Lawyers, Money, Hide & Seek

Lawyers, Money, Hide & Seek

Charles Schwartz, UC Berkeley

Earlier this year, perusing the published list of reports regularly provided to the Regents by the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), I noticed this item, “Annual Report on Use of Outside Counsel,” and submitted a formal request for a copy of that document, under California’s Public Records Act (PRA).
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Pension Plan as football between UC and Sacramento

Pension Plan as football between UC and Sacramento
by Charles Schwartz, UC Berkeley

In an enthusiastic letter to faculty and staff issued today (10/13), President Yudof talks about the new state budget and how it is good for the University. Here is one particular paragraph where he talks about UCRP, our financially stressed pension plan.

“The Legislature also adopted budget bill language asking for the Legislative Analyst, the Department of Finance and UC to work together on a proposal to fund UCRP in the future. This is a very positive sign.”

I wrote to Steve Boilard, of the Legislative Analyst’s Office in Sacramento, asking if he had any further information about this. Here is the reply I received.

“Well, it’s not as positive as you might think. The Governor vetoed the language. [See Footnote for details.] We had spearheaded the effort to get language in the budget calling for such a proposal. We agree with many others that (1) there’s no way to avoid re-starting contributions to the plan, (2) unfunded obligations are already mounting, and (3) the particular plan for restarting contributions (who pays what, and when) should be discussed among all parties.

“Here’s the Gov’s veto language: Item 6440-001-0001-For support of University of California. I revise this item by deleting Provision 17. I am vetoing the provisional language that would require the University of California (UC) to report on its proposal for long-term state funding for the UC Retirement Plan (UCRP), including any alternative funding plans that might be proposed. This language is unnecessary, as forwarding every proposal received from any person or entity is unwarranted. Further, the UC Office of the President is committed to reporting on its UCRP proposals and has indicated that it would provide detailed reports on the long-term funding of the UCRP without the adoption of this language”

That sounds to me like President Yudof is playing a rather dishonest game with all of us. I have also heard, from an anonymous but well-informed source, that there are rumors in Sacramento to the effect that UC asked the Governor to veto that language about UCRP.

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Footnote. Here is the full text of the Legislative language referred to above.

17. The Legislature requests that the Regents of the University of California, following consultation of university executive staff with all employee bargaining units and the Academic Senate, submit a proposal, along with any alternative proposal by the consulted groups, for the long-term funding of the University of California Retirement Plan on or before March 15, 2011. The proposal should include all of the following: (a) A description of projected employer and employee contribution rates for each of the next 30 fiscal years, based on reasonable projections and assumptions, including reasonable assumptions of future university growth and hiring, developed by the university and its actuaries. (b) A proposed methodology for determining the amount, if any, of General Fund augmentations to fund the plan in future fiscal years, including a specific methodology for determining the portion of payroll allocable to the General Fund for these purposes. (c) A proposed methodology for increasing or decreasing employee, employer, state, or other contributions in the event that the plan’s normal costs or unfunded accrued actuarial liabilities, and the costs associated with those liabilities, differ from those that are projected. (d) Any proposed changes to pension benefit levels for future university employees necessary to implement the funding plan proposal. (e) Any proposed statutory changes necessary to implement the funding plan proposal. The proposal should incorporate reasonable projections concerning future receipts of federal funding for the plan and should include graphs and figures, as appropriate, to display the effects of proposals both in dollars and as a percentage of payroll. Sensitivity analyses displaying the fiscal effects of different assumptions for investment returns are encouraged. The university is requested to submit copies of the report to the Chairperson of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the chairpersons and vice chairpersons of relevant fiscal and policy committees of the Legislature, the Governor, the Director of Finance, the Legislative Analyst, and representatives of the faculty and staff bargaining units. Nothing in this provision or any other provision of law shall be interpreted to create any type of commitment or obligation, either express or implied, for the General Fund to contribute any moneys in any fiscal year to the university or its retirement plan.

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You need to Re-Register

Important Note to all Registered users of this blog (

All currently Registered user names and addresses will be deleted as of

September 1, 2010 – because there has been a lot of robot-generated spam.

If you wish to re-Register, please do so after September 1.

Thank you.

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F is for Failure


to The Regents of the University of California, meeting July 14, 2010

by Charles Schwartz, Professor Emeritus of Physics, UC Berkeley

F is for Failure

It should be clear that the UC Commission on the Future has been a failure. Regent Gould and President Yudof have spent the last year rooting about in the underbrush of the University but have failed to come up with any plausible ideas on how to solve the long-term financial problem. The reason is simply that they never took the trouble to state openly and clearly what the problem is. It is not about funding for undergraduate education; it is about funding for the core research mission of the university.

The only path they offer will be a continued escalation of the tuition that you charge undergraduate students – although they are already paying for the entire cost of their own education – and that is how this great public university joins the club of private universities.

Let me show you another aspect of this same disease – the failure to provide a clear and truthful picture of how UC spends its money.  I’ll quote from a recent article published by Jon Coupal, the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

“As California faces an unprecedented budget crisis, students at California colleges have been asked to pay a greater share of the total cost of their education, most of which is still borne by taxpayers. …taxpayers pay 60-70% of the cost of CSU and UC students’ education, without even counting financial aid.”

Those numbers are false; but they come right from here – from the Regents’ Budget, which is published by the UC President and his staff.

How can you hope to gain public support when you don’t tell the truth about where the money goes?  This is the main duty of the Board of Regents; and you are all failing to meet your public obligations.


for further related commentary, I recommend Chris Newfield’s latest post at

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An Affirmative Vote by the Faculty at Berkeley

Resolution on Senate Committee on University Governance and Leadership

In the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate of the University of California

Approved by a vote of 263 to 113 in a formal mail ballot,  May 7-21, 2010

• Official Results of the Ballot

• Text of the Resolution

• Ballot Arguments For and Against
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An Opportunity for UC Faculty

On the Agenda for the April 22, 2010, meeting of the
Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Booth Auditorium, School of Law

New Business
A. Resolution on the formation of a special committee to develop reform
proposals concerning the governance and leadership of the University

Emeritus Professor of Physics Charles Schwartz will introduce the following resolution:

Whereas, There is widespread concern about the financial future of the

Whereas, The Regents and the President of the University have established
a Commission to study alternative future arrangements;

Whereas, It appears that consideration of Major Reforms in the Top Level
Governance and Leadership of the University is unlikely to occur within
that Commission;

Whereas, Numerous members of the Faculty of the University have
thoughtful contributions to offer in that regard; and

Whereas, Such Reforms might be a significant factor in efforts to restore
public confidence in and public support for the University; therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate asks its
Divisional Council to convene a special Committee charged to collect,
study and formulate a set of Reform Proposals concerning the Governance
and Leadership of the University, which will then be distributed to the
membership of the Division for a ballot assessment.

– – – – –

Some Background Materials available at

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Two Views of UC from Out There

Two Views of UC from Out There – and a Response

Letter to the Editor, San Francisco Chronicle  March 9, 2010

Education’s cost: a fact of life

What the public college students (and their parents) in this state must understand is that the days of the taxpayers subsidizing their higher education are over, sad as that may be.
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A former UC Regent faults reporter’s profile of UC President Yudof

by Velma Montoya, Ph.D., UC Regent-emerita

Peter Schrag’s profile of UC president Mark Yudof in San Francisco Modern Luxury deserves an A grade for keeping Yudof happy.  This article could have benefited from enhanced reporting.

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Responding to the Governor

WHAT DO WE (UC faculty) DO NOW?

Charles Schwartz, UC Berkeley

Rather than just waiting for delivery of the Governor’s proposed increase in funding for higher education, the University should engage in some needed fiscal reforms to convince the rest of the state that their reinvestment will be well spent. Foremost is a need to clean up some bad habits of the UC administration; and such reform is unlikely to come from the top. So here is a worthy campaign for the faculty to take on.

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UC Bonds – Some Answers

In the ongoing controversy over how the University of California uses student fees and other monies to back up the bonds it sells for construction projects – a new letter from UC’s Chief Financial Officer answers one question and exposes severe shortcomings in executive oversight.

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