State Printer Decides Election Date?


Katy Grimes: While speaking with Republican Sen. Bob Huff yesterday about budget negotiations, an interesting twist in the process came to light.

If the governor does not get legislators to approve his budget by March 10, the June special election gets pushed into July.

But Huff said the election date is really about the printer needing time to get the ballots to the counties.

The state printer is determining the election date?

Gov. Brown should consider using a non-union printer for the ballots – one that will print the last minute changes and send ballots to the counties with a fast turnaround time… like the printers used during election season.

“I get my campaign material printed fast,” said Huff. “But, there’s no union bug on it either.”

Tucked under the protective arm of the Department of General Services, the Office of State Printing (OSP) is responsible for printing for the state, cities and counties, including the election ballots.

But not all printing for the government is done by OSP – many state agencies contract out with privately owned printing companies in the state – even to some (gasp) non-union printers! California and specifically Sacramento has a plethora of privately owned printing companies, able to print any sized project.

OSP is a member of the Allied Trade Printers International. The “rules” for printing are lengthy – and so is the time it takes to get a printed project out of their door.

And if I seem unduly harsh in my critique of the state printer, I worked in the printing industry for 20 years with my husband’s large company, which printed for many state agencies – and always on tight turnaround schedules.

During the bid process, OSP was always in the mix, but was almost always the highest bidder and had excessive time requirements – which is why many state agencies like contracting outside of the state for time sensitive printing needs.

If the governor is looking for another big budget cut, the state printer is one area that could be cut entirely, and would never be felt – and maybe elections could be held when the governor wants, and not be dictated by a printer.

We received this response from Department of General Services: “The State Printer does not print the election ballots. Those are printed by the individual counties. The State Printer is responsible for the printing of the voter guides only.”

MAR. 2, 2011

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  1. larry 62
    larry 62 2 March, 2011, 08:48

    Having been in the printing business for almost 45 years, I certainly agree that there re plenty of printers out there that need work and would turn around any job within days. We did that routinely for many years. I hate to see anyone lose there job, but closing the state printing office would undoubtedly save taxpayers many dollars.

    Reply this comment
  2. John Seiler
    John Seiler 2 March, 2011, 09:09

    The state printer should be completely privatized — now. Then just take bids for the cheapest, and fastest, to do the job.

    Reply this comment
  3. toni little
    toni little 3 March, 2011, 10:41

    Help me out here. Why does OSP exist?

    Reply this comment
  4. Tom Ellus
    Tom Ellus 3 March, 2011, 12:19

    Katy needs to get her facts straight.
    The voter ballets are printer by the county, not by the State Printer.

    Reply this comment
  5. Norma Horne
    Norma Horne 3 March, 2011, 12:49

    More than anything this article is yet another of the “blame all our troubles on state employees” theme. Convenient scapgoats, aren’t they?

    Actually, having been involved in getting printing done for the department I worked for gives me an idea of which works better, public or private. I found that the state printing office, as it was known then, was more able to understand the individual needs of our department than the public. They certainly gave me more productive information about what was possible to achieve through printing. True, they cannot get an order out at the drop of a hat. Surely, the user has some responsibility for planning ahead (note to governor and legislature!).

    Reply this comment
  6. John North
    John North 3 March, 2011, 13:17

    The Office of State Publishing is a full production printing and media facility that primarily prints items for the Legislature, Governor, and ballot material. In order to save taxpayer’s money, they use “downtime” to print state agency products and items; however this is a secondary function. This is why agencies are required to first run their printing requests through the OSP: to allow the cost effective use of state production coapacity. This is also why you may have an order released to the private sector: OSP production is under use. The “union bug” is not the reason for most anything. It is printing priority, capacity and cost efficiency.

    Reply this comment
  7. Mr R.
    Mr R. 3 March, 2011, 17:58

    You don’t get it. Does anyone remember the State textbooks that we use to publish? OSP did it cheaper and with more more success that the private sector. Look at the cost of textbooks now, and look at the school districts now. Do your research before you open your mouth. The State Printer is mandated by law to print the voter ballet. You may have worked for a private printer and kudos to you, all you want to do is get the printing for your back pocket, does that seem right?? OSP stands for the Office of State Publishing. Private printers have always wanted the printing that we do at OSP, but I doubt that the private printers could handle the quick turn around time and no error rule that the Legislature demands of us. OSP has never been the problem it has always been the solution.

    Reply this comment
  8. Stephen 49
    Stephen 49 4 March, 2011, 01:51

    The State Printer used to print all the text books for K-12 in Ca.. The State decided (back in the 70’s)to let an outside printer handle the job. The State sold off it’s casebound book maker and since then the price of books has gone up 4X’s the rate of inflation. Let’s not repeat history. The State Printer keeps other shops from increasing the cost to State departments.

    Reply this comment
  9. Craig Powell
    Craig Powell 4 March, 2011, 07:51

    Having a state printer makes about as much sense as having a state-owned plant to manufacture paper clips. Thanks for alerting us to this clear case of government waste.

    Reply this comment
  10. Lynold
    Lynold 4 March, 2011, 12:45

    Get your facts straight before you start writing about OSP
    You know nothing about printing or how OSP has managed to
    stay around for 150 years while the wanna bees fall by the wayside.
    When we vend out to private company’s some always manage to mess something up
    that is on a time line. They cannot make it so we clean up the
    mess. Guess who takes the heat? Let the professionals do the job
    and let’s limit the amount of work vended out. Long live the middle class.
    Long live Office of State Printing. P.S. Get a real job

    Reply this comment
  11. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 4 March, 2011, 18:11

    Lynold: I know plenty about the state printer, and a rich history does not warrant the inflated pricing, or the layered process of print production that could and should be done by the private sector.

    And yes Tom Ellus: some ballots are handled by or have been done by the state printer. And, the print jobs go through the state printer, adding unnecessary costs on to the total cost.

    Norma: I don’t think all state or government departments need to be disbanded; just the departments which taxpaying, private sector businesses could perform the same service. The government should never be in competition with the private sector.

    -Katy Grimes

    Reply this comment
  12. Lyn Petersen
    Lyn Petersen 5 March, 2011, 00:01

    “I certainly agree that there re plenty of printers out there that need work and would turn around any job within days.”

    What if the job is to print bills that may range from 1 to 50+ pages, and you don’t know how many (if any) are coming in any given day until 4 p.m. and the delivery time is 7 a.m.? That is one of the things OSP does and does well.

    What the private printers would like to do is cherry-pick the best jobs. But it is not true that across the board, private sector businesses are willing and able to do what OSP does at the same cost and within the same timeframe. Ballots are done by the individual counties. If it is true that OSP has done ballots, it is not the usual course of action.

    OSP also has editorial services that require institutional knowledge and experience.

    While you may “know plenty” about OSP, how much of that is anecdotal stories from other printers? Don’t believe everything you hear from the competition.

    Reply this comment
  13. Mr R
    Mr R 5 March, 2011, 16:53

    If the private sector got the printing that OSP does, you think the State of California is in trouble now, wait till the fox gets in the hen house. As far as OSP existing it started because the California Legislature needed printing done in a timely manner and a trusted entity. The printing that we do for the Legislature is strictly confidential, doubt that the private printers could keep their mouths shut when printing a bill or any other piece of Legislature printed material. Like you said Kathy your husband works for a private printer. Are you a little biased, or greedy which is it?? So if your husband started getting the print jobs it would be better for the State in which way?? OR are you looking to line your pocket book a little more. You need to get your facts straight. I have worked for OSP for 35 years and I have seen them come and go your no different than the Dean Anidel that was out to get OSP till he too saw the light. Same on you for your one your biases and you don’t know the culture or the work that we do.

    Reply this comment
  14. Lynold
    Lynold 7 March, 2011, 10:05

    CalWatchdog,(Kate Grimes
    You know nothing about their operation . You have never been
    there or worked there so just shut up about something you know or
    ever personally had anything to do with We lose alot of money
    because of the private sector workers including your husbands
    company and the restrictions that we ourselves have.
    Why don’t you get on board and quit complaining about civil service
    workers. What would you rather do, have a company that has no oversight
    and cost a little less and we have to re-do the work again or a company that has been doing it far longer and costs less in the long run? When you
    put 150 years in printing then you might know what you are talking about.
    Otherwise move on and leave OSP alone. Alot of good people work there.
    And they do fabulous work. Go after the private companies that are ripping
    the government off. You know they are out there. Talking about overbloated

    Reply this comment
  15. Tom Ellus
    Tom Ellus 16 March, 2011, 11:56

    Katy is just trying to make headlines. This blog site is small and irrelevant. The only thing that gave it any relevance is that DGS decided to pick it up. Graphic Center went out of business, sold there accounts to another printer and still have a vested interest is getting state printing work to put money in her pocket.
    The state printer does not print any voting ballets, NONE, the counties do and they DO NOT come through OSP for printing.

    Again Katy, FACTS!!! get them.

    Reply this comment

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