The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 14, 2013
Sacbee.com comments closed for system change

Sacbee.com is temporarily closing online comments today while programmers install changes that include a new social media sign-in system.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO: Hoover Institution/NovoED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 23, 2013
Government administration group meets Wednesday

RCB_20111001_FIREFIGHTER_0061.JPGThe American Society for Public Administration's Sacramento chapter will host a reception for leaders on Wednesday at Capitol Park.

The nonprofit national organization is "dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and nonprofit administration. ASPA's four core values are Accountability and Performance, Professionalism, Ethics and Social Equity," its website says.

The reception is intended as an opportunity for public leaders and executives to meet.

The event will run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the California Firefighters Memorial on the east side of Capitol Park.

RSVP no later than today via email to yvonnesa@usc.edu or by calling (916) 637-8963. Click here to view a reception flyer.


PHOTO: A member of the Contra Costa Fire Department sings the national anthem at the California Firefighters Memorial in Sacramento on Oct. 1, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Renée C. Byer

June 7, 2013
Event to highlight equal opportunity employment issues

Mark your calendars: The California Department of Human Resources and several employee groups are hosting a conference next week to focus on equal employment opportunity issues in state government.

The California Civil Rights Officers Council, the Statewide Disability Advisory Council in collaboration with the Civil Rights Coalition of the Asian Pacific State Employees Association are co-hosting the event Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1500 Capitol Ave. in Sacramento. Admission is free.

Scheduled speakers include Yvonne Walker, president of SEIU Local 1000; CalHR Director Julie Chapman; former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso; California NAACP President Alice Huffman and Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernandez of West Covina.

CalHR EEO Conference Brochure

May 29, 2013
Tech experts and execs to talk California government telecom

CALPERS_COURTYARD_JAY_MATHER_2005.JPGOregon-based telecommunications company Integra is sponsoring a panel discussion on Thursday: "The Future of Telecom in the State of California."

The Public Sector Technology Exchange, which identifies itself "as an independent forum created to discuss the issues of government and information technology," is organizing the free-to-attend event in the CalPERS auditorium at 400 Q St. in Sacramento.

Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. The panel discussion 11 a.m. iYou can register via the conference website.

The eight-member panel will address several topics. The one that caught our eye: "Planning for growth in the era of doing more with less."

The panel roster:

May 15, 2013
Scientists' union sponsors Capitol science day for kids

130513-scientists-day-courtesy-CAPS.JPGThe California Association of Professional Scientists is sponsoring its 25th annual State Scientists Day at the Capitol today.

The event always draws several thousand Northern California school kids from third grade to sixth grade. This year they'll see exhibits that include demonstrations of how scientists treat sick and injured wildlife following disasters like oil spills; the science of earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis and a hands-on insect display.

State Scientists Day kicked off at 10 a.m. on the Capitol's west side and runs until 1 p.m.

PHOTO CREDIT: Edward Newman, an environmental scientist at the California Emegency Management Agency, teaches kids the different warning signs that are on hazardous materials like explosives, corrosives and poisons at State Scientists Day 2012. Picture courtesy California Association of Professional Scientists.

May 1, 2013
Capitol event to recall Caltrans workers killed in line of duty

1104280-caltrans-memorial-ortiz.JPGIn the grim wake of two Caltrans employees' deaths last week, the department is holding its Annual Workers Memorial on Thursday at the California Capitol.

For the last 23 years, the event has honored Caltrans employees killed in the line of duty. Some 180 Caltrans workers have lost their lives on the job.

After nearly two years without an at-work death, two Caltrans workers, Shawn Baker, 50, of Weed, and Joseph Jones, 40, of Montague, died April 24 while stabilizing a hillside on a state route west of Yreka. A third Caltrans employee suffered moderate injuries in the same accident.

The Caltrans memorial starts at 11 a.m. on the west side of the Capitol.

PHOTO: Caltrans vehicles fill 10th Street on the west side of Capitol Park during a 2011 memorial for department employees who died in the line of service. Jon Ortiz / Sacramento Bee

April 15, 2013
Emergency dispatchers honored this week across U.S.

CHP_dispatcher_Annie_Bernal.jpgHappy National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week!

In recognition of the vital work performed by the nation's police and firefighter dispatchers and technicians, Congress declared April 14-20 this year as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

Our time at the CHP communications center in Rancho Cordova recently gave The State Worker a renewed appreciation for the service of folks such as Annie Bernal, pictured at left, all of whom handle hundreds of calls each month, often from people in the worst moments in their lives. (We profiled Annie in last week's State Worker column.)

With 25 communications centers statewide, the CHP took 9.2 million calls for service last year. About 75 percent of them, 7.1 million, were wireless 9-1-1 calls.

So here's to a hat tip to dispatchers everywhere. Thanks for being there when we need you.

PHOTO CREDIT: California Highway Patrol dispatcher Annie Bernal handles a 911 call from her station at the department's Rancho Cordova communications center. Jon Ortiz / Sacramento bee

April 4, 2013
State employee investment events in Sacramento, Ontario

130404 Savings Plus.JPG
The Savings Plus Roadshow kicks off this morning at the Sacramento Convention Center.

The event brings together experts on a range of state-employee financial planning strategies. Representatives with the Social Security Administration, CalPERS and the new Savings Plus administrator, Aon Hewitt also will be on hand.

The Savings Plus program makes 401(k) plan and 457 plan savings available to most California state workers.

Events start today and tomorrow at 9 a.m. and run until 3 p.m. both days. On April 19, the event travels to the Ontario Convention Center.

Click here for more information.

August 22, 2012
Annual California state workers' campaign supports nonprofits

The California State Employees Charitable Campaign Kick Off startes this morning at 11 and will run through 1 p.m on the west side of the State Capitol.

The event includes more than 100 local nonprofits sharing their goals and offering state employees opportunities to volunteer or donate money.

The California State Employees Charitable Campaign launched in 1957 as a fundraising drive focal point for state workers. The organization has reached out to more than 297,000 state employees and, according to a press release issued for today's event, "thousands of nonprofits are now receiving a total of $6.9 million" as a result of its efforts.

The capital-region chapter covers Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties and more than 80,000 State employees. State workers locally have raised and donoted more than $3.7 million for nonprofits.

July 17, 2012
CA Department of Corrections to host rehabilitation workshops

120717 Matt Cate 2011 Benton.JPGThe California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has planned two public workshops to gather public input for how it can improve rehabilitation programs for inmates and parolees.

The department said in a news release this morning that it anticipates suggestions from organizations that run substance abuse programs, from academics and from employment services, among others.

The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday in Los Angeles in the auditorium of the Junipero Building at 320 W. 4th St.

The second is set for downtown Oakland next Tuesday, July 24, in the auditorium of the Elihu M. Harris State Building at 1515 Clay St.

Both workshops start at 9 a.m. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m.

July 12, 2012
Live State Worker online chat today at noon

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Join us here at noon today for an online State Worker chat to discuss the latest news impacting the government workforce, from furloughs to pension reform. The hour-long session will include real-time participant polls, Q & A and our popular "You Take It" segments that open up the forum to lightning-round-style participant comments on issues of interest to state employees.

If you can't join the live event, the whole thing will be archived and available The State Worker blog for later reading.

See you in a few hours!

July 11, 2012
Live chat Thursday on furloughs for California state workers

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With all of the recent news impacting state workers in the last few weeks, now seems like a good time to convene another edition of our live State Worker chats to hash out the latest developments.

What's going on with furloughs and those furloughs-by-another-name, personal leave? How is the new round of hour and pay cuts affecting you and where you work? What are the politics behind the policy? Is this the last time the state will cut state workers' compensation? What do you think of Jerry Brown as the state's employer-in-chief? What about organized labor's role in furlough negotiations? What does this mean for contract talks next year?

We can talk about all of those issues and more in what is sure to be a fast-paced hour with plenty of contributions from users on Thursday at noon, right here on The State Worker blog. See you then.

May 24, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 to start pay cut talks with Jerry Brown

In a letter to members this afternoon, SEIU Local 1000 officials said that they are preparing to negotiate with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration early next month, spurred by his proposal to put state workers on a 4/9.5 workweek that would cut their hours and pay by 5 percent.

The chairs of Local 1000's nine bargaining units said that whatever concessions they negotiate will be put in a "side letter" agreement. That would avoid reopening the local's contracts.

Ahead of that, union officials are soliciting savings ideas to offer as alternatives to Brown's furloughs. Next week the local will conduct an online survey of members.

The union's bargaining team will review all of that information ahead of negotiations scheduled to start June 9. Whatever agreement is reached at the table will go to the rank and file for a ratification vote.

Here's the union's rationale for bargaining cuts:

"As the elected leaders of all nine bargaining units within Local 1000, we agreed that it's better to be aggressive participants in the effort to find solutions to achieve savings. We intend to be part of the action, not acted upon.

"We could have said 'no,' and demanded that the governor honor our contract. By staying engaged, we minimize the potential for a huge number of layoffs and even deeper cuts in vital services, like education and the programs that serve California's most needy."

Here's the entire letter:

May 17, 2012
Live chat today at noon will take on Jerry Brown's workweek plan

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for chat logo.jpgWhat does Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to restructure the state workweek mean for state workers and the public?

Is it a good idea or a bad idea? Will it really happen? What about other aspects of his plan to cut costs, like reducing outsourced work and eliminating hiring of retired annuitants?

Join us here at noon today for an hour of your questions and comments during what is sure to be a lively online chat about Brown's version of furloughs. You can even sign up for an email reminder at sacbee.com/live.

May 8, 2012
Ceremonies coincide with Public Service Recognition Week

120508 RP MEMORIAL GINIEWICZ.JPGMay 6 to May 12 marks the 28th Public Service Recognition Week to honor those who serve our nation at all levels of government.

Around the country, government officials are issuing proclamations; hosting award ceremonies and hosting tribute ceremonies highlighting public service and sacrifice.

In California, officials on Monday remembered 1,500 state, county and local peace officers who have died in the line of duty. This morning, the California Highway Patrol is observing its annual memorial for fallen officers at the department's West Sacramento academy.

Caltrans workers killed on the job have been remembered at events around the state in the last few weeks. Tomorrow, the department will recall their sacrifice at a Captol Park memorial at the west steps. Three Caltrans employees died from injuries suffered at work last year.

Click here for more information about Public Service Recognition Week.

PHOTO: Barbara Swager of Pasa Robles, ex-wife of Signal Hill police officer Anthony Giniewicz, prepares to lay flowers at Monday's Peace Officers' Memorial Ceremony. Her sons, Lt. John Peters, left, of the Grover Beach Police Department and Anthony Giniewicz accompany her. Officer Giniewicz died December 7, 2011 from complications from a shooting in 1985. / Randy Pench, Sacramento Bee.

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 / http://www.mrmib.ca.gov

April 30, 2012
Read the report: Preventable diseases cost CalPERS millions of dollars

A new study says that CalPERS could have saved between $18 million and $54 million in 2008 health care costs if more of the fund's members warded off common diseases such as diabetes and hypertension with diet and exercise.

Talk show host and health advocate Dr. Mehmet Oz, SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker, Controller John Chiang and Treasurer Bill Lockyer will unveil the Urban Institute study and a new pilot program to promote wellness at a 1:30 p.m. press event at the California Museum.

Researchers looked at the health records of nearly 556,000 state employees and their dependents who are covered by one of nine CalPERS health plans.

Click here for a short item in today's Bee with more details about the study, which is posted below.

