The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 26, 2013
Jerry Brown honors California Highway Patrol officer, others

Thumbnail image for 130926-MC_VALOR_01.jpgGov. Jerry Brown this morning recognized a California Highway Patrol officer for an act of bravery that likely saved a man's life last year at the risk of the officer's own well-being.

Officer Dane Norem was on patrol out of the CHP's Riverside office on Oct. 25 when he responded to a call about a man threatening to jump off the La Sierra overpass on Highway 91.

Norem arrived in time to see Javier Hernandez Rios, then 45, climbing the overpass fence. The officer grabbed Hernandez to keep him from jumping and was stabbed nine times -- including in the eye -- with a utility knife. Despite the attack, Norem held onto the man's leg long enough for help to arrive.

"It is without a doubt, his courage, dedication, and quick thinking are what helped save a man's life, even when his own life was in jeopardy," CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a press statement.

Hernandez, who was found to be under the influence of drugs, was arrested and charged with several crimes including the attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

Brown awarded Norem with the 2012 Governor's Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, the highest honor the state can bestow on its public safety employees.

The ceremony in the Governor's Council Room also recognized 13 other men for heroic acts, including 11 Modesto Police Department officers who risked their lives to retrieve two shooting victims as well as a San Diego police officer and San Diego sheriff's deputy who were involved in a shootout.

From the Modesto Police Department:
Sgt. Rick Applegate
Sgt. Patrick Kimes
Sgt. Scott Myers
Sgt. Ivan Valencia
Detective Eric Beffa
Officer Joseph Bottoms
Officer Jonathan Griffith
Officer Gary Guffey
Officer Frank Inacio
Officer Robert Reyna
Officer Richard Rodarte

From the San Diego Sheriff's Department
Dep. Michael Spears

From the San Diego Police Department
Officer Michael DeWitt

PHOTO: The Governor's Public Safety Medal of Valor. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo

April 5, 2013
California DMV recognized for social media innovation

Information technology giant Cisco Systems Inc., global manufacturer 3M Co. ... and the California Department of Motor Vehicles?

That's right. The state's most-public department is among some of the heaviest hitters in government and private industry to receive a 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate for Innovation.

The technology publication honored DMV's 3-year-old social media program, which includes active Facebook and Twitter accounts. DMV was the first state agency to develop its own YouTube channel to distribute driver training and humorous informational videos such as the DMV Answerman. The clips have drawn 26 million hits so far.

DMV spokeswoman Jan Mendoza said that the department is in tune with technology trends and is constantly brainstorming how to exploit new information tools to reach the public.

"We have to keep up," Mendoza said. "Our customers demand to be served."

Founded in 1988 by Computerworld's corporate parent, International Data Group, the Computerworld Honors Program is governed by a not-for-profit foundation that honors organizations and individuals for using information technology to promote positive social, economic and educational change.

DMV is among 268 laureates in 11 award categories this year. One winner in each category will be recognized with a 21st Century Achievement Award at a June banquet in Washington, D.C.

November 1, 2012
Governing magazine: California state auditor one of best leaders

Elaine_Howle_20110510_AOC_Teachers_032w.JPGCalifornia State Auditor Elaine Howle has been named one of the nation's best government leaders by Governing magazine, a nonpartisan publication that covers state and local governance.

Howle was among eight people recognized as Public Officials of the Year by the magazine.

In a news release, Governing praised Howle for her "tireless efforts to cut wasteful spending and failing programs and to make government run better."

Award winners are picked from nominations by readers, experts in the public
and private sectors and Governing's editors for their "leadership, courage, innovation, creativity and good management," the press release says.

PHOTO CREDIT: State Auditor Elaine Howle, left, presents her findings on the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee at the California State Capitol. May 10, 2011. Autumn Payne, Sacramento Bee file

October 23, 2012
CalPERS receives awards for computer system

Editors note, 4:22 p.m.: This post has been updated with more data and call processing information from CalPERS.

121022 anne_stausboll courtesy calpers.JPGCalPERS announced today that it has received recognitions of excellence for two of its programs, including the my|CalPERS computer system that has a history of glitches and costly overruns.

"Our teams truly embody the CalPERS core value of quality in striving to exceed our customers' needs and expectations through competence, innovation and teamwork," CalPERS' CEO Anne Stausboll said today in a press release. "These honors are well deserved."

May 29, 2012
Union-sponsored students win in international competition

Winners from the Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair, an event sponsored by state scientists and state engineers unions, took top awards at the week-long Intel International Science & Engineering Fair. The international competition was held in Pittsburgh, Penn. Around 1,500 students from 70 countries competed.

