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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Footnote to History

Since we are in the midst of gubernatorial election season, here is a footnote to history that connects to UCLA:

Do you remember the 2002 gubernatorial election? Maybe not. Anyway, incumbent Democratic Governor Gray Davis was running for a second term in the midst of a major budget crisis sparked by the dot-com bust. In addition, he had proctored over a state electricity crisis that led to rolling blackouts following an ill-designed electricity deregulation scheme. In short, Davis was not too popular.

At that time, we had partisan primary elections, unlike the current top-2 system. So Davis' rival in the general election was definitely going to be whatever candidate the Republicans chose. Davis figured that former LA mayor Richard Riordan would be the most formidable opposition candidate, so he ran ads in the Republican primary attacking Riordan as a flip-flopper. Riordan won and an investment banker, William Simon became the Republican candidate in the 2002 general election. In the end, Davis won 47%-42%, not a very good showing for an incumbent seeking reelection and a foreshadowing of Davis' recall less than a year later.

So what's the UCLA connection. From the Bruin:

Economics professor Bill Simon receives My Last Lecture Award

UCLA professor and 2002 California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon often dresses up as famous economic figures like J.P. Morgan for his classes.

“A couple years after I ran for governor, a friend of mine asked me, what are you going to do now?” Simon said. “I said I’d like to get dressed up like Julius Caesar and go in front of a bunch of freshmen, slam my helmet on the table and say ‘veni, vidi, vici’ – I came, I saw, I conquered. If they start laughing, maybe I’m in the right place.”

Simon, a professor in the department of economics, received the My Last Lecture Award at a ceremony in De Neve Auditorium on Tuesday. The award, created by the UCLA Alumni Scholars Club in 2010, honors a student-nominated professor and gives them the chance to lecture on a topic they would want to talk about if it were their last lecture on Earth.

Simon structured his lecture around nine lessons that he’s learned in his life, from human nature to career advice, and talked about a range of topics, such as the importance of exercise, Mark Twain quotes and the role of self-deprecation when presenting...

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2018/05/16/economics-professor-bill-simon-receives-my-last-lecture-award/

Also: http://economics.ucla.edu/person/william-simon/

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Friday, May 18, 2018

LAO vs. Governor

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has issued a rosier scenario than found in the Dept. of Finance's projections (i.e., the governor's projections) contained in the May Revise. Not all the LAO's assumptions are in the rosier direction, but net they are. The legislature's majority may be less concerned about the details and more focused on the general message - which is that there is more to spend, short term and long term, than the governor would like. So, as we have noted in prior posts, there may be more allocated to UC in the budget to be passed by the legislature in June than the governor has designated - particularly if (as is very likely) UC does not raise tuition. Of course, the governor could use his line-item veto to remove what he doesn't want. In recent years, however, he has tended to reach a deal with the legislature rather than make much use of his veto power.

You can find the LAO report at:
http://www.lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3843

Thursday, May 17, 2018

UCLA History: Moving

Moving into the new Westwood campus: 1929

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Regents Agenda

The Regents are meeting next week and with tuition increases off the table, it looks as though it will be a fairly routine affair. Some highlights:

Energy Secretary Rick Perry toured the three DOE labs, including Los Alamos which is up for bid. No mention is made of the details of the UC bid nor is there any indication of the outcome, although in previous Regents meetings it was said that the outcome would be known this month. See:
http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/may18/n1.pdf

Some changes are being made in conferrral of emeriti status to senior managers, generally making the eligibility rules easier to fulfill. See:
http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/may18/g2.pdf
http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/may18/g2attach1.pdf

Elaborate discussion and presentation of UCOP reserves are now included, presumably in response to the earlier state audit. It appears also that more money is going into the free speech center this coming fiscal/academic year and less is going to other presidential initiatives, as the chart above indicates. See:
http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/may18/b1.pdf

Anti-Crumbling Bond?

Crowded, crumbling classrooms—will one-time cash infusion be enough to fix the University of California?

CALmatters, 5-15-18, Felicia Mello [excerpt]

Gov. Jerry Brown... added to his proposed 2018-19 budget a one-time infusion of $100 million each for UC and California State University to make campus repairs. The funds are part of a larger effort to upgrade the state’s ailing infrastructure. But they will only cover a fraction of the backlog and don’t account for the university’s long-term need for new buildings.

“He’s proposing a Band-Aid on a massive capital deficit wound,” said state Sen. Steve Glazer, an Orinda Democrat who wants to put a proposition on the November ballot asking voters to support $4 billion in bond funding* for the two universities to build classrooms and labs...

UC spends only about half of what comparable public research universities do on maintaining its campuses, a recent PPIC analysis** found. Spending plunged in 2010 and has not bounced back.

Private donations can help fund marquee projects like a new performing arts center, or profit-sharing ventures like a parking garage. But the less-glamorous task of building and maintaining classrooms usually requires public dollars, said Patrick Murphy, a senior fellow at PPIC who studies capital spending in higher education. “No one’s lining up to put their plaque on the air conditioning unit,” Murphy said...

Full story at https://calmatters.org/articles/crowded-crumbling-campuses-will-one-time-cash-infusion-be-enough-to-fix-the-university-of-california/

Statement by Glazer:
http://sd07.senate.ca.gov/news/2017-02-16-glazer-introduces-2-billion-higher-education-bond-bil
====
*The most recent version of the bill says $2 billion, not $4 billion:
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB483
**http://www.ppic.org/blog/bricks-mortarboards-capital-investment-colleges/

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

LAO recommendations for UC based on the May Revise

Click on image above to enlarge
The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) typically does an analysis of the governor's May Revise budget proposal and its various components. Above is the LAO's recommendations to the legislature regarding UC. You can find it at:
http://lao.ca.gov/reports/2018/3834/2018-19-May-Revision-Education-051418.pdf
The table above is on page 28.

UC Issues in the May Revise

In the May Revise news conference of May 11, questions about UC issues were largely directed to finance director Michael Cohen, who spoke after the governor made his remarks.

That segment of the news conference can be seen and heard at:
http://calchannel.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=5499 starting at minute 42.46

Key issues that were raised were the AFSCME strike, tuition freeze, and transfers from community colleges. Earlier posts on this blog have discussed these and other matters.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Revenue Forecast: LAO vs. Governor

A previous post discussed the governor's May Revise budget proposal.* The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has now released its own revenue projections for 2018-19 which differ from the governor's. LAO actually put out two documents. One was for calendar years and contains general economic projections for 2018 for the U.S. and for California. The former should be a driver for the latter.

Oddly, the LAO's projections for the U.S. are somewhat less robust than the governor's, but its projections for California are somewhat stronger. For example, payroll employment in the U.S. grows faster in 2019 in the governor's scenario relative to the LAO's (1.7% vs. 0.7%) and unemployment is lower in the governor's scenario than in the LAO's (3.6% vs. 3.8%). At the state level, however, LAO has the same projection for payroll employment as the governor (1.4% for both) and has the unemployment rate lower (4.4% vs. 4.2%). Note, again, that these are calendar - not fiscal - years, which complicates the understanding of the link between the two types of time periods. See:
http://www.lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3829.

The LAO assumes about $1.5 billion more revenue than the governor for 2018-19, and it assumes the legislature will put less money than the governor proposes into the rainy-day fund. See:
http://www.lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3830. It might be noted that the LAO assumes a stock market "correction" (drop) in calendar 2019, which one might expect to be a negative for revenue from the income tax.

Neither the governor nor the LAO has an outright recession in the forecast although the governor - in his news conference - made the point that recessions are never put into such numbers. See:

Whatever the reconciliation of these numbers may be, the legislature is likely to see mainly the projection of more revenue than the governor predicts for next fiscal year. Thus, it may yet add some money for UC. Of course, the governor has a line-item veto. But, although his regime is ending in January, he may still need some goodwill in the legislature for his twin-tunnel water project and perhaps other matters as well. We will see...
====
*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2018/05/no-change-in-basic-uc-appropriation.html.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Pension Theft - Part 2

May 10, 2018

Re: UCRS Pension Payment Thefts - Preventing

Dear Colleagues:

After reading my May 2, 2018 report: “UCRS Pension Payment Thefts,”* many of you asked what can you do to protect your account at AYSO (AtYourServiceOnline). First, how was OM’s AYSO account accessed by the hacker? The Director of RASC wrote OM (our member) “In reviewing your account history, we confirmed that on [date] your AYSO account was accessed by someone possessing your personal information, including your social security number, birth date, name, and address​. This individual requested a password reset​ and viewed your tax statements through the AYSO system. Using your personal information, that individual was able to use our authentication process and a temporary password was sent to your email account.​ Emails confirming these transactions were also sent to your email account on this date.”

The hacker did not know OM’s password, but did know OM’s SSN, birth date, name, and
address, obtained elsewhere. The hacker also apparently had gained access to OM’s email
account ​in order to 1) retrieve the temporary password, and 2) delete emails about changes
being made to OM’s AYSO account. Your email account must be secure to protect your AYSO
account!

Today, theft of identities is very common: 50 million at Experian (2013), 3 billion at Yahoo in
2013 (disclosed in 2016, 40% of world’s population if unique accounts), 145 million at Equifax
(2017), 145 million at eBay (2014), 57 million at Uber (2016), 76 million households (half of all
US households) at JP Morgan Chase (2014), 79 million at Anthem (2015). There were 20 major
breaches in 2017 alone. UCLA’s 2006 breach, which affected OM, exposed name and SSN,
date of birth, home address and contact information​.[1]

Your name, SSN, date of birth, and home address probably haven’t changed in many years!
Unchangeable personal data is always valid, independent of when the breach occurred. Yet
this fixed personal information that you cannot change is all that is required to login to
AYSO today!​ You can not move your pension to another institution. You are dependent on
AYSO to adopt 2-factor authentication with phone so a hacker with all your personal information
can not access your account. This is now being promised for 2019.

But in the meantime you can eliminate the risks, by having your AYSO account blocked​:

1. Log in to AYSO and in the lower left corner of the main menu leave a comment for
Customer Care that you request two-factor authentication that requires them to call or
text your phone.
2. Change all document delivery from online to delivery by US Mail.
3. Check that your home address, telephone, email address, and security questions are
current.
4. Check/change your security word. (You must remember this word.)
5. Log out.
6. Call RASC (800) 888-8267 and request that they “block” your account from all online
access by anyone, including you. Request they require that it may only be unblocked by
you, authenticated by a phone call from RASC to your phone on record.
7. Change your email password. Make sure that password is never used for any other
account anywhere and that it is a strong password that is unrelated to your other
passwords used elsewhere.
8. Adopt 2-factor authentication or “2-step authentication” if it is available for your email
account. Google offers it.
9. Each first of the month, verify that your monthly payment was deposited into your bank
and call RASC if it was not deposited.
10. To unblock, call RASC and request your account be unblocked.

Rest assured that our UCSC Emeriti Association, CUCEA (the Council of UC Emeriti
Associations), CUCRA (the Council of UC Retiree Associations), UCFW (system-wide Faculty
Welfare), and UCRS (UC Retirement System) Advisory Committee are all working to get AYSO
security improved and to get the pension payment theft victims reimbursed!

Best regards,
Todd Wipke
President, UCSC Emeriti Association
______________________________________
[1]On Dec 12, 2006​ OM received a letter from Norman Abrams, Acting Chancellor of UCLA:

“UCLA​ computer administrators have discovered that a restricted campus database containing
certain personal information has been illegally accessed by a sophisticated computer hacker. ...I regret to inform you that your name is in the database. ...The information stored on the affected database includes names and Social Security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses and contact information​.”

”This database contains personal information about UCLA​’s current and some former students,
faculty and staff, some student applicants and some parents of students or applicants who applied for financial aid. This data base also includes current and some former faculty and staff at the University of California, Merced​, and current and some former employees of the University of California Office of the President​, for which UCLA does administrative processing.”
========
*https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2018/05/pension-theft.html

Some more?

UCOP response to the governor's May Revise budget proposal:

...A statement issued by the UC’s Office of the President said the ten-campus university system “greatly appreciates” the $100 million for deferred maintenance but said it would lobby for more operating funds and did not definitively take a tuition hike off the table for the 2018-19 school year. “We remain hopeful that the legislature and the governor will provide sufficient resources to ensure that today’s students receive the same world-class UC education as did previous generations,” the statement said...

Full story at https://edsource.org/2018/brown-offers-funds-for-university-repairs-and-advances-community-college-reforms/597724

From our examples-that-show-that-not-every-donation-has-to-be-a-building department

A gift from philanthropists Jane and Terry Semel will enable UCLA to expand research, teaching and activities connected to the campus’s Healthy Campus Initiative.
Chancellor Gene Block announced the gift May 9 at the initiative’s annual celebration at Pauley Pavilion. The funds will establish the Semel HCI Center at UCLA and support students, projects and programming.  
The initiative, which was instituted at UCLA in 2012 and officially launched a year later, was envisioned by the Semels and funded by them with support from Block and other senior administrators and faculty. It aims to promote the physical, mental and social well-being of UCLA students, staff and faculty members and develop best practices that other campuses and communities can replicate.
“This pioneering effort has enabled UCLA to engage with a wide cross section of our community, stimulating research and introducing activities that influence people to make healthier choices,” Block said. “The Semel HCI Center at UCLA will ensure that these important efforts grow for generations to come. I deeply appreciate Jane and Terry Semel’s long-standing support, vision and generosity.”
To date, the initiative has funded the creation of a traditional medicinal garden at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, the biodynamic jane b semel HCI Community Garden at the UCLA Sunset Canyon Recreation Center and hundreds of health-related student projects. The initiative also supports up to 10 graduate student researchers each year and has driven the development of several new UCLA courses, including a popular life skills class, and an undergraduate minor and graduate-level certificate in food studies.
It also played key roles in enhancing UCLA’s student dining offerings, which are widely regarded among the nation’s most healthful; developing and studying a teaching kitchen curriculum for undergraduates and health sciences students; implementing UCLA’s smoke-free campus program; and developing one of the nation’s first campuswide diabetes prevention programs...

Friday, May 11, 2018

No change in basic UC appropriation from January, but some one-time additions

Governor, wife, dog
The May Revise was presented at a news conference this morning which was more informal than past ones. It started with a presentation by the governor's wife of their new dog. As far as UC is concerned, it appears that there is no increase in the basic general fund allocation proposed for 2018-19, but some added one-time allocations. (None for the retirement system.) The $50 million contingent on complying with the state audit for this year (2017-18) appears likely to be paid, assuming certain actions by the Regents at their upcoming meeting. For next year, there is $100 million in "deferred" maintenance and $55 million for a program of graduate health education in underserved areas plus some smaller, earmarked amounts. (See pages 28-29 of the document at the link provided below.) The recent AFSCME strike was raised by a reporter and the response from the budget director, Michael Cohen, was that UC should manage within the dollars allocated. (Various jokes were made about California's Michael Cohen vs. Trump's Michael Cohen.)

California's Michael Cohen
The governor, in response to a question about desires by some in the legislature to give more to UC than the basic 3% increase was that he was "open to realistic proposals." For both UC and CSU there is language that if tuition is raised, the state would subtract the added cost to the state (from programs such as CalGrants) from the basic budget. (Note that this is less of a subtraction than a dollar-for-dollar deduction, since some tuition comes from other than the state, e.g., federal programs, direct payments from students, etc.). However, the budget director indicated that he thought there was likely to be no tuition increase next year.

Below is a summary of the budget proposal. Note that at the end of the day, although total reserves rise, they fall relative to expenditures. So how "open" the governor might be "to realistic proposals" regarding UC is likely subject to significant limitations. But there could be some room around the edges.


                 2017-           2018-   
$Millions        2018            2019
-------------------------------------------
Starting
GF Balance      $5,673          $8,452

Revenue &
Transfers     $129,825        $133,513

Expenditures  $127,046        $137,562

Surplus or
Deficit        +$2,779         -$4,049

Ending GF      
Balance         $8,452          $4,403      

Ending
Rainy Day
Fund            $9,410         $13,767

Total
Ending
Reserves       $17,862         $18,170

Ending
Reserves/
Expenditures     14.1%           13.2%
-------------------------------------------
The budget document released is at:
http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/FullBudgetSummary.pdf

In case the governor says a plague on UC's house in the May Revise

A UCLA-led group of researchers may have found a vaccine against anthrax, plague and tularemia -- three potent pathogens likely to be used in a bioterror attack, the university announced Thursday. If found to be safe and effective in humans, the vaccine could protect people from all three lethal bacteria, the researchers said.
While there are no licensed vaccines for tularemia and plague, there is an anthrax vaccine which requires a burdensome immunization schedule and has severe side effects. The UCLA team used molecular engineering to develop vaccines against each that use a common delivery method, or "single vector," to carry protective antigens to the immune system. The findings were published May 3 in the journal Scientific Reports.
"Relying on currently available antibiotics to counter an intentional outbreak of anthrax, plague or tularemia is not a pragmatic public health plan -- vaccines offer the only practical protection," said Dr. Marcus Horwitz, the study's senior author and a professor of medicine and of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA...
Of course, we're also waiting to see what the Regents do with retiree health care in July. Perhaps the item above is related to that:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

More Cash

The latest report from the state controller, on the eve of the governor's May Revise budget proposal, has revenue through April exceeding the projections made for his January budget by $3.8 billion. Compared to last June, when the current budget was enacted, the excess is $4.7 billion.

So UC has some hope of an added appropriation by the time we get to the enactment of the budget in June. On verra.

The controller's statement is at:
https://www.sco.ca.gov/Files-ARD/CASH/April%202018%20Statement%20of%20General%20Fund%20Cash%20Receipts%20and%20Disbursements.pdf

Security

A consortium consisting of UC Riverside, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara, together with Los Alamos National Laboratory, was awarded $3.6 million for a three-year project, “Securing smart campuses: a holistic multi-layer approach,” through the 2018 UC Laboratory Fees Research Program.
The project will build security and privacy for “smart campuses” that present a microcosm of smart cities and, more generally, human cyber-physical systems, in which computer, physical, and human aspects are thoroughly integrated.
The collaborative project, co-led by UC Riverside and UCLA, aims to develop a holistic framework to enhance the security, privacy, and safety of campus operation, building on the team’s expertise in cyber-physical systems security, information and wireless security, software and hardware security, and privacy-preserving machine learning.
School campuses, businesses, as well as academic and private labs increasingly integrate sensing, computation, and communication in their physical environment to control their operation and more efficiently serve their communities.
Campuses already have multiple interacting layers and systems including human mobility and crowdsourcing; infrastructure such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC; transportation; medical and emergency services; computing and communication infrastructure; and monitoring infrastructure such as cameras. Integration of these systems has many benefits such as saving energy, reducing operating costs, and more comfortably accommodating a growing student population.
But smart campuses are also uniquely vulnerable. A malfunction or attack on the HVAC system alone can have severe consequences for patient care at campus hospitals, for experiments at research facilities, and sporting events.
In one real-life example cited by the researchers, hackers used a cell phone and laptop to remotely take control of a car. The results ranged from inconsequential — choice of radio station — to potentially fatal— disabling the transmission in the middle of a freeway. The hackers had the ability to control nearly half a million cars this way.
As cyber-physical systems become both larger and more complex and come to incorporate entire cities, attackers could cause a full-scale disaster simply by manipulating one aspect of the system.
The UC and Los Alamos researchers will identify new avenues of attack that span physical and cyber components and create a formal security framework. They will design new software and hardware security mechanisms for devices used for sensing, networking, and actuation, and develop a secure and private communication framework for the various components of a cyber-physical system. Finally, they will use machine-learning algorithms to treat malicious attacks as network errors to be detected and corrected. Security features will be tested by running simulations on a model cyber-physical system to identify benefits, negative effects in case of errors, vulnerabilities, and defenses.
“When the new technologies are ready to implement, they will improve campus security in many ways,” said Michalis Faloutsos, a professor of computer science and engineering at UC-Riverside’s Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering, who is working on the project. “Not only against cyberattacks, but also violence, such as school shooters, and improve emergency response. The powerful security systems our University of California and Los Alamos group develops could be adapted for wider use in smart cities of the very near future.”
Note: Since the Los Alamos contract is up for bid - with supposedly a decision on whether UC will continue to have a role there this month from the Dept. of Energy - a three-year contract with Los Alamos seems odd (or maybe very clever). ????

We'll see about Friday

The governor's May Revise 2018-19 budget proposal is supposed to be released tomorrow, Friday. The regents withdrew their tuition-raising proposal on the grounds that maybe the budget would add some money for UC. Friday's child is supposed to be loving and giving. But whether that will apply to Jerry Brown remains to be seen. There remains the dispute from this year's budget over $50 million which depended on doing what the state auditor wanted. UC says it did; the auditor says it didn't. Brown could point to that dispute if he wants to be stingy. Of course, the legislature could add money to whatever Brown proposes. And Brown could line-item veto the extra allocation (although he has been averse to much line-item vetoing).

It may be that we can't put too much faith into the poem about children of the week. Tuesday's child is supposed to be full of grace. If you listened to Tuesday's gubernatorial debate, it would be hard to find a lot of grace among the candidates, some more than others. There was not much about UC. One of the Republicans brought up the state budget and the supposed "slush fund." The format of the debate gave the candidates 30-60 seconds per question and they generally stayed with the limits. So perhaps detail was not to be expected. You can hear the debate at:

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Can't be helpful

Although the info in the article above is not new, the article can't be helpful to UC's bid to continue in a managerial role at Los Alamos.

Article at https://www.propublica.org/article/two-leading-bidders-for-lucrative-los-alamos-lab-contract-have-checkered-safety-records

Deukmejian on Faculty Pay

Former Republican Governor George Deukmejian died yesterday. You can find his obituary at various sources including https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/obituaries/george-deukmejian-dead-california-governor.html. Worth noting for the purposes of this blog are his comments about faculty pay made at a UCLA meeting in 2005 and more general comments about UC. Deukmejian governorship followed Jerry Brown's first iteration as governor in which the latter was (in)famous for his comments that faculty enjoyed "psychic income" rather than cash. Deukmejian's comments are at the link below:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

UCLA Hack

A mass hacking campaign that targets a critical vulnerability in the Drupal content management system has converted more than 400 government, corporate, and university websites into cryptocurrency mining platforms that surreptitiously drain visitors' computers of electricity and computing resources, a security researcher said Monday.

Sites that were hacked included those belonging to computer maker Lenovo, the University of California at Los Angeles, the US National Labor Relations Board, the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners, and the city of Marion, Ohio, Troy Mursch, an independent security researcher, told Ars on Monday. The Social Security Institute of the State of Mexico and Municipalities, the Turkish Revenue Administration, and Peru's Project Improvement of Higher Education Quality were also affected. The US had the largest concentration of hacked sites, with at least 123, followed by France, Canada, Germany, and the Russian Federation, with 26, 19, 18 and 17, respectively.

The sites all ran the same piece of JavaScript hosted on vuuwd.com. The highly obfuscated code caused visitors' computers to dedicate 80 percent of their CPU resources to mining the digital coin known as Monero with no notice or permission. The attacker behind the campaign took control of the sites by exploiting a Drupal vulnerability that makes code-execution attacks so easy and reliable it was dubbed "Drupalgeddon2." Although Drupal maintainers patched the critical flaw in March, many vulnerable sites have been slow to install the fix...

Full story at https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/05/hundreds-of-big-name-sites-hacked-converted-into-drive-by-currency-miners/

News of UC/UCLA Strike This Week - Part 3

Driver Rams UCLA Picketers As Thousands Of UC Workers Strike [excerpt]

...The strike got off to a rocky start at UCLA (on Monday), where a motorist apparently got impatient around 9:45 a.m., and tried to drive through the picketers crossing a street. Police and witnesses said a man in an SUV became irritated when union members were marching through the intersection of Westwood Plaza and Le Conte Avenue. Witnesses said the man initially got out of his SUV with some type of stick and threatened the picketers.

"He jumped back into his car, he gasses it," one union member told KNX Newsradio. "I'm holding on to his hood. He brakes, I thought he was going to stop, and as soon as I'm trying to move he gasses it again and I just grabbed on again and as he's driving I'm telling him to slow down."

UCLA Police said three picketers were treated for minor injuries at the scene. The driver was taken into custody, although he appeared to have some difficulty breathing while being arrested and was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to be checked out, police said.

There were no other reports of any other clashes involving union protesters...

Full story at https://patch.com/california/venice/s/gf0lz/driver-rams-ucla-picketers-as-thousands-of-uc-workers-strike

Monday, May 7, 2018

News of UC/UCLA Strike This Week - Part 2


LA Times, Teresa Watanabe, 5-6-18

More than 50,000 workers across the University of California are set to strike this week, causing potential disruptions to surgery schedules, food preparation and campus maintenance. The system's 10 campuses and five medical centers are to remain open, with classes scheduled as planned.

UC's largest employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, plans to begin a three-day strike Monday involving 25,000 workers, including custodians, gardeners, cooks, truck drivers, lab technicians and nurse aides. The union and university reached a bargaining impasse last year, and subsequent mediation efforts have failed to produce an agreement over wage increases, healthcare premiums and retirement terms. Two other unions have approved sympathy strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday. About 14,000 members of the California Nurses Assn., who work at UC's medical centers and student health clinics, are set to walk off their jobs, along with 15,000 members of the University Professional & Technical Employees, who include pharmacists, clinical social workers, physical therapists, physician assistants and researchers. In addition, some members of UAW Local 2865, which represents graduate student workers who teach, tutor and grade assignments, may support the strike, which could result in cancellations of some classes, said Garrett Strain, a union official and UC Berkeley graduate student in sociology. Strain said his union did not authorize a strike because members are under contract but individuals are legally allowed to honor the picket lines.

UC officials said they have made contingency plans to keep disruptions to a minimum. At UCLA for instance, some eateries will be closed during the strike but other dining halls will remain open with extended hours. UCLA has hired temporary healthcare professionals to fill in for striking workers, and UC San Diego has rescheduled some elective surgeries at its medical center.

The union has assembled a voluntary "patient protection task force" whose members will leave the picket line to respond to life-threatening emergencies if needed, said AFSCME spokesman John de los Angeles.

AFSCME is pressing for a multiyear contract with an annual wage increase of 6%, no increase in healthcare premiums and a continued retirement age of 60 to qualify for full pension benefits.
Workers were angered by a recent study that showed a growing income gap between UC's highest-paid employees, who are disproportionately white men, and the lowest-paid workers, who are mostly women and non-whites, De los Angeles said. The union study, which officials say is based on previously unpublished UC data, showed that starting wages of blacks and Latinos were about 20% lower than white workers in comparable jobs. "Their concern can be boiled down to one word: inequality," De los Angeles said.

The university offered workers an annual increase of 3% over four years and an annual cap of $25 for any monthly premium increase, said UC spokeswoman Claire Doan. A proposal to raise the retirement age to 65 to qualify for full benefits would apply only to new employees who choose a pension instead of a 401(k) plan, she said. UC would sweeten the pot by reducing employees' retirement contribution from 9% to 7%. Doan said she could not confirm the accuracy of the union pay study but that any employee who feels unfairly treated can bring such concerns to UC officials.
She added that union leaders rejected the offer without a vote by members. However, 97% of members voted to authorize a strike last month.

