The State Worker

Blog Back: California state-building upkeep and the “p-word”

Reintroducing Blog Backs, a weekly feature that reviews your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplifies points, answers questions, corrects our mistakes and humbly accepts your warranted criticism.

March 25 - Four reasons California state building upkeep lags

Our column listed staffing, money, contracting and political priorities for the state of state building disrepair. Commenters tossed in a few other reasons:

Jeff Burns: The problem is that capitol outlay projects in state-owned buildings have to go through the public works process, which is so complicated and takes so much time that it provides no incentive for management to actually get anything done. It also provides no incentive to contractors to place bids. All of the red tape is stifling.

Nancie Carter: Same as happened with our schools. They got rid of Janitors, who took care of maintenance, so they could use the money for salary increases, and the buildings went south and then the school districts want millions to fix now. Amazing that all the people we trust to have the brains and experience to know that maintaining something costs less than replacing it, don't.

And, of course, the topic wouldn’t be fully aired without someone dropping the “p-word.”

Chris Hickman: You can have a nice new roof or you can have your bloated pensions.

In fairness, the state had trouble implementing information technology before employee pensions became more generous in 1999. And even if the benefit was cut, it doesn’t follow that the savings would flow to building upkeep. Cutting pensions would incent more building maintenance workers to the private sector and leave the state’s cupboard of talent more empty than it is now.

March 26 - How old is the California state building where you work?

Adrian Pineda: Hey, what about places from the 19th century like San Quentin or Folsom State Prison? They are still in use and so old they probably qualify to be on the list of national historical landmarks.

The follow-up post to the previous day’s column should have specified that the 58 buildings in question do not include UC or CSU campuses or buildings in the state prison system. That said, we like Adrian’s the idea of checking out the age of prisons and college campuses. Look for a post in the not-too-distant future.

March 31 - California state IT office faces hiring, retention challenge

Commenters dealt a couple pithy zingers after reading that pay is one reason the state has trouble keeping tech talent is pay:

Rick Alfaro: You don't get a BMW when you are only willing to pay for a Taurus.

Stan Duke: When it takes 7 months to fill a position, it's not just the IT department.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.