Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Cal Fire under fire

At Pacific Helispot on May 4, 2015 in Pollock Pines, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott speaks about Cal Fire and the scandal that befallen the agency.
At Pacific Helispot on May 4, 2015 in Pollock Pines, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott speaks about Cal Fire and the scandal that befallen the agency. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

For the last year Cal Fire has been busy trying to extinguish fires within its own ranks. The state’s wildland firefighters were caught cheating on tests, drinking on the job and using state phones to connect with prostitutes, among other egregious mishaps.

Now the State Personnel Board wants to know what Cal Fire plans to do about it.

Back in December the board gave Cal Fire 60 days to explain what it’s already done and plans to do to clean up its act, particularly related to hiring practices. The board had launched its own investigation to make sense of the bizarre promotions of two fire academy captains, who previously admitted to cheating in order to pass tests and move up the ranks. The board’s report said it found no evidence that the promotions were based on merit and Cal Fire gave inconsistent and contradictory information.

Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott is expected to answer questions at a hearing at 10 a.m. in at 801 Capitol Mall, Room 150.

The hearing is particularly timely given that Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan calls for the creation of a new $4.4 million investigative unit to probe Cal Fire personnel matters and prevent future calamity.

LICENSING: The Little Hoover Commission is in the midst of a review of the impact of licensed professions, an increasingly growing segment of the California workforce. The independent state oversight agency says 21 percent of California workers must be licensed to practice their profession. While advocates say the practice protects the public, critics contend it’s overkill. The commission will hold a public hearing about the matter at 9:30 a.m. in Room 437 of the Capitol.

WATER SECURITY: In the fifth year of a drought, it’s hard to find anyone who wouldn’t be interested in hearing from UC Merced Professor Roger C. Bales, an expert in water and climate related research. In a talk titled “Water Security in California in the Age of Drought: Linking Forest Management, Water Storage, Groundwater Sustainability and Carbon Neutrality,” the engineering professor will discuss ways to adapt our water supplies. Tune in at noon at 1130 K Street, Room LL3.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, who is 39 today.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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