Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Snail's Pace

The California Dept. of Finance's latest estimate of the pace of California's population growth puts the rate at a slow 0.9% last year.  Why is the Dept. of Finance in charge.  Probably because state revenue over the long haul depends on the state's economic growth rate which, in turn, is partly dependent on population growth. 

California experienced supernormal growth, i.e., notably faster than the rest of the U.S. from statehood in the mid-19th century until 1990, the end of the Cold War (and the stimulus of military expenditures).  Growth in the state was particularly rapid in the period 1940-1990, i.e., World War II + Korean War + Vietnam War + Cold War.  Projections by the Census Bureau suggest California will not be having supernormal growth for the indefinite future.  Supernormal growth implies an expanding pie which generates state tax revenue allowing program expansion without either tax rate increases or cutting back one program to pay for another.  Slow growth, however, means that such nasty trade-offs exist.  In a slow growth environment, there will be repercussions for the UC budget since, at the end of the day, the legislature knows UC has a revenue source other than state allocations: tuition. 

We have noted in prior posts that the governor is pushing for a rainy day fund.  And we have noted that such funds are unlikely to provide UC budget relief.  At best, they smooth out slow growth but they don't change the trend.

Jail No Bar to UC-Berkeley Symposium

From time to time we have posted about the errant state senator Leland Yee and his current travails.  His alleged partner in crime is in jail but he nonetheless participated in a UC-Berkeley symposium:

Chinatown tong leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow remains jailed without bail on federal racketeering charges - but he was able to take part by phone the other night in a journalism symposium at UC Berkeley.  Before he was hit with money-laundering and other charges last month, Chow was invited to be part of a panel at the Logan Symposium on Investigative Journalism, moderated by PBS "Frontline" producer Lowell Bergman.  Bergman, who teaches at the Berkeley journalism school, had interviewed Chow for an upcoming "Frontline" report about being inducted as a youngster into an organized-crime group in Macau. Bergman's report traces the development of the former Portuguese colony into a gambling capital and details how Chinese triads have been used to collect gambling debts. "We try to do more than just have reporters talking," Bergman said of his phone-in guest, who answered a few questions for attendees Friday night. No, he didn't discuss his criminal case...

Full story at

So if and when Sen. Yee ends up in the pokey, he, too, can hope to continue to participate in UC affairs by phone.  Hopefully, his efforts then will be more helpful than his past attempts to muck around with UC pension plan governance.

It might be exciting:

UCLA's Yield

The Daily Bruin did some more number crunching and finds that although UCLA is hard to get into, almost two thirds of those accepted don't come.

UCLA has been the most applied to school in the nation for several years, but only about a third of its admitted applicants actually decide to attend the university. UCLA’s yield rate, or the rate at which admitted students accept their admission offers, was about 35 percent in 2012, which is high for UC campuses but low compared to similar public institutions and West Coast private colleges. This year’s deadline for admitted students to commit to University of California schools is Thursday...

Full story at 

Everyone's second choice?  Is this a problem?

No Thanks

Our earlier posts on the Sterling affair and UCLA noted the embarrassing ad that appeared in the LA Times on Sunday in which Sterling announced his donation to the UCLA Dept. of Nephrology.  See UCLA has now rejected the donation.  The university also took pains to point out that Sterling took out the ad thanking himself.  And it said, apparently in communications with the news media, that the promise of a lab naming and signage thanking is not part of the written record related to the donation.

The official statement from UCLA is at

In that UCLA statement we find:
...UCLA has received numerous inquiries about an advertisement in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times falsely suggesting that it was UCLA publicly thanking him for the gift. The ad was placed by Mr. Sterling, not the university.

From the Daily Bruin:
...The ad claims that a gold-colored plaque will be placed in the main lobby of UCLA’s nephrology building in honor of the Sterlings. It also claims UCLA plans to name a research lab in their name, “The UCLA Donald T. Sterling Structural Biology Kidney Research Laboratory.” However, UCLA said it did not place the ad in the paper. It said the ad falsely suggests the university is publicly thanking Sterling for the donation. UCLA said it thinks Sterling placed the ad in the paper. Documentation concerning the donation does not address any signage or naming of a research laboratory, according to a UCLA statement...

Full story at

From the LA Times:
...The university... denied Sterling's previous boasts that his donation and pledge were supposed to lead UCLA to name a lab after him and his wife...

Full story at

It's worth parsing this story a bit more.  No one who ever read the LA Times - and someone in the UCLA fund raising area must be reading the paper - could not have known that Sterling would run an ad thanking himself (since the newspaper over the years was filled with such self-promotion ads).  Sterling also promoted his real estate holdings, law firm, etc. in such ads.  You can find a sampling of Sterling ads from the LA Times in  So that an ad would appear was never in question. 

What about the signage and the lab naming.  It is quite possible that Sterling invented these claims on his own.  He is known for placing ads in the LA Times thanking himself for a homeless facility and for some kind of children's summer camp that don't exist beyond a concept in his own mind.  However, the Daily Bruin's version of the signage-lab part of the story seems to rest on a statement by UCLA that the signage and lab are not part of the written documentation.  That statement doesn't rule out that some UCLA fundraising official did not make some kind of oral hint to Sterling about the signage and lab.  It seems unlikely that UCLA received a check in the mail from Sterling without some romancing by fund raisers.  If you stopped 100 billionaires on the street (that's a joke, friends!) and asked them what the word "nephrology" meant, how many would know?  (Maybe it involves the study of nephews.)  Did Sterling or someone close to him have kidney problems?  Exactly, how was he approached?  What was said, apart from written documentation?  Was whoever did the romancing unaware of Sterling's ad running, legal problems over racial discrimination in housing, etc.?

We are not saying that every donor's past baggage has to be closely scrutinized.  There is odd naming around that doesn't do much harm.  One could wonder about naming the UCLA's (public) hospital after Ronald Reagan - who railed against socialized medicine.  (The naming was the result of support obtained by former Reagan associates.)  UC supports the Keck telescope.  Keck was a California oilman. He never forgave then-California Governor Earl Warren for founding the state's freeway system in 1947 by imposing a hike in the gasoline tax and he (Keck) was much involved in the later extreme right-wing "Impeach Earl Warren campaign" when Warren was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  UCLA undoubtedly has received numerous Ford Foundation grants although Henry Ford was notorious for fostering virulent anti-Semitism though a newspaper he owned in the 1920s. 

There are undoubtedly other such examples.  But the passage of time helps.  The Ford Foundation no longer has any links to the car company and Henry is long since dead.  Generally, naming things after dead people is less likely to cause embarrassment than naming them after live people - who still have the capacity to undertake new indiscretions.  While total screening for political correctness is not called for, UCLA might take the opportunity created by the Sterling for revisiting and revising internal guidelines for fund raisers concerning who to romance and what to say (oral as well as written) to potential targets of such romancing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Faculty at Other Universities Having Their Say About the Confucius Institute

Inside Higher Ed runs a long article on faculty concerns and protests related to Confucius Institutes on campuses.  The article refers to a faculty response at the U of Chicago and then notes other similar developments elsewhere.  The concerns related to the Institutes as arms of the Chinese government.  Excerpt:

Professors at the University of Chicago have renewed their opposition to the Chinese-government funded Confucius Institute on their campus, with more than 100 of them signing a petition calling on the Council of the University Senate to vote to terminate the university’s contract with Hanban, the government entity that oversees the centers of Chinese language teaching and research...

The establishment of Confucius Institutes on U.S. campuses has been controversial. On the one hand, universities -- especially those that don't have robust Chinese language departments of their own -- have welcomed the influx of foreign money and the ability to import Chinese language instructors at Hanban's expense. On the other, many have raised concerns that in partnering with a Chinese government entity to support the teaching of language and culture, universities are in effect ceding their control over the curriculum...

UCLA has a Confucius Institute:

When yours truly clicked on "advisory committee" on that website to find out who on the UCLA faculty was involved, he got the following message:

Page not found

The requested page "/advisory-committee" could not be found. 

When yours truly looked at the link to staff including the executive director, he found no faculty listed.

Now, we don't want to be critical since "Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it."  (Attributed to Confucius)  So maybe yours truly is missing something.

Saving for a Rainy Day

As blog readers will know, Gov. Brown is currently pushing for a rainy day fund proposition to go on the November ballot.  It would replace a proposition that the legislature put on the ballot as part of a Schwarzenegger-era budget deal.  We have noted in a prior post that the state already has a reserve in its General Fund.  That reserve grows if spending is kept below revenue.  So you can accumulate a rainy day fund without the complicated formulas which the Brown proposal or the alternative entail.  The Legislative Analyst has now pointed this simple fact out in a new publication.

One thing about rainy day funds with complicated formulas that are supposed to lock up money.  They leak.  It is doubtful, however, that UC would be the recipient of the leakage.  But we are unlikely to avoid having one of the two rainy day funds on the ballot since, if the legislative does nothing, the original one will appear.  Probably, the best outcome would be that one of the two appears in November and is defeated.  But the more likely outcome is that the governor's proposal will appear (enough Republicans seem favorably inclined to his version to get it on the ballot) and then - because saving for a rainy day is such an appealing idea - it is approved by voters.

You can read the Leg Analyst's report at

And let's hope it doesn't rain anytime soon in the budgetary sense:

Master Plan Called Obsolete (by U of P grad students)

Gov. Pat Brown signs Donahoe Act implementing the Master Plan in 1960
You may have seen news articles about a new study finding California's Master Plan of 1960 - a major accomplishment of then-Governor Pat Brown - to be out of date.  The report appears to be the work of a group of grad students from a seminar of the U of Pennsylvania and seems to be an assemblage of complaints about the Master Plan that have been made over the years by others including the complaint of Pat Brown's son and current Governor Jerry Brown that UC's budget allocation from the state is not linked to performance measures.

You can find the report itself at

An executive summary of the report is at

The LA Times' summary of the report is at,0,207077.story

Of course, the Master Plan is now 54 years old so some would say it has to be out of date (especially a team of grad students).  Others would say we should wait until it's 64 years old.

Historical Resource

Blog readers will know that early in the history of the UCLA Grand Hotel, the Faculty Center was supposed to be demolished to make way for it.  After a major protest - in which this blog had a significant role - the Grand Hotel was moved to another location.  Now the LA Conservancy wants the Faculty Center to be designated as a California Historical Resource.  Such a designation might impede future attempts to demolish it.  UCLA is officially opposed, according to an article in the LA Conservancy newsletter (link below).  However, the LA Cultural Heritage Commission has unanimously supported the proposal and has forwarded its recommendation to the LA City Council.  On verra.

You can read the article at or

Monday, April 28, 2014

Unclear on the concept or the location

UC prez Napolitano wrote an op ed in the Washington Post entitled "How to diversify a campus, in spite of the Supreme Court."  Based on the headline, one would think UC has found a way to have affirmative action results without the affirmative action that the Supremes increasingly dislike.  However, when you read the op ed it closes with the following statement:

...For nearly two decades, we have served as a laboratory of innovation for race-blind strategies to promote diversity on our campuses. We will continue these vital efforts. But as long as the university is prohibited from considering all of an applicant’s characteristics, we will be doing so with one arm tied tightly behind our backs.

So it says that in fact, you can't do what the headline suggests.

Full op ed at

Beyond that confusion, the op ed appearing in the Wash Post rather than a California venue (Sacramento Bee, LA Times, SF Chronicle, SJ Mercury-News, etc.) suggests the UC prez has an eye on future national endeavors.  That may be an inadvertent result and not what she intended to convey.  But the UC PR folks should know better.


More number crunching of the admissions numbers, this time courtesy of the Bruin:

California applicants this year had a smaller chance of receiving an acceptance letter to UCLA than nonresident applicants – a growing trend for at least the past six years.

About 16 percent of California students who applied got into UCLA, compared to 26.2 percent of out-of-state students and 17 percent of international students, according to preliminary admissions data released by the University of California Office of the President earlier this month. 

Applicants from outside of California made up roughly 42 percent of the admits to UCLA this year, indicating a steady yet significant increase from past years. 

UCLA accepts out-of-state students at a higher rate because fewer of them actually accept the offer to UCLA, said Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, vice chancellor for enrollment at UCLA.

The further students live away from UCLA, the less likely they are to accept the admission offer, Copeland-Morgan said. She said nonresidents are less likely to accept the offer because they would pay extra tuition and have other options closer to their home...

Full story at

It's getting tough to know who to let in:

The $10 million that doesn't go away

We noted in prior posts the $10 million whistleblower settlement that UCLA agreed to pay to one of its docs as a trial was coming to an end.  And we noted that the issue raised - essentially what constitutes a conflict of interest - won't just go away as folks in Murphy Hall might hope. As an illustration - and helping to keep the matter alive - is an editorial in the Daily Bruin [excerpt]:

As the University of California Board of Regents well knows, court settlements can be useful in dodging unfavorable legal outcomes and the bad press that accompanies them. But a recent $10 million settlement in a whistleblower-retaliation case involving UCLA doctors illustrates why settlements pose a challenge for a public university. Namely, they bury information and slow reform that could address the root cause of lawsuits. Last week, the regents agreed to shell out $10 million to Dr. Robert Pedowitz, former chairman of UCLA’s orthopedic surgery department. Pedowitz alleged that the university retaliated against him after he pointed out that UCLA physicians were failing to disclose payments from medical device-makers and other outside groups. As part of the settlement, Pedowitz left the UCLA faculty, and the university denied all wrongdoing.  A UCLA statement on the case claims that “multiple investigations by university officials and independent investigators concluded that conduct by faculty members was lawful.” But it doesn’t comment on the important question of whether Pedowitz was castigated for raising concerns. While the University’s incentive to press for a settlement instead of allowing a jury to come to a verdict in order to protect the University’s good name and reputation is clear, the blanket denial of impropriety that accompanies such agreements leaves important answers shrouded in darkness. Commissioning an independent investigation of the serious issues brought forth in this court case would go a long way to address concerns of secrecy and counter accusations that UCLA merely pays its way out of ethical quandaries...

Full editorial at

The editorial goes on to resurrect the large settlement paid out to another UCLA doc - Christian Head - for racial discrimination and harassment.

And, although not mentioned in the Bruin editorial, there is the driving-while-black case of LA Superior Court Judge David Cunningham against the UCLA police which will eventually either go to trial or lead to some kind of settlement.  He is asking for $10 million - that familiar number - from the university.  See:

Meanwhile, the Donald Sterling affair about which we blogged yesterday raises the issue of what the university does when donors misbehave.  Probably, letting the UCLA name be used in bragging ads by the donor - see the posts of yesterday - isn't the best response.  (Yours truly did not spot a repeat of that ad in today's LA Times.)  Note: ...Councilman Bernard Parks said Sunday he is drafting a City Council resolution that will demand an apology to Magic Johnson and “the entire Los Angeles community" and ask local newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, to stop running ads for Sterling “that display his commercial real estate empire and his alleged civic activities.” ...  Excerpt from

UPDATE: LAObserved picks up on yesterday's Sterling-UCLA ad in the LA Times:

...Did you see the half-page business section ad today, thanking Donald and Shelly Sterling for their largesse to the UCLA nephrology department? There's so much wrong with that lack of judgment, never mind that the ad used the same ego-stroking headshots featured in all the other ugly Sterling Foundation ads that also decorate the Clippers' NBA website. Supposedly, Sterling himself applies the lipstick on these pigs, sits in his office designing the ads for which, according to my highly reputable source, he pays The Times a bargain-basement space rate. Or maybe nothing at all -- according to the online magazine Quixo, The Times trades the ad space for paper promotions at Clipper games...

Full story at

Seems like there are a lot of problems accruing for UCLA that need more than a PR response.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

What Happens When You Post Too Soon

Our previous post suggested we might want to forget about past Sterling gifts to UCLA.  But upon opening today's LA Times business section to page B2...  Well, you can see what I found.

Undoubtedly, someone thought this ad was a sterling idea. Anyway, it must have sounded good to someone:

Maybe We Can Just Forget About Those Gifts

Great Guy, or so he often said about himself in LA Times ads
Sterling Foundation Awards Scholarships And Grants 

Posted Monday January 10, 2011
By John L. Seitz, Beverly Hills Courier

More than $5 million in scholarships and grants were distributed by the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation at its year-end Charity Awards luncheon at Spago.

Singer Debby Boone provided the entertainment while Dr. Michael Beckwith and Rabbi  David Baron delivered stirring invocations before it was time for Beverly Hills-philanthropist and entrepreneur Donald Sterling to do the honors of presenting the grants to the representatives of 30 charities and eight high schools.

These included included 100 Black Men (Donald Lancaster); A Place Called Home (John Zeichner); American Red Cross (Steve Allen); Asthma & Allergy Foundation (Jon Schnitzer); Beit T’Shuvah (Rabbi Mark Borovitz); Black Business Association (Skip Cooper); Catholic Education Foundation (Tom Barron); Cedars-Sinai Heart Foundation (Marc Litman); Jeffrey Foundation (Alyce Morris Winston); Jewish Vocational Services (Vivian Segal); Junior Blind of America (Miki Jordan); Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (Richard D. Cordoba); Los Angeles Clippers Foundation (Andy Roeser); Los Angeles Jewish Home of Aging (Molly Forest); and Los Angeles Museum of Holocaust (Randy Schoenberg) Museum of Tolerance (Rabbi Marvin Hier); Nuevo Amanacer Latino (Norma Duque-Acosta); Para Los Ninos (Gisselle Acevedo); Pepperdine University (Ron Phillips); Salvation Army (Mike Dickinson); Special Olympics (Bill Shumard); Step Up on Second Tod Lipka); Sterling Foundation (Shelly Sterling); UCLA Children’s Hospital (Kathleen Sakamoto, M.D.); UCLA Medical Kidney Disease (Ira Kurtz, M.D.);Union Rescue Mission (Rev. Andy Bales); United Negro College Fund (Curtis Silvers); Vista Del Mar (Dr. Elias Lefferman; We Spark Cancer Support (Nancy Allen); and Yeshiva Gedolah (Stanley Diller).
In addition, eight high schools received scholarship grants including Belmont, Franklin, Fremont, Garfild, Hamilton, Lincoln, Manual Arts and Wilson.