Potential Savings Through Prevention of Avoidable Chronic Illness Among CalPERS State Active Members

April 27, 2012
Dr. Oz to promote state worker health in Sacramento next week

120427 Oz _Baer_2010.JPGTV host Dr. Mehmet Oz is among the speakers scheduled for a Monday press conference to unveil a new report on state workers' health and to promote a pilot state workplace wellness program.

Oz, whose self-titled show is among the most popular in day-time talk, will join SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Controller John Chiang and others. They'll talk about the health study commissioned by Chiang's office, which looks at state active members in CalPERS, and explain the launch of the wellness initiative.

The news conference is one of several Sacramento appearances for Oz next week. It starts at 1:30 p.m. in the courtyard of the California Museum at 1020 O St. in Sacramento. The state is hosting the news conference in partnership with The California Endowment and HealthCorps, the nonprofit organization founded by Oz and his wife, Lisa Oz, to fight childhood obesity.

PHOTO: Dr. Mehmet Oz / Sacramento Bee 2010 file, Brian Baer

April 27, 2012
Ceremony honors fallen Caltrans workers

From Fresno's KSEE News: Caltrans employees killed in the line of duty were honored in a special ceremony Thursday morning.

(Caltrans has scheduled a similar ceremony at the State Capitol for May 9.)


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.

RELATED POSTS:
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

March 14, 2012
California's chief information security officer to talk about state IT issues this morning

Goverment tech expert John Thomas Flynn has scheduled Keith Tresh , California's chief information security officer and the director of the Office of Information Security, for a live interview this morning on TechLeader.TV. The topics on tap include:

• Security, privacy and data protection policy for the state and how it's being implemented.
• Whether agencies and departments complying with those policies and other best practices.
• Recruiting and training the state's technology work force.
• The emergence of cyber-security as a national security concern.

Click here to watch the show live at 11:30 a.m. today.

March 8, 2012
KQED's 'Forum' to debate government privatization

Thumbnail image for 100610 microphone.JPGKQED's "Forum with Michael Krasney" this morning will look at the costs and benefits of government privatization and Assemblyman Roger Dickinson's "Public Employees Bill of Rights." Along with Dickinson, D-Sacramento, the show's guests include Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at the Reason Foundation; Donald Cohen, chair of In the Public Interest and Robert Smith, reporter for Planet Money. The State Worker has been invited to join the discussion too.

This link opens a preview of the show. You can listen to the broadcast from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in Sacramento on 89.3 FM and in San Francisco on 88.5 FM. Click here for the show's streamed audio feed.

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 25, 2012
Pension committee hearing set for today

The Joint Legislative Conference Committee on Pension Reform is scheduled to convene today at 1 p.m. at the Capitol. It's the third in a series of hearings on public employee pensions that is intended to vet the issue ahead of legislation.

Today's hearing will focus on hybrid pensions. The centerpiece proposal of Gov. Jerry Brown's pension plan would move future state and local government employees into hybrid plans, which blend a smaller traditional pension with a more risky defined-contribution component that yields retiree payments based on the outcome of investments.

California Pension Reform has proposed putting a similar hybrid plan or a tougher defined-contribution-only measure on the November ballot. The Sacramento-based group is hoping to raise money to circulate petitions for the measure it believes has the best chance of passing, but it hasn't yet announced which one that is.

Hybrid plans are a non-starter with labor.

All of the pension-change plans in play would alter guaranteed benefits for future employees and increase the out-of-pocket contribution costs for nearly all current workers.

The committee meeting today includes Assemblymen Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, Warren Furutani, D-Gardena and Jim Silva, R-Huntington Beach. Senate members include Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto and Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel.

Click here to watch the hearing live on the California Channel, which also archives recorded events for later viewing.

January 11, 2012
Glass falls from Board of Equalization HQ in Sacramento

glass 1.JPGA piece of decorative glass popped loose from the east side of the Board of Equalization headquarters this morning, falling eight floors and shattering on the sidewalk below. No one was injured.

The incident occured at 10:30 a.m., prompting police and firefighters to cordon off the sidewalk along the Fifth Street side of the 24-story building.

An hour later, officials closed off the street to pedestrians and traffic between N and O streets.

The glass panel fell from between the eighth and ninth floors of the 24-story building at 450 N St., said board spokesman Jaime Garza.

"No employees work there," Garza said, referring to the fact that the eighth floor is vacant right now.

The Department of General Services, which leases the building to BOE and is on the hook for fixing the problem, is investigating why the glass fell.

glass.JPGDGS has plenty of experience. Between 1999 and 2005, seven windows with faulty seals leaked water and fell to the street below. The department spent $15 million to fix the window system and millions of dollars more to remediate toxic mold, repair burst plumbing and fix faulty elevators.

BOE has said it wants to move, but legislation aimed at accomplishing that has stalled. SEIU Local 1000 recently organized an email campaign by rank-and-file BOE employees to raise awareness about the building's workplace hazards.

PHOTOS: The east side of the Board of Equalization Headquarters at 11 a.m. today (above) and a closeup shot of the spot between the eighth and ninth floors where a glass panel popped loose and fell to the sidewalk below. / Jon Ortiz, Sacramento Bee

January 6, 2012
Live chat at noon: Jerry Brown's budget proposal

We're hosting a live chat today on the State Worker blog to talk primarily about Jerry Brown's budget proposal and what it means for government employees. Is it fair to them? Are his suggestions to streamline government reasonable? Heavy-handed? Pie-in-the-sky? And how are the cuts in the current budget working out? What's happening at the bureaucracy's ground-level?

We can talk the discussion in other directions, too. Pensions, pay, benefits -- it's all fair game.

Join the live chat here at noon. Look forward to seeing you.

December 15, 2011
Chat live at noon today: Improving comments at Sacbee.com

Here's a notice from Linda Gonzales, The Bee's digital team leader, about a live chat scheduled for noon today:

If you read comments on Sacbee.com, you know they run the gamut from helpful, informative or interesting to obscene, worthless or just plain cruel.

At their finest, comments are a place for engaging community discussion. They provide our users a way to connect. They add another dimension to the storytelling. That's what we're aiming for at Sacbee.com.

In the past few months, you may have noticed we're taking a more aggressive approach on monitoring comments. Reader comments appear in real time, and we depend on users like you to hit "Report abuse" when a comment violates the guidelines. Our moderators are more quickly deleting inappropriate and off-topic comments. We're closing comments on stories when comments get out of hand. And we're revoking commenting privileges for repeat and flagrant offenders.

So now we'd like some feedback. Join members of the Sacbee.com digital team at The Scoop for a live chat at noon today. Share your opinions or ask a question about comments -- or anything else at Sacbee.com, for that matter. Start the conversation in The Scoop's comments section , and we'll share some in the live chat.

December 6, 2011
Patton psychiatric technicians sponsoring toy drive

Patton State Hospital psychiatric technicians and their coworkers will hold their seventh annual "Techs for Tots" motorcycle parade and toy drive on Saturday. The event raises money and collects toys for needy children in the Highland area.

Here's the event flyer with all the details. Nice work, Patton staffers!
Techs 4 Tots

November 22, 2011
Air Force's Band of the Golden West to play Sacramento show

Thumbnail image for AFD-111102-057.jpgIf you work in Downtown Sacramento, free concert tickets are a short walk away.

The United States Air Force's Band of the Golden West is scheduled for a free performance at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.

The Honeybee Trio also will perform.

The Sacramento Bee and the City of Sacramento are sponsoring this free event. Tickets are available while they last at the Convention Center box office in the lobby of the Community Center Theater. There's a six-ticket limit. For more details, call the box office at (916) 808-5181.

IMAGE: www.bandofthegoldenwest.af.mil

November 17, 2011
SEIU Local 1000 staging Occupy event, employment rally

20110705_AT_AirQuality_3_19.JPGSEIU Local 1000 is planning an "Occupy Highway 99" event later today to show support for the broader Occupy movement that has swept the nation.

The local, which represents 95,000 state employees, wants members to meet at the Highway 99 pedestrian overpass just north of 12th Avenue from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today.

On Saturday the union is staging a "Put America Back to Work" rally at Cesar Chavez Park in Downtown Sacramento from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Click here for more details about both events.

Local 1000's announcements underscore how organized labor is now embracing the "Occupy Wall Street" movement by lining up with protesters who are dissatisfied with the economy, high unemployment and the widening gap between the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans and everyone else.

And with California's public employees taking fire for everything from their members' pay and pensions to their relative job security and civil service protections, labor has been trying to refocus the public debate about what government workers have to a discussion about what just about everyone in the private sector doesn't.

PHOTO: Traffic on Highway 99 in Sacramento on July 5, 2011. A.Tambunan / Sacramento Bee

November 15, 2011
Chat Replay: View the discussion on Bay Bridge test concerns

November 15, 2011
Bay Bridge inspection questions subject of live chat today

chat logo.jpg Bee investigative reporter Charles Piller will host a live chat today about the questions his reporting has raised surrounding Bay Bridge structural tests. Click here to join the online discussion at noon today. Click here for the report.

November 3, 2011
State workers give generously to outfit women for work re-entry

Picture 028.jpgWorkers at the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board and the California Highway Patrol finished up a record-breaking clothing drive on Monday to benefit Women Escaping A Violent Environment's "Suited for Success" program.

In October, which is also Domestic Violence Awareness month, state workers at the two departments collected more than 500 gently-used professional clothing items and accessories to stock WEAVE's Arden Way thrift store. The "Suited for Success" program gives women a $100 store voucher to shop there for professional attire after they finish a program intended to help them return to work.

Among the donations by staff at the board and Highway Patrol: over 420 suit items
and more than 100 accessories including belts, handbags, jewelry, and shoes, "a record breaking drive for us," said board spokeswoman Anne Gordon.

"Overall, we collected far more items than anticipated and the quality of donations was exceptional," said Victims Compensation Board Executive Officer Julie Nauman in an email to staff.

PHOTO: From left: Christina Robleto, Officer Cyndi Mitchell, Sgt. Andy Mayo (all from the California Highway Patrol) and CalVCP Outreach & Communications Coordinator Anne Gordon load professional women's clothing just before dropping off all donations at WEAVE's Arden Thrift Store located off Arden Way. / Courtesy California Victim Compensation Program.

November 2, 2011
Ask Controller John Chiang a question

Thumbnail image for 110617 Chiang at Capitol Bureau 2010 Amezcua.JPGState Controller John Chiang (known in some state worker circles as "St. John" for his stands against state employee furloughs and withholding their pay during budget negotiation deadlocks) will visit The Bee's Capitol Bureau this morning at 10 a.m.

Got a question you'd like us to ask? Submit it via our Capitol Alert or State Worker Facebook accounts. Time is short! Send those questions now!

PHOTO: Controller John Chiang speaks to the Bee's Capitol Bureau staff during a visit last year. / Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee 2010.

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.

October 24, 2011
CalPERS tweets Long Beach forum, schedules benefits webinar

The Califonia Public Employees' Retirement System is live Tweeting its Educational Forum for employers at the Long Beach Convention Center.

CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco says that about 600 employer representatives attending the event, which started today and runs through Wednesday. Follow events on Twitter at #CalPERSEdf.

Speaking of CalPERS and the Internet, the fund has scheduled a Nov. 10 "Planning Your Retirement Webinar" that starts at 9 a.m. and ends a 11 a.m. Topics the online session will cover include:

October 14, 2011
Lawmakers named to joint committee on California pension reform

Legislative leaders have named six lawmakers to a joint committee that will hold hearings on changes to public employee pension systems.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez has appointed Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, Warren Furutani, D-Gardena and Jim Silva, R-Huntington Beach.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has appointed Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto and Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel.

Negrete McLeod and Furutani will co-chair the committee.

