Gov. Jerry Brown and two unions representing state engineers and scientists filed more arguments on Monday in their two-year-old court fight over furloughs.
The administration has asked San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal to overturn a lower court ruling in favor of Professional Engineers in California Government and California Association of Professional Scientists that said Brown in 2011 illegally furloughed their members two days longer than the Legislature had authorized. Total back pay for the 13,000 or so affected engineers and scientists would cost the state about $12 million, the unions estimate.
The documents filed Monday answer a question that the appellate court had about another part of Superior Court Judge Steven Brick’s 2012 decision that affected a relative handful of employees. Brick ruled that 250 scientists and engineers should receive all wages lost to furloughs – up to 70 days from 2009 through mid-2011 – because their jobs involved cleaning up contaminated military base sites. The judge agreed with the unions that furloughing them violates provisions of the state's health and water codes and breaches a constitutional stipulation that legislation may deal with only one main subject.
The appellate court in November asked the administration and the unions whether the health and water laws meant that the state controller or the state finance director erred when they included furlough savings from those employees’ wages in budget calculations. The unions say those officials made a mistake including those savings – those employees shouldn’t have been furloughed in the first place. The administration says no, that the law doesn’t apply in this case because, among other things, none of those 250 employee worked full time on base remediation and were subject to furlough.
Guard tower looks over the yard at San Quentin State Prisonon Wednesday September 18, 2013 in San Rafael, Calif.
A Stockton resident has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for rejecting his job applications after he admitted using a stolen Social Security number given to him at the age of 15.
The Record reports that Victor Guerrero, who is now in his mid-30s and a U.S. citizen since 2010, alleges in a complaint filed in San Francisco on Monday that CDCR twice rejected him for a correctional-officer job because of his former illegal status. In 2011 and again this year he passed written and physical agility tests and truthfully answered yes to Question No. 75 of the job questionnaire that asks whether he had or used a social security number other than the one you used on this questionnaire.
Guerrero also attached an explanation: He was given the Social Security number as a teenager so he could start working in 1995. He didnt know he was undocumented and that the number was not his own until 1997. Guerrero continued to use the Social Security number to find work, but paid taxes from 1997 to 2007 with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The IRS issues the ID numbers to people who are ineligible for Social Security numbers so that they can pay taxes.
The government issued a Social Security number to Guerrero in 2007 when he became a legal permanent resident, according to the lawsuit. In 2010 he became a U.S. citizen.
Richard Costigan, the State Personnel Board’s representative to the CalPERS Board of Administration, participates in a CalPERS meeting via computer at a hotel in St. Pete Beach, Fla., during the week of the Republican National Convention on Aug. 29, 2012. Costigan sat in the hotel lobby in the spirit of participating in a public meeting.
The state’s merit system watchdog has reelected three of its officers for the 2014 calendar year.
Patricia Clarey, former chief of staff to Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, will return as president of the five-member panel. She is an executive with insurer Health Net Inc. and has also held top-level positions at Chevron Corp. and Transamerica Corp. Schwarzenegger appointed her to the board in 2005.
Kimiko Burton will return as vice president. Appointed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown last year, Burton has been deputy city attorney in San Francisco since 2003. Burton's father is John Burton, the former state Senate president pro tem and current chairman of the California Democratic Party.
Richard Costigan will continue to serve as the personnel board’s representative to CalPERS. A Schwarzenegger appointee in 2007, Costigan is a registered lobbyist with the law and consulting firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
In this March 22, 2012 photo is Judge Steven Rhodes in Detroit. Rhodes, overseeing Detroits bankruptcy case, is making sure that the impact on people is front and center in his courtroom. Friends and colleagues say the veteran judge didnt have to invite residents and retirees into his court to hear their stories. But they say he showed sensitivity to the pensioners plight in the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history when he did that earlier this year.
Here’s the 150-page decision in the Detroit bankruptcy case, which has the distinction of being the first-ever court decision that says promised public-employee pension benefits can be reduced via municipal bankruptcy. Worth noting: States cannot declare bankruptcy.
Also worth noting: Mayor Chuck Reed’s measure, which among other things would change the California constitution to allow prospective public pension reductions, applies to both state and local governments. Conventional legal wisdom has always held that the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and California’s constitition (which is remarkably similar to Michigan’s in this area) say that public pensions are contracts that can’t be altered once promised. The Detroit ruling says that bankruptcy law is all about breaking contracts.
“... nothing distinguishes pension debt in a municipal bankruptcy case from any other debt,” wrote Detroit bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes. “If the Tenth Amendment prohibits the impairment of pension benefits in this case, then it would also prohibit the adjustment (of) any other debt in this case.”
Here’s the full ruling. The pension discussion picks up on page 73:
FILE - This Oct. 24, 2012 file photo shows an empty field north of Detroit's downtown. Detroit, which on Thursday, July 18, 2013, filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in American history, owes as much as $20 billion to banks, bondholders and pension funds. The city can get rid of its gargantuan debt, but a bankruptcy judge cant bring back residents or raise its dwindling revenue.
Sacramento Bee reporters Dale Kasler and Jon Ortiz answer questions about how recent rulings on pensions may affect Californians. Join them beginning at 11:30 a.m. Friday, December 6, 2013.
The southen complex of CalPERS headquarters in downtown Sacramento.
CalPERS’ governing board aims to up its collective understanding of everything from financial statements to financial markets with a new set of “core competencies” that will help shape education and training.
The policy, which the board is imposing on itself, also requires board members to have familiarity with topics ranging from health care and pension plans to board governance and communication.
"The issues and topics we address are some of the most diverse and complex of any entity - public or private - in the country," Rob Feckner, president of CalPERS’ 13-member board, said in a press statement. "These criteria are designed to enhance the competency of the Board and will help us better serve our members and employers."
The board is comprised of elected, appointed and ex officio members such as the state treasurer and the state controller, who often send surrogates to meetings. That constitutionally-mandated composition occasionally becomes a target of critics who have said, among other shortcomings, that the board is ill-equipped to thoughtfully process policies that impact some 1.6 million members and assets that currently stand at $276 billion.
Join Ortiz and Kasler on The Sacramento Bee’s live chat website on Friday, Dec. 6, for a wide-ranging discussion of public pensions.
The Sacramento Bee’s Dale Kasler and your humble blogger will co-host a live online chat to answer your questions about how recent court rulings on pensions may affect Californians and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s proposed pension measure for the November 2014 ballot. Join us at 11:30 a.m.Friday, Dec. 6, on the Sacbee Live website to share your questions, comments and participate in live polling about government retirement issues.
Most beefs between law enforcement employers, unions and the rank-and-file fall into three areas: workplace safety, money and respect.
All three have coalesced in a brouhaha that recently erupted over an abbreviated correctional officer academy now running in eastern Kern County.
The story starts with a recent three-year, $28.5 million deal between Gov. Jerry Brown and Corrections Corporation of America to lease the private prison company’s California City facility near Edwards Air Force Base. The agreement will add space for nearly 2,400 convicts. Brown needs the space to comply with a federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding without releasing inmates.
A spinoff from that deal is allowing 80 former CCA guards to become full-fledged state correctional officers on Dec. 12 after six weeks of training, 10 weeks less than the state’s standard academy training in Galt.
Officers head to work at San Quentin State Prison. The California Department of Corrections today said it will hire 7,000 corrections officers over the next three years to fill current and future vacancies.
Confronted with a growing wave of retirements, the California Department of Corrections said today that it will need to hire approximately 7,000 prison officers over the next three years to fill current and future vacancies statewide.
The state has about 25,000 fewer inmates in its 34 adult prisons owing to a two-year-old program that sends more convicted offenders to local jails, while attrition also is draining the prison-officer ranks with an average 150 retiring each month, according to corrections statistics. The state employees about 28,500 full-time-equivalent parole and prison officers, according to state union contract documents posted on the California Department of Human Resources’ website.
The job application process is notoriously slow. Assuming applicants have the minimum qualifications (U.S. citizenship, high school diploma, at least 21 at time of appointment and pass a drug-test screening, can legally own and use a firearm), candidates must then pass a written test, go through a qualifications assessment, pass a physical fitness test, vision screening and psychological evaluation, a pre-employment medical examination and a background investigation.
The whole thing, from application to entrance to the department’s 16-week academy in Galt, can take up to one year. Base wage for academy cadets: $3,050 a month. New correctional officers earn $3,774 per month plus overtime and benefits.
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 email@example.com.
FOLLOW US | Get more from sacbee.com | Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook | Get news in your inbox | View our mobile versions | e-edition: Print edition online | What our bloggers are saying