Mayor Jimmy Delshad was on hand to present Sterling, the foundation’s chairman, with a proclamation on behalf of the City.

Besides the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation, also contributing to the grants was the Los Angeles Clippers Charitable Foundation.


PS: If you haven't looked at the news or turned on a radio in the last day or so, you can start with and then Google your way through the rest.

On the other hand, it may be hard to forget:

Saturday, April 26, 2014


We recently posted about a planned meeting between a Regent (Bonnie Reiss) and some UCLA students.  We weren't there but a Daily Bruin reporter acted as our fly on the wall.

It appears that much of what they talked about was the condition of the UC budget and, in particular, what might happen when the temporary Prop 30 revenues come to an end.  Excerpt:

A University of California regent highlighted funding as the main challenge facing the University in a meeting with UCLA students on Thursday.
UC Regent Bonnie Reiss met with about 15 members of the Undergraduate Students Association Council External Vice President’s office and representatives of various student groups to discuss issues faced by UCLA students. The meeting opened with a discussion of the goals of the UC Board of Regents, with a focus on the UC’s financial future. Reiss warned students that the funding provided to the UC by the passage of 2012′s Proposition 30 tax initiative, which prevented billions of dollars in budget cuts, will run out...

Full story at 

It would have been nice if there could have been a recording or transcript of the whole event.  That way we could be our own fly on the wall:

The $10 million Med School Whistleblower Story Keeps Going

The story of the $10 million whistleblower payout in the med school keeps going.  Today's LA Times business section carries a front page story about the general issue of conflict of interest.  As we have noted in past postings, no one pays out $10 million at the closing of a trial unless the fear is that the ultimate court decision could be a lot more than that.  [The Times repeats the university's claim - attributed to the Regents - that the settlement was just to save litigation time and costs.  But the costs were already well underway since the settlement came at the end of the trial.  Moreover, while technically the Regents have to approve such payouts, the Regents don't act unilaterally.  They rubber stamp the recommendations of university lawyers.]

Excerpt from the LA Times story:

...A new study in this month's Journal of the American Medical Assn. raised a red flag generally about university officials such as Eugene Washington, the dean of UCLA's medical school who also serves on the board of healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson. The world's biggest medical-products maker paid Washington more than $260,000 in cash and stock last year as a company director. "There are real risks here," said Walid Gellad, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and co-author of the JAMA study. "Are the policies in place enough to govern these potential conflicts among the leadership of academic medical centers?"  Meanwhile, the $10-million, mid-trial settlement this week between the UC system and the former head of orthopedic surgery at UCLA has prompted a consumer group to seek an independent investigation by California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris or Gov. Jerry Brown..."

Full story at

Maybe someone in Murphy Hall needs to take some control.  Some stories keep growing and growing...

Friday, April 25, 2014

If you can't Lick 'em...

From the Daily Bruin:

Thirty-five members of Congress from California have signed a letter released to the public on Wednesday, urging the University of California to keep funding the Lick Observatory.  The Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton near San Jose, is a UC-owned and operated facility that houses nine telescopes, five of which are currently used for research purposes.
Despite protests from University researchers and astronomers, the facility is set to stop receiving UC funds after 2018.  The letter, addressed to UC President Janet Napolitano, responds to an earlier one Napolitano sent in March explaining the reasons behind defunding the facility – namely, that astronomers are using the observatory less.

The UC Observatories Board, an umbrella body that manages systemwide research and funds for astronomy, recommended that the UC Office of the President use its funding for Lick to funnel resources into newer facilities. The University is financially invested in the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, as well as a new $1.2 billion planned Thirty-Meter Telescope.  As a rebuttal to the UC’s claims, the letter cited current research opportunities at the observatory to justify why it should continue to receive UC funding...

Full story at

Yours truly guesses it depends on how you look at this matter and what you see:


Hungry for more.
From the LA Times:

At his formal investiture ceremony Thursday, UC Riverside Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox called for significant expansions in enrollment, faculty and the campus itself. UC Riverside should grow its student ranks from the current 22,000 to 25,000 over the next six years as called for in its master plan but also go beyond that in the future, Wilcox said. The university will need to hire 300 more faculty members to accommodate growth and replace retiring professors, he added, according to an advance transcript of his speech. In addition, the university should move ahead with plans for new buildings, including a new interdisciplinary research building, and consider an events center for conferences and sports. He also suggested the university might need to build on property south of the campus along the 215 Freeway in the future...

Full story at

Since the budget is unlimited, why not more of everything?  And an "events center."  Maybe one with lots of hotel rooms?  Can't imagine where that idea might have come from!

So, again, why not more?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The end of recruitment at the Hotel Bel Air?

Marilyn Monroe at the Hotel Bel Air 1952
At one time, the Hotel Bel Air just north of UCLA was sometimes used for faculty and other recruitment purposes.  But now comes word of a possible boycott:

From the LA Times:

Is this the end of designer dinners at the Hotel Bel-Air and charity fashion shows at the Beverly Hills Hotel?  If high-profile members of the fashion community have their way, maybe.  Several vocal personalities, including Decades boutique co-owner Cameron Silver and designers Brian Atwood and Peter Som have taken to social media to call for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel and a host of other high-end Dorchester Collection properties around the globe with ties to the sultanate of Brunei. (The Dorchester Collection is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, an arm of the Brunei government that manages the oil-rich country's luxury hotels in Europe and the U.S.) Silver told the Los Angeles Times that the boycott was in response to a recent law taking effect this month that increases the punishment for committing a homosexual act from a 10-year prison sentence to death by stoning...

Full story at

Of course, we will eventually have our own Grand Hotel.  But it won't be as impressive to potential recruits - except for size and bulk - and, unlike the Hotel Bel Air, won't have swans.

UCLA Students to Have a Brief Encounter With a Regent

A scene from Brief Encounter (the movie)
From the Daily Bruin:
A University of California regent will come to UCLA on Thursday, as part of a larger effort to increase communication between the UC officials and students.Undergraduate Students Association Council External Vice President Maryssa Hall invited UC Regent Bonnie Reiss to speak with UCLA students in an effort to increase transparency regarding regental actions.  “The goal of my visit is to stay connected to students, to hear what is important to them and what challenges they face,” Reiss said...

Full story at

Hope it works out well.  Brief encounters sometimes don't:

Follow up on the $10 million settlement

Yesterday, we posted about a story concerning a whistleblower at UCLA who got a $10 million out-of-court settlement from the university as the trial was reaching its end.  We noted that no one shells out $10 million unless there is a fear that an eventual court decision might cost a lot more.  Moreover, it's hard to argue that this settlement was aimed at avoiding litigation costs since the case had gone to trial and so there had already been litigation costs.  In this case, the whistleblower was a UCLA doc who felt there were conflicts of interest among his colleagues.

KCRW's "Which Way LA?" had a program segment yesterday about this case.  You can hear it at:
beginning at minute 11.  (UCLA did not choose to participate, according to the broadcast's host.)

The Daily Bruin ran a separate story about the general issue - which has a reference to the $10 million settlement - at:

The official UCLA announcement is at

It does seem to pay to whistle while you work:

Northwestern Not Keen on Football Unionization (to say the least)

Blog readers will know of prior posts concerning a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that college football players at Northwestern U are essentially employees and are entitled, therefore, to legal protections to unionize.  The ruling does not apply directly to UCLA since UCLA is a public institution and the NLRB covers private sector employees.  However, we have noted that a former UCLA athlete has been active in the unionization movement.  California's PERB - which covers public sector employees - could conceivably follow the NLRB's ruling since the statutory language under which it operates is similar.  But it doesn't have to.

In any event, the NY Times carries an article describing the efforts by Northwestern to discourage players from voting for a union  "As soon as a National Labor Relations Board official ruled that scholarship football players had the right to unionize, the university began a wide-ranging campaign to defeat a vote..."

Full story at

UPDATE: The full NLRB has agreed to a request by Northwestern to review the case.  NLRB release below:

NLRB Grants Request for Review in Northwestern University Athletes Case

April 24, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board has granted Northwestern University’s Request for Review of the Regional Director’s March 26, 2014 decision in 13-RC-121359. The Regional Director found the University’s grant-in-aid scholarship football players are employees under the National Labor Relations Act. The election will take place on April 25, 2014 but the ballots will be impounded until the Board issues a decision affirming, modifying or reversing the Regional Director’s decision.

The Board intends to issue a subsequent notice establishing a schedule for the filing of briefs on review and inviting amicus briefs, to afford the parties and interested amici the opportunity to address issues raised in this case.

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have a union as their bargaining representative. The agency also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.

Today’s Order is posted on the NLRB webpage and can be found here. 

UPDATE: The vote will be taken but the ballots won't be tallied until the full Board rules and only if it rules that the players are indeed employees.  See:  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

$10 million to UCLA Whistleblower

It's not every day that UC makes the front page of the LA Times.  But today's paper has news of a whistleblower settlement for $10 million (which is 1/15th of a Grand Hotel).  Don't know more than what the LA Times reports except that you don't shell out $10 million unless you fear you might lose in court and have to pay a hell of a lot more.  Note that the settlement was reached just before closing arguments in court.

University of California regents agreed to pay $10 million to the former chairman of UCLA's orthopedic surgery department, who had alleged that the well-known medical school allowed doctors to take industry payments that may have compromised patient care. The settlement reached Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court came just before closing arguments were due to begin in a whistleblower-retaliation case brought by Dr. Robert Pedowitz, 54, a surgeon who was recruited to UCLA in 2009 to run the orthopedic surgery department.In 2012, the surgeon sued UCLA, the UC regents, fellow surgeons and senior university officials, alleging they failed to act on his complaints about widespread conflicts of interest and later retaliated against him for speaking up...

Full story at,0,3924175.story

Clearly, someone was afraid of the whistler:

Party Registration As We Head Towards June Primary

We are heading towards the primary election and the Secretary of State has released registration data for gubernatorial election years that can be seen above.  The major trends have been the growth of "no-party" voters and the decline of the GOP.  Note that the primary will be held under the relatively new "top-2" rules.  Last time around, the Dems were better than the GOP in figuring out how the top-2 system worked, i.e., you can't just appeal to your party's base in competitive districts, which is why the Dems for a time won enough swing districts to attain a supermajority 2/3 in the legislature.  We'll see what learning has occurred this time around.

The primary date is June 3 which is before the legislature is likely to have adopted a new state budget.  Possibly, the results of the primary could influence that budget if some political trend is discernible.

A list of candidates for the various offices is at

Collective Bargainng Settlement with Grad Student Workers Described

From Inside Higher Ed:

In what advocates are calling an extremely significant development in the fight for gender-neutral restrooms on college campuses, graduate student workers across the University of California System say they’ve reached a tentative contract agreement on language that establishes access to such facilities as a “right.” The workers also reached a similar agreement on language regarding access to lactation stations...

Full story at:

Another Barrier to Affirmative Action

The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a Michigan ballot prop that banned affirmative action (AA) in university admissions obviously means that California's similar Prop 209 ban is not open to challenge at the Supreme Court.  Blog readers will know that legislative Dems had planned to put a prop on the ballot repealing 209.  But then two things happened.  1) They lost the 2/3 needed in the state senate to put a constitutional amendments on the ballot, thanks to the suspension of 3 senators.  And 2) Asian-background legislators dropped their support of the repeal prop when their constituents complained. 

Given the direction of the Supreme Court and the political developments at the state level, it appears that Prop 209 will remain in effect for the indefinite future.  The Daily Bruin quotes a lawyer for the BAM group - the one that yells at Napolitano at Regents meetings - as saying the decision will not stand.  See:  What does that mean?  You can't appeal a Supreme Court decision.  But the lawyer's name is George Washington (I kid you not), so maybe he knows something.

Inside Higher Ed's coverage is at:

Yet Another Night Closing of the 405 Near UCLA

The northbound San Diego (405) Freeway will be closed between the Santa Monica (10) Freeway and Santa Monica Boulevard for five hours early Thursday. The closure will begin at midnight and end at 5 a.m., according to Metro. Ramp closures will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The freeway closure is needed to facilitate installation of mainline traffic loops, according to Metro.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What Wasn't Said About Fossil Fuel Divestment

Venice Beach Back in the Day
Yesterday, KCRW's Which Way LA? aired a segment on the student campaign to divest from fossil fuel companies in its endowment and pension fund.  Pretty much, everyone said what you would expect.  It came down to students wanting to save the planet vs. a finance type who said that constraining investment choice could produce suboptimal returns.  What wasn't discussed was the politics of investing in someone's pet project or divesting from someone's disfavored project.  UC has sometimes gone in that direction so it is already on a slippery slope.  But the more it goes towards a social-political portfolio, the more it invites such departures from standard investing.  The pension plan in particular is underfunded and UC is trying to get the state to recognized its liability for the plan.  Regents are the trustees of the pension fund on behalf of retirees and future retirees.  Moves that invite thinking that the funding of the plan is someone's political toy are not helpful in persuading the state to take responsibility.  Moreover, exactly where the governor stands is unclear.  Brown is taking heat from environmentalists who think he is too friendly to fracking.  However, Brown sees that states with lots of fossil fuel production are benefiting from the revenues and economic stimulus that come, or could come from a production boom.  He is worried about future revenues for the state when Prop 30 expires.  He is looking for funding for his high-speed rail plan.  Remarkably, none of this was mentioned in the broadcast. 

You can find a link to the broadcast below.  Slide to around the 5 minute mark to hear the fossil fuel segment.

More Working Through the Demographics of UC Admissions Numbers

The news media are still picking through the recently released UC admissions data.  From the LA Times:

For the first time, the number of Latinos from California offered freshman admission to the University of California was larger than that for whites. Reflecting demographic trends, 28.8% of those admitted to at least one UC campus were Latino, compared with 26.8% white. At 36.2%, Asian Americans again made up the largest ethnic group among admitted students from California. Blacks from California were just 4.2%...

Full story at

And for those upset with diversity, multiculturalism, etc., we offer this ditty from the past:

More Online Than Brown

As blog readers will know, Gov. Jerry Brown has been big on online courses in public higher ed.  Now one of his GOP rivals in the upcoming November election is outdoing Brown.  As part of an education platform (mainly dealing with K-12), Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari has a higher ed proposal:

From the LA Times:

He would... require the University of California and California State University systems to place 20% of their courses online within four years, though he offers no details about how he would force them to do so. The governor and Legislature have limited control over the public universities, particularly the UC system...

 Full story at

Use the Santa Monica Bus to get to UCLA? Your waiting days may be over (for an app)

From the Los Angeles Register:

For years, Santa Monicans have asked for an app for its bus sysem, the Big Blue Bus. The wait is nearly over, city officials say. After a testing period, an app could launch late summer...  Next month, city staff will meet with the developer to review the app. A pilot group - made up of staffers and Big Blue Bus customers - will download the app and try it out for 30-60 days. The customer pool was arranged about a year ago, made up of students and daily commuters...

Full story at

It's coming:

Great Streets

There's the Champs-Élysées... 
There's Broadway...
And now comes... ta ta...
Westwood Boulevard:
Yes, indeed.  From the Daily Bruin:

Westwood to be included in Great Streets initiative

Westwood Boulevard is one of 15 streets Mayor Eric Garcetti hopes to renovate and improve economically as part of his Great Streets initiative...

 Full story at


Monday, April 21, 2014

UC's prez on leadership & women

There have been many firsts in my career: first woman attorney general of Arizona, first woman governor to win reelection in Arizona, first woman secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. And now I'm the first woman president of the University of California. But I was a woman first.

The somewhat elusive topic of leadership and women raises several important questions. Do we subtly send messages to girls that they should not be leaders? Is leadership something that can be taught? And, fundamentally, what makes a leader?

I imagine many people have heard of the new movement to ban the word bossy. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Anna Maria Chavez, the CEO of the Girl Scouts, are leading the effort.

Sandberg says that when parents are tempted to describe their daughters as bossy, they should instead try saying, "My daughter has executive leadership skills." According to Sandberg, she has never heard anyone say that phrase without laughing. Bossy is a pejorative word for girls, its usage just one example of how we steer women away from leadership. It is an unassailable fact that we have whole swaths of our economy where there are virtually no women...

It's interesting that the BAM (?) group that keeps yelling at Regents meetings for Napolitano to resign has a male yell captain who seems to be in charge of organizing the speakers/yellers.  Yours truly can't remember what BAM is supposed to stand for.  Badass Angry Mob?  Bullies And Mudslingers?

Anyway, there was a song that seems to go with the op ed:

There have been many firsts in my career: first woman attorney general of Arizona, first woman governor to win reelection in Arizona, first woman secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. And now I'm the first woman president of the University of California.
But I was a woman first.
The somewhat elusive topic of leadership and women raises several important questions. Do we subtly send messages to girls that they should not be leaders? Is leadership something that can be taught? And, fundamentally, what makes a leader?
I imagine many people have heard of the new movement to ban the word bossy. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Anna Maria Chavez, the CEO of the Girl Scouts, are leading the effort.
Sandberg says that when parents are tempted to describe their daughters as bossy, they should instead try saying, "My daughter has executive leadership skills." According to Sandberg, she has never heard anyone say that phrase without laughing.
Bossy is a pejorative word for girls, its usage just one example of how we steer women away from leadership. It is an unassailable fact that we have whole swaths of our economy where there are virtually no women.