The California Legislature is not in session.
California Governor Jerry Brown will announce his plans for California Public Employee Pension Reform today.
Gov. Jerry Brown will unveil a 12-point plan to overhaul the state public retirement system Thursday, proposing a payout for new state workers that combines elements of traditional guaranteed government pensions with a 401(k)-style savings plan, according to people who were briefed on his plan.
Brown will also raise the age at which state workers become eligible for their full pensions. Details of the governor’s plan were provided by numerous labor leaders, who received an outline of the proposal from the governor late Wednesday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because Brown asked them not to reveal details to the media.
Brown is expected to formally unveil his plan Thursday in Sacramento. His spokesman, Gil Duran, refused to confirm any specific provisions, saying: “The current system is not sustainable. I think the governor made that clear back in March,” when he released an outline of his suggested pension changes.
On to today’s headlines:
California Supreme Court rejects challenges to political districts
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously rejected two legal challenges to state Senate and congressional districts drawn by a citizens commission.
The new districts were drawn after voters approved initiatives to transfer authority for drawing the political boundaries from the Legislature to the commission. The transfer is intended to take politics out of the redistricting process and possibly produce candidates with more centrist views.
But Republican leaders balked at the district boundaries certified by the commission in August and filed suit. They asked the state’s high court to nullify the districts and draw new ones.
Some minority groups, particularly Latinos, also have complained that the new districts would dilute their clout in the voting booth.
Opponents of the commission’s work have been circulating petitions for a new ballot measure to repeal its districts.
Senate map fight boosted by $1 million donation to state GOP
A $1 million contribution from the owner of Mercury General Insurance Corp. to the California Republican Party this month has helped the GOP push a referendum challenge to the state’s newly drawn Senate districts.
But George Joseph did not earmark his million-dollar donation for any specific purpose, said Mark Standriff, state GOP spokesman.
“Obviously, our focus right now is the Senate map referendum, but we also have a number of other programs, including what is probably the most aggressive and comprehensive voter registration program in our history,” Standriff said.
Jeff Green, Mercury General spokesman, released a written statement Wednesday that said Joseph contributed the money “with no restrictions” on the Republican Party’s use of it.
“The redistricting referendum was part of the discussion, which included many topics, but it’s up to the party to decide how the money should be spent,” Green said.
Joseph’s contribution to the state GOP on Oct. 13 represents more than half of the $1.86 million in recent donations to the party’s coffers, from which $936,000 has been sent since late September to bolster the referendum effort, records show.
Other major contributors to the state Republican Party include AT&T, California Cable TeleComm Political Action Committee, and Doris Fisher, wife of the late Donald Fisher, who founded the GAP clothing chain. Each donated $50,000, according to documents filed Tuesday.
Reform could transfer hundreds of inmates out of isolation units
Hundreds of California prisoners locked in stark segregation units could be transferred to regular prison cells under new policies being developed by state corrections officials.
The transfers could include inmates who have been held for decades at Pelican Bay State Prison’s windowless Security Housing Unit, which was the center of two recent hunger strikes that drew participation from thousands of inmates.
Officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation are planning to review the files of every prisoner now housed in the state’s four Security Housing Units. They will retroactively apply new criteria determining who is placed in the facilities and for how long, according to an Oct. 13 memo signed by corrections Undersecretary Scott Kernan, who retired last week.
“Those who no longer meet the criteria would be released from the SHU (Security Housing Unit),” states the memo, which also was signed by representatives of four advocacy groups and distributed to inmates. Officials confirmed the document’s accuracy.
At issue is the system used by the department to identify, or validate, inmates as members or associates of one of seven prison gangs.
According to state law, an associate is an inmate who is “involved periodically or regularly” with members or associates of a gang. Formal identification of the inmate by the corrections department requires three independent pieces of evidence.
But advocacy groups say the evidence used by the department, such as tattoos or drawings, often is vague and inaccurate. What’s more, they say the process does not always identify men involved in violent or illegal acts.
Once validated, the inmate is locked in the special unit for an indeterminate term. Those inmates include so-called associates.
According to department data obtained by California Watch, 79 percent of the inmates being held in the special units are classified as prison gang associates rather than full-fledged members.
In an interview prior to his retirement, Kernan said a new policy was needed to move some of those inmates out of Security Housing Units to make room for other prisoners who pose a greater security threat.
No final show on KLOS for Jim Ladd
Ladd, let go Tuesday from his third stint at rock station KLOS (95.5 FM), tells the Register’s Gary Lycan that he was stunned to be told he was laid off. “My disappointment is I didn’t have a farewell show,” Ladd says. “I have been through this before, but it is always traumatic.” The last song he got to play after 14 years at this stay with KLOS was “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd.
Ladd is still associated by many radio listeners with KMET, L.A.’s legendary Mighty Met, where he began in 1974 and stayed through most of the ’80s. He hosted the nationally syndicated interview show “Innerview.” For many, Ladd’s role as cultural guide for music fans in the hours and days after the 1980 murder of John Lennon is still remembered. [Yes, upside down.]