Senator Flips Vote, Union Contracts OK'd

Comments (32)

Today's lengthy debate in the state Senate, both in public and in private, serves as a reminder of the complicated intersection of policy and politics, as a late vote switch by a Republican senator kept six new state worker contracts alive -- including the hotly debated new agreement for prison guards.

The contracts were the subject of a pretty tense debate and seemed all but dead, until a late afternoon switch by Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) sent them to the Assembly for consideration.

While the legislation, SB 151, contains the new contracts for six bargaining units and modifications of contracts for others, the marquee deal was a new contract for members of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

And with good reason. The CCPOA not only had been sitting on an expired contract for years (after multiple battles with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), but the guards union is a major power in California politics.

Since January 2010, state records show the CCPOA has spent some $650,000 on lobbying the Legislature. Then there's campaign cash; in last year's election cycle, the union spent almost $7 million from its various political committees, donating generously to candidates on both sides of the aisle and spending almost $2 million of that amount on helping Governor Jerry Brown.

One of the most notable CCPOA political cash moves last year was a large independent expenditure against Sen. Cannella's Democratic opponent.

