The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 3, 2009
Blog back: An invite for Meg, car washes, CHP raises and state vehicles

Blog back reviews your thoughtful and provocative online comments, answers your questions, corrects our mistakes and humbly accepts your warranted criticism.

Andrew McIntosh here, I've been bench-warming for our main man, Jon Ortiz, for the past week. I've enjoyed your e-mails, comments, thoughts and e-blasts.

Happy Independence Day! Jon is back next week.

July 2: State engineers vow legal challenge to block third furlough day

I became an engineer for the state because I wanted to serve the public. First I went into private, since I would make more, and I thought I would still serve the public by working on state projects. But once I saw the poor ethics and greed of the private sector ripping off the state, I realized that I had to work, for less, in government. I have a master's degree, I work hard every day, and I am willing to take furloughs (without striking)if it helps the economy. But I get really tired of hearing all the bashing when I have worked so hard to better California's infrastructure for the people.

July 2: Car wash fundraisers to raise cash for suffering state workers?

I find this whole topic belittling state workers and demeaning. I would not recommend anyone posting it.

How is it demeaning to state workers for us report that one state worker wants to help herself and others by organizing car washes to have a few laughs and raise a little money for each other. If we offended, we're sorry.

Forget car washes. How about the union ceasing to deduct fair share and/or member fees entirely until June, 2010?? This would be the right thing to do wouldn't it?

Now, there's a solid idea! SEIU, ready to give your members a dues holiday?

July 1: Whitman says 'at least' 17,000 mid-level state workers need to go

Cutting the state workforce is a great idea (it is too bloated), but by just throwing out numbers in backwater towns, Meg is so far from solving the problem that anything she says is just white noise. Why not have Meg come to a "company town" and explain to those who are directly effected (sic) why she thinks this is a great idea?

It is abundantly obvious that Meg has no clue about how the state really runs. If she were to eliminate 17,000 middle management positions, our state would literally come to a screeching halt. Why? Because Upper Management hasn't a clue as to what the worker bees do. They are forever in meetings trying to make things more efficient, but it always ends up more convoluted than before because they do not talk with the little people actually doing the work! Heaven help us all if she get a foot hold in Sacramento. Oy.

So there you have it, Ms. Whitman. Let's have you in to The Bee's Capitol Bureau for a chat. We're the paper in the company town, after all.

June 30: CHP officers plan 'maximum enforcement period' for July 4 festivities

We revealed that CHP officers may get a raise thanks to its contract - something to celebrate as its officers work OT on July Fourth -- even as it escapes furloughs imposed on other state workers.

The officers who protect us from drunks on the road deserve exactly what they bargained for in their contract.
CHP should take a cut like everyone else. Not only are they not taking a cut, they get a raise.

A very impassioned debate here. Thanks to all for sharing your views.

June 30: Driving a state vehicle? Be careful what you use it for, you never know who's watching, DGS advises

A common response to notification of underutilized state vehicles is a supervisor decision to send the vehicles home with employees. This then accrues enough mileage to meet the minimum requirment and they keep the vehicle/s. Another common "justification" is that the state vehicle parking location is labelled "unsecure" or otherwise "unsafe" therefore again "requiring" sending the state vehicle home with employeess. Without distinctly separating commute vs. official business miles, the state cannot determine proper vehicle utilization and probably doesn't properly account for the personal benefit to the employee for tax purposes.

In my use of state vehicles, I could see it misconstrued if while I'm traveling for out of town meetings, I have to get food or supplies at a store or restaurant. For that reason, we try to use unmarked vehicles when doing legitimate business in a place like Monterey. But, in the past I had a supervisor who used this assigned work vehicle as a personal vehicle, and when I needed to borrow it I'd have to clean out the dog fur so that I wouldn't be covered in fur when I got where I was going.

June 29: Hell in Hawaii: state workers face three furlough days a month - until 2011

I am just wondering why the BEE is so compassionate by calling this furloughing state workers in Hawaii "Hell in Hawaii" and not what happened to "Hell in California"? Is this a double standard or what?

Any weak-kneed milksops out there that think three or four furlough days a month are hell should consider (I mean really, as opposed to wallowing in self-pity) people who have already lost their jobs and houses.

Double standard? Not at all. We've done several posts and news reports about the impact that furloughs are having on state workers and the small businesses that serve them. The furloughs have been very hard on families where both spouses work for the state.

The purpose of our Hawaii update was to let readers know about similar developments in other nearby states. Sadly, furloughs are becoming a national occurrence.

June 29: State motor vehicle insurance premiums going up -- 13 percent

Another idea to assess the costs of accidents in DGS vehicles to the departments of the drivers responsible was also shot down. This would have held the departments responsible rather than spreading excessive insurance costs across all DGS fleet customers. As it is, there is no incentive for agencies to monitor or hold responsible their drivers who cause multiple accidents while driving DGS vehicles. They get another DGS car at the same rate. Give 'em another car and send 'em on their way!!

Discouraging, yes, but don't forget their rates do rise over time if they have more smash ups.

June 26: Lottery Commission approves $53.7 million plan for new headquarters

At this time, why does the lottery commission need new headquarters.?? Can't they just freeze hiring, move desks and telephones a little closer? Most people quit playing the lottery because they lost their jobs and homes. Money for the new headquarters could be given to schools as it was intended.
Selling scratchers to poor people pays off.

We agree with both of you. The optics of building a new HQ right now are not great, despite the explanations given by the Lottery Commission.

June 26: California National Guard member wins Army muscle contest in Iraq

What does this have to do with State employees.

The California National Guard is also called the California State Military Department. It's financed partly by the state and the federal government. Sgt. Erica Rinard, the bodybuilder and mechanic serving in Iraq, is a bona fide state worker.

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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 jortiz@sacbee.com.

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