Monday, March 27, 2017

Patent Medicine of the 21st Century

Things have evidently become more complicated and contentious than back in the day:

In the final days of 2016, the Regents of the University of California, which governs the University of California (UC) system, filed a lawsuit against a former graduate student from UC Santa Cruz (UCSC). At the center of the legal spat is the proper assignation of a series of patents covering DNA sequencing technologies, which UC alleges were developed while the inventor was under an agreement obliging him to assign those patents to UC. The suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (N.D. Cal.)...

Full story at

Sunday, March 26, 2017


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The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) produced a history of the reserves in the general fund.* There are now actually two reserves: the regular reserve, and what is sometimes called the rainy-day fund. The latter was actually created under Schwarzenegger but never amounted to anything until Brown's ballot proposition began to fill it. Yours truly has added some commentary in italics to the LAO chart above. As can be seen, the ups and downs of actual reserves follows the business cycle. You can see the recession of the early 1980s, the recession of the early 1990s (which hit California especially hard because of the end of Cold War spending that occurred at the same time), the dot-com bust, and the Great Recession of 2008-09. Note that the planned (budgeted) end-of-year reserve is always positive (or at least non-negative), even though the actual reserve goes into the red when the economy has a downturn.** If there is a take-away from the chart, it is that even with large reserves, it only takes a couple of years to blow them out in a downturn.
**During the course of a fiscal year, the reserve in the general fund is often in the red as the seasonality of spending and tax receipts don't match. When that happens, the state controller borrows from funds outside the general fund and, if necessary, does short-term borrowing externally.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bad Fit?

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks improperly accepted free university benefits, including membership to the campus fitness center, two years of personal training sessions and the unauthorized transfer of exercise equipment from the public gym to his private residence, a university investigation has found.
Overall, Dirks failed to pay for $4,990 in fees for the gym membership and personal training and enjoyed the private use of a Precor Cross Trainer elliptical exercise machine worth between $3,500 and $4,000, according to findings of the heavily redacted report released Friday.
UC ethics rules bar employees from the unauthorized use of campus resources or facilities or the “entanglement” of private interests with UC obligations. The investigation, performed for the UC Office of the President by an outside firm, Public Interest Investigations Inc., concluded that Dirks violated those rules and concluded that the allegations against him by an unnamed whistleblower were founded.
Dirks, through a spokesman, declined to comment.
UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said Dirks apologized and repaid the money owed even before the investigation was completed in September...

Cool Million

University of California officials spent nearly $1 million investigating former UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, a probe that ended in her resignation last August and a deal that allowed her to take a year off at full pay before returning to a faculty job, according to figures released Friday.
The four-month investigation was ordered last April by UC President Janet Napolitano after disclosures in The Sacramento Bee about Katehi’s acceptance of lucrative corporate board seats and her use of university funds to clean up her image online. The final investigative report was released Aug. 9, the same day Katehi agreed to resign after fighting for months to save her job running one of the nation’s premiere universities.
The probe by the Orrick law firm was headed by two former U.S. attorneys from Northern California – Melinda Haag and McGregor Scott – and included interviews with 55 individuals, the compilation of 2.7 million emails and documents and a review of more than 67,000 emails and other electronic documents...

Preparation for college?

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The Brookings Institution reports on a survey of foreign exchange students attending U.S. high schools and their perceptions of whether the American curriculum was harder or easier. Two thirds said it was much easier, an increase since 2001. See the chart above.

You can find the study at:

Friday, March 24, 2017

Agreement reached with Teamsters

Blog readers - if they have been listening to the audios from our posts on recent Regents meetings - that there have been protests by Teamsters over an open contract negotiation with UC. However, a tentative deal has now been reached:

UC, Teamsters Local 2010 reach provisional labor agreement

By Ahna Straube | March 23, 2017 | Daily Cal

The University of California has reached a provisional labor agreement with Teamsters Local 2010 on a contract that would cover more than 11,000 clerical employees, according to a UC press release issued Thursday.

The contract will be effective through March 31, 2022, upon approval by Teamster membership, the press release stated.

Teamsters is a union of more than 14,000 employees within the UC system and is affiliated with 1.4 million members throughout the United States and Canada, according to the Teamsters website. The union’s mission is to gain better wages, benefits and working conditions for its members.

Elise Magno, a union representative for Teamsters, said the union comprises library assistants, police dispatchers, early childhood teachers, cashiers and administrative support.

In February, Teamsters protested unfair wages and a new 401(k)-style retirement plan outside UC executive offices in Downtown Oakland. Prior to the protest, the UC Board of Regents had approved a new retirement tier that included a “capped” version of the existing pension.

Magno said Teamsters has been working toward a tentative agreement with the university since last April. According to Magno, the union and the university conducted negotiations last Wednesday. She added that there was “a lot of movement” between both entities.

“I hold the local union’s opinion (that) this is a democratic process,” Magno said.

According to the press release, the proposed contract includes an annual 3 percent wage increase, a $1,200 bonus per clerical employee, a $25 limit on any rate increase to Kaiser Permanente and Health Net Blue & Gold health insurance plans and the continuation of current retirement benefits for employees hired before July 1, 2016.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that maintains competitive wages and benefits for our clerical colleagues and recognizes the important role they play in keeping our campuses and medical centers running,” said Dwaine Duckett, UC vice president for systemwide human resources, in the press release.

Teamsters-represented employees are expected to vote on the provisional agreement in the next three weeks, according to Magno.


Note: The union's summary of the tentative agreement indicates that it accepts the lower-tier pension arrangement for new hires that the Regents approved. Some of the protests in the past focused on the pension. The summary states:

New hires will have choice of the defined benefit pension or defined contribution plan, just like non-represented employees and members of the following Unions: IX & LX-Units: AFT; DX-Unit: UAPD/AFSCME; K2-Unit - San Francisco BTC; K5-Unit: IUOE; KB-Unit: Alameda County BTC; K8 & K9 & KM-Units-SETC.

Source: [p. 4]

New Chancellor; New Scandal at Berkeley

As one chancellor revolves out, and another revolves in at UC-Berkeley, a new sexual harassment scandal arises:

It’s more bad news for both a discipline and an institution that have been plagued by reports of sexual harassment and assault in recent years: a former research assistant is suing the University of California for failing to properly address her report of misconduct against a star philosopher on the Berkeley campus...

Full story at: