Our news story in today’s fiber/cyber Bee highlights a $1 million jury verdict in a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit brought against the Department of State Hospitals, the chief psychologist of Napa State Hospital and two other employees there.
If you missed the story, check it out and then browse the two court documents from which most of the report was written, the complaint and the judgement on the jury’s verdict:
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a California State University Board of Trustees meeting in March 2013.
With the state struggling to implement on-time and on-budget computer systems that perform as promised, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is scheduled for an online interview to talk tech next week.
The former mayor of San Francisco, who is running for re-election as back-up governor, will make an appearance on Techleader.TV, Monday at 11:30 a.m.
Newsom will be talking about his new book, “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government.”
The web-based show, hosted by former California state technology chief John Thomas Flynn, will carry the interview live and then archive it for on-demand viewing. Previous TechLeader guests have included Carlos Ramos, director of the California Department of Technology, and Chris Hughes, deputy director and chief information officer for the Department of Health Care Services.
California’s state hospital system and three of its employees must pay a combined $1 million award to a state hospital psychologist after a jury decided she was pressured to declare mentally ill patients competent for trial using questionable assessment methods and then fired for exposing the policy.
Napa State Hospital psychologist Melody Jo Samuelson’s lawsuit ended with a monthlong trial and a verdict that she suffered retaliation for whistleblowing. A judge late last week affirmed the jury’s decision.
Department of State Hospitals spokesman Ralph Montaño declined to answer questions about allegations in the lawsuit or whether the department will continue fighting it.
“The department is in the process of evaluating the verdict,” Montano said in an email earlier this week.
Michael Navarro testifies at a legislative hearing in 2004 when he was director of the Department of Personnel Administration.
The our latest State Worker column has drawn a range of comments and emails from readers tossing in their thoughts about vital qualities the next director of the Department of Human Resources must possess.
Heres an email that succinctly captures a common theme were hearing. Were publishing it here, unedited, with the authors permission:
Mr. Ortiz -
As a recent retired state employee with 40 years in State government, I agree with your editorial comments but would add one very important factor for the Governor to consider in selecting the next CalHR Director: Diversity. State government needs someone with exemplary skill sets of inclusion and experience in reaching out to California's bilingual, cultural and diverse population including persons w disabilities, LGBT, women and veterans.
California State Controller John Chiang applauds at Gov. Jerry Brownls 2014 State of the State at the State Capitol.
A new tally of unfunded state retiree health care costs shows long-term obligations grew by hundreds of millions of dollars last year, prompting Controller John Chiang to propose a plan on Thursday to chip away at the debt..
Chiang, a Democrat running for state treasurer this year, reported unfunded health benefits for current and future retirees will cost $64.6 billion over the next 30-years. The estimate is a shapshot of future costs as of June 30, 2013, before adjusting for inflation. The total grew by $730 million from the previous year.
The controller proposed a five-year plan that would fully pay the costs of retiree benefits as active employees earn them. The proposal would add higher payments on top of what the state shells out to cover current bills: $220 million in the coming fiscal year incrementally growing to $1.37 billion in 2018-19.
The state has $1.8 billion budgeted this year for retiree health benefits, but the money only pays for medical and dental bills as they come due. With nothing set aside for future obligations, the long-term costs balloon, much like making minimum payments on a credit card while running up new and bigger charges.
With the sudden exodus of Californias top state personnel executive, we now pivot to the obvious question: Who will Gov. Jerry Brown tap next?
The answer will tell us how much he cares about retooling how the state recruits, trains and retains employees. His last pick to lead the charge, Julie Chapman. abruptly took her pension last week after nearly two years running the Department of Human Resources.
Her departure was announced just ahead of a report that blasted CalHRs leadership for lacking the holistic skill set to pull off Browns orders to reform state governments ancient and out-of-touch personnel practices.
This is a wake-up moment for the governor, said Billie Blair, an organizational psychologist who has worked with the CEOs of many Fortune 1000 companies.
Now that Julie Chapman has abruptly retired, Thursdays State Worker column will ask this question: What kind of person should Gov. Jerry Brown pick to lead his Department of Human Resources? Were curious what you think. Take our poll ( click here, if your dont see the question below). The (highly unscientific) results could show up in in the column ...
California Gov. Jerry Brown talks to reporters about the State Budget for 2014-2015 during a January 2014 press conference at the Capitol.
In a far-ranging assessment of how much California pays its help, a nonpartisan report on Tuesday said the state government will spend a half-billion dollars more on employee compensation next year, but most workers take-home wages will continue to lag behind inflation.
The average state workers take-home pay even declined somewhat during the end of the last decade as state workers picked up larger shares of their benefit costs while being furloughed, the report says. (O)n an inflation-adjusted basis, we expect the average state workers take-home pay to return to its pre2007-08 levels in 2014-15.
We’re getting a lot of reaction from state employees and retirees about our column on departments looking more closely at the minimum qualifications for employees transferring between similar jobs. If you missed the column, read it here and then take our poll, embedded below ( and available here for mobile users):
Julie Chapman, director of the state Department of Human Resources, is retiring from the post on Friday.
Department of Human Resources
Julie Chapman, director of the state Department of Human Resources, is retiring from the post on Friday.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s vision of a reorganized, more efficient government has stalled, according to a new state report issued Thursday, because of ineffective leadership at the California Department of Human Resources.
The unflattering assessment came one day after an internal CalHR email announced that Director Julie Chapman would retire, effective today, and that Chief Deputy Director Howard Schwartz is leaving for his former civil-service job.
Richard Gillihan, program budget manager at the Department of Finance, has been named CalHR’s acting director. Pam Manwiller, CalHR’s labor-relations deputy director, has been named acting chief deputy.
Marybel Batjer, who oversees CalHR as secretary of the state Government Operations Agency, issued a statement Thursday morning announcing the leadership change. Chapman “has had a long and rich career devoted to public service,” Batjer said. and Schwartz “has been a dedicated public servant to CalHR and all state employees.”
Our State Worker column this week highlights how the government is going to more carefully scrutinize employee transfers in light of a recent Personnel Board ruling that says, in sum, that minimum qualifications for jobs exist for a reason.
We know that State Worker blog users tend to get into the fine details of civil service rules, so here’s the one that the board cited in a November ruling that voided a Public Utilities Commission transfer and has since become the basis of a statewide push to adhere to minimum qualifications:
Rule 250. Requirement That Selection Be Based on Merit and Fitness.
(a) Appointments to positions in the State civil service made from eligible lists in a manner consistent with provisions of Sections 254, 254.1, and 254.2 as related to the certification of eligibles, by way of transfer, as defined in Government Code Section 18525.3, or by way of reinstatement, as defined in Government Code Section 19140, shall be made on the basis of merit and fitness, defined exclusively as the consideration of each individual's job-related qualifications for a position, including his/her knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, education, training, physical and mental fitness, and any other personal characteristics relative to job requirements, as determined by candidate performance in selection procedures, including, but not limited to, hiring interviews, reference checks, background checks, and/or any other procedures, which assess job-related qualifications and are designed and administered to select those individuals who best meet the selection need.
For years, the state has given employees a pass on meeting the minimum requirements for some jobs.
Now thats over, and moving up the state job ladder just got a lot harder for thousands of state workers.
State human resources shops and union officials have been buzzing since Californias merit system watchdog, the State Personnel Board, recently told departments that they can no longer transfer employees into jobs for which theyre unqualified.
Last November the board ruled that the California Public Utilities Commission awarded a transfer without a test to an employee who lacked the experience and the education for the job. Employees can move between similar types of jobs without taking a civil service test if the pay difference between the two jobs is less than 10 percent. The big advantage: Those so-called lateral transfers sidestep civil service tests everyone else has to take to apply for a state job.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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