Sunday, January 20, 2019

UCLA Alert Message

Message above received through the UCLA cellphone emergency alert system not long ago. What it says is all I know about the situation.

UPDATE: An all-clear message was received at 11:45 AM, but no information on what happened.

Listen to the Regents Working Group on UCOP Salary Ranges (1-17-2019)

As it turns out, the Regents tacked on a meeting of the Working Group on UCOP Salary Ranges after their Jan. 17 full board meeting. The Working Group is one of the responses to the state audit and its criticism of overly-wide salary ranges at UCOP. So, not surprisingly, one recommendation is to narrow the ranges.

However, according to a report prepared for the Working Group, UCOP is tending to fall behind Bay Area salaries for such occupations as IT professionals and technical types, accountants, and others. This situation is attributed at the meeting to the very hot economy in the Bay Area caused by the presence of firms such as Uber and other technology-related employers.

As a result, the recommendation is to narrow the ranges but also raise them. Only one individual is above the range and he/she may well be within range once it is pulled up. Sixty-four individuals are below-range and will get raises.

You can hear the discussion (about 14 minutes) at the link below:

or direct to:

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Listen to the Regents of Jan. 17, 2018

We are jumping from Jan. 15 to Jan. 17 below because one session of the meetings on the 16th seems to be missing from the official Regents' recordings. (Possibly, the session was cancelled or it didn't get recorded.) So we'll hold off a bit on that date.

We have two summaries below of what the Regents did on the 17th. The audio recording link is at the bottom of this post. Note that the official recording cuts off before the end of the session, so ours is also cut off. (The problem of early cutoffs of recordings seems to have affected some the recordings on the 16th, too.)
Student adviser position discontinued at 3rd day of UC regents meeting

By Mallika Seshadri | Daily Californian | 1-18-19

The UC Board of Regents ended the pilot program for the position of student adviser at Thursday’s meeting, held at UCSF Mission Bay. The board also called for increased collaboration between the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, and individual campuses.

“(The motion to eliminate the student adviser position) drives more student participation into the normal board governance … as opposed to an isolated student at the table,” said UC President Janet Napolitano at the meeting, while expressing appreciation for the contributions of both former student advisers.

The student adviser role, a position that provided the regents with student input, was approved in 2016 as a pilot program. Now, the UC has decided to end the program, leaving students with two options for future participation within the UC regent system.

One of these options is through the Student Advocates to the Regents program, which allows students to attend meetings and participate in public comment. The other is through student observer positions, which allow students to make statements to the board.

Napolitano, who was in favor of the motion to end the student adviser position, said the older programs allow more students to participate. Only 19 students applied to be student advisers, according to Edward Huang, the current student adviser and a UC Berkeley senior.

According to Regent George Kieffer, the chair of the board, each UC campus was surveyed in late 2017 for the “University of California 10 Campus Study,” which he referenced as “one of the most important things to happen in the last 18 months.”

Napolitano said that while the report did not provide a complete depiction of each campuses’ needs, it did identify the essence of the relationship between the UCOP and individual UC campuses.

“The effort has allowed us to improve collaboration and coordination between the campuses and the office of the president,” Napolitano said during the meeting. “And our goal is to promote a culture of continuous progress, continuous improvement — always necessary in an organization as diverse, as large, as the University of California.”

Each comment of the study has been discussed, and the whole document has been reviewed for potential areas of improvement over the past five months, according to Napolitano.

According to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, this kind of assessment is important. Because each UC is its own research institution — rather than one university with several satellite campuses — many logistical challenges arise with respect to delegating power. When UC Berkeley was the only UC, it had one president who held all power. Eventually, more UCs were created.

Christ added that while the organization of the system is complex, it is a defining feature in the system’s governance, with both “opportunities and challenges.”


UC regents relax rules restricting paid outside jobs for chancellors and top managers

By Teresa Watanabe, Jan. 17, 2019 | LA Times

University of California regents voted Thursday to weaken the rules for allowing chancellors and other senior managers to engage in outside professional activities, two years after cracking down on former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi for moonlighting.

UC rules had required pre-approval for all paid and unpaid activities. But before wrapping up a two-day meeting in San Francisco, regents agreed to drop requirements for pre-approval for any outside activity — such as a position on a corporate board — that pays less than $2,500 from a single source in a year, unless required by a higher-up.

But senior managers, a group that includes about 290 people, still will be required to report all outside professional activities, both paid and unpaid.

After Katehi was ousted in 2016 over revelations that she had accepted paid positions with a for-profit education company and a textbook publisher, regents voted to decrease from three to two the number of paid for-profit board seats senior managers can accept. They also created an extra layer of approval for outside activities, as well as an independent review committee to assess any real or perceived conflicts of interest and potential damage to the reputation of a campus or UC.

But chancellors soon complained that the approval process had turned into a bureaucratic nightmare.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said it often took two months to get pre-approvals for her unpaid speeches to the Rotary Club, for instance, or royalties for work editing an anthology of British literature. Another chancellor who wrote an acclaimed book on free speech was told he should have received pre-approval for the project, Christ said.

“I'm sure the policy wasn't intended to create these incredibly burdensome and bureaucratic reporting requirements,” she said in interview. “Nobody has any problem whatsoever with there being strict scrutiny of service on for-profit boards or for-profit activities.”

Scholarly work will no longer be subject to the UC policy.

Christ called the changes that were approved Thursday “common-sense reforms.”

Other rules, including the limit of holding two paid positions on for-profit boards, remain in place. Exceptions must be approved by regents.

In 2017, four of 10 chancellors reported payments for outside professional activities: Pradeep Khosla at UC San Diego was paid $52,500, Christ at Berkeley received $1,500 and Samuel Hawgood at UC San Francisco got $1,000. UC Davis Chancellor Gary May reported $255,420 in cash and stocks from one corporation and one nonprofit, but much of it was earned in a previous job before joining UC in August 2017.

Board of Regents Chairman George Kieffer said UC’s moonlighting rules remain among the strictest in the nation.

The policy encourages its senior managers to serve on scientific boards, foundations and corporations as a way to share their expertise and learn about other administrative and educational operations.

