Index
Wednesday
Jan302013

SACRAMENTO: Follow-up, AB 160, public transit workers exemption from pension reform legislation, editorial, "Governor needs to stand up for pension reform"....

***Following up on earlier item noted here....

* Sacramento Bee (editorial):  "Governor needs to stand up for pension reform" - From the Bee:

The ink is hardly dry on the historic pension reform bill the Legislature approved and Gov. Jerry Brown signed last year but already powerful forces are out to eviscerate it. Assembly Bill 160 by Watsonville Democrat Luis Alejo represents the latest and most serious assault.

Sponsored by a trio of transit unions, the bill would exempt an estimated 20,000 transit workers from the Public Employee Pension Reform Act. The hard-fought measure approved with so much fanfare just four months ago reduces pension benefits for newly hired government workers, raises retirement ages and bars pension spiking, among other things.

But transit union lobbyists claim that the act also reduces their members' collective bargaining rights, in violation of an obscure provision in federal labor law that applies uniquely to transit workers. Under that law, they say, public employers who reduce or diminish collective bargaining rights can be denied federal transit grants. Using that argument, the unions have already challenged federal funding for several state transit projects, including a $40 million grant that was in the pipeline to help finance Sacramento's light-rail extension to Elk Grove. Transit districts up and down the state are in turmoil. . . . . . . . .

Transit districts should not have to fight this battle alone. Brown needs to step up and defend his reform. . . . ..The Legislature also needs to show it was serious about pension reform by rejecting AB 160.

The scope of the state pension reform act is limited as it is. . . . . . . . .

If the governor fails to vigorously defend pension reform, and if the Legislature is bullied into passing AB 160, the entire pension reform effort begins to look like a fraud. Voters will be watching. Were state leaders really serious about pension reform or was it all just a ploy to get the electorate to approve tax increases?

Wednesday
Jan302013

SACRAMENTO: California prison overcrowding, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gives state six more months to cut inmate population, Brown administration pleased but still not satisfied with latest decision by 9th Circuit....

* Sacramento Bee:  "U.S. judges give California six more months to cut inmate population" - From the Bee:

Three weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state's prison overcrowding crisis over, a court of three federal judges said Tuesday that state officials can have six more months to reduce the inmate population to the previously ordered level. The judges noted that California officials have said they cannot meet the court's June 30 deadline for reducing its population to 137.5 percent of design capacity, but the officials believe they can hit that mark by Dec. 31.

"Accordingly, this court modifies the June 30, 2011, order by granting defendants a six-month extension in which to comply with its terms and provisions," said the order from 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt, U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton of Sacramento and U.S. District Judge Thelton E. Henderson of San Francisco.

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Corrections officials indicated they are pleased with Tuesday's order but are still not satisfied................

***ALSO:

* Los Angeles Times:  "Federal courts give California more time to ease prison crowding"

Wednesday
Jan302013

SACRAMENTO: Update, full-time salaried state workers holding more than one state job, Brown administration taking steps to curtail the controversial practice....

***Following up on earlier reports noted here....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Many state workers hold more than one job; Brown administration puts a brake on the practice" - From the Bee:

Nearly a dozen state departments have allowed hundreds of employees to hold more than one job, confirming CalPERS officials' claims that the practice is widespread, according to January state jobs data The Bee obtained.

As new details emerged, the Brown administration took steps to curtail the controversial and little-known practice that allows full-time state employees, including salaried managers, to moonlight for their departments.

All told, 571 nonunion employees held more than one position this month. Many are salaried managers and supervisors who are ineligible for overtime. Others, such as those working in the state's prison system, are nonunion employees whose primary job pays an hourly wage and overtime under certain conditions. The practice has drawn criticism from some labor experts who say it may run afoul of federal labor law and, at the very least, invites an end-run around the notion of paying fixed wages for salaried jobs...................

***ALSO, Updated:  January 30, 4:00 p.m.

* Sacramento Bee:  "Bill would end California state employees' moonlighting"

Wednesday
Jan302013

L.A. CITY HALL: Update, creation of new city Economic Development Department, replacement for the dissolved Community Redevelopment Agency....

***Following up on earlier item noted here....

* Daily News:  "L.A.'s new economic development agency moves ahead" - From the DN:

Looking to replace the dissolved Community Redevelopment Agency, a city panel Tuesday urged the creation of a new city department to work on economic development in Los Angeles.The proposed Economic Development Department would centralize a number of city functions and work with a new nonprofit corporation designed to oversee development."This is not designed to compete with existing agencies," City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said. "It is designed to get back to the original purpose of the CRA and to streamline the city processes."

The proposal is modeled after similar agencies across the country. The nonprofit to be created would oversee specific projects, including negotiating the individual developments and helping obtain the financing, officials said.

The council's ad hoc committee on economic development implementation reviewed the proposal Tuesday.

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If approved by the City Council, the new agency would receive $32.5 million. Unlike the CRA, it will not be able to keep any new property taxes generated within a project area.

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The next step is to have the City Attorney's Office draft the papers needed to create the agency as well as an agreement on the role of the new agency. Officials said they hope to have it in place this year.

Wednesday
Jan302013

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles World Airports, LAX, editorial, putting the brakes on public relations contracts....

***Following up on most recent earlier report noted here....

* Daily News (editorial):  "L.A. councilmembers flying right on plan to put the brakes on LAX PR contracts" - From the DN:

It's good to see that some members of the Los Angeles City Council want to take a closer look at $3.8 million in public relations contracts aimed at promoting the massive modernization project going on at LAX. An undertaking like this should be assigned to the airport's in-house communications staff and not to three outside firms that aren't even based in Los Angeles.

There's a good reason why concerns are being raised about outside public-relations firms representing Los Angeles International Airport. Just seven years ago, then-Mayor James Hahn issued an executive order barring city departments from hiring outside PR firms after private companies were accused of severely overbilling the city's Department of Water and Power - a self-sustaining, proprietary agency like LAX. Two PR executives were eventually convicted for defrauding city taxpayers. History should not be allowed to repeat itself.

Granted, LAX's revenue is primarily generated by the airlines, while the DWP's revenue comes from the city's utility ratepayers. But the nation's third-busiest airport belongs to the residents of Los Angeles, and spending an outrageous amount of money on three outside PR firms is simply unnecessary. LAX has legitimate communications needs, but this work can -- and should -- be done internally.

More than $1 million is already spent on LAX's internal PR and communications staff, according to a review of 2012 employee salaries posted on the city controller's website. Add in the proposed PR contracts, and that's about $5 million being spent this year to promote projects on an airport that's already thriving. If the airport's PR staff can't do the work, then maybe it's time to replace them with workers who can.

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The city's wounds are still fresh from getting burned by outside PR companies. Hahn's executive ban should remain in place, and the PR work should be completed internally by the airport's highly paid staff.