August 25, 2011 archive

California Bureau of State Audits Releases Report: Investigations of Improper Activities by State Agencies and Employees – July 2010 Through March 2011


Californians read this and weep.

Here is the entire report:

Here are some examples of abuse:

Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

The chief psychologist at a correctional facility operated by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections) used his state-compensated time and state equipment to perform work related to his private psychology practice, costing the State up to an estimated $212,261 in lost productivity over nearly five years.

California Energy Commission

An employee and a personnel specialist at the California Energy Commission falsified time and attendance records to enable theemployee—at the time of her retirement—to receive a payment for unused annual leave that was higher than the amount to which she was entitled, costing the State an estimated $6,589.

Department of Transportation

For nearly three years, a transportation planning supervisor for the Department of transportation neglected his duty to supervise the work of a subordinate transportation planner,resulting in the transportation planner receiving compensation,including overtime pay, for which the State lacked assurance that the transportation planner performed adequate work to justify the compensation.

Department of Fish and Game

A manager at the Department of Fish and Game improperlydirected an employee under his supervision to use a state vehicle forcommuting between her home and work locations at a cost to theState of $8,282 over a nine-month period. In addition, the employeeimproperly requested—and the manager improperly approved—reimbursement for $595 in lodging and meal expenses incurred bythe employee near her work headquarters

Department of Industrial Relations

An official and a supervisor at a district office of the Department of Industrial Relations failed to monitor adequately the time reporting of four subordinate employees from July 2007 through June 2009.

State Controller’s office

An employee with the State Controller’s Office failed to report an estimated 322 hours of absences over an 18-month period. Because her supervisor, a high-level official, failed to monitor adequately her time reporting, the State paid the employee $6,591 for hours she did not work.

Department of Mental Health

An official appointed to a post at the Department of Mental Health claimed he was conducting state business in 2009 when he hobnobbed with celebrities in Southern California, planned fundraising galas and attended events such as golf tournaments, the Golden Globe Awards, a celebrity’s funeral and a Julio Iglesias concert. Those activities, he said, allowed him to network with celebrities and enlist their support for Mental Health programs.

The auditor said the activities didn’t benefit the state, but it did cost at least $51,244 in salary for the wasted time. The official used a state car, but the bureau couldn’t figure out how much of the official’s travel wasn’t on state business, so it didn’t estimate that cost.

Good grief!


Flap’s California Morning Collection: August 25, 2011


The California Legislature remains in session for another two weeks and California Governor Jerry Brown will be holding a news conference about JOBS at 11 AM. Brown will be joined with legislative, business and, of course, labor leaders.

The California State Senate’s Schedule is here and the Assembly is here.

Each chamber is currently in a floor session and the Appropriations Committees are hard at work since all bills with a fiscal impact must be cleared and reported to the floor by Friday – which is tomorrow.

Here is a list of noteworthy bills:

California State Senate Appropriations Committee:

  • BANKRUPTCY: Assembly Bill 506 by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, a union-backed measure to make bankruptcy harder for local governments.
  • HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS: Assembly Bill 25 by Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, to require that high school athletes who suffer a concussion be removed from the game and be cleared by a medical professional before returning.
  • STATE PARKS: Assembly Bill 42 by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, to encourage cooperation with nonprofits to keep state parks open.
  • HEALTH INSURANCE RATES: Assembly Bill 52 by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, to give state regulators power to approve, deny or modify changes in health insurance rates. Gov. Jerry Brown’s finance officials came out against the bill last week.
  • DREAM ACT, PART 2: Assembly Bill 131 by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, to allow undocumented college students to apply for public financial aid. Brown, who is expected to sign it, said last week that he wants to first ” make some adjustments” to reduce costs.
  • SHARK FINS: Assembly Bill 376 by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, to ban possession, sale or distribution of shark fins. The proposal has split the Asian legislative caucus, with Sen. Leland Yee calling it an effort “to limit our heritage and our culture,” and Sen. Ted Lieu calling the proposal inconsistent. Fong’s retort: “I’m not attacking the culture. I’m attacking the finning.”

California Assembly Appropriations Committee:

  • EPILEPSY MEDICATION: Senate Bill 161, by Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, a union-opposed proposal to let school districts provide employees with voluntary training to administer emergency medication to epileptic students.
  • DEATH PENALTY: Senate Bill 490 by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, to let state voters decide whether to keep the death penalty.
  • VEHICLE FEES: Senate Bill 223 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, to let individual counties vote to raise vehicle fees so long as a majority of county voters sign off on the plan.
  • SEXTING: Senate Bill 919 by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, to add sending or receiving sexually explicit pictures or video electronically — in other words, “sexting” — to the list of infractions that school officials can cite to expel students.

Wow! Now on to some stories for this morning.

