Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cheryl Bly-Chester Speaking in Chico on Boards and Commissions

[headshot+photo.jpg]Dr. Cheryl Bly-Chester, Director of AJAR, will be a featured speaker at the Leadership Convention for the Northern California Republican Women Federated at the Holiday Inn in Chico, California on April 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm. The topic will be "Participative Government: Citizen Watch Groups over Boards and Commissions" 

Dr. Bly-Chester served as the Vice-Chair of both the State Reclamation Board (Flood Protection) and the State Mining and Geology Board and as a Placer County Parks Commissioner. Her doctoral dissertation research focuses on the influences exerted on California regulatory board decision-making. She will be bringing her experiences and the results of her research to bear on the discussion about the effectiveness of public involvement in bringing about better transparency and accountability in government.

Dr. Bly-Chester is also the founder and owner of Rosewood Environmental Engineering serving the private sector  and local government in complying with state and federal environmental regulation. She is a Licensed Professional Engineer, Registered Environmental Assessor, Certified California Disaster Service Worker and trainer, and holds a certificate in Nuclear Reactor Safety from MIT. In addition to her Doctorate in Management and Organizational Leadership, she holds an MBA in International Management in global resources and a BS in Civil Engineering from UC Davis. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hearings to be held on the California Commission on Teachers Credentialing

What is the Commission on Teachers Credentialing and Why Do We Care??

We care because the commission is the subject of a California legislative oversight hearing called by Senate Pro Tem, Darrel Steinberg for Tuesday, May 10, 2011, at the capitol. The hearing will inquire into complaints of gross mishandling of enforcement actions against teachers. Is Senator Steinberg emerging as the champion who will right the whistleblower program?

The Teachers Credentialing Commission is the regulatory body over one of the most powerful unions in the state. If the results of the hearing indicate corruption, then how was it allowed to fester without the California Teachers Association knowing about it?

To be specific, How did even one incident of mishandling of a complaint hearing against a teacher get passed the CTA, never mind the years of abuse alleged? So, are union leaders so concentrated on politics that they ignored their own regulatory body's misdeeds? OR, Are they colluding with their own regulators to control the outcomes?

Most eyes will go immediately to suspecting the politically appointed commissioners are at fault, with the public perception of appointees owing their positions to quid pro quo political transactions. However, research indicates that the perception usually does not track reality for credentialed professionals accepting only $100 per meeting. Probably the most they will be culpable of is studiously ignoring an obvious problem, which would be negligence.

The primary fault likely will be found somewhere in the state employee full-time management. We call on AJAR board watchers to do your homework, look into the background and actions of those involved and then attend the hearing and report back on the proceedings and your insights. The following are the names of the management staff and the members of the commission taken from the State of California link listed above:

 Executive Office
Dale Janssen, Executive Director

Certification, Assignment and Waivers
Patty Wohl, Director

Division of Professional Practices
Mary Armstrong, Director
Office of Governmental Relations
Marilyn Errett, Administrator
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing was created in 1970 by the Ryan Act. The major purpose of the agency is to serve as a state standards board for educator preparation for the public schools of California, the licensing and credentialing of professional educators in the State, the enforcement of professional practices of educators, and the discipline of credential holders in the State of California.
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing consists of nineteen Members, fifteen voting Members and four ex-officio, non-voting Members. Governor appointed Commissioners are typically appointed to four-year terms, and serve as volunteers in unpaid positions.What did they get themselves into?

Ting Sun — Chair 

Position: Public Representative

Appointed: December 2007

Term Expires: November 2011

Ting Lan Sun has more than 23 years in the field of education and has been actively
involved in the charter schools movement for over 18 years as a teacher, administrator,
and schooloperator. The co-founder and Educational Programs Director of the Sacramento
-based Natomas Charter School, Ting directed curriculum, instruction, staff development,
and professional growth. From 1997-2000, she was an Educational Programs Consultant in
 the California Department of Education's Charter Schools Unit where she participated in
the development of charter school administrative policies and regulations, and the
administration of the federal public charter schools grant program. She has also served as a
 senior consultant for Cambridge Education, an international school quality review and
educational consulting firm.

Ting was Vice President of Leadership and Quality for the California Charter Schools
Association from 2003-2006 where she developed and implemented the Association's
quality assurance strategy and initiatives, including standards articulation, quality site visits
 and program reviews. Ting was also responsible for technical assistance publications,
knowledge briefs, reports and articles commissioned, issued and published by the
organization. In addition she has created, directed and implemented effective leadership
training programs in all aspects of charter school administration and served as a mentor for
the Leadership for Educational Entrepreneur (LEE) Program at Arizona State University.

In addition to her current role as Chair of California's Commission on Teacher Credentialing
(CTC), Ting also serves on the Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA) Advisory
Committee and is on the Alternative Schools Accountability Model (ASAM) sub-committee.
She also serves as a board member of the Golden 1 Credit Union.

Ting received her bachelor's degree in Latin and English from Austin College, a master's
degree in education from Stanford University, and a doctorate of education from the
University of California at Davis.

Charles Gahagan — Vice-Chair 

Position: Teacher Representative --

Appointed: March 2009

Term Expires: November 2012

Charles Gahagan has taught high school English since 1969, with the exception of 1971
to 1974, when he served in the U. S. Army Security Agency as a Russian interpreter. He
earned his B.A. from Michigan State University and his M.A. from Oakland University,
Rochester, Michigan, both in English literature. He holds a single subject credential in
English, as well as CLAD and GATE certificates. He moved to California from Michigan
in 1986 to help open Moreno Valley Canyon Springs High School, where he still teaches
 AP English literature. An English department co-chair and co-chair of the school's WASC
 Leadership Team, he has taught most courses found in a high school English department,
including newspaper, yearbook, film studies and humanities. Currently a workshop
presenter for the SB472 teacher training program, he has also taught education classes
and conducted other teacher workshops. He has been active in new-teacher support since
1992, first as a mentor teacher, then as a BTSA Support Provider. Since 1999, he has been
 the spelling master for the Riverside County Spelling Bee.

Constance Baumgardt Blackburn 

Position: Teacher Representative

Appointed: November 2008

Term Expires: November 2012

Connie Blackburn has been a Kindergarten teacher at Central Elementary School in the
Escondido Union School District in San Diego County for 23 years. She holds a Multiple
Subjects teaching credential from California State University, Dominguez Hills and a
specialist credential for Communication Handicapped from California State University,
Los Angeles. Her area of expertise is in early literacy and cross curricular integration.
An eighth generation Californian, she comes from a family of educators. Previously,
she has taught the Deaf in Los Angeles County, Louisville, Kentucky and Houston, Texas.

Educated in the Torrance Unified School District in Los Angeles County, she holds a B.A.
in Liberal Studies from California State University, Dominguez Hills and an M.A from
California State University, Los Angeles. She was selected as a California Teacher of the
 Year in 2003 and currently serves on the executive board of the California Teachers of the
Year Foundation. She believes passionately in supporting the teaching profession and has
 served as a master teacher for teacher candidates since 1989. In addition, she has served
 as a Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) support provider.

Marlon Evans 

Position: Public Representative

Appointed: March 2009

Term Expires: November 2012

Marlon Evans received his BA in Political Science and a MA in Sociology from Stanford
 University, where he competed on the football and track and field teams. After graduating
from Stanford in 1997, he spent one year pursuing a career in the NFL, signing as a free
agent with the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts. Marlon then spent three years
working at Stanford University in the Office of Undergraduate Admission. Following his
tenure at Stanford, Marlon served as the Director of Partnerships at the Knowledge Is Power
 Program (KIPP) Foundation. Currently he serves as the Executive Director of All Stars
Helping Kids, a nonprofit in Redwood City, CA dedicated to promoting a safe, healthy and
 rigorous learning environment for disadvantaged children. Marlon is a member of the Board
 of Directors of Sports4Kids.

Steven Dean 

Position: Teacher Representative

Appointed: November 2008

Term Expires: November 2011

Steven Dean was born and raised in Southern California in the San Fernando and Santa
 Clarita Valleys. He attended California State University Northridge where he received his
Bachelor's degree in Spanish in 1994. Mr. Dean holds a Single Subject Teaching
Credential in Spanish with a CLAD Emphasis. He taught and was Foreign Language
Department Chairman at his former high school, Hart High School, for six years and is now
 teaching his ninth year at Calabasas High School in the Las Virgenes Unified School

Mark Freathy 

Position: Teacher Representative

Appointed: January 2011

Term Expires: November 2013

Mark Freathy is in his 34th year in education. He received his B.A. from Michigan State
University in Special Education and his M.Ed. in Administration and Instructional
 Leadership from the University of Utah. He has a variety of teaching experience starting
 in Michigan in 1977, followed by 7 years in Utah, 3 years in Chino, California and the last
22 years in Elk Grove Unified School District. The first 17 years of his career were spent in
special education as a special day class teacher, resource specialist and program director.
The past 17 years he has spent as a math teacher and currently serves as the math
Curriculum Specialist in Elk Grove. He holds a credential in special education, a multiple
 subject credential, a mathematics supplemental authorization as well as CLAD certification.
 He has been highly involved in providing professional development throughout his career
 serving as a mentor teacher, department chair in both special education and mathematics,
and workshop presenter for the California League of Middle Schools and the California
Mathematics Council. He was named the Elk Grove Teacher of the Year in 2008. He was
appointed by the Governor to serve on the California Academic Content Standards
Commission in June 2010.

James Hines 

Position: Teacher Representative

Appointed: January 2011

Term Expires: November 2013

In 1987, James Hines earned an Associates of Science degree in Electronics Technology
and immediately began a career in the field of electronics. He worked as a Computer
Technician and later as a Lighting Consultant before deciding that teaching would be a
more fulfilling career for him. He went on to earn his Bachelors in Liberal Studies from
California State University, Fresno and began teaching after earning his Multiple Subject
Teaching Credential and CLAD Certificate. He is now pursuing a Masters Degree in
Educational Administration.

Mr. Hines has been teaching at Wilson Elementary in Fresno, California since 1999.
Currently he teaches fifth grade, but he has also taught third, fourth, and sixth grade.
Besides teaching, Mr. Hines has assumed many additional duties. As a master teacher,
he guided teacher candidates as they completed fieldwork requirements. He has also
served as a mentor, collaborating with and advising beginning teachers. For several years
he served as grade level chairperson for his fourth and sixth grade teams. From 2007 to
2009 he was a member of Fresno Unified's Instructional Leadership Team. Since 2008 Mr.
Hines has been a member of the Superintendent's Teacher Council for FUSD, while also
acting as school site representative for Fresno Teachers Association.

Leslie LittmanPosition: Designee, Superintendent of Public Instruction

Appointed: September 2003

Term Expires: Ongoing

Ms. Leslie Littman is currently a High School Teacher at Hart High School in Newhall
California. She has been there since 1994 and is currently teaching Social Studies. She
has also taught other subjects at Hart High School such as Economics, Honors Economics,
US Government, US History, US History Sheltered, Modern Civilizations, Sociology, and
Sheltered Government. She has also been a Long-Term Substitute Teacher of Social
Studies at Schurr High School in Montebello California.

Ms. Littman earned her Bachelor of Arts in History and Economics in 1991. She then
proceeded to obtain her Master's of Education in 1992, along with a Single Subject
Professional Clear Credential of Social Studies, all from the University of California,
Los Angeles.

Ms. Leslie Littman has also served as a member of several prominent Associations
including the NCATE Board of Examiners, California Teacher Association Liaison to the
California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and the Credentials and Professional
Development Committee of the State Council of Education.

Shane P. Martin 

Position: Ex-Officio Representative of the 
Association of Independent California Colleges 
and Universities

Appointed: June 2008

Term Expires: Ongoing

Shane P. Martin, an educational anthropologist by training and expert in the areas of
intercultural education, cultural diversity, and Catholic schools, was appointed the second
dean of the LMU School of Education in February 2005. Dean Martin is visible in the
education community as a member of Green Dot Public Schools Board of Directors,
Loyola High School of Los Angeles Board of Regents, and Teach For America, Los
Angeles Board. He is a speaker in a variety of arenas -civic, business, and education -
and keynotes conferences in the United States and internationally. Professional activities
include serving as President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
Education Council and regular invitations to review articles and manuscripts. In addition
to honors in "Who's Who in the World and in America," Shane received the National
Catholic Educational Association's (NCEA) Michael J. Guerra Leadership Award in 2005.
He is a member of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education Board of
Examiners and of the California Committee on Accreditation, Board of Institutional

Martin earned his Ph.D. in International and Intercultural Education at the University of
Southern California, a Master of Theology degree at the Jesuit School of Theology in
Berkeley (JSTB) with a specialization in Hispanic Ministry, and his Master of Divinity
degree also from JSTB. An LMU alumnus, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History
in 1980 and holds his California State Clear Secondary Teaching Credential. Before
returning to LMU as a faculty member, Martin's classroom teaching experience included six
years in middle and secondary school settings and work in 17 Latin American countries.

Dean Martin believes the key to school success is the network of relationships and
partnerships that support the whole child.

Carolyn McInerney

Position: School Board Member

Appointed: November 2008

Term Expires: November 2012

Carolyn McInerney is currently serving in her third term on the Irvine Unified School
District Board. She is the Manager of Special Projects in the CEO's office at the County
of Orange and is a Certified HIPAA Professional, serving as the County of Orange Privacy
Officer. Ms McInerney serves on the Orange County Committee for School Reorganization
and the statewide Association of Low Wealth Schools. She has an extensive background in
community service, having served as founder and President of the Irvine Public Schools
Foundation, the Family Violence Project, and as President of the Junior League of Orange
County. She was appointed to the Orange County Housing Commission, and has served as
a Community Services Commissioner for the City of Irvine. An organ recipient, she is active
in advocacy for organ donation, and serves as an Ambassador for OneLegacy.

Ms. McInerney was honored as California Woman of the Year in 2003 for the 73rd Assembly
 District. She has a degree in Economics from the University of Denver.

Irene Oropeza-Enriquez 

Position: Administrative Services Representative

Appointed: February 2008

Term Expires: November 2011

Irene Oropeza-Enriquez has over 20 years in the educational field. She currently works as
an Elementary school principal in the Woodland Joint Unified School District. Prior to this
position she served as a vice-principal for three years. She holds a Multiple Subject
Teaching Credential with a BCLAD Emphasis and an Administrative Services Credential
from California State University, Sacramento. Ms. Oropeza-Enriquez has an extensive
background in bilingual education. In addition to her service as an administrator, she was a
bilingual resource teacher from 1997 to 2002 and a fifth grade bilingual teacher from 1996 to
1997. She also served in the Washington Unified School District as a structured English
immersion and a bilingual kindergarten teacher from 1986 to 1996.

Janis Perry 

Position: Ex-Officio Representative of the California 
Postsecondary Education Commission

Appointed: October 2009

Term Expires: Ongoing

Janis Perry has been a Professor at Santiago Canyon College/Santa Ana College for 25
years. She is a professor of Teacher Education and Counseling. Ms. Perry founded the
Santiago Canyon College "Pathways to Teaching" program in 2000, and continues to work
closely with the local CSU and UC on curriculum/program development and articulation
creating a "pipeline" of future teachers transferring from the community college to the
university. In 2007, Ms. Perry designed one of the first state-approved Associate of Arts
Degree in Elementary Education.

Currently Ms. Perry serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of California
Community College Teacher Education Programs (ACCCTEP) and is an active member
of the Regional Teacher Education Consortium (RTEC) made up of California State
University Fullerton's Center for Teachers and regional community colleges. Ms. Perry
has held numerous leadership positions at the postsecondary level such as President of the
Academic Senate for California Community Colleges ('95-'97), Chair of the Intersegmental
Committee of Academic Senates - ICAS ('95-'96), and Project Director for the California
Education Round Table K-12 Math and English Standards Task Force ('97-'99).

Active in her local education community, Ms. Perry serves as President of the Board for
Nova Academy Charter School in Santa Ana, an early college high school serving "at-risk"
youth, and President of the Board for Therapeutic Education Centers, non-public special
education schools in Santa Ana and Orange.

Previously, Ms. Perry served as an elementary school teacher for six years with Saddleback
Valley Unified School District, teaching grades 1, 2, and 6 including serving as a Reading
Specialist and GATE teacher.

Educated in the Long Beach Unified School District, Ms. Perry holds a B.S. in General
Studies-Education, from the University of Southern California and an M.S. in Education
Administration, also from the University of Southern California.

Tine Sloan 

Position: Ex-Officio Representative of 
University of California

Appointed: May 2007

Term Expires: Ongoing

Tine Sloan is the Acting Director of the Teacher Education Program in the Gevirtz
Graduate School of Education at UC Santa Barbara. She has taught courses in the Ph.D.
and Teacher Education Programs focused on issues in human development, educational
psychology, teacher education, and assessment. Her primary research interests revolve
around teacher education, particularly with respect to teacher and teacher educator learning,
 as well as to the role that policy and context play in this learning and in program
development. Related to this is her interest in understanding, developing and using valid
and reliable assessments of teacher and student learning. All of her work is framed by her
primary interest in understanding and advocating for the well being of children in
educational contexts. Prior to coming to UCSB, she spent 3 years in Singapore and was a
member of the faculty at the National Institute of Education in Nanyang Technological
University. Dr. Sloan completed her teacher certification at California Polytechnic State
University, San Luis Obispo in 1988, and her master's and doctoral work at the University
of California, Los Angeles in 1996.

Hilda Villarreal Wright 

Position: Teacher Representative

Appointed: January 2011

Term Expires: November 2012

Hilda Villarreal Wright started her career path with Bakersfield City School District 17 years
ago. She worked as a bilingual aide for 8 years and became interested in teaching during
her experience assisting K-6 bilingual teachers. Hilda was accepted into the Bilingual
Education for Career Advancement Program, a grant specifically for bilingual aides who
wished to become teachers, at California State University Bakersfield. She received a
bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies with a Supplementary Authorization in Mathematics
and earned her Multiple Subjects Credential with a Bilingual Cross Cultural Language and
Academic Development emphasis. She graduated Magna Cum Laude, a member of the
National Honor Society and recipient of the Hispanic Excellence Award.

In 2002, Villarreal Wright became a Math and ELD teacher at Washington Middle School.
After 4 years as a full time teacher, Wright became the Academic Math Coach at her school
site and continues to teach 8th grade Algebra. In addition, she is a tutor and anchor for "Do
the Math," which is a local math tutoring television show for the Kern County Superintendent
 of Schools.

Hilda Villarreal Wright is passionate about teaching English Learners and Mathematics. She
 is a member of the California Mathematics Council and TODOS- Mathematics for All. She is
 a presenter for TODOS and recently presented at the National Council of Teachers of
 Mathematics in San Diego how to effectively teach English Learners math through
 Technology. She provided SB472-English Learner Professional Development training
 in Math through Action Learning Systems for her district.

Villarreal Wright also served on the 21 member California Academic Content Standards
Commission whose recommendations were approved by the State Board of Education and
served on the Math Curriculum Commission for her district, Bakersfield City School District.

Dr. Beverly Young 

Position: Ex-Officio Representative of 
California State University

Appointed: May 2005

Term Expires: Ongoing

Dr. Beverly Young is currently the Assistant Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, Teacher
Education and Public School Programs for the California State University System. She
works with the campus Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Deans of Education in order to
facilitate changes in teacher preparation within the 23-campus system. She earned her
Master's degree in Diagnosis and Improvement of Reading and earned her Doctorate in
Curriculum and Instruction.

Prior to coming to the Chancellor's Office, Dr. Young has served as teacher education
faculty at CSU Fullerton and as an elementary school teacher. She has also been involved
with the Commission's SB 2042 Panel, the SB 1422 Panel, and the Accreditation Study
Work Group.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Director Bly-Chester Speaking in Carmichael, California

[headshot+photo.jpg]Dr. Cheryl Bly-Chester, Director of AJAR, will be speaking to the Sacramento Area Conservative Women's Book Club in Carmichael, California on April 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm. The topic will be The Power of Citizen Watch Groups in Regulatory Board Oversight. 

Dr. Bly-Chester served as the Vice-Chair of both the State Reclamation Board (Flood Protection) and the State Mining and Geology Board and as a Placer County Parks Commissioner. Her doctoral dissertation research focuses on the influences exerted on California regulatory board decision-making. She will be bringing her experiences and the results of her research to bear on the discussion about the effectiveness of public involvement in bringing about better transparency and accountability in government.

Dr. Bly-Chester is also the founder and owner of Rosewood Environmental Engineering serving the private sector  and local government in complying with state and federal environmental regulation. She is a Licensed Professional Engineer, Registered Environmental Assessor, Certified California Disaster Service Worker and trainer, and holds a certificate in Nuclear Reactor Safety from MIT. In addition to her Doctorate in Management and Organizational Leadership, she holds an MBA in International Management in global resources and a BS in Civil Engineering from UC Davis. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Will Governor Brown Fix California's Whistleblower Program? (corrected)

With California's former Attorney General as the new Governor, perhaps whistleblowers will stand a chance of being protected under the law. Illegal retaliation for whistleblowing under Governor Schwarzenegger's Administration was commonplace. The California Whistleblower Protection Act was placed into law in 2000, but for the past 7 years of the Arnold reign, it was largely ignored unless it resulted in finding multi-millions of dollars worth of waste or fraud.

Far from acting on the revelations, attorneys and department directors refused to protect whistleblowers stating that they represented the State and often took action to squelch the concerned employee. The retaliation is what has prevented state employees, appointees, and contractors from coming forward.

A common practice for retaliation against appointees who quietly reported misconduct to top level Schwarzenegger officials was to require they pre-sign letters of resignation. The Governor's Office would threaten to put a date on the resignation letter if the appointee pursued the complaint.

Reports of UC professors being defunded or losing classes for whistleblowing came to light in 2008. Kathy Carroll, an attorney with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, was fired for reporting gross mishandling of complaints against teachers. As an attorney, she would have an ethics violation if she allowed the misconduct of the commission to continue without reporting it.

In another incident, a California Department of Education employee reported corrupt practices involving community outreach programs designed to teach English and citizenship topics to immigrants. Instead of being rewarded for  integrity, the Department transferred him to a position without any responsibilities. 

Under Schwarzenegger, when a whistleblower approached their reporting chain under the office of the director in their department, they were often faced with attorneys who believed that they owed their duty to protect the state from the whistleblower and were not responsible for upholding the law. Several consecutive Chief Counsels in the Department of Water Resources held this view, based on reports by whistleblowers in that department.

A particular area where whistleblowers face grave consequences to their careers is complaining about the CEA selection process. The Career Executive Assignment (CEA) selection is supposed to reward our best state employees with promotions to levels of upper management. Have you ever wondered how somebody with so few qualifications could rise in state government? The system is rife with favoritism and corruption. So much so that for most state employees it is the brunt of jokes. 

If California is ever to straighten up the regulatory process to help the economy recover and to bring the budget under control, it will have to begin with cleaning house of corruption. No one will trust a corrupt system.

One corrupt act, no matter how small, undermines faith in government. It is not only the multi-million dollar corruption cases that affect the State’s credibility, and therefore its ability to govern. Ignoring abuses of position also hurts the state.

For example, when state employees are caught repeatedly purjurering themselves at public board meetings, testifying against citizens seeking due process, the entire regulatory system is in jeopardy. This is particularly egregious when the employee is responsible for enforcement and gets away with the lies with no consequences.

With the Rule of Law as the core belief upon which he has built his career, perhaps Governor Brown will take action to build the state's whistleblower program into the powerful anti-corruption mechanism is is intended to be.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2011 Changes in Contractor Labor Laws Pile on the Construction Industry Burden

Don't expect the construction industry in California to climb out of its slump anytime soon, especially if lawmakers in California have anything to do with it! Changes in 2011 to the California labor laws simply increase costs for business in a state struggling to regain footing in a devastated economy. Every dollar that goes into compliance with the law is a dollar not going to hiring. For example, requiring independent roofing contractors to pay for workers compensation when they do not have employees is absurd.  The following list of 2011 labor Changes is from the California Chamber of Commerce, linked above:

Roofer Dayton OhioWorkers' Compensation for Roofing Contractors  AB 2305 extends the requirement that contractors with a C-39 roofing classification obtain and maintain workers' compensation insurance, even if they have no employees. This requirement was set to expire on January 1, 2011, and is now extended until January 1, 2013. Additionally, after January 1, 2011, any active license will be suspended if the C-39 roofing classification was removed and the licensee is found to have employees and lack a valid certificate of workers' compensation insurance.
Workers' Compensation Stop Orders SB 1254 authorizes the registrar of contractors to issue a stop order (effective immediately on service of the order) to any contractor (licensed or unlicensed) who failed to secure workers' compensation coverage for his/her employees. Additionally, employees affected by the work stoppage must be paid by the employer for lost time, up to 10 days, while the employer seeks to comply with the law.

Failure to observe the stop order is punishable by a misdemeanor (up to 60 days in county jail) and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The legislation also implements a means by which the employer may protest the stop order and request a hearing on the matter.
Organ and Bone Marrow Donor LeaveCalifornia employers with 15 or more employees must now provide the following paid leaves to employees who choose to donate organs or bone marrow:
  • Organ donors — must be provided a 30-day (workdays) leave of absence in any one-year period
  • Bone marrow donors - must be provided a leave of absence up to five workdays in any one-year period
The statute says that such leave does not run concurrently with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, state law cannot override federal law. Therefore, leave for the purpose of donating bone marrow or an organ may run concurrently with FMLA if the employer is a covered employer and the employee is eligible for FMLA.
Heat Illness Regulations RevisedA revised heat illness standard went into effect November 4, 2010. In addition to revisions related to shade and other safety precautions, the new standard includes changes to training requirements for both supervisory and nonsupervisory employees. Such training is now required to be given before employees begin work that "should reasonably be anticipated to result in exposure to the risk of heat illness."
Wage Claim Appeal — Bond RequirementAccording to AB 2772, an employer filing an unpaid wage claim appeal must post a bond with the court, in the amount of the judgment rendered in the administrative hearing. Employers must also provide written notification to the other parties and the Labor Commissioner of the bond posting.
AB 569 — Exemptions to Meal BreaksThis new law exempts construction workers, commercial drivers, certain security officers and employees of electrical and gas corporations or local publicly owned electric utilities from California's meal break requirements if those employees are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement containing specified terms, including meal period provisions.
Investigating Serious Safety ViolationsA revision to the California Labor Code establishes new procedures and standards for an investigation of a serious violation in the workplace and establishes a rebuttable presumption as to when a serious violation has been committed by an employer.

Under previous law, a serious violation was "deemed to exist if there was a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a violation." The change creates a "rebuttable presumption that a serious violation exists if Cal/OSHA demonstrates that there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation."
Health Clubs and DefibrillatorsUnder current law, health clubs must acquire an automatic external defibrillator and meet specific training and maintenance standards. Under current law, when a health club uses an automatic external defibrillator, the owners, managers, employees or others are not liable for civil damages resulting from an act of omission in the course of rendering emergency care/treatment.

The new law eliminates that exemption if health club members have access to the facility during hours that trained employees are not in the facility. For facilities larger than 6,000 square feet, members must be denied access to the facility if a trained employee is not present.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Property Rights Upheld, Progress on Peripheral Canal/Tunnel Thwarted in Courts

Large San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay from Space
by: NASA Earth Observatory
The courts have ruled against the State Department of Water Resources (DWR) demand to drill on private lands to research the “best” route for the diversion of water around the Delta. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution covers the legal concept of taking private land for public use, requiring just compensation. The two types of government taking are through condemnation or through regulatory taking. This case involves the latter.

DWR is charged with locating alternative routes and infrastructure (e.g. canal v. tunnel). Route designations will presumably be chosen based on a multitude of factors, the underlying geomorphology contributing some of the significant factors. It is understandable that DWR would request access to lands for drilling to understand the nature and suitability of the subsurface, but first, perhaps, they should take the time to understand the nature and sensibilities of the citizens on whom they are imposing.

In 2006, while I sat on the California Reclamation Board (now the Central Valley Flood Protection Board), I had a conversation with a Deputy Director of DWR. He seemed fairly cavalier about exercising eminent domain to force the peripheral canal onto private lands. His assumptions about the State’s acquiring land for the project are likely correct and I can’t fault him for that. What I do take issue with is the cynicism and general disregard for the gravity of the action against our citizens. None of this should be undertaken lightly and all of it should be considered in terms of due compensation.

One of the problems is that to date the State has been brushing off the concerns of the local stakeholders, justifying the project as representing the needs of the many and ignoring the needs of the few. There is no reason to ignore the needs of the few, just because they do not carry political clout. A government that does right by all of its constituents will have a higher approval rating, and therefore prove more effective.

The cost of due compensation, even going over and above for these generational farmers and land owners will pay off in goodwill dividends down the road, setting the stage to build a more sustainable and resilient Bay Delta in the future.

State can't drill lands for canal, judge rules

Delta landowners applaud decision; Water Resources may pursue appeal
The state's request to drill more than 200 feet into private Delta lands in search of the best route for a peripheral canal or tunnel has been denied by a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge.Alex Breitler
The decision arrives after more than two years of legal struggles between 100-plus landowners and the state Department of Water Resources, which first asked the landowners for access to their properties and then tried to force the matter in court.
"This is a very good day for Delta landowners," said Stockton attorney Thomas Keeling, who represented 93 of them. "The DWR's roughshod ride over the backs of the landowners has encountered a major speed bump."
In a tentative ruling, Judge John P. Farrell basically found that the drilling would constitute a "taking" of property under the law. The final written ruling was expected to be released late Friday.
A spokesman for Water Resources said the state may seek an appeal, and will continue seeking access to drill.
"We will negotiate with landowners to purchase the easements necessary for our studies. Failing that, we may seek necessary easements through eminent domain," spokesman Ted Thomas said.
In any event, Friday's ruling could mean considerable delay in the environmental studies needed to build a canal or tunnel, Keeling said.
In 2008 and 2009, the state sent requests for temporary access to landowners spread across five Delta counties. Those who would not agree were taken to court.
The judge earlier this year agreed to allow the state some access for less-intrusive environmental survey work, such as checking for the presence of plants and animals, or examining the locations of drainage ditches, streams and wetlands.
But the judge has now declined to allow the most controversial action - drilling.
The truck-mounted drills would have bored holes 205 feet underground, removing about 2 cubic yards of soil from each site and plugging the holes with grout, according to court documents.
About 25 to 30 of the 100-plus landowners in question would have been subject to the drilling, Keeling said. Another 150 property access requests expected to go out soon also seek permission to drill, he said, although the Water Resources spokesman could not verify that Friday.
The purpose of a canal or tunnel is to divert Sacramento River water before it hits the heart of the Delta, shipping it to giant pumps near Tracy that push the water to farms in the south San Joaquin Valley and to cities as far south as San Diego. Delta farmers fear the diversion will ruin their water quality, while supporters say it could improve water supplies for much of California and help fish.
For Delta farmers, the drilling requests - and the land-access issue as a whole - were a double insult. They were being asked to allow the state on their land for what they considered to be intrusive surveys, in order to pave the way for a project that many of them despise.
"From a Delta landowner perspective, this is a huge victory," said Brett Baker, a sixth-generation pear farmer and advocate with Stockton-based Restore the Delta. "From all we can tell, they said the information they were seeking was absolutely necessary to the environmental document (for a canal or tunnel). I don't see how they can complete the document now."
He urged farmers to "hold strong" and "not cave in to prevailing pressure" during the negotiations to come.
Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295 or Visit his blog at