SACRAMENTO: Government workers, compensation, California: "California ranks near top in federal, state, local government pay" ....

* Sacramento Bee (The State Worker):  "California ranks near top in federal, state, local government pay" - From the Bee:

California ranks near the top nationally in how much government workers earn, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data, and more of them work in the Golden State than anywhere else. Still, when considered on a per-capita basis, the ratio of public employees to residents in the nation’s most-populous state is among the nation’s lowest.

Full-time and part-time federal, state and local public employees earned an average $4,789 for the month of March 2013 when the bureau surveyed personnel numbers and pay. That ranked behind only New Jersey ($4,849 per month), New York ($4,888 per month) and well behind the federally-dominated District of Columbia ($6,069 per month). The figures do not account for the value of pension benefits or for the cost of living, which can vary drastically from state to state.

Meanwhile, California was home to more public employees than any other state, roughly 2.09 million, or 11 percent of the government workforce nationally. Texas (8 percent), New York (7 percent) and Illinois (5 percent) rounded out the top four.

California registered one government employee for every 18 residents in the state, according to calculations by The Sacramento Bee, the sixth-lowest ratio in the nation..........


MORNING MEMOS: L.A. City Hall, "Downtown Real Estate Players Praise Plan to Streamline Permitting"; SF Valley, "Lack of new San Fernando Valley rail lines draws complaints"; L.A., "Moody's upgrades L.A.'s creditworthiness"; Willie Brown, "Ex-Gov. Schwarzenegger sends out a holiday treat" ....

***Various items this morning from across the spectrum of politics and/or public policy....

* San Francisco Chronicle (Willie Brown):  "Ex-Gov. Schwarzenegger sends out a holiday treat"

* Daily News:  "Moody's upgrades L.A.'s credit worthiness"

* Daily News:  "Lack of new San Fernando Valley rail lines draws complaints"

* Downtown News:  "Downtown Real Estate Players Praise Plan to Streamline Permitting" - "Garcetti Effort Aims to Shorten Timelines for 600 Projects a Year"


SACRAMENTO: California Public Utilities Commission, new leadership, editorial: "Time for culture change at state Public Utilities Commission" ....

* San Francisco Chronicle (editorial):  "Time for culture change at state Public Utilities Commission" - From the Chronicle:

The departures of the president and executive director of the state Public Utilities Commission is an opportunity to change the culture of an agency that has become too cozy with the utilities it is assigned to regulate.

This long overdue restoration of mission starts with Gov. Jerry Brown, who must appoint a successor to outgoing President Michael Peevey, who has been on the panel for 12 years. Peevey and Executive Director Paul Clanon designed the scheme of “voluntary compliance” — now there’s an oxymoron — that was overly deferential to utilities.

The 2010 San Bruno gas-pipeline explosion, which killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes, should have become a clarion call for a more assertive approach to enforcement generally and safety specifically. . . . . . . .

Yet the governor proved reluctant to replace Peevey, despite a succession of revelations that suggested an unduly chummy relationship with PG&E. . . . . . . .

Peevey is not the only commissioner whose back-channel dealings with PG&E have come under scrutiny. . . . . . . .

Enough is enough. As we have said before, Californians need to see all correspondence between PG&E and its state regulators.

Peevey deserves credit for his efforts in advancing renewable energy and his role in steering the state out of an energy crisis. But it’s time for a change in culture in an agency that has lost its way. And it starts at the top.


L.A. CITY HALL: City of Los Angeles, injury leave policy, editorial: "Would it hurt City Hall to look into rise in worker injury claims?" ....

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "Would it hurt City Hall to look into rise in worker injury claims?" - From the LAT:

The cost of paying salaries to Los Angeles civilian workers who are temporarily disabled because they have been hurt on the job has gone up 50% over five years, reaching $18 million last year. Employees are claiming more injuries and taking longer injury leaves. City officials don't know why the numbers are climbing so rapidly for office managers, custodians and other non-public-safety workers, but some suspect that L.A.'s generous paid leave policy has created a perverse incentive for employees to game the system. Because injury pay is tax-free, workers can actually earn more money on injury leave than they do on the job.

Some workers find the system downright lucrative. . . . . . . .

The increase in civilian injury leave was revealed last week in the second part of a Times investigation into rising workers' compensation costs among city employees. In September, The Times reported that. . . . . Plus, L.A. has a higher rate of employees filing for workers' compensation and pays a greater portion of its payroll for injured workers than do other big cities in California, according to City Controller Ron Galperin.

Yet six months after Galperin released his findings and three months after The Times' initial report, there has been almost no response from City Hall. The controller's audit was largely ignored. There have been no City Council motions or debates over why L.A. has so many workers filing injury claims or how many may be illegitimate. Mayor Eric Garcetti told employees who might be abusing the paid leave policy that they should “watch out,” but any changes would have to be made in the course of labor negotiations.

Los Angeles should protect its workers who are legitimately hurt on the job. But city leaders also have a responsibility to do away with the bizarre incentives created by its generous paid leave policy and to investigate whether fraud or other workplace issues are fueling the increase in claims and cost.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Washington, D.C.): Washington, D.C., reorganization of city legislature (D.C. Council): "D.C. Council reorganizes to address affordable housing and homeless problems" .... 

* Washington Post:  "D.C. council reorganizes to address affordable housing and homeless problems" - From the WP:

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson on Friday announced an overhaul of the city legislature designed to focus lawmakers on affordable housing and homeless issues next year, saying those two problems must be the council’s top priorities.

Mendelson (D) flexed his considerable power as chairman to create a new housing committee, and he split oversight of city homeless services into two others, including the committee he leads that dictates the council’s legislative agenda. “The jurisdiction is going to be shared,” he said. “By doing that, we are going to give it more attention.” In the process, Mendelson dismantled the economic development committee most recently led by Mayor-elect Muriel E. Bowser (D). Some advocates for the poor and the homeless had criticized it as too cozy with developers.

Mendelson said the council’s new organization was not a statement about past leadership but an acknowledgment that a booming economy had put new pressures on the city’s ability to maintain stocks of low-income housing and help prevent homelessness. “It’s looking at economic development differently than we have the last few years,” Mendelson said. “It’s more focused on housing.” Mendelson, however, said developers should not fret. “The economic development factions aren’t going to get lost here.”

Mendelson’s Committee of the Whole will maintain direct oversight of Bowser’s deputy mayor of economic development. The city’s Interagency Council on Homelessness will also have to report to Mendelson....................