The Sad State Of California – The Real Jerry Brown Stands Up!

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When it was confirmed that former 1970’s  California governor Jerry Brown had, as expected, won the election to serve in that capacity once again, many of us held out hope that this time, he would be older and wiser, and that he would take the fiscal crisis that bedevils this state seriously. Fixing the budget mess in Sacramento would go a long way to erasing his 1970’s reputation as Governor “Moonbeam”, which he earned for his pie-in-the-sky romanticism of loony ideas over practicality and realism. In other words,  did we elect a “new” Jerry Brown, or did we re-elect Governor Moonbean”?

A couple of weeks ago, we thought we had the answer to this question when Brown  signed into law legislation that demanded 33% of all power generated in California was to be renewable. Sounds great… Until you realize that currently we only get 11.6% of our energy from renewable sources, and that this new benchmark on energy can only be accomplished by both massive energy price increases by energy providers AND massive government subsidies to support this push for “clean-tech”, which, of course the cash strapped state of California just doesn’t have to finance this endeavor. Yet, against the reality that is the state debt, with massive teacher layoff in the immediate future, he’s even now pushing for 40%.

Moonbeam Returns!

But, it gets worse. Now we get news via the Sacramento Bee that Brown is restoring outrageous perks for the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, reversing the cost cutting measures negotiated by the previous administration. Many of the restored give-aways were originally provided by contracts signed by Governor Gray Davis in 2001. Here is a list of formerly axed items the prison guard union is getting back:

• Gone would be training to break the infamous “code of silence.” Back are provisions that have the effect of discouraging reporting of incidents and encouraging retaliation against whistle-blowers.

• The Davis provision allowing the union to fill 70 percent of all prison posts by seniority would return in full force. Management should be in charge of assigning all posts, not 30 percent.

• Gone would be reforms allowing management to investigate and take “corrective or disciplinary action” for sick leave abuses. Back are provisions allowing prison officers to collect overtime pay in a week in which they call in sick. Expect overtime costs of $500 million-plus.

• Because of new “days off” provisions, starting employees would have eight weeks of paid time off each year (more for senior employees). Most would not be able to use it all, but the contract would allow them to cash it out at retirement. Gone is the vacation cap – allowing no more than 80 days each year to carry over. No “use it or lose it” policy here.

• Each officer would be required to contribute one hour of vacation time a month, plus one hour each July 1, to a “time release bank” for union representatives to do union business on state time. Before 2001, the CCPOA could not “accumulate or use” more than 10,000 hours over five years. That cap would be gone, providing unlimited time – including new release time for 10 guards at each prison to attend the CCPOA annual convention.

• Any guard who gets an annual medical exam would be paid $130 every pay period. The contract is not clear whether that pay comes every 11 days or every 28 days. Either is outrageous. Before the Davis contract, officers had to pass fitness tests.

• Back in full force is the “entire agreement” clause allowing the union to challenge and interfere in virtually any change by prison management. That means Schwarzenegger-era changes go back to the table at CCPOA request.

• Prison guard salary increases would continue to be linked to the average compensation of sheriff’s deputies in Los Angeles County and police in Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland and San Francisco – ceding city and county governments control over state prison pay.

According to the Sac Bee article, in 2001, legislators were told that the estimated cost of the 2001-06 contract signed by Davis would be $567 million. It was $2.3 billion. Factoring in inflation, the cost is going to be even more now.

Did I forget to mention the California Correctional Peace Officers Association is a HUGE political campaign contributor to Democrats and to Brown… And Davis? And, like Davis, Brown also wants to raise taxes and fees on the citizens of California.

So, as it turns out, we didn’t elect Governor Moonbeam all over again. We may have, inadvertently, re-elected Gray Davis!

On the bright side, Schwarzenegger should be thanking his lucky stars. Just as Obama has unintentionally resurrected the reputation of his predecessor, George W Bush, Brown may end up doing the same for the currently not-so-highly regarded “RINO” Governator!

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PS. I’m not opposed to building more renewable energy production. But we should fix the budget mess first before adding this HUG expense.

4 Comments to “The Sad State Of California – The Real Jerry Brown Stands Up!”

  1. By Jeff Alberts, April 19, 2011 @ 1:06 am

    What was that about not blogging?

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