The first of three committee hearings is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 26 at the City of Carson council chambers, 701 East Carson St. in Carson. The committee hasn't yet announced locations or dates for two hearings it plans to hold in the Bay Area and Sacramento over the next several weeks.

October 5, 2011
State sponsoring Southern California 'financial fitness fair' today

Savings Plus, the 401(k) and 457 retirement program available to most state employees, is holding a "financial fitness fair" from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Ontario Convention Center, 2000 E. Convention Center Way in Ontario. The free event aims to spread the word among state employees about their Savings Plus retirement benefit.

Attendees can can set up an account, learn more about about retirement planning and get coaching about investment options for their 401(k) or 457 plan. Although the Department of Personnel Administration oversees the Savings Plus program, representatives from CalPERS and Social Security will be on hand, along with fitness trainers, and many other financial and health fitness specialists.

Sacramento will host a similar event at the Convention Center here on Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Local media personality and investment guru Kelly Brothers is scheduled as the keynote speaker for that event. We hear that Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, also will attend.

Click here for more info about the fairs, which require registration.
2011 Financial Fitness Fair

September 29, 2011
CSEA Retirees now California State Retirees, broadens reach

What's in a name? A state retiree organization hopes it's bigger membership.

CSEA Retirees Inc. is not only changing its name to California State Retirees, but it's redefining its mission to include state retirees from all departments and agencies, not just CSEA-represented bargaining units.

California State Retirees is launching its new branding campaign Friday at 10 a.m. with a news conference at the Robert Carlson Auditorium, 400 P St., Sacramento. Listed speakers include Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, and the organization's president, Roger Marxen.

The group now counts some 31,000 members, most of them from SEIU Local 1000, the California State University Employees Union and the Association of California State Supervisors. Officials now want to make clear that anyone who has retired from state government may become a member.

The name change was made official when the group filed legal papers with the secretary of state. Conference delegates approved the change in August.

Learn more about the organization at www.californiastateretirees.org.

August 24, 2011
State workers' event at Capitol aims to raise money for charity

The California State Employees Charitable Campaign Kick Off starts this morning at 11 and will run through 1 p.m on the west side of the State Capitol.

The event includes more than 100 local nonprofits sharing their goals and offering state employees opportunities to volunteer or donate money. Look for entertainment by the Nitty Gritty CalPERS Band.

The California State Employees Charitable Campaign launched in 1957 as a fundraising drive focal point for state workers. The statewide effort now includes 31 regional campaigns throughout California. Last year 44,872 donors supported thousands of nonprofits with pledges totaling $7.25 million, the campaign says.

August 15, 2011
DMV will exercise full editorial control over reality show

A quick point of clarification on last week's report that channel truTV has ordered four episodes of a reality show that will feature California Department of Motor Vehicles employees.

Our story said that the department would have a "modicum" of control over show content.
DMV spokesman Mike Marando called The State Worker today to make it clear: Nothing featured on "California DMV: Field Offices" will air without department authorization.

"We have full editorial and content control in what appears in these shows," Marando said.

August 12, 2011
California DMV gears up for new reality TV show

Move into the slow lane, "Ice Road Truckers." Head for shore, "Deadliest Catch." The California Department of Motor Vehicles is getting its own reality TV show.

Entertainment Weekly has reported that TruTV has ordered up four episodes of "California DMV: Field Offices." The show, co-produced by actor Ashton Kutcher and veteran reality TV exec Jason Goldberg, will look at what it's like to work at one of the few state departments that touches nearly every Californian.

When The State Worker heard about the show, we thought we were being "Punk'd" (one of Goldberg's shows on MTV), so we double checked with DMV spokesman Mike Marando.

"It's true," Marando said. "We've been working toward this for a while."

Last year the National Geographic channel hit pay dirt with "Wild Justice," a reality show that followed California game wardens. That show's debut reached about 2 million viewers.

The DMV show will shoot from several offices, EW reports. There's no premier broadcast date yet.

July 7, 2011
Chat live with The Bee's state budget expert today

chat logo.jpgWho are the winners and losers from this year's state budget battles? What does the budget mean for state workers? What's the outlook for next year and beyond? Bring your budget questions and observations to a live chat with Bee Capitol Bureau reporter Kevin Yamamura starting at 11:30 a.m. today on our sister blog, Capitol Alert.

May 13, 2011
Union protests: Do they help or hurt?

Today wraps up a week of Capitol protests by the California Teachers Association and other groups that oppose cuts to the state's budget. Thursday evening, CTA President David A. Sanchez and about two dozen CTA members were arrested for refusing to leave the Capitol after it closed. On Monday, about 65 people at a CTA-sponsored sit-in were arrested for the same reason.

Mark Paul, a former Bee editorial writer and co-author of "California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It," has this advice on The California Fix blog:

"Teachers, go home."

But instead of criticizing the union's budget position, Paul suggests that it refocus its efforts:

The last time I looked, the California Teachers Association was supposed to be a labor union. And what labor unions used to understand, at least before they became full-time political action committee/lobbyists, was that direct action was their most powerful tool. The advice that teachers give to their writing students -- don't tell me, show me -- applies equally in writing a political story.

Don't tell me that failure to extend the temporary taxes will result in big cuts in schools, including a shorter school year. Show me. Announce that, beginning Monday, every teacher in every school in the district of every Republican legislator who has failed to vote for the Governor's budget plan will be out sick. So will every other school employee. There will be no janitors to unlock the school doors, no bus drivers to pick up the kids, no principals to shuffle the papers. Everyone will be laid up with an epidemic of heartsickness over what will happen to the schools if the current temporary taxes aren't extended. And the epidemic, they can make clear, is sure to last through the remainder of the school year.

What do you think? Is traditional marching and civil disobedience effective? Or should CTA "tell" less and "show" more? And are there any lessons to be learned by state employee unions here, even though they can be disciplined for sickouts or strikes? What about Paul's assertion that labor unions have become more concerned with lobbying than direct action?

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.

April 28, 2011
Fallen Caltrans workers remembered at Capitol ceremony

110428 memorial.JPGMore than 1,000 people have gathered at the Capitol this morning to remember Caltrans workers who have died in the line of duty.

Caltrans roadwork jobs are among the most dangerous in state government. In the past 87 years, 175 Caltrans workers have died in the line of duty, most after being hit by inattentive or reckless drivers.

The somber proceedings, emceed by Sacramento TV personality Beth Ruyak, opened with a bagpipe dirge and a singing of the national anthem. A stretch of street on the Capitol's west side is closed to accommodate dozens of Caltrans vehicles parked there as part of the tribute to fallen employees. This is the 21st year for the memorial ceremony.

PHOTO: Caltrans vehicles fill 10th Street on the west border of Capitol Park during a memorial for department employees who died in the line of service. Jon Ortiz / Sacramento Bee

April 26, 2011
CalPERS candidates face off tonight

CalPERS Board of Administration hopefuls will square off tonight at 6 p.m. to debate issues, answer questions and make their individual cases for election to the fund's guiding body.

The "CalPERS Candidates' Forum" will convene in the CalPERS Auditorium in Lincoln Plaza North, 400 P Street in Sacramento. It will be moderated by the League of Women Voters of Sacramento County and sponsored by PERSWatch.

All eight candidates have confirmed that they'll attend, CalPERS has said.

The fund mailed out ballots on April 21. Members have until May 19 to vote and return them. The count will commence May 23. If no one receives a majority of the votes, the fund will conduct a runoff election between the top two candidates.

This April 14 post has more details about the candidates and a link to various election resources.

April 19, 2011
Budget chat scheduled for Wednesday at noon

chat logo.jpgThe Bee's Kevin Yamamura is hosting a live chat on Wednesday at noon that will focus on all things state budget. We're sure that issues of interest to state employees will surface during the hour-long session that you can plug into at www.sacbee.com/live.

If you haven't participated in one of these online events before, this explainer lays out how the system works.

April 13, 2011
State workers launch drive to assist crime victims

The state Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board launches its second annual "Denim Drive" today to collect women's and men's denim clothing items to benefit Women Escaping a Violent Environment. The event runs through April 27.

This year employees at Corrections, CalEMA and Health and Human Services are joining the Victim Compensation Board to collecting donations at their worksites.

Employees in those departments are collecting gently used clothing items and will donate them for sale in WEAVE's thrift stores. The profits from the sales assist victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

The drive is inspired by Denim Day, an observance that started 12 years ago to protest an Italian court's decision overturning a rape conviction because the victim was wearing jeans.

April 6, 2011
Online chats set for today and Thursday

chat logo.jpg
The Bee's Kevin Yamamura will host a live chat from 11 a.m. to noon today to discuss the status of state budget talks. You can join him here.

Speaking of chats, remember that we've scheduled, "Pensions, politics and public employees," for Thursday from noon to 1 p.m.. It will run live on The State Worker blog and at www.sacbee.com/live.

If you can't join Kevin's chat or ours when they run live, you can check out the replays a little later at those same locations. Never participated in a chat? Here's one that ran Mar. 17.

April 6, 2011
Jerry Brown talks about layoffs and lunches

Editors note: This post has been updated with a link to video of the union telephone town hall.

During a telephone town hall with SEIU Local 1000 members, Gov. Jerry Brown was asked Monday whether state workers face lay offs or furloughs if California's budget impasse isn't resolved by November.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100720 Jerry Brown.JPGBee Capitol Bureau colleague David Siders has Brown's answer -- and details about the governor's suggestion that Republicans might be won over to taxes with some lunchtime lobbying -- on our sister blog, Capitol Alert.

Sidenote: The governor's website streamed the telephone event live on Monday. UPDATE, April 7, 6:10 a.m.: Local 1000 now has video posted on its website.

IMAGE: Jerry Brown speaks during a campaign event in Southern California during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Sacramento Bee file photo.

April 4, 2011
State Worker chat on pensions scheduled for Thursday

chat logo.jpg
Your humble blogger will host a live chat, "Pensions, politics and public employees," on Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. on this blog. We intend for Gov. Jerry Brown's public pension proposals to be the centerpiece of the hour-long event, although user questions and comments often pull chats in unplanned directions.

We'll also feature several live online polls and our popular "You Take It" segments where participants weigh in with their analysis of state employee issues.

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.

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 29, 2011
Unions call for protest, urge boycott of Niello car dealerships

20110323_ha_budget5857 roger niello.JPGAngered by former Assemblyman Roger Niello's proposed ballot initiative to reduce pension benefits for California state and local civil servants, public employee unions are pushing back.

Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security, a broad-based labor coalition, is retaliating with a 10 a.m. Wednesday protest at Niello BMW on Fulton Avenue in Sacramento.

The group also is calling for a boycott of Niello family dealerships in the Sacramento area.

March 28, 2011
Unions plan protest today in Napa over hospital safety

110325 Safety Now.JPGA coalition of four state employee unions called Safety Now! plans to protest a conference of state officials gathering in Napa today starting at 11 a.m. to discuss workplace safety issues in California's mental health system.

The Safety Now! coalition says in a press release issued Friday that it's tired of the Department of Mental Health "wasting time and money on meetings and immediately implement a list of basic measures to quell the violence against employees and patients" at Napa State Hospital.

Safety Now! is a coordinated effort involving AFSCME Local 2620, SEIU Local 1000, California Association of Psychiatric Therapists and Union of American Physicians and Dentists.

The department is holding an all-day "Violence Reduction Summit" at the Napa facility, department spokeswoman Jennifer Turner said, that will pull together "hospital clinicians, executive management, disability rights staff and legislative staff" to find solutions to the state hospitals' growing problems with patient violence.

Labor organizations were invited. As of Friday afternoon, AFSCME and UAPD had declined. "We'll wait to see Monday who winds up participating," Turner said Friday afternoon.

(Click here for an e-mail from Turner with more details about the summit.

The department has draw heavy criticism from the unions over safety concerns, but the spotlight intensified when psychiatric technician Donna Gross was killed while working at the Napa facility last year. Hospital patient Jess Willard Massey, 37, was arrested and charged with her Oct. 23 murder. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for May 2.

Since Gross's death, at least two other patients have been arrested in connection with attacks on Napa State Hospital staff. Sean Bouchie, 24, allegedly attacked a rehabilitation therapist on Dec. 11, leaving the victim with multiple fractures. Bouchie was declared incompetent to stand trial and returned to Napa State Hospital.

Another patient, Jesus Hernandez Tobar , 30, has been charged with intent to commit rape and two counts of sexual battery in a March 2 attack on an unnamed hospital staffer. CAPT has said the victim is a union member.

IMAGE: Courtesy Safety Now!

March 15, 2011
Live chat on state worker issues scheduled for Thursday

chat logo.jpg
Wisconsin and collective bargaining. The Little Hoover Commission report. State labor talks. Pensions. Pay. The state budget. Furlough lawsuits.

Obviously, we'll have plenty to talk about on Thursday when The State Worker blog hosts a live chat, "What's next for California state employees?" We'll start at noon and go for an hour or maybe a few minutes more.

Can't join us live? You can check out the replay that will post shortly afterward.

Hope to see you here.

March 14, 2011
Union-sponsored science, engineering fair set for this weekend

Students from throughout the Capital area will meet Saturday to compete in the annual Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair at Rosemont High School. The Fair highlights the work of students who, if they win a grand prize, move on to the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, the week of May 8-13.

Sponsors include Professional Engineers in California Government, California Association of Professional Scientists, Liberty Mutual, Aerojet, and the Sacramento Metropolitan Utility District.

Exhibits include methods for removing CO2 from the atmosphere, reducing gas emissions from dairy cows and which household materials can stop a bullet.

The event at 9594 Kiefer Blvd. in Sacramento runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the awards ceremony scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Click here for more information about the fair. Click on this link to open a post that highlights Sacramento-area students who won in Sacramento and went on to win at last year's global fair, which was held in San Jose.

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 www.ustream.tv/bayareacouncil

March 8, 2011
Live chat about public employee bargaining rights set for today

chat logo.jpgJoin The Bee's Head-to-Head team of Pia Lopez and Ben Boychuk for a live online chat as they take on the question, "Should states rethink collective bargaining?"

The chat begins at noon today. Join to share you comments and questions at www.sacbee.com/live.

On a related note, we're planning a State Worker live chat for next week. We'll have more information soon.

March 1, 2011
Little Hoover executive set to testify on pension report

The Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee and the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee will hold a joint hearing tomorrow that will include a discussion of last week's Little Hoover Commission report on public employee pensions.

Little Hoover Executive Director Stuart Drown is expected to give a brief statement and then take questions, maybe 15 minutes in all, we've been told.

The hearing will cover more than the Little Hoover report. Among other officials listed on the joint committee's agenda: DPA Director Ron Yank, CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes and CalPERS CEO Anne Stausboll. Dave Low, executive director of the Labor Coalition, will also speak.

Click here to open the agenda for the hearing set for 9 a.m. in the Capitol's Room 444 in the Capitol.

February 22, 2011
Capitol rally supports Wisconsin public employees

Roughly 2,500 state and local government workers gathered on the west side of the state Capitol tonight in Sacramento to show support for their counterparts in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, about 35 tea party activists gathered across the street to voice their support for Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to limit collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin public employees.

Participants in the union-sponsored rally held printed and handwritten signs: "We stand with Wisconsin workers!" and "United we bargain. Divided we beg!" A few signs called for labor action: "Wisconsin general strike NOW!"

The event -- sponsored by the California Teachers Association, SEIU Local 1000, AFSCME, the Sacramento Central Labor Council and the California Labor Federation -- was pulled together quickly over the holiday weekend. Speakers exhorted the crowd to cheer for collective bargaining rights and insisted that the "attack on public employees" is spreading.

Indeed, the crowd was buzzing with the news that California Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa, has introduced a bill to end union bargaining of public pension terms.

(The slightly askew rumor circulating through the crowd was that Mansoor's measure was as wide-ranging as Walker's plan, which would limit public employee collective bargaining to wage negotiations.)

Across 10th Street from the union demonstration, a small group of tea party activists held signs with slogans such as, "No more free lunch!" and "Scott Walker for President!"

February 22, 2011
Conservative group distances itself from rally infiltration plan

Editor's note, 11:09 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported the rally's start as 5:30 p.m. today.

A call to conservative activists in the Sacramento area to infiltrate a union rally scheduled for the Capitol this evening has prompted a national organization to distance itself from the plan and remove a blog that promoted the idea.

The rally, set for 6 p.m. , is intended as a show of support for embattled government workers in Wisconsin.

PatriotActionNetwork, which supports the Tea Party's limited government ideals, found itself caught up in a controversy started by Mark Williams. The former Sacramento conservative radio talk show host, according a report on The Daily Kos , posted this on his blog:

February 7, 2011
State workers collect tons and tons of food

Thumbnail image for 110128 Food Drive.JPG

Question: What do all of these have in common?

>> The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome roof.
>> Sixty-two small school buses.
>> Three adult blue whales.
>> All the food and cash donated by state workers to the California Emergency Foodlink.

Answer: They're all roughly equal to 620,000 pounds.

From Nov. 1 to Jan. 3, state workers rounded up 290,000 pounds of food and $124,000 in cash donations to purchase groceries. Taken together, the charitable gifts equal 310 tons of goods, enough to fill 15 semi trucks, according to this Foodlink release. The donations will go to 130 charitable organizations in the greater Sacramento area. To see a breakdown of donations by department, click here.

Nice job, state workers!

February 4, 2011
Bee launches budget game

budget game graphic.jpg

Think you're a better budget planner than Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature?

The Bee has developed an interactive state budget balancer that puts elements of Brown's budget plan and other options at your disposal to come up with a $25.4 billion answer to California's budget deficit. Try your ideas and submit your solutions online, then watch The Bee for future stories about the most popular solutions.

Click here to open the budgeting tool.

February 2, 2011
Forum on government IT costs set for Feb. 17

110202 keyboard.JPGCalifornia spends $8 billion per year on information technology and yet, as Bee columnist Dan Morain pointed out in a recent column, the government is having trouble issuing drivers licenses. It's ironic that the birthplace of Apple, Cisco and Google often struggles when it comes to delivering its state government IT projects on budget and on time.

That disconnect is why three organizations are sponsoring a forum next week, "Optimizing IT Procurements in Times of Fiscal Austerity," at the USC Capital Center at 18th and I streets in Sacramento on Thursday, Feb. 17, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The University of Southern California State Capital Center, Sacramento State's Center for Collaborative Policy and the American Society for Public Administration are backing the event, which will feature a panel discussion with several IT experts from the public and private sectors.

Can't attend in person? You still can follow the discussion online or on the telephone. Click here for a press release with more details about remote access and the forum panelists.

IMAGE: www.freephotos.com

January 22, 2011
A.M. Roundup: States' bankruptcy; Calif. Dems will make cuts

The discussion is heating up over whether Congress should enact laws allowing states to declare bankruptcy -- and thus sidestep existing pension obligations. Commentaries and a radio broadcast devoted to the topic are sprinkled into this morning's roundup of news and views of interest to State Worker blog users:

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifBrown's Countdown, Day 13: Steinberg says Dems will back governor's budget-cutting goal
California Senate Democrats will back Gov. Jerry Brown's goal of chopping $12.5 billion out of the state budget as part of a deal in which voters get a crack at a tax-hike extension measure in June, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told The Bee in an an interview Friday.

ISU research: State employees with degrees make less than private sector workers
Iowans who hold college degrees earn substantially more money if they work for private businesses instead of state government, according to Iowa State University research.

Bondholders, Unions In High-Stakes Battle Over State Bankruptcy
The oddly passive headline on the New York Times Page One story today ("A Path Is Sought For States To Escape Their Debt Burdens") obscures a very active behind-the-scenes battle in Washington.

January 22, 2011
Steinberg's budget town hall meeting streamed live today at 10 a.m.

steinberg.JPGSenate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is holding a state budget town hall today from 10 a.m. to noon at Sacramento's Belle Cooledge Library, 5600 South Land Park Drive. The California Channel plans to stream the event live on the Internet. Click here to open CalChannel's webcast page.

PHOTO: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, speaks to The Bee's Capitol Bureau on Friday.
CREDIT: Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

January 21, 2011
Last day for free tacos at GoGi's


Today is the last day for a free food at the new GoGi's Korean BBQ located at L and 15th streets, across from Capitol Park. The Bee's Hector Amezcua put together a minute-long video (above) of interviews with folks who took advantage owner Mason Wong's offer this week of one free taco per customer. They usually cost $2 each.

January 18, 2011
SEIU promotes home foreclosure prevention workshop

Hope|against|HOPE, the Roseville-based not-for-profit organization that offers home mortgage counseling, is conducting a Foreclosure Prevention Workshop on Jan. 26 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Rancho Cordova Library, 9845 Folsom Boulevard, Sacramento .

The workshops reach many Sacramento-area state workers. SEIU Local 1000 is promoting next week's session.

Click here to open Hope|against|HOPE's Facebook page.

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 12, 2011
Unions plan rally at Napa hospital

Union SafetyNow flyer

AFSCME Local 2620, SEIU Local 1000, the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians and the Union of American Physicians and Dentists are rallying next week to call attention to their safety concerns at government mental health facilities around the state.

For years, the unions have said that employee, patient and public safety are in peril at state hospitals. Those concerns gained more attention last year when Donna Gross, a Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician, was killed at work. A patient there was arrested on suspicion of murder.

The unions plan to rally at the hospital from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday. (We've Scribd the flyer above.)

January 11, 2011
The State Worker hosts live forum today at 11:30 a.m.

chat logo.jpgWe're hosting an online forum this morning to talk about various aspects of Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal and its impact on state workers.

The forum will be guided largely by participants' questions and comments. We'll also take some real-time polls and, we expect, touch on state labor issues, including furloughs and contract talks.

Join us here or at www.sacbee.com/live at 11:30 for what promises to be a lively online discussion.

IMAGE: www.sacbee.com

January 10, 2011
Sacbee.com today: Live video, chat coverage for Brown's budget

Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled to release his budget plan at 11 a.m. today. Sacbee.com will carry the live video and host a live chat so you can share your comments and questions about the budget.

At 1 p.m., we invite you to rejoin the chat with Bee political columnist Dan Walters. Share your comments, questions and tell us what you're seeing in the budget documents.

The Bee's Capitol Bureau reporting team will provide frequent updates on the governor's budget plan and reaction on the Capitol Alert blog. You may sign up now for breaking political news e-mail alerts from Capitol Alert.

Come to www.sacbee.com/budget for complete budget coverage:

• Brown's Countdown: The Bee, in partnership with Capital Public Radio, tracks the governor's ambitious goal to secure a deal to close California's multibillion-dollar budget imbalance within 60 days. Coverage started Sunday and includes daily updates.

• News, photos, video

• Interactive timeline of California's budget crisis.

• Forum: What state program would you slice? Which one needs to be protected? Share your comments and see what others are saying

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January 8, 2011
Monday 11 a.m. on Sacbee.com: Live video, chat for Brown's budget release

Monday marks a political Super Bowl of sorts with Gov. Jerry Brown's scheduled release of his budget plan at 11 a.m. that day. Sacbee.com will stream the live video and host a live chat so you can share your comments and questions about the budget. The full menu of news coverage, commentary and analysis starts Sunday with a budget preview.