Two winners were from the Sacramento area. Shyamal Buch, a junior at Vista Del Lago High School, received first place honors in Energy and Transportation and was also awarded Best in Category for Energy and Transportation. He was given awards from the International Society for Optical Engineering and the Office of Naval Research on Behalf of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. His project, "Beyond the Nanostructure in Solar Cells," studied ways to make improved solar cells. 

Ryan Hsu, a junior at Davis Senior High School was given a scholarship from the American Society for Microbiology and the University of Sciences in Philadelphia. His project, "DNA Based Identification of Airborne Fungal Population in Sacramento Area," looked at what types of fungal spores are in the Sacramento region's air.

Benjamin Jin, also a junior at Davis Senior High School and the second place winner at the Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair, took part in the event as well.

Click here for more information about the Intel fair.

May 2, 2012
Cliff Allenby to be recognized for California public service career spanning 50 years

120503 Allenby.JPGCliff Allenby, the acting director of the California Department of Mental Health, will be recognized this evening for a public service career that has spanned a half-century.

The American Society for Public Administration's Sacramento chapter is giving Allenby the Ross Clayton Lifetime Distinguished Public Service Award at it's annual banquet tonight at the Embassy Suites.

Other current and former state employees receiving awards include William Vizzard, former chairman of California State University, Sacramento's Criminal Justice Department; Kiyomi Burchill, assistant secretary, of the California Health and Human Services Agency; and a posthumous award to Tim Hodson, former executive director of Sacramento's Center for California Studies. Hodson, whose career in politics and academica spanned 35 years, passed away in 2011 after a long illness.

Allenby started his public service career in 1963 as an administrative trainee with the Department of Finance, eventually becoming the department's deputy director. He has served a wide variety of roles under seven different administrations, including agency secretary for the Health and Welfare Agency, director of the Department of Developmental Services, and interim director for the Department of Social Services. Last year he was appointed to his current position with the Department of Mental Health.

PHOTO: Cliff Allenby /

March 13, 2012
BloodSource recognizes Cal EPA for blood donations

120309 BloodSource Cal EPA photo.JPGThe California Environmental Protection Agency has received the Gift of Hope Award from BloodSource for employee blood donations last year totaling 600 pints.

The regional blood collection organization has recognized Cal EPA employees many times over the years for their generous donations: Most Units Drawn (2001); Blood Drive of the Year (2001); Holiday Blood Drive 100+ (2002); Most Registered Units (2003); and the Symbol of Excellence presented to Cal/EPA for having the most registered donors in State Government (2004, 2006, 2009, 2010).

Click this link to read more about Cal EPA's blood drive efforts and its latest award.

PHOTO: Cal EPA employee and frequent donor Donald Johnson gives blood at the Agency's most recent blood drive held on March 7, 2012. / Photo courtesy of Dominique Word.

March 12, 2012
California state government's website gets high marks for transparency

California's website has received an "A-" grade from Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit that promotes government transparency.

The state's Internet portal was one of 214 government websites to receive an "A-" or better, the standard for receiving a 2012 Sunny Awards.

The judges graded 6,000 government sites against a checklist for information such as budgets, meetings, lobbying, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes. The panel considered websites for states, cities, counties and school districts.

California's was one of 10 state government websites to receive recognition. The others: Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington and West Virginia.

A total of nine state and local government websites from California made the Sunny list. Florida government sites garnered the most awards with 28, followed by Texas (21), Illinois (19), Virginia (14), Ohio and Pennsylvania (10 each).

Click here for the Sunshine Reviews' take on California's state website. This link opens an announcement that includes a sortable list of all 214 award-winning websites.

December 13, 2011
Stanford study pegs California pensions' shortfall at $500 billion

California's three largest pension systems have promised $500 billion beyond their current ability to make those payments to retirees, according to a study released to today by Stanford University Professor and former Democratic Assemblyman Joe Nation and a student researcher.

The Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research issued the report, documenting what it claims is the state's deepening pension crisis. California Common Sense, an organization dedicated to engaging the public in "data-driven discourse" is also behind the report.

Among the report's findings for CalPERS, CalSTRS and the University of California Retirement Plan:

September 16, 2011
State worker union announces scientists contest winner

Thumbnail image for 110913 CAPS logo large.JPGThe California Association of Professional Scientists awarded Mira Loma High School senior Ashish Nag its Outstanding Young Scientist Award. Nag was was given the $1,000 award at Thursday's CAPS luncheon in Sacramento.

Runner-up contestants Meredith Lehmann, a senior at La Jolla High School in La Jolla and Apoorva Dharmadhikari, a senior at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose each received a $500 cash award.

Click here for more details about the contest.

IMAGE: CAPS logo / courtesy California Association of Professional Scientists

September 14, 2011
Union to recognize outstanding high school science students

110913 CAPS logo large.JPGThe California Association of Professional Scientists will recognize three finalists and announce the winner of its Outstanding Young Scientist Award at a luncheon Thursday in Sacramento.

From the Sacramento area, Mira Loma High School student Ashish Nag, 17, is competing with a project that looks at a process that increases the growth of stem cells that can replace damaged heart cells.

La Jolla High School senior Meredith Lehmann, 15, reached the contest's final round with a study that examines how disease epidemics spread via transportation networks.

Apoorva Dharmadhikari, a 17-year-old student at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose, was picked for the contest's final round with a project that looks at ways to induce sterility in harmful pests.

The CAPS awards luncheon runs Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sacramento Zoo's Kampala Center. The winner will receive a $1,000 cash award with other two finalists receiving $500 each.

IMAGE: CAPS logo / courtesy California Association of Professional Scientists

September 1, 2011
Corrections bestows awards on 48 department employees

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials awarded 48 employees for acts of bravery and innovation this morning at the department's 27th annual Medal of Valor ceremony at Sacramento's Radisson Hotel.

Gov. Jerry Brown opened the event, with a five-minute speech thanking corrections employees for their hard work. At the same time, he warned, the state's dire finances and ongoing court mandates and other factors will mean that CDCR employees will all need to continue "to work better, work smarter and work collaboratively."

Among the employees who received awards: Ken Wong, a San Francisco parole agent who launched a program in 2001 in which parolees clean up graffiti, plant trees and work on other community beautification projects.

September 1, 2011
Jerry Brown to speak at Corrections awards event

Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled to speak this morning at a Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ceremony that will recognize 48 CDCR employees for their heroism.

Brown will make his remarks at the Radisson Hotel in Sacramento. The event will be streamed live starting a 10 a.m. today. Click here for CDCR's live webcast.

The ceremony, which isn't paid for with public money, bestows Correctons' highest award "earned by employees distinguishing themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service," according to the department's website. "The employee shall display great courage in the face of immediate life-threatening peril and with full knowledge of the risk involved. The act should show professional judgment and not jeopardize operations or the lives of others."

CDCR's valor award is different than the Governor's Medal of Valor, which recognizes acts of bravery and heroism by employees throughout state government.

August 24, 2011
Highway Patrol commissioner receives national award

California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow has received a national award for contributing to highway safety over the course of his career.

Bee colleague Kim Minugh has more about the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators' honor, presented to Farrow at the association's Milwaukee, Wis., conference on Tuesday. Click here for the story.

May 12, 2011
Unions help students compete at science, engineering event

Students from the Sacramento region are wrapping up competition at the Intel International Science Fair in Los Angeles, which ends today.

Clara Fannjiang and Peter Wang of Davis Senior High School, and Shyamal Buch of Vista Del Lago High School are among the 1,600 students from 65 countries who have been showing off their projects. They won entry to the global contest by winning at the Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair in March.

Some awards will be announced tonight, with grand prizes presented tomorrow. Top awards last year ranged between $50,000 and $75,000.

The Sacramento fair sponsors included Professional Engineers in California Government, California Association of Professional Scientists, Liberty Mutual, Aerojet, and the Sacramento Metropolitan Utility District.

May 4, 2011
State employees to be recognized at awards ceremony

Seven state officials will be honored tonight for their extraordinary public service by the American Society for Public Administration's Sacramento chapter. The event at the Embassy Suites at 100 Capital Mall, comes during Public Service Recognition Week, a national observance of the role of state, local and federal employees in promoting the common good.

Here's the list of award winners:

  • Outstanding Public Administrator: Elaine Howle, California State Auditor
  • Ross Clayton Lifetime Distinguished Public Service: John Shirey, California Redevelopment Association
  • Government Innovation: Denzil Verardo, California Department of Toxic Substances Control
  • Intergovernmental Cooperation: Stuart Drown, Little Hoover Commission
  • Community Service: Gregory A. Franklin, CalPERS
  • Chester A. Newland Academic Excellence: Carol Huston, CSU Chico
  • President's Award: Alice Tom, CSU Sacramento
  • Rising Star: Ana Estrada, Nonprofit Consultant

The awards presentation begins at 8 p.m. after a 6 p.m. social and 7 p.m. dinner.

March 23, 2011
State savings program offers discounted contribution threshold

State employees have until the end of this month to get into the Department of Personnel Administration's Savings Plus Program at half the minimum contribution level normally required by the plan.

Usually the least that state workers can put in is $50 per month, but until Mar. 31, new enrollees can set up monthly contributions of as little as $25 into the program's 401(k) or 457 plans.

Click here for more info.

While we're on the topic, the Savings Plus Program recently won the Plan Sponsor of the Year Award from PLANSPONSOR magazine. The award recognizes plan sponsors that demonstrate leadership in providing a more secure retirement for workers. Click here to read more about the award and finalists.

December 7, 2010
Schwarzenegger to present Medal of Valor awards today

Editor's note, 11:30 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that the Medal of Valor event is being held at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will present the State Employee Medal of Valor to 38 people during a 2 p.m. ceremony today at the Crest Theater in Sacramento.

The award recognizes state employees who acted at personal risk to save lives or property. The state has awarded 507 medals since the program began in 1959. Departments and agencies submit their nominations to the Department of Personnel Administration, which administers the program.

There are two types of awards. Gold medals recognize a special act, extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service, at great risk to their own life in an effort to save human life. Silver medals acknowledge a special service, extending above and beyond the normal call of duty or service, at personal risk to their own safety to save human life or state property. This link opens the DPA website that explains the awards in more detail.

The State Worker congratulates this year's winners for their service and sacrifice, and we're proud to present the list of honorees and what they did to merit this high honor:

August 3, 2010
State Compensation Insurance Fund wins seven awards

100802 trophies.jpgSan Francisco-based State Compensation Insurance Fund says that it earned seven awards -- five of them first place -- at the American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds meeting that concluded July 28. AASCIF is an association of 37 state funds and workers' compensation boards in the U.S. and Canada.

The association's annual awards ceremony "recognizes the best, most creative, and most effective communications programs created by workers' compensation funds," State Fund's Monday release says. It also details the honors State Fund received.

This link opens the American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds' home page.


May 21, 2010
Will Kempton named among nation's best public works leaders

Thumbnail image for kempton.jpg
Former Caltrans Director Will Kempton has been named one of the nation's Top Ten Public Works Leaders by the American Public Works Association.

Click here to download the May issue of APWA Reporter magazine and then go to page 33 to read about Kempton.

Thanks to blog user R for giving us a heads up on the Kempton award.

IMAGE: Will Kempton /

May 14, 2010
Housing and Community Development director honored

100514 jacobs.jpgThe California Department of Housing and Community Development announced Thursday that Director Lynn Jacobs was inducted into the California Housing Consortium's California Housing Hall of Fame at the organization's Annual Housing Policy and Hall of Fame Awards in Santa Monica.

The award recognizes individuals and organizations for leadership, innovation, effectiveness, inclusiveness, impact, tenure, collaborative spirit, and inspirational records of service.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Jacobs in 2006. She was the founder and president of Ventura Affordable Homes, which develops affordable housing for first-time home buyers.

Click here to read more.

May 10, 2010
State workers receive public administration awards

The Sacramento chapter of the American Society for Public Administration on Thursday recognized seven individuals and organizations with itsAwards of Excellence.

This year's winners included three state employees:

Public Administrator of the Year
Eileen Monaghan Teichert, Sacramento City Attorney

Community Service
Sierra Health Foundation

Government Innovation
The "CALGreen Team" - Doug Hensel, assistant deputy director, California Department of Housing & Community Development
Dave Walls, executive director, California Buildings Standards Commission

Intergovernmental Cooperation
Mike McKeever, Executive Director, SACOG

Rising Star
Manal Yamout, special advisor to the Governor for Renewable Energy Facilities

Chester A. Newland Award for Academic Excellence
Dr. Richard Callahan, associate dean and director of State Capital and Leadership Programs, University of Southern California

Ross Clayton Award for Lifetime Distinguished Public Service
Larry Combs, County Executive Officer, County of Merced (formerly of Sutter County)

Read more about the awards and the recipients by clicking here.

May 3, 2010
See the complete list of Corrections award winners

Thumbnail image for 100430 Medal of Valor picture.jpg

Your humble blogger is on vacation, but we have some posts lined up for this week, plus our Capitol Bureau colleagues are on the alert for news of state worker interest.

So keep checking in, and we'll see you on May 10.

As we noted in this post, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation held its annual awards ceremony on Friday. The ceremony recognizes outstanding service by correctional staff. The year's event included five Medals of Valor, CDCR's highest award, issued to employees who exhibited extraordinary bravery in incidents where public safety was at risk.

Click here for more details about awards issued to Folsom State Prison staff and click here for more about award winners from California State Prison, Sacramento.

Click the following link to see the list of award winners.

April 30, 2010
CDCR issuing Medal of Valor, other awards

100430 Medal of Valor picture.jpgThe California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's annual employee awards ceremony started just a few minutes ago at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in downtown Sacramento. This year's event honors some 50 employees with Medals of Valor, Gold Star, Silver Star and Bronze Star awards, Distinguished Service and other commendations. Department Secretary Matt Cate is making the presentations, including one posthumous Valor award for courage.

The California Correctional Supervisors Organization has sponsored the event and awards luncheon since 2004. No taxpayer money is being spent today.

We'll have a list of award winners when it's released. Congratulations to all. The State Worker appreciates your service.


January 19, 2010
Deputy treasurer picks up public finance 'Hero' award

Katie Carroll, the state's deputy Treasurer, received a top honor today from Women in Public Finance at its 2010 annual Founders Awards reception in Chicago.

Carroll received the group's "She's Our Hero" award. It recognizes a woman in public finance for leadership in her professional career and other aspects of her life.

"No one deserves this award more than Katie," Treasurer Bill Lockyer said in a statement announcing Carroll's honor.

"Despite turbulent capital markets and the state's budget troubles, our office in 2009 sold $20 billion of bonds that financed crucial infrastructure projects and put Californians to work. Katie's leadership made that success possible."

Carroll, who was named deputy treasurer by Lockyer last year, said she was humbled to be recognized by her female peers.

Carroll started at the Treasurer's Office in 1986 as an analyst. She worked her way up to head the Public Finance Division, which oversees the state's bond sales.

Women in Public Finance is a 13-year-old nonprofit, educational and professional networking organization for women in the public finance industry.

December 31, 2009
DMV worker to appear on Rose Bowl Parade float

R181A_LiliIbanez_200x145.jpgChecking out the Rose Bowl Parade? Here's someone to watch for.

Lili Ibanez, a California Department of Motor Vehicles employee, has been chosen by Donate Life California to ride aboard the organ donation group's float Friday in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 121st Rose Parade.

Ibanez, a 43-year-old woman of Samoan descent and staffer in the DMV's Orange County office, was diagnosed with kidney failure in the summer of 2006.

She reluctantly agreed to her 17-year-old son Anthony's wish to be a donor after learning that Polynesians' organs are among the most difficult to match with donors. After testing, her son was found to be a perfect match.

The kidney transplant took place Dec. 12, 2008. Both mother and son are doing very well, Donate Life spokesman Hector M. Barajas said Wednesday.

Ibanez returned to full-time work in March. Her son went back to college. Both are now registered organ donors, Barajas said.

PHOTO CREDIT: Lili Ibanez, courtesy of Donate Life California.

December 10, 2009
State workers receive Valor award; kiosk and Web site unveiled

As we told you Wednesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at a 2 p.m. ceremony issued 27 Medal of Valor awards to state employees for acts of bravery. Click here for that post.

Today the governor's office announced that a new Medal of Valor kiosk will be "permanently located by the east entrance of the State Capitol and will provide touch screen access where visitors can find Medal of Valor award recipient information," as the press release says.

And the Department of Personnel Administration has set up a new Web site dedicated to Medal of Valor awardees that will duplicate the kiosk's information online. The new Web site can be accessed at

December 9, 2009
State workers to receive award for heroism

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday will present the State Employee Medal of Valor to 27 individuals for acts of bravery and heroism.

Since the program began in 1959, the state has awarded just 480 medals. State departments and agencies submit their nominations to DPA, which administers the program.

This link opens the list of award winners and what they did to deserve the highest honor California bestows on its public servants.

Click here for more information about the award, the nomination process and for lists of winners from years past.

Thanks and congratulations to each of the Medal of Valor winners for their service.

December 1, 2009
State departments among 'Best of California' winners

The Center for Digital Governmenthas recognized several state departments with its "2009 Best of California Awards" for achievements in leadership and information technology.

A panel of state and local government chief information officers chose the winners from applications submitted over the summer. The center started giving the awards in 2002.

A recognition ceremony is scheduled for 3:20 p.m. on Thursday at the Sacramento Convention Center. It's part of a day-long, public sector-only event focused on how state, regional and local governments are using technology. Click here for more details.

And click the following link for a list of the award winners.

November 4, 2009
Psych Techs union awards $7,500 in scholarships

California Association of Psychiatric Technicians has awarded $750 scholarships to 10 students pursuing an education in the psych tech field. The 5-year-old program is for CAPT members or students related to CAPT members. The grants for the scholarships come from the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians.

Here's a list of the winners and the schools they're attending:

Andrea Chavez, Porterville College
Filimon Decena,Porterville College
Antonio Esqueda, Hacienda La Puente
Carla Gatewood, Mt. San Antonio College
Jeanette Keel, Porterville College
Celina Keeney, Porterville College
Pamela Pack, Porterville College
Rigoberto Rangel, Cuesta CollegeRene Williams, Porterville College
Evelia Zaporteza, Napa Valley College

November 2, 2009
CalPERS wins 'fit business' award

The California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness has given CalPERS a 2009 Silver Award for promoting a healthy workplace environment. According to the organization's Web site, "Winners were selected based on the breadth of their health and wellness programs; the quality and focus of their policies; the involvement of their leadership; the impact of their endeavors; and the reasons given for having wellness programs." Click here to learn more about the wellness task force and the award.

Fund CEO Anne Stausboll told staff about the recognition in a Friday evening e-mail that you can read by clicking here.

