Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kathy Carroll, Recognized as a Champion for School Children's Safety

Yesterday was a day of vindication for Whistle Blower Kathy Carroll. The California Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) met yesterday in a hearing to review the audit of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), which by several accounts is one of the state's worst managed agencies. Opening comments came from Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg lauding Carroll's willingness to embrace her duty to protect children despite placing her job at risk. His comments can be heard at the link provided. Carroll was actually fired for her whistle blowing and has a Personnel Board hearing later this summer regarding that action, but the JLAC hearing was what made it all worthwhile for her.

Before discussing the worst in government, lets take a moment to appreciate an example of good governance. JLAC Chair Assemblymember Lara's candor in expressing his dedication to school children's safety was genuine setting a tone for the committee. All of our legislators at the hearing were well prepared asking penetrating questions and demonstrated a commitment to quickly solving the problem. Their concern about this dysfunctional board united them so that no political partisanship or posturing was in evidence during the two hour hearing.

Senator LaMalfa and Assemblymember Alejo both asked questions driving to the heart of the issues, while Senator Dutton and Assemblymember Huber both immediately grasped the "empire-building" motivation of the CTC leadership. Assemblymember Norby jumped forward asking questions about ways to restructure the teacher credentialing function within the state and how other states handle their credentialing. In fact the entire legislative panel attending instilled confidence that our state's leadership is in control and working well together on behalf of the safety of our children. Credit is certainly due to all of them and their staff.

Credit is also due to State Auditor Elaine Howle and her experienced team whose characteristically thorough audit revealed inexcusable delays in revoking teacher credentials from convicted felons, more than 12,000 cases backlogged, and a commission employee work force stacked with relatives and friends of the Executive Staff and attorneys. The audit results indicated that nearly half of the staff feared retaliation for whistle blowing. Carroll felt that as an attorney she had a duty to report the actions up her supervisory chain, but knew that they would not be welcome.

The auditors also expressed concern about unlawful delegation of authority when the backlog when about 8,000 cases were cleared in a matter of months. Student assistants apparently were sorting through the cases and making a first determination about whether the CTC's subcommittee should even review the cases. Something rang false about the CTC's responses when questioned by the legislators about the appropriateness of the reviews and legitimacy of the backlog.

Apparently, the credential revocation case information that goes before the commission is merely a name, address, and encoding number without any fact-finding or even a summary of the incident involved. The case reviews are fully delegated to staff. So why have a commission? This type of deliberative body is said to operate under symbolic theory of governance. This means that the commissioners offer little benefit of a board system of governance. Decisions are made prior to meetings, behind the scenes, driven by staff, and with little or no input from the public.

The state audit also addressed concerns over state employee's working environment saying that more than 33% of the staff did not know the proper grievance procedures or about whistle blower and EEOC protection laws. The findings also stated that 43% of the employees thought that filing a grievance would result in retaliation. The biggest chuckle from the audience came when Executive Director Dale Janssen responded saying that his own internal survey of fear of retaliation by him or his executive staff had the percentage closer to 25% and dropping each year.

CTC Chair Ting Sun was in the hot seat with questions about when she knew what about the dysfunction of the commission and why she did not respond at the time with appropriate outrage. Her nearly dead pan response was that she was outraged that her dedication to transparency and child safety was being called into question. She stated at the beginning of her comments that the performance of the CTC was unacceptable. However, she provided no indication that she felt any responsibility for allowing the conditions at the commission to become so dysfunctional.

An overarching issue emerged during the hearing about the California whistle blower laws. The attention to this case is promising for the future overhaul of the system to encourage other state employees to come forward and to ensure that they will not be subject to retaliation. Apparently, under Senator Steinberg's leadership, we can look forward to rooting out state government waste and corruption.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is California Governor Brown the Real Terminator?

The May Revision of Governor Brown's proposed budget is out on the street, listing more than 30 boards and commissions slated for termination. An additional handful are due for realignment and 15 programs within agencies are slated for closure or at least reduction. Reduction in state government promises to be significant with Senate Pro Tem Steinberg on the same page going after dysfunctional boards and commissions and Chairpersons Lara (Joint Legislative Audits Committee) and Huber (Joint Legislative Sunset Review Committee) focused on reviewing effectiveness of state agencies.

So far, those on the opposite side of the aisle appear receptive to these reductions and if so, the long polarized California State Legislature may have found a pivotal point for cooperation. Of course, proposals must translate to action, but if accomplished, look for approval ratings for the government to be on the rise.

These proposed realignments and closures may be only the first steps in an incremental and systematic process where the closure or realignment of one function, obviates the closure and realignment of others.

For example, the elimination of the Mining and Geology Board, one of the oldest boards in the state, and  realignment of the Recycling Division two years ago have significantly diminished the role of the Department of Conservation. Governor Schwarzenegger sought proposals to eliminate the department eight years ago. Now, with piecemeal dismantling, the entire Department of Conservation stands in line for termination. Moving the Williamson Act program into a realigned State Lands function will leave the remaining Conservation divisions more sensibly under the purview of the State Geologist. This will require that the management of state mining, geothermal, oil and gas, seismic and geohazards analysis, and mineral resources all be led by someone with significant expertise in these fields and not by the completely unqualified and inexperienced wife or son of political favorites as during the past eight years.

As long as we catch the government in a terminating mood, they can collapse the State Seismic safety Commission under the State Geologist and move the Seismic Engineering Branch of the Department of Water Resources and the Division of Earthquake Engineering From Caltrans over, too. Then (as novel as this idea in California may be) the different departments can work collaboratively together. Right now, they don't and duplication in just the area of seismic safety and engineering is so fractured in the state that it takes major agreements and pushing funding around just to use each other's data. That is the state using the state's information.

Monday, May 16, 2011

California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board Targeted for Closure

Governor Brown is revealing himself as a more active terminator of government deadwood than his action hero predecessor. A recent announcement that the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Boards (CUIAB) is in his cross hairs may signal a move towards placing all the administrative judge functions of boards under a single authority.

Many of the professional licensing boards and appeals boards in the state do not themselves hold hearings to make findings or decisions with regard to resolving cases. This work is done by hired consultants and administrative judges. These boards, more than most, cross the check and balance boundaries of the three branches of government that we all learned about in high school.

Like many of the highly-paid boards, the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board has turned into an Ex-Legislator private membership club with termed-out or voter-rejected legislators receiving appointments and receiving upwards of $128,000 to accomplish very little. The public portion of the meetings last only a few hours once or twice a month and board members do little more than listen to staff reports. The board rarely votes, rarely directs the staff, rarely commits to anything while administrative judges do all their heavy lifting.

These CUIAB members do not actually hear unemployment insurance appeals, that is accomplished by administrative judges. After brief reports, the board recesses into closed session, rarely reporting out of the closed session as to the results per the Bagley-Keene Act. It is nice work, if you can get it! The JLSRC has an organizing meeting this Wednesday at the Capitol. As the JLSRC advances ideas for board and commission realignment, it appears there will be a governor at the ready to follow through.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Coming from Melody Lane of the Compass Group: 

Patriots, Watchmen & Watchdogs:

Event: River Valley Tea Party Patriots
Date - Time:  Wednesday, May 18, 2011 @ 7:00 PM
Location: Cosumnes River Elementary School, 13580 Jackson Rd., Rancho Murietta
Subject:  (See attached) Agenda 21/Sustainable Development - Our May meeting will include a panel of five local citizens giving personal testimony on the loss of freedom and personal property rights they have begun to experience due to Agenda 21 implementation by the State of California and County government officials. 

Our Property Rights in Peril

            Liberty was the foundation on which the greatest country in human history was built.  “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.” - John Adams.  “Private property and freedom are inseparable.” - George Washington.  Our founding fathers knew the importance of liberty and its connection to the private property ownership. Liberty was the essential issue on which we fought our War of Independence - “To secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity.”

            Today we face an insidious encroachment on our liberty through an assault on the private ownership of property.  In 1992 our government willingly ‘signed on’  to Agenda 21 as a result of the United Nations Rio Earth Summit.  President H. W. Bush was the signatory for the United States.  As with any new program that might be controversial a new term was coined to cloak the intended consequences of the resulting changes, thus - “Sustainable Development” became a politically correct buzz word for ‘forward thinking‘ liberal politicians. The momentum behind this insidious movement revolves around the triad of - Environmentalism, Equity of justice and Economic redistribution of wealth.

            Environmentalism is at the core of this UN led movement.  We have all heard of the litany of ‘environmental’ evils committed by humans, and especially the United States.  Our disproportionate use of fossil fuels has been declared (but never proven) to cause global warming.  At the center of this over usage is, of course, the use of the automobile.  Besides the obvious use of fossil fuels the other less talked about problem with the automobile is the freedom it affords the user.  Under Agenda 21 the automobile will be made virtually unnecessary since you will be living either next to where you work or have easy access to mass transit.  Where you live, after the full implementation of Agenda 21, will be restricted to approved “Human Settlement” areas.

            The second leg of this triad is Equity within the justice system.  In order to enact the complete transformation of our system to accommodate the tenets of this movement our legal system will by necessity be reconfigured from our current equal justice under the law to a ‘social justice’ system.  This ‘reconfiguring’ of our justice system will provide for a society based on equal outcomes and not equal opportunities.  To make this huge leap will require the current on going indoctrination of our youth in public schools to accept a new environmental centered legal system.

            The last leg of this triad is the Economic redistribution of wealth.  The misguided understanding by many in the UN is that wealthy countries became wealthy on the backs of the poor countries.  The net result of implementing this erroneous notion will be a drastic reduction in the living standards of the wealthy nations.  The only thing ‘sustainable’ in this Orwellian movement is sustainable poverty on a worldwide basis.

            Only recently did I learn of Agenda 21 and the nefarious ‘under the radar’ movement taking place right here and right now in the Sacramento area.  Please do not take my word on this movement.  Go on the internet to reliable sites and read about Agenda 21.  Better yet, come to the next River Valley Tea Party Patriot meeting on May 18 (Wednesday).   As always our meetings start at 7:00PM.  Please take note: Our new meeting location is Cosumnes River Elementary School, 13580 Jackson Rd.  Bring a friend.

            Our May meeting will include a panel of five local citizens giving personal testimony on the loss of freedom and personal property rights they have begun to experience due to Agenda 21 implementation by the State of California and County government officials.  This usurpation of our property rights requires a call to action to stop this government sponsored movement.



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

California Joint Legislative Audit Committee Hearing Today

May 10, 2011 is a meeting of the California Joint Legislative Audit Committee Hearing. 
It will begin at 10 am in Room 127 at the Capitol Building. I will make a report on all the
proceedings, but many of you may like to listen to a live streaming of the hearings. 

Also on the docket today
today is a review of the audit and hearing of the Teachers Credentialing Commission. No room number or time is noted in the record.

SUBJECT: 2010-119: Commission on Teacher Credentialing: Despite De-
lays in Discipline of Teacher Misconduct, the Division of Profes-
 sional Practices Has Not Developed an Adequate Strategy or Im-
 plemented Processes That Will Safeguard Against Future Back-