The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

December 18, 2008
What to do about prison overcrowding?

Prison overcrowding.  How did California get to historic highs in incarceration rates in the 1990s and 2000s? How did the state get numbers of prisoners way beyond current prison capacity?  What role does California's Three Strikes law play? What can the state do to reduce overcrowding?  The courts are about to hand down decisions. Capitol Public Radio's Jeffrey Callison interviewed several guests on today's Insight program:  Scott Kernan, Undersecretary of the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ; Michael Vitiello, Professor, McGeorge School of Law; Mike Jimenez, President, CA Correctional Peace Officers Association; Mike Reynolds, "Three Strikes" advocate; and  Rose Braz, Campaign Director, Critical Resistance.  I was also part of the discussion.  Click here to listen to the program.

December 11, 2008
A visit from UC President Mark Yudof

NM_27YudofMarkMug_43727.jpgUniversity of California President Mark Yudof met with The Bee's editorial board for the first time since taking office in June.


Here are some tidbits:


On accountability:  He notes that some things you can't measure, like the kid who's turned on to Shakespeare, but "the fact that you can't measure everything doesn't mean you measure nothing." 


On UC's management style:  He sees the system as akin to "a museum without a deacquisition policy" - it has kept adding, but never subtracts anything.  He's changing that - sending some functions out to the campuses - such as the continuing legal education program that makes more sense at a campus with a law school than at the central office in Oakland.  He's also eliminated functions.  He notes: "I've cut out $60 million in a year.  What other state agency has done that?"


On budget cuts:  He sees it as his job to ensure that Californians understand that these cuts are like "a fire station closing."  He believes California is living off the 1950s and 1960s legacy of Gov. Pat Brown and UC President Clark Kerr, who championed the notion that every student should be entitled to a college education regardless of ability to pay. "I'm worried about it," Yudof said.


On how to find more money for universities: Yudof said a "high-fee, high-financial-aid" model is "not the preferred course." He noted that he'd press for the usual sources of funding: the Legislature; exposure, telling people what the UC does to improve life in California; philanthropy, federal research grants; fees; efficiencies and business savings.  Beyond that, "If we don't get some relief within five years...we'll have to reexamine the educational delivery model."  The  university may have to consider more use of technology for intro classes, not just the traditional model of a teacher in front of a classroom of students.


He's smoked cigars with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, "a hoot," he said, and finds him supportive of higher education.


We'll have more to say as an editorial board on Yudof's larger vision for higher education and the UC mission in California. Watch for an editorial on Monday.
December 3, 2008
Mr. McClintock goes to Washington

In the close race in the open seat to replace Congressman John Doolittle in the 4th Congressional District, Democrat Charlie Brown has conceded:

Thanks to the extraordinary work of our local elections officials, I am pleased to report that the high standards of fairness, accuracy, and transparency have been met.  And with the counts and recounts across district four complete, and more than 370,000 votes tallied, the outcome of this election is no longer in question.  Unfortunately, we've come up less than one half of one percent---just under 1,800 votes---short of victory  So a short time ago, I called Senator Tom McClintock to congratulate him on a hard fought victory, and to wish him well in Congress.


Republican Tom McClintock goes to Washington as one of 176 Republicans in the 435-member House (down from 199 currently). He'll be operating in a caucus that comprises 40 percent of the membership.  But he's used to that, coming from the California Legislature.  Here's hoping he's able to balance working with the majority while achieving his stated goal of offering an alternative vision of governance. Washington certainly doesn't need the obstruction and gridlock that characterizes the California Legislature..

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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