But regents passed the stricter rules in 2016, after disclosures by the Sacramento Bee that Katehi had taken paid board positions with the DeVry Education Group, which was under federal investigation at the time for fraud, and John Wiley & Sons, a college textbook publisher. The revelations prompted both a state legislative hearing on UC moonlighting and a directive in the state budget to review and adjust policies on outside activities at UC.

Also Thursday, regents voted to phase out the board position of student advisor and instead add other opportunities for students to get involved with decision-making at UC. The position was established two years ago on a pilot basis and had been set to expire in July.

Student advisor Edward Huang pushed to keep the position, saying it would ensure more diversity and amplify student engagement with the Board of Regents. But Student Regent Devon Graves and Caroline Siegel Singh, president of the UC Student Assn., said the advisor position had not worked out as hoped and backed alternative approaches.

In other action, regents discussed a multiyear plan to boost enrollment, improve graduation rates and eliminate achievement gaps among students who are low-income, underrepresented minorities or the first in their families to attend college.

UC campuses are aiming to hit a 90% graduation rate within six years for freshmen and within four years for transfer students by 2030. However, some regents pushed UC officials to try to achieve that rate among all freshmen within four years.

Regents also discussed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget, saying they hoped to secure more funding to enroll an additional 2,500 Californians in 2019-20.


Audio link below:

Or direct to:

Friday, January 18, 2019

Higher Hurdle at Med School?

From the Bruin:

The medical school is raising admission standards for next year’s applicants.
The David Geffen School of Medicine is raising its math and science GPA and MCAT cutoff scores to 3.4 and 512, respectively, according to a policy proposal released by school of medicine faculty and students. Many students said they are worried this will negatively affect the school’s diversity...

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Listen to the Regents Sessions of Jan. 15, 2019

We continue our practice of preserving audio recordings of Regents sessions. Links are provided all the way down in this posting.

There were two Regents sessions on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The Investments Subcommittee session included a presentation summarizing the UCLA Anderson Forecast by Jerry Nickelsburg. Thereafter, there was the usual review of portfolio developments including the pension and endowment. The Bloomberg story below summarizes that part of the session.

The Special Committee on Basic Needs session is summarized below the Bloomberg article by a Bruin piece.

University of California Assets Fell $9 Billion in Market Rout

By Michael McDonald

January 16, 2019, 9:25 AM PST, Bloomberg

Stock market turmoil in the fourth quarter hit the University of California’s retirement and endowment assets, which fell $9 billion in the period, according to the state system’s investment office.

Total assets were $114 billion at year end, the office reported at a Jan. 15 board meeting. Losses were concentrated in the public equity portfolio, which was $53.1 billion, or 47 percent of assets, down from 52 percent on Sept. 30.

The S&P 500 Index dropped about 14 percent last quarter on concerns over rising rates and geopolitical uncertainty in the U.S. and Europe.

The endowment lost 3.7 percent in preliminary investment performance for the six months through Dec. 31, according to the office. The pension fund declined 4.9 percent in the period. The state system is on a fiscal year that ends June 30.

Jagdeep Bachher, the university’s chief investment officer, said the returns were mainly the result of poor stock performance.

“Our goal is to remain conservative through these times,“ Bachher said in a video broadcast of the meeting. “Just stay cautionary.”

After public equities, fixed income in the state system’s portfolio made up about a third of the assets on Dec. 31, with the rest allocated to alternatives such as hedge funds, private equity, real estate and other real assets and cash.

There was a strong pipeline of private investments in the last six months of 2018, Edmond Fong, senior managing director overseeing absolute return, said at the meeting. In the fourth quarter, 40 percent of new investments in the endowment were in private equity and another 40 percent in hedge funds, he said.



...Special Committee on Basic Needs

On Tuesday, Student Regent Devon Graves said the goal of the committee is to produce a report after two years that provides an overview of basic needs at UC campuses and discusses ways in which the campuses and the UC Office of the President are helping to solve these issues.

UCOP Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Jerlena Griffin-Desta said all UC campuses had established basic needs committees.

Student Regent-designate Hayley Weddle recommended the committee examine the intersection between federal and state policy and basic needs insecurity across the UC, consider what data are needed to properly understand and address food and housing insecurity, and explore long-term funding strategies to support basic needs resources...

Full story at

Listen to the Investments Subcommittee at:

Or go direct to Investments:

and to Basic Needs:

We'll get to yesterday's session later. But I might note that two of the three morning official recordings provided by the Regents cut off before the sessions ended. One session in the afternoon either wasn't held or wasn't available, not clear which.

For those who can't wait, the morning sessions of Jan. 16th are at:

I will delay uploading the afternoon sessions until the situation with the missing session clears up, if it does.

Davis Alert Problem

From the Sacramento Bee: A critical emergency alert system designed to warn UC Davis students and staff failed to fully notify the campus until more than an hour after Davis police Officer Natalie Corona was shot and killed blocks from the university, officials announced, calling the breakdown “unacceptable.”

The WarnMe-Aggie Alert sends text and email messages to UC Davis students and staff and is designed to alert 70,000 people. But the system initially notified only a fraction of those people about the events unfolding less than a mile from the campus and locked campus public safety officials out of some notification lists.

“The system failure we saw on January 10 was unacceptable and we will take all necessary measures to ensure 100 percent performance in the future,” said UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May in a statement Tuesday...

Full story at

[Are you aware that UCLA has a low-power AM radio station that covers the local area and broadcasts emergency alerts? Even if you think you don't have an AM radio, your car likely has one which, of course, is powered by your car battery. Yours truly picks it up as far away as Santa Monica.]

By the way, the Corona murder led indirectly to a brouhaha on the Davis campus which various UC-Davis authorities quickly snuffed out:

UC Davis student group criticized for calling photo of Officer Natalie Corona ‘anti-Black’

A photo of Police Officer Natalie Corona, clad in a royal blue dress and waving a Thin Blue Line flag, has flooded social media as a symbol of the 22-year-old’s deep love of police work before she was gunned down in Davis on Thursday night.

A UC Davis student government branch, though, saw it differently. The university’s Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission criticized the picture and Corona’s flag in particular, calling it “triggering” and “blatantly anti-Black” in a now-deleted Facebook post...

UC Davis responded to a torrent of angry commenters on Twitter Sunday morning, saying that student groups do not speak for the university and urging unity among Davis residents...

Full story at

Apparently, Latin is not in wide use among UC-Davis students:

Definition of "de mortuis nil nisi bonum": of the dead, (say) nothing but good.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Immigration Guidance

The chancellor's office circulated the notice above via email today. It is available at:

Last Week's Regents Meeting (and this week's)

Did you know there was a closed meeting of a Regents committee last week? The purpose was to discuss selection of a new chancellor for UC-Santa Cruz.*

Yesterday, the Investments Subcommittee and the Special Committee on Basic Needs met. Yours truly will be archiving the audio of these sessions as usual, because the Regents refuse to preserve their recordings for more than one year. But it will take a bit of time for yours truly to review what business was transacted since he is teaching this quarter. The same is true for the Regents meetings that will be occurring later today and tomorrow. Stand by.

Note: If you can't wait, the audio recordings are at:

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Both sides of the split are a-peeling to the Regents
The Regents' January meetings begin today. It appears that they will have an interesting dilemma to consider:

UC student leaders split over future of adviser-to-regents pilot position

San Francisco Chronicle, Nanette Asimov, 1-14-19

...One group of student leaders is asking the regents and UC President Janet Napolitano to let the adviser role die, while another group led by the student adviser seeks to keep it going. Both groups support asking Napolitano to expand other leadership roles for students that don’t need regents’ approval.

The student rift came into the open during the holiday break.

That’s when this year’s student adviser — Edward Huang, a UC Berkeley senior studying applied mathematics — learned of an effort by the student regent and the UC Student Association to let the adviser role expire. Those students said the role had proven to be essentially a rogue position with little accountability, and often at odds with mainstream student representatives.

Huang and other student leaders — representing student body presidents and graduate students — fired back with a letter to the regents that called the role valuable, and argued that it was important to provide a variety of student perspectives. Huang also easily won support among rank-and-file students who couldn’t imagine letting the regents eliminate any student seat at the decision-making table for the $30 billion university system.

So it was not surprising that the agenda for Wednesday’s regents meeting at UCSF Mission Bay presented a resolution to continue the student adviser experiment for another year, through June 2020, and to work out bugs in the program.

Huang acknowledges there are bugs: UC doesn’t pay for the adviser to travel to the regents meetings or to other student leadership meetings, or for overnight accommodations if necessary. Nor does UC automatically provide the adviser with staff support, as it does for the student regent.

Also, “the student adviser position doesn’t have any formal affiliation (with other student groups),” Huang said, noting that until this weekend, he had attended only one meeting of the UC Student Association, the university’s most visible group of student representatives. That was in July.

Student advisers are required to attend regents meetings. But “we aren’t required to show up (to meetings of other students), and we’re not required to work with them,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t agree on the same issues.”

And that’s been the problem, said Caroline Siegel-Singh, president of the UC Student Association, which voted this weekend to support allowing the program to die. She and student regent Devon Graves are speaking with Napolitano and regents Chairman George Kieffer before this week’s regents meeting to try and get the proposed extension of the adviser program pulled from the agenda. They also are asking for other boosts to student participation:

• Increasing from six to seven the number of “student advocates to the regents.” Those students, chosen by the UC Students Association, apply to attend one meeting and can talk with the regents over meals, and lobby for issues they care about.

• Doubling the number of “student observers,” from three to six. Observers serve for one year and are each assigned to monitor a committee meeting. They deliver prepared comments but cannot automatically participate in the meeting.

Huang said he supports those additions — just not letting the adviser position disappear. On Monday, he sent a letter to the regents asking them not to pull the agenda item, and noting that the regents’ rules require that the program be properly evaluated after two years, which hasn’t happened, he wrote.

Full story at

Transfer Ranking - Part 2

We are continuing to get kudos for our transfer students. Inside Higher Ed today has a piece on transfers noting that the general rule is that the more "competitive" the institution, the fewer transfers it takes. But UC is noted as an exception:

...The University of California System (across all undergraduate campuses) admitted 28,750 transfer students in 2018. That may still be far fewer than the 137,000 freshmen admitted over all, but the percentage of new students coming in as transfers is far higher than the percentages at elite privates (and many other publics)...

...California's public universities are barred from considering race and ethnicity in admissions decisions. But large shares of the transfer students admitted at the most competitive UC institutions (Berkeley and UCLA) are from minority groups. If federal courts reviewing the challenge to Harvard's affirmative action programs impose similar limits, the community college strategy could still be a viable way to promote diversity...

Full story at:

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Elsevier Dispute Is Not Just With UC

From Inside Higher Ed:

The entire editorial board of the Elsevier-owned Journal of Informetrics resigned Thursday in protest over high open-access fees, restricted access to citation data and commercial control of scholarly work.

Today, the same team is launching a new fully open-access journal called Quantitative Science Studies. The journal will be for and by the academic community and will be owned by the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI). It will be published jointly with MIT Press...

The resignations of the Journal of Informetrics editorial team comes at a time of considerable scrutiny for Elsevier. Last month the publisher lost two large European customers -- the Max Planck Society and the Hungarian Consortium -- after rejecting their proposals to change its subscription model. Elsevier is also locked in negotiations with the University of California System, which has similarly threatened not to renew its contract unless the publisher changes how it charges customers to publish and access research...

Full story at

UCPath: Help!

From the Sacramento Bee today: (Perhaps the Regents would like to add the item below to their topics for this week's meetings. ??)

‘That was a nightmare.’ UC employees still reporting hardships from faulty payroll

By Andrew Sheeler,  Jan. 14, 2019   

University of California employees continue to report missed or reduced direct deposit paychecks that they attribute to the university system’s troubled payroll system, UCPath.

The complaints, often from student employees whose paycheck-to-paycheck income leaves them particularly vulnerable to payroll problems, prompted two California state lawmakers — Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego — to write letters voicing their concern to the University of California chancellors in their respective districts.

“Too many student workers have gone without pay, in some cases for months,” Gonzalez wrote.

Skinner wrote that she appreciated the university system’s effort to update its aging payroll infrastructure — which includes creating a centralized hub for the entire system — but added “delayed wages can have disproportionate impact on student workers.”

Hundreds of employees at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside and UC Merced — where the UCPath system has been implemented — had reported problems such as improper payment amounts, tax deductions or union dues withdrawals when McClatchy reported on the faulty payroll system in early December.

A month later, many employees say they are still feeling the pain of not getting paid on time.

One of them, UCLA graduate student Laura Muñoz making $25,000 a year, penned a Medium essay detailing how she faced late fees and student loan penalties. She was forced to rely on her siblings for financial support after experiencing missed paychecks on Nov. 1, Nov. 14 and Dec. 1.

The university later gave her a pay card containing the money it owed her.

“As a worker, when I can’t meet my financial obligations, I am held accountable — and it shouldn’t be any different for UC,” she wrote.

Yunyi Li, a UCLA doctoral student and union leader, said “People are often just not sure if there’s a check coming in the mail.”

Li said she’s heard from other people who have been dropped from classes, or reported major late fees, as a result of payments not being properly deducted.

She said that she has been “OK comparatively,” but that she has routinely been getting paper paychecks, days after payday, despite being signed up for direct deposit.

“It’s just a huge pain when rent is due on the 5th,” Li said.

The UC system is adopting the new payroll system to replace a legacy, 35-year-old program. The project came in late and over budget, with its total cost rising to about $500 million. That’s about three times as much as the UC planned to spend, UC officials told The Sacramento Bee in 2017.

In an early December interview with McClatchy, UC Associate Vice President of Operations Mark Cianca acknowledged that the skipped payments are “a big deal” but that the university system is adequately staffed to address the concerns.

“I do want to make it really clear: Everybody gets paid,” he said.

UC spokeswoman Claire Doan said she is unaware of any payroll issues at UCLA with the most recent pay day, and that its payroll validation process has not flagged any problems.

“That said, it could take some time for an issue to make its way to us,” she said.

Missed paychecks aren’t the only problem employees have encountered as the university system changes over to UCPath.

In October, UCLA Extension Professor Benjamin Goldberg received a letter in the mail informing him that his health insurance was accidentally canceled.

“I was constantly emailing and calling and checking in,” he said. “That was a major nightmare. It took about two months to get corrected.”

Goldberg said he’s “a pretty forgiving guy,” but that he wants to see accountability for the cancellation, as well as missed or incorrect payments in October and January.

“Be proactive. Reach out. Don’t just wait for us to do all the contacting. We’re busy. We have jobs to do. This is their job,” he said. “Don’t make me have to chase you down a hundred times. Don’t make me have to tell my story a hundred times.”

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Budgetary Lesson from a Tree

From the Berkeley Daily Planet, 1-11-19:

A falling tree north of the Greek Theater on the University of California Berkeley campus killed Alexander Grant. He was 32. Very sad and totally predictable. A week before, UC started cutting trees at People's Park and spokesperson Dan Mogulof claimed, "deferred maintenance." The huge eucalyptus fell Sunday, January 6 at 3:46 pm...

Full story at

The article above goes on to air the author's complaints about outsourcing and other matters. But there is a larger fiscal issue. Our earlier review of Gov. Newsom's budget proposal for 2019-20 of last Thursday as it regards UC notes that a distinction is made between ongoing budgetary items and "one time" allocations. In the past, the ongoing component was driven by enrollments, etc., basically an analog to K-12's average daily attendance. Under Gov. Brown, the amount given to UC seemed to be based on what the governor wanted to give rather than any formula. "One time" allocations for this and that purpose also seemed to be based on what the governor wanted to give. So the distinction between ongoing and one-time was at best fuzzy.

Much of the $153 million that Newsom now labels "one time" is said to be deferred maintenance which is put at $138 million. (See pages 48 and 48 of the budget summary.) But the fact is that trees deteriorate and buildings depreciate on a regular, predictable basis, when you consider the enormous UC infrastructure as a whole. The ongoing vs. one-time distinction is artificial and at best cosmetic, particularly when you consider that the ongoing label came to mean what the governor wants under Brown and the one-time label also applied to what the governor wants.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Below Target

The state controller has issued her cash report for the General Fund for the first half of fiscal year 2018-19.

Revenues were about $2.5 billion below forecast estimates made when the budget for the fiscal year was enacted last June. About $1.9 billion of this amount came from the volatile personal income tax and the bulk of the rest came from the sales tax.

Personal income tax receipts were actually below levels from the first six months of the previous fiscal year (2017-18). However, that result was likely due to the incentive to pre-pay income taxes and sales taxes caused by the $10,000 deduction cap in federal tax law that went into effect in calendar 2018. Still, nominal sales tax revenue for the first half of the two years was virtually the same, a weak result.

It's all a reminder of what we pointed to in our earlier post about the governor's budget proposal: When you are at the top of a mountain, the danger is falling down, not up. However, we also noted in previous posts that there is a cushion - the various reserves related to the General Fund and cash in accounts outside the General Fund (other than those reserves) which can be used in a downturn. As of December, the controller puts that cash cushion (including reserves and other funds) at over $34 billion.

The controller's cash statement is at:

Friday, January 11, 2019

Not There

If you are looking for a reference in the article below to the governor making a contribution to the UC pension, you won't find it. CALPERS - which handles the CSU pension - however, is a a recipient, as is CALSTRS.

Newsom wants extra pension payments as retirement liability tops $256B

Judy Lin, 1-10-19, CALmatters

Following Jerry Brown’s footsteps, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday he wants to make extra pension payments even as California’s retirement liabilities for state workers and teachers top $256 billion.

In unveiling his first budget, flush with a surprisingly large surplus from a robust economy, Newsom said he wants to put an extra $3 billion into the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and an extra $2.9 billion over four years into the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS).

His administration estimates the extra payments would generate a savings of $7.2 billion in CalPERS over the next three decades and $7.4 billion in CalSTRS over the same period.

“That’s about building resiliency,” Newsom said about being prepared for an economic downturn.

In addition, the governor is offering $3 billion to help school districts meet their obligations, which would be used to reduce their CalSTRS payments and free up cash for the classroom.

Specifically, $2.3 billion of that money would be used to pay down school districts’ long-term unfunded liability and the remainder would be used to lower employer contribution rates over the next three years.

At Los Angeles Unified School District, the move lifted hopes of possibly avoiding a looming teacher strike.

Moments after Newsom’s presentation, the district announced it would be sending the L.A. teachers’ union a fresh proposal “to further reduce class size,” and urged state lawmakers to “provide additional funding for Los Angeles Unified.”

“Gov. Newsom is tackling the No. 1 financial dilemma that districts are facing across the state, and he’s doing it in his first budget,” said Derick Lenox with Capitol Advisors Group, which lobbies for school districts. “And by the way, it’s not sexy to prepay pension contributions, it’s just financially smart.”

Conservatives gave Newsom credit for the extra payment but noted the size of the long-term liability. California’s retirement liabilities now add up to $256.5 billion, according to Newsom’s finance department.

“That’s a great start, but hardly adequate to address the growing pension and retiree healthcare costs that state and local governments are now required to acknowledge in their (financial reports),” said state Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican from Costa Mesa.



Yours truly tried without success to find out from Google what a PIE was at UC in order to interpret the notice below. I guess acronyms can be said to be "baked into" HR.

Here is the notice, anyway you slide it:

As you know, the University changed the benefits eligibility policy for domestic partners as of January 1, 2019. Employees had an opportunity during this past Open Enrollment (OE) to enroll newly eligible domestic partners effective 1/1/2019. 

If an employee missed the opportunity to enroll the newly-eligible partner due to the policy change during OE, we are providing a second opportunity to do so during the period from January 1 through January 31, 2019.  In accordance with the UC Group Insurance Regulations, in addition to enrolling the partner, the employee may (1) change their benefits elections (such as choose a different medical plan, or (2) adjust life insurance coverage level) during this PIE.

Please remember that if employees want to enroll their partners in Dependent Life Insurance coverage, they need to do so during this PIE.  AD&D coverage, on the other hand, may be added any time after January 1, 2019. UCLA employees who enrolled a domestic partner in medical coverage during OE should have received an email reminding them of this opportunity to enroll in Dependent Life and/or AD&D by using the “Life Event” function on the UCPath Portal to enroll their domestic partner in Life and AD&D coverage.

In the event employees who enrolled their domestic partner in benefits during OE have changed their mind due to the impact of imputed income, the domestic partner may be de-enrolled during this additional PIE. If a premium for January 2019 has been deducted from the employee’s paycheck, it may be reimbursed to the employee, provided that the partner has not incurred claims under the plan(s) in which they were enrolled.

If you have any questions, please contact UCPath Customer Service at 1-855-982-7284.

Thank you.

Best regards,
Isabella Buckman
Benefits Analyst
UCLA Campus Human Resources

Newsom's Budget/Brown's Budget

Governor Gavin Newsom presented his (first) state budget yesterday for fiscal year 2019-20 (which starts on July 1, 2019). You will hear a great deal in the news media about "surpluses" and such. As usual in California budget-speak, what that term means is fuzzy.

The situation is complicated by the fact that we seem to be proliferating "reserves" in the General Fund, which is essentially the operating budget of the state and is what most people are talking about when they refer to the state budget. (There are in fact many funds outside the General Fund, the biggest of which deal with transportation such as roads and transit.)
You can think of the General Fund as the state's checking account for day-to-day operating expenses. At the start of the fiscal year, there is money in the fund, its "reserve." During the year, money flows in, primarily from taxes, and money flows out for spending on various purposes including debt service.

For decades, the state functioned with just the reserve in the General Fund. Under Gov. Schwarzenegger, voters approved an official Budget Stabilization Account which was supposed to function like a saving account. Money from the General Fund would be diverted into the BSA for a "rainy day." However, in practice the BSA never amounted to much under Schwarzenegger. When Brown came in, he got voters to approve a formula under which the BSA would automatically get some tax revenue diverted from the General Fund. Brown also got the legislature to put some money into the BSA above the formula requirement.

In Brown's final budget (for 2018-19, the budget we are under at present), a deal with the legislature created in addition another reserve: the Safety Net Reserve. So there are now three reserves related to the General Fund. Note that the proliferation of reserves makes understanding the budget more complicated. You can always raise one reserve by bleeding money out of the others and point to the one that increases with pride. But really, it is the sum of the reserves that matters. An increase in the total means that more money came in than went out in a fiscal year, a "surplus." A decrease in the total means more money went out than came in, a "deficit."

When Brown campaigned in 2010, the state was in a very difficult fiscal situation, thanks to the 2008 housing/flaky mortgage crisis and recession. In 2009,, the state at one point ran out of cash and handed out IOUs (called registered warrants) to some to whom money was owed. Part of Brown's campaign was a pledge of no new taxes without voter approval. He tried to get the legislature to approve a tax extension measure for the ballot during the first half year of his renewed governorship, but failed to get needed GOP support.  So the following year, he used the initiative process and got voters to approve Prop 30 which involved a higher income tax bracket at the top and a small sales tax increases.

Voters approved Prop 30 and subsequently approved an extension of its income tax component. The combination of the added tax revenue and the general recovery of the economy which began in mid-2009 brought in sufficient revenue to end the crisis. Brown repeatedly painted himself as the adult in the room who was restraining the legislature from over-spending. Of course, we can't rerun history and know what some other governor would have done. But we can look at Brown's final budget.

When Gov. Newsom presented his budget for 2019-20, he also included estimates for how we are doing now that we are midway through Brown's final budget for 2018-19. According to official figures, the regular reserve in the General Fund decreases by $7.137 billion (a deficit in that reserve). The Safety Net Reserve rises by $900 million ($0.9 billion). And the BSA (rainy day fund) rises by $4.125 billion). Sum these numbers together and you get an estimated net DEFICIT of $2.112 billion in Brown's final budget. (Of course, since we are only midway in that budget, the final figures once we complete the fiscal year will be different. But right now, these numbers are the official estimate/forecast.)

What about Newsom's proposed budget for 2019-20? Newsom keeps nominal General Fund spending at roughly the Brown level of $144 billion. In his budget, the regular reserve drops by $1.573 billion. The Safety net reserve is unchanged, e.g., we put a zero in for that one.** And the BSA/rainy day fund increases by $1.767 billion. The net is a surplus of $194 million (which is about 0.1% of General Fund spending).

In short, the proposed budget is precariously balanced next year after a deficit this year. At his budget presentation news conference, Newsom at one point complained about a headline or article which indicated that when you are at the top of the business cycle it's like being at the top of a mountain. The danger is that you can fall down. You can't fall up. And indeed, the danger is there.

Because there are reserves in the General Fund which Newsom forecasts will total $19.869 billion by the end of 2019-20, there is a cushion for a downturn. Moreover, because there are funds outside the General Fund, there is other cash available to the state (although if you keep taking cash from other funds, those funds will not be able to finance whatever function they are designated to support.)

As Newsom himself has pointed out, the state relies on a highly volatile tax base. About 7 out of 10 General Fund dollars comes from the progressive income tax. The tax is highly sensitive to financial markets (and how top earners react to that market). Downturns, however, have a severe effect, as former governors Davis and Schwarzenegger can attest.

As for UC, the new budget proposes no tuition increase and a 3% increase in total funding, ongoing (including tuition and miscellaneous UC sources) and so-called "one time." Note that "one time" suggests expenditures that occur only once. In fact, much of the funding is for deferred maintenance of physical capital. You can call that "one time" if you like, but the boundary between ongoing maintenance and deferred maintenance is fuzzy.

The university's official response is to praise the governor (who is an ex officio regent).*** One suspects that UC president Napolitano has calculated that there will be less tension between UC and Newsom than there was between UC and Brown (who was never particularly friendly to UC). Whether making nice now will buy anything in the future, as they say, remains to be seen. It might be noted that at one time there was a deal with Brown that would have allowed tuition increases in line with inflation. Not clear where that deal went. Old timers will remember the "compact" with Schwarzenegger (who seemed friendly to UC, at least compared with his successor). But the compact went out the window as soon as the state budget deteriorated.
* and
**There is a discrepancy with regard to the Safety Net Reserve. Brown's enacted budget indicates that $200 million was going into it. The Newsom version of Brown's budget now lists $900. That could be a typo in which case Newsom gets credit for another $700. Or more money could have gone into Brown's fund in which Brown gets the credit. We have gone with the Newsom data in the text.
UPDATE: A new LAO publication reviewing the governor's proposal indicates that there was indeed a typo in the governor's budget document. (See the footnote above marked **.) So Brown's deficit increases by $700 million and Newsom's surplus increases by that amount. The LAO document is at:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Transfer Ranking

From the Bruin:

...Money, a finance magazine, ranked UCLA as the number one college for transfer students in December. Money based their rankings on factors such as credit completion and graduation rates.

Roughly a third of UCLA’s undergraduate population are transfer students. The university offers many specialized programs to help students adapt to life at UCLA, including the transfer center, Bruin Resource Center, Tau Sigma Honor Society and the Engineering Transfer Center.

Krystal Arenas, the Tau Sigma Honor Society president and a fourth-year gender studies student, said she found her niche on campus within Tau Sigma, which made the transition from a community college to a university easier...

Full story at

Geographic Grumblings About the Latest Regent

Apparently, there are geographic grumblings about former Gov. Brown's final regental selection. But as the article below notes, the appointee - Jay Sures - will serve only until 2020 unless reappointed by Gov. Newsom.

Brown’s Last Valley Snub: Appoints Hollywood Agent to UC Board

David Taub, January 8, 2019, GV Wire

Ever since Fred Ruiz left the UC Board of Regents, many in the San Joaquin Valley have hoped someone from the area would succeed him.

The wait will continue, at least another year for the region that is home to UC Merced.

In a final snub to the Valley, Gov. Jerry Brown added Jay Sures, a Hollywood talent agent, to the board. Brown announced the selection Jan. 4, three days before he left office.

There has been no Valley representation since Ruiz’s term elapsed in 2016. He is best known as the founder of Dinuba-based Ruiz Foods.

Sures will fulfill the remaining year of Bonnie Reiss’s term through March 1, 2020. Reiss died of cancer on April 2, 2018.

“The San Joaquin Valley has not had a Regent since 2016,” said Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced. “The 26-member Board is already brimming with representatives from Los Angeles and the Bay Area, but despite nine different opportunities to correct this lapse, Governor Brown has failed to act.

“I have personally spoken to Governor Brown about what I hoped was his unintentional prejudice, but last week’s appointment of yet another Los Angeles regent tells me he was not listening. It’s downright offensive that despite hosting a UC campus in Merced, the governor refuses to allow a San Joaquin Valley resident on the Board.

“I am optimistic that Governor Newsom is committed to representing all of California and will provide the Valley a voice on the Board of Regents as soon as a vacancy makes that possible.”

Board All Northern, Southern California

The UC board consists of 26 members, 18 whom are selected by the governor for 12-year terms.

Brown appointed or re-appointed 14 of those members. All but two are Democrats (Golden State Warriors owner Peter Guber and CalPERS CFO Michael Cohen are no party preference).

Of the 18, 13 are from the southern California and San Diego areas; five are from northern California (San Francisco, Sacramento).

Sures, co-president of United Talent Agency, will join others with Hollywood connections.

Regents Guber and Sherry Lansing also have backgrounds in the entertainment industry.

Other board members took more traditional routes to power: They are lawyers, financiers, or former elected officials.

Richard Blum, a billionaire financier, is also Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s husband. John Pérez is the former Assembly speaker.

Newsom Has Future Picks

Throughout his campaign, newly sworn-in Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated the Valley needs more representation on the UC and CSU college boards. However, in a post-election Fresno appearance, Newsom seemed to backtrack, saying many constituencies feel left out.

“There are probably two dozen other groups that also feel like they are not represented — the Asian community, African-American community, and geographic parts of the state — the Inland Empire, the northern part of the state that feel underrepresentation. So the challenge for me is, when you get one appointment over a two-year period, you can’t solve for all of that,” Newsom said on Dec. 7.

In the next four years, six UC regent terms will expire, including four selections made by the state’s last Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Sures will be a short-timer. His term and that of retired real estate developer Hadi Makarechian expire next year. Two more follow in 2021 and 2022.
Current UC Board of Regents


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Reversal of position at Regents

It appeared that the Regents were going to abolish the experimental position of student adviser at their next meeting. However, the Bruin is reporting a reversal, making it likely that the position will be extended for another year:

...The recommendation not to extend the position was based on a misunderstanding between the Regents office and student leadership, said Michael Skiles, graduate chair of the UC Council of Student Body Presidents. Skiles said that during discussions between the Regents office and the heads of the UC Students Association, the UC Graduate and Professional Council, and the UC Council of Student Body Presidents, the student leaders expressed concerns about the lack of student interest in and financial support for the position, which the Regents office misinterpreted as reasons to end the position.
“The feedback we gave the board was very misinterpreted,” Skiles said.
Student adviser Edward Huang, Student Regent Devon Graves, Student Regent-designate Hayley Weddle, Skiles, UCSA leaders, the Council of Student Body Presidents and the heads of a number of other student organizations held a meeting in December to discuss the issue, in which they drafted a letter to the board making the case for extending the position.
(Regent Richard) Sherman and George Kieffer, chair of the Regents, released a statement reversing course from their previous position in response to the students’ letter. They will now recommend the board continue the position for another year, Sherman and Kieffer said in the statement...

Parking Taxes? Maybe Don't Ask

Free parking and no taxation worries back in the 1930s
The federal tax law passed in Dec. 2017 contained a feature about nonprofits having to pay a tax on subsidized parking under certain conditions, notably if fewer than half of the spaces are for the public as opposed to employees. Lots of interesting questions about UCLA. Is parking subsidized compared to commercial Westwood rates? Are students part of the "public" or are they "customers"? Here is what Inside Higher Ed says:

...In December (2018), interim guidance addressed some key questions about parking and transportation benefits and costs that are being taxed as unrelated business income. Taxed parking benefits have received particular attention after reports emerged last year that churches and other tax-exempt organizations would have to pay a 21 percent tax on such fringe benefits to employees.

Notable among the new guidance were steps employers can use toward measuring employee parking expenses at lots colleges and universities own or lease. The first is determining the number of spots reserved for employees as a percentage of total parking spaces, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. That percentage is considered for unrelated business income that is taxable.

The second step is to count the remaining spots. If more than half of spots can be used by the public, none of the parking facility's expenses are taxable income. The third step is to count spots reserved for customers and other nonemployees, which are also not taxable...

Full story at

Yours truly has some non-expert advice: Don't ask; don't tell.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Regents Preliminary Agenda Addendum

Yesterday, we noted that the Regents' agenda for their upcoming meeting had been posted in preliminary format. Today we note that there will also be a meeting of the "Working Group on UC Office of the President Salary Ranges" on January 17th following the full board session. The Working Group is a product of the state audit which was critical of executive pay salary ranges.

The Group is proposing changes in policy which appear to narrow the ranges but raise all but the top two salary grades. As a result, according to the included report, "...there are currently no initial cost savings due to the proposed salary range adjustments. The inclusion of the public-sector data is lowering the underlying market data to establish the updated salary range midpoints, but does not result in significant cost savings as provided in UCOP merit guidelines. However, there are potential savings in the future, as employees may reach the top of the salary range more quickly due to narrower salary ranges. In these instances, UCOP should continue its current practice (freeze pay at salary range maximum and provide a lump sum payment in lieu of an increase in accordance with UCOP’s Merit Guidelines)."

Source: and

Monday, January 7, 2019

Regents Preliminary Agenda

The Regents' preliminary agenda for their meetings which start January 15 with the Investments Subcommittee is now posted. Attachments, as of 8:30 am, were not available, however.

As usual, some of the business is conducted in closed session. There are some controversial legal cases to be discussed involving sexual harassment, affirmative action, and other matters. Of course, what is said in closed session is not available.

Other matters that will be public in open sessions are an update on the troublesome UCPath payroll system (Finance and Capital Strategies), the continuation - or not - of the student adviser position (Governance and Compensation), student athletes (Academic and Student Affairs), and a review of the budget to be presented to the legislature by incoming Gov. Newsom on January 10 (full board). Whether Newsom will attend in his new capacity as governor is unknown. We also don't know if newly-appointed Regent Jay Sures will attend. (See our two prior posts.) He was not listed as a Regent as of early this morning on the Regents' website, but presumably he could attend.

You can find the agenda at

Brown's Last Regent - Part 2

Yesterday we noted on this blog that Gov. Brown's final appointment to the Regents was Jay Sures, a Hollywood executive with some UCLA connections (he appears to be a graduate) and a political fundraiser for Democratic politicians. Exactly what the back story is on this appointment isn't clear. That is, there are other Hollywood executives with political connections: Why this one? Yours truly poked around on the web for information and there was mainly Hollywood gossip, but no answer. Below is a sampling:

