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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

$10 million to UCLA Whistleblower

It's not every day that UC makes the front page of the LA Times.  But today's paper has news of a whistleblower settlement for $10 million (which is 1/15th of a Grand Hotel).  Don't know more than what the LA Times reports except that you don't shell out $10 million unless you fear you might lose in court and have to pay a hell of a lot more.  Note that the settlement was reached just before closing arguments in court.

Excerpt:
University of California regents agreed to pay $10 million to the former chairman of UCLA's orthopedic surgery department, who had alleged that the well-known medical school allowed doctors to take industry payments that may have compromised patient care. The settlement reached Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court came just before closing arguments were due to begin in a whistleblower-retaliation case brought by Dr. Robert Pedowitz, 54, a surgeon who was recruited to UCLA in 2009 to run the orthopedic surgery department.In 2012, the surgeon sued UCLA, the UC regents, fellow surgeons and senior university officials, alleging they failed to act on his complaints about widespread conflicts of interest and later retaliated against him for speaking up...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ucla-doctor-conflicts-20140423,0,3924175.story

Clearly, someone was afraid of the whistler:
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Party Registration As We Head Towards June Primary

We are heading towards the primary election and the Secretary of State has released registration data for gubernatorial election years that can be seen above.  The major trends have been the growth of "no-party" voters and the decline of the GOP.  Note that the primary will be held under the relatively new "top-2" rules.  Last time around, the Dems were better than the GOP in figuring out how the top-2 system worked, i.e., you can't just appeal to your party's base in competitive districts, which is why the Dems for a time won enough swing districts to attain a supermajority 2/3 in the legislature.  We'll see what learning has occurred this time around.

The primary date is June 3 which is before the legislature is likely to have adopted a new state budget.  Possibly, the results of the primary could influence that budget if some political trend is discernible.

A list of candidates for the various offices is at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/statewide-elections/2014-primary/certified-list-abbreviated.pdf

Collective Bargainng Settlement with Grad Student Workers Descrbed

From Inside Higher Ed:

In what advocates are calling an extremely significant development in the fight for gender-neutral restrooms on college campuses, graduate student workers across the University of California System say they’ve reached a tentative contract agreement on language that establishes access to such facilities as a “right.” The workers also reached a similar agreement on language regarding access to lactation stations...

Full story at: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/04/23/uc-grad-student-employees-bargain-right-gender-neutral-bathrooms-lactation-stations

Another Barrier to Affirmative Action

The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a Michigan ballot prop that banned affirmative action (AA) in university admissions obviously means that California's similar Prop 209 ban is not open to challenge at the Supreme Court.  Blog readers will know that legislative Dems had planned to put a prop on the ballot repealing 209.  But then two things happened.  1) They lost the 2/3 needed in the state senate to put a constitutional amendments on the ballot, thanks to the suspension of 3 senators.  And 2) Asian-background legislators dropped their support of the repeal prop when their constituents complained. 

Given the direction of the Supreme Court and the political developments at the state level, it appears that Prop 209 will remain in effect for the indefinite future.  The Daily Bruin quotes a lawyer for the BAM group - the one that yells at Napolitano at Regents meetings - as saying the decision will not stand.  See: http://dailybruin.com/2014/04/22/supreme-court-upholds-michigans-affirmative-action-ban/  What does that mean?  You can't appeal a Supreme Court decision.  But the lawyer's name is George Washington (I kid you not), so maybe he knows something.

Inside Higher Ed's coverage is at:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/04/22/supreme-court-upholds-right-state-voters-bar-consideration-race-admissions


Yet Another Night Closing of the 405 Near UCLA

The northbound San Diego (405) Freeway will be closed between the Santa Monica (10) Freeway and Santa Monica Boulevard for five hours early Thursday. The closure will begin at midnight and end at 5 a.m., according to Metro. Ramp closures will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The freeway closure is needed to facilitate installation of mainline traffic loops, according to Metro.

Source: http://santamonica.patch.com/groups/around-town/p/commuter-alert-405-to-close-at-midnight-thursday

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What Wasn't Said About Fossil Fuel Divestment

Venice Beach Back in the Day
Yesterday, KCRW's Which Way LA? aired a segment on the student campaign to divest from fossil fuel companies in its endowment and pension fund.  Pretty much, everyone said what you would expect.  It came down to students wanting to save the planet vs. a finance type who said that constraining investment choice could produce suboptimal returns.  What wasn't discussed was the politics of investing in someone's pet project or divesting from someone's disfavored project.  UC has sometimes gone in that direction so it is already on a slippery slope.  But the more it goes towards a social-political portfolio, the more it invites such departures from standard investing.  The pension plan in particular is underfunded and UC is trying to get the state to recognized its liability for the plan.  Regents are the trustees of the pension fund on behalf of retirees and future retirees.  Moves that invite thinking that the funding of the plan is someone's political toy are not helpful in persuading the state to take responsibility.  Moreover, exactly where the governor stands is unclear.  Brown is taking heat from environmentalists who think he is too friendly to fracking.  However, Brown sees that states with lots of fossil fuel production are benefiting from the revenues and economic stimulus that come, or could come from a production boom.  He is worried about future revenues for the state when Prop 30 expires.  He is looking for funding for his high-speed rail plan.  Remarkably, none of this was mentioned in the broadcast. 

You can find a link to the broadcast below.  Slide to around the 5 minute mark to hear the fossil fuel segment.

More Working Through the Demographics of UC Admissions Numbers

The news media are still picking through the recently released UC admissions data.  From the LA Times:

For the first time, the number of Latinos from California offered freshman admission to the University of California was larger than that for whites. Reflecting demographic trends, 28.8% of those admitted to at least one UC campus were Latino, compared with 26.8% white. At 36.2%, Asian Americans again made up the largest ethnic group among admitted students from California. Blacks from California were just 4.2%...

Full story at http://touch.latimes.com/#section/601/article/p2p-79972007/

And for those upset with diversity, multiculturalism, etc., we offer this ditty from the past:
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