Click here for more about The Bee's state budget coverage.

January 3, 2011
Brown disappoints at hot dog inaugural event

brown dog.jpgThe Bee's Jack Chang reports on Gov. Jerry Brown's quick visit to the hot dog tent at the "Peoples' Inauguration Party" at the Capitol in this post on our sister blog Capitol Alert. Chang reports that the crowd was disappointed that Brown didn't make a few remarks.

The comments on the post speculate on what that means: nothing or an indication of more disappointments to come.

There's also video (from which we captured a screen shot, right) with lots of talk about mustard.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust (left), eat hot dogs at the "Peoples' Inauguration Party" at Capitol Park. From video footage. Jack Chang / Sacramento Bee.

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 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 21, 2010
Present, past lawmakers sing state version of Christmas song

Bee Capitol Bureau reporter David Siders just posted this on our sister blog, Capitol Alert:

Legislative heavyweights wearing "I'm Not a Girlie Man" T-shirts sang a budget-themed version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at his wrap party last week ,,, Among the gifts they said Schwarzenegger gave in their "Big Five" negotiations were "eight accounting gimmicks," "five bucks for schools," "three furlough Fridays," and "two vetoed bills." ...

Click here for more about the parody, including a video of the performance.

December 14, 2010
Food donation drive-through set for Wednesday at ziggurat

101214 Ziggurat building.JPGState workers will be collecting food in front of Department of General Services headquarters at the distinctive ziggurat building in West Sacramento on Wednesday morning.

DGS does this every year as part of its push to collect holiday donations for Foodlink. State workers throughout the Sacramento region are collecting food for the program, which picks up the goods and then distributes them to more than 80 relief programs.

Donations can be dropped off at 707 Third St., West Sacramento (click here for a map), where DGS employees will accept food from 7:30 a.m. until 8:45 a.m. Wednesday. There will even be a makeshift drive-through so that donors don't have to leave their cars if it's raining.

Click here for more info about the Foodlink Food Drive sponsored by California state employees. This link opens the DGS press advisory about its donation drive-through event.

PHOTO: The ziggurat building in West Sacramento, site of Wednesday's Foodlink food drive sponsored by the Department of General Services. 1998 Sacramento Bee file / José Luis Villegas.

December 6, 2010
CalPERS sets special election for vacant board seat

Thumbnail image for 100806 ballot-box.jpgCalPERS has scheduled a special election to fill the seat held by Kurato Shimada before his resignation in late August. The term runs through Jan. 15, 2014.

Candidates have until Jan. 6 to submit candidate statement forms. CalPERS will send out member ballots on April 21 with a May 19 deadline to return them.

Active members employed by a CalPERS-covered agency or retirees can run for the member-at-large seat on the board. Click here for the rules.

IMAGE: www.freeclipart.com

December 6, 2010
Jerry Brown to address correctional officers' convention

Thumbnail image for 100720 Jerry Brown.JPGGov.-elect Jerry Brown is speaking at the California Correctional Peace Officers Association convention today. His appearance, announced this morning on the convention floor at the Rio All-Suite Hotel in Las Vegas, was confirmed by Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford a few minutes ago.

Brown has spoken to more than a dozen interest groups so far, according to Clifford, who said, "He's carrying a message of the seriousness of the budget situation."

Despite the grim message, Brown's appearance in Las Vegas signals a turn in management-labor relations for CCPOA. The union has been out of contract since mid-2006 and under terms imposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger since late 2007. Its relationship with the governor has alternated between public recriminations and stone-cold silence, punctuated with furlough lawsuits and several dozen unfair labor practice complaints against Schwarzenegger and his policies.

CCPOA went all-in for Brown during the election campaign, spending big on media buys blasting Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and supporting the Democrat. Union President Mike Jimenez recently told The State Worker that getting a contract with the Brown administration is his top priority next year, but he recognizes that California's shabby economy and state government's serial budget crises are critical factors that will shape any labor deal.

PHOTO: Jerry Brown speaks during a July 20 campaign event. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee

December 2, 2010
2 million viewers watch game warden reality show

"Wild Justice," the National Geographic Channel's show about California game wardens, drew a combined 3.2 million viewers with its Sunday 9 p.m. preview and 10 p.m. premiere, according to an NGC press release that we've posted below. The 10 p.m. debut became the highest-rated series launch in the channel's history, reaching 2.1 million viewers.

Click here for an earlier State Worker blog post about the show with a clip from the series. "Wild Justice" now airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m.

This key will help you understand the press release:

HH = percentage of households with a television
P25-54 = percentage of viewers in the key 25- to 54-year-old demographic
P2+ = total viewers

"Wild Justice" breaks record on National Geographic Channel

November 29, 2010
New comment system launches Wednesday on sacbee.com

Reminder: The Bee is launching a new online user comment system, Disqus, on Wednesday. As we told you earlier this month, the new system will allow users to sign in using their Facebook or Twitter logins, organize comment threads several different ways and receive and respond to comments via e-mail.

If you're a registered user on sacbee.com now, your account transfers over to the Disqus system -- you don't have to register again.

On the downside, Avatars won't transfer to Disqus. Comments posted in the current system will disappear a few days after the new program starts.

The Fresno Bee already uses Disqus. Click here for a story on fresnobee.com that exemplifies how the program works. We have more details about the program in our earlier post, which you can read by clicking this link.

November 16, 2010
SEIU demonstration to highlight workplace safety concerns

bateson.gifEditor's note, 11:37 a.m.: This post has amended to reflect more specifically the number of SEIU-represented employees at Napa State Hospital and the jobs that they perform.

The killing of a Napa State Hospital employee last month has prompted SEIU Local 1000 to plan a demonstration this morning at the downtown Sacramento headquarters of the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Developmental Services.

The union represents many employees that work at state hospitals and mental health facilities, including the Napa hospital where psychiatric technician Donna Gross was killed last month.

Abut 4,000 Local 1000 employees work for the Departrment of Mental Health. Gross wasn't a member of the local -- she was represented by the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians -- but SEIU-covered employees work at Napa State and similar facilities around California. About 1,000 Local 1000 workers serve at Napa State as nurses, lab technicians, custodians, food service staff and in other support and service capacities.

"Unfortunately, patients and state workers alike are subject to assaults and other types of violence on a daily basis. We won't take it any more!" the union said in a flyer announcing the demonstration.

The union plans to gather from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the Bateson Building headquarters for both departments, 1600 9th St. in Sacramento.

PHOTO: The Bateson Building at P and 9th streets in Sacramento, where SEIU Local 1000 plans to demonstrate today. / www.dmh.ca.gov

November 15, 2010
Bee to change online comment system next month

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Sacbee.com is shifting to a new comment system on Dec. 1, which will trigger some significant changes to how users connect and air their views.

Bee Managing Editor Tom Negrete details the switch to the Disqus system on The Scoop, a blog focused on what's new and evolving on The Bee's website.

Some of the good stuff: The new system will allow users to sign in using their Facebook or Twitter logins, select how comment threads are organized and receive and respond to comments via e-mail. Registered users won't have to reregister.

Some of the not-so-good stuff: Comments on older posts in the current system are going to disappear about a week after the new system launches. Personal profile pages and personal blog pages are going away, too. If you use an Avatar, you'll have to reload it for the new system.

The State Worker is consistently one of the most active comment sites on sacbee.com, so we wanted to make sure you see what's coming. Click here for more details about the new system. This link takes you to the Disqus homepage and a live demo link that gives you a sense of how the new system interfaces with social media.

PHOTO: Bee Managing Editor Tom Negrete / Sacramento Bee file photo

November 12, 2010
PECG-sponsored documentary airs Sunday in Sacramento area


If you live around Sacramento, pull yourself away from the football game on Sunday afternoon and check out a documentary on News10 at 12:30 p.m. that was sponsored by Professional Engineers in California Government.

"The Next Frontier: Engineering the Golden Age of Green," features green energy technologies around the world, and how America can apply them. (Click the embedded viewer above for a two-minute trailer.)

We watched an advance copy of the show. Our favorite part featured a Lancaster thermal solar farm that uses thousands mirrors to focus sunlight on a boiler to produce steam that drives turbine generators. Computers move the mirrors 12,000 times each day to keep them angled between the sun and the boiler. The precision required is roughly equal to free throwing a pea into a soda straw from 10 feet away, according to the plant's engineer.

Click here to read PECG's press release about the show. The release doesn't include the union's sponsorship cost.

We called and e-mailed PECG this afternoon to ask, but we haven't heard back.

November 12, 2010
CCPOA protesters to break camp today

101112 CCPOA camp.JPG
The band of dissident correctional officers and parole agents who set up a protest camp front of CCPOA's West Sacramento headquarters will pack up today.

Ian Pickett, the Kern Valley State Prison sergeant who organized the event to protest several recent moves by CCPOA's leadership and what the protesters charge is a lack of union transparency, wouldn't say whether the group will return next week.

"We want to keep them guessing," Pickett said this morning.

About 40 people, some from as far away as San Quentin, have visited the site since the protest started on Wednesday, he said, "and that's not counting the cops."

West Sacramento city police have come by the camp "a few times," Pickett said, but nothing happened. "They were really great, very professional -- and they wanted no part of this."

The protesters want the union's executive council to step down for reasons detailed in this post.

Lesley Price, a retired correctional officer who was at the camp this morning, predicted that "this movement's not going to stop. This is not some fly-by-night thing."

A message left with CCPOA seeking comment today wasn't immediately returned.

PHOTO: CCPOA members talk in front of the campsite they set up on Wednesday to highlight their anger at union leaders. Jon Ortiz / Sacramento Bee

November 10, 2010
Correctional officers stage protest at CCPOA headquarters

Thumbnail image for 101110 CCPOA protesters and SUV.JPG

Editor's note, Nov. 12, 9:50 a.m.: This post has been changed to note that Don Novey has not been sued in court by CCPOA, although the two sides are in arbitration. Also, an earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to Michael Flores as a CCPOA spokesman. Flores is a consultant with the union.

State correctional officers are staging a small protest at CCPOA's West Sacramento headquarters, calling for the union's executive council to step down over a series of legal and leadership miscues that the protesters say reveal ethical and possibly legal lapses among their leaders.

Eight men gathered this morning in the union office building's parking lot, near an SUV from which hung a crude spray-painted banner that read, "TAKING BACK CCPOA."

Their stated aim: Get rid of the current slate of CCPOA leaders and restore the union's honorable image, which they say has suffered from infighting, lawsuits and public spats with Schwarzenegger.

It's difficult to know how many correctional officers are involved with protest, since they're circulating to the site throughout the day, said CCPOA board member Ian Pickett, a Kern Valley State Prison sergeant who organized the event.

The protest started this morning at 8 a.m. Pickett said he'll stay there as long as correctional officers keep showing up.

Pickett ticked off a list of problems that the protesters have with the union's leaders, starting with a recent $12 million verdict against CCPOA in a federal defamation lawsuit.

"Why did it have to come to that?" he said in an interview this morning. "You have to be smart. Pick your battles."

Pickett also alleges that CCPOA officials suspended union-provided life and health insurance for eight Corcoran correctional officers and their families after the officers ousted the Corcoran chapter president who supported union President Mike Jimenez's 2008 reelection.

The union has taken legal actions against retired members, including CCPOA founder Don Novey, which Pickett called "despicable."

CCPOA has been without a contract since July 2006, and has blamed Schwarzenegger as a double crosser whose word at the bargaining table can't be trusted. "I blame Arnold," Pickett said, "but I blame (union leadership) even more."

The State Worker called CCPOA seeking comment. A receptionist channeled our call to CCPOA consultant Michael Flores , and we left a message.Flores called back this afternoon to request a correction to an earlier version of this post that wrongly referenced him as a union spokesman. He had no comment on this story.

PHOTO: CCPOA members protesting against the union's leadership gather near an SUV in the parking lot of the union's West Sacramento headquarters. Jon Ortiz / Sacramento Bee

November 4, 2010
CDCR breaks ground on new prison hospital in Stockton

101104 CDCR groundbreaking.JPG
About 200 state, county and local officials and media gathered at a groundbreaking ceremony for the 1,722-bed California Health Care Facility in Stockton this morning. For more info about the prison hospital, scheduled for completion in 2013, click here.

PHOTO: Officials break ground at the new prison hospital site. Left to right:

Michael Meredith, Project Director, CDCR
J. Clark Kelso, Receiver, California Prison Health Care Services
Chris Meyer, CDCR Senior Chief
Jose Solorio, Assemblyman, 69th District
Matthew Cate, CDCR Secretary
Lois Wolk, Senator, 5th District
Sharon Aungst, CDCR Chief Deputy Secretary
Deborah Hysen, CDCR Chief Deputy Secretary

Photo credit: George Nyberg / Courtesy CDCR

November 3, 2010
California to break ground on new prison medical facility

101102 Shovel.jpgEditor's note, 6:25 p.m.: This post has been updated to include cost and economic impact statistics from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and California Prison Health Care Services will break ground Thursday morning for a 1,722-bed, 1.2 million-square-foot medical facility for inmates southeast of Stockton. The ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. with several officials on hand, including Receiver J. Clark Kelso and CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate.

According to Corrections, the cost of construction is estimated to be $738 million. The total project cost is estimated at $906 million.

Construction will support nearly 5,500 construction jobs, including up to 1,700 construction workers a day on site. Construction will generate more than $1 billion in economic impact.

The facility will create more than 2,400 civil service jobs and have an annual payroll in excess of $220 million.

With funding from California Prison Health Care Services, San Joaquin Delta College intends to expand its accredited psychiatric technician program to be able to fill required CHCF positions. The college will ramp up its program over three to four years to graduate 270 students in the contract term.

Click here for the press advisory announcing the event.

October 25, 2010
State Worker on radio today to talk about public employee pay

100610 microphone.JPGWe've been invited to join a discussion about the politics of public employee pay on "Air Talk" with host Larry Mantle this morning from 10 to 10:30. As we understand it, we'll be a third party in a roundtable with two other guests who will take opposing points of view on the topic.

"Air Talk" is produced by and broadcast on Southern California Public Radio stations KPCC (FM 89.3), KUOR (FM 89.1), KPCV (FM 90.3) and streamed online here. You can catch the archived broadcast here, if you miss the live show.

The radio station reached out to us because of today's column by our Capitol Bureau colleague, Dan Walters, that looks at some data we ran about the number of state and local government workers in California and elsewhere.

Click here to download the spreadsheets that contain U.S. Census figures for 2005 and 2009.

IMAGE: www.freeclipart.com

October 5, 2010
State Worker live chat, radio interview set for this morning

101001 caht logo.JPG

The State Worker blog is hosting an hour-long chat this morning to discuss the California Supreme Court's Monday morning furlough ruling. You can join the live session here from 11 a.m. to noon. If you miss the session you can replay it later, since we'll archive it here.

Before that, at 10 a.m., we'll spend a few minutes with Jeffrey Callison on Capitol Public Radio's "Insight" on KXJZ (90.9 FM). Click here for the show's page with a link to the streamed webcast.

October 1, 2010
State Worker furlough chat set for Tuesday

101001 caht logo.JPG

Next week, The State Worker blog will host an hour-long chat about the California Supreme Court's much-anticipated Monday morning furlough ruling. You can plug into the live session right here on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to noon. We'll take questions and ask some of our own during what is sure to be a lively 60 minutes.

(Yes, we know it's not an ideal time, but we'll be tied up Monday with the court news. Another chat has been scheduled for the noon hour on Tuesday. We figured Wednesday was too late. So we picked the least-bad time for our event.)

If you can't join the conversation live, you can replay it later on this blog, since The Bee archives chats.

IMAGE: sacbee.com/live

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.

September 9, 2010
Live State Worker chat set for noon today

Your humble blogger will host a live online discussion at noon today on Bee Live. Bee editors titled the event, "The State Worker blog author Jon Ortiz hosts: Furloughs for California state workers," but we're not restricted to chatting about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furlough policy.

We'll probably kick off the session with some unpublished info and observations from Wednesday's Supreme Court furlough litigation hearing, but we can talk about other topics: state labor talks, the budget and its impact on the state work force, the November election, the state of minimum wage litigation and other state employee issues that we've covered over the last two years.

We hope that the chat will be a chance to field questions and take a sounding about this blog and its companion Thursday column, too.

Click here to go to the Bee Live page. This link explains the rules of the road.

Look forward to "seeing" you at noon today.

September 8, 2010
CalPERS open enrollment starts Monday

100906 stethoscope.jpgReminder: CalPERS health plan open enrollment starts on Monday and runs through Oct. 8. This page has plenty of links to the pertinent info, including this open enrollment newsletter with details about how to enroll or change your health plan.

IMAGE: www.freeditigalphotos.net / jscreationzs

September 8, 2010
The Bee to host live chats this morning and Thursday

While we're in San Francisco this morning to cover oral arguments at the California Supreme Court in the PECG v. Schwarzenegger furlough case, The Bee has arranged to stream the 9 a.m hearing live and provide users a chance to simultaneously interact with Bee columnist Dan Walters.

Clicking here opens the live coverage/chat page. This link explains the rules of the road for participants.

If you can't join the discussion live, you can view it later on the same site.

On a related note, The State Worker will host a chat on the same web page on Thursday. We'll start at noon and go for an hour. We hope you can join us.

September 6, 2010
The State Worker visiting 'Insight' on Tuesday

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On Tuesday morning we'll be visting with "Insight" host Jeffrey Callison on Capitol Public Radio. The show 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 in the upper right side of the page to stream the interview, which will probably start the show. We expect the discussion to center on Wednesday's much-anticipated California Supreme Court hearing of Professional Engineers in California Government v. Schwarzenegger.

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

Side note: If you want to get more insight into the "Insight" host, check out this recent restaurant review by The Bee's "Counter Culture" food critic Allen Pierleoni. Al blends a review of Pho Xe Lua, a Vietnamese restaurant, with a brief bio of his Scottish lunch companion, Callison.

September 3, 2010
Supreme Court furlough hearings to be broadcast on web, TV

The California Supreme Court has announced it will broadcast Wednesday's 9 a.m. oral arguments in Professional Engineers in California Government v. Schwarzenegger.

The California Channel will air events live on cable television and on its website, www.calchannel.com. We expect the hearing will run about 90 minutes.

The justices will hear debate over whether Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger illegally furloughed state workers. The case has repercussions for roughly 40 furlough lawsuits in lower courts around the state.

The court will rule within 90 days, although legal experts we've interviewed expect a published decision much sooner. Click here to read more about what to expect during the state Supreme Court hearing and after it.

Hat tip to blog user M for flagging this.

August 31, 2010
State employees' charity sets Thursday for Capitol kick-off event

Thumbnail image for 100830 checkbook2.gifThe California State Employees Charitable Campaign has scheduled its annual Kick-Off Event for this Thursday on the Capitol's West Steps from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event will feature than 100 nonprofits that will share their missions, goals and volunteer opportunities. Organizers also plan entertainment by the Shnoogie Brothers, a rock and blues band made up of state workers.

CSECC started in 1957 as a sort of one-stop shop for state workers to support charities. Last year state workers pledged more than than $8.7 million via 31 regional campaigns conducted by the organization. Click here for more information about the SCECC and charities that it assists.

IMAGE: www.hasslefreeclipart.com

August 24, 2010
Schwarzenegger tees off on public employee unions

103116508JS002_GOV_SCHWARZE.JPGOver at our sister blog, Capitol Alert, Bee Capitol Bureau colleague Keven Yamamura has a report on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's comments about public employee unions at an event in Goleta.

Here's the top of Kevin's report:

The closer Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gets to leaving office and the longer the budget stalemate drags out, the more frank he seems to become.

Speaking today at the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Republican governor had no qualms about attacking public employee unions, whom he blamed for high costs everywhere in government.

In a perfect Schwarzenegger world, courtroom cameras would replace court reporters, courthouses would use private security guards and schools would hire local gardeners rather than union employees to mow the lawn.

Click here to read the rest of, "Schwarzenegger shoots from the hip with business leaders."

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks Aug. 6 in Santa Clara in front of a chart showing the difference between public and private sector job losses during a two-year period. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images)

August 18, 2010
Inaugural Capitol suit drive collects hundreds of items

100818 suit drive.JPGSacramento-area residents donated about 700 items to the first-ever State Capitol Suit Drive, which was held Tuesday at the Senator Hotel. The business suits, shoes, shirts, skirts and blouses will go to several local nonprofits: Crossroads Diversified/Works One Stop Career Center, Women's Empowerment, Overcomer's Program, and the Greater Sacramento Urban League.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and the Men's Warehouse retail chain backed the drive, part of a national effort to provide business attire for the unemployed.

PHOTO: A woman drops off clothing for the State Capitol Suit Drive at the Senator Hotel in downtown Sacramento. / Courtesy State Capitol Suit Drive.

August 16, 2010
Date set for CalPERS board candidates' forum

CalPERS board candidates Inderjit Kallirai and George Diehr are set to face off on early next month at a forum sponsored by the Sacramento Central Labor Council and PERSWatch.net. The two men are vying for the state member seat on the 13-member board.

Board President Rob Feckner and Priya Mathur, who are running unopposed, have also agreed to participate in the forum. Details:

Date: Sept. 7
Time: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Where: CalSTRS Boardroom, 100 Waterfront Place, West Sacramento (next door to the Ziggurat)
Moderator: The League of Women Voters of Sacramento County

The hosts are trying to work out free parking for the event. Seating is limited to about 95 people, according to James McRitchie of PERSWatch.

Click here for more details about the forum.

This link opens up information about the election, which starts when ballots go out to members on Sept. 3 and ends Oct. 1, the date on which ballots must be returned or postmarked. Counting starts Oct. 4.

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 / www.osi.ca.gov

June 28, 2010
Local 1000 negotiations resume today; union rally on Wednesday

SEIU Local 1000 resumes contract negotiations with the Department of Personnel Administration today. Obviously, since the local covers about 95,000 employees -- and had a contract deal fall apart last year -- the outcome of the negotiations will be highly significant and very closely watched.

The SEIU team is also sitting down to talks the same day that two more groups, International Union of Operation Engineers and Union of American Physicians and Dentists, have announced their own tentative agreements with the administration.

The last time that SEIU had a tentative agreement with Schwarzenegger, way back in early 2009, union members ratified the tentative pact but it didn't survive Republican opposition in the Legislature.

If you think about it, that doomed contract had some of the same concessions recently bargained by AFSCME and CAPT: Unpaid leave days equal to one per month, two fewer paid holidays and changes to how the threshold for overtime is calculated.

(That aborted deal also had two floating holidays that essentially replaced the holidays lost, but it didn't include the new step raises in the tentative agreements announced last week.)

If those concessions are still mutually acceptable to union and administration negotiators this go-round -- by no means a given -- that leaves pensions as a big sticking point. AFSCME, CAPT, CAHP, CDFF, IUOE and UAPD all tentatively agreed to a two-tier pension system for new hires and higher employee contributions to their own pensions.

SEIU covers some of the lowest-paid state workers. Doubling their pension payments from the current 5 percent of their earnings to 10 percent would be difficult for many to handle, particularly coming off 17 months of furloughs.

Local 1000 also is planning a rally for Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to showcase its members' importance to the state. The event's theme: "We are California." Click here to read more about it.

June 24, 2010
Little Hoover Commission pension hearing gets heated

A fact-finding hearing about public employee pensions this morning briefly devolved into jawboning between a Little Hoover Commission member and a public employee union lobbyist, touched off by the use of a single word: "only."

The heated exchange between Commissioner Marshall Geller and Dave Low, a lobbyist for the California School Employees Association, illustrated how politically and emotionally charged the topic of public employee pensions has become. It also echoed a confrontation between Low and David Crane, the Schwarzenegger administration's pension change point man, at a CalPERS' pension forum earlier this year. (Click here for more about that.)

Before the blowup, Low called for all sides of the public pension debate to find common ground, tone down their rhetoric, agree on facts and find common values. "I haven't seen a lot of that going on, on one side or the other," Low said.

June 24, 2010
A.M. Reading: Political e-mails; Idaho state workers can't take pay cut

We're attending this morning's Little Hoover Commission hearing on pensions and we're monitoring the 3rd District Court of Appeal for a ruling on Gilb v. Chiang, the state worker minimum wage appeal case.

Meanwhile, you'll find these and other news items of state worker interest under our "Recommended Links" on the right side of this page. Thanks to the many State Worker blog users who have sent along their suggested links. Keep 'em coming!

Should state workers forward campaign e-mails?
State and university employees collected campaign e-mails at work, but is it a problem? Some say yes; others say employees can't help what they receive ... Problems arise when candidate e-mails are forwarded to other employees instead. All state agency e-mail systems are taxpayer-funded and can't be used to support a cause or candidate.

Idaho tax collectors try to take pay cut but can't
With a looming state budget gap, Idaho's four top tax collectors wanted to show solidarity with state workers who were having their wages cut. So they took furlough days to reduce their own salaries. Only trouble is, their voluntarily turning down salary violates state law, the tax collectors learned Wednesday -- so they will get be paid for the days they took off.

June 23, 2010
Commission to hold pension hearing on Thursday

The Little Hoover Commission is holding a hearing on public employee pensions on Thursday at 9 a.m. in Room 437 of the State Capitol in Sacramento. The commission will hear from

Click here to view the meeting agenda.

June 16, 2010
State employees group hosts Capitol 'green fair' today

Thumbnail image for green fair logo.pngState Agency Green Employees committee, along with several state and local government and community organizations is hosting the first California Green Fair today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the west side of the Capitol.

The fair will include 50 exhibitors, bands, eco-friendly activities for kids, recycling demonstrations and raffle prizes every 15 minutes. The big prize, an iPhone, will be raffled off at noon.

The free event also will feature a drop off point for recycling e-waste, batteries (no car batteries), eye glasses and other items.

Click here for more information about the Green Fair. This link opens the SAGE "About Us" page.

IMAGE: www.casage.org

June 15, 2010
Dates, deadlines will impact state workers

calendar.jpgA recent e-mail from blog user D, who regularly corresponds with The State Worker and contributes to the blog behind the scenes, summed what many folks are saying as June 30 approaches:

There are four significant dates that state workers will be watching and two significant events that could happen any time:

June 14, 2010
Commission to vote on cutting elected officials' pay

The California Citizens Compensation Commission meets on Wednesday to vote on cutting elected officials pay by 10 percent. Click here for details about the meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. in Sacramento.

The commission cut the pay for all the constitutional officers and legislators by 18 percent last year. PECG and CAPS have opposed whacking their pay again.

Click here to see elected officials' pay.

June 10, 2010
'California Report' to interview The State Worker

100610 microphone.JPGWe're set to speak with Rachael Myrow of KQED's "The California Report" on Friday about the possibility that state workers' pay will be withheld to the federal minimum allowed if there's no budget in place come July.

The interview will be taped in the morning and then aired at 4:30 p.m. the same day on KQED 88.5 in the Bay Area. And it will be available on the show's website, www.californiareport.org. We'll also post a link on this blog when the audio file becomes available.

IMAGE: www.smartclipart.com

May 19, 2010
State scientists to host kids at Capitol 'Science Day'

The California Association of Professional Scientists will host about 3,000 children in the third grade through sixth grade today at its 22nd annual Science Day on the Capitol's west steps.

Kids from 30 Northern California schools will attend the event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. State scientists from several departments will host hands-on demonstrations and experiments. Click here for more information.

May 18, 2010
State worker-sponsored students win at global science fair

The Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair, which is sponsored by state scientists and state engineers unions, came up big with several winners from the March event taking a prizes at last week's Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in San Jose.

Click the viewer above for highlights from the Intel fair. The link below opens details about the winners from the Sacramento region who were sponsored by state workers.

May 17, 2010
Kern Valley corrections staff staging 'refugee camp' protest

100517 Kern camp.JPG

Kern Valley State Prison correctional officer Ian Pickett, one of this blog's most prolific users, says that he and coworkers have started a week-long "State Worker Refugee Camp-out" across the street from the prison. The camp (pictured above) is intended to draw attention to, "The current attack on our pay (that) is sending a lot of us into increasing debt, becoming insurmountable," Pickett said in a mass e-mail.

Click here to view a flier promoting the camp.

IMAGE: Correctional officers have set up a makeshift camp near Kern Valley State Prison, intending to stay for a week. They're protesting pay cuts brought on by furloughs and proposed in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget.
CREDIT: Courtesy Ian Pickett

May 10, 2010
Senate committee hearing testimony on SB 919

The Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee is hearing testimony on SB 919 at 1:30 p.m. today. You'll recall that the measure, sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, would cut retirement benefits for new state workers. The measure would not impact benefits for current employees.

Click here to open the committee's Web page and then click "Audio" to listen to the hearing. This link opens a recent Bee feature that explains parts of the bill. Click here to read the measure's language.

May 5, 2010
DMV plans 'Spirit Week' and PRIDE Day for next week

100429 DMV Flier.JPGOn Monday, DMV will kick off its "Spirit Week" celebration, culminating in "PRIDE Day" on May 13. (PRIDE = Powerful Resilient Inspired Dedicated Employee)

We asked about the celebration, and here's what Steve Haskins of DMV Public Affairs told us:

Click the following link to read Haskins e-mail to The State Worker and to access a PRIDE Day flier.

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.

IMAGE: www.cdcr.ca.gov

April 29, 2010
Caltrans remembers fallen workers

100429 caltrans.JPGCaltrans is holding a memorial at 11 a.m. on the west steps of the Capitol this morning to honor department employees killed on the job. Tenth Street in front of the building is closed for the event, Caltrans trucks fill the street, and workers are displaying traffic cones as a reminder of their fallen colleagues and that drivers should slow down around construction sites.

Two Caltrans employees died at work last year. The first was Don Lichliter, a Modesto resident who was killed in July when a passing truck hit him on Highway 99 in Lodi. Deborah Ross, a 51-year-old toll collector, was shot and killed on in August while working at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

Lichliter and Ross marked the 173rd and 174th deaths for workers on the job for the Department of Transportation and its predecessor, the Department of Public Works. Click here to see that list.

You can view the memorial live by clicking here.

PHOTO: Parked Caltrans trucks fill 10th Street in front of the Capitol this morning prior to an annual memorial for department workers killed in the in the line of duty.
CREDIT: Jon Ortiz, Sacramento Bee.

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 23, 2010
'Bodies' exhibit offers deals for state workers

Today from noon to 4 p.m., the first 500 state workers who visit the new "Bodies Revealed" exhibit get free admission for themselves and one guest. To take advantage of the special deal, state workers have to show a state paycheck stub or their state government ID.

Then every Friday starting on April 30 all state government employees will receive a 20 percent discount on admission while the engagement is in Sacramento. Regular admission starts at $14.

Location:
2040 Alta Arden Way, Sacramento
(Alta Arden at Arden Way; across from Arden Fair Mall)

Date:
General opening to the public Saturday, April 24, for a "limited engagement"

Hours:
Sunday - Thursday: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Friday - Saturday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Last admission one hour prior to closing

For more details call 1-888-263-4379 or go to www.bodiessacramento.com.

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 20, 2010
Mortgage workshop this week; CalPERS modifying some loans

Hope|Against|HOPE, the Roseville-based not-for-profit organization that offers home mortgage counseling, is conducting a Foreclosure Prevention Workshop on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Rancho Cordova Library, 9845 Folsom Boulevard, Sacramento .

This session will include discussions about loan modification, short sales, and the federal "Making Home Affordable" plan.

This link opens Hope|Against|HOPE's website. Click the "Workshops" button at the top for meeting dates, times and locations. Registration is required so that organizers can plan materials appropriately. There's no cost to register or to attend the workshop.

Click here for our April 8 State Worker column about Hope|Against|HOPE and its services.

On a related note, CalPERS has said it's going to modify mortgages for some members. Click here to read a report by The Bee's Jim Wasserman.

April 13, 2010
Local pensions live chat set for today at noon

Coming off his investigative report, "Pension promises threaten California cities, counties," Bee reporter Phillip Reese hosts a live chat at noon Tuesday. Click here to join the conversation at 12 p.m..

April 9, 2010
Crane vs. Low: See the Davids battle over pensions

A few months ago, The Bee ran this story about a spat over public pensions that got personal between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's economic adviser David Crane and California School Employees Association lobbyist David Low. The two went at each other during a CalPERS forum Jan. 29 in Sacramento that was intended as a reasoned discussion of pension fund costs.

Crane, who amassed a fortune in global investments, has been the administration's point man in its effort to trim pension benefits for new hires. Low has been an outspoken opponent of the idea.

We knew that CalPERS had recorded the daylong forum and asked for the footage a while ago, but we didn't know the video was available. On Thursday, we ran across this page on CalPERS' Web site with links to video of the Sacramento forum and a similar forum Feb. 12 in Los Angeles.

Clicking the viewer below will start the 72-minute segment that included the David-vs.-David debate. Crane's remarks start at the 30-minute mark. Low's comments start at about the 45-minute mark. He takes a shot at Crane's income during the 49th minute. Things get heated at the end of minute 54 when Crane responds to the Low blow.

April 8, 2010
Not-for-profit group to host foreclosure prevention workshop

Hope|Against|HOPE, a not-for-profit that conducts free educational workshops to help homeowners who are struggling with their mortgages, has four workshops scheduled this month.

Here's how the organization's Web site describes the event:

At this 2-hour educational workshop you can come in not knowing what to do and 1) participate in this workshop, 2) be handed the same powerful tools the pros use and 3) leave with the restored confidence that you now have turn-by-turn instructions to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

Two of the April workshops are scheduled for the Sacramento area. There's another set for San Jose. The fourth is an online Webinar. Online registration required. Click here to open Hope|Against|HOPE's Web site and click the "Workshops" link for meeting dates, times and locations.

March 26, 2010
Unions sponsor science fair

Professional Engineers in California Government and California Association of Professional Scientists are sponsoring the 15th Annual Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair on Saturday at Rosemont High School, 9594 Keifer Blvd. in Sacramento, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Students will compete in a sixth- through eighth-grade division and a ninth- through 12th-grade division. Grade prize winners in each group will advance to the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in San Jose, scheduled for May 9-14.

Other fair sponsors include Intel Corp., Liberty Mutual, Aerojet and SMUD. Click here for more details about the event.

