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Tuesday
Aug312010

$20 billion shortfall in UC retirement fund....

* "UC retirement funds face a shortfall of more than $20 billion, report says" -- Twenty years ago a decision was taken for the University of California and its employees to stop contributing to the UC retirement system because it was believed to be overfunded.  Los Angeles Times reports that the situation is far different today.... 

Although payments into the system were resumed this year, a new report, released yesterday, says the system is now looking at a shortfall of more than $20 billion and is proposing changes (likely to be controversial) that include increasing contributions by the university and its employees, raising the minimum retirement age for new hires and reducing some benefits.

Tuesday
Aug312010

"It's Witch-Hunt Season"

* "It's Witch-Hunt Season" -- Interesting op-ed by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on what he views as the right-wing "witch hunt" against Obama, similar, as Krugman sees it, to the attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 1990's.  Excerpt from the NYT:

   The last time a Democrat sat in the White House, he faced a nonstop witch hunt by his political opponents. Prominent figures on the right accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of everything from drug smuggling to murder. And once Republicans took control of Congress, they subjected the Clinton administration to unrelenting harassment — at one point taking 140 hours of sworn testimony over accusations that the White House had misused its Christmas card list.

   Now it’s happening again — except that this time it’s even worse.....

Tuesday
Aug312010

CalPERS: latest on bribery lawsuit vs. Villalobos.... 

* Sacramento Bee reports that, in closed-door testimony related to the civil lawsuit against Alfred Villalobos, long-time former CalPERS board member Charles Valdes opted repeatedly to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.  From the Bee:

   He refused to say whether he accepted any gifts while he served on the board of CalPERS. He wouldn't even say how long he held the post.  Questioned by a state lawyer, former board member Charles Valdes invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 126 times in closed-door testimony this month.

   He was represented by a noted white collar criminal lawyer, although no criminal charges have been filed to date in the growing influence peddling scandal at the nation's largest public pension fund.

   Already under an ethical cloud when he left the CalPERS board in January, Valdes, a 70-year-old retired Caltrans lawyer, has emerged as a significant player in the bribery drama.

**Bee report says that Valdes was deposed earlier this month at the attorney general's offices in Sacramento and that a transcript of the testimony was released yesterday by state lawyers.

 

Tuesday
Aug312010

Willie Brown, on the continuing star power of Sarah Palin and the anti-incumbent mood within the electorate....

* Willie Brown says he was wrong in saying a few months back that Sarah Palin would disappear from the political radar screen, and he also opines that the anti-incumbent anger across the country is a lot stronger than he had calculated.  The former Assembly Speaker/former San Francisco mayor writes in his SF Chronicle column: 

   I was wrong. A few months back, I said Sarah Palin was over. Instead, she went underground, and now Sista Sarah has re-emerged bigger than ever. She may not be at the top of the class on foreign policy, but she clearly knows the Republicans of Kentucky, Connecticut and Nevada. The proof is in the showings of U.S. Senate candidates she endorsed in the primaries this past week, including Tea Party underdog Joe Miller in her home state of Alaska, who is leading the GOP incumbent with absentees still to be counted.

  In the process, Palin has positioned herself as a leader for her party's presidential nomination in 2012. The simple fact is, there is no other Republican on the national stage to match her star power or her ability to connect with the Tea Partiers who are calling the dance steps for the GOP.

   Palin's resurgence also shows that the anti-incumbent anger is running a lot deeper than old pros like me figured.

   How did she do it? By staying away from Oprah, by staying off "Saturday Night Live" and by going underground to the inland states where the national TV networks and we pundits rarely venture, except during presidential election years.

Monday
Aug302010

Don't use the "D-word".....

* "Don't use the 'D' word to describe Tuesday vote" - And if you (and others such as myself) did not immediately know what this was all about, the issue is that Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg apparently does not want the media to describe tomorrow's legislative floor session on the competing budget plans as a drill, with the alternative for this being the "D-word."  From the Sacramento Bee:

   Don't call Tuesday's budget exercise a drill. So says Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who was so afraid of that characterization that he referred Monday to the criticism as "the D-word." "We should not end this formal legislative session without having a full floor debate and votes on our respective visions of California," Steinberg said. "I know the 'D-word' gets used all the time, and I reject that."

   Plenty of people have been scratching their heads about why legislative leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to hold floor votes tomorrow on competing budget plans. After all, neither Republicans nor Democrats have the requisite votes to pass their plans off the floor, and two Democratic members who have health issues will remain at home. But, stuck at an impasse, the "Big Five" leaders feel that a floor vote may be just the thing to get their compromise juices flowing. "I think it could be cathartic," Steinberg said.