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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Governor Signs New Budget

Gov. Brown has signed the state budget for 2017-18. It apparently is virtually, if not totally, unchanged from his deal with the Democratic legislative leaders. No line-item vetoes are mentioned in the news release that announced the signing. [https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19859]

There are now two reserves related to the state's General Fund that have to be considered in examining the health of the budget. The regular reserve for the current budget year shows a deficit of $2.9 billion. The rainy day reserve shows a surplus of $1.8 billion. So there is a combined deficit this year of $1.0 billion. Total reserves at the end of this year are estimated to be about 6.7% of total spending (which is not a lot). It was supposed to reach 7.7% when the current budget was signed a year ago.

For next year, the regular reserve in the General Fund increases and shows a surplus of $0.8 billion. The rainy day fund increases (shows a surplus) and has a surplus of $1.8 billion. So there is a combined surplus of $2.6 billion. The combined reserve as a percent of total spending is 8.7% by the end of the coming fiscal year. That's more than this year, but still not a lot should there be an economic downturn. The table all the way down summarizes the budget data.

As for the UC budget, there are no surprises. Below in italics is the text from the budget summary:

University of California

• General Fund Augmentations—An increase of $136.5 million ongoing, including a base augmentation of $131.2 million proposed in the Governor’s Budget and an increase of $5 million to support 500 additional graduate students in 2017‑18.

• Cost Structure Commitments—A set‑aside of $50 million General Fund from the UC base augmentation. The release of this $50 million is conditioned on certification by the Director of Finance that the UC has: 1) achieved commitments made in the agreement with the Governor related to activity‑based costing and target enrollment of transfer students, 2) adopted recommendations made by the State Auditor to the UC Board of Regents and UC Office of the President, 3) eliminated certain benefits for UC senior managers, and 4) committed to disclose additional information as part
of the annual budget process.

• Office of the President—A separate item of appropriation of $348.8 million for the Office of the President, with a corresponding reduction in UC's base funds, conditioned on the Office of the President certifying in writing to the Director of Finance that there will be no campus assessment for support of its operations in 2017‑18 and that overall campus revenues will be greater in 2017‑18 than in 2016‑17.

• One‑Time Funding—One‑time funds totaling $175.6 million, including $169 million in Proposition 2 debt funds, which will be used for unfunded retirement liabilities; $2 million General Fund for equal employment opportunity programs; $2.5 million General Fund to encourage campuses to become “hunger free campuses;” $2 million General Fund for grants to marine mammal stranding networks; and $100,000 General Fund for grants for whale disentanglement activities.

--------------------------------------------------------
Budget Summary

$millions                     2016-17           2017-18 
--------------------------------------------------------
Starting regular   
reserve                        $4,504            $1,622 

Revenue &
transfers                    $118,539          $125,880

Spending                     $121,421          $125,096

Ending regular
reserve                        $1,622            $2,406

 Surplus/deficit              -$2,882             +$784 
--------------------------------------------------------
Rainy Day reserve
 Starting                     $4,874             $6,713
 Ending                       $6,713             $8,486 
          
 Surplus/deficit             +$1,839            +$1,773 
--------------------------------------------------------
Combined reserves             $8,335            $10,852

Combined surplus/
deficit                      -$1,043            +$2,557

Combined reserves
as % of spending                6.7%               8.7%
--------------------------------------------------------
Source: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/FullBudgetSummary.pdf and http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2016-17/pdf/Enacted/BudgetSummary/SummaryCharts.pdf.
===
Note: We will await comments from the Legislative Analyst's Office. In July, we will have the cash statement for the current fiscal year from the state controller.

Pension Finance

We generally recommend Harry Shearer's "Le Show" radio program for the comedy and satire. (Available in LA on KCSN, 88.5, Sunday mornings, 10 am.) From time to time, however, he takes up serious topics. This past Sunday, he took up public pension finance issues.

You can hear the broadcast from various sources as a podcast. For the pension broadcast, go to:

https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wwno/audio/2017/06/LeShow062517.mp3

The discussion starts around minute 6.

Continued Invasion

Disclosure of UC retirees’ information under the California Public Records Act

Monday, June 26, 2017

The University of California often receives requests for information about former employees under the California Public Records Act. 

Because UC is a public institution, certain information about retirees is considered a public record under the California Public Records Act. In response to a request from a large California newspaper, UC recently released information that included a listing of UC retirees, their former positions and their UC retirement income. Please note that personal information, such as home address, phone number, marital status and email address is considered private, and will never be disclosed to the public...

Source: http://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/2017/06/disclosure-of-uc-retirees-information-under-the-california-public-records-act.html

We continue to challenge the "large California newspaper" to publish its own personnel records - salaries, etc. - by name, since it thinks it's a good idea for UC to do so.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Broken Rules

...except if I am elected governor.
From the Daily Bruin:

Several student leaders and professors said they were concerned that the governor did not follow proper procedure when nominating new regents last month, and felt the nominees were out of touch with California’s diversity.
The Council of University of California Faculty Associations wrote a letter to California state Sen. Kevin de León last week asking the state senate to reject the four regents Gov. Jerry Brown appointed last month. The CUCFA said Brown did not consult an advisory committee when selecting the regents, as specified by the California Constitution.
The California Constitution states that the advisory committee is supposed to make sure regent nominees are reflective of the economic, cultural and social diversity of California.
Stanton Glantz, a professor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine and member of the CUCFA, said the association is mainly opposing the way Brown nominated the regents.
“In the case of these particular regents, we’re objecting to the hearing process that was used,” Glantz said. “(We were) careful in writing the letter to not oppose (the regents) as individuals.”
Glantz added that he thinks the governor should have used the advisory committee because he thinks the regents in general are not representative of California’s demographics.
“They’re a bunch of mostly millionaires,” he said. “If you just look at demographics, do you see any working-class people on there? It’s not a group of people you would see that resembles those walking on a UC campus.”
Michael Skiles, president of the Graduate Students Association at UCLA, said he thinks recent audits of the UC system have shown that the regents are out of touch with students...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Rent from her position

Yours truly is just catching up with this sign-of-the-times item from the Daily Bruin of June 20:

A member of the Westwood Neighborhood Council recently resigned after moving out of the Village.
Shelby Kretz, a UCLA doctoral student in urban schooling, announced her resignation at the council meeting on June 14. The council selected Kretz to fill a vacant seat in January after two council members announced their resignations.
Kretz said she can no longer serve on the council because members on renter seats must actually rent within the council’s boundaries, which are Sunset, Santa Monica, Beverly Glen and Sepulveda boulevards. She said she is moving to Culver City because she felt she could not afford the rent in Westwood.
“Finding (an affordable) place in Westwood can be very challenging,” she said...

Feinstein - UC-SD - China - Dalai Lama

Sen. Dianne Feinstein Slams Chinese Paper for 'Threatening' UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla

LALIT K. JHA, PTI   June 23, 2017 IndiaWest.com

WASHINGTON — California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein has slammed a Chinese newspaper for "threatening" Pradeep Khosla, the Indian American chancellor of the University of California-San Diego, for hosting the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan spiritual leader delivered the commencement address at UCSD June 17.

"I find it unconscionable that a reporter for the Global Times, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, would threaten UC San Diego and its chancellor and students for inviting the Dalai Lama to speak," Feinstein said.

In a statement released June 23, the top senator demanded that the newspaper should "immediately apologize and retract" the article that not only threatens to withhold visas from Chancellor Khosla but also suggests the university would be punished by withholding students.

"The newspaper's portrayal of the Dalai Lama as an anti-China separatist is also patently false," Feinstein said.

"I've known the Dalai Lama for more than 25 years and was directly involved in the latest discussions between him and the Chinese government.

The Dalai Lama is not in favor of separating Tibet from China. Rather, he strives for greater autonomy so Tibetans may freely practice their faith," Feinstein said.

"The Dalai Lama's desire to end religious persecution for his people doesn't make him a separatist, it makes him a peaceful leader who should serve as an inspiration to all students. The Chinese government and the media outlets it directly controls should recognize this and not threaten Americans or American institutions," said the senator.

In its editorial on June 20, Global Times threatened the university chancellor, saying: "Khosla must bear the consequences for this." It went on to say: "His support for Tibet independence will affect his personal and the university's exchanges with China. Chinese universities will take cooperative programs with it into prudent reconsideration.

"It's suggested that relevant Chinese authorities not issue visas to the chancellor and not recognize diplomas or degree certificates issued by the university in China."

The International Campaign for Tibet has also condemned the Chinese newspaper. It said there is no evidence to suggest that Chancellor Khosla has been involved in any action supporting Tibetan independence. 

Source: http://www.indiawest.com/news/global_indian/sen-dianne-feinstein-slams-chinese-paper-for-threatening-ucsd-chancellor/article_a7fdf2bc-585f-11e7-8bf7-47be0994b182.html

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Whoops!

UCLA Investment Co. dropped support of venture capital firm tied to harassment accusations

The group that manages $2 billion of UCLA’s endowment had invested in a venture capital firm whose co-founder has come under scrutiny this week for allegedly unprofessional behavior toward women.

Six women, three of whom allowed their names to be used, came forward in a story in the Information saying that Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital made unwanted sexual advances as they tried to seek investment from his firm. On Friday, Caldbeck went on an indefinite leave of absence from the firm and apologized for “mistakes” over the years.

UCLA Investment was among many contributors to the $125 million in Binary Capital’s inaugural fund in 2014. But over undisclosed concerns with the management style of Caldbeck and his partner Jonathan Teo, UCLA Investment decided not to invest in the San Francisco firm’s second fund, which was raised last year. And it has no intentions of putting money into Binary Capital’s newest fund.

Joe Bryant, associate investment director for UCLA Investment, said her team had stepped up the amount of research it does before investing in venture capital firms. After this week’s revelations, among the questions she plans to bring up are whether venture capital firm founders have faced sexual harassment allegations.

“Folks should be a lot more careful when committing to first-time funds,” Bryant said.

Binary Capital didn’t respond to a request to comment.

Source: [scroll down] http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-snap-geofilters-20170624-htmlstory.html

UCLA Has Enough Problems Without Being Confused with CSULA

Only one problem with this headline: The article refers to CSULA, not UCLA!
https://patch.com/california/centurycity/babe-sweetheart-legs-just-harmless-endearments-ucla-claims-harassment-defense

The End (for now)

If you follow state news, you know that a single-payer health plan has been moving through the legislature, partly in response to current events in Washington, DC. There are various versions of "single payer" but generally it replaces private insurance carriers with a government-run insurance entity. Under any such play likely to be adopted in the U.S., hospitals, doctors, and other health providers would remain largely private. They would simply receive payments from the government insurance entity rather than, say, Blue Cross.

If California had gone ahead and created a single-payer plan, UC's various options would be replaced by the government-run insurer. Exactly what that would mean would depend on what the new insurer covered.

For now, however, the single-payer plan in the legislature, which was really more a concept that a detailed program, is dead:

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon put the brakes on a sweeping plan to overhaul the health care market in California Friday, calling the bill “woefully incomplete.”

Rendon announced plans to park the bill to create a government-run universal health care system in Assembly Rules Committee “until further notice” and give senators time to fill in holes that the bill does not currently address.

“Even senators who voted for Senate Bill 562 noted there are potentially fatal flaws in the bill, including the fact it does not address many serious issues, such as financing, delivery of care, cost controls, or the realities of needed action by the Trump administration and voters to make SB 562 a genuine piece of legislation,” Rendon said.

Democratic Sens. Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins, who introduced the proposal, acknowledged the bill was dead for the year. Lara and Atkins had described the bill as a work in progress when it passed the Senate earlier this month without a funding plan. A legislative analysis pegged the cost at $400 billion.

The abrupt announcement shields members of the Assembly from having to take a difficult vote that could be used against them by critics or supporters of the policy...


Final note: The reference to the "cost" refers to the gross cost. Note that the proposed government insurer would collect as revenue what had been premiums paid to private insurers, either as taxes or some kind of alternative premiums. Probably, the key cost would be covering people who are uninsured, particularly if some replacement of "Obamacare" reduces or ends reimbursements from the federal government.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Remember the Anthem Data Breach that Affected UC?

Plaintiffs’ Counsel Announce $115 Million Proposed Class Action Settlement in Anthem Data Breach Litigation

June 23, 2017 03:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A proposed settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit over the 2015 cyberattack of health insurer Anthem, Inc., involving the theft of the personal information of 78.8 million people. The $115 million settlement, if approved by the Court, will be the largest data breach settlement in history. Attorneys from Altshuler Berzon, Cohen Milstein, Girard Gibbs and Lieff Cabraser were court-appointed to lead the representation of the plaintiffs in the litigation.

The proposed settlement provides for Anthem to establish a $115 million settlement fund, which will be used to 1) provide victims of the data breach at least two years of credit monitoring; 2) cover out-of-pocket expenses incurred by consumers as a result of the data breach; and 3) provide cash compensation for those consumers who are already enrolled in credit monitoring. In addition to the monetary fund, the settlement will require Anthem to guarantee a certain level of funding for information security and to implement or maintain numerous specific changes to its data security systems, including encryption of certain information and archiving sensitive data with strict access controls. The settlement is designed to protect class members from future risk, provide compensation, and ensure best cybersecurity practices to deter against future data breaches.

“After two years of intensive litigation and hard work by the parties, we are pleased that consumers who were affected by this data breach will be protected going forward and compensated for past losses,” said Eve Cervantez, co-lead counsel representing the plaintiffs in the Anthem litigation.

“We are very satisfied that the settlement is a great result for those affected and look forward to working through the settlement approval process,” added Andrew Friedman, co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel.

In early 2015, Anthem acknowledged that it had been the target of a cyberattack, in which the personal information of 78.8 million individuals was stolen, including, for many of those individuals: names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and health care ID numbers.

Over 100 lawsuits were filed against Anthem across the country and the cases were consolidated in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California before Judge Lucy Koh, who appointed Eve Cervantez and Andrew Friedman as Co-Lead Plaintiffs’ Counsel, and Eric Gibbs and Michael Sobol to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

A motion for preliminary approval of the settlement was filed today by the Plaintiffs. Judge Koh is scheduled to hear Plaintiffs’ motion on August 17, 2017. If granted, the class members will be notified about the details of the settlement, and invited to participate in and comment on the settlement. For additional updates and information about the lawsuit and settlement, please visit the Anthem Data Breach Litigation Website.

Source: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170623005603/en/Plaintiffs%E2%80%99-Counsel-Announce-115-Million-Proposed-Class

Speech at Davis

UCD outlines free-speech policy

By Kimberly Hale | June 23, 2017 | Davis Enterprise

College campuses across the country are struggling with disagreements about how to allow freedom of expression on campus while maintaining safety for the speakers and participants. As a public university and one that has faced this issue over the past year, UC Davis has made this topic a priority.

Earlier this year, UC Davis Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter convened a working group composed of faculty, staff and students. He charged them with considering how the campus can ensure freedom of expression, personal safety and security of campus facilities while promoting an environment where all members of the community feel safe, valued, respected and heard.

The group established an online submission form for comments, ideas and opinions, including the option to submit anonymously. Their final recommendations were delivered to Hexter, offering a blueprint to allowing free expression while maintaining safety.

“Our obligation to uphold First Amendment freedoms is essential in our democracy and on our campus,” Hexter said. “While all expression is subject to time, place and manner restrictions, it cannot include silencing or blocking speakers, even if we disagree with what is being said.

“I appreciate the commitment demonstrated by the working group to gather feedback from a wide range of our campus community.”

Among the group’s recommendations, developed with input from the campus community, is a set of education events including interactive town halls and workshops; establishment and enforcement of specific disciplinary rules for those who disrupt campus events; increased coordination with the city of Davis and other law enforcement agencies in designing safety plans to ensure physical safety of participants; and creation of a standing Freedom of Expression Committee to engage the campus community in dialogue on freedom of expression issues.

Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the School of Law and chair of the working group, added, “This is a complex issue that our society at large will continue to grapple with for some time. These findings are an important and necessary first step to address issues that arise on our campus and to ensure that the fundamental rights of each member of the community are supported.

“I want to thank the working group for its hard work and dedication to constructive dialogue in analyzing these complex issues and coming up with a constructive report and recommendations.”

Hexter has asked UCD’s campus counsel to review the recommendations to determine any changes that may be necessary to campus policy in order to implement the recommendations.

Source: https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/ucd-outlines-free-speech-policy/

Long-Term Lawsuit

Although UC employees are not under CalPERS, at one time when CalPERS began offering long-term care policies, UC employees were invited to take out the insurance. Long-term care is offered by various commercial insurance companies. But the problem is that a subscriber is inherently trusting such firms - many years in the future - to do right by them when they are not in a position to ensure compliance. The fact that CalPERS would be the offerer seemed to resolve that problem and a significant number of older UC employees subscribed. But then CalPERS substantially jacked up the premiums. Was it because they had low-balled to get participants? Or did they simply underestimate the costs? Whatever the answer, many subscribers either dropped the coverage or had to take cut-rate policies to lower the premiums. Now there is a lawsuit:  (from the Sacramento Bee)

A class-action lawsuit against CalPERS filed on behalf of more than 130,000 California government workers and retirees can move forward to trial, a Los Angeles judge has ruled.

The lawsuit challenges a sharp increase in fees that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System levied on people who bought insurance for long-term health care through the pension fund. It argues that the rate hike was different in scale and purpose than any previous fee increase on those policy holders.

A lawyer for the group suing CalPERS cast the decision by Judge Ann Jones as a “very positive event moving forward to trial.”

It was “the largest obstacle standing in our way,” attorney Mike Bidart said.

The lawsuit stems from a series of rate increases that CalPERS adopted for long-term care insurance beginning in 2013, peaking with an 85 percent rate hike in 2015. People with those plans could have avoided the rate hikes if they dropped lifetime coverage and inflation protection policies that they also bought, according to documents cited by Jones in her ruling.

Bidart contends that the structure of the rate increases breached the contracts people signed when they bought the policies. Those agreements included assurances that rate hikes would be spread among those who bought long-term care insurance, and that people who bought inflation protection policies would not see their rates increase because of expanded benefits.

The judge wrote that structuring the rate increases in such a way that they deterred people from continuing lifetime care plans suggested that “a driving reason behind the 85 percent premium increase was to do away with the inflation protection and/or lifetime benefits.”

Her ruling followed motions from CalPERS to dismiss the case. CalPERS argued that the contracts allowed rate increases and that policy holders did not protest significant rates hike in 2003 and 2007.

Jones dismissed a part of the lawsuit that named individual members of the CalPERS Board of Administration. The lawsuit had claimed that they failed in their responsibility to effectively manage funds for long-term care policy holders. The remaining case centers on breach-of-contract claims.

Jones “did not rule on the merits of these claims, which CalPERS looks forward to disproving at trial,” CalPERS General Counsel Matt Jacobs said in a written statement.

Bidart said the lawsuit, known as Sanchez vs. CalPERS, likely will go to trial in the first half 2018.

Source: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article157501584.html

Travel Ban

CALIFORNIA TRAVEL BAN EXTENDED TO FOUR MORE STATES OVER ANTI-LGBT LAWS

Newsweek  6-23-17

California has expanded the scope of a travel ban that took effect in January to include states that have laws discriminating against LGBTQ people.

The ban forbids state-funded travel to states that, since June 26, 2015, have enacted laws discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra added four more states to the travel ban on Thursday—Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas—doubling the number of the blacklisted states initially included in the legislation.

California’s AB 1887 legislation was signed into law in September 2016, after North Carolina passed the controversial “bathroom bill,” which barred people from using bathrooms in government buildings that do not correspond to their sex assigned at birth.

California enacted the bill in January under Becerra’s predecessor Kamela Harris. It originally included North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kansas but it provided for the Attorney General to update the blacklist as necessary. The four other southern states were added to the list after they passed legislation discriminating against sexual minorities and their families.

In Alabama, South Dakota and Texas, laws enacted in the past three months target prospective LGBT parents, potentially preventing them from adopting or becoming foster parents. In Kentucky, legislation SB 17, enacted in March, could allow student-run organizations in colleges and public schools to discriminate against classmates based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Our country has made great strides in dismantling prejudicial laws that have deprived too many of our fellow Americans of their precious rights. Sadly, that is not the case in all parts of our nation, even in the 21st century," Becerra said  in a statement. “Discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back. That's why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it.”

California legislator Evan Low, who authored the original bill, praised Becerra’s decision. “AB 1887 was enacted to ensure our taxpayer dollars do not fund bigotry or hatred. Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s action today sends a strong message that discrimination beyond our borders will not be tolerated,” he said in a statement.

Critics, however, believe the travel ban hurts students who need state funds to pay for their travel to those states for academic or athletic purposes. “The law is a juvenile but well-intended reaction to a real problem,” Mark Rivera, a UC Davis senior majoring in religious studies and cognitive science, told the L.A. Times in February. “Instead of discouraging travel to supposedly backward places, we should encourage travel; otherwise, campuses will become more insular and make the problem worse.”

Source: http://www.newsweek.com/california-travel-ban-eight-states-lgbt-discrimination-homophobic-laws-628483

Note: Because the ban applies to state-funded travel, UC academic travel funded by non-state external grants can occur. However, certain student and athletic travel is affected, according to an earlier report:
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-uc-lgbt-02212017-story.html

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Costly Facts

From Matier and Ross, San Francisco Chronicle:

In keeping with its tradition of big-name and big-bucks investigations, the University of California will pay up to $210,000 for an independent look into allegations that President Janet Napolitano’s office interfered with a recent state audit into its spending habits.

UC will pay the law firm of Hueston Hennigan a “blended” rate of $595 an hour for partners who work on the investigation and $395 an hour for associates. The tab will be capped at $165,000, unless the UC regents give the OK to spend more. In addition, UC is tapping former state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno to help with the investigation for a fee “not to exceed $45,000.”

The investigation was prompted by a state audit that found that Napolitano’s office had squirreled away $175 million and had tampered with campuses’ responses to a state survey on the effectiveness of programs run by the president’s office. While $210,000 for an investigation is a hefty price, it is just a fraction of the $1 million that the president’s office spent investigating allegations of wrongdoing by former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. That probe, headed by former U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, led to Katehi’s resignation in August.

In 2012, UC paid $445,879 to the security consulting firm Kroll Associates to help with a task force headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso looking into the pepper spaying of student demonstrators by UC Davis police.

More recently, the president’s office spent $57,671 on the probe into how outgoing UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks received a free campus gym membership, personal training sessions and an elliptical machine — perks that totaled all of about $5,000.

Monica Lozano, who chairs the Board of Regents, declined to discuss the review of the president’s office while it is under way. As for the other investigations, UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said UC had “a legal and ethical responsibility to determine the facts when there is credible evidence that might suggest improper activity.”

Source: http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/UC-paying-top-dollar-to-investigate-11234606.php

Senate Hearing

The Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. Senate held a hearing yesterday on "Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses." As the title suggests, it focused on complaints over incidents (such as at Berkeley) in which speakers were prevented from speaking and related matters. Blog readers can see the hearings at:

https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/watch?hearingid=571FF5A9-5056-A066-6004-F98AECC63BAF

Witness statements are at:
https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/free-speech-101-the-assault-on-the-first-amendment-on-college-campuses

Witnesses: Mr. Zachary R. Wood, Student, Williams College; Mr. Frederick M. Lawrence, Secretary And CEO, Phi Beta Kappa Society; Mr. Isaac Smith, Student, University Of Cincinnati College of Law, Graduate Of Ohio University; Dr. Fanta Aw, Interim Vice President Of Campus Life, American University; Professor Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law; Mr. Richard Cohen, President, Southern Poverty Law Center; Mr. Floyd Abrams, Senior Counsel, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP.

No specific legislation was discussed. Readers might have an interest in remarks by Sen. Diane Feinstein of California who raised the question of what university officials were expected to do when violence is threatened.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

UC CRISPR Patent in China

West Wing of  Old Patent Office Building, c1900
Intellia holds rights to CRISPR intellectual property developed by the Regents of the University of California (UC), the University of Vienna, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, Ph.D., a director at the Max-Planck Institute in Berlin, through a 2014 license agreement with Caribou Biosciences, the exclusive licensee of the UC and University of Vienna. Those rights include human therapeutic, prophylactic, and palliative uses (including companion diagnostics), excluding antifungal and antimicrobial applications.
CRISPR ownership has been at the heart of a bitter legal battle royal with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. A researcher based at the Institute, Feng Zhang, Ph.D., is listed an inventor on 12 patents related to CRISPR technology awarded in the U.S.
In February, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) sided with the Broad Institute by finding “no interference in fact” between the 12 patents, and a patent application by Dr. Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D., of UC Berkeley. UC, University of Vienna, and Dr. Charpentier are appealing the PTAB decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
China’s plans to grant a patent for CRISPR come less than a year after the nation has seen two clinical trials involving the technology...
“SIPO’s decision further expands our IP portfolio and is further global recognition that Jennifer Doudna, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and their team are the pioneers in the application of CRISPR/Cas9 in all cell types,” Nessan Bermingham, Ph.D., Intellia’s CEO and president, said in a statement.
In March, Intellia and Caribou—co-founded by one of the original CRISPR researchers, Dr. Doudna, of UC Berkeley—joined ERS Genomics and CRISPR Therapeutics in signing a global cross-consent and invention management agreement for the foundational intellectual property covering CRISPR/Cas9 with the Regents of UC, the University of Vienna, and Dr. Charpentier.
That intellectual property underlies patents awarded by the European Patent Office and the United Kingdom’s Intellectual Property Office earlier this year. Those patents were issued from an international patent application based on the same U.S. priority applications filed by UC, University of Vienna, and Dr. Doudna on May 25, 2012.
The EPO acted on European patent application No. 13793997, which had been challenged by parties that include the Broad Institute.

Monday, June 19, 2017

What is the actual status of DREAMERs?

We earlier posted the statement of UC prez Janet Napolitano heralding the president's decision to continue the DREAMER program.* After that time, there have been reports on conservative websites that the president didn't in fact make such a decision. However, the official government (Dept. of Homeland Security) statement says otherwise (kind of):

Q. Does this mean that DACA recipients will not be able to apply for a three-year work authorization, as established in the DAPA memorandum?

A. DACA recipients will continue to be eligible as outlined in the June 15, 2012 memorandum. DACA recipients who were issued three-year extensions before the district court’s injunction will not be affected, and will be eligible to seek a two-year extension upon their expiration. No work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates. 
Of course, the president, at some future date, could change the policy. But at present, the policy is as above. So:

"DAPA and DACA are two different programs,” a spokeswoman for DHS said. “Yesterday, based on litigation, the administration decided to rescind DAPA. The fact that DACA [DREAMER program] was not rescinded by the same memo should not be interpreted as bearing any relevance on the long-term future of that program.” She continued, “The future of the DACA program continues to be under review with the administration.”

Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/06/19/trump-keeps-daca-place-now

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Marilyn Monroe Checks Card Catalog at UCLA Powell Library

Marilyn Monroe Checks Card Catalog at UCLA Powell Library in 1952

Saturday, June 17, 2017

DREAMER statement

UC President Napolitano statement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program

Friday, June 16, 2017

University of California President Janet Napolitano today (June 16) released the following statement after the Department of Homeland Security issued its guidance on the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA:

I applaud reports that the Trump administration will maintain the DACA program that for the past five years has allowed hundreds of thousands of students known as Dreamers to live, work and study in the United States. This common sense approach to immigration enforcement, implemented while I served as secretary of homeland security, benefits not only the program recipients — thousands of whom are students at the University of California — but our nation as a whole. DACA recipients continue to contribute their talents and vision to the United States, the country they know as home. Our communities are enriched by their drive and perseverance to succeed, a hallmark of a nation built by immigrants and a crucial reminder of the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Source: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/uc-president-napolitano-statement-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-program

Friday, June 16, 2017

News Hogs

The litter of pigs “rescued” from a Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta island earlier this week may not be headed to a Farm Sanctuary pig refuge after all.

A sergeant with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office weighed in Thursday on the custody fight between the New York-based animal rights group and Roger Stevenson, the man who says he owns the six pigs “rescued” Tuesday from a tiny island in the Delta.

The pigs are currently being examined at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

“The Sheriff’s Office has contacted UC Davis and requested they return the hogs to their owner, Mr. Stevenson,” San Joaquin sheriff’s Sgt. Carey Pehl said Thursday.

Farm Sanctuary representatives could not be reached for comment Thursday.

UC Davis took custody of the pigs Tuesday after Farm Sanctuary removed them from a 14.7-acre island near Stockton. The group said they rescued the pigs out of concern for their health. Stevenson, who lives in Arnold, says he is the pigs’ rightful owner, and was housing them on the island to fatten them up while at the same time helping clear the island of vegetation for its owner. He told The Bee on Wednesday he wants his hogs back.

Kim Hale a spokeswoman for the university, said it would comply with a valid law enforcement order.

“We will return the pigs to whoever law enforcement tells us to,” Hale said.

Four pigs were placed on the island four years ago. In the years since, local boaters have taken to feeding the animals, the progeny of the original group. Winter weather made feedings more difficult, and some visitors expressed concern about the pigs’ health.

Fearing for the heath of the pigs, local activist Sabine Strunk sought Farm Sanctuary’s help. Farm Sanctuary said the island’s owner gave them permission to take the pigs.

Pehl said he spoke with the veterinary officials and was assured the condition of the pigs did not warrant animal welfare action against Stevenson.

The sheriff’s boat patrol came in contact with the pigs regularly and would have taken action if they saw reason, Pehl said. “They have never contacted animal services regarding the health and welfare of those animals.”

While Farm Sanctuary argued Stevenson in essence abandoned the pigs – and their offspring – by leaving them on the island, Pehl disagreed. He said if Stevenson bought the original pigs, he owns the children.

“Mr. Stevenson owns the lineage of the hogs that are currently on the island,” Pehl said.

Stevenson told the Bee on Tuesday that if returning the pigs to the island wasn’t an option, he’d find a new home for them.

Source: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/environment/article156415719.html

Pigs is Pigs:

We're waiting for the numbers

You probably saw the headlines that the legislature passed a budget yesterday, meeting the constitutional deadline. However, other than general news summaries, the numbers are not yet available from the Dept. of Finance or the Legislative Analyst. In addition, the budget isn't final until the governor signs it and makes whatever line-item vetoes he decides. So we'll patiently await the numbers and make them available in due course. The governor has until June 30 to make his decisions. Since he reached a deal with the Democratic leaders in the legislature, the final enacted budget may be available before then.

A news account on the legislative action is at:
http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article156475214.html

Thursday, June 15, 2017

UCLA History: Cards

Powell Library card catalog in 1950s

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

No Valley

Complaints have been mounting concerning Gov. Brown's recent choice of new regents. One complaint has been the ignoring of the constitutional process of using an advisory committee.* Now there is a complaint that representation of the Central Valley is missing.

From the Fresno Bee:

For the first time in decades, no one from the San Joaquin Valley is serving on the University of California’s 26-seat governing board – perpetuating local concerns that some of the state’s neediest areas are not well-represented.

“This is another example of the governor essentially dismissing Central California as a flyover area,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno. “It’s inexplicable to me to have the region utterly ignored like this, with an appointment of this magnitude. It raises all kinds of questions about whether this region is really getting its due.”

Patterson plans to take the issue to the San Joaquin Valley Caucus – a bipartisan group of legislators formed in 2015 – and says that Gov. Jerry Brown would not neglect other big cities in such an appointment. None of the 18 governor-appointed members on the UC Board of Regents are Valley residents, with most based in the greater Los Angeles area. The other regents are ex officio members, which include the governor himself and the state superintendent of schools, plus a student representative...

Fred Ruiz, co-founder of Dinuba-based Ruiz Foods, was the last Valley representative on the board, but was not re-appointed when his term ended in 2016. While Ruiz, 73, said the decision was voluntary, he urged that another Valley resident be appointed – sending a list of about 20 potential candidates to Brown’s office this year.

But when Brown appointed four new members to the board on June 2, none were from the Valley...

“Regardless of where appointees were born – or currently live – we expect them to represent the entire state and its students,” said Evan Westrup, the spokesman for Brown.

Full story at:
http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article155956179.html
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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2017/06/jerry-rigged-regents.html

Tomorrow's Budget Passage Day - But Not Final Budget

The legislature has retained the Middle Class Scholarship program, which funds scholarships to UC and CSU for California residents. See:
https://middleclassscholarships.org/

These scholarships were a pet project of Regent John A. Pérez when he was in the legislature. He was later appointed to the regents by Gov. Brown who now is proposing to end the program. The governor did not mention the program in his announced deal with the legislative leaders. See:
https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19844

So will he use his line-item veto to kill the program or reduce it? Somewhere between June 15 and June 30, we will find out:

The California Legislature’s final actions this year on higher education funding will please some middle-income families but may lead to conflicts with Gov. Jerry Brown.

The embattled Middle Class Scholarship program that Brown sought to end was kept alive in the conference committee budget legislation that both houses are expected to approve this week. Saying it was too expensive and not efficient, Brown wanted to phase out the program that provided aid for about 50,000 middle class students at California’s two public university systems this year. But parents around the state whose income was not low enough to qualify for Cal Grants lobbied the Legislature for the Middle Class aid to continue.

Begun in 2014-15, the grants were aimed at easing the tuition burden of families with annual incomes generally between $80,000 and $150,000. Depending on school, income and other aid a student receives, those grants will be as much as $5,052 next year for a UC student and $2,298 for a CSU student, according to the California Student Aid Commission, which administers the grants.

Brown’s staff had estimated that the phase-out over four years would have saved about $116 million. His administration did not answer requests for comment about whether Brown might line-veto the aid program...

Full story at https://edsource.org/2017/california-middle-class-families-may-still-get-scholarship-help/583237

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Jerry-rigged regents?

Et les regents, c'est Jerry
Follow the law, Gov. Brown

San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board, 6-12-17

The regents board for the University of California has “full powers of organization and governance” over California’s most prized public university system.

Yet the board, which consists of 26 members, has recently been in the spotlight for its lack of transparency and a string of controversial decisions.

Now it turns out that even the process by which the regents themselves are chosen has a tremendous transparency problem.

According to California’s Constitution, Gov. Jerry Brown “shall consult an advisory committee” of 12 people in “the selection of the regents.” That advisory committee consists of six members of the public, two elected officials from the Legislature, a UC student, a faculty member, an alumnus and the regents chair.

As three different institutions (the governor, the Legislature, and UC’s faculty and student body) are responsible for appointing people to the committee, the idea is to get a wide range of opinions on the best people to serve on the critical regents board.

A wide range of opinions is good for decision making and good for the diverse people of California. That’s a big part of the reason California voters approved the advisory committee in 1974. Even then, there were concerns about making the UC Board of Regents more accountable to the public.

But it seems the governor isn’t following this provision of the state Constitution.

Six advisory committee members whom The Chronicle were able to reach said they haven’t been consulted in the selection of any of the governor’s regents.

Instead, they were told who the new regents would be shortly before the governor’s public announcement.

The governor’s office said he “welcomes input” from the committee before issuing the public announcements.

Brown may not be alone in ignoring this state constitutional provision.

According to our interviews with previous advisory committee members, previous governors also failed to consult with them on regent selections. Some previous members said the committee had failed to meet during their tenures and questioned whether it had ever met at all.

This oversight failure has had a negative outcome on the regents board. The 18 appointed regents fit a specific profile: wealthy executives, financiers or attorneys.

Considering this narrow milieu, some of their recent tone-deaf decisions, like charging the university thousands of dollars for pricey parties and dinners, make more sense. But it’s inappropriate behavior in a state with high poverty rates and a struggling middle class. These are precisely the kinds of reasons why voters want more public accountability — as they decided in 1974.

Most importantly, California’s Constitution is not a list of suggestions for our elected leaders. In a society subject to the rule of law, its provisions must be followed. The state’s courts may have to correct this, and we urge them to look into it.

Legislature & governor punish UCOP over state audit

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders announced a budget deal Tuesday that strips University of California President Janet Napolitano's office of some of its financial autonomy...

The main budget bill, AB97, includes $296.4 million for Napolitano’s office in the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1 and another $52.4 million for UC Path, the university’s payroll and human resources system.

Currently, the office receives state funding indirectly through fees collected from all 10 campuses, which give the president’s office exclusive control over how to spend that money. The state would instead directly send money to Napolitano’s office and eliminate the campus fees, so that lawmakers could oversee and control how that money is spent. UC opposed the change.

Lawmakers moved to wrest control of spending by Napolitano’s office after a state audit found a litany of problems there, including hidden funds and misleading accounting practices. The budget bill also includes other strings on the president’s office, such as barring it from providing supplemental retirement payments for new senior administrators.

The state would withhold $50 million in funding if UC doesn’t fix financial problems the state auditor identified in the review...

Full story at http://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/New-state-budget-deal-punishes-UC-president-s-11216554.php

Irvine Bargain Discount

Pilot program at UCI to slash tuition in half for incoming freshmen

By BRIAN WHITEHEAD | Orange County Register, June 12, 2017

In a twist to boost enrollment of California residents, UC Irvine is launching a pilot program that lets up to 500 incoming freshman next fall pay about half the price of first-year admission.

The Anteater Leadership Academy program would let students take fully-accredited courses, taught by accredited instructors in the Division of Continuing Education during their freshman year, paying tuition of $6,315, a savings of about $6,000. Students also would take a leadership course, something the school considers an incentive for those in the program. After their freshmen year, students would be eligible to take all courses throughout the campus at standard prices.

In recent years, the UC system has come under fire for increasing its revenue by accepting more out-of-state students, who typically pay tuition that’s nearly triple in-state rates. Last year, out-of-state students accounted for about 16.5 percent of the system’s total enrollment of 210,000, according to a state report.

Last year, at UCI, out-of-state students accounted for about 19 percent of the 25,256 undergrads, most coming from out of the country. It’s unclear what the breakdown will be next year. More than 104,000 incoming freshmen and transfer students applied to UC Irvine for the 2017 fall semester, of which about 41,000 were from out of state. The school will accept about 5,200 students for the freshman class.

Though UC officials didn’t say if the financial side of the program at UCI would be a model for other campuses, they pointed to another element of the program — clustering a group of students by class within the broader student population — as something that might be picked up elsewhere.

“The general theme of providing a first-year cohort experience is something that could expand to other UCs,” said Mike Dennin, a vice provost who helped put the program together.

The new Anteater Leadership Academy will target local students: Participants can’t live on campus or receive income-based financial aid. It allows UCI to take on hundreds more students than it would otherwise. Admittance is first come, first serve until the June 30 deadline.

“With almost 39 million people now in California, there’s a pressing need to have our universities, our state system of higher education, accommodate in-state students,” said Tom Vasich, a UCI spokesman. “The mission of this university is to think of innovative approaches for creating undergraduate programs that can allow us to provide a UCI education to more students.

“These first students are going to be the pioneers in that they’ll be providing feedback to our program managers,” Vasich added.

“It’s definitely an exciting opportunity for students looking for a non-traditional way to get a UCI education and make a difference for the future leaders coming through campus.”

The Anteater Leadership Academy will offer general-education courses in fields such as sociology, economics, political science and math, and special courses aimed at beefing up leadership skills.

Taught by UCI professors, classes will be in a new Division of Continuing Education building and elsewhere on campus. Vasich said the courses are transferable.

“The first year of college for students can be difficult,” Vasich said. “When they’re rooted with a peer group, they thrive in the college environment at a much higher rate. As an Anteater Leader, they’ll hit the ground running.”

In 2009, UCI offered a similar incentive when it covered tuition for the first year for its inaugural law school students. That law school quickly excelled; the last two years, U.S. News & World Report listed UCI 28th in its annual ranking of best law schools in the country.

Source: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/06/12/pilot-program-at-uci-to-slash-tuition-in-half-for-incoming-freshmen/

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