Pages

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Full Disclosure at AEA Begins Tomorrow

Although we have previously noted that the American Economic Association has implemented a conflict of interest policy for the various journals it publishes, tomorrow (July 1) is the date the policy goes into effect.  A summary of the requirements for authors submitting to the journals is below:

(1) Every submitted article should state the sources of financial support for the particular research it describes. If none, that fact should be stated.

(2) Each author of a submitted article should identify each interested party from whom he or she has received significant financial support, summing to at least $10,000 in the past three years, in the form of consultant fees, retainers, grants and the like. The disclosure requirement also includes in-kind support, such as providing access to data. If the support in question comes with a non-disclosure obligation, that fact should be stated, along with as much information as the obligation permits. If there are no such sources of funds, that fact should be stated explicitly.  An “interested” party is any individual, group, or organization that has a financial, ideological, or political stake related to the article.

(3) Each author should disclose any paid or unpaid positions as officer, director, or board member of relevant non-profit organizations or profit-making entities. A “relevant” organization is one whose policy positions, goals, or financial interests relate to the article.

(4) The disclosures required above apply to any close relative or partner of any author.

(5) Each author must disclose if another party had the right to review the paper prior to its circulation.

(6) For published articles, information on relevant potential conflicts of interest will be made available to the public.

Full instructions for submissions is at http://www.aeaweb.org/aea_journals/AEA_Disclosure_Policy.pdf.

These requirements seem to have been adopted in the wake of the Great Recession and concerns that some academic economists were not revealing potential conflicts of interest when publishing policy-related research. It will be interesting to see if such requirements spread to other areas, particularly in the social sciences.

If you know in your heart you have nothing to hide, why not disclose?
video

Do We Really Want to Roll Straight Ahead on the Hotel Project?

UCLA seems to be rolling along on its hotel-conference center project without looking to the right or left.  That approach can get the university into trouble.

Yours truly received two items from a neighbor group that has been raising concerns about the project.  Below you will find links to two documents that were submitted in connection with the recent environmental hearing on the hotel that UCLA was required to hold.  One document is essentially a cover letter from a law firm summarizing points made in the longer written submission of the group.

The objections range from procedural - it appears that UCLA forgot to comply with certain notice requirements of the hearing - to environmental (including traffic-related) - to tax. The documents set the stage for a lawsuit which could be costly.  Tax issues are particularly salient here because the hotel cannot take commercial business and yet has to fill 250 rooms.  The thing about tax issues is that the IRS ends up doing the litigation, once it is alerted to a potential violation.  And local hotel owners - who have been protesting the project as tax-subsidized competition - have every incentive to notify the IRS of any fishy uses of the hotel.  It is essentially costless and in their interest to do so.

UCLA seems to have been rather loose in the way it has been allowing what appears to be questionable use of other enterprise-type facilities the campus operates.  Once an IRS audit of the hotel is set in motion, the audit could spread to the other facilities and even to other UC campuses.

As we have endlessly pointed out on this blog, the project has an internal contradiction. It cannot keep its 250 rooms filled without commercial business and it will lose money if it doesn't keep the rooms filled.  If it loses money, one way or another the rest of the campus will pay.  There is already some built-in cost shifting of the project to the campus, e.g., the cost of the rebuilding of the bus turnaround in front of the hotel is not being charged to the hotel project and there appears to be some shortchanging of the parking service for the destruction of structure 6. All of these problems, as we have also endlessly pointed out, could be avoided by scaling back the project and considering some more modest - and more functional - alternatives.  The end result of such a reconsideration and re-scaling could be a project that would be more in keeping with the ostensible purpose of the project and the intent of the donor, i.e., facilitating academic conferences and the dissemination of university-generated knowledge.  To get to that goal, however, the university powers-that-be need to halt the forward momentum, sit down with the various groups in the community, and work out an acceptable deal.

Even the Regents have pointed out the flaws in the project as it is currently proposed.  We don't know yet whether UCLA plans to retry to get permission from the Regents at the upcoming July meeting.  A better approach would be to hit the pause button and rethink.

Links to the items received are below:




Friday, June 29, 2012

Yudof on Tuition Freeze: We will find a way


Statement on UC funding in budget legislation signed by Gov. Brown
by Mark G. Yudof on Thursday, June 28, 2012

The budget legislation signed by the Governor is a significant step toward bringing stability to public higher education funding in California. Based on the incentives in this budget package, I intend to recommend to the Board of Regents that our current tuition levels remain in place for the upcoming year. As always, it is up to the regents to decide the matter.

We would have preferred that state funds for a tuition buy-out begin with the coming budget year of 2012-13 rather than the following year. We will have to institute some extraordinary, one-time-only measures to balance our budget without a fee increase in the bridging year. Nonetheless, we are determined to find a way to get it done. All of this, of course, is contingent on the passage of the Governor’s temporary tax revenue measure this fall.

Gov. Brown and the legislature deserve credit for protecting the UC base budget, given the extreme challenges they faced in this difficult fiscal year. UC students, faculty, staff, alumni and regents played a critical role in persuading the state’s political leadership that funding public higher education is the best investment the state can make in its future. They demonstrated once again what can be achieved when all of us work together, including our many California State University and California Community College colleagues who, along with CSU and CCC students, joined with UC to protect the funding for the Cal Grants program. Funding this key source of student financial support will help keep our doors wide open to all deserving applicants, regardless of their family income.

The final 2012-13 state general fund budget of $2.37 billion represents a 4.2 percent increase over 2011-12. It is also worth noting that the budget includes $90 million to resume state contributions to the UC retirement plan for the first time in more than 20 years. Two years ago, the University put into place aggressive measures for the plan to reach fiscal sustainability, and this state contribution will help make that happen.


Find a way?  You can do it, Mark!

DC Hearing on the Role of Research Universities


The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education held a hearing on Wednesday June 27, 2012 on The Role of Research Universities in Securing America's Future Prosperity: Challenges and ExpectationsWitnesses included: Mr. Charles O. Holliday, Jr., Chair, Committee on Research Universities, National Academies; Dr. John M. Mason, Jr., Associate Provost and Vice President for Research, Auburn University; Dr. Jeffrey R. Seemann, Vice President for Research, Texas A&M University and Chief Research Officer, The Texas A&M University System; Dr. Leslie P. Tolbert, Senior Vice President for Research, The University of Arizona; and, Dr. James N. Siedow, Vice Provost for Research, Duke University.
        
Subcommittee Chair Mo Brooks (AL) opened the hearing saying it would focus on the "challenges faced by the Nation's research universities as well as the findings and recommendations from the June 14 report issued by the National Academies, Research Universities and the Future of America." Mr. Holliday testified about the report, officially titled Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation's Prosperity and Security. He outlined the "especially important" challenges identified in the report:

        -Federal funding for university research has been unstable and, in real terms, declining at a time when other countries have increased funding for research and development (R&D).
        -State funding for higher education, already eroding in real terms for more than two decades, has been cut further during the recent recession.
        -Business and industry have largely dismantled the large corporate research laboratories that drove American industrial leadership in the 20th century (for example, Bell Labs), but have not yet fully partnered with research universities to fill the gap.
        -Research universities must improve management, productivity, and cost efficiency in both administration and academics.
        -Young faculty have insufficient opportunities to launch academic careers and research programs.
        -There has been an underinvestment in campus infrastructure, particularly in cyberinfrastructure, that could lead to long-term increases in productivity, cost effectiveness, and innovation in research, education, and administration.
        -Research sponsors often do not pay the full cost of research they procure, which means that universities have to cross-subsidize sponsored research from other sources, such as tuition or clinical revenues.
        -A burdensome accumulation of federal and state regulatory and reporting requirements increases costs and sometimes challenges academic freedom and integrity.
        -Doctoral and postdoctoral preparation could be enhanced by shortening time-to-degree, raising completion rates, and enhancing programs' effectiveness in providing training for highly productive careers.
        -Demographic change in the U.S. population necessitates strategies for increasing the educational success of female and underrepresented minority students.
        -Institutions abroad are increasingly competing for international students, researchers, and scholars, as other nations increase their investment in their own institutions.
        
Mr. Holliday further outlined the report's ten recommendations for improvement, which would address three main goals: (I) strengthen the partnership among universities, federal and state governments, philanthropy, and business in order to revitalize university research and speed its translation into innovative products and services; (ii) improve the productivity of administrative operations, research, and education within universities; and (iii) ensure that America's pipeline of future talent in science, engineering, and other research areas remains creative and vital, leveraging the abilities of all of its citizens and attracting the best students and scholars from around the world.

Dr. Mason testified about the connection between research and quality education, saying, "when research is reduced, instruction and learning at all levels are diminished, especially in those disciplines where much of our innovation originates - those in science, technology, mathematics and engineering." Further "as research declines, bright kids do not select these tougher academic disciplines" resulting in the "U.S. industry and government" having "fewer skilled employees for the advanced positions that move our economy." Dr. Mason also offered comments on the report's recommendations, including cautionary testimony that research and academic programs, when cut, are rarely reinstated.

Dr. Siedow offered his critique of the recommendations of the report after expressing his organization's strong support for the three overarching goals of those recommendations. One involved the recommendation regarding setting and implementing a nationwide commitment to government-funded research and development at 3 percent of gross domestic product. Dr. Siedow said the call for immediate implementation was "unrealistic" in the short term, but commended "the principle of achieving an agreed upon level of national support for R&D."

Drs. Tolbert and Seemann also offered unique perspectives on the report through the lenses of their respective institutions as well as critiques of the report's recommendations.



The message can be summarized:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The New State Budget While in Transit

Yours truly is currently in transit (traveling) through July 5 – hence, the transit picture at right.  Thus, I can only give the newly-signed state budget cursory attention.  As far as UC is concerned, however, there is no new news relative to prior posts on this blog.  If voters don’t pass the governor’s tax initiative in November, there will be trigger cuts with UC losing $250 million.  As noted in prior posts, UC tuition is frozen for the time being thanks to an added $125 million from the legislature.

Below is a table from the official budget documentation.  In the current fiscal year just ending, there was a negative reserve in the general fund of -$2.7 billion at the beginning of the year.  The state ran a slight deficit in 2011-12 making the reserve a bit more negative at the end of the year (June 30, 3012) to the tune of -$2.9 billion.  Next year, with the help of the voters, the projection is that revenues will be $95.9 billion and expenditures will be $91.3 billion, so the state will be running a surplus of +$4.5 billion (with rounding).  The surplus will replenish the reserve and raise it from its current negative condition to +$1.7 billion by June 30, 2013. 

The tax initiative is estimated by the governor to produce $5.6 billion an added level of revenue from income and sales taxes.    If the initiative fails, there will be trigger cuts of $6 billion.  Not clear why the trigger and initiative amounts don’t match.  But in fact there are varying estimates of what the taxes would bring in.  And all the numbers are forecasts based on assumptions that may or may not materialize.

$ Millions                2011-12      2012-13

Reserve at start of year  -$2,685      -$2,882
Revenue & Transfers*     +$86,830     +$95,887
Expenditures             -$87,027     -$91,338
Surplus or Deficit**        -$197      +$4,549
Reserve at end of year    -$2,882      +$1,667

*The word “transfers” is part of the reason budgetology in Sacramento is a fuzzy art.  Money that slides in and out of the general fund really is not the same as what you think of as revenue.

**We use common English here.  Surplus = inflow > outflow.  Deficit is the opposite.  Sacramento-speak is fuzzier when it comes to use of the terms surplus and deficit.


Source: http://www.dof.ca.gov/documents/FullBudgetSummary_web.pdf.

Note: Initial reports indicated a line item veto of certain funds going to Cal Grants at private, for-profit colleges. However, the LA Times has a vague statement about cuts of financial aid at public universities. Clarification is needed.

See http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-state-budget-20120629,0,2122412.story. "Financial aid will also be reduced for some students using Cal Grants at public colleges."

Note: The source document above says that various legislative earmarks for UC have been lifted to give UC more flexibility.  This was part of the governor's original proposal but some documents as the legislature was revising the budget seemed to indicate that such flexibility had been removed.  Some further investigation as to what finally happened will be needed.

UC Tuition Freeze (for Now)

University of California students had cause Wednesday for some celebration: UC administrators said they would not seek an immediate tuition hike as a result of the state budget deal reached in Sacramento....

Full story at:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0628-uc-tuition-20120628,0,1350860.story

Actually, the UC-Davis pepper spray affair is not quite over

You may have seen headlines indicating that UC-Davis has been ordered to release the names of the university police involved in the pepper spray incident.  Some names have been released in earlier reports.  But the new court order refers to names that were redacted from official documents.

In fact, the judge involved gave the union representing the police officers who want their identities kept private a chance to appeal.

For details, see http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/26/4590884/judge-release-names-tied-to-uc.html

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Love Birds at U-VA

Those who have been following the University of Virginia drama of the firing and unfiring of the university's president by the Board of Visitors (equivalent of the Regents) may be surprised by one aspect of the outcome.

The unfired president and the head of the Board who led the charge in the firing are now - in public at least - acting like love birds.

Exactly how happy the ending of this story really is will undoubtedly emerge once the media attention dies down.

Inside Higher Ed has a detailed story today at:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/06/27/uva-board-reinstates-president-sullivan-and-prepares-strategic-planning-effort

I guess all you need...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When It Comes to November Ballot Initiatives, the More the Merrier

Yet another initiative has qualified for the crowded November ballot.  This one is a do-good budget reform with various features including a move to two-year budgets rather than one-year.  California had two-year budgets back in Great Depression times.  No miracles resulted from budgets based on the Earth cycling around the Sun twice rather than once back then.  It is odd to think that such miracles will occur now.  Budgets are based on forecasts of revenues and to some extent on spending. When the January budget proposal is made, the governor forecasts a period ranging from 6 to 18 months ahead.  With two-year budgeting, the range is extended by 12 months to a period ending 30 months in the future.  Forecasting is difficult even over the current 6-18 months.  Reformers argue, however, that two-year budgeting will focus attention on the long-term.  As you can tell from the above text, yours truly is not convinced. On the other hand, the I am unconvinced by the folk wisdom that a crowded ballot by itself will induce voters to vote "no" on everything including the governor's tax initiative. However, the fact that there are now three tax initiatives plus this budget-related initiative could be confusing.

Below is the summary from the Secretary of State:

State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
Summary Date: 12/29/11 | Qualified: 06/26/12 | Signatures Required: 807,615
Proponent: Sunne Wright McPeak c/o Robin B. Johansen and James C. Harrison (510) 346-6200
Establishes two-year state budget cycle. Prohibits Legislature from creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified. Permits Governor to cut budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if Legislature fails to act. Requires performance reviews of all state programs. Requires performance goals in state and local budgets. Requires publication of all bills at least three days prior to legislative vote. Gives counties power to alter state statutes or regulations related to spending unless Legislature or state agency vetoes changes within 60 days. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Decreased state revenues and commensurate increased local revenues, probably in the range of about $200 million annually, beginning in 2013-14. Potential decreased state program costs or increased state revenues resulting from changes in the fiscal authority of the Legislature and Governor. Increased state and local costs of tens of millions of dollars annually to implement new budgeting practices. Over time, these costs would moderate and potentially be offset by savings from improved program efficiencies.

You will be reading/hearing/seeing more about this initiative and all the others as November approaches.  All the initiatives that have qualified so far are at:

[The water bond proposition currently listed is likely to be moved by the legislature to a later date.]


Playing Catch-Up on the State Budget

As prior posts on this blog have noted, there are all kinds of last-minute developments going on regarding the state budget that affect UC including a tuition freeze in exchange for more funding - conditioned on voter approval in November of the governor's tax initiative.

While these developments were occurring, nothing seemed to be emanating from UCOP concerning what these changes in the budget might mean, what view UCOP had of them, etc.  As of this writing, there is still nothing on the UCOP website about the budget changes. However, a letter from President Yudof to the Regents began circulating today.  The letter refers to an "understanding" between the governor and legislature but not to any agreement with UC.  It appears that UC is playing catch-up in trying to keep up with developments and doesn't seem to be influencing them.

In any event, you can read the letter at the link below:




Unfired at University of Virginia

According to Inside Higher Ed, the U of Virginia Board of Visitors has unfired that university's president.  Presumably, however, the controversy as to what happened in both the firing and the unfiring will echo for some time.

The news item is at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/06/26/uva-board-reinstates-sullivan-president

3rd Posting on Budget Deal With Tuition Freeze; The Aftershock

This is our third posting on the budget deal now moving through the legislature that contains extra money for UC and CSU conditioned on a tuition freeze - all of which is conditioned on voters approving the governor's November tax initiative.

Concerns are being expressed by both higher ed systems about the proposed budget.  CSU has already enacted a tuition increase which it would have to undo.  UC has not made a tuition decision but doesn't like its hands tied in principle.  In theory, both systems set tuition independently of the legislature with UC having constitutional authority.  On the other hand, the legislature is not literally setting tuition but is trying to make an offer the systems can't refuse.

From the LA Times this morning:

Lawmakers and the governor have no authority over tuition. The deal represents a bold attempt to use the state budget in their ongoing effort to force the University of California and California State University systems to keep the price of higher education in check... The Cal State Board of Trustees has raised tuition 9.1% for the fall. Officials said that rescinding the increase may not be feasible. "We haven't actually seen the final budget language, but if it's as described, we're being asked to do the impossible here," said Cal State spokeswoman Claudia Keith. "We passed a tuition increase that goes into effect this fall. We've already collected that money from our continuing students."

University of California officials, too, raised concerns. UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the system may not be able to afford to hold off on a tuition increase on the promise that it would get money in the future. The UC Board of Regents had discussed the possibility of avoiding a 6% tuition increase if an additional $125 million were available in the budget year that starts Monday. But because the money would not be available until the next budget year, "there's still a hole that we have to fill," Klein said...


Full story at http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-state-budget-20120626,0,1925801.story

It seems unlikely, despite the concerns, that we are going to refuse to go along:

Monday, June 25, 2012

UCLA History: Watergate

H.R. Haldeman, future Watergate conspirator, and - in this 1964 photo - future UCLA Alumni Association President, holds a check related to fundraising for Pauley Pavillion. The semi-official recent coffee table book history of UCLA - "UCLA: The First Century" - has very little else about Haldeman and nothing about John Erlichman, another Watergate conspirator and alum. Indeed, UCLA seems to have been a farm team for Watergate's major league in a less boosterish article that was highlighted in LAObserved today:

See the article at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk//commentisfree/2012/jun/17/richard-nixon-watergate-conspirators-40-anniversary.  [Title: "How a dead dog came back to bite Richard Nixon's Watergate conspirators: Nixon operatives Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman pioneered their dirty tricks on the UCLA campus – baiting reds like me."  The article is by a former managing editor of the Daily Bruin and gives a rather different view of UCLA student life in the 1950s than found in the semi-official history.]

Update: UC Tuition Freeze & Other Budget Items Confirmed

Earlier today, we posted an unconfirmed item saying the budget now going through the legislature contains some added funding for UC in exchange for a tuition freeze.  That item has now been confirmed (and it is, as reported, contingent on voter approval of the governor's tax initiative in November).  So have other elements reported in earlier posts such as added and earmarked funding for the pension (but with no acknowledgment of state liability for the pension).  And the legislature has declined to go along with the governor's voiding of legislative earmarks for UC and some kind of long-term funding deal (which UCOP has been discussing with the governor).  See below:


2012-13 Floor Report June 27, 2012:ASSEMBLY BUDGET COMMITTEE (pp. 22-23)

University of California

Student Fee Buyout. Appropriates $125 million in General Fund support to the University of California to buyout student fees for fiscal year 2013-14. Funding is contingent on the passage of the Governor's tax initiative and on the UC's Board of Regents to maintain student fees at the current fee levels, preventing a potential fee increase in 2012-13 academic year.

Elimination of Programs Earmarked in UC's Base Budget. Denies the Governor's January proposal to eliminate state prioritized programs and reinstates budget bill language with current year funding levels.

Elimination of Enrollment Targets. Denies the Governor's January proposal to eliminate the budget bill language that sets the university's enrollment target for the budget year.

Long-Term Funding Flexibility Proposals. Denies the Governor's January proposals to provide the university with extensive flexibility to: 1) create a new "Funding Agreement," and, 2) change the General Obligation bond payment and Lease Revenue Bond structure that would have made the budget year the last year in which the university received funding adjustments. Approve budget bill language expressing intent to approve future adjustments.

Funding Augmentation for the University's Retirement Plan. Approves $89.1 million in General Fund support to the university and budget bill language specifically to earmark contributions to the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP) for state General Fund and tuition-funded employees, with the recognition that this funding does not constitute a state obligation to providing funding in future years and that any future funding, if any, will be determined by the Legislature.

Trigger Reductions. Approves the Governor's May Revise proposal to increase the University of California's trigger reduction to $250 million, in the event that the November tax initiative fails passage by voters.

Hastings College of the Law [which reports to the Regents and so gets a repeat of the UC language]

Long-Term Funding Flexibility Proposals. Denies the Governor's January proposals to provide the university with extensive flexibility to: 1) create a new "Funding Agreement," and, 2) change the General Obligation bond payment structure, that would have made the budget year the last year in which the university received funding adjustments. Approve budget bill language expressing intent to approve future adjustments.

Funding Augmentation for the University's Retirement Plan. Approves $865,000 in General Fund support to the university and budget bill language specifically to earmark contributions to the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP) for state General Fund and tuition-funded employees, with the recognition that this funding does not constitute a state obligation to providing funding in future years and that any future funding, if any, will be determined by the Legislature.

Anyway, that's the deal.  Believe it!

UC Tuition Freeze?

There is a report – so far unconfirmed – that the state budget that is yet to be fully enacted will contain some extra money for UC and CSU in exchange for a tuition freeze for this year.  All of this – if confirmed – is conditioned on voters passing the governor’s tax initiative in November which is not a sure thing.  The report comes from a student group, not UCOP.  (Yours truly found nothing on the UCOP website as of 8 AM this morning about this matter.)


A freeze in June? Of course, it will be colder in November:

Yes, Virginia. There is a controversy – and apparently a showdown tomorrow.

Inside Higher Ed carries two items on the ongoing controversy set in motion by the firing of the president of the University of Virginia by its Board of Visitors (the U-VA's equivalent of the Regents).  One item suggests that a high-up underling – the chief financial officer of the university – was in cahoots with those members of the Board who carried out the firing.  See http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/06/25/questions-about-uvas-coo-strine-show-complicated-loyalties-administrators.

The Board is due to meet tomorrow – possibly to undo what it did.  However, now it faces a missive from the state’s governor that says:

“Let me be absolutely clear: I want final action by the board on Tuesday. If you fail to do so, I will ask for the resignation of the entire board on Wednesday. Regardless of your decision, I expect you to make a clear, detailed and unified statement on the future leadership of the university.”


Earlier posts on this blog note that the firing seemed to have something to do with online education and such and a perception the president was not implementing innovations fast enough.


A further update appearing on the morning of the vote is at:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/06/26/board-vote-today-puts-uva-center-debate-about-public-university-governance

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Are We There Yet?

It might seem puzzling but we actually don't quite have a state budget.  Yes, the legislature kind of enacted one on June 15. And, yes, the governor and legislative leaders announced a conceptual deal a few days thereafter.  But in fact not all of the details have been worked out as the link below, if you want the full story, describes:
http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/06/democrats-offer-30-million-to-local-health-plans.html

Of course, the biggest element of uncertainty from the UC perspective is whether voters will pass the governor's tax initiative in November, thereby averting trigger cuts to the university.

The question does remain, however:
video

Saturday, June 23, 2012

UCLA HIstory: Schuman

French statesman Robert Schuman at UCLA Charter Day, March 1958.  Schuman is considered the founder of the European Coal and Steel Community in the early 1950s which evolved into today's EU.  UC President Robert Sproul at left.  From LA Public Library collection.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The U-VA Story Ain't Over

The U of Virginia story just keeps rolling:

Nearly two weeks after Teresa A. Sullivan was forced to resign as president of the University of Virginia, a push to reinstate her appears to have traction. The Board of Visitors [equivalent of the Regents] announced Thursday that it would meet on Tuesday to "discuss possible changes in the terms of employment of the president." The announcement follows a statement Thursday from the college's deans, who voiced support for Ms. Sullivan's reappointment. The Faculty Senate has also endorsed her reinstatement…


The University of Virginia library staff is archiving materials related to the recent events that forced Teresa A. Sullivan to resign as president of the institution.  This is the first time the libraries have tried to preserve materials from a large-scale, continuing event, said Bradley Daigle, director of digital-curation services. The staff did not begin collecting materials on the subject until a rally on June 18. As of June 22, the team has archived nearly 20,000 tweets, 61 blog posts, over 200 media posts, and about 100 physical objects, such as signs from protests. About a dozen full-time staff members are working on the project, Mr. Daigle said. The archivists are focusing on preserving third-party materials, such as newspaper articles, because internal communication records already belong to the university, covered under existing record-management policies…


Apparently, it really ain’t over:

Up in Smoke: The Tobacco Tax Proposition

The AP is now reporting that the tobacco tax that was on the June ballot is officially defeated.  On election night, it appeared to have been narrowly defeated but there were various uncounted ballots which apparently in the end did not make enough of a difference to reverse the preliminary outcome.

As prior posts have noted, the tobacco tax - had it passed - would not directly have contributed to the state's budget or UC (except that some tobacco research dollars might have flowed to UC).  However, failure of the tax to pass will be seen as voter unwillingness to enact taxes more generally since this one enticingly affected only the minority who smoke and was earmarked for cancer research.  The governor's tax proposal includes both an income tax and sales tax component, the latter a tax everyone pays.  It has a negative enticement: If not passed, the trigger that results hits education (including UC).  Preliminary polling suggests only a narrow majority in favor so an effective negative campaign might kill it.

The preliminary news report is at:
http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/22/4582325/california-initiative-to-add-1.html

So relax and light up a Camel:

Cheer Up! We Could Have Worse Traffic Problems

The News from LACMTA:
Ramp Jam work to begin
Posted on June 21, 2012 by Steve Hymon       
The demolition of the first two Wilshire-405 ramps begins this weekend. There’s no way of sugar-coating it: there will be significant traffic impacts.  That said, the status quo in the area has been pretty much horrible for as long as I can recall — way too many cars competing for space while trying to enter and exit the freeway. The reconstruction of the ramps should greatly improve the way that traffic flows in the area, but there’s no getting around the pain that ramp reconstruction will inevitably cause.
The video below explains the basics.
Here is the latest construction notice for the week beginning tonight.
Notice of Night Work Activity – June 21-24
ATTENTION COMMUTERS, RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES IN THE VICINITY OF THE SAN DIEGO FREEWAY (I-405) AND WILSHIRE BL
The contractor will begin demolition and reconstruction of the westbound/northbound Wilshire on and off-ramps starting at 10:00 pm on Thursday, June 21, 2012. The WB Wilshire on-ramp to NB 405 and NB 405 off-ramp to WB Wilshire will remain closed for 90 days, starting at 9pm on Friday, June 22. Restriping and lane reconfiguration will take place on Thursday, June 21, from 10pm to 6am. Demolition activities are scheduled for three nights, June 22-June 24. June 22 and June 23 street closures will be in place from 9pm to 10am; Sunday, June 24 closures will take place from 8pm to 6am.
What: Demolition and reconstruction of the WB/NB Wilshire on and off-ramps
When: Reconfiguration starting Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm; Ramps close for
90 days on Friday, June 22 at 9pm
Where: WB Wilshire on-ramp to NB 405; NB 405 off-ramp to WB Wilshire
What to Expect:
·        June 21 – Full closure of Sepulveda, from Wilshire to Montana, 10pm to 6am.
·        Two lanes closed in each direction of EB/WB Wilshire, from Veteran to Federal, 10pm to 6am.
·        June 22- 23: Full closure of Sepulveda, Wilshire to Montana, 9pm to 10am.
·        Two lanes closed, EB/WB Wilshire, from Veteran to Federal, 9pm to 10am.
·        June 24 – Full closure of Sepulveda, Wilshire to Montana, 8pm to 6am. Two lanes closed, EB/WB Wilshire, Veteran to Federal, 8pm to 6am.
·        Emergency vehicle access will be maintained.
·        Work is weather permitting and subject to change.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Plots at U-VA

For those following the University of Virginia saga of the fired president, there is this from the Washington Post:

Sullivan supporters plot to reinstate her as U-Va. president: Several members of the University of Virginia’s governing board spent Wednesday quietly counting votes and plotting a move to reinstate Teresa Sullivan after the popular outgoing president informed them that she wants to remain if Rector Helen E. Dragas resigns, according to current and former board members briefed on the conversations. Sullivan holds such broad support among professors that the Faculty Senate chairman held out hope that she could be reinstated following the resignation of one of her critics on the governing board. She has also indicated to board members that she would seek other changes were she to return, including communications with them...


Full story at http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/interim-u-va-leader-carl-zeithaml-seeks-to-quell-uproar-over-presidents-ouster/2012/06/20/gJQAAsZ1qV_story.html

[Thanks to Bette Billet for this reference.]


I guess they want her back:

UPDATE: Gubernatorial Decision

Word is coming in that the governor has now reached a deal with the legislature on the budget so the period of indecision (to veto or not to veto) is now over:

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders have reached a framework of a deal on the state's $92.1-billion spending plan, according to sources close to the negotiations...  The budget agreement gives counties more flexibility to deal with work requirements for welfare recipients, but does not mandate shorter time limits or stricter work requirements for those receiving assistance, according to the sources, who requested anonymity. The accord also includes the governor's plan to fold the state's Healthy Families program into Medi-Cal and restores the $250 million in property tax revenues to counties, as Brown sought. Democrats had wanted to use that money to pay for general state operations.


Full story at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2012/06/jerry-brown-top-democrats-reach-budget-deal.html

The budget announcement undoes our previous post so we will change the song:

Gubernatorial Indecision

A news report dated June 20 suggests that the governor is having trouble deciding whether or not to sign the budget the legislature sent him June 15 without his agreement.

He could sign it but exercise his line-item veto power to reduce spending.  Were he to veto it as occurred last year, the consequence would be uncertain.  Last year, the state controller ruled that the legislature had not complied - on technical grounds - with the requirement to pass a budget on June 15 and thus would not be paid for each day without doing so. That step created an incentive for a quick deal.  Subsequently, however, the legislative leaders got a court decision indicating that the controller had no such power.  If the governor vetoed the entire package and the controller did not act because of the court decision, there might be no budget on July 1.  It is widely assumed that the controller would not act due to the court decision.  But that's not so clear.  Indeed, nothing is clear except that the governor has not decided what to do as of this writing.

You can read the news report referenced above at:
http://www.scpr.org/news/2012/06/20/32914/california-democrats-pass-budget-governor-remains-/

Some readers may be frustrated by the indecision:
video

Just in Time: Governor's Tax Measure Qualifies for November

There was always a bit of doubt that the governor's tax initiative would qualify - or qualify in time - for the November ballot. His original initiative - which had somewhat less income tax and somewhat more sales tax than the current version - began to be circulated (by paid circulators). But the California Teachers Assn. was pushing a different initiative and eventually a deal was cut that CTA would drop its campaign in exchange for a revision of Brown's initiative with more income tax and less sales tax. However, that deal was made late in the game and signature gathering had to be restarted (and handled by very well paid signature gatherers because of the time deadline).

Once the new signatures were in, there was some doubt as to whether they would be tabulated in time for November, given the large number of other initiatives awaiting counting. (This doubt was somewhat lessened by the fact that the Secretary of State - who handles election matters - is a Democrat.)  In any event, all of these doubts have ended with the announcement that the governor's revised initiative has qualified.

More on this story at http://www.news10.net/capitol/article/197812/525/Browns-tax-measure-qualifies-for-November-ballot

There was singing heard at the governor's house - possibly related:
video

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Forecast Lessons from the Past and for the Present

Earlier today, the UCLA Anderson Forecast conference presented its quarterly projections of the U.S. and California economies.  No surprises.  There was a continued forecast (from earlier conferences) of sluggish growth with years to go before what can be truly seen as a return to “normal” occurs.  You can find a media write up at: http://business-news.thestreet.com/daily-news/story/ucla-forecast-economy-lag-3-more-years-high-unemployment-slow-growth-impede-progress/1

An official media release from the Forecast is at:
http://uclaforecast.com/contents/archive/2012/media_62012_1.asp

The Forecast reminded me of two lessons that can be drawn from recent developments.  The first – from the past - is that there is an underlying problem in California which can be seen in two charts that appear regularly in the Forecast publication that is distributed to conference attendees.

To the left is a chart that shows the old – golden-age-of-California employment trend that came to a halt when the Cold War dissolved.  In an important sense, the state has not adjusted to the resulting recession of the early 1990s – and has had on-and-off budget crises since.  Expectations for public services seem to run along the old trend.  But reality is deviating further and further below those expectations.

The next chart looks at both employment and population in the state as a percent of national totals.  California is now more or less a normal growth state, not expanding any faster than the U.S. as a whole on either measure (in contrast to the old trend before the Cold War ended) when California was becoming a larger and larger fraction of the U.S.  Moreover, employment relative to population has declined; fewer active workers are supporting more non-workers (children, elderly retirees, and those who can’t find work or don’t work for some other reason).  Nothing on these two charts suggests a bright outlook for state support for UC.
= = =
Then there is the Forecast conference itself, which brings hundreds of people to campus and provides a lesson for the present.  See the two cellphone photos below.  The Forecast’s guests fitted nicely into the Grand Ballroom of Ackerman, suggesting – contrary to those who insist otherwise – that you can find conference space on campus.  

Apart from that observation, and more important, if the Grand Hotel project – now slated to be just across the street from Ackerman – is built, the Forecast conference might well go there.  And if it does, might that not reduce demand for Ackerman’s space?  And if that happens - and ASUCLA ends up needing support - won’t the campus end up doing the bailout?  The Forecast – and other events at Ackerman – can’t occupy two sites; if they move to a new location, the move takes away business from some other older location.

Finally, putting together future, present, and past, is a 250-room hotel what UCLA absolutely needs now as a top priority?