You have to live in Sacramento to appreciate this one: A task force set up last year by Mayor Kevin Johnson that developed a PR drive for financing a new basketball arena was subsidized in large part by one of the parties with whom the city would end up negotiating -- the Sacramento Kings. The state's political watchdog, by the way, is investigating.
From the Bee's Ryan Lillis: "That funding stemmed from an arrangement worked out by Johnson, and agreed to by the Kings, that stipulated that 10 percent of the millions of dollars in corporate sponsorships the mayor helped raise for the franchise last spring would be funneled into his Think Big committee."
"None of the donations – designated on official forms as being from the Kings to a foundation created by the mayor – were revealed until months after negotiations between the city and the Kings owners had collapsed. That is well beyond the state deadline for local officials to report such donations, according to newly released documents filed with the Sacramento city clerk. As a result, the state Fair Political Practices Commission is examining Johnson's network of nonprofits."
It may be fashionable to whack the Legislature as an ineffective body, but the session that just ended reflected some major accomplishments.
From the Ventura County-Star's Timm Herdt: "The Legislature's closing week was highlighted by three major accomplishments."
"(1) It delivered on an overhaul of public-employee pensions."
"(2) It revamped the $16 billion workers' compensation insurance program to squeeze out enough waste to provide a significant boost in benefits to injured workers, reduce premiums for "employers and, quite likely, avert a once-every-decade crisis of runaway costs."
"(3) It took the first step toward creating what could become the most important program to address looming poverty among the elderly since Social Security, perhaps helping to re-establish the California Legislature's historic role as a national leader in the development of visionary public policy."
Meanwhile, faculty members of the California State University have have approved a contract that will keep them from going out on strike in the fall.
From Kelly Puente in the L.A. Daily News: "The California Faculty Association, which represents more than 23,000 faculty members, coaches and counselors, began voting on a new four-year contract Aug. 13. The proposal was approved by 91 percent of the voting members, association officials said."
"As the final step, the CSU Board of Trustees must approve the contract during its two-day meeting at the Chancellor's Office in Long Beach on Sept. 18-19. John Swarbrick, CSU associate vice chancellor of labor relations, said trustees are expected to approve the agreement."
"The CSU system and its faculty were able to reach a tentative accord following two years of contract negotiations. The tension came to a head in May when union members voted to authorize rolling faculty strikes on all 23 campuses."
Speaking of life on campus, students who were zapped by pepper spray last November at a UC Davis demonstration have reached a settlement with the university. The UC Regents are expected consider the agreement at next week's meeting.
From the Bee's Sam Stanton and Denny Walsh: "Terms of the proposed settlement remain secret, pending approval by the regents in closed session at their Sept. 13 meeting in San Francisco and subsequent approval by a federal court in Sacramento."
"But the settlement, if approved, would mark the latest in a lengthy and costly series of expenses sparked by the Nov. 18 incident that has likely totaled over $1 million so far."
Speaking of UC, a proposal to halt state funding of UCLA's main graduate business program is running into a snag.
From the LAT's Larry Gordon: "UCLA's controversial plan to end state funding for the main MBA program at its management school and instead support it with tuition and donations has hit a significant roadblock that will at least delay the proposal."
"A powerful committee of the UC system's faculty senate recently voted to suspend its review of the Anderson School of Management's plan and raised questions about the proposal's budget, its effect on educational quality and affordability for students, and possible undue influence by donors. The panel also said that current UC rules for starting self-supporting programs would not allow such a change for a pre-existing, full-time master's degree in business administration."
"UC officials said it was unclear what the next step would be. Some said UC President Mark G. Yudof could in theory still approve the funding change but that he was unlikely to do so without faculty support."