Pages

Monday, September 30, 2013

No Government Tomorrow?

According to Inside Higher Ed today, a government shutdown - if it happens tomorrow - won't much affect major student aid programs such as Pell grants but will cut off research funding.  Some smaller student aid programs may be affected, however.

More details and links can be found at:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/09/30/shutdown-looming-outlook-colleges

The Arrival

Today, the news media seem to be focused on the first day of school.  No, not the students' first day.  Janet Napolitano's.

From the LA Times:

Janet Napolitano begins her new job as University of California president Monday, promising to "listen and learn" about the many issues facing the sprawling 10-campus university system...

During her first couple of weeks, she will review budgets and operations and meet with students, faculty, staff, campus chancellors, state elected officials and others, according to UC spokesman Steve Montiel. She will greet the headquarters staff at a reception Monday afternoon. Napolitano has stressed that "her first priority is to listen and learn so that she can get a firm grounding in issues, opportunities and challenges affecting the University of California's campuses, medical enterprise, affiliated national laboratories and agricultural and natural resources services," Montiel said...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-napolitano-uc-20130929,0,6767529.story

And there is good bye and good luck from Mark Yudof, according to the Daily Bruin:

...Some of Napolitano’s biggest challenges will include managing tuition levels as costs increase along with rising pension contributions, expanding online education offerings and constructing more facilities to accommodate for growing enrollment, said former University President Mark Yudof...

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2013/09/30/janet-napolitano-replaces-mark-yudof-as-uc-president/

It's hard to know what might be going through her mind on the first day.  But if you click on the link below and wait about a minute, you might find out.
video

Sunday, September 29, 2013

California, Here We Come

Each fall orientation, yours truly does an introduction to California for incoming MPP students at the Luskin School of Public Affairs.  Even California natives or long-time residents may learn something.  It’s in 3 parts below.  Warning: About an hour and a half for the full treatment.  Each part runs about half an hour.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

The state song referred to in Part 1 is at:

Dumb da Dumb Dumb, Italian Style

It may be small comfort for the scientifically minded among our blog readers to know that the U.S. is not the only country where science is optional. Italy seems to be strong in that department. From the LA Times:

On April 6, 2009, a 6.3 earthquake struck the Italian city of L’Aquila. The quake damaged thousands of medieval-era buildings and killed 309 people. Those deaths prompted Italian prosecutors to charge six seismologists and a government official with manslaughter on the grounds that they gave "inexact, incomplete and contradictory information" about the mortal risks a quake in the area would pose. The idea that scientists could be held responsible for failing to predict the deadly earthquake was considered laughable – until a court found them guilty. It’s been nearly a year since those verdicts were handed down, and one of the scientists is still arguing his case – this time in a letter published this week in the journal Science...

“I have been sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment for failing to give adequate advance warning to the population of L’Aquila, a city in the Abruzzo region of Italy, about the risk of the 6 April 2009 earthquake that led to 309 deaths,” begins Enzo Boschi, who headed Italy’s National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology and was a member of the Major Risks Commission at the time of the quake. “I have been found guilty despite the illogical charges and accusations that set dangerous precedents for the future of the scientific process.”...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-italy-earthquake-forecast-prison-20130926,0,6239513.story

Saturday, September 28, 2013

When You See a Deleted Comment on this Blog, It's Unrelated Spam

We don't actually get a lot of spam in the comments, but we do delete it.

Rolling Out the Welcome Wagon for Janet

From the Daily Bruin:

The [UCLA] undergraduate student government plans to vote at its Tuesday meeting on whether it should express no confidence in Janet Napolitano’s current ability to serve University of California students as UC president. A resolution about Napolitano, which was drafted by multiple members of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, calls for the former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Arizona governor to comply with a list of demands compiled by undocumented students across the UC campuses. According to the resolution, students demand that Napolitano hold town halls and meet with undocumented students when she visits UC campuses, have mandatory annual trainings for UCPD to educate them on the rights of undocumented students, promote the employment of undocumented students, and ensure that general educational courses on the experiences of undocumented students are available on all UC campuses, among other requests...


Whatever happened to:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Just Four Years? How about Eight?

Everyone wants more years!
From Inside Higher Ed today comes this story about changing the Master Plan:

Community colleges in a growing number of states are offering bachelor’s degrees. Now California and its huge two-year system may join that group. A committee created by Brice Harris, the system’s chancellor, quietly began meeting last month to mull whether the state’s 112 community colleges should be granted the authority to offer four-year degrees...

Full story at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/09/27/two-year-colleges-california-mull-bachelors-degrees

Four? Eight? Just more:

Reminder: Donors to UCLA Can Do Lasting Good Without Involving a Bulldozer

Today seems to be the day for reminders, as in our previous post.  However, the note below - combined with the tendency to divert campus donor money (and donors) into bricks and mortar - reminds us there are alternatives:

Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker, who are among the heirs to the Hyatt hotel fortune, donated $3 million to UCLA to establish an endowment for students who are or were in foster care, the university announced today. The endowment will provide funding for tutoring, mental health services, summer housing and other expenses, according to the university...

Full story at http://centurycity.patch.com/groups/schools/p/couple-donates-3m-support-ucla-foster-care-students

Yours truly would like to end this post with "Enough said."  Sadly, it appears there is never enough said on this matter.

Reminder that Your Emails Aren't Private

The Daily Bruin carries a story today about a demand for a UCLA professors emails. Excerpt:

Two state senators have accused UCLA of withholding the records of a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences from the public, the most recent development in a conflict that has lasted about three years.  The two California senators – Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) – started corresponding with UCLA about Professor John Froines’s public records earlier this year, when they noticed UCLA had not disclosed all of Froines’s emails in a past records request.Controversy over the records dates back to July 2010, when insecticide and fungicide manufacturing corporation Arysta LifeScience filed a records request asking for communications between Froines and other scientists that might show he engaged in actions that constituted a conflict of interest... 

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2013/09/27/state-senators-accuse-ucla-of-withholding-professors-records/

The underlying story, as the article notes, goes back to 2010, and has been picked up in earlier blog postings:

 
 
 

It's a complicated tale about a state environmental panel and a claimed whistleblower.  However, one takeaway for UCLA and UC faculty is that your emails are not private.  You probably won't avoid such non-privacy by using an outside email service such as gmail, since you are likely to be sending messages to other UCLA and UC faculty who are on the university system.  (Even faculty at private universities - who therefore are not subject to requests for public records requests - might communicate with faculty at public universities such as UCLA and thus find their emails made public.)  Just deleting old messages probably won't ensure privacy.  Before you click on your mouse, think.

 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Possible Pension Initiative Which Would Include UC

In a move to slash the retirement benefits of public employees in California, a group of mostly conservative policy advocates has been working behind the scenes on a possible 2014 ballot initiative. A copy of the still-secret draft initiative, which could dramatically impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians and send a signal nationwide, has been obtained by Frying Pan News. If enacted, the proposed law would allow the state and local governments to cut back retirement benefits for current employees for the years of work they perform after the changes go into effect. Previous efforts to curb retirement benefits for public employees have largely focused on newly hired workers, but the initiative would shrink pensions for workers who are currently on the job.

“This initiative defines that a government employee’s ‘vested rights’ only applies to pension and retiree healthcare benefits earned for service already rendered, and explicitly empowers government employers and the voters to amend pension and retiree healthcare benefits for an employee’s future years of service,” the private draft states...

Source: http://fryingpannews.org/2013/09/26/exclusive-pension-cutting-ballot-initiative-revealed/#more-27722
 
See also http://my.firedoglake.com/garycohn/2013/09/26/exclusive-pension-cutting-ballot-initiative-revealed/
 
The draft to which the articles refer explicitly includes UC.  Note that it is easy to file initiatives in California; it costs only $200 to start the process.  But to get the requisite signatures will cost $1-$2 million for commercial signature gatherers.  And if an initiative gets on the ballot but is controversial, there can be tens of millions more expended for TV advertising and other campaigning.  The group described in the articles appears to have potential wealthy donors available but whether such donors will want to “invest” in a campaign is unknown.  There have been previous efforts along these lines that were not ultimately pursued. 

The draft is at http://www.scribd.com/doc/171018117/Ballot-Initiative-Draft
 
When UC created its two-tier pension system (lower tier for new hires), it did not change the benefit formula for current employees going forward.  The draft initiative would give government entities the authority to change formulas going forward, however.

Everett: Where are you?

Everett Dirksen was the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate back in the day who is often quoted as saying (about the federal budget), "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you are talking about real money."  [I know; nobody can actually point to a source for where he supposedly said it.]

We noted in a post yesterday about a plan for a $50 million football facility.  Today's Daily Bruin has a story about the groundbreaking for a new $120 million medical center teaching building about which the Regents raised some questions but eventually rubber stamped, as they always do in the end.  And, of course, there is the UCLA Grand Hotel for $152 million, about which the Regents also raised concerns and then rubber stamped.  That's just the most recent three projects.  As this blog noted, the Regents are rolling along to approval of a new engineering building.  So we are creeping -  or maybe galloping - into Dirksen territory

Not to worry, of course, because none of this will cost anything to anybody.  The state no longer wants to pay for UC capital projects so there will be no cost to the state.  And, according to UCLA, all the rest is donations, "reserves," and future revenues that will eventually take care of the costs and can be financed (borrowed).

Obviously, shovel ready
We asked in a post yesterday whether donations were unlimited so that tapping donors for one project might not mean less in donations to something else.  We have noted that business plans may not be realistic and that despite the blending of accounts of the multiple enterprises around the university, somebody will pay for overly optimistic forecasts.  And, of course, one might ask whether tapping "reserves" is costless.

But we know the answer to all these questions:
video

Anybody want to buy a bridge?


Tension Over Pension

From the LA Times:

The already tense labor relations between the UC system and the union that represents about 8,300 custodians, gardeners and food service workers has taken a turn for the worse. After deadlocked negotiations, UC this week imposed terms that will require those workers to contribute 6.5% of their pay to retirement plans, up from the current 5%, while the university’s contribution jumps to 12% from 10%.

UC says such changes are necessary to keep the pension system healthy and that most other UC employees already have agreed to the changes. In addition, newly hired workers will receive fewer benefits after retirement.

Officials of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 3299 say that such an imposed hike amounts to a 1.5% pay cut for workers whose pay averages $35,000 a year. They say they would consider a contribution rate above 5% but only if it is part of a larger pension reform that caps the pensions of the most highly paid UC executives. The union also wants UC to boost the levels of staffing, which the labor leaders contend has dropped dangerously low in some campus functions. Union local President Kathryn Lybarger said Wednesday that her union retains the right to strike in the future but now hopes to persuade incoming UC President Janet Napolitano, who takes office Tuesday, to take different labor positions than outgoing President Mark G. Yudof...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-uc-labor-20130925,0,2369558.story

Some background: The Academic Senate has generally supported full funding for the UC pension and a plan to get to full funding over an extended period.  A problem UC faces (unlike CSU which is in CalPERS) is that the state - after the now-infamous two-decade UC pension contribution "holiday" - seemingly forgot that it was ultimately responsible for the UC pension.  It has made what amount at best to some ad hoc pension contributions of late, but the state still maintains that the pension is somehow the responsibility of the Regents - whatever that is supposed to mean.  In addition, roughly two out of three dollars that go into the UC plan when there are contributions come from non-state sources - mainly research contracts and grants and patient revenues.  Every dollar not put into the fund today on behalf of state-funded employees - whether the contribution is employer or employee - results in another two non-state dollars that don't go into the fund.  (This situation is again unlike CSU which doesn't have medical centers and large research grants.)  So it is important to collect pension dollars on behalf of state employees upfront since the "match" of two-for-one from non-state sources doesn't occur.  When it doesn't occur, the whole $3 liability shifts to the Regents - again, whatever that is supposed to mean. 

The bottom line is that all employees - faculty, staff, union-represented, nonunion - at UC have a mutual interest in pushing the legislature and governor to a) acknowledge the state obligation, and b) treat UC the same as CSU when it comes to pension funding.  Of course, estimating unfunded liabilities and what contributions are needed to achieve full funding (or any funding target) depend on long-term forecasts of everything from interest rates and inflation to life expectancies.  But absent "a" and "b," getting into discussions of such technical issues with whoever is the UC president seems unlikely to occur in any meaningful sense.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Free Money

From a UCLA media release yesterday:

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero and Head Football Coach Jim Mora announced today a campaign to raise private funds for a comprehensive football training facility to be located on the west side of Spaulding Field, the practice field for the Bruin football team. The planned state-of-the-art facility is intended to house a locker room, athletic training area, strength and conditioning facility, coaches’ offices, team meeting rooms, equipment rooms and video rooms, in addition to several elements that will feature the storied history of UCLA Football.
The project, estimated to cost $50 million, will be funded by private donations. A feasibility study analyzed the site conditions, and the university has elected to move the project forward with a request for proposal to select an architect. The selected firm will work directly with Guerrero, Mora, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the university to develop the size, layout and renderings of the proposed facility. As funding thresholds are achieved, project construction will begin...

Full release at http://www.uclabruins.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=30500&ATCLID=209266387

There is a sense that if funds are raised privately - that is, if they are not state funds - no trade-offs are involved.  The Regents, in approving capital projects, behave as though that is true.  However, it assumes there is a pool of donors out there that will only give to the one specified project and would not have donated to some other project.  Does anyone look into that assumption? Is it valid?  Just asking.

A Sound Choice

Carl Haber
One of the MacArthur Fellows announced yesterday is Carl Haber of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, one of the labs managed by UC.  His prize was for his techniques of rescuing and restoring old sound recordings.  You can read more about him at http://www.macfound.org/fellows/892/.

And you can hear his explanation of what he does at:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Your Flyover is Open

From those doing all the I-405 construction in the UCLA area comes this word:

Reaching another milestone for the for the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, Metro, Caltrans and contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West have opened a brand new, longer and safer “flyover” ramp at the Wilshire/I-405 interchange in Westwood.
The southbound I-405 offramp to eastbound Wilshire Boulevard officially was open for its very first work-day rush-hour commute this morning (Monday, Sept. 23), and is a whopping 300 percent greater capacity than the previous off-ramp. The original ramp, built as part of the Wilshire Interchange in the mid-1950s, was only 1,330 feet. The new ramp is 3,117 feet long and provides a dedicated lane for all exiting traffic to the Westwood area, one of the largest job centers in L.A. County...

Full story at http://thesource.metro.net/2013/09/23/i-405-project-milestone-first-massive-flyover-ramp-opens-at-wilshire-interchange/

Of course, in a few years, we won't need a flyover.  We'll be flying:
video

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Regents & Napolitano: How Was the Match Made?

The ongoing debate about the Regents' selection of Janet Napolitano is still going on, according to the LA Times:

The high-profile and surprising choice of former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to head the UC system has fueled criticism over the secret selection process, echoing debates around the country about how higher-education leaders are chosen. Supporters of a more open method say that better decisions are made when three or four finalists for a university presidency or chancellorship are formally identified to the public. At that point, faculty and students could have a chance to meet them before a final selection. Some public universities in other states are required to do just that, but the UC and Cal State systems usually do not name more than one finalist and do not divulge the closed-door discussions that led to the nomination. Additionally, the final votes by the UC regents and Cal State trustees provide little information about the searches...

Some states such as Wisconsin and Hawaii have routinely issued the names of several finalists for top jobs at public universities and invited them to campus forums before one is selected. Florida has gone further in revealing the identities of larger groups of nominees early on.But legislation to restrict such information was recently adopted in several states, and there is a long history of court challenges from media organizations seeking access to meetings and information...

Full article at http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-college-secrecy-20130923,0,3965420.story

Yours truly suggests we will continue to dance around the issue of this selection for some time.  Should we call it the Mambo Napolitano?  We already have the music; just need a slight change of lyrics.

Evolving Views at the U of Iowa

According to Inside Higher Ed today, there is one of those evolutionary brouhahas that seem to arise periodically - this time at the University of Iowa. 

It seems that a faculty member wrote a blog piece trying to reconcile religion and science and said in passing that there were flaws in the theory of evolution. You can read the blog piece at http://now.uiowa.edu/2013/08/common-ground. And you can read the Inside Higher Ed piece at http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2013/09/23/should-university-website-publish-anti-evolution-views. To yours truly, it reads as if the author was trying to build a bridge, although maybe a bridge too far.

Nonetheless, it's an excuse - once again - for a reading of the early 20th century poem, Evolution, which takes what some might term poetic license with the concept:

Retiree Health Changes

Yesterday, this blog noted the upcoming UC open enrollment period and changes in the various health care options. Among them were what appeared to be rather drastic changes for retirees living outside California. One wonders whether the court ruling noted below might have some relevance for the ability of UC to make such changes.  Any legal scholars want to chime in?  Comments welcome.

A superior court judge overturned a freeze on retiree health care for Los Angeles city attorneys this month, citing some of the same case law that made public pensions a vested right that can only be cut if offset by a new benefit.
 
The court ruling is a blow to the view that state and local governments, when looking for cost savings, may be able to make cuts in promised retiree health care that are not allowed for tamper-proof pensions...

(P)art of the legal rationale for the Los Angeles retiree health care option is a provision in the city charter that specifically reserves the right to modify retiree health care benefits...

Full story from calpensions.com at http://calpensions.com/2013/09/23/judge-rules-retiree-health-protected-like-pension/

The actual court decision is at http://www.lacaa.org/docs/13-09-13-order-granting-writ.pdf

UCLA History: Library

Above is Powell Library in the late 1940s.  If you were on campus late last week, you saw the latest crop of undergraduates arriving or returning.  At around the time that this photo was taken, Maurice Chevalier - someone none of today's undergraduates could identify - had thoughts about being age 20, as it was seen from that era:
[Link courtesy of the unofficial Facebook page of the UCLA Emeriti Assn.and its custodian Yousee Elayemeriti who is looking for friends, but only of members of the Emeriti Assn.]

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Health Insurance Open Enrollment

You have undoubtedly been getting emails and other material pointing to open enrollment during October 28-November 26, 2013. There are important changes in various health insurance options. If you are a retiree who lives outside of California, it is really important because there are major changes coming. Essentially, you will be getting a UC contribution towards an exchange.

Info at atyourservice.ucop.edu/oe/medical

Just a reminder:

UCLA Water: Then and Now

As the photo below suggests, there used to be a lot of water around UCLA.
Nowadays, there is some remnant of that earlier state to be found between Anderson and UES.  You can find a creek, sometimes dry (as it is right now), in a kind of nature preserve at that location.  The creek is channeled underground as it runs south of the preserve.  See the photos below.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Time Off at the Grand Hotel?

View from the ground.
View from above.
Yours truly went past the worksite of the UCLA Grand Hotel early Friday afternoon and as the photos above indicate, he found no one there and nothing happening. That was a surprise since - as blog readers will know - we recently had the grand groundbreaking for the Grand Hotel.  On the other hand, across the street at the engineering building construction site, work was clearly in progress for another building, as the photo below shows.
Engineering: Click on the photo for a better view of the workers.
Enlarged view of the previous Engineering photo
Maybe the Grand Hotel is a weekend project.  ???

Friday, September 20, 2013

Golden Goose

Inside Higher Ed pointed me today to the “Golden Goose” awards established by some folks in Congress and in major educational groups as an antidote to other listings that are made to put research in a bad light.  Old timers will remember the Golden Fleece awards of Senator William Proxmire - back in the day -  which made fun of research that seemed silly.  From time to time, such seemingly-silly research continues to be highlighted by Proxmire’s successors.   

Of course, there is silly research and there are silly academics.  But not everything that seems silly, or abstract, or just not easy to understand turns out to be so.  

As it turns out, one of the folks on the Golden Goose list for this year is UCLA’s Nobelist Lloyd Shapely.  See, for example,


Another honoree is Adjunct Prof. Hudson Freeze of UC-SD.  See

Listen to the University of California Regents, Afternoon, 9-18-2013, 2nd Part

The audio for the Regents session of the afternoon of 9-18-13 through the meeting of the Committee on Finance has previously been posted.  The primary remaining business was discussion of selection of an outside auditor that turned out to be KPMG.  Beyond that, recommendations of the various committees were ratified by the full board.   

Since the Thursday Regents schedule was in fact a tour of the Lawrence Livermore Lab, there is no audio for that date.

A link to the audio described above can be found below:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Now Some Students Can Be His Guest at a Brown Bag Lunch

Be my guest!
Or is it a Brown (pause) bag-lunch? In an earlier post on the Regents meeting, we mentioned the new "crowdsourcing" UC fundraising effort.  Now some students can be guests of the governor:

University of California regents spent much of Wednesday morning cheering a new fundraising initiative to encourage faculty, students and other people to raise money through their social networks for students who demonstrate financial need.
 
Gov. Jerry Brown, who sits on the UC board and is attending its meeting in San Francisco, pledged to raise $10,000.  If successful, the Democratic governor promises to "host a 'brown bag' lunch at my office in Sacramento with a student from each UC campus." As of Wednesday morning, Brown had received four donations totaling $131...

Full story at http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/09/jerry-brown-promises-brown-bag-lunch-in-uc-fundraising-effort.html

Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/09/jerry-brown-promises-brown-bag-lunch-in-uc-fundraising-effort.html#storylink=cpy

More Traffic Headaches in the UCLA Area This Weekend

A well-traveled but short section of Sepulveda Boulevard will be closed this weekend to accommodate work on the Sunset Boulevard interchange -- part of the larger San Diego (405) Freeway carpool lane project. 

Starting about 10 p.m. Friday, Sepulveda will be closed in both directions between Church Lane and Montana Avenue, according to Metro, which is overseeing the freeway construction. Sepulveda, often used as an alternative to the 405, is scheduled to be reopened by 5 a.m. Monday. 

The work includes using heavy equipment to install of girders for the Sunset Boulevard off ramp from northbound freeway lanes...

Full story at http://centurycity.patch.com/groups/around-town/p/welltraveled-section-of-sepulveda-to-shut-down-this-weekend

Listen to First Segment of Afternoon Session of UC Regents: 9-18-2013

Summary: The afternoon session began with a presentation by the new president of the UC Students Assn.  He described a program to find jobs for graduate students whose careers are currently limited by the loose labor market.  He described a program focused on prisons vs. UC, the details of which were not clear.  He favored an oil severance tax and also divestment from fossil fuels.  (Some listeners might find those causes somewhat in conflict; depends on how you look at them.)   

Much of the afternoon was then spent on budgetary issues.  Charts were shown indicating the volatility in tuition and a lag in faculty pay behind comparison institutions.  There was a lengthy statement by Gov. Brown which you can find at the YouTube link below.  However, his remarks dealt with pension funding, tuition, state budget processes, and related matters.

During this session, there was on-and-off discussion of pensions and pension funding.  There was a tendency in the discussion to separate pension costs from compensation.  Faculty rep Bill Jacobs tried to keep to the point that total compensation and pensions were part of the same issue. 

A plan to integrate employees of Children’s Hospital-Oakland into the UC pension was proposed, contingent on a deal to merge that hospital into UC-San Francisco.  Readers of this blog will know that yesterday’s presentation on the proposed merger suggested shaky “financials” at Children’s Hospital which might undermine the deal.  One Regent asked why UC would be putting forth the pension aspect of the merger when the merger itself was not scheduled until February (if it took place at all).  His question was not really answered.  (Note that the Regents will have a meeting in November at which time presumably more would be known about the “financials.”  As is often (too often) the case, however, proposals that are presented get approved.  And this one was approved.

This posting ends with the Committee on Finance.  We will post the rest of the afternoon session later.

A link to the audio for this portion of the afternoon session is at:

YouTube link for the governor’s budget remarks is below:
 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Listen to the Morning Session of the Regents: 9-18-2013

Summary: After a series of closed meetings, the Regents – including Gov. Jerry Brown – had a public comment session.  A rep from a union of residents complained that UC-irvine was not recognizing their organization.  A student suggested that the Regents should have a Facebook page.  Concerns were expressed about tuition increases.  There were complaints about high out-of-state tuition.  The students who complained the day before that they could not get an appointment with incoming UC president Napolitano reported that they now had an appointment.  

There were requests for the Regents to meet in southern California.  A group of students pushed divestment of fossil fuels.  Union reps complained about the two-tier pension system and made a statement that they had a proposal that would put more money into the pension fund without second tier.  It sounded as if they were proposing higher employee contributions but exactly what the proposal was remained unclear.  One speaker refused to give up the mike and there was a pause while that matter was handled.  There was a complaint that access to the pension fund was being arranged for Children’s Hospital-Oakland employees ahead of a potential merger with UC-SF.

When Bill Jacobs representing the faculty and the Academic Senate began to give his report, there were two interruptions due to a union demonstration.  The room may have been cleared after the second interruption.  

There was a segment on a new “Promise for Education” fundraising campaign involving major firms including in entertainment.  The idea is based on “crowdsourcing.”  In this version individuals make promises to do something and solicit money on social media such as Facebook.  Several Regents pledged large amounts.  Gov. Brown was said to be “participating.”  Not clear what form that participation would take.  A website, promiseforeducation.org, was created for this program.  There was also a segment on a fundraising effort by UC-Santa Cruz.

Proposals for large incentive bonuses for two UC executives elicited lengthy comments from Gov. Brown.  You can hear what he had to say at the YouTube link below.  In essence, he questioned whether people needed or should need incentives to do their jobs.  In the end, however, he did not vote against the proposal.  There was also approval of executive pay practices.  The Regents then broke for lunch.

You can hear the morning session at the link below:

Gov. Brown's views on incentive pay can be heard below:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps...

... in this petty pace from day to day.  

Actually, Macbeth, it is not the day that will creep tomorrow and the next few days.  It is the traffic around UCLA that will creep due to students arriving in their dorms for the fall quarter.  From Facilities Management:

What: Residence Halls Move In

When: Thursday, September 19 through Sunday, September 22. 8 am to 10 pm daily. 

Where: Residence Halls area Impacts: Over 10,000 students will be moving in, along with their belongings, over this 4 day period. The current one-way condition on De Neve Drive will be extended to include the portion between Rieber Hall and Bellagio Drive. Expect congestion throughout this area. Mitigation: Traffic Officers, Community Service Officers, Housing and Office of Residential Life staff will all be positioned to mitigate traffic impacts, and assist students and their families in making the move in process as efficient as possible. Please avoid using De Neve Drive unless your destination is within this area. 

Suggested Alternatives: Consider using Sunset/Westwood or Strathmore/Gayley to enter or exit the campus if you normally use Bellagio/Sunset.


It's only a few days, but it might seem longer:
video
 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Listen to the Second Half of the Regents Meeting of 9-17-2013

Our earlier post had the Regents audio for the first part of the meeting of 9-17-13.  There was then a closed session.  The audio link below picks up the meeting again when the public component resumed.  We also noted in the previous post that there was a inadvertent hot mike at the beginning of the meeting in a supposedly closed session which transmitted sensitive material online.  We have not archived that portion.  However, when the meeting reopened in a public session, apparently some Regents were not sensitive to what was going out.  The audio begins with one Regent telling another that he let Nathan off easy on Blake House.  Blake House is the possible residence of the incoming UC president that would require renovations and repair.  There is more of that in the link below towards the end.

In this session, there was discussion of installation of solar panels at two campuses: Davis and Riverside.  Both campuses indicated that the electricity cost - after various govt. subsidies - would be comparable to the cost from outside sources.  An interesting point was that having solar installations would not help were there to be an external power failure.  The solar component would shut down in such events to prevent damage.  UC-San Francisco presented an upgrade and construction plan involving seismic work, among other elements.  There was discussion of a new ocean pier for Scripps/UC-San Diego. UCLA sought authorization for design of a new engineering building.  A question was raised about how, given that this was the design phase only, UCLA somehow had rather precise estimates of construction costs.  It was noted also that because of the release of such advance estimates, it would be unlikely that UCLA's prospective contractors would come in with lower bids, even if costs were actually lower.  Lt. Gov. Newsom asked what was really being committed here.  If you start down the road of just approving design costs, doesn't that effectively commit you to the entire project?  He was assured that the costs approved were just for design.  Good question, Mr. Lt. Governor.  The answer was not so good.  In fact, once you get a train rolling at the Regents, it does leave the station.

Then we come to the Blake House discussion for which Nathan was let easily off the hook, as per above.  Apparently, the house is not in good shape and has a leaky roof and related damage.  The approval sought was to do repairs.  There were questions about whether UC could just sell the building and land and use the proceeds for something else.  It was noted that the location, 4 miles from Berkeley, was not ideal for a president's residence or other uses.  Nonetheless, repairs were authorized with promises from UCOP that there would be a more thorough evaluation forthcoming in the future.

You can hear the audio at the link below:

Listen to the First Part of the Regents Meeting of 9-17-2013

But before you listen, note that we have been archiving Regents audios because of regental policy not to archive them for more than one year.  Today, there was a bit of a mishap in the handling of the Regents live stream.  As a result, yours truly sent the email below to an official in the Regents' office:

As you may know, the UCLA Faculty Assn. posts the audios of regents meetings online since it is apparently regents policy not to archive the recordings for more than one year online.  As a result, I turned on my recorder at 1 pm today, Sept. 17, since it was difficult to know when the closed session would end and the open one would begin.  As it turned out, you had a hot mike at the supposedly closed session and in fact broadcast parts of it online.  I won't post those parts but I have attached as a wma file the excerpts that went out in public for your info.  They appear to contain sensitive material about market sharing of health services in Orange County.  My sense is that if the broadcasting and archiving were turned over to one of the campus AV services, this kind of thing would not happen.  It is likely, however, that a campus AV service, such as at UCLA, would want to archive the recordings online indefinitely, the standard practice now for many govt. entities.
Note that if the regents didn't have the one-year-only policy, I would not have had a recorder turned on since the open sessions would have been archived indefinitely.  Who else may have heard the closed session and/or recorded it, I don't know.  


===
The Regents agenda is below for the first part of the meeting:

Agenda
Tuesday, September 17
1:00 pm Committee on Health Services (Regents only session)
1:20 pm Committee of the Whole (public comment session)
1:40 pm Committee on Health Services (open session)

During the public comment session, there were complaints by students that it was difficult to set up meetings with incoming UC president Napolitano, who isn't here yet.  Students also requested that some Regents meetings should be held in southern California for the benefit of the campuses there.  There were complaints that out-of-state tuition was too high, concerns about online education, and reference to some kind of campaign (unclear what it is) involving prisons vs. higher ed funding in California.

After the public comments, there was discussion of a strategic plan and construction related thereto for health sciences at UC-San Diego.  Then there was discussion of a planned merger between Children's Hospital-Oakland and UC-SF.  Much of the discussion revolved around unstated concerns about the "financials" of Children's Hospital and assurances to the Regents that nothing would be done that would consummate the marriage until those concerns were resolved.  Given the tone of the assurances, the merger may be more shaky than anyone wanted to say.  There is slated to be more discussion of the merger in the Finance committee tomorrow. 

You can hear the first portion of the meeting at the link below: