Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Catch-Up (Again)

Catch-Up Again
A few weeks back, yours truly got out of the hospital after a serious health problem and presented a catch-up of relevant items during the period of no blogging.  Unfortunately, there were complications and he ended up in the hospital again until yesterday.  So we are back to catching up below in no particular order.

1) Stimulating Westwood.  You may have gotten an email announcing an attempt to revive Westwood by offering discounts to faculty, students, and staff.  If not, you can find details at:

We considered taking the opportunity to note that building a Grand Hotel in the midst of campus is a great way of sucking business out of Westwood.  But that wouldn't be nice, would it?

2) Triggers. Before our recent blogging hiatus, we noted that a student rep at the Regents said something mysterious about "triggers."  Then came a post about a UC-SC prof who attacked some anti-abortion demonstrators physically and claimed as a defense that she was triggered by their signs.  It appears that at UC-SB, there was a student resolution that faculty should put warnings on their syllabi about readings that might trigger students as offensive.  That particular trigger led to an editorial in the LA Times about how ludicrous such a procedure would be.  See

3) We had blogged before the hiatus about an NLRB decision saying student athletes were in reality employees (at least in football) and thus should have the right to unionized.  Northwestern U - the university from which the case sprang - has appealed.  See  [We also noted that a former UCLA student/athlete has been one of the leaders of this movement.]

4) Do you want to rephrase that?  The Bruin quoted a UCLA administrator as saying about pension and other fund investments:
“Sometimes the UC is willing to give up on some return in order to advance a particular cause." 
Now the statement may be true and comes at a time when some students are pushing fossil fuel divestment.  [UC dropped an investment related to guns after the Connecticut school shooting.]  But the problem is that - particularly with regard to the (underfunded) pension fund - the Regents have a fiduciary responsibility to weigh risk and return and not social causes.  There are lots of causes out there that someone might want to tilt investments away from or towards.  UC has been pushing to get the state to recognized its obligations to the pension fund.  Anything that smacks of "political" investing could undermine that effort. 

5) Rosy and not-so rosy scenarios: The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has put out rather rosy projections of indefinite budget surpluses.  But the projections assume an indefinite economic expansion with no recession.  However, a recent LAO publication notes that recession would turn surpluses into deficits.  The last (Great) Recession ended in 2009.  So we have gone a long time without a recession already.  You can find this item at  Meanwhile, the state controller released receipt and disbursement data for the current fiscal year through March at  However, receipts don't arrive evenly over the year.  Today is the day for income tax returns and so we will know more once the April receipts are counted up.  For those who want a daily count for April, you can find one at

6) Meeting goals.  The governor and the legislature are big on monitoring higher ed performance measures for UC and CSU.  UC is doing better than CSU according to the LAO:

7) Not meeting goals.  PPIC says fewer than 4 out of 10 high school students in California are taking courses needed for entrance into UC or CSU:

8) Accident.  A UCLA students was burned in a lab experiment.  Apart from the event itself, blog readers will know of a trial of a UCLA prof blamed for a deadly burn incident of a student lab worker.  Supposedly, the university had since upgraded safety.  So the second incident suggests a continuing problem.

9) Your on your own.  The LAO reviewed physical infrastructure in education including higher ed.  Blog readers will know that the state took advantage of UC's better credit rating to shift the costs of financing such infrastructure to UC.  The same is happening to CSU.  Problem is that now the UC credit rating is showing signs of slipping.  And the state has washed its hands of infrastructure costs at UC.  See and

10) Compare and contrast.  The LAO compares public and private higher education in California in

11) Keck over Lick.  UC is apparently planning to shut down the historic Lick Telescope for budgetary reasons and put its money into the Keck Telescope.

12) Pot on campus.  UCLA apparently is getting the federal go-ahead to test marijuana as a treatment for epilepsy.

13) Closed.  The 405 was closed northbound last night between the 10 and Santa Monica Boulevard.  And it will happen again tonight.

14) Gloat.  Before the blogging hiatus, yours truly gloated over the fate of now-suspended state senator Leland Yee who appears to have taken money for various actions and now seems likely to have what could be a long federally-financed "vacation."  We noted that he has been unhelpful to UC, especially in the pension area.  And we have noted that Lee's flacks were critical of yours truly for pointing this out, back before the scandal struck.  So you may enjoy hearing what he had to say about the corrupting influence of money in politics before the recent disclosures about money in his politics:

1 comment: