Tone deaf

Nov 29, 2011

The regents of the University of California, not known for their political acumen, disregarded the protests of strapped students and approved salary increases of up to 21.9 percent for a dozen lawyers and university admninistrators -- and then asked the Legislature for a $400 million increase in state funding. 


From Bay Citizen's Jennifer Gollan: "Only a few students were permitted to attend the regents’ meeting after it reconvened. The restriction prompted an outcry from protesters."


"They don't support free speech," said Pablo Gaston, a graduate student at UC Berkeley. "They are clearly keeping us out."


"Before they left the small room, the regents voted unanimously to ask the state to increase the university’s funding for the 2012-13 fiscal year to $2.7 billion from $2.3 billion."


"The regents also approved salary raises for 10 administrators and managers, including a 9.9 percent increase for Meredith Michaels, vice chancellor of planning and budget at UC Irvine, whose annual salary will increase to $247,275 from $225,000."


Meanwhile the views of the Occupy movement protesters are resonating with the public: Most people in California share the views of the Occupy Wall Street movement, according to the latest Field Poll. The Press-Enteprise's Jim Miller tells the tale.


"Most California voters sympathize with the premise of Occupy Wall Street, according to a new survey, which highlights the ideological split about the protests that have sprung up from New York to Riverside to make a case for “the 99 percent.”


"Today’s nonpartisan Field Poll shows that 58 percent of people agree with the reason behind the movement. But only 46 percent of voters said they “personally identify” with Occupy Wall Street a lot or somewhat, the poll shows. Fifty-four percent of voters do not identify with the movement much or at all."


"The protests, now in their third month, center on complaints about income disparity between the country’s richest 1 percent and everyone else, and also condemn the financial in+dustry’s role in the economic downturn."


"Ideology plays a major part in how people feel about the Occupy movement, according to the survey. Sympathetic voters tend to be Democrats or independents; a third are Republicans. They mostly blame the financial industry and former President George W. Bush for the nation’s economic problems."



Jerry Brown, who has been silent about the pepper-spraying of UC Davis protestors, has asked the law enforcement group that sets standards for police practices to review guidelines for crowd-control policies. Brown made the request after returning from an out-of-state vacation.


From the Bee's Dan Smith: "In the wake of violence on UC campuses, Gov. Jerry Brown today asked a statewide law enforcement commission to review guidelines for crowd control and "without delay" make "whatever changes are necessary to ensure compliance with First and Fourth Amendment protections against excessive force."


"Brown said the commission should consider changes to its 2003 Crowd Management and Civil Disobedience Guidelines."


"I am seriously concerned that the rules governing the use of force, in particular the use of pepper spray, are not well understood in the context of civil disobedience and various forms of public protest," Brown wrote to Paul Cappitelli, director of the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. "The recent 'occupation' protests in cities throughout California and on campuses of the University of California underscore the urgency of articulating guidelines that are crystal clear and comport with constitutional requirements."


A political and legal battle sparked by an angry lawmaker who complained that his legislative office budget was being tightened in retaliation for certain votes he made is in court with a hearing scheduled Friday. Lawyers for the Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times are pushing the case against the Legislature's leadership.


From the Bee's Jim Sanders: "Hundreds of pages of documents have been filed in a case that could help define the limits of the 36-year-old Legislative Open Records Act."


"At the heart of the dispute are budgets for individual Assembly members, any changes made to them by Pérez, and monthly projections about whether lawmakers are exceeding those budgets."


"The lawsuit argues that voters have a fundamental right to monitor those matters, involving multimillions of dollars in public funds. The Assembly counters that such records are exempt from disclosure under the law because they are preliminary or planning documents subject to change."


"The Assembly says it releases other data adequate to monitor spending: staff rosters and an itemized list of expenditures after they occur. The lawsuit counters that the spending data – typically released 12 months after a legislative year ends – obscures how much money lawmakers truly spend to run their offices."


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