Gov. Jerry Brown to propose California corporate tax changes

Gov. Jerry Brown has a new tax proposal to sell the Legislature: raise levies on some large out-of-state corporations in exchange for new sales-tax exemptions for companies who make products and hire people in California.

Under a plan to be unveiled in Sacramento on Thursday, Brown will ask lawmakers to revert state sales tax formulas to the way they were computed before 2009. That would force many large companies that sell their goods in California, but do not employ many Californians, to pay more in sales taxes.

The request was part of Brown’s original budget plan that was rejected by lawmakers. What’s new is how Brown wants to spend the roughly $1 billion that the tax tweak would generate. Instead of using the money for general state spending, Brown wants to give new tax credits to companies that employ people in California.

Administration officials called the proposal a “revenue neutral” proposal that would allow the state to offer new tax breaks to smaller businesses, but would not directly help the state’s general fund. They say the proposal is aimed at rewarding companies that employ people in the state as California wrestles with a 12% unemployment rate.

Brown also wants to expand tax credits for new hires made by small companies in the state. The proposal would require some Republican support in the Legislature — something Brown has found elusive throughout his young governorship. A Brown spokesman Wednesday said the administration hoped this new proposal would fare better.

“At some point, Republican legislators are going to have to decide whether California jobs are more important than tax breaks for these corporations that send jobs out of state,” said Brown spokesman Gil Duran.

Brown is expected to be joined Thursday by representatives from Boeing, electric car maker Tesla and other companies that have manufacturing jobs in California.

Gov. Brown seeks to extend California energy surcharge

In a major effort to create more high-tech jobs, Gov. Jerry Brown is sponsoring legislation to extend a state program that collects about $400 million a year from utility customers and invests it in renewable energy and efficiency programs.

The surcharge, added to monthly electric bills since 1997, is set to expire at the end of the year, and the Legislature has only two weeks to reauthorize the levy.

But because the surcharge is a tax, the bill has to be passed by a two-thirds majority of the Legislature. That would require rare bipartisan approval, yet some Republicans have shown support for the idea.

A draft of the bill — which the Brown administration calls the Clean Energy, Jobs and Investment Act of 2011 — was presented at a private meeting late last week in the governor’s office with utility executives, legislative staffers, environmentalists and power plant developers, The Times has learned.

The measure is a “priority for Gov. Brown because of its proven job-creation potential and role in galvanizing California’s innovative clean-tech economy,” Nancy McFadden, Brown’s top legislative aide, said in an email.

The surcharge has created “tens of thousands of jobs, spawned entire new industries and attracted billions of dollars of venture capital to California,” she said.

The surcharge ranges from $1 to $2 a month for the typical residential bill, according to consumer advocacy group the Utility Reform Network.

The bill to reauthorize it has broad support from the renewable-energy industry, environmentalists and labor unions that would benefit from new construction jobs.

Proposed bill would prevent employers from pulling credit reports on job applicants

Three years ago, Teresa Telles of Oxnard was denied a job because of a bad credit report, a rejection that destroyed her aspirations for a career in probation. Today, Telles works as a job counselor, helping out-of-work clients find jobs.

From what she’s seen, she doesn’t believe a person’s credit report has anything to do with whether he or she would make a good employee. That’s a view shared by consumer advocates who are backing legislation to ban employer credit checks in California.

Credit checks have been used for decades in the financial industry to determine whether an individual qualifies for a loan. The practice of checking credit prior to employment has recently gained popularity.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 60 percent of employers today conduct credit checks on at least some job applicants. Under current law, employers must request permission for a credit check and notify the applicant if he or she is denied the job because of an adverse report.

Assembly Bill 22 would prevent employers from pulling credit reports of job applicants unless it is required by law, such as for jobs in banking or financial services, or the position is considered managerial.

“The claim that a good or bad credit history correlates into good or bad job performance is a fiction spun by the credit bureaus so they can sell credit reports,” said Joe Ridout, a spokesman for Consumer Action.

A single mother of two, Telles knows all too well what this means. Working odd jobs, she went back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree. She had to balance work with raising her kids and paying her bills. Given the circumstances, she said, she had little choice but to let her credit card go into default.

Telles, however, did not anticipate the repercussions. Wanting to pursue a career in probation, Telles applied for a job at Ventura County juvenile hall, where she would be working for the Boys and Girls Club as a youth counselor. Because she would be working at a county facility, the county requested a credit check, to which she agreed.

The county denied her application because of a delinquent credit card. Luckily for Telles, the club continued to employ her, but at a different location.

“I wanted to get into probation, but I couldn’t even go there — all because of my credit report,” Telles said.

Enjoy your morning – it will be a busy one at the Capitol.


Dilbert August 25, 2011 – Changes


Dilbert by Scott Adams

The reverse end around…..