The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 16, 2013
Column Extra: California's decades-long civil service civil war

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100609 gavel.jpgToday's State Worker column looks ahead to Friday's much-anticipated reports on additional appointments and how they will test Gov. Jerry Brown's 2-year-old reorganization of the State Personnel Board and the Department of Human Resources.

The piece also references the long, combative history between CalHR (formerly the Department of Personnel Administration) and the personnel board as they jostled for power over various aspects of the state's hiring and workplace policies. At one point, SPB sued the then-DPA over contracts it negotiated that allowed some state employees to take disciplinary appeals to a different panel than the personnel board.

Here's the 2005 California Supreme Court ruling in State Personnel Board, et al. v. the Department of Personnel Administration. The court sided with SPB.

State Personnal Board, et al. v. Department of Personnel Administration

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

April 26, 2013
Jerry Brown administration forbids dual jobs for managers

130426-1515-s-street-amezcua-2009.jpgWith an investigation into salaried state workers also earning hourly wages nearing a conclusion, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has officially banned "additional appointments" for California state managers and supervisors.

"As members of the management team, employees in supervisory and managerial classes can reasonably be expected to perform work as needed to ensure that a department meets its mission," Julie Chapman, director of the California Department of Human Resources, says in the policy memo released late Thursday. "A manager should be expected to fulfill a wide range of duties not normally part of their assignment and classification without additional compensation."

The memo comes amid investigations by the Brown administration and the State Personnel Board into whether departments abused additional appointments. The state started looking into the policy after The Sacramento Bee reported that 571 managers and supervisors in nearly a dozen departments also held other hourly-pay jobs in their same departments.

Brown issued a broad order that halted the practice pending the investigation, which the departments intend to conclude next month. The new memo sets a permanent policy.

Chapman's memo also reminds departments they can pay managers an "arduous pay" differential for working extreme hours. Arduous pay ranges from $300 to $1,200 per month. Departments decide when an employees qualify and how much they receive.

And the memo suggests several other established policy options to additional appointments as a way to meet heavy workloads and crushing deadlines -- using non-managers, including mandatory overtime, shifting employees between similar job classifications and limited-duration job and training assignments.

California Department of Human Resources Additional Appointments Memo

PHOTO CREDIT: The building at 1515 S St. in Sacramento, which houses the California Department of Human Resources. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee file, 2009

March 22, 2013
From the notebook: The State Athletic Commission's woes

NOTEBOOK_use_this.jpgAs we reported in this post, the California State Athletic Commission is struggling financially after a long history of management miscues and other lapses. The problems are so long-lasting and severe that State Auditor Elaine Howle says lawmakers should consider winding it down and transferring its duties to the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Click here to read the auditor's report. This link will download a 2011 background paper prepared for the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. The committee meets again on April 8 for another review.

We can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details, notes and quotes behind the news.

ILLUSTRATION CREDIT: Gabi Campanario / Seattle Times 2007

March 21, 2013
Auditor says CA athletic commission needs to change or go

PK_GLADIATOR 416.JPGThe commission that regulates boxing, mixed martial arts and similar sporting events has been so badly managed for so long that it's time to think about axing it, a new audit released this morning says.

The State Athletic Commission has mismanaged its finances, failed to document facility and equipment safety inspections, mishandled revenue collections from promoters and bungled boxers' pension payments. according to State Auditor Elaine Howle.

December 12, 2012
California prison health care receiver issues lay off notices

Thumbnail image for kelso.jpegCalifornia Correctional Health Care Services has issued lay off warnings to 2,200 of its employees with a goal of axing 829 positions early next year.

The cuts will touch nearly 60 job classifications around the state, from doctors to custodians and impact 38 jobs in Sacramento County. The statewide cuts take effect Mar. 31, 2013.

The state normally issues three lay off warning notices for every position it cuts, and workers in danger of losing their jobs can displace less-senior counterparts in state government, so it's not clear how many staff will actually lose work. Officials don't have an estimate of savings from the reductions.

"Ultimately there is a lot of realigning of staff between facilities and classifications so there is no way to quantify the potential savings associated with the layoffs," Health Care Services spokeswoman Liz Gransee said in an email.

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:

August 30, 2012
The parks investigation: Parks accounting chief explains why leave cash outs were kept quiet

Person interviewed: Dorothy Kroll
Job : Accounting chief, Parks and Recreation
Interviewed by: Corrine Murphy, Justice Department deputy attorney general, and Angela Nowicki, Superintendent II, State Parks Law Enforcement Emergency Services
Date of interview: Feb. 26, 2012
Notable quote: "I knew why." - Kroll explaining to investigators that she assumed that parks Deputy Director Manuel Lopez didn't want anything about his leave buyout plan for administrative managers communicated via email because word might leak out to other employees. (Transcipt page 15 and following.)

The California Natural Resources Agency recently released more than 1,000 pages of interviews, adverse action notices and reports that detail a covert employee leave buyback program at the Department of Parks and Recreation during the summer of 2011. A Bee report about the program led to the revelation that parks had squirreled away millions of dollars, part of which paid for the leave buyouts.

This post is part of a series intended to make all of those documents readily accessible to the public.

Kroll Interview 2012-2-16

August 20, 2012
Read Manuel Lopez's account of parks leave cash-out plan, disciplinary documents

Manuel Thomas Lopez, the central figure behind the parks and recreation scandal, spoke with state investigators about the plan before abruptly leaving his post earlier this year.

Below, we've posted links to the department's Notice of Adverse Action against the former parks deputy director, and the October 2011 termination notice for his deputy director job. Lopez left that post for a lower-level position in the department and was about to be fired when he retired earlier this year.

We've embedded Lopez's April 3 interview below and the subsequent investigation report of Lopez and the leave cash-out program signed by Deputy Attorney General Corinne Lee Murphy.

If you haven't already, read California parks officials were looking to spend while shortchanging parks, documents show, for context and then check out the documents:

Lopez Notice of Adverse Action
Lopez Termination Letter

July 20, 2012
Financial scandal leads to shake up at California Department of Parks and Recreation

From The Bee's Matt Weiser:

State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned this morning and her second in command has been fired after officials learned the department has been sitting on nearly $54 million in surplus money for as long as 12 years.

Click here for more on this developing story.

June 8, 2012
State employees suggest alternatives to Jerry Brown's four-day-workweek furlough plan

The Association of California State Supervisors is running a poll on its website to gauge the popularity of various alternatives to Gov. Jerry Brown's four-day workweek proposal.

The Brown administration has said it will consider alternatives that accomplish the 5 percent cut in employee compensation costs the governor wants in the 2012-13 state budget, so ACSS asked its members for ideas and then used them for the online poll. The options include:

• Reinstituting the Personal Leave Program.
• Going to a one-day-per-month furlough.
• A five-day workweek with 7.5-hour shifts.
• Closing offices at 3 p.m. on Fridays.
• A 5 percent pay cut, working hours not impacted. (0.8 percent picked that option)
• Letting departments design their own savings plans.

May 22, 2012
Commission signs off on Jerry Brown's reorganization plan

Thumbnail image for 20110302_ha_little_hoover67_stuart_drown.JPGThe bipartisan Little Hoover Commission today voted 7-0 to endorse Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to reorganize state government.

The proposal calls for replacing five agencies with three, shuffling or eliminating some or all of the functions of several commissions and boards within the executive branch and folding the work of several departments into new or existing organizations. For more details and documents about the particulars, click here.

State law requires that the commission advise the Legislature on gubernatorial government reorganization initiatives. Either the Assembly or the Senate can block the proposal by majority-vote resolution within 60 days of the governor delivering the plan to lawmakers.

Otherwise, the reorganization becomes effective on the 61st day, in this case July 1. It would become operative one year later. There's no indication that there's significant opposition to Brown's plan.

Click here for more information on the Little Hoover Commission's website.

PHOTO: Stuart Drown, executive director of the Little Hoover Commission speaks at a 2011 legislative hearing. / Sacramento Bee file, Hector Amezcua.

April 20, 2012
Hearings scheduled for Jerry Brown's California government reorganization plan

The Little Hoover Commission has scheduled three days of hearings to consider Gov. Jerry Brown's government overhaul proposal starting Monday, 9 a.m. in the Employment Development Department Auditorium at 722 Capitol Mall.

The nonpartisan commission has until the end of this month to deliver its recommendations about the government reorganization plan to the Legislature. The plan goes into effect unless a majority in either the Assembly or the Senate reject it within 60 days of receiving the commission's report.

Brown's plan shuffles departments, eliminates agencies and consolidates others. The governor says the plan would streamline government and save money.

Jerry Brown starts clock on sweeping government overhaul
The State Worker: Will Jerry Brown's reorg plan fix California's bugs?
Column Extra: More about reorganizing California government

120419 LHC Press_Release_4-23-12

January 10, 2012
Poll: Will Jerry Brown successfully reorganize government?

If you haven't already, check out the list of agencies, departments, boards, offices and commissions that Gov. Jerry Brown wants to ax, reorganize and consolidate, then take our poll:

January 9, 2012
See Jerry Brown's California government streamlining plans

110312 Capitol building.JPG
Now that we've had time to digest Gov. Jerry Brown's hastily-unveiled 2012-13 budget proposal summary, we've boiled down the full list of changes he's suggesting to streamline state government:

August 23, 2011
Senate committees to consider departments' merger today

Lawmakers are convening a joint committee hearing this morning at 9:30 to review Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to merge non-constitutionally-mandated functions of the State Personnel Board with the Department of Personnel Administration.

The plan aims to modernize California's outdated, clunky and redundant human resources infrastructure. But state employee union leaders worry that some provisions of the plan will erode civil service protections. They're particularly concerned about new discipline guidelines to be written by the new California Department of Human Resources that labor fears will unconstitutionally influence disputes that come before the Personnel Board.

Officials who helped draft the the reorganization plan, including DPA Director Ron Yank, have brushed aside those concerns with assurances that the Personnel Board will retain its constitutional independence. The unions, Yank said, will have a seat at the table when the discipline guidelines are written.

Today's hearing of the Senate Governmental Organization and Senate Public Employment and Retirement committees will take the political temperature of lawmakers toward the plan. The merger will go into effect unless either the Assembly or the Senate pass a resolution rejecting the idea by Sept. 9.
110823 Hearing Agenda (Aug 23 2011)

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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