The Talk of Hollywood; A Hollywood Incident Full of Sound and Furor
Just a few weeks ago Jay Sures was another brash 25-year-old Hollywood agent with fast patter, trendy wardrobe, hefty expense account and, of course, portable phones. Mr. Sures was not a powerhouse Hollywood player like Michael Ovitz, the chairman of Creative Artists' Agency, or Jeff Berg, chairman of International Creative Management. But his feistiness and energy as a television agent made him an up-and-coming player at the United Talent Agency, which represents a number of prominent actors and writers.
Suddenly Mr. Sures has replaced Dan Quayle as the subject of lunchtime dishing. And his unexpected notoriety says something about Hollywood power plays, name dropping and ambition. Even such a prominent figure as Peter Guber, chairman of the board of Sony Pictures Entertainment, is involved in the brouhaha.
The story was first revealed last week in Claudia Eller's column in Daily Variety, and has since taken on a life of its own. It has now become a kind of combination of "Saturday Night Live" and Robert Altman's scalding comedy "The Player."
It began when Mr. Sures's two Sony cellular phones started misbehaving. Instead of taking them to a repair shop, the agitated young agent sent a letter to Sony, demanding that the company replace the phones and claiming that such clients as Michael J. Fox, Alan Alda and Jason Priestley "always complain about the sound quality of these two phones."
To assure Sony that he was nothing less than an important Hollywood player, Mr. Sures casually noted that "my friend and business associate" Peter Guber, as well as Akio Morita, the head of Sony, would "be embarrassed to know that their company made products that perform so poorly." He also sent a copy of his letter to Consumer Reports.
Although the actors were said to be angry about the use of their names, no one was more outraged than Mr. Guber, who received a copy of the complaint and promptly wrote a scathing reply to Mr. Sures.
"Please erase my name from your Rolodex, and from your memory," Mr. Guber wrote. He said he was not responsible for the company's telephones, that the letter was "objectionable," and that Mr. Sures's reference to Mr. Guber as a friend and business associate "is not only incorrect but questionable as well."
"I didn't bother to call you because your telephone is probably still broken," wrote Mr. Guber, who sent copies of his letter to 22 agents at United Talent.
Within days, a contrite Mr. Sures hand-delivered an apology to Sony studios, and Mr. Guber accepted it.
The matter would have rested there, but like most funny episodes in Hollywood, there was a sequel. In recent days, a mock letter signed by "J Sures" on United Talent Agency letterhead was faxed all over town. The letter was addressed to Tom Pollock, chairman of the MCA Motion Picture Group, which is owned by Matsushita, a Sony rival. The letter may have been written by gremlims inside the agency, or by rival agents.
In it "Mr. Sures" states that his two Panasonic microwaves are no longer working. "The cooking carousel doesn't turn and my food never seems to cook -- a culinary catastrophe that has embarrassed me on more than one occasion while cooking dinner for my clients Michael J. Fox, Alan Alda and Jason Priestley," the letter said, and continued, "Most of my close and personal friends, including Peter Guber, who is almost like a father to me, can't believe that the carousel doesn't turn!"
Mr. Sures, reached at his office, said in exasperation that he did not want to talk about the letters, real or parody. But one of his bosses, Martin R. Bauer, president of the agency, said with a laugh that "the town is viewing all of this with bemusement."
"Jay has had a tough time of it," said Mr. Bauer. "We had a long talk with him. He used poor judgment. All right. But look, I sent both letters -- the real one and the fake one -- to Alan Alda and we were hysterical. You've got to have a sense of humor in these things."
Mr. Bauer said the original letter proved that Mr. Sures had the qualities that make a first-class Hollywood agent: "What makes a good agent? Aggressiveness, tenacity, intelligence and anger. And Jay has that."
Anger? "You have to be a little bit angry," said Mr. Bauer. "You can't give up when opinion goes against you. That's the dichotomy of life here. Jay's coming out of this a better man, a better agent."
Reached by noncellular phone, Mr. Guber said: "This is a good kid who'll turn out to be a really good agent. He has some chutzpah that, if he can keep it in check, will be useful to him. It was a funny incident. I don't know the kid, never met him. Of course you have to be careful about making statements that someone is your best friend, which people often do in this town. I don't think this will really affect his progress or his reputation." ...
UTA Still Struggles With Internal Discord
May 21, 1996 | CLAUDIA ELLER | LA Times
...In the last few weeks, UTA has made headlines in the Hollywood trade papers for highly public feuds with two of its young agents. The company fired maverick TV agent Gavin Polone, smearing his name in the press, then apologizing days later and giving him a payoff of more than $5 million to go away.
Then, again in the public eye, UTA filed suit against Polone protege Jay Sures when the young agent tried to get out of his contract and flee what he termed "intolerable working conditions" at the agency "which threaten my future."
Low and behold, two days later, Sures returned to the fold with a promotion he had been offered weeks earlier as the new co-head of UTA's TV department and a contract that will free him at the end of the year instead of the end of 1997...
UTA’s Sures: Give Trump a Chance
Power agent/Democrat fundraiser plans to stay involved in politics
Michael Malone, Nov 9, 2016, B+C (Broadcasting and Cable)
Jay Sures, managing director at UTA and a prominent Democratic fundraiser and activist, sounded a philosophical note following Donald Trump’s surprise win Tuesday night. Sures called the Election Day result “an incredible learning experience” that is helping him understand how GOP diehards felt when President Obama won the 2008 election and reelection four years later.
Sures—who counts a number of top-shelf TV news talents, including Norah O’Donnell and Jake Tapper, as clients—cited something another client, Glenn Beck, said about coming out on the short end of elections. “I had no idea how the other side felt when President Obama won in 2008,” Sures told B&C. “The despondency, the confusion—how upset people were at that point.”
Choosing to look on the bright side, the power agent said he looks forward to a smooth transition of power, as has been an American hallmark for centuries, and is investing hope in the president-elect. “I think we’re all obligated to give Donald Trump a chance and see what he can do,” said Sures. “As hard as it is.”
Sures says he does not envision, at least for the moment, Trump’s presidency negatively affecting business in Hollywood.
A recent inductee into B&C’s Hall of Fame, Sures vowed to immerse himself in the details of what went wrong for Hillary Clinton and other key Democrats in 2016, and how the electorate was misread. He envisions remaining a participant in politics. “I can’t imagine not being involved in some capacity,” he says.
Some have speculated that Sures may have a future in politics, which Sures has not denied. But for today, it’s a matter of processing a disappointing result.
“The people have spoken,” Sures says. “The great news is, the sun rose today, and the sun will set. Tomorrow, the sun will rise again.”
Show Starring Avenatti and Scaramucci Is Being Pitched to Television Executives
By Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, May 17, 2018, NY Times
A television show featuring Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who is suing President Trump on behalf of a pornographic film actress, and the former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was pitched to two cable networks in recent weeks, people briefed on the matter said on Thursday.
The prominent television agent Jay Sures discussed with executives at CNN and MSNBC the concept of a program where the two men would square off, according to three people briefed on the issue. Both have become frequent cable network guests — Mr. Avenatti as one of Mr. Trump’s greatest antagonists, and Mr. Scaramucci as a loyalist to the president even after flaming out after less than two weeks at the White House.
Representatives for MSNBC and CNN declined to comment, as did Mr. Sures and Mr. Scaramucci.
“I have no interest in television right now,” Mr. Avenatti said. “I enjoy my law practice and look forward to prevailing on behalf of my client Stormy Daniels,” he added, using the stage name of the actress, Stephanie Clifford. He did not respond to a question about why Mr. Sures made such a pitch involving him...