The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 13, 2013
Obituary: Carl Larson helped launch prison-building program

The State Worker normally leaves death notices to The Bee's obituary section. but today we're making an exception.

Obit writer Robert Dávila forwarded this memo from Corrections Secretary Jeffrey A. Beard about the passing of Carl Larson, who served the department for nearly 50 years. We are publishing it here as it was sent to us:

Carl Larson obituary

July 15, 2013
California Lottery director Robert O'Neill resigns

130715-Robert-T-O'Neill-KP.JPGAfter less than two years on the job, the head of the California Lottery has resigned his post.

Robert O'Neill announced his sudden departure on Friday in an email to staff obtained by The Bee, saying he will "pursue other personal and professional interests." His resignation took effect today.

Leadership of the $4.3 billion lottery has turned over three times during Gov. Jerry Brown's third term in office. Brown dismissed Lottery Director Joan Borucki in 2010 and named Linh Nguyen her interim replacement. A year later, Brown appointed O'Neill, a former executive with the global audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP.

Brown's office hasn't yet returned a call seeking comment on O'Neill's departure or who will replace him. The natural choice -- at least in the interim -- would be the lottery's No. 2, Chief Deputy Director Paula LaBrie.

Here's O'Neill's email to staff:

June 7, 2013
California board will audit executive jobs filled by retirees

130606-SPB-logo.jpegThe State Personnel Board has decided to begin auditing the practice of retired annuitants getting career executive assignments.

The decision, announced at the board's meeting this week, falls shy of what the Coalition of State Advocate Groups and Organizations wanted, namely a full hearing into the policy reported in an April investigation by The Bee.

The coalition says that appointing retired annuitants as CEAs breaches state policy, overpays the retirees for the work they actually perform and fosters cronyism. Since the personnel board exists to watchdog state government's civil-service merit system, the group asked the five-member panel to hold a hearing.

While the personnel board has a part in authorizing new career executive positions, it doesn't control retiree hiring policy. That's the California Department of Human Resource's job (and CalHR as of last month had two retirees appointed to CEA positions).

Board chairwoman Patricia Clarey read this statement into the record Tuesday:

May 13, 2013
No. 2 at California toxic substances control department resigns

Odette Madriago, the chief deputy director of the Department of Toxic Subtances Control has resigned from her post to take a lower-level job at the agency before she retires at end of the year.

Madriago's decision to leave came after the non-profit Consumer Watchdog filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission that she had a financial stake in some companies that the department regulates. The group has also published a report that accused Madriago of blunting state regulatory efforts.

Toxic substances spokeswoman Tamma Adamek declined to comment, but released an email sent to employees last Friday by department Director Debbie Raphael that says that Madriago will work on a special project until she retires at the end of this year.

Last year Madriago earned $112,090, according to state payroll records. She will move down to her last position, supervising engineer II. Adamek did not know how much that job will pay.

Here's the email:

May 1, 2013
Website features leadership tips from California state execs

20111102_ha_JoHN_CHIANG0365-AMEZCUA.JPGThe California Department of Human Resources has launched a new webpage that quizzes high-level state officials about their careers and leadership.

"Executive Perspectives" will offer a new Q&A each week. It went live this morning with comments from California State Controller John Chiang, California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley, Franchise Tax Board Executive Director Selvi Stanislaus and Howard Schwartz, CalHR's chief deputy director.

Human Resources spokeswoman Pat McConahay, who edits the interviews for readability before they're vetted by the various departments and posted online, said the site will add new leaders each week as it aims to "inspire any state workers interested in growing their own careers."

The officials who contributed to the first round of features were picked, McConahay said, because they've shown keen interest in developing leaders in the state workforce.

PHOTO CREDIT: State Controller John Chaing. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee 2011 file

April 23, 2013
The 'blanket' over California retired annuitants' executive pay

NOTEBOOK_use_this.jpgOur story in Sunday's Bee looked at how California's state government appoints retired annuitants to high-level, high-paying "career executive assignment" positions with virtually no oversight.

One aspect that the report doesn't address is how departments use "blanket funds" to pay for the 75 executive positions we reviewed. Paying CEAs with "blanket" money, at the very least, runs counter to the spirit of state policies intended to scrutinize and limit those high-level leadership and policy-making classifications.

