Six months ago, University of California President Janet Napolitano appeared before the Legislature and apologized for creating the “wrong impression” that she had improperly interfered in a critical state audit of her office.
Her mea culpa followed a week of fury at the Capitol over the blistering audit, which slammed the UC Office of the President for misleading budget practices – and for tampering with an independent campus survey meant to assess its effectiveness, by encouraging officials to change their responses to reflect more positively on the administration.
“While we believe we did things appropriately, it is clear in retrospect that we could have handled this better,” Napolitano said at time. “I am sorry that we did it this way, because it has created the wrong impression and detracted from the important fact that we accept the recommendations in the audit report.”
That would not be the end of the controversy. With lawmakers rushing to introduce a bill making it a crime to “intentionally interfere” with a state auditor’s investigation, and one even calling on Napolitano to resign, UC’s governing board wanted to show that it was taking the matter seriously.
At a hastily arranged meeting in May, the Board of Regents authorized an independent investigation into the allegations of interference. The results of that review will be publicly released on Thursday, at the conclusion of the regents’ three-day meeting in San Francisco.
According to an agenda item, the board is set to take undisclosed “personnel actions,” and adopt new policies on audit compliance, related to the investigation. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that Napolitano’s chief of staff and his deputy, who directed campuses to reveal and sometimes alter their survey answers, had both “resigned to pursue other opportunities.”
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REVENUE OUTLOOK: Bean counters be on the lookout. The official start to budget season kicks off this morning when the Legislative Analyst’s Office releases its annual fiscal outlook. The publication summarizes how the LAO sees the California economy playing out over the next year and provides a snapshot of revenue for potential 2018 state spending.
TIGHT SPOT FOR BERA? Andrew Grant, a Republican challenging Democratic Rep. Ami Bera for the competitive 7th Congressional seat, has dropped a new, highly produced ad – an early indication that the Marine Corps veteran has been aggressively raising money and could put up a fight in next year’s midterms.
Grant, in the social media ad, touts his military experience above all, and outlines campaign messages focusing on spurring job growth and national security. He has raised $165,000 this year, to the $926,000 Bera has raised since Jan. 1, according to federal campaign filings. Yona Barash, the other Republican running against Bera, has raised $40,000.
“People here need someone in Washington that gets things done, that fights for the American dream. Washington can use more people who understand what that means,” Grant says in the ad.
WORTH REPEATING: “They got people to think they are buying an SUV to save themselves, and their family. I think that’s a nonsense idea.” – Gov. Jerry Brown, at climate conference
POVERTY AMID RICHES: California’s economy is booming, but nearly half of its children are living in, or near poverty, according to an October report by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Authors of the report will discuss its findings at a free event from noon to 1 p.m. at the Capitol Event Center, 1020 11th St., Sacramento.
FREE SPEECH DEBATE: State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, chairs a joint legislative hearing today to address public safety challenges with activities labeled as “free speech” events.
The hearing, prompted by the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville earlier this year, is aimed at ensuring California law enforcement agencies are able to respond to protests, marches and other events that could become violent, Jackson said.
“Free speech is not just a fundamental right in this country, but one of the principle pillars of our democracy,” she said in a statement. “At the same time, managers of our public spaces have an obligation to protect the public from potential violence breaking out at events where free speech is exercised.”
Right-wing and conservative groups have come under fire this year for planning events at college campuses that some argue promote hate speech, while law enforcement officials have warned of potential for violence. “Free Speech Week,” at UC Berkeley, featuring speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos, was called off in September. UC Berkeley canceled an earlier appearance by Yiannopoulos, citing public safety concerns.
Tuesday’s hearing in Long Beach is titled “when free speech crosses the line: protecting public safety in California.” It begins at 1:30 p.m. at the California State University chancellor’s office, at 401 Golden Shore, Long Beach.
AGING & LONG-TERM CARE: An Assembly hearing in Los Angeles this morning focuses on potential federal cuts to health care and aging programs for Californians. President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget request would slash funding for Medi-Cal and reduce federal spending for Medicare, policy changes that “would have severe consequences for California’s seniors,” said the committee report prepared for the hearing.
Congressional lawmakers and Trump still haven’t reached agreement on a budget deal. Their 2017 spending extension to keep the government open expires Dec. 8.
Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, chairs today’s hearing about how the federal budget could affect California. It is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel on West Century Boulevard in Los Angeles.