Quick fixes

Apr 27, 2011

Gov. Jerry Brown, who's yanked cell phones and cars away from state employees, now is going after their travel plans. Shane Goldmacher in  the LAT has the story.


 "Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Tuesday forbidding all state employee travel that is not “mission critical” to the operation of California government."


“Our fiscal challenges demand that we take a much closer look at how taxpayer dollars are being spent within state government,” Brown said in a written statement accompanying the order. “Now is not the time to attend conferences, travel to meetings or take out-of-state field trips.”


"Travel within California deemed “mission critical” must now be approved by agency and department heads, the order states. Out-of-state trips must receive direct approval from the governor’s office."


State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, says if Republicans are so adamant in cutting government, let the cuts begin in the Republican lawmakers' districts. 


From Josh Richman in the Contra Costa Times: "Lockyer, visiting the Bay Area News Group-East Bay’s editorial board, said that when these lawmakers – many of whom already serve the state’s most recession-stricken areas – start hearing from their constituents about even deeper cutbacks in police and fire services, public schools and universities, social services and the like, they’ll soon think the better of stonewalling a public vote on Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to extend current tax rates for five more years."


"It’s a put-your-money – or lack thereof – where-your-mouth-is tactic."


"Short of even more painful cuts atop those already signed into law, Lockyer sees no end to the current deadlock, he said."


The fight over money related to PG&E's departing chief Peter Darbee went up a notch: The PUC ordered PG&E to return Darbee's pension money to the ratepayer fund. Paul Rogers and Steve Johnson at the Mercury News have the story.


"Amid a continuing public and political outcry, state regulators on Tuesday ordered PG&E to clearly show that ratepayers won't be on the hook for the nearly $10 million pension awarded to outgoing CEO Peter Darbee."


"One day after PG&E promised to fund Darbee's payout itself, the California Public Utilities Commission told the utility to set up a special account for the money by May 15 and warned the company it would audit PG&E "at any time in the future to ensure that this PG&E commitment is honored permanently," said Julie Fitch, director of the PUC's energy division, in a letter to the utility."


"The commission's aggressive stance follows widespread outrage over the retirement package for Darbee, announced last week, which includes $9.6 million in pension benefits that initially was to be funded by ratepayers along with $25.2 million in stock-based awards and other compensation. PG&E said it would comply with the commission's request."


"Vernon, the tiny industrial town with the lavish benefits for council members and city officials, is quite a haven for the in crowd. Hector Becerra and Sam Allen in the LA Times tell the tale."


"The role of the Vernon City Council has emerged as a significant issue in the effort of state legislators to dismantle the 100-year-old city. Critics cite the lifestyle the councilmen and other top officials enjoy as evidence that the city is a fiefdom run for the benefit of its ruling clique. A bill that would disincorporate Vernon was approved by an Assembly committee this month and is expected to go before the full Legislature this summer or fall.


And now, for a change of pace, a father finally makes good on his word. From Timm Herdt in the Ventura County Star News.


"Such wistful vows often have ways of never coming to pass. Typically, the harm is slight — a whimsy never pursued, a dream that was never nurtured to reach the point of true desire."


"But a father's promise to his son, that is something that ought not be idly offered. It can become embedded in a child's expectations, and the disappointment of a parent's promise unfulfilled can compound until it feels a lot like rejection."


"Games of catch never played, trips to Disneyland or Dodger Stadium never taken, campouts for which no tent is ever pitched — these are things that can fester and sting."


"Looking back, I think I probably meant well, years ago, when, to soften the sadness of a 12-year-old about to be uprooted from his Ventura home, I pointed out that our new home near Sacramento would be close to rivers ... and that, well, you know, maybe, we could together learn to fly fish."


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