The university then unilaterally imposed terms on workers, including a 2% raise for the next fiscal year, further angering the union. Doan said the union is demanding pay raises that are twice as high as those given to other UC employees. "The university cannot justify to taxpayers such an excessive raise, no matter how much we appreciate our service workers," she said in an email. "A strike will only hurt the union's own members who will lose pay for joining this ill-advised three-day walkout, while negatively affecting services to patients and students."

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Saturday, May 5, 2018

News of UC/UCLA Strike Next Week

From UCLAMembers of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents service workers and patient care technical workers at UCLA, plan to strike from Monday, May 7 until early on Thursday, May 10. Members of the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) and the California Nurses Association (CNA) plan to join AFSCME in a sympathy strike on May 8 and May 9...

Source: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-statement-about-upcoming-strike


News Account of Recent PERB Action
After a more than two-hour court hearing, a judge upheld a legal action by the University of California to prevent some medical employees from going on strike next week. The Public Employment Relations Board filed the suit in Sacramento County Superior Court on Wednesday, following complaints UC lodged with the state administrative agency in late April. Those complaints claimed labor unions planned to include “essential employees” in strikes on Monday and Tuesday, which would “pose an imminent and substantial threat to the public health and safety.” PERB filed a proposal to require a set number of “essential employees” to work during the strikes, which the judge approved Friday afternoon...


Union StatementA California Superior Court rejected the University of California’s attempt to block more than 700 of its workers from participating in a planned May 7-9 strike. Instead, it has sided with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) and AFSCME Local 3299—the union that is leading next week’s strike—in requiring only a small number of critical medical workers to report for work.
In the past, UC has filed and failed to secure similar injunctions seeking to stop its workers from engaging in legally protected strike activity. In announcing its strike, AFSCME also announced the formation of a Patient Protection Task Force comprised of striking workers who would be available to meet urgent medical needs at UC hospitals in the event that UC’s strike contingency plans break down...
In addition to the sources above, yours truly received a departmental email indicating that internal mail delivery and janitorial services would be interrupted during the strike period.
The Daily Bruin indicates there will be partial effects on student dining hall services: 
http://dailybruin.com/2018/05/03/three-day-union-worker-strike-to-interrupt-dining-custodial-services/

Friday, May 4, 2018

Good Intentions and the Road to You-Know-Where


From the LA Times: For nearly 50 years, the University of California and Berkeley activists have been locked in conflict over one of the state’s most contested pieces of land. The standoff started in 1969, when hundreds of people hauled sod, trees and flowers to a scruffy lot that the university intended to build on and proclaimed it their own People’s Park. A few weeks later, UC fenced the public out, and thousands of protesters marched there. A bloody battle ensued when law enforcement pushed them back with tear gas and buckshot. Fights over the land have continued ever since as the once-vibrant park has become home to trash, rats and crime.

Now, UC Berkeley officials hope they finally have a plan that will let them use the space without fierce backlash. On Thursday, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ announced plans to develop a large part of People’s Park into much-needed housing — not only for students, but also for some of the community’s 800 homeless people. The campus newspaper first reported the possibility last year.

“The breakthrough realization for me was ... that helping with homelessness — specifically in the park, but more generally in the community — was really part of the university’s responsibility,” Christ said in a recent interview. “The park was like the third rail,” she said. “A lot of chancellors felt they just couldn’t touch it. But I think the time is just right. It’s a combination of people’s sense of urgency of the housing crisis and also, frankly, the urgency of the homelessness crisis.”

...Under the plan, private developers would lease the land and build separate residential units. One would include as many as 1,000 beds, most likely for upperclassmen or graduate students. A nonprofit developer would build up to 125 apartments for community members who are homeless or at risk of losing shelter — possibly veterans, former foster youths or people with disabilities. The developer would select an organization to provide services such as mental healthcare and substance-abuse treatment. UC Berkeley’s schools of social welfare and public health also would help. Under the proposal, a portion of the park would remain open green space. The university also plans to memorialize the park’s history, possibly with a sculpture or plaques...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-uc-berkeley-peoples-park-20180503-htmlstory.html


Thursday, May 3, 2018

UCLA History: Stewart

Jimmy Stewart on the steps of the UCLA Law School (undated)

Med Art

The 200 Medical Building seems to be redecorating. New artworks are appearing on the walls. "Untitled Floral on Pink Table" by Max Eisenstein.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Pension Theft

Received today via email:

May 2, 2018

Re: UCRS Pension Payment Thefts

Dear Colleagues,

A UCSC Emeriti Association member reports the following alarming story. Our member (OM, for privacy reasons) is very security conscious and computer savvy. Last Fall, OM's monthly pension direct deposit did not arrive at the bank. 

Attempts to log into atyourserviceonline.ucop.edu failed. OM's password was no longer accepted! Someone had logged into OM's account approximately two weeks before the end of the month (according to UC records) so changes would take effect by the end of the month. They changed OM's password, and changed the direct deposit destination of the pension payment to another bank.

OM claims OM received no emails for any of these changes (spam folder checked too). OM made a police report as did UC. UC says "The breach of [OM’s] information did not occur as a result of a breach in the Retirement Administration Service Center system." UC refused to make good the missing payment to OM, claiming "The plan does not allow the monthly retirement income to be paid more than once a month.” So UC has essentially declared that it is not their fault and once they make a deposit in OM’s name, no matter where the deposit is directed, the money has been spent and they cannot reissue the benefit. On advice from RASC at UCOP, OM appealed UC's decision, providing extensive documentation, but finally in mid March received UC's decision on OM's appeal--negative. UC concluded, “... [OM] has exhausted all appeal procedures available under the Plan or through the University regarding UCRP benefits.” Furthermore, the missing payment not received by OM was reported by UCRP to the IRS as income to OM!

Just one more thing: TWO DAYS EARLIER, another retiree on ANOTHER CAMPUS had the exact SAME THING happen, PENSION REDIRECTED to the SAME BANK. This is documented in the Berkeley police report made by UC. (OM has a copy.) It would be surprising if these two cases are the only ones that have happened.

There are three lessons here for every retiree:

1. If someone gets your login info or SSN, they can steal not only your pension payment, but also all your personal information that UC has, putting all your other accounts at risk.

2. Monitor your pension deposit monthly to detect and stop theft immediately. 

3. Based on this case, UC will not make good your stolen payment, UC accepts no responsibility.

UCRS password protection is inadequate. It needs a second validation: something you know (password) + some trusted device you have in your possession (telephone). Fidelity, contracted by UC for UC savings accounts (403b, 457, DCP), does require a second validation. They send a number to your phone by text or voice that you must enter to prove you are the owner of the account. So does CitiCard, and most other financial institutions, because it is more secure.

The hacker may know what you know, but can’t answer your phone. Even Gmail has adopted 2-step validation. UC DOES NOT require that second validation to assure that the person changing the direct deposit of pension payment is the person that owns the account and carries the phone of the owner of the account. Is UC carrying out its fiduciary responsibilities to assure that the correct person receives the pension payment?

Our credit card companies protect us from unauthorized charges, but UC is not protecting its retirees against unauthorized changes of direct deposit destination and is not making good a stolen pension payment. Had UC required two-factor validation, password + phone, OM would have received the Fall pension payment and the hacker would have failed on both campuses.

Sincerely,
Todd Wipke
President, UCSC Emeriti Association

Must go faster!

Auditor: University of California late on budget fixes

Sophia Bollag, Associated Press, Seattle Times, 5-1-18

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A year after a scathing review of its budget practices, the University of California president’s office hasn’t fully implemented some of the report’s recommendations, according to the state auditor’s office.

In its one-year evaluation of the UC Office of the President’s progress, the auditor found the office was behind schedule, partly because it hasn’t finished its budget. UC President Janet Napolitano’s office says it is on schedule.

A year ago, an audit of Napolitano’s office found misleading budget practices and millions of dollars in reserves not properly disclosed to the public. Napolitano disputed some of the report’s findings but promised to make changes the auditor recommended, including developing clearer budget procedures.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers have threatened to withhold millions of dollars from the UC system if the auditor’s recommendations aren’t implemented on time. The governor and Legislature are negotiating a state budget, including funding for the UC system.

“We are confident that we have complied with all of the mandates by the California State Auditor and we are doing everything we can to ensure that the auditor is satisfied,” Napolitano spokeswoman Dianne Klein said.

Klein deferred to a report from Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting, a firm hired by the UC Board of Regents, which found the president’s office “substantially met” the April 2018 milestones outlined in the auditor’s recommendations.

The firm argued Napolitano’s office is on track to meet its own budget deadline next month and that the office shouldn’t be expected to change its own budget schedule to meet the auditor’s April deadline.

Napolitano’s office hasn’t shown it adequately updated its budgeting practices and protocols for setting staff salaries, the auditor says. The auditor’s office also says the office isn’t being adequately transparent about the amount of money it has in reserves.

Napolitano’s office did solicit feedback from campus leaders in drafting its budget and developed a method for comparing its staffing costs with salary data from comparable private and public employers. The office also implemented several recommendations about tracking initiatives and improving its staffing plans, according to the auditor.

The governor hasn’t decided whether to withhold money from the UC system, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the governor’s Department of Finance.

Source: https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/auditor-university-of-california-late-on-budget-fixes/

Time doesn't wait: