saying, "This whole subject is a very good example of the difference between the candidates." Whitman has called for a move to 401(k)-type retirement plans for state workers, which Brown said "means you are dependent on the stock market, not your neighbors and friends and fellow citizens." He later said he would examine state employee pension plans to make sure they were "actuarially sound."

State Fund reformer was paid a salary of $450,000 a year, plus perks
After its president was ousted in a scandal, California's government-run insurance company hired Janet Frank to clean up the mess, offering her a salary and benefits far beyond the reach of most state workers. As the new president of California's largest provider of workers' compensation coverage, the insurance industry veteran received a $450,000 annual salary plus a signing bonus of nearly $140,000 to help her move from Colorado, employment records obtained by The Los Angeles Times show ... Overall, she earned more than $1.6 million, then quit after two years.

La. state workers cry foul over pay suspensions
Annual pay raises for most state government workers have been suspended next year because of Louisiana's budget problems. State workers called the suspension unfair, saying the state's budget shouldn't be balanced on their backs.

State workers march across N.J. to protest Christie's budget cuts
Carrying placards reading, "Christie's budget: Hurts the vulnerable, protects the millionaires" state workers marched along a downtown Newark street Thursday, part of a statewide counter-punch to what they said is the governor's "assault" on their pensions. (Includes video clip of protests.)

Members of Mich. union vote to ratify contract
Members of a union representing 17,000 state workers in Michigan have voted to ratify a contract agreement that includes concessions but avoids 10 unpaid days off in 2010.

March 18, 2010
A.M. reading: Life after furloughs; Jersey's budget battle

We scan the Web for state worker news and opinion pieces, then post what we find under "Recommended Links" on the right side of this page:

Editorial: Furloughs must end: Then what?
As The Bee reported last week, the state paid civil service and California State University workers about 4 percent less in 2009 than in 2008. But many furloughed workers put off vacations, meaning that the state faces deferred costs. California can't continue with its practice of borrowing from the future. Solving the state's budget woes will require new revenue, and selective and permanent cuts in the size of state government, including payroll.

Video: Christie, Unions Budget Battle
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called for major budget cuts and targeted state workers and health care benefits during his first fiscal address to the state legislature on Tuesday. (Web story Includes a 4-minute video clip.)

Calif. pension fund up 22.3 percent year-over-year
The chief investment officer of California's giant pension fund said Wednesday the fund grew 22.3 percent in the past year due to rebounding markets.

March 17, 2010
University employees make 'Furlough Friday' rap video

Two CSU San Marcos employees, singer/songwriter Tiamo De Vettori and Josh Galea'i, have made a rap video about "Furlough Fridays." In a telephone interview with The State Worker, De Vettori said that he and Galea'i started work on the song and video last October. They recorded the track, a takeoff on the 2004 rap hit, "Tipsy," at De Vettori's home studio and then did the video work on campus.

The reason for the production: "Encouraging you to find humor in the face of adversity," says a caption at the end of the four-minute video.

Click the viewer above to watch "Furlough Friday."

March 4, 2010
Assembly Speaker John A. Perez talks about state workers

Los Angeles Democrat John A. Perez, California's new Assembly Speaker, talked about state workers and the budget during a wide-ranging interview with The Bee's Capitol Bureau on Wednesday. Click the viewer above to see and hear what he said.

Torey Van Oot, who manages our sister blog, Capitol Alert, has more about Perez's remarks. Click here for her report.

VIDEO: Alan LaGuardia / Sacramento Bee

March 2, 2010
Audio: Poizner on the need to curb state worker union power

Thumbnail image for ha_spoizner8311.JPGLast week we told you about Steve Poizner's comment that "we need to curb public employee union power once and for all." He made the assertion as rationale for supporting an initiative that would require that public employees authorize some of their pay go to union dues instead of the present "opt out" policy.

Bee Capitol Bureau colleague Jack Chang recorded Poizner's remarks at the Yolo County Lincoln Day dinner on Feb. 23, and we've edited about a minute of his comments. Click here to hear the WMA file.

February 13, 2010
'Digging Out' touts public employees' impact on economy

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has released a 34-second video that connects public employees' recent storm recovery work in the Mid-Atlantic with their role in the nation's economic recovery. AFSCME's video hits the Web just ahead of U.S. Senate debate over whether to include money for public services in a new jobs bill.

Click the viewer above to see the video.

This link will open the AFSCME press announcement about it.

February 9, 2010
A.M. reading: NJ pensions; VA worker weight challenge; NV woes

News of state worker interest in our "Recommeneded Links" on the right side of this page:

Oklahoma is considering selling its version of California's State Compensation Insurance Fund ... Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Monday launched a program aimed at reducing obesity among the state's 110,000 employees ...Hawaii is facing state job cuts and office closures ... Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons renewed his "no new taxes" pledge and called for a special legislative session later this month to address the state's budget crisis ... New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers of both parties will unveil a series of sweeping pension and benefit reforms Monday that could affect every public employee in the state.

February 3, 2010
CNN looks at public employee pensions

CNN's American Morning ran a 3-minute segment this morning on public employee pensions and moves afoot in California and elsewhere to make changes.

The piece makes mention of the CalPERS/CalSTRS $100,000 pension clubs, but notes that pensions for folks like New York sanitation worker Chris Becker won't come close to six figures. "No one got rich taking this job," Becker says as he hoists garbage bags into the back of a truck. "Really what else do we have .. that's all we have ... our pensions and our benefits."

Click here to view the video.

Thanks to blog user J for flagging this item.

January 27, 2010
State's top tech exec scheduled for Thursday Web show

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 090211 Teri_Takai.jpgCalifornia's Chief Information Officer Teri Takai is scheduled for a Web-based live interview on TechLeader.TV on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. The show, hosted by John Thomas Flynn, is devoted to California's state government technology issues.

Click here to open TechLeader.TV's Web site, which includes links to archived interviews with state officials dating back to 2008.

IMAGE: Teri Takai /

January 21, 2010
Karen Bass: Pensions and more should be 'on the table'

Fox Business talk-show host Stuart Varney grilled Assembly Speaker Karen Bass today about California's budget crisis and pressed her about the push for more federal money, spending and pensions.

Here are some bits of the interview, which you can view by clicking the video link above, that State Worker blog users will find particularly interesting:

STUART VARNEY: When you get back to California you need to come up with a plan that somehow fixes this deficit. I will ask clearly are you in favor of any pay freeze for state employees? Are you in favor of looking at the pensions California is currently paying its former government workers? (talking over each other)

VARNEY: You have got to get at this.


VARNEY: Are you in favor of a pay freeze? Are you in favor of doing something about those lavish pensions? Are you in favor of lifting environmental rules and regulations which are killing business?

BASS: I think we have to put everything on the table. Over the last couple of years we've had a deficit totaling 60 billion dollars. ... Everything has to be on the table.

VARNEY: On the table?

BASS: That's right.

VARNEY: On the table. When we say on the table I am talking about a serious interruption of the flow of money to your pensions for state government pensions. Are you prepared to counter that? Because frankly you are in such a hole that you have to take truly drastic action over and above what you've taken already.

BASS: And let me tell you, we have absolutely taken drastic action and we are going to continue...

VARNEY: Ms. Bass, I am going to ask you a fundamental question. Are you prepared to change course? Change policy course away from much more spending and away from higher taxes and get to much lower taxes and cutting spending? Are you prepared to change direction?

BASS: We are absolutely prepared. As a matter fact, in the next couple weeks you will see we are going to roll out a comprehensive reform package stay tuned. I think you'll see big differences.

January 17, 2010
A.M. reading (and listening): budgets, budgets and ... a bad idea?

News of interest to state workers on this rainy, windy Sunday morning that you'll find in our "Recommended Links" on the right side of this page:

Our story in today's fiber/cyber Bee looks at cuts to state employee compensation around the country and why civil service workers are a politically attractive target for politicians ... Schwarzenegger aide Susan Kennedy is widely regarded as the power behind the power in the administration. The Los Angeles Times profiled her ... In Hawaii, an arbitrator has decided to cut the pay of some of the state's emergency workers and allow others to be furloughed. The pay cuts weren't as deep as Gov. Linda Lingle wanted, but they're en lieu of furloughs at some 24/7 facilities such as prisons. Lingle had said furloughing correctional officers and other round-the-clock workers would cost the state more in overtime and would be "very disruptive." ... To deal with Hawaii's growing budget mess, Lingle wants to to stop paying life insurance premiums for state workers and retirees and end reimbursements for health care services in Medicare Part B for the spouses of retired state workers ... Oregon has two ballot measures that would increase taxes on higher-income residents and raise business taxes. Opponents of the measures say raising taxes is a de facto funding of "Cadillac" state worker pay and benefits that should be cut ... Georgia state workers face more furloughs this year.

Audio bonus: On Friday, Bee colleague Dan Walters joined Mark Paul, deputy director for the California Program of the New America Foundation and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's spokesman Aaron McLear to talk about California's budget on KQED's "Forum" with host Michael Krasny.

The talk gets a bit testy around minute 36 when Paul labels the governor's call for a constitutional amendment that shifts money from prisons and to higher education, "The single stupidest idea I have ever seen from a governor..."

(Click here for more about Schwarzenegger's proposed spending amendment.)

McLear fires back: "I think the stupidest move the Legislature has done was in 1999 when they passed the extension of the pensions, something that Mark's boss, Mr. Angelides supported at the time. That right now is crushing every single program in this state."

As Paul notes, he was writing for The Bee's editorial board at the time, which opposed the pension increase.

You can listen to the discussion by clicking the player below.

Stay warm and dry today, State Worker blog users!

January 15, 2010
See The State Worker this morning on News10

Reminder: Your humble blogger will be on News10's Live_Online today from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Click here for more details about the show and how you can participate via the Web.

January 11, 2010
The State Worker scheduled for Friday TV and Web appearance

Your humble blogger is scheduled to appear this Friday on News10's Live_Online with host Sharon Ito to talk about state worker issues. You can watch live from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. by clicking here at the appointed half hour (or check it out later, since News10 also archives each show).

Live_Online starts with a brief broadcast segment at the top of the regular News10 telecast, then shifts to a Webcast that takes questions through its Web site. The half hour then closes with another brief over-the-air segment on News10 that summarizes the issues discussed during the half hour.

Look forward to seeing you Live_Online!

January 8, 2010
State worker pens 'Sixteen Tons' parody

We're still digging through about 725 e-mails that hit the in box through Tuesday before its capacity maxed out. One note that caught our eye was this song parody by state worker Joe Muncie , "Three Day Furlough," which is a takeoff on the coal mine worker tune first recorded in 1946 by country singer Merle Travis. (Click here to listen to Tom Jones' version of "Sixteen Tons" on


By Joe Muncie, Sung to the tune of Sixteen Tons

Some people say Caltrans is made outta mud
Some poor slobs made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You have a three day furlough, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the governor's board

I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I grabbed my hat and I drove to the line
I got a three day furlough and I didn't whine
And Sup said "Well, keep a workin til nine"

You work sixteen years, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the governor's board

I was workin one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the desert by an ol' mountain lion
cain't no high-toned foreman make me walk the line

You have a three day furlough, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the governor's board

If you see me strikin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't a-get you
Then the left one will

You have a three day furlough, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the governor's board

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul"

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion
Cain't no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't a-get you
Then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

December 24, 2009
See the 'Cubicle Cowboy' segment on CBS13

CBS13 featured "Happy Jack" Hastings on its 10 p.m. broadcast Wednesday night, including several snippets of his song, "State Worker Blues." Click here to view the story. (The station had a brief feature at 5 p.m. that teased the later broadcast.) And clicking here will open our last blog post about Jack with lyrics and audio links to his new songs.

December 22, 2009
'Cubicle Cowboy' releases 'State Worker Blues 2009'

091221 Jack Hastings.JPGHe's back. John "Happy Jack" Hastings, The Cubicle Cowboy, has a new version of his signature "State Worker Blues" tune for the 2009 holidays and a companion parody of John Prine's "Christmas in Prison" titled, "A Capitol Christmas Carol."

Here's Hastings' e-mail to The State Worker:

That's right. I'm back with a revised version of the State Worker Blues for 2009. Performed at the Health Services Food Drive Talent Show again this year. For the first time, we're offering a "professionally recorded" CD of the song (and a companion piece, "A Capitol Christmas Carol") with proceeds going to benefit the California State Employees Food Drive. The songs will not be available for download but, because of your continuing commitment to and incisive coverage of State Employee issues, I'm attaching a full-length MP3 if you want to post it on your blog or whatever. Haven't had an opportunity to do a video but if it happens, you'll be the first to know. Information on ordering the CD is available at Anyway, wishing you continued success and happy holidays, ~ Happy Jack Hastings

Long-time State Worker blog users will recall we wrote about Hastings a few times last year. (Click here for one of those posts.) Once again, we're happy to point people to And, Jack, we hope you sell out of CDs.

Click the following link to read the lyrics and listen to "State Worker Blues 2009" and "A Capitol Christmas Carol."

December 10, 2009
Column extra: Whitman on labor contract negotiations

We're snowed under today with e-mails and phone calls about our column about state worker pensions in today's Bee. The responses are all over the board.

Some readers are criticizing the column for failing to spell out all of the nuances of employee pension formulas. Those folks think we didn't write enough.

Others think our aim in writing about the topic is to foment state worker hatred in the private sector. For them, we wrote too much.

A few people said they liked the column, but for different reasons. Some felt it outed unreasonably rich state worker pension benefits. A couple of others were pleased that it highlighted the fact that state worker benefits aren't all the same.

The column springs from comments Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman made last week. We wrote about them here and posted a brief audio clip from a longer recording by Capitol Bureau colleague Jack Chang.

State Worker blog users, some who support Whitman and some who don't, have asked if we could make the entire 40-minute file available. Unfortunately, our blog software's uploading capacity won't allow that. But here's another clip that captures more of what Whitman said when asked about the impact of labor unions on government. This time she talks about how she would handle contract talks, especially during this recession cycle.

November 25, 2009
DGS deputy scheduled for Webcast appearance has lined up DGS Deputy Director Jim Butler for its Dec. 10 show. From the Web site:

Jim Butler oversees the state's $10 billion annual purchasing, and some of the most relevant, critical, and yes, controversial processes and programs affecting not only state procurement officials, and department spending decision makers, but most of all the thousands of vendors doing business with the State of California. He has been on the job some 18 months now, and it was just about one year ago that he appeared on our TLTV program.

Click here for more information on the upcoming Webcast and to view archived interviews with other government officials responsible for information technology.

November 24, 2009
The State Worker interviews CalPERS board candidates

CalPERS Board of Administration candidates Cathy Hackett and J.J. Jelincic recently visited The Bee's Capitol Bureau to chat with The State Worker. We videotaped the conversations, which included:

  • The role of placement agents and their influence with the board.
  • Nepotism at CalPERS.
  • Changes and challenges facing the fund.
  • The 3 percent at 50 retirement formula for law enforcement officers, specifically CHP.
  • Ken Hamidi.
  • Pension spiking.
  • Corporate governance.
  • The long-term viability of CalPERS.
  • Political moves afoot to cut pension benefits for new hires.
  • The stalled SEIU labor contract.

And the candidates talk about their qualifications for the board -- and talk briefly about their opponent.

The deadline for CalPERS members to return ballots for the election is Dec. 4. Click here for details.

Click the following link for video links to interviews with the candidates.

November 23, 2009
News of state worker interest from California and around the nation

Check out these stories and others under Recommended Links on the right side of this page, or click here.

Film crews are shooting footage for a new reality show about California's game wardens, according to The Bee's Matt Weiser ... Capitol Bureau colleague Andrew McIntosh asks State Compensation Insurance Fund about its plan to replace some of its older cars with 600 hybrid vehicles ... Michigan state employees who work in aid programs are worried about their safety ... Montana doesn't know how many vehicles are in the state's fleet .

And if you missed it, check out this story and the YouTube video below that capture a heated debate between Massachusetts lawmakers over whether Bunker Hill Day and Evacuation Day should remain paid days off for state, municipal and county employees in Suffolk County. About 50,000 workers get the holidays. Gov. Deval Patrick last week tried and failed to eliminate the benefit in a budget-balancing bill. Sound familiar?

November 20, 2009
More about Whitman's plan to 'skinny down' state government

Get used to this, state workers. The number of California state civil servants will be an ongoing topic, we think, all the way up to the November 2010 election. So far, GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has talked about it the most, hence her prominence on this blog, including this post on Thursday.

Bee Capitol Bureau Chief Dan Smith passed along a transcript of an interview Whitman gave on Tuesday to ABC News reporter Teddy Davis. The candidate lays out how she figures the state should drop 40,000 jobs from its payroll:

Click the following link to read an excerpt from the interview.

November 16, 2009
CalPERS board candidates on radio this morning

CalPERS Board of Administration candidates Cathy Hackett and J.J. Jelincic are scheduled to appear on Jeffrey Callison's Capitol Public Radio show, Insight, some time between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. today.

Hackett and Jelincic are in a runoff election for an at-large seat on the fund's board. Ballots went out to CalPERS members last week and must be returned by Dec. 4. This blog also is working on video interviews with both candidates that we'll run here.

You can tune in to the show on KXJZ, 90.9 FM, or pick it up online by clicking here. The state posts previous shows on the site, too, so you can listen later if you miss the live talk. Insight also has a regular "Furlough Friday" interview with couples who both work for the state. Check it out.

October 27, 2009
TV picks up on The Bee's state vehicle investigation

Bee colleague Andrew McIntosh's story about state vehicle purchases has stirred a lot of interest. He's been interviewed by Sacramento's Fox 40 TV about it and KABC in Los Angeles ran a feature story last night. Click here to view the piece, which runs 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

October 8, 2009
The State Worker to talk about Columbus Day on KXJZ

We'll be speaking with "Insight" host Jeffrey Callison about the Columbus Day controversy this morning on KXJZ. We're scheduled to talk shortly after 10 a.m. This link will take you to the program's Web site.

Speaking of Columbus Day, click here to read today's State Worker column, which looks at how Monday will be a test of SEIU Local 1000's organizational power. And you can read The Bee's editorial on the matter by clicking here.

September 11, 2009
Furlough benefits questioned

npr.jpgNational Public Radio has broadcast a story that says, "Economists have yet to determine just how effective furloughs are as a tool for state cost-saving. It is beginning to appear that a decline in spending, and therefore tax revenue, and the drop in efficiency associated with furloughs may offset their value."

The piece includes an audio clip that runs nearly five minutes. You can access that story and more state worker news from around the country in our "Recommended Links" section on the right side of this page.


September 10, 2009
Watch and vote; a note on Columbus Day

A couple of housekeeping notes for The State Worker users:

* We'll be posting reminders every so often for the next few weeks that you can view a 28-minute video of last week's CalPERS candidates forum until the Oct. 2 ballot deadline. We'll try to keep the reference as unobtrusive as possible, but we think it's valuable to see what J.J. Jelincic, Inderjit Singh Kallirai and Muriel Strand said about the fund and its role in providing California public employee benefits.

Candidates Cathy Hackett, Kurato Shimada, Dan T. Villella and Dennis Yates did not participate.

Click here to see the video. This link will take you to CalPERS' information about the election.

* Several The State Worker users noted that we failed to mention in this Tuesday post that CASE, the state legal professionals union, has submitted a grievance on behalf of Bargaining Unit 2 members over the Legislature's elimination of Lincoln's Birthday and Columbus Day from the paid state holiday calendar. We added that amplification to Tuesday's post. And if you want to read more about the grievance, click here.

September 9, 2009
View highlights of the CalPERS board candidates forum

Here's footage from last week's CalPERS candidate's forum at Sacramento's Dante Club. Our video staff has distilled it from two hours of raw footage shot by Kim McElroy of Shout TV, the public access television show devoted to SEIU Local 1000 issues. (Local 1000 doesn't sponsor the show or sanction its content.)

The 28-minute video captures CalPERS Board of Administration candidates J.J. Jelincic, Inderjit Singh Kallirai and Muriel Strand taking questions from Bee writers Ginger Rutland and Dan Walters. The footage also includes closing statements by the candidates.

Candidates Cathy Hackett, Kurato Shimada, Dan T. Villella and Dennis Yates did not participate.

The Bee and PERSWatch co-sponsored the event. The League of Women Voters moderated.

The CalPERS board election ballots went out on Friday and must be returned by Oct. 4. Click here for more information about the election.

August 25, 2009
Bee will post webcast of CalPERS board candidates forum

As we mentioned Monday, The Bee and PERSWatch are co-sponsoring a Sept. 2 debate between candidates for the at-large seat on CalPERS's Board of Administration. Click here for that earlier post, which has all the pertinent details about the event, which is open to the public, at Sacramento's Dante Club and the election that runs from Sept. 4 to Oct. 2.

August 21, 2009
Local 1000 launches 'broken promises' campaign

SEIU Local 1000 is going after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger with a radio campaign that says his legacy will be that he "broke his word" with the union.

The spot blasts the governor for Assembly Republicans' defeat of the contract negotiated by administration and the union earlier this year. The deal included a mix of protections and concessions, including a single furlough day per month for covered employees.

Listen to the spot by clicking here. And this link will download the script.

Worth mentioning: We've heard nothing from the local on what it plans to do, if anything, with the strike authorization that voting members gave union leadership nearly four weeks ago.

August 19, 2009
Experts debate public pension changes

SoCal public radio stations KPCC (FM 89.3) and KUOR (FM 89.1) broadcast a segment on public employee pensions with guests on both sides of the issue weighing in. Click here to download the "AirTalk" segment, which featured David Crane, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's special advisor for jobs and economic growth; Marcia Fritz, vice president of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility and Scott Adams, a pension and investment analyst for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

If the pairing of Adams an Fritz seems familiar, it's because they've debated public pension policy in a series of "Dust Up" pieces in the Los Angeles Times. We featured their back-and-forth comments in the our ever-rotating "Recommended Links" section on the right side of this page. If you missed them there, click the following headlines:

Why did Schwarzenegger bail on pension reform?
CalPERS: a looming disaster?
401(k) plans for everyone?

August 12, 2009
The State Worker to appear on News10 this morning

Just in: We'll be appearing from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. today on News10's Live_Online with host Sharon Ito to talk about state worker issues. You can watch live by clicking here at the appointed half hour (or check it out later, since News 10 also archives each show). The show takes online questions through its Web site, so feel free to join us.

August 11, 2009
CNN picks up on Sunday state hiring story

CNN took a run at California's government growth on "The Situation Room" today in a commentary segment by an outraged Jack Cafferty. Click this link to see the video clip and read the transcript. It sounded to us like Cafferty heard about our Sunday story in The Bee. If you missed it, click here.

August 11, 2009
SEIU points state workers to public assistance; more about 'retail e-mail'

Here's a sign of the times: SEIU Local 1000 has posted a list of public assistance programs "to help members dealing with the financial challenges brought on by three furlough days." Click here to see the union's post with a link to the list of public assistance resources.


Following up on the "retail e-mail" from the Department of Public Health: You'll recall that last week a Bay Area TV station ran a story about state workers upset over an e-mail from department HR Chief Sandra Cornwell that mentioned it would be OK for DPH employees to work for "Macy's, Target. Kohls, etc." If you missed the KGO-TV piece, click here.

Yesterday we posted the department's e-mail, which you can read and judge for yourself by clicking here.

Here's another little piece of the puzzle: The KGO story referenced a DPH response to questions about the letter. Department spokesman Ralph Montano has given us the e-mail DPH sent to KGO reporter Laura Anthony :

From: Montano, Ralph (CDPH-EXEC-OPA)
Sent: Wednesday, August 05, 2009 3:04 PM
To: ''
Subject: Statement from Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health

Dear Laura Anthony,

You asked, "What was the intent of the memo sent out last week to California Department of Public Health employees?"

ANSWER from Dr. Mark Horton, "We recognize that our employees are facing difficult decisions in these tough economic times. Because many employees have expressed interest in finding a part-time job, we issued a memorandum to clarify guidelines for secondary employment."

Ralph Montano
Information Officer I
California Department of Public Health
Office of Public Affairs

August 8, 2009
Public Health memo about part-time retail work ticks off some state workers

KGO-TV in the Bay Area ran a story about a Department of Public Health conflict-of-interest job memo that said part-time retail work is OK for its employees. Reporter Laura Anthony's story says the memo suggests state workers, "... fill their furlough Fridays with work at a retail store, like Target." She interviews some state workers who say the memo insulted them.

Click here to view the two-minute piece.

The story also quotes a DPH official as saying that the memo was a clarification for workers thinking about pursuing part-time work -- which is different than suggesting folks work retail on their furlough days.

We'll call DPH on Monday and ask for a copy of the e-mailed memo. Check back here next week to judge it for yourself.

August 7, 2009
Kimmel show spoofs state garage sale

GarageSaleTrans.gifTorey Van Oot over on our cousin blog, Capitol Alert, has posted an amusing "ad" from the Jimmy Kimmel show about the state garage sale. Click here for a few laughs.

Obviously, the state thinks the spoof builds momentum for the sale. The Department of General Services has posted a link on its garage sale Web page.


August 6, 2009
CDCR Secretary on local radio; Local 1000 says Corrections still not talking

Corrections and Rehab Secretary Matthew Cate appeared for an in-studio interview on this morning's Armstrong & Getty Show to discuss all things prison: budget cuts, incarceration costs, illegals in the system and the court order to reduce the department's inmate population. Cate also took questions from callers.

Click here to see the podcast link to the interview during the 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. hour of the show.

Speaking of Corrections, SEIU Local 1000 says on its Web site that it has met with departments about pending layoffs and has had a hand in getting "hundreds of workers" off the State Restriction of Appointments list. However, the union still hasn't been able to meet with CDCR -- and that's the department facing the most position cuts among the total of 7,000 ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Local 1000 has a complaint pending with the Public Employee Relations Board about CDCR's failure to go over its layoff plans with the union, as we mentioned in this blog post.

July 14, 2009
TSW appearing on Pennsylvania radio show; a belated 'thank you'

We've accepted an invitation to be a guest on WITF-FM, a public radio station in central Pennsylvania, to talk about California's budget troubles. We expect that state workers will be part of the discussion, since Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell is requiring them to work without pay while lawmakers haggle over a budget.

State workers held lunchtime rallies there today to protest. Click here for that story.

We'll be on from roughly 6:15 a.m. to 7 a.m. as one of two guests on WTIF's "Radio Smart Talk" show. If you're up and near your computer, you can listen in by clicking here and selecting the appropriate media player for your computer.

Speaking of TSW appearances, we'd be remiss if we didn't express our thanks to the folks at Association of California State Supervisors for letting us speak at their Sacramento convention on Saturday. We had a great time, particularly the opportunity to meet people we've gotten to know through this blog. We were humbled by your graciousness and hospitality.

July 14, 2009
More about 2,000 positions that may be cut; McLear on video

We've spoken with Vickie Bradshaw, Cabinet Secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. A few points surfaced during the telphone conversation that we wanted to pass along to amplify our earlier blog post about preparations to ax 2,000 general-fund positions.

The administration called us, in part, because other media outlets saw our report and made the leap that that 2,000 state workers have been told they may be laid off. That is not the case.

Today's news is that the state government is preparing for layoffs. The administration expects that some permanent job cuts prompted by changes to government programs will be part of the next budget deal, Bradshaw said. Talking to the unions and exempt employee associations was part of "getting prepared as any other business or government agency would have to do to live within its means," she said.

The state has been squirreling away vacant positions for several months. Bradshaw said that departments were instructed to begin looking at how they "capture funded vacancies," general-fund positions that emptied out as employees left state service. Now those budgeted-but-empty slots can be counted toward the reduction targets issued by the administration. The departments will report those savings by July 20, then go after the rest, if any remain, with layoff warnings.

No one has been issued a layoff warning letter as a result of the plan laid out today. The plan is to save money first by cutting vacant positions first, then going back and determining how many layoff warnings will need to be issued.

On a related note, click the video player below to view footage of Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear talking about the layoff plan.

July 13, 2009
View video of Schwarzenegger's remarks about strike, furloughs

Bee videographer/photographer Hector Amezcua told us this morning that he captured footage of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's impromptu press conference on Friday. As we blogged last week, Schwarzenegger made some remarks about state worker furloughs and a passing reference to strikes during that event.

We thought you'd want to see the video, so here it is.

June 25, 2009
SEIU State Council goes after governor, oil and tobacco

From a Service Employees International Union State Council press release that went out Wednesday:

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) today launched a statewide television ad calling on Governor Schwarzenegger to stop protecting Big Oil and Tobacco interests after slashing critical services for our seniors, kids, and college students in the name of "shared sacrifice."

The ad points out the insincerity of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger saying everyone must share the burden of balancing the budget, then slashing services for children, seniors and families at the same time he excuses big oil and tobacco from contributing a dime to shoring up the budget deficit. California big business actually received a tax decrease of up to $2.5 billion in the budget agreement reached in February.

Democrats have proposed modest taxes on oil and tobacco to ease some of the deepest budget cuts proposed by the Governor.

Click the box below to watch the ad through YouTube. For the SEIU release, which includes the ad's script, click this link.

As The Bee reported in this story, SEIU State Council opposed Proposition 1A on the May 19 ballot. The measure would have raised taxes. Local 1000 remained neutral.

June 24, 2009
Union launches radio campaign to fight 50 percent bureau budget cut

Alan Barcelona.pngThe California Statewide Law Enforcement Association and the Association of Special Agents-California Department of Justice are launching radio spots in Southern California today that warn of dire consequences if the lawmakers go ahead with plans to cut $20 million from the state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement's $39 million budget.

We reported details of the print ad campaign last week. Now the radio spot is online. You can listen to it by clicking here. Read the union's press release by clicking here.

IMAGE: CSLEA President Alan Barcelona / courtesy

June 23, 2009
Listen to Web cast of TSW interview on Capitol Public Radio's 'Insight'

We've fielded some e-mails and calls from blog users who missed our interview yesterday on Capitol Public Radio's "Insight."

If you'd like to listen to our discussion with host Jeffrey Callison, you can click here to download it. The segment opened the hour-long show and ran about 15 minutes.

June 22, 2009
TSW on Capitol Public Radio's 'Insight' show today

We'll be visiting this morning with Jeffrey Callison on Capitol Public Radio's "Insight," which airs weekdays on KXJZ (90.9 FM) between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. We'll be on early in the hour. Click here to go to "Insight's" Web page. From there, you can link to listen to the show.

June 15, 2009
UPDATED: Governor's Web cast now indexed

UPDATE: June 17, 6:15 p.m.: The link to the video page has been repaired.

Illegal immigrants. Government waste. The deficit. We've indexed the video of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's interview with the Bee editorial board, so you can zero in on any topic you choose. Click on to see how Bee IT staff has made the much-discussed panel interview more accessible than ever.

June 14, 2009
Sunday reading: CalPERS investigation; Bee publishes state workers' questions, suggestions

If you haven't already, check out Bee reporter Andrew McIntosh's CalPERS story in today's Bee. Here's the top:

Companies that received multimillion-dollar deals with CalPERS pumped more than $300,000 into a union campaign fund overseen by Sean Harrigan while he was one of the giant pension fund's board members from 2000-2004.

Harrigan, a veteran leader of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, acknowledged in an interview on Friday that while on the CalPERS board and voting on pension fund investment decisions he actively solicited money managers and pension fund industry consultants to donate to the UFCW Issues Education Fund.

Read the rest of Andrew's investigative piece by clicking here.

The Bee has a couple of items in the Opinion section this morning that focus on state workers and the recent editorial board Web cast with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you missed the interview, which included questions submitted by state workers, click here.

Read the "Workers can point the way to waste" in today's Bee by clicking here. And several ideas and comments about government waste that state workers sent to The Bee are posted here.

May 31, 2009
News 10 broadcast, online shows to feature The State Worker

We're scheduled to make an appearance Monday morning on News 10's broadcast / Webcast, "Live Online," from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The show starts as a live segment at the top of the station's 11 a.m. newscast on Channel 10. It then pivots to the Web via streamed video and shifts into a more conversational tone with the host (Sharon Ito, in our case) interviewing the guest and sprinkling in questions submitted by online users.

"Live Online" rejoins the news broadcast at the bottom of the hour as the host and guest summarize what they discussed.

Click here to view News 10's "Live Online" Web page. You can submit questions or comments to

News 10 archives the show, so if you can't watch live, you can see it later through the "Live Online" Web page.

April 18, 2009
See the CalTrans memorial video

Bee Capitol Bureau photographer Hector Amezcua has a minute-long audio / visual piece from the CalTrans memorial at the Capitol last week. Click here to see the see a slide show and hear soundbites from the event.

April 3, 2009
Video: Behind the scenes with CHP's Mounted Division

Last week The Bee gave us time to learn a bit about Web video. We used the opportunity to spend some time with the California Highway Patrol's Mounted Division, the five horses and six riders whose duties include securing Capitol Park. We narrated and Bee Capitol Bureau colleague Alan Laguardia shot and edited the footage. It's about 3 minutes long.

January 15, 2009
State workers protest furloughs on steps outside state Capitol

"Furlough Arnold!," they chanted. "Impeach Arnold!"

"The state of the state is a mess!" they added.

They needed a bit of egging on, but a couple of hundred members and organizers of the Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, protested outside the Capitol at noon today after the governor's morning state of the state address.

Lots of colorful purple SEIU T-shirts to go with the purple prose chants and signs.

There was some TV coverage.

Lots of warm sunshine. Free brown bag lunches and sodas for all.

It was over in about 30 minutes, but heard inside the Legislature, I'm told.

Similar protests also took place today in the Bay area, Fresno, San Diego and Los Angeles, SEIU spokesman Jim Zamora said.

Vignettes of the Sacramento protest are below.

December 31, 2008
Governor's 2009-10 budget to be released this morning

You can watch Finance Director Mike Genest talk about the proposed 09-10 budget by clicking here.

December 18, 2008
'Armstrong & Getty' go off on Perata, caution CCPOA

Radio station KSTE (650 AM) talk show hosts Armstrong & Getty spent a few minutes this morning discussing this week's State Worker column about former Sen. Don Perata (let's just say that Joe Getty uses the word "jumpsuit" -- as in "prison jumpsuit" -- a few times) and cautions CCPOA against "hubris."

You can listen to the A&G broadcast by clicking here. Find the show's 9 a.m. time slot for 12-18-08 and click "Listen." When your media player loads, scroll to about the 45 minute mark to hear the hosts talk about the column and CCPOA.

December 17, 2008
UPDATE: A 'cubicle cowboy' sings for food

This item first ran on Dec. 10. We're posting it again to to complement our story in today's Bee about John "Happy Jack" Hastings, the "cubicle cowboy." Scroll down to find the link to an audio download of his popular song, "The State Worker Blues."

Hastings last weekend shot footage around town for a music video. He tells The State Worker that he plans to wrap up editing this weekend. We'll debut it here early next week.



Hi Jon:

I am a +30-year state employee. For the past four years, I have been performing a song I wrote called "The State Worker Blues" at the Department of Health Care Services/Department of Public Health food drive talent show. Every year I update it to throw in a little something about our current state of affairs.

My colleagues have been insistent about sharing this song with you and, never being the shy and retiring type, I soon relented. Anyway, the lyrics follow and are also available at, of course, along with a link to the Sacramento Food Bank which is really what I hope to draw attention to.

Anyway, this cubicle cowboy has got a lot of pencils to push, so adios for now ...

John "Happy Jack" Hastings

We're honored to debut the 2008 version of "The State Worker Blues." You can listen to the 4 minute, 54 second clip by clicking here.

While you're listening to Happy Jack, click here to go to the Sacramento Food Bank's Web site. You can make a donation online through a link at the bottom of the home page.

The State Worker Blues

words and music by Jack Hastings

When I was a kid my Momma said son
Don't work for the State like your daddy done
It ain't a lot of money and it ain't a lot of fun
And you'll owe your soul to the Golden One
But the private sector ain't where it's at
Got tired of sayin' you want a mocha latté with that?
So I took me a test, got on a list
Started pushin' that paper and I done my best


I got the state worker blues
I been payin' my dues
Have you heard the good news?
... well, there ain't none!

For year af