"If you retire as a CEA and one of your friends wants to bring you back," said Norma Suave, a retired state human resources and labor relations officer, told The State Worker, "paying them under the blanket is a way of bringing you back in and paying you CEA pay."

Blanket funds are essentially a department's petty cash drawer for personnel expenses. "Under the blanket" pay goes to here-today-gone tomorrow employees such as expert witnesses for court cases, temp help and retired annuitants. Blanket funds commonly cover the cost of a full-time employee who transfers, fails probation and exercises their return rights after their old position has been filled.

July 20, 2012
Jerry Brown appoints Department of Human Resources chief

Gov. Jerry Brown today named Julie Chapman director of the California Department of Human Resources, making the long-time labor relations expert the first chief of the newly formed department.

The announcement formally cements an appointment that has been anticipated for months after former Department of Personnel Administration Ron Yank sent out an email blast that she would succeed him. Yank, known for his independent style, didn't clear the email with the governor's office and created a minor stir with the announcement shortly before he left at the end of February.

Chapman took over as acting director of the Personnel Administration, which became CalHR on July 1 when it took over several functions that had been with the State Personnel Board. The department bargains labor contracts and handles all issues pertaining to employee compensation, job classifications, training, exams and recruiting and retaining state workers.

Chapman, 54, also served as the department's duty director of Labor Relations. Her state government career goes back to 1988, when she was an associate personnel services analyst for the Department of Housing and Community Services. She worked in labor relations at the Department of General Services and the Department of Mental Health before coming to DPA in 2000 as a labor relations officer.

Chapman's new post pays $145,008 per year and requires Senate confirmation. She is registered as a no-party-preference voter.

July 20, 2012
Read Parks Director Ruth Coleman's resignation letter

As reported by The Bee today, Parks and Recreation Director Ruth Coleman resigned this morning after revelations that the department has held on to tens of millions of dollars while threatening to close facilities and curb services.

The scandal broke after The Bee made inquiries into the Parks Department's finances, prompted by an investigation into a secret leave buyout program fostered by one of Coleman's lieutenants.

Here's Coleman's resignation letter to Gov. Jerry Brown:
120720 Coleman Resignation Letter

June 4, 2012
Jerry Brown administration defines 'very top' California state workers due for bigger pay cut

120514 Jerry Brown budget presser Amezcua.jpgThe Association of California State Supervisors is reporting on its blog that Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has narrowed down which state workers' pay will be cut by more than 5 percent in the 2012-13 fiscal year:

Acting DPA Director Julie Chapman confirmed in a meeting today with your ACSS that potential cuts above 5% would target "agency secretaries and higher officials," not state supervisors, managers, and confidential employees.

In his May budget revision, the governor proposed furloughing workers two hours per week and reducing the state workweek to four days to cut employee hours and pay by 5 percent. He wants to bargain the cuts and is open to other ideas to achieve the savings as part of closing the state's $15.7 billion budget gap (and that's a charitable administration estimate).

The supervisors' association report answers one of the questions raised when Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Marty Morgenstern told reporters last month, "No one will excluded (from a pay reduction), except people at the very top. We'll have to do a little better than that."

Morgenstern didn't define who at the "very top" would be hit with a heavier pay cut. That sparked speculation in some quarters that excluded workers might get dinged more. Apparently, that's not the case.

Next question: How much is "a little better than that"?

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown discusses his revised state budget plan during a Capitol news conference on Monday, May 14, 2012. / Associated Press, Rich Pedroncelli

February 28, 2012
Internal memo leaks name of Jerry Brown's next personnel director

Thumbnail image for 101022 mail image.jpg3:04 p.m.: Updated with further comments from Ron Yank.

According to an internal email to Department of Personnel Administration staff, Julie Chapman will replace Ron Yank as DPA director.

The source of the memo obtained by The Bee and verified by DPA: Yank himself.

February 24, 2012
Ron Yank explains why he's leaving Jerry Brown's administration

Thumbnail image for 110816 Ron Yank.JPGAs we reported earlier this week, Department of Personnel Administration Director Ron Yank is leaving his post at the end of this month. The news -- which he spread himself in a series of personal calls and emails -- surprised labor leaders and state managers.

Late last month I asked Yank how he was enjoying his job as California's labor relations point man. "I love it," he said, and told me that he had no plans to leave.

I asked him that question nearly every time that we spoke over the last year. Yank didn't need the money, having retired from a long and successful career in labor law representing the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and other unions.

