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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 May 02, 2011

A Sacramento Bee opinion piece by UCLA English professor Saree Makdisi critiques the myth of state workers raking in the bucks, which distracts from the politically motivated attacks on the middle-class and poor. She observes that “bailing out bankers whose greed is only exceeded by their sheer incompetence is OK, but it's not OK to cover the retirement of schoolteachers who help raise our children and firefighters who stand ready to risk their lives.”

Although “all state public pension funds lost money in 2009 as their stock and property investments tanked,” according to Dan Walters, California “led the nation in pension fund losses” – and that includes UC’s plan. That’s of concern to all of us, but to help understand why it occurred, have a look at this East Bay Express feature from 2007 describing how UC handed over the fund to outside investment firms, which took big cuts.  

Other UC campuses are adopting Berkeley’s “Operational Excellence” reorganizational model, which has led to widespread layoffs. Officials at UC Davis say they’ll save $10 million per year by combining administrative departments in a “Shared Service Center” to be completed in December 2013.

For the second year in a row UC is upping its admission offers to out-of-state and international students, who pay nearly $35,000 in tuition, about three times what state residents pay. Some California residents say they are being “squeezed out” of a UC education.

UC Berkeley will make “safety improvements in the campus’s ‘built environment’” using more than $6 million in “surplus” funds from its workers’ compensation program. At the same time, its short-staffing among low-paid custodians, food-service workers, and gardeners is leading to increased injuries. For the larger context, watch "Hanging By A Thread," which compares the lives of UC's service workers to those of the Regents.

And the Chronicle of Higher Education and other media are covering the attack on academic freedom by the same right-wing activist, Andrew Breitbart, who published false videos about the community group ACORN and US Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod. “Breitbart recently announced that he was going to take on unions and teachers, and this appears to be his opening salvo,” according to the Chronicle.


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