February 16, 2010
State Info Security director scheduled for TechLeader.TV

050216 Mark Weatherford.jpg

TechLeader.TV will feature a live interview with Mark Weatherford, director of the California Office of Information Security, on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. The show will be archived on the Web site if you want to check it out later. Click here for more info about the Webcast.

IMAGE: www.cio.ca.gov

February 11, 2010
See how much departments gave to Food Drive

Here's a breakdown of the 770,000 pounds of food that state workers collected during the 2009-10 Food Drive.

The top five donors by department:

Office of the Governor (First Lady's Office) -- 260,153 pounds
Board of Equalization -- 131,033 pounds
Department of Education -- 52,450 pounds
CalPERS -- 41,981 pounds
Franchise Tax Board -- 20,984 pounds

Click here to see the figures for all departments.

February 9, 2010
State employees donate pounds and pounds of food

Despite furloughs that have knocked down their pay 14 percent, state workers collected 770,000 pounds of food from November through January for the annual Food Drive.

Last year state workers collected 758,000 pounds. The donations go to California Emergency Foodlink, which is passing the goods on to more than 120 Sacramento-area food closets, where demand for food assistance is up at least 35 percent in the last year.

"The California State Employees yet again proved what an extremely generous group they are," Foodlink President and CEO John Healey said in a press release that announced the donation total. "We are incredibly thankful for their continued support in the fight against hunger."

Click here to read the Foodlink press release.

February 2, 2010
Poll: Protests vs. lawsuits vs. grievances

In the fight against furloughs, which is the most effective for the unions: lawsuits, grievances or protests?

The question is prompted by an e-mail to The State Worker from the 7,000-member California Association of Psychiatric Technicians , announcing a furlough protest at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk on Wednesday. Click here to read the release.

CAPT and SEIU Local 1000 have been among the most visible unions when it comes to such protests. They've also been fighting the policy in the courts, along with ten other unions, employee groups and professional associations. CAPT has a hearing set for Mar. 19 in Sacramento Superior Court. Click here for more about that.

(If you want to see the status of 27 furlough lawsuits The State Worker is tracking, click this link for our Furlough Fights spreadsheet.)

Then there's the Public Employees' Relations Board. The International Union of Operating Engineers gave that a shot and lost the opening round, but it can appeal.

What about a strike? Well, Local 1000 raised the possibility last summer when voting members authorized union leaders to call a walk out, but it's clear that's an option that has fizzled.

This is a battle that is far from over. But which union tactic currently in play is the most effective for fighting furloughs? Take our poll and leave your comments:

January 27, 2010
State sponsors document security training via Web

100127 COPP logo.JPGThe California Office of Privacy Protection is hosting an online seminar Thursday about how to secure and then safely discard paper and electronic records. The event coincides with California Data Privacy Day.

"Shred the Word" starts at noon. Click here for more information, including the link for Thursday's Webinar.

IMAGE: oispp.ca.gov

January 26, 2010
CalPERS retirement forum to feature pension change advocate

100126 David Crane.JPG
CalPERS is sponsoring a day-long discussion "California Retirement Dialogue" this Friday at the Sacramento Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event, which a fund release says "will examine the current state of California's public pension plans and analyze emerging ideas for ensuring future retirement security," is open to the public at no charge, but you must register to attend.

The discussion panels feature union representatives, government officials and retirement fund officers -- most of them aren't likely to agitate for radical public retirement changes. A notable exception: David Crane, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's special adviser for jobs and economic growth, who's pictured above.

Crane has been the administration's point man on making the case for rolling back retirement benefits for new hires. Example: Last week the San Jose Mercury News published this Crane op-ed taking to task Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg for backing state employee pension increases 10 years ago when the Sacramento Democrat was in the Assembly.

(Sidenote: The Merc piece also says that pension costs have risen 2000 percent since SB 400 passed in 1999, a figure that Schwarzenegger cited during a Sacramento Press Club luncheon Monday. CalPERS responded with this e-mail blast , suggesting that the governor is data-parsing to score political points. The fund says that the state pays proportionately less per employee for pensions than it did in 1981.)

Click here to view Friday's agenda. Crane is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. panel that tackles the question, "Retirement benefit changes: Are they needed?"

This link opens the registration page.

The fund is sponsoring a similar forum next month in Los Angeles.

IMAGE: David Crane / Sacramento Bee, Mark Morris, 2008

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.

December 10, 2009
UPDATE: DGS collects food at HQ drive-through

11:15 a.m. : The folks at DGS took photos of their chilly morning at the food drop-off station. Click here to see the pictures on flickr. The unofficial tally, we hear from one elf who was at the event: about 1,000 lbs of food collected and hundreds in cash.

Thumbnail image for DGS logo.jpgDepartment of General Services staff just wrapped up their annual drive-through food collection at their West Sacramento HQ. This morning's event, part of the department's push to collect at least 20,000 pounds of food by Jan. 9, will contribute to the big California Emergency Foodlink food drive for distribution to more than 120 food closets and agencies throughout the Sacramento region. (Click here for more about that.)

DGS last year took in more than 31,000 pounds of food and cash donations.

Earlier this week, DGS staff donated additional gifts to children and seniors as part of Sacramento County's annual "Gifts from the Heart" campaign.

Tuesday DGS staff donated additional gifts to children and seniors as part of Sacramento County's annual "Gifts from the Heart" campaign.

And one week from today, DGS employees will join Santa for gift deliveries more than 75 children and families in West Sacramento.

December 8, 2009
Local 1000 staging rally to protest prison cuts

SEIU Local 1000 is staging a rally this morning to protest cuts to the state's inmate rehabilitation programs. The event is planned in advance of two legislative hearings on the subject scheduled for today. Local 1000 members and their supporters will gather for about 45 minutes on the Capitol's south steps at 10 a.m., according a press advisory issued by Local 1000.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is planning to lay off more than half the 1,400 vocational instructors and teachers now working in the state's prison system. We mentioned the planned cuts in this November State Worker column.

The Select Committee for Women and Children in the Criminal Justice System will hear statements on the impact of prison education cuts from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then at 1:30 p.m., Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 4 will take up the matter.

Click here to read Local 1000's advisory.

December 7, 2009
Patton employees to participate in 'Techs for Tots' toy drive

Thumbnail image for 091207 toys tots.JPGThe staff at Patton State Hospital in Highland has been collecting toys for a the last few weeks in the lead up to CAPT's 'Techs for Tots' event this Saturday, which includes a parade, a motorcycle caravan to the Highland YMCA, a volunteer breakfast and, of course, a visit by Santa to help distribute gifts to needy kids.

Last year's 'Techs for Tots' provided gifts to more than 100 children, CAPT says.

Motorcyclists who want to join the caravan can pay an entry fee of $10 or donate an unwrapped toy on the day of the event. Click here for CAPT's press advisory, which has more details.

IMAGE: Santa and his helpers pose for a picture during the 2008 "Techs for Tots" / photo courtesy of California Association of Psychiatric Technicians

November 26, 2009
Column extra: Results from the state worker swap meet

Our column in today's fiber and cyber Bee highlights the Employees Helping Employees program started at the Victim Compensation & Government Claims Board.

It reminded us that state workers elsewhere have been looking out for each other, including at a Nov. 14 swap meet that we told you aboutin this blog post and several others.

We've heard from Tamara Laws, a state worker who had the idea for the swap meet. We asked what happened. Her report:

  • Over 60 people came to the swap meet.
  • About half of the clothing donated was left over, and donations continued flowing in the day of the event.
  • Organizers sold cupcakes donated by Roseville-based WOW Imaging Products and Icing on the Cupcake of Rocklin. About $100 raised from the sales went to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
  • The organizers also gave $50 to New Life Preschool & Learning Center for opening its facility to the swap meet and to support the school's emergency clothes closet for children.
  • A bulging pickup truckload of leftover goods went to Women Escaping A Violent Environment.
  • More leftover swap meet items will soon be delivered to several other local charities that work with children and teens.

Laws had plenty of help from her family and from other state employees: Amanda Cogburn, Karen Lynn Smith, Steve Alston, Terri Gibson, Tina Stidman and Tracie Sawyer-Bettencourt. Look for another swap meet for state workers in the spring, Laws said.

Unfortunately, there probably will be a need for it.

November 12, 2009
More about the scuffle at SEIU's Sacramento offices

Ken Hamidi, the state worker at the center of a scuffle that took place at SEIU Local 1000's field office last week, has continued to insist that he was a victim of a plot to intimidate him and silence his criticism of the union.

Hamidi has talked about the matter on a popular Southern California radio program and says he plans to file a lawsuit. And Local 1000 leaders have been told not to talk about what happened -- even to each other -- because the case could wind up in criminal and civil court.

Hamidi and an associate, Kim McElroy, tried to take a video camera into a meeting at Local 1000's downtown Sacramento field office last Thursday. The event that they wanted to record, according to Hamidi and several sources familiar with the matter, was an organizational meeting for the Cathy Hackett for CalPERS campaign. Hackett, a former Local 1000 officer the union has endorsed, is in a run-off election against J.J. Jelincic for a seat on the fund's Board of Administration.

Click the following link to read Hamidi's accusation that Hackett and Local 1000 leaders conspired to have him roughed up, and to read Walker's advice to union leaders in the wake of the altercation.

November 12, 2009
State worker swap meet set for Saturday

Thumbnail image for 091112 Swap meet flyer.JPGA clothing swap meet and charity fundraiser organized by several state workers is set for Saturday at New Life Preschool & Learning Center, 10190 Systems Parkway in Sacramento. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Click the image at right to see a larger image of the flier sent out by one of the organizers, Tamara Laws.

A logistical snag forced a Laws and other state workers behind the event to reschedule the swap meet last month. But the delay turned out to be a plus. The preschool stepped up, Laws said, to provide a better facility and free day care. And the extra time gave organizers a chance to collect more donations and find more charities to help.

Leftover goods and proceeds from refreshments on sale at the swap meet will go to:

October 28, 2009
State worker clothing swap meet rescheduled for Nov. 14

A clothing swap meet organized by state workers for state workers has been reset for Nov. 14 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at New Life Preschool, 10190 Systems Parkway in Sacramento. (Click here for a map of the location.)

As we reported last week, a group of state workers had planned the swap meet for last Saturday, but they ran into a snag over its location that forced them to postpone the event. The preschool, which is waiving fees for state workers who enroll their kids, stepped up to help. You can click here to read more about New Life Preschool.

Organizers are continuing to accept clothing donations at these drop off spots until Nov. 12:

- 1515 S St., Room 104 North
- 10000 Goethe Road, Suite C1C
- 1900 Alabama Ave. (ask for Cecily Brown in the master data unit)

Leftover goods will go to charity as noted in this State Worker blog post.

October 22, 2009
State worker swap meet postponed, new site sought

Organizers have postponed a clothing swap meet for state workers that had been planned for this Saturday. The State Worker has promoted the event twice, including this post.

Karen Lynn Smith, one of the state worker organizers at Corrections, said that there was a problem with the site selected for the event, 10000 Goethe Road in Sacramento. The swap meet wasn't sanctioned by CDCR.

"I can't really say more," Smith said of the reason for the postponement. "We feel awful about this."

Organizers plan to find another location and hold the event next month. "We're trying to be positive," Smith said. "This just gives us the chance to gather more stuff."

This blog will post details of the new time and place for the swap meet as soon as the details are worked out.

October 21, 2009
State worker swap meet, charitable event slated for Saturday

We've blogged this before, but thought it worth mentioning again: Employees at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Office of Business Services will host a clothing swap meet for state workers on Saturday at 10000 Goethe Rd. in Sacramento from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

You can view the flier here for more information. Click this link for a previous State Worker blog post with more details.