And I always wondered whether Yank, a marathon runner who admits to flashes of temper and salty language when it gets his point across, was suited to head a bureaucracy.

The DPA director sits at what can be an uncomfortable intersection between politics, law and finance. The job requires offering carrots and sticks to other department heads and labor leaders and walking a narrow path between the administrative independence that gives the office power while still executing the governor's agenda.

Ron Yank never struck me as a guy who was keen on asking for permission. His exit illustrated that fact. Instead of waiting for the governor's office to announce his departure and name a successor, he broke with protocol, picked up the phone and started calling union leaders to tell them he was leaving at the end of the month. The news quickly spread.

On Wednesday, Yank said that despite all of his assurances to the contrary, he took the post with the understanding he would leave after one year. That was all the time he was willing to take away from his family in the Bay Area, he said.

He didn't want to make that known for fear of hobbling his effectiveness. "If I'd been a lame duck, we couldn't have accomplished half the things we accomplished," he said as we drank coffee at a restaurant near DPA's offices on S Street.

What follows is an email to DPA staff with the subject line, "Why is Ron leaving his job after only one year?" Yank issued it a few hours after news of his exit surfaced on Tuesday. We're publishing it here after confirming its authenticity with DPA.

As of this morning, the Brown administration still hasn't issued an official statement about Yank's departure or named a successor.

February 1, 2012
Jerry Brown appoints Kimiko Burton to State Personnel Board

Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed Kimiko Burton, 47, of San Francisco, to the State Personnel Board. She is taking the seat left vacant by Will Fox, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's chief of staff, after the Senate failed to confirm him.

If confirmed, Burton would serve the last seven years of the position's 10-year term. The job pays $40,668.

Burton has been a deputy city attorney in San Francisco since 2003 and worked as a public defender from 2001 to 2003. She also worked in San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown's administration and as a staff attorney for the State Board of Equalization from 1995 to 1996.

Burton, a Democrat, earned her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Burton's father is John Burton, the former state senate president pro tem and current chairman of the California Democratic Party.

January 4, 2012
California State Personnel Board re-elects three of its officers

120104 Maeley Tom.JPGThe California State Personnel Board has re-elected three of its members to the following offices on the five-member panel:

President: Maeley Tom (right)
Vice President: Patricia Clarey
CalPERS Representative: Richard Costigan

The elections were announced at Tuesday's board meeting in Sacramento.

Board members are appointed to 10-year terms by the governor. The Senate must approve appointees within one year for them to hold the office.

The board is confronting a couple of vacancies. Anne Sheehan's term ended last year, but she was allowed to continue serving pending a replacement. Former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed his former chief of staff, Will Fox, to the board's fifth seat in 2010, but the Senate didn't confirm him.

California's constitution mandates that the board administers the state civil service and merit system. SPB also oversees state recruiting and hiring and resolves discrimination, whistleblower complaints and disciplinary actions against state employees.

Gov. Jerry Brown's administration is merging the non-constitutional functions of SPB with the Department of Personnel Administration to form a new California Department of Human Resources. The merger takes effect July 1.

Jan. 5 editor's note: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated the expiration of Anne Sheehan's term on the board.

PHOTO: Maeley Tom /

December 5, 2011
State Compensation Insurance Fund: RAND idea; the boss's pay

Thumbnail image for 100727 rowe.JPGAs the quasi-public State Compensation Insurance Fund continues its plan to downsize, several of its employees have contacted The State Worker to point out a section of a 2009 RAND Institute for Civil Justice study that recommends reducing the number of the fund's permanent staff to remove incentives for it to maintain market share to justify State Fund's staffing.

Here's the pertinent paragraph from "California's Volatile Workers' Compensation Insurance Market: Problems and Recommendations for Change," by Lloyd Dixon, James W. Macdonald, William Barbagallo.

November 22, 2011
Radio host Jeffrey Callison appointed to Corrections job

111122 CALLISON.JPGJeffrey Callison, whose Scottish brogue has been a distinctive feature of Capital Public Radio's "Insight" radio program for years, has been tapped for the press secretary of media relations position for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Gov. Jerry Brown's office announced Callison's appointment to the $102,015-per-year position this morning.

Callison, 50, has hosted the daily public affairs program on the Sacramento NPR affiliate since 2004. He started at the station as a reporter in 1996 and became its news director in 2000.

