Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daily California Watch 11

What? you thought it was over? As predicted the Counties are screaming. LATimes:
Less than 24 hours after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders announced a plan to close California's massive budget deficit, Los Angeles County officials moved to sue the state, a union for government workers said it might strike, and Republicans threatened to back out of the deal over a provision to cut the number of prison inmates by 27,000.
Shocked, shocked i tell you. And another budget buster CalPERS lost 23.4% last year. Expect another $25b contribution from taxpayers to retirees.

finally, a story about "spiking."


Unknown said...

"a union for government workers said it might strike"

Great! That'll save even MORE money. I wonder if they'll strike on their furlough days.

w said...

As for spiking...

It may be okay under the contract to spike your pay right before you retire to get a larger pension but it is clearly wrong to anyone with any morals. To do this when you are in a position of leadership makes it even worse.

Would this fire captain send his firefighters into a situation where they would likely die just because it is in their contract? No. But he would steal because nobody gets hurt directly.

I really hope this state goes BK so we can nullify some of these egregious pensions.

Peripheral Visionary said...

" . . . a union for government workers said it might strike . . . "

Insofar as this might be an opening to replace government employees with cheaper replacements, it might be more of an opportunity than a threat. In the past, the tightness of the job market made it difficult to replace striking workers; now, not so much. The bargaining power is definitely on the State's side at this point, and they should definitely take advantage of it (particularly as regards pensions.)

w said...

I saw on CNN yesterday where they were investigating how the federal government would rather rent a wheel chair from Apria for $1200 than to buy it from Apria for $349. The contract was not open to competative bidding.

w said...

Even better.

Fire Captain pete Nowiki has been hired back by the department to work as an outside contractor earning $14,000 a month while he receives his pension.

w said...

Even more!

Read this, from an interview Captain Nowiki did...

What do you see as the challenges the District now is facing and how
are you planning to address them?

First, we are in the process of getting our retirement funds out of
the County system, which is bleeding us dry, and putting them into the
State system. Every month our share of the County’s unfunded liability
increases by $50,000-$70,000.


Anonymous said...

Calpers should double down on junk bonds and small caps.

sm_landlord said...

Wow, 'ol Captain Nowiki has the district over a barrel and he's using the Telefunken U47 - with leather. What a Pro!

If the parole changes and prison releases get through, can we expect the superfluous prison guards and parole officers to get away with the same stunts? Or will the State prevent that by keeping them all on staff working reduced weeks? I'm sure that the remaining prisoners would love it if the guards didn't show up on alternate Fridays.

Here is a serious proposal: Defelonize a list of the less serious crimes and bring back county work camps. Then we can get rid of the highly-paid ditch diggers that always seem to form an audience while one of them at a time works on the roads. No reason prisoners can't do the same amount of work at far less cost, and it might prepare them for getting a real job when they get out.

Property Flopper said...

W - it only gets worse... I worked as a contractor for the Navy for several years. They like to use contractors rather than hire civilians as gov't employees. It costs more, but then they don't show up as "gov't workers". They can hide the true size of the gov't.

One guy I worked with had been a contractor there for 18 years.

wagga said...

Ethics Final, Essay Question:

Compare & contrast the contribution to the public good with specific regard to morality of the following persons of note from Orinda-Moraga and neighboring Danville: Fire Captain Nowicki and airline Captain Sullenburger.

Rob Dawg said...

Check out this kick the can move:

This particular hiccup was triggered by a proposal to pare down the state's bulging prison population by as many as 27,000 prisoners through actions that range from moving old and sick inmates out of prisons and into hospitals or care homes, to not sending parolees back to prison for low-level offenses.

Although Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders were on board with the plan, Republican leaders objected to voting on any budget-balancing plan that included what might be viewed as early release of criminals.

Assembly GOP leader Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo sent out an angry e-mail to his caucus Tuesday, accusing Democrats of double-crossing Republicans by trying to jam something into the budget-balancing plan that wasn't agreed to by GOP leaders in private negotiations.

Peripheral Visionary said...

Getting rid of contractors is the first and easiest move to balancing a government budget. They're often more expensive than government workers, and not as essential to operations (I should know--I've been both.) The full-time gov't employees will cry that they can't get anything done without the contractors around, but that's just to say that they'll have to start doing their jobs themselves.

And another easy move would be to bar former gov't workers from working as contractors for the same organization--the potential for corruption and waste is so high, I'm amazed that that was allowed in the first place.

Jean ValJean said...

Speaking of Spiking...

What the hell is going on with the Dow? Up 150 pts in the first hour??

Something smells funny, and this time it's not Casey's underwear.

Property Flopper said...

PV - You speak blasphamy!!!

If the gov't worker didn't have a contractor following them around and doing the work, how would anyone know they had status?

On a more serious note, not allowing people to return as contractors would be great from a financial perspective, but would cripple a lot of agencies as the only one who knows the info is often that person. It would require thought and planning (pass the knowledge BEFORE they leave) to fix - not things the gov't does well.

w said...

PF, that is so true.

My mom worked for the state. She paid bills and payroll for her agency. As mundane as it was she knew the vendors/contractors and how to make sure they could get paid properly through the bureacracy. She told her supervisor she was going to retire more than a year before she was leaving. They never trained anyone. Her supervisor stressed over it for ever and kept saying she did not know what they were going to do. When she left they had several people take over her work and start from scratch.

My Mom talked often about watching many of these people in her office waste time and act like they did not know how to do anything so they would not have to work. When she took leave and someone covered her work she would come back to piles of work that had not been done and get to do that while keeping up with the new work. Because there were deadlines to meet she aquired hundreds of hours of overtime she could only convert into time off. Fortunately, her supervisor would give her the max bonus allowable every year since she could never hope to use the accrued hours. Of course it was not that big, but it was a very nice gesture.

Peripheral Visionary said...

One reason that there is a lack of planning for replacing gov't workers is simply because the turnover is so low. There is a widespread perception that the current set of staff will always be there, so why bother cross-training? That's a function of complacency, but more than that it's a function of how difficult it is to get both hire and (especially) get rid of gov't workers--hence the very low turnover.

Mandatory cross-training on critical functions is an obvious solution; but giving agencies more flexibility to get rid of underperforming workers, and more flexibility in new hires would also help. The Federal new hire process is so glacially slow it's surreal--sure, it cuts a lot of cronyism and discrimination, but it just takes forever to get somebody new on board, which is why so many agencies love contractors--one stroke of the pen, and they're in.

Peripheral Visionary said...

Re: the markets, I think we're in the latter stages of the massive short squeeze that's been on since April. It's largely been orchestrated by the big players, with the victims being individual traders and hedge funds who were short. Unfortunately, I know some of those people, and I don't even want to think how much they've lost.

I left pretty much this same comment over at Zero Hedge, but regular traders really need to wake up and figure out what other traders are doing, and if everyone else is short, DON'T GO SHORT. When everybody is short, the big players can make easy money by bidding up the futures, making margin calls (to their own clients, *sigh*), and then profiting as markets explode upwards. If you're trading for your own account, try and figure out what everybody else is doing, and don't join the crowd.

Unfortunately, there are some diehards who keep adding to their short positions, and who keep getting burned, so we're not done yet. We won't see down days until we see serious capitulation by the shorts--but when the last of the shorts are out of the market, we'll see some real meltdowns when reality catches up. Traders beware, this is a very treacherous market.

Mr. Outspoken said...

This market is amazing for its lack of volatility. There was one short hiccup in June but other than that we've been swooping up non-stop since early March. On the way down there was choppy trade and big rises and even bigger falls. Now the switch is stuck in one position. I keep thinking it will end badly, but then it doesn't end.

Bob said...

Calpers decides to put it all on black.