You probably read that San Jose's battle to enact the pension reforms voters approved overwhelmingly last June with Measure B widened last week when staff attorneys for the California Public Employment Relations Board -- PERB -- filed four complaints against the city based on unfair practice charges by unions.
For those unfamiliar with the workings of the obscure agency that oversees government worker rights, the dispute now goes before an administrative law judge. The losing party may appeal to the board, whose decisions become final unless a state appellate court agrees to review it.
So what are the city's chances in this new theater of conflict?
On the merits, San Jose may have a better argument than San Diego, which faced similar union charges of failing to negotiate pension reforms in good faith before putting them on the ballot.
A PERB administrative law judge last month said San Diego's voter-approved pension reform measure should be deemed invalid because the city bypassed union talks with a mayor-backed citizen's initiative.
By contrast, San Jose spent months negotiating pension reforms with its unions and made several changes before putting Measure B on the ballot.
But then there's the politics of PERB to consider.
The agency's four current members were all appointed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who despite annoying government unions with his own pension reforms last year, has relied on their campaign support, most recently in selling his Proposition 30 tax hikes to voters.
The backgrounds of Brown's board appointees suggest San Jose has a tough sell.
Two board members, A. Eugene Huguenin and Priscilla Winslow, are former lawyers for the California Teachers Association, one of the state's most influential government employee unions.
Eric Banks is a former president of Service Employees International Union Local 221 in San Diego, representing county, city and school workers. PERB's current chairwoman, Anita Martinez, was formerly a longtime staffer for the agency.
But San Jose's contracted legal muscle, Charles Sakai, told us he believes the board still would be fair and judge the city's case on the merits.
Former senator enjoys the good life with Chevron
Former state Sen. Michael Rubio is apparently enjoying his lucrative new gig. The Bakersfield-area Democrat abruptly resigned his $96,000-a-year Senate seat last month to take a government-affairs job with Chevron, potentially jeopardizing his party's narrow hold on a two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature needed to pass new taxes.
Rubio has since faced questions about the loan he received from an oil executive to buy a $681,000 house near Sacramento when he was a legislator and about whether he had been in negotiations for the Chevron job while serving in the Legislature, issues that the state Fair Political Practices Commission is apparently looking into.
But it didn't sound like Rubio was having any second thoughts when IA shared an elevator ride with him in the K Street office tower locally known as the "Ban Roll-On Building" for its resemblance to the underarm deodorant dispenser. It's home to numerous lobbying firms in the capital as well as our news bureau.
"You've got to make a living," we overheard Rubio say as he chatted with two companions on the ride up. "I like the living I'm making now, let me tell you."
Acting county counsel has her eye on judgeship
On Monday, we should know who the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has selected as its new county counsel.
It won't be Lori Pegg, however, because the acting county counsel has told the board that she'd like to keep her options open for a Superior Court judgeship appointment.
The board chose the Santa Clara University Law School graduate, who has spent the last 12 years working for the county counsel office, to serve as acting county counsel last June after Gov. Jerry Brown promoted her boss, Miguel Marquez, to the San Jose-based 6th District Court of Appeal.
At the time, Pegg said, she had already applied for a county judgeship, a longtime personal goal.
While Pegg, 51, has both enjoyed and learned a great deal about running an office of 130 employees, including 60 attorneys, she said "it's not fair to the board or my office to have my name in consideration for both positions." She expects to return to her former position as an assistant county counsel, though there is no certainty of a judgeship.
"You never know until you receive a call from the governor's office," said Pegg, whose legal career has emphasized labor and employment law. "They don't give you any timeline."
While the county counsel position will be decided Monday during a closed session -- board President Ken Yeager confirmed that seven applicants, including one insider, met the March 1 application deadline -- two other board-appointed positions also are in play: the county's public defender, now held by acting Public Defender Molly O'Neal, and the clerk of the board, now held by acting clerk Lynn Regadanz. Those appointments will be decided shortly, Yeager said.
Target's sign about bags is a head-scratcher
Outside the Target store at Campbell and Saratoga avenues in San Jose, an alert reader snapped a picture that perplexes us here. Next to the corral for carts, the Target sign says this: "Are you reusable bag ready?" Those are the precise words and punctuation.
We couldn't get a comment from Target about the meaning of this query. So we've had to fill in the spaces.
One possibility is that the writer meant to say, "Are your reusable bags ready?" If so, it's evidence of a tragic deprivation of basic grammar.
We think the author of the sign probably left out quotation marks around the third and fourth words. The warning should have said, "Are you 'reusable bag' ready?'' Naturally, this is a small tragedy by itself. It is like saying, "Are you 'drink-beer' thirsty?"
Instead of using the words at the bottom to explain that Target can no longer give out plastic bags, maybe the sign should just go for the brutal truth: "Because of a city ordinance, this Target can no longer speak English."
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by John Woolfolk, Steven Harmon, Tracy Seipel, Scott Herhold and Paul Rogers. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 408-975-9346.