His one-hour radio show has spotlighted local politicians, pundits, musicians, artists and other newsmakers. Callison's demeanor and preparation for interviews came across on the air as a calm confidence that fit in with NPR's laid-back cerebral style.

The Corrections job doesn't require Senate confirmation. Callison is not registered to vote, according to this Brown administration press release, which also announced 12 other gubernatorial appointments.

CPR News Director Joe Barr said Callison would be missed: "Jeffrey helped build Insight into what it is today," Barr said in a statement. "We're really going to miss him and we wish him well in his new job. This is an opportunity to take the program in some new directions with a new host. We'll begin a search shortly."

PHOTO: Jeffrey Callison at Capital Public Radio's studio. / Jose Luis Villegas, Sacramento Bee, 2007

October 31, 2011
From the notebook: Corrections has cut a fifth of executive jobs

Thumbnail image for notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the data, the notes and the quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Prior to our Saturday Q&A with Matt Cate, secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, we conducted several interviews with CDCR management. One of the questions that we asked during those discussions: With all of the job cutting at CDCR, how many Career Executive Assignments and exempt employee jobs has the department cut?

The department checked and got back to us. Here's the answer from part of an email sent last week by CDCR spokesman Paul Verke:

August 26, 2011
Brown appoints Fish and Game director and inspector general

Gov. Jerry Brown today announced new leaders for the Department of Fish and Game and the Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Bee Capitol Bureau colleague Laurel Rosenhall has the details on our sister blog, Capitol Alert.

August 17, 2011
Committee to take up Ron Yank's nomination to DPA director

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

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

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

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

August 15, 2011
Pension reform group leader joins Berkeley advisory council

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

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

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

August 11, 2011
Jerry Brown announces executive appointments

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for more details about each of the appointees.

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

June 6, 2011
Kamala Harris makes key Justice Department appointments

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

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

Other appointments that Harris announced include:

April 18, 2011
Caltrans director Cindy McKim retiring in May

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

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

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

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

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

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

PHOTO: Cindy McKim /

March 4, 2011
From the notebook: More about bargaining, furloughs

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

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

Here are some highlights:

February 28, 2011
Correctional officers' spokesman passes away


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 23, 2011
Brown pulls CalSTRS appointee

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

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

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

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

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

February 11, 2011
CalPERS' top public relations official announces departure

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

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

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

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

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

PHOTO: Patricia Macht /

January 27, 2011
CalSTRS appointee helped with controversial pension report

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

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

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

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

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

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


January 7, 2011
Poll: What's the message behind Brown's personnel pick?

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

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

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

Then consider our poll question:

January 6, 2011
Column Extra: DPA's new director talks about labor relations

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

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

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

January 5, 2011
Brown announces more appointments

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

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

January 5, 2011
Jerry Brown announces appointments

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

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

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

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

January 4, 2011
Ronald Yank will be Jerry Brown's personnel director

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

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

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

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

January 4, 2011
Schwarzenegger appoints wife of former aide to PERB post

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

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

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

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

December 28, 2010
Inspector general abruptly cuts short term in office

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

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

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

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

December 27, 2010
Lottery director scratched, acting director named

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

It's begun.

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

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

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

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

November 10, 2010
SEIU hires former Assembly speaker's chief for top union post

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

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

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

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

October 25, 2010
Breaking news: State chief info officer resigns for federal post

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

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

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

Here's Takai's e-mail:

October 19, 2010
California's No. 2 tech executive leaving for federal job

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

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

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

PHOTO CREDITS: Michael Locatis /; Teri Takai /

October 15, 2010
New medical executive for prisons appointed

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

Click here for more about Tharatt's appointment.

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

August 16, 2010
Teri Takai nomination to federal post hits snag

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

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

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

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

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

PHOTO CREDITS: Teri Takai /; Michael Locatis /

July 27, 2010
State Fund names top executive

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

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

Click here to read the State Fund release.

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

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

June 7, 2010
Schwarzenegger taps Colorado official for No. 2 Information post

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

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

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

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Locatis /

May 27, 2010
Schwarzenegger names new Caltrans director

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 9, 2010
CalPERS names HR chief

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

Click here to read the CalPERS memo.

March 31, 2010
Obama names Teri Takai to federal post

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

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

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

About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

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


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