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Got the Monday blues? Start your week off right with a helping of useful information and informed opinion. 

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For the Week of September 27, 2010

The significant changes to the retirement system currently being floated – two-tier benefits plans, cutbacks to retiree benefits, employee contributions – aren’t just due to the economy but reflect a dramatic shift by UC in retirement fund management. As reported by the East Bay Express in 2007, the regents dismantled in-house investment management, funneled tens of millions of private investment firms, and transformed the fund from among the strongest in the country to one of the worst performers.

An eight-month investigation by journalist Peter Byrne has revealed that UC’s privatization of its investment portfolio has not only cost significant money but has created multiple conflicts of interest, as regents and their associates profit from the redirected retirement funds.

And in case you missed it: UC’s announcement that employee pension contributions are going up, including a string of comments from staffers below the text.

Wikipedia’s entry on “accounting scandals” has a helpful list of accounting crimes of the past decade: “inflated sales,” “misleading accounting practices,” “overstated assets and liabilities,” and so on. Last week, the New York Times reported on their own accounting sleight-of-hand that public pension fund managers like UC are using to claim millions in savings from cutting the benefits of future workers.

Subversities, a UC Irvine-based radio show and blog, features an audio interview with Bob Samuels, president of the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, analyzing the meaning and impact of UCRS changes.

San Francisco Chronicle and Daily Californian note that UC Berkeley’s latest plan to cut 200 jobs ignores the biggest bloat: the hundreds of extra executives and senior managers on campus. UCLA’s Daily Bruin has a follow-up on President Mark Yudof’s sky-high $11,000-a-month housing costs, first reported in the New York Times a few weeks ago.

Students at UC Berkeley and some other campuses are planning a student strike on October 7.

Elections aren’t until November, but it’s never too early to remind everyone to vote no on proposition 23. Prop. 23 is designed to kill the air pollution standards California adopted in 2006, and decimate clean energy jobs in the state. It is being funded almost exclusively by two Texas oil companies. For information on other propositions, see the California Labor Federation.

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