Thursday, March 24, 2016

Listen to the Regents Meeting of March 24, 2016

The Regents meeting began with public comments on divesting from Wells Fargo (because of business connections with private prisons) grad student working conditions, UC police training, a demand to dismiss UC-Davis Chancellor Katehi, and concerns about a sports arena to be built near UC-San Francisco.

However, the main comments dealt with union objections to the proposed Tier 3 pension including the faculty vs. staff divergence and concerns about offering a defined contribution (DC-only) option.

After public comments, billionaire Charles Munger (Sr.) – not to be confused with son Charles Munger Jr. who sponsored a conservative ballot proposition in 2012 – was ushered into the room to discuss a $200 million gift for student housing at UC-Santa Barbara and his ideas about how such housing should be designed and built.* (There is a gap in the audio as it was streamed during his remarks.) This unusual episode starts at around minute 37.

There was then a brief audit report. There was an approval of $21 million in “seed money” in connection with a neuroscience building at UC-SF. That approval was followed by a discussion item regarding a new building at UCLA Anderson proposed to be built on top of, and maybe through, the middle of parking structure #5. (See image.) Regent Makarechian raised concerns about a square foot cost of well over $1,000 despite the land being free. He also noted that there was a loss of campus parking that would add to the loss of parking previously caused by construction of the UCLA Grand Hotel. It appears that there would need to be a seismic upgrade of the parking structure to support the added load. Makarechian indicated the UCLA in particular seemed to come up with high cost projects that would make it difficult to turn down other high cost proposals elsewhere. (It might be noted, however, that although he raised such concerns in connection with the Grand Hotel when it was presented to the Regents and to a new UCLA medical teaching building, both eventually were approved.)

A grad student housing project at UC-SD was also discussed.

Toward the end, the Regents approved a big buck salary upgrade for a UCLA assistant coach and a severance package for a UC-SD fund raiser because of a “change in strategy.” There is evidently a back story that no one wanted to air in open session since the official in question was recruited with great celebration only two years ago.

When it came to approving the new tier of the pension plan by the full board, Regent John Pérez voted no as did the Alumni Regent Rodney Davis and Student Regent Avi Oved. Pérez’s objections – see yesterday’s post – involved both the staff vs. faculty divergence and the offering of the DC-only option, opposed by the unions and objected to by the Assembly Speaker and the state Senate President. Pérez raised the issue of the gender composition difference between faculty vs. staff among those above the PEPRA cap, notably nurses and the effect of offering the DC-only option on the unfunded liability. UCOP officials insisted there was only a small effect. In the end, the pension changes were approved with the three negative votes. There appeared to be a demonstration at the end of the meeting, presumably over the pension issue. But the audio was cut off at that point.

You can hear the audio of the session at the link below:

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