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Friday, August 31, 2012

No "Ramp Jam" at Wilshire/Pension Deal Excluding UC Goes to Brown

Commuters to UCLA will know that the Wilshire ramps to the I-405 have been closed for construction. That project was termed "Ramp Jam" but apparently the jam is gone.  At least some of the causes for traffic jams near UCLA as a result of the construction on the 405 are ending:
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The westbound Wilshire Boulevard onramp to the northbound 405 Freeway and the northbound 405's offramp to westbound Wilshire will reopen Friday—three weeks earlier than planned, according to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The ramps were closed June 22 in the first phase of a yearlong effort to demolish and rebuild all eight ramps at the interchange, a project dubbed dubbed "Ramp Jam" and "Rampture." The ramps were originally scheduled to reopen Sept. 22. The northbound I-405 offramp to westbound Wilshire opened at 6:30 a.m. The westbound Wilshire on-ramp to northbound 405 opened at 11:15 a.m...
My impression is that the closure of the ramps to the 405 on Wilshire actually eased traffic there but caused problems on Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards because 405-linked traffic was diverted there.
Meanwhile, the pension deal between the legislature and the governor which ended up excluding UC - and which had to be passed by tonight - in fact did go to Governor Brown.  See earlier posts on that deal.  Unlike some of the other last minute legislation that is being sent to the governor, he will surely sign the pension bill since he already agreed to it.  

Pension story at http://blogs.sacbee.com/the_state_worker/2012/08/california-legislature-sends-public-pension-overhaul-to-jerry-brown.html
Anyway, you can express your appreciation for all the traffic improvements California authorities are providing, and for the legislature and governor ultimately excluding UC from the pension bill, by singing the state song:

Davis Chancellor in Another Controversy

Chancellor Katehi of UC-Davis spent much of the last academic year dealing with the pepper-spray incident. Now that the pepper incident controversy is (largely) over, another one has arisen.

Today's Sacramento Bee reports a new brouhaha at Davis, this one involving the abrupt resignation of the dean of the ag school after the chancellor insisted on searching for his replacement 2 years before his term was up.  Another administrator also resigned in protest. Although the ag school's website says "your future starts here," apparently neither administrator saw it that way.
===

...Dean Neal Van Alfen and Executive Associate Dean James D. MacDonald tendered their resignations Tuesday in letters to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and the university's provost, Ralph J. Hexter. Van Alfen intends to remain as a faculty member; MacDonald will leave the school.  Long considered one of the nation's premier agricultural schools, UC Davis now finds itself with what one state agricultural expert called "a void of leadership." UC Davis' agriculture college is the campus' oldest...
In his resignation letter and in an interview with The Bee, Van Alfen said the end of his tenure as dean was prompted by Katehi's decision in late July to start her search for a new dean two years before Van Alfen's current term was to expire... Van Alfen said Katehi asked him to serve until a replacement was found, but he declined...
MacDonald, in a separate letter Tuesday, announced he was walking away in protest of Katehi's move to find a new dean for the college. He will resign today...  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

UCLA: How about Buying Palomar?

No, not the observatory.  The Palomar Hotel on Wilshire, a short distance from UCLA.  Back in March, the Regents asked why UCLA didn't buy the W Hotel rather than build its own.  The W may not be for sale.  But the nearby Palomar Hotel is. See below.  And cheap, too.  Just a thought!

UPDATE: We could have bought the W Hotel but it would have been twice as much, although considerably less than the planned UCLA hotel (which comes with free land, unlike the W).
http://www.globest.com/news/12_423/losangeles/hotel/W-Los-Angeles-Hotel-Changes-Hands-for-125M-324549.html

Issue ads may quack like ducks...

...but technically, they are not ducks.  We have noted in earlier posts on this blog that a) Governor Brown seems to have a big campaign funding advantage for his tax initiative - Prop 30, but that b) "issue ads" that are not technically part of the campaign against Prop 30 have been airing on the radio.  Apparently, a new TV ad is airing sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which can be inferred to suggest voting against tax increases, but doesn't mention Prop 30 (or the other two tax propositions on the ballot).

Exactly why the U.S. Chamber is involved is unclear since the state business community hasn't taken a clear stance yet on Prop 30.  Some California firms are supporting the official "pro" campaign for it.

The Sacramento Bee carries a story about the TV ad: (excerpt)

...Based on Federal Communications Commission documents, the U.S. Chamber spent at least $431,000 in the Los Angeles and Sacramento broadcast markets on ads starting today and lasting through Sept. 6.  The ad never mentions Brown's initiative, Proposition 30, but it uses arguments that opponents are expected to repeat down the campaign stretch...


The TV ad itself can be seen below:
video


Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/08/us-chamber-launches-ad-attacking-california-budget-economy.html#storylink=cpy

More on the Hot Potato: Assembly May Reconsider

Yesterday, we posted a hot potato item concerning a state assembly resolution dealing with anti-Semitism and anti-Israel demonstrations on California campuses.  Issues were raised about free speech implications of the (non-binding) resolution. Readers will recall from that posting that UC declined to comply.  Now apparently the assembly may reconsider, although in the future - not now:
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A state lawmaker is promising to introduce a fix to an Assembly resolution that stirred controversy because it urged California universities to crack down on demonstrations against Israel.  Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal said Wednesday that she would work on a resolution that would affirm First Amendment rights on campus when the Legislature reconvenes in January. The Long Beach Democrat and 66 of the Assembly's 80 members provoked a storm of criticism on Tuesday when they approved a resolution that condemned anti-Semitism but also asked administrators at California's public colleges and universities to combat anti-Israel actions...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Follow Up on the Pension Bill

Yesterday, we posted an item on the deal on public pensions reached by the governor and legislature.  Today, I looked for the actual bill's language for a formal exclusion of UC’s pension plan from the deal.  I think I found it in the language reproduced below from the bill, AB 340.

SEC. 19. Section 20281.5 of the Government Code is amended to read:
20281.5. (a) Notwithstanding Section 20281, a person who becomes a state miscellaneous member or state industrial member of the system on or after the effective date of this section because the person is first employed by the state and qualifies for membership shall be subject to the provisions of this section…
(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), this section shall not apply to any of the following:
   (1) Persons who are already members or annuitants of the system at the time they are first employed by the state.
   (2) Employees of the California State University, or the legislative or judicial branch of state government.
   (3) Members of the Judges' Retirement System, the Judges' Retirement System II, the Legislators' Retirement System, the State Teachers' Retirement System, or the University of California Retirement Plan. …

The full bill containing the governor/legislature pension plan is at:


The bill – if you look at it – has dates on the first page going back into 2011 because it is one of those “gut and amend” pieces of legislation used for last-minute purposes.  To get around rules banning new bills being introduced, a bill that has gone nowhere but isn’t technically dead yet is amended by completely removing its original contents and substituting entirely new language.

In the end, despite how it was produced, it’s just a plain bill:
video

UPDATE: An additional document formalizing the UC exclusion is the conference committee report describing the bill:

Continuing Hot Potato Issue for UC

We noted this issue in an earlier posting on an internal university debate - which apparently has now reached the legislature:

The University of California says it won't support a resolution condemning anti-Semitism on campus - approved unanimously by the state Assembly on Tuesday - because the resolution says "no public resources will be allowed to be used for any anti-Semitic or any intolerant agitation."

"We think it's problematic because of First Amendment concerns," said Steve Montiel, a UC spokesman.

The nonbinding resolution, says, in effect, that UC and other public universities should ban activity that could be interpreted as intolerant or anti-Semitic, including certain demonstrations, from taking place anywhere on its property.  The move is the latest chapter in a debate that arose this summer over whether students create an intolerable, anti-Semitic environment by staging annual, anti-Israel protests mimicking Israeli guards questioning Palestinians...


Meanwhile, there is a lesser issue at UCLA that some would say involves speech:
http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-sp-usc-barkley-billboard-20120829,0,6644546.story

Is UCLA Missing Out on a Two-for-One Sale on Its Hotel?

I happened to be looking at a listing of major construction projects in LA County that appeared this week in the LA Business Journal.*  Now we all know that UCLA is proposing to build a 250-room hotel for $162 million.  But in downtown LA, Marriott is building a two-hotel structure - 28 stories high! - for only $172 million.  That's right; two hotels for a little more than UCLA is getting one.  Of course, they're not quite as big.  One is 174 rooms and the other is 218 rooms.  But still, you do get 28 stories which would really give a nice view of Westwood from the roof.  Anyway, I just thought I would mention the possibility of getting a two-fer since the Regents are meeting to finalize their OK of the hotel in September and I thought they would like to know.

Maybe UCLA is just too busy with its construction projects to worry about such matters. Here is a list of other UCLA capital projects, also courtesy of the LA Business Journal:

UCLA Santa Monica Orthopaedic Hospital
$289.1 million

Pauley Pavillion Renovation and Expansion
$84.2 million

CHS South Tower Seismic Renovation
$80.0 million

Sproul Phase II
$80.0 million

Edie and Lew Wasserman Building
$78.0 million

I did ask our former governor what he thought about all of these projects:
video

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*Note: The construction data come from the August 27 issue.  You have to be a subscriber to see it.



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

June Trigger; August Cap

Note: This posting has been updated with a report at the very bottom indicating UC is not included in the pension deal.  

First we had a trigger cut as part of the state budget enacted in June.  Now we are about to hear about a pension cap.  According to various news reports, the legislative leaders will announce later today what they are going to do with Governor Brown's pension proposals.  They have apparently dropped his hybrid idea of a mix of defined benefit and defined contribution and are sticking with defined benefit.  But some kind of cap will also apparently be in the proposal.

We will need to watch whether UC is in the legislative proposal or not.  The Regents adopted their own pension modification in 2010: a two-tier plan for new hires.  The Regents' plan does not have a cap.

For a news report on this matter, see:
http://blogs.sacbee.com/the_state_worker/2012/08/state-and-local-government-pension-changes-include-caps-higher-retire-ages-democrats-reach-deal-on-public-pension-overhaul.html

UPDATE: Below is what the governor released today.  It is a media release - not an actual bill - so not all details can be seen.  One "detail" not included is whether UC is in or out.
===
Governor Brown Announces Pension Reform Agreement to Save Billions by Capping Benefits, Increasing the Retirement Age and Stopping Abuse

8-28-2012

LOS ANGELES – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today outlined a sweeping pension reform agreement that saves billions of taxpayer dollars by capping benefits, increasing the retirement age, stopping abusive practices and requiring state employees to pay at least half of their pension costs.

“These reforms make fundamental changes that rein in costs and help to ensure that our public retirement system is sustainable for the long term. These reforms require sacrifice from public employees and represent a significant step forward,” said Governor Brown.

“If the legislature approves these reforms, public retirement benefits will be lower than when I took office in 1975,” said Governor Brown. “Additional changes would require a vote of the people,” he added.

The pension reform agreement includes substantial benefit rollbacks for public employees.It requires all current state employees and all new public employees to pay for at least 50 percent of their pensions and establishes this as the norm for all public workers in California. Importantly, these new reforms eliminate state-imposed barriers that have prevented local governments from increasing employee contributions.

Further, it bans abusive practices used to enhance pension payouts.

“No more spiking, no more air time, no more pensions earned by convicted felons,” said Governor Brown. “We're cleaning up a big mess and the agreement reached with Legislative leaders today is historic in its far reaching implications.”

Public Employee Pension Reform Act of 2012
Caps Pensionable Salaries
•             Caps pensionable salaries at the Social Security contribution and wage base of $110,100 (or 120 percent of that amount for employees not covered by Social Security).

Establishes Equal Sharing of Pension Costs as the Standard
•             California state employees are leading the way and are paying for at least 50 percent of normal costs of their pension benefits. Requires new employees to contribute at least half of normal costs, and sets a similar target for current employees, subject to bargaining.
•             Eliminates current restrictions that impede local employers from having their employees help pay for pension liabilities.
•             Permits employers to develop plans that are lower cost and lower risk if certified by the system’s actuary and approved by the legislature.
•             Provides additional authority to local employers to require employees to pay for a greater share of pension costs through impasse proceedings if they are unsuccessful in achieving the goal of 50-50 cost sharing in 5 years.
•             Directs state savings from cost sharing toward additional payments to reduce the state’s unfunded liability.

Unilaterally Rolls Back Retirement Ages and Formulas
•             Increases retirement ages by two years or more for all new public employees.
•             Rolls back the unsustainable retirement benefit increases granted in 1999 and reduces the benefits below the levels in effect for decades.
•             Eliminates all 3 percent formulas going forward.
•             For local miscellaneous employees: 2.5 percent at 55 changes to 2 percent at 62; with a maximum of 2.5 percent at 67.
•             For local fire and police employees: 3 percent at 50 changes to 2.7 percent at 57.
•             Establishes consistent formulas for all new employees going forward.

Ends Abuses
•             Requires three-year final compensation to stop spiking for all new employees.
•             Calculates benefits based on regular, recurring pay to stop spiking for all new employees.
•             Limits post-retirement employment for all employees.
•             Felons will forfeit pension benefits.
•             Prohibits retroactive pension increases for all employees.
•             Prohibits pension holidays for all employees and employers.
•             Prohibits purchases of service credit for all employees.

Source: http://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=17694

Further update: Public sector unions are not happy with the deal:  But the latest news says university employees are not included.  See:
http://blogs.sacbee.com/the_state_worker/2012/08/unions-blast-california-public-pension-reform-plan.html#more

Still further update: Here is the official document that excludes UC:
http://aper.assembly.ca.gov/sites/aper.assembly.ca.gov/files/CC%20Summary%20Report.pdf
[Eric Hayes of CUCFA provided this link.]

Monday, August 27, 2012

LA Business Journal Editorial on the UCLA Hotel: Shrink It!

UCLA Hotel Reservations: Editorial (excerpt)

Charles Crumpley, Editor, LA Business Journal
August 27, 2012

…(M)any businesses are fine with the conference center. It’s the hotel they have reservations about. They fear it’ll bottle up the visitors. Since conference goers will only have to go upstairs to their rooms, they won’t need to walk to a nearby hotel. That means they’ll be far less likely to dine or drink or watch a movie in Westwood.

…And the nearby hotels? Well, you can imagine they hate UCLA’s proposed hotel.
For one thing, there’ll be plenty of rooms at the inn – 250 in all…
What really galls the innkeepers is that UCLA, thanks to its tax-exempt status, wouldn’t have to charge guests the city’s 14 percent occupancy tax. That would make the UCLA hotel an unfair competitor, they claim…

Opponents claim they’ve done some research and now have some real questions about whether the hotel could claim tax-exempt status. The UCLA hotel should have to charge occupancy and sales taxes, they believe. But that presumably would need to be determined in court, which implies delays and legal expenses for the regents and for UCLA.  And that brings up another question. If the hotel is not a tax-exempt enterprise, would that mean taxable – not tax-free – status for the $112 million or so in bonds sold to build the complex?

Where does the UCLA faculty come down? Well, many obviously would love to have a conference center right in the center of campus. …But some are skeptical that the complex, especially the hotel, will be profitable. And what happens if it is unable to pay its own way? Will money that the faculty depends on for the school’s educational mission have to be diverted to pay for the hotel?

…UCLA is a public trust. It needs to be a good neighbor and keep peace with nearby businesses, its community generally and with the taxpaying public at large (not to mention donors and potential donors).  The solution seems simple. Build a grand conference center. Scale back the hotel.


The editorial is what we have been saying all along.  Is anyone in Murphy or on the Regents prepared to listen?

More Sausage, Sacramento Style

A couple of days ago, we provided some insights into the sausage making of a bill in the legislature that would lower tuition with revenue from closing a corporate tax loophole.

Today's LA Times carries an interesting article on the sausage making process behind the governor's tax initiative on the November ballot, the initiative the Regents have endorsed.

Basically, the article looks at the sources of funding for the campaign.  The theme is that various large firms in industries that might be hit by proposals for specific taxes (such as oil, liquor, and soft drinks) if the initiative doesn't pass and the state continues its budget crisis preferred a tax proposal that relied on general taxation.  Prop 30 - the initiative in question - involves increases in income and sales taxes.  Other firms have interests in Sacramento and it never hurts to be nice to the powers-that-be.

The article also notes something that we have also posted about: the large funding advantage so far that the "pro" side has so fare relative to the "con" side.

The article is at:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-proposition30-20120827,0,684082.story

As more sausages are made in Sacramento, we will continue to post about them:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

UCLA History: Normal Gathering

A 1904 gathering of students and teachers at the State Normal School in downtown LA (where the Central Library is now).  The Normal School later moved to Vermont Avenue and then became the initial campus of UCLA before the move to Westwood in 1929.  The Vermont Avenue campus site is now LA City College (corner of Vermont and Normal Street).

Saturday, August 25, 2012

UCLA History: Rheingold Loser

Rheingold was a regional beer in the New York City area for decades until the brewery went out of business in the mid-1970s.  As a promotion, it sponsored a "Miss Rheingold" contest as the pictures on the left indicate. (The label was revived by another company in the 1990s and apparently the contest is being revived, too.)

In the 1963 contest, a UCLA grad was one of the six finalists. She is one of the six in the black and white photo. Which one is not known.  And she didn't win. (The actual winner is shown in the picture on the lower left.) However, her voice was immortalized on the radio ad which you can hear at the link below.
video
UPDATE: The full ad can be heard below.  The interviewer was famed baseball manager Casey Stengel.

You might want to check out the cheap textbook website for errors

The San Francisco Chronicle today has an article about a website that is supposed to give students alternative options, i.e., cheaper prices, for buying assigned textbooks.  But the article notes that the site has some problems.  It may give a price for other than the latest edition of the assigned book.  And it omits Amazon as a possible source.

I tried the website for my two departments, management and public policy.  For whatever reason, it had listings for the former but not the latter.  It picks up any assigned books for the departments and courses it does list, whether they are textbooks or some other kind of book.

If you are teaching and assigning books, you might want to check what the site is telling your students in case there are errors (such as listing an earlier edition).

The article, which also features concerns from university bookstores that they will lose business if students buy books online, can be found at:
http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/Textbook-price-check-tool-met-with-doubt-3814479.php

The cheap book website is:
http://www.20mm.org/Textbook-Search.html

Could the legislature pass a last-minute tax with revenue for cutting tuition? A look at the legislative sausage factory

It seemed improbable a bill of that kind could pass until recently, although we have included some reporting about one such bill in two prior posta on this blog.  (Scroll back to August 14 and 15 for those posts.)  And the story of how the legislative sausage is (or might be) made is complicated and involves a bunch of seemingly-unrelated elements.  But there appears to be at least a chance now for the bill to pass.  So let’s start with a cast of characters:

John Pérez is speaker of the state assembly.  He is the sponsor of a bill that would close a corporate tax loophole.  He wants to use the money raised from that closing to make large cuts in tuition at public higher ed institutions in California.  But because his bill involves a tax increase, it requires a 2/3 vote in both houses of the legislature.  Thus, even if all Democrats in the assembly vote for it, it still needs two more votes.  A few days ago, those two votes were rounded up from the two folks listed below so the bill passed the assembly with the required 2/3.  However, the bill would have to be passed in the state senate and – until recently – the bill seemed dead there.  Note that the legislature is operating under an August 31 deadline, i.e., the end of next week.

Nathan Fletcher is a member of the state assembly who dropped his Republican affiliation and is now officially an independent.  (As I recall, the switch occurred as part of a failed attempt to become mayor of San Diego.)  He voted for the Pérez tax bill.

Brian Nestande is a Republican member of the state assembly who became a renegade when he voted for the corporate loophole tax bill.  His party punished him for that vote.

It appears that there were two inducements for Fletcher and Nestande to support the Pérez tax bill.  First, the loophole developed out of a budget deal that goes back to the Schwarzenegger era.  Under the loophole, out-of-state corporations doing business in California get a choice of two methods of calculating their corporate profits tax – and so can pick the most advantageous.  California-based corporations, who may be competitors of the out-of-staters, don’t have the dual options.  So there is support in parts of the in-state business community to end the loophole.

Second, there is CEQA, a major state environmental law.  Developers and the business community don’t like CEQA because it allows environmental lawsuits that hold up projects.  Some elements in the labor union community – the construction trades - also don’t like CEQA for the same reason.  Republicans don’t like it.  Governor Brown doesn’t seem to like it, either, partly because it could be used to hold up his high-speed rail project.  So there was a push last week in the legislature to modify CEQA and make lawsuits more difficult to file.  Pérez may have offered the CEQA modification to Nestande to induce his vote on the tax bill.  The only problem is that the CEQA modification attempt was killed in the legislature last week.

But then there is the fire fighting fee.  As part of a past budget deal, rural residents who depend on state fire fighting services were charged a fee of $150 per year which they don’t like.  (They like the service but not paying for it.)  It passed because of the distinction between fees – which can be passed by a simple majority – and taxes – which require 2/3.  Republicans don’t like fees, just as they don’t like taxes.  So now Pérez has rejiggered his close-the-loophole-and-cut-tuition bill to include repealing the fire fighting fee.  That is, the new version uses some of the loophole money to offset the loss of the fee, but still includes big cuts in tuition.

With that adjustment, it is possible now that the bill could pass both houses.  Presumably, Fletcher and Nestande would vote for it in its modified form again.  So that would take care of passage in the assembly.  Conceivably, two Republicans in the senate from rural districts might be induced to vote for it in order to kill the fire fighting fee.  And it is conceivable that Governor Brown would sign the bill if it got to him.

You may know that on the November ballot, there is a proposition that closes the same corporate loophole but earmarks some of the resulting revenue for energy efficiency, not tuition.  I am not sure what would happen if both the Pérez bill and the proposition passed.  However, the proposition has not been polling well.


Note: If you go to that article, you will see the phrase “gut and amend.”  The phrase and the technique stems from a legislative rule that bars new bills from being introduced this late in the session.  But there are lots of bills that went nowhere during the session lying around that technically are still alive.  So when a new bill is needed, the practice is to take some old bill from the walking dead – a bill which often has absolutely nothing to do with the new objective – and amend every word in it to be a de facto new bill.

Anyway, that's how they make the sausage in Sacramento.  Or you can try it at home:

Friday, August 24, 2012

And Yet Another Bill for the Governor to Sign (or Not)

We have been reporting on bills related to UC that have been sent to Governor Brown for his signature or veto.  Here is another:
===

A bill approved by the state Senate would give University of California and California State University research assistants the right to collective bargaining...  It would affect 14,000 research assistants in the UC system and about 2,000 at CSU schools.
...Gov. Jerry Brown has until the end of September to act on the bill.
Will Brown sign?  Here is what proponents say:
video


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/23/4752473/uc-csu-research-assistants-would.html#storylink=cpy

Quick Action for Dumb Questions at U of Colorado?

According to the chancellor of the U of Colorado, faculty may not shut down a class just because a student is carrying a gun.  So reports Inside Higher Ed today:
===

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that students with concealed carry permits could bring handguns to university classrooms. ...(T)his week, Jerry Peterson, a professor of physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder and chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, said he would cancel classes if he found that someone had brought a firearm to class... (But) Philip P. DiStefano, the chancellor at UC-Boulder, sent out an e-mail Tuesday to faculty members that they could not shut down a class if a student with a concealed carry permit brought a gun...


On the other hand, faculty could presumably also carry a gun and if someone asked a really dumb question:

Who Will Santa Monica Catch With Its UC-Berkeley DUI Grant?

According to the agenda for the Santa Monica city council meeting for next week, the City is about to get a small research grant to set up more drunk driving checkpoints from UC-Berkeley.

Just as a check of my own, I Googled "DUI" and "Santa Monica" on the image setting to see who gets caught. Seems like inebriated celebrity types get into trouble in Santa Monica, as this sampling of pictures from that web search illustrates.  So it should be an interesting study.

For more on the grant, you can find the Santa Monica city council agenda item at
http://www.smgov.net/departments/council/agendas/2012/20120828/s2012082803-J.htm

Apparently, the bar scene in Santa Monica attracts stars:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

More Spam - Supposedly from UCLA - to Which You Don't Want to Respond

Here is a new wrinkle in the ongoing attempts to get you to click on messages about your UCLA email account from spammers.

In the past, they have sent warnings (sometimes with bad spelling and grammar) that your account would be closed if you didn't respond. But now they offer you good news, if only you will click. See below but don't click if you got the email!  Just delete it.  Look closely and you will see that the message comes from Italy (maybe) but not UCLA.  The return address is given as ucla4554 (at) libero.it.
===
In case you have not noticed, the mail storage quota for your UCLA Bruin OnLine Email Account has been doubled to 150 Megabytes. This is the first of many planned service improvements. Kindly log on (phony linkto look for additional increases and other announcements in the near future.

Before we get all-a-twitter about this issue, maybe the question for the governor is whether there is a problem

Another bill related to higher ed seems to be going to Governor Brown's desk.  Not clear that section 2(a) is compatible with 2(c). The bill apparently was triggered by reports that some employers were requiring job applicants to hand over their Facebook, Twitter, etc., passwords. But this bill, unlike another in the legislature, refers to universities, not employers. Is it really addressing a known problem?  Even if it is, maybe the governor needs to send this one back for more work; blanket prohibitions can lead to unforeseen difficulties down the road.

Last year, Brown vetoed an unrelated bill saying "not every human problem deserves a law."

BILL NUMBER: SB 1349
PASSED THE SENATE  AUGUST 21, 2012
PASSED THE ASSEMBLY  AUGUST 16, 2012

An act to add Chapter 2.5 (commencing with Section 99120) to Part 65 of Division 14 of Title 3 of the Education Code, relating to
social media privacy.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

Social media privacy: postsecondary education. Existing law establishes and sets forth the missions and functions of the public and independent institutions of postsecondary education in the state. This bill would prohibit public and private postsecondary educational institutions, and their employees and representatives, from requiring or requesting a student, prospective student, or student group to disclose, access, or divulge personal social media, as defined, information, as specified. The bill would prohibit a public or private postsecondary educational institution from threatening a student, prospective student, or student group with or taking specified pecuniary actions for refusing to comply with a request or demand that violates that prohibition. The bill would require a private nonprofit or for-profit postsecondary educational institution to post its social media privacy policy on the institution's Internet Web site.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.  The Legislature finds and declares that quickly evolving technologies and social media services and Internet Web sites create new challenges when seeking to protect the privacy rights of students at California's postsecondary educational institutions. It is the intent of the Legislature to protect those rights and provide students with an opportunity for redress if their rights are violated. It is also the intent of the Legislature that public postsecondary educational institutions match compliance and reporting requirements for private nonprofit and for-profit postsecondary educational institutions imposed by this act.

SEC. 2.  Chapter 2.5 (commencing with Section 99120) is added to Part 65 of Division 14 of Title 3 of the Education Code, to read:

CHAPTER 2.5.  SOCIAL MEDIA PRIVACY

99120.  As used in this chapter, "social media" means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos or still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.
99121. (a) Public and private postsecondary educational institutions, and their employees and representatives, shall not require or request a student, prospective student, or student group to do any of the following:
(1) Disclose a user name or password for accessing personal social media.
(2) Access personal social media in the presence of the institution's employee or representative.
(3) Divulge any personal social media information.
(b) A public or private postsecondary educational institution shall not suspend, expel, discipline, threaten to take any of those actions, or otherwise penalize a student, prospective student, or student group in any way for refusing to comply with a request or demand that violates this section.
(c) This section shall not do either of the following:
(1) Affect a public or private postsecondary educational institution's existing rights and obligations to protect against and investigate alleged student misconduct or violations of applicable laws and regulations.
(2) Prohibit a public or private postsecondary educational institution from taking any adverse action against a student, prospective student, or student group for any lawful reason.
99122.  A private nonprofit or for-profit postsecondary educational institution shall post its social media privacy policy on the institution's Internet Web site.

Source: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_1301-1350/sb_1349_bill_20120822_enrolled.html

Is this bill a necessity?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Will He Sign It?

State lawmakers have approved first-in-the-nation legislation requiring California universities with the most high-profile sports programs to provide financial protections for student athletes who suffer career-ending injuries...

SB1525 would apply to universities that receive more than $10 million annually in sports media revenue. The bill by Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat from Los Angeles, would apply this year to the University of Southern California, UCLA, Berkeley and Stanford University...

Full article at http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/22/4749123/bill-would-help-injured-student.html

Money Race on Governor's Initiative

In a posting yesterday, we noted that the opponents of the governor's tax initiative (Prop 30) have begun campaigning with radio "issue" ads.

It appears, however, that in the race to raise money for the election campaign, a lot more has been raised to support the initiative than to oppose it.  There were concerns that the "paycheck protection" initiative (Prop 32) - which also is on the ballot in November - would divert union funds away from from the governor's campaign.  (Prop 32 would ban union payroll dues deductions from being used for political purposes.)  Indeed, much funding has gone into opposing Prop 32 so there may be some diversion.  But the governor still has a comfortable money margin at this point.  See the two charts below on the two initiatives:
The Regents have endorsed Prop 30.

You can follow the money race for these initiatives and other propositions and candidates on the ballot at
http://www.rhughes.com/dollardollarbill/

Good News/Bad News

The good news is that reading this blog every day will keep you informed about UCLA and UC concerns.

The bad news, according to our friends down the road in Santa Monica at the Milken Institute, is that it can make you fat:
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Waistlines of the World: The Effect of Information and Communications Technology on Obesity

Summary:

Information and communications technologies have improved living standards around the world. But the increased amount of time that people devote to using computers, watching TV and playing video games- so-called "screen time" -is a significant factor in the global rise of obesity.

In Waistlines of the World: the Effect of Information and Communications Technology on Obesity,Institute researchers establish a direct connection between spikes in technology adoption and subsequent increases in obesity rates. The report charts the dramatic rise in obesity in 27 OECD countries.

The human and economic cost for the increasing weight of the world is high. Obesity in particular, and being overweight in general , are triggers for disability and many chronic diseases, with obesity being the fifth leading cause of death worldwide. In the United States, the medical-cost burden due to obesity climbed to 9.1 percent of annual medical spending in 2006, from 6.5 percent in 1998.

The causes for the obesity bulge are various, but the Milken Institute researchers chart the effect that the worldwide transition toward an information-based economy has had on work habits and lifestyle.

The good news? The study also found that in countries with high ICT investment rates, a 1 percent increase in the number of physically active people can prevent a 0.2 percent rise in obesity. The report makes recommendations for strategic solutions, and provides information about a number of programs and policies that governments, corporations, and non-profit groups around the world have pioneered to keep obesity in check.

Download the paper at

(But maybe you should print it out rather than read it online.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A summer reading suggestion

Perhaps you would like to read about the impact of the state budget crisis on public higher ed in California.  Below are two charts from a recent PPIC study, a link to which is provided at the bottom of this posting.

You can find the full report entitled "Defunding Higher Education" at:
http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_512HJR.pdf

Is Catch-Up the Strategy on the Tax Initiative?

The opponents of the governor's tax initiative are already on the radio advertising.  Although the governor's campaign for his tax initiative is in principle in motion, the media advertising has yet to begin.  As readers of this blog will know, the Regents have endorsed the governor's initiative.

When Jerry Brown ran for governor in 2010, he also was slow to get going against Meg Whitman.  However, he did win with a concentrated blitz toward the end.  Possibly, that is the strategy now.  It is unclear how much funding opponents will have for full-fledged media campaign as the November election nears.  But you can hear their ad - technically a general purpose "issues" ad - at the link below:
video