"Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez
on Thursday defended his "golden handshake" offer to veteran Assembly employees
as a way to save budget funds, after a top Democrat said earlier this week Núñez had punished him for challenging the plan," reports Shane Goldmacher in the Bee.
"'We're proud that we did it,' Núñez said of the pension offer, which was made to 222 employees, including 13 who already qualify for $100,000-plus pensions.
"The deal offers two years of additional service credit for Assembly workers over 50 with at least five years of experience working for the state. At least five employees have already accepted the offer.
"Núñez called the offer a "very, very small piece" of how the Assembly was trimming its budget, as the state faces an $8 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year. 'The quote-unquote golden handshake is one of many different options (to save money),' the Los Angeles Democrat said.
"The speaker declined to address his decision to demote Assemblyman Hector De La Torre
, who said this week he was ousted as chairman of the powerful Rules Committee after challenging Núñez's pension deal as wasting taxpayer dollars."
Meanwhile, the LAT's Michael Rothfeld looks at the governor's reputation for changing his mind, or, flip-flopping
, depending on your perspective.
"The governor's reversals have perhaps been most frustrating to his fellow Republicans, many of whom suspect that in his search for ways to close the state's yawning budget gap, he may renege on his commitment not to raise taxes -- a sure sticking point in negotiations. In the coming months, that dynamic could hamper Schwarzenegger's ability to navigate the state's fiscal crisis.
"'When anybody alters their position repeatedly, it creates a credibility gap
,' said Assemblyman Anthony Adams
(R-Hesperia). "We would be very disappointed -- and frankly, highly upset with the governor -- if he were to go backwards on his commitment not to raise taxes.'
"Aides contend that the governor has kept his word on that key GOP issue by raising fees, not taxes. But the fees he has backed -- including some amounting to billions of dollars that were included in his failed healthcare plan -- are essentially the same thing, say many Republicans and antitax groups.
"The governor, who in January promised, 'I will not raise taxes on the people of California,' later said he agreed with the nonpartisan legislative analyst's suggestion that the state collect more tax money by cutting or reducing some "loopholes."
"This month, he said "everything is on the table" in budget negotiations with the Capitol's dominant Democrats. He cited as an example a demand by state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata
(D-Oakland) to increase sales taxes."
"Mark G. Yudof
, the head of the University of Texas system, was formally hired Thursday to be the next president of the University of California
and given a $828,084 annual compensation package that triggered protests from some students and employees," reports Larry Gordon in the Times.
"The Board of Regents voted unanimously to hire Yudof, and its chairman, Richard C. Blum
, said the $591,084 base salary and $237,000 in supplemental pension payments and other benefits next year were what the competitive marketplace demanded
for such a top-flight academic and manager. That would be nearly double what his predecessor, Robert C. Dynes, receives but only about 12% more than Yudof's $742,000 package in Texas.
"UC officials acknowledged that the 10-campus system had been battered in recent years by reports of secretive and overly lavish compensation for executives, but they insisted that reforms are underway that will reduce bureaucratic costs. Yudof's pay was cleared with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders; regents said they expect any controversy over pay will quiet down as Yudof finds ways to make UC administration more efficient.""'He's expensive, but he's worth it
,' said Blum,"
Eliot Spitzer once said the same thing...
Speaking of paying extra for a little privacy, the LAT's Marc Lifsher reports, "In California, where celebrities, billionaires and the rest of us prize a little privacy at home, the price of going unlisted is going up, big-time
"Though cellphone companies charge nothing for unlisted phone numbers, consumers with traditional telephones connected by wires are often paying nearly $25 a year to stay out of the phone book and directory assistance. That adds up when you consider all the other add-on charges on phone bills.
"In the last year, AT&T raised its fees to $1.25 a month from 28 cents, while smaller carriers' rates climbed to as much as $1.99 from less than 30 cents
"Air quality regulators dramatically reduced the goal for emission-free vehicles in California yesterday
, but for the first time they required automakers to sell a new generation of plug-in hybrid cars," writes the U-T's Michael Gardner.
"The unanimous decision by the California Air Resources Board will reduce by 70 percent the number of electric and hydrogen vehicles that manufacturers will be required to sell by 2014.
"The new rule also obligates auto companies to manufacture 60,000 plug-in hybrids by 2014. The cars would make short trips on batteries that could be recharged with everyday extension cords and switch to gas for longer drives.
"'Plug-in hybrids are ready to roll. The technology is here,' said Luke Tonachel
, a transportation analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Some are on the road, but mass production is not expected until about 2010."
"A Dallas woman said she wants an apology from airport security screeners because they made her remove her nipple rings
before boarding a flight.
, 37, used a mannequin to demonstrate at a news conference how she had to use pliers to remove one of her rings because of the scar tissue that had grown around it.
"She had been stopped at a security checkpoint at the Lubbock, Texas, airport before a flight to Dallas.
"Hamlin said Transportation Security Administration agents took her behind a curtain to remove the rings, even though TSA policy says a "pat-down search" is enough.
"Hamlin said she heard male agents snickering while she painfully removed the ring.
"'The conduct of TSA was cruel and unnecessary," said her attorney, Gloria Allred
. 'The last time that I checked, a nipple was not a dangerous weapon.