September 28, 2009
CHP officer wins state medal of valor for helping fellow officer

This afternoon, The State Worker pays tribute to a man who has won the state's highest honor for people in his profession, the Medal of Valor for public safety officers.

CHP officer Roger Smith from Red Bluff saved the life of a colleague on Dec. 2, 2008.

Fellow CHP officer David Madrigal had been hit by a shotgun blast and was pinned down and bleeding profusely after responding to a domestic violence call.

We'll let Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who recently awarded the medal to Smith, describe what the California Haighway Patrolman did next to earn the honor.

On Tuesday December 2, 2008, CHP Officer Roger Smith responded to a domestic violence call to provide backup to Tehama County Sheriff's Deputies and another CHP officer already on the scene. Officer Smith picked up radio traffic indicating that the other officers had come under shotgun fire from the subject, and that one of the officers was injured. While rushing to assist, Officer Smith relayed critical information to the communications center. The injured officer, wounded in the femoral artery and bleeding profusely, advised that he was still pinned down and feeling faint. Upon arrival, and realizing the urgency of the situation, Officer Smith positioned his car, rear doors open and still under fire, so as to facilitate the extraction of the injured officer. Having rescued the bleeding officer from the scene, Officer Smith drove him to awaiting medical personnel.

Smith was among six officers honored for valor. To read about the other five, click here. 

Gov. Schwarzenegger said Smith and the other officers are among the state's "best and bravest," showing "extraordinary strength and character while answering the call of duty."

"In the face of danger, each of these men protected their fellow officers, members of the public and communities. They are true heroes and serve as an inspiration to us all."


September 14, 2009
State Scientists announce student finalists for annual award

A Davis high school student is among the three finalists for the Outstanding Young Scientist Award that the California Association of Professional Scientists will present on Sept. 22.

A project by Davis Senior High School student Madeline Sides, 16, examines how changes in the air and seawater have an impact on plankton. She is competing against Sheena Song, a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates and Marci Rosenberg, a junior at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego.

CAPS will announce the winner at a luncheon at the Sacramento Zoo. The winner gets a $1,000 scholarship. The other two finalists will receive $500 scholarships.

Click here to read the CAPS press release.

September 1, 2009
California wins award for state government Web presence

From the Office of the State Information Officer:

The State of California has won second place in the national "Best of the Web" competition held by the Center for Digital Government. The competition recognizes significant achievement in the overall web presence of state and local governments. California placed third in this competition last year and did not rank in past years.

Click here for the full press release.

August 17, 2009
FTB employees earn public accountant certification

This is from the Franchise Tax Board's intranet site, as sent by FTB spokeswoman Brenda Voet:

The FTB is privileged to have a program available for candidates interested in becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The program is administered by the CPA Internal Review Committee. CPAs are licensed by the State, and as an FTB employee you can earn the prestige associated with the CPA license. Individuals are required to demonstrate their knowledge and competence by passing an exam, meeting high educational standards, and completing a specified amount of general accounting experience.

Please join with us in congratulating the following employees who became CPAs using the general experience requirement for certification:

Click the following link to see the list of employees who have earned certification and where they work.

August 10, 2009
CalTrans wins two awards for construction projects

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 081212 caltrans_logo.gifFrom a DOT release:

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has received two national awards from the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO.) Both honors were for key construction projects completed this past year in California. Each year, AASHTO names high-profile winners in a number of categories. These awards went to Caltrans in the "On Time Project Delivery" and "Innovative Management" categories.

Click here to read more details.

July 30, 2009
Caltrans earned two APWA awards

Two projects by Caltrans workers earned American Public Works Association awards - an emergency repair of the Interstate 580/880 interchange in Oakland and a repair of Interstate 5 by downtown Sacramento.

Both are tricky projects because of high commuter traffic. Both were accomplished in collaboration with contractor C. C. Myers, Inc.

The Interstate 5 project, in particular, required repair of extensive damage from the Sacramento River. A new drainage network was installed, including pumps to eliminate river seepage. It is believed to be the first project to use 50 percent "slag" in the concrete, making it more environmentally friendly, the magazine says.

Info about the award from the APWA:

The American Public Works Association (APWA) presents Projects of the Year awards annually, recognizing management and administration excellence of public works projects. The awards highlight alliances between managing agencies, contractors, consultants and their cooperative achievements.

Visit pages 78, 80 and 81 of the magazine to view information about the awards and read features of the repairs.

July 7, 2009
CalTrans wins diversity award

This just in from CalTrans:

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has been acknowledged by Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology magazine for being among the state's top performing companies who have successfully instituted key elements of diversity in the workplace.

Click here to read the entire press release.

June 26, 2009
California National Guard member wins Army muscle contest in Iraq

In a win that would make Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger especially proud, a California National Guard member landed top prize at an Army bodybuilding competition -- in Iraq.

Sgt. Erica Rinard, a mechanic with an Army Guard unit  from Palmdale, scored when she won the best overall award in a bodybuilding contest judged by Billy Blanks, creator of the Tae Bo aerobics workout.

The contest was held last month at Operating Base Speicher, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, where  Rinard has been serving on her second Iraq deployment  since October 2008.

The 127-pound former college track star (Southern Oregon University) and Victorville resident placed first in her weight class and first overall after a training regimen that included before and after work weightlifting training sessions five days a week.

Rinard, a wheel and track mechanic who works on armored vehicles, is a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 185th Armor.  She started to prepare for the competition in December and bulked up from her initial 119 pounds.

Bodybuilding contests include performances to highlight muscles before crowds and judges -- something that the state's world champion bodybuilder turned governor knows all about, but which was a very new phenomenon to Rinard.

"Some chances only come once a life time, so I took this chance to step out of my comfort zone and overcome my fear of standing before a large crowd," Rinard told colleagues in the Guard's 16th Sustainment Brigade, which reported her win on a Guard Web site. 

"I guess that's the true reason why I took on this challenge to prove to myself that I could do it," she said.

IMAGE: Sgt. Erica Rinard/ California National Guard photo

June 22, 2009
Caltrans chief hits the road; Caltrans building wins design award

090622 Caltrans HQ in Marysville.jpgThe rumors were true. Caltrans director Will Kempton is leaving next month. Capitol Bureau colleague Steve Wiegand has the story. Read it by clicking here.

Speaking of Caltrans, the department's District 3 Headquarters Building in Marysville has won an award from the Design Build Institute of America. Click here to read the press release from Sacramento-based Turner Construction Co., which helped build the 205,000-square-foot structure.

IMAGE: Caltrans District 3 HQ / Turner Construction Co.

April 10, 2009
DPR employee gets keys to 'free' Lincoln house

Department of Parks and Recreation worker Jennifer Draa this morning got the keys to the $250,000 house in Lincoln that she won in a drawing. (The house comes with a $96,000 tax bill, she says.)

Read the story by Bee business reporter (and Home Front blogger) Jim Wasserman by clicking here.

April 7, 2009
BOE wins award for taxpayer appeals program

The state Board of Equalization has won a national award for a program that gives free legal assistance to qualifying taxpayers.

The Federation of Tax Administrators recognized the BOE with the 2009 Leon Rothenberg Award for Taxpayer Service and Education.

Click here to read a press release about the BOE honor.

March 26, 2009
PECG / CAPS science and engineering fair winners announced

We blogged last week about the Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair, which was held on Saturday at Rosemont High School in Sacramento. PECG and CAPS helped sponsor the event, which drew students from around the region.

Blog users asked if we could get some details about the outcome of the fair. We contacted PECG / CAPS spokeswoman Lisa Marie Burcar, who was literally working up this press release about the event when she fielded our request for follow-up info.

After reading the press release you can check out the fair's Web site, now with updated lists of winners and photos from the event.

We're always interested in promoting charitable events sponsored by state worker organizations. In fact, we wish we would get more such news. Please keep this blog in mind whenever you'd like to get out the word about these kinds of events, employee awards or notable individual or group milestones. We want to share the good news.

January 23, 2009
CHP swears in 178 new officers

090123 CHP badge.gifThe California Highway Patrol swore in 178 new officers during graduation ceremonies on Friday at the CHP Academy in West Sacramento. The event culminated 27 weeks of training for the second-largest class to graduate in Academy history.

Click here to see the list of grads, their hometowns and where they've been assigned.

December 9, 2008
State workers awarded highest honor

081209 governor-of-the-state-of-california-seal_medium.jpgFrom the governor's press office:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today awarded the Governor's Medal of Valor, the highest honor that California bestows on its public servants, to 42 state employees who demonstrated extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism to save the life of another.

Click here to read the list of winners and their acts of heroism.

Our congratulations and thanks to all for their selfless public service.


November 19, 2008
OES announces first-ever certifications

The Governor's Office of Emergency Services' California Specialized Training Institute has announced that six civil servants have received charter certification in terrorism and homeland security, emergency management and crisis communications. Click on the links below for more details about the individuals and their training.

Terrorism and Homeland Security Specialist Training Program Certificate:

  • Capt. Tony Hernandez, Reserve/Volunteer Fire Academy Coordinator, San Diego Unit of Cal Fire
  • Investigator Shawn Dyball of the Orange County Sheriff's Department

Emergency Management Specialist Training Certificate

  • Trudy Maletta, Emergency Services Coordinator for Kings County

Crisis Communications Specialist Training Certificate

  • Sergeant Tammany Brooks, Antioch Police Department
  • Lieutenant Richard Marchoke, Antioch Police Department
  • Deputy Royjindar Singh, Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department
October 29, 2008
UPDATE: State honors departments that support small business, veterans

The Department of General Services today hosted the 9th Annual State Agency Recognition Awards for state departments that advocate for and contract with small businesses and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBE in state-speak). You can read the press release by clicking here.

Judges representing small and veteran-owned businesses and the state picked the winners.

The envelopes, please!

Most Improved Small Business/Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Participation

  • Environmental Protection Agency-SB/Small

  • Gambling Control Commission-SB/Medium

  • Department of Industrial Relations-SB/Large

  • Office of Real Estate Appraisers-DVBE/Small

  • California Tahoe Conservancy-DVBE/Medium

  • Department of Social Services-DVBE/Large


  • Military Department-Gold

  • California State Parks-Silver

  • California Arts Council-Bronze

  • Department of Industrial Relations-Honorable Mention

Advocate of the Year

  • Maureen Moss-Department Consumer Affairs- Gold

  • Steve Ebo-Department of Veterans Affairs- Silver

  • Robin McCune-Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation-Mule Creek- Bronze

  • Ronald O'Brian- Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation- El Paso de Robles- Bronze
Governor's Award

  • Department of Corrections-Preston Youth Correctional Facility

Agency Secretary Special Achievement Award

  • Department of Housing and Community Development

Small Business and DVBE Leadership Award-Presented by the California Small Business Association and the California Disabled Veteran Business Alliance

  • Liz Santucci-Department of Transportation-District 9

October 16, 2008
Complete list of state workers honored by governor's award

As noted by Andrew McIntosh's story in today's Bee, budget constraints forced officials this year to cancel the Governor's Employee Safety Award ceremony.

But we've got the winners and their stories of heroism, innovation, sacrifice and professionalism that have saved lives and money. Click here for the 11-page list.

Congratulations from the State Worker to all, and thanks for your service!

September 11, 2008
OES announces Peabody Memorial winner

It's easy to get caught up in the latest political intrigue or sound bite budget bickering and forget that many people selflessly serve the state in both paid and volunteer positions.

We want to celebrate those people, and to that end we share this press release from the Office of Emergency Services:

September 10, 2008


Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) Law Enforcement Branch is pleased to announce Major Jan Ostrat of the California Wing and Civil Air Patrol as this year's recipient of the annual "Larry Peabody Memorial Award" for 2008.

The "Peabody" is an annual award presented by OES to the California volunteer search and rescue (SAR) individual or team that performs their SAR duties with professionalism, dedication, and an unswerving desire to successfully accomplish their noble mission. It is given in honor of Larry Peabody, a dedicated professional volunteer, who served OES for over 27 years, providing valuable search and rescue canine coordination 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Peabody's tireless commitment to California search and rescue so "that others may live," is revered by all who have performed the search and rescue duty.

In like spirit, this year's recipient, Jan Ostrat, a Major with the California Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, has been a professional volunteer, responding to missing or overdue aircraft missions as well as distress alert beacon activations, namely Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs), since 1980. For the past 28 years his unselfish efforts have been
instrumental in successful responses to many very difficult and complex missions. Jan participates in at least 25 missions per year, or about 700 calls for duty. Many lives have been saved as a direct result of his efforts. Jan often volunteers his own personal aircraft, a Cessna 206, to conduct search and rescue missions.

"It's my honor to congratulate Jan as this year's Larry Peabody Memorial Award recipient and extend my deepest gratitude for the selfless, live-saving work that he has performed over the years," said Henry Renteria, Director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services. "The citizens of California depend on the hard work of both our OES personnel and the dedicated volunteers like Jan to provide the best public safety services in the nation," said Renteria.

Jan's vast expertise in conducting missing aircraft and ELT searches is known statewide and nationally. As a result, he is often called upon to assist in overcoming the most complex missions. Jan is recognized as a "Subject Matter Expert" in the aircraft and ELT search arena by the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services - Law Enforcement Branch. As a result, he is not only called upon often to assist with
search missions but also to instruct, as a key instructor, within the branch's Search and Rescue Management Courses. Jan, as a volunteer instructor, has personally trained thousands of search management students how to properly respond to missing and overdue aircraft missions and distress alert beacon activations - to include the new personal locator beacons or PLB's.

When Jan is not volunteering his time to help search for persons in distress he is busy managing his metal fabricating company near his home in Fairfield. During the summer months, he also remains very busy flying wild land fire "Air Attack" or "Recon" for Cal Fire or USFS in his Cessna.

Jan's dedication and extraordinary excellence as a professional volunteer to help others in need is outstanding and he is a role model for others to follow. The personal sacrifices that Jan makes "So Others May Live" are above and beyond the call of duty.

For more information on the OES Peabody Award, please contact OES Law Enforcement Branch at (916) 845-8700.


About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

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


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