CalWatchdog Morning Read – September 20

  • CalWatchdogLogoUnion battles Caltrans over costly move
  • Gov. Brown mulls bills overseeing psych meds for foster kids
  • Energy company won big giveaway from Legislature
  • More on CalPERS and the state’s rising pension debt

Good morning! But alas, it’s only Tuesday.

CalPERS and the rising public debt continues to be scrutinized. But first, Caltrans is under fire from an employee union. 

A public employees’ union is questioning Caltrans’ pricey decision to move one of its district offices from one side of Orange County to the other, noting the high cost of new cubicle partitions and the lack of space to accommodate new staff required by two transportation proposals. 

Caltrans’ District 12 management terminated its lease two years early to move from a building it owns in Irvine to a space it’s renting in Santa Ana, to move from a space the union argues would accommodate space needs to a space that’s inadequate.

The new space saves about $1.2 million in rent annually, but it also reduces space by 50,000 sq. ft., which does not allow for the additional staff required for the traffic-relief construction called for in transportation proposals offered by both Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators.

“For state highways, this would require engineering design and construction inspection, but Caltrans is moving to a new location which would not have the space to house the staff needed to accomplish the program,” said Beth Katz, spokeswoman for Professional Engineers in California Government.

CalWatchdog has more.

In other news:

  • “California’s foster-care system has long been plagued with unaddressed problems, but a recent exposé about the system’s alleged over-prescription of psychotropic drugs has propelled the Legislature into action. Gov. Jerry Brown currently has on his desk three bills that deal with some of the issues raised in a California state auditor’s report last month,” reports CalWatchdog.

  • “Lawmakers agreed last month to extend a vital subsidy for [Bloom Energy], one that makes its pricey power generators more attractive to buyers such as hospitals, data centers and mega-retailers. For Bloom  and its industry cohorts, the win marked the end of a hard-fought slog against powerful adversaries including utilities and labor groups. But rival companies and some lawmakers had a different perspective… .” The Los Angeles Times has more. 

  • “CalPERS pension fund defended by its most ferocious critic,” writes CalWatchdog.

  • “Why the dot-com bubble is key to understanding California’s growing public employee pension debt,” reports Capital Public Radio.


  • Gone ’til December.

Gov. Brown:

  • No public events announced.

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