Executive Pay For UC and CSU
In the past, executive pay limits have not been successful, but given the renewed focus on fee hikes, the Occupy movement and student protests, there is a good chance the latest effort by Senator Leland Yee to introduce legislation to prohibit pay raises for top university administrators during bad budget years, or when student fees are increased, will be successful.
According to the release from the Senator’s office, the bill will also prohibit incoming executives from earning more than 105 percent of their predecessors’ pay. UC and CSU have historically given new administrators more than double-digit pay hikes. In May 2009, the UC Board of Regents approved a $400,000 salary for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, which equated to a 27 percent hike from her predecessor.
Part of the problem is that last time, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed Senator Yee’s previous legislation to stop executive pay hikes, despite overwhelming bipartisan support in the Legislature.
“The exorbitant executive pay practices of the CSU Trustees and UC Regents are appalling and reinforces the perception that they are completely out of touch,” said Yee. “UC and CSU are public institutions designed to serve California’s students and not to be a cash cow for executives.”
“Once and for all, it is time to stop these egregious compensation practices and restore the public trust,” said Yee. “I am looking forward to passing this bill and Governor Brown signing it into law.”
Last year, when the CSU Board of Trustees raised fall tuition by 12 percent, they also awarded the new president of San Diego State a $400,000 salary – $100,000 more than his predecessor.
In July 2011, the UC Board of Regents raised tuition by 9.6 percent (on top of an 8 percent increase already approved for the fall semester), while also giving the head of the UC San Francisco Medical Center a nearly $200,000 raise, bringing his yearly base salary to $935,000, with a retention bonus of $1 million over four years.
Senator Yee’s legislation would prohibit such pay increases for top administrators at CSU – including the chancellor and campus presidents – within two years of a tuition hike or within two years of the university not receiving an increase in their budget allocation. The bill will also stipulate that incoming executives can only receive five percent more than their predecessor. While the bill mandates the changes at CSU, due to UC’s constitutional autonomy, the Legislature can only recommend that the Board of Regents adopt the policy stipulated in the bill.
Senator Yee, who voted against the state budget cuts to education, has long fought the executive compensation decisions by UC and CSU. In 2007, Yee passed SB 190 to ensure compensation decisions were made during a public session of the Regents and Trustees. Prior to the law, UC and CSU often made such decisions behind closed doors without public input.
“Time and time again, rather than protecting the needs of students and California families, the Regents and Trustees line the pockets of their top executives,” said Yee. “While these public administrators are making more than the President of the United States, many Californians are struggling. We deserve better.”
The Bain of Romney’s Existence
From 1988, everyone remembers the Willie Horton ad that so devastated Michael Dukakis, but few remember that it was actually one of his primary opponents, the then relatively obscure Albert Gore, who first raised the issue. Likewise in 2004, the Swift Boat issue was first raised in Democratic primaries, before campaigners turned it into a huge issue.
Defenders of Mitt Romney may argue that the 30-minute attack video “When Mitt Romney Came to Town” is one-sided. It probably is.
Mitt Romney will still be the Republican nominee, mainly because there is no one else there. The Republicans may always nominate their front-runners, but the fact is if you think back over the last fifty years, you will be hard-pressed to come up with a Republican nominee as weak as Romney, and Romney would have lost to all of them in the nomination process.
The amazing thing about the attacks in this video is that the attacks on Mr. Romney are not based on ethical problems or some sort of personal association with a shady figure, but instead, they represent a critique on Bain’s business model – almost an attack on the entire form of free market activity that Mitt Romney along with other Republicans advocate.
As blogger and columnist Nate Silver put it, the ad adopts “what appears to be a documentary style, but they present a one-sided view of the role played by private equity companies like Bain Capital, characterizing them as greedy and as lining the pockets of the wealthy at the expense of the working class.”
He adds, “Were it not for the couple of clips of Mr. Romney speaking French, one would be shocked to learn that the ads had been produced by Republicans, rather than by a liberal filmmaker.”
The remarkable aspect of this attack is how much it steals from Karl Rove’s play book. The strength of Mitt Romney was assumed to be his private sector record of success, and this takes that success and attempts to turn it into a negative.
The Obama campaign seized on this line of attack quickly.
“Romney closed over a thousand plants, stores and offices, and cut employee wages, benefits and pensions,” Obama campaign aide Stephanie Cutter wrote in a memo addressed to “interested parties.” “He laid off American workers and outsourced their jobs to other countries. And he and his partners made hundreds of millions of dollars while taking companies to bankruptcy.”
Suddenly, commentators are recognizing that the liabilities of Mitt Romney extend far beyond the lukewarm support of the Republican evangelical base. Mitt Romney is awkward with his wealth and attempts to portray himself as an everyman, when it is obvious that he is not.
We shall see where this goes, but as one strategist mentioned earlier this week, the Bain ad points to a blueprint where Mr. Obama can seize on the financial distress in the Midwest and make headway where many thought he would be doomed.
School Parcel Tax Issue
In a week full of bizarre stories, probably the top one was the fact that the Yolo County Clerk Freddie Oakley lacked the power to ask a court to remove ballot language which was misleading and, more importantly, completely irrelevant.
“The law doesn’t permit me to sue myself,” the clerk told the Vanguard. “In a school board election I can’t. In a county election I can ask for a writ of mandate against arguments that are false and misleading. But only in county elections – the law is not consistent.”
Freddie Oakley said that she plans to meet with Assemblymember Mariko Yamada and request for her to sponsor legislation that would make these laws consistent.
So, good friend and predecessor Tony Bernhard comes to the rescue to file the case. Not a huge deal, but unnecessary, or it should be.
That is the start of the craziness. Ordinarily, the case would have been heard on Thursday morning by Judge Dan Maguire. But Judge Maguire is being challenged by Deputy District Attorney Clinton Parish for his Judgeship. So he is in the middle of a campaign.
Because of that, he has collected a list of endorsers, one of whom is School Board Member Richard Harris. Based on that, Jose Granda, one of the challengers to the ballot measure, questioned whether the judge could be fair.
So Judge Maguire recused himself and the case moved over to Judge Samuel McAdam.
That is an interesting move, anyway. The Vanguard, when Judge McAdam was appointed, questioned that appointment but several prominent community members came to his defense – strangely enough, each of them with very strong ties to the school district.
In 2010, the Vanguard launched Yolo Judicial Watch which monitors and covers the courts. Since that time, the most frequent judge in Yolo County that people complain about is not any of the judges that preside over criminal matters, but rather Judge McAdam.
It is not even close and we do not even cover family law. Complaints range from simple unfairness in custody and family law situations to allowing unsupervised visits between children and registered sex offenders.
We shall see what comes of this. Assistant County Counsel Dan Cedarborg believes that there is compromise language that could accommodate the needs of everyone.
The Enterprise reports he told the judge, “We have some proposed compromise language that we think would meet the concerns of Bernhard and the county clerk (Oakley), rather than deleting the whole paragraph.”
Personally, it looks like the issue is irrelevant and they should stick to reasons to oppose the parcel tax rather than trying to turn the election process into an issue – where I think about everyone is comfortable with mail-in ballots at this point.
—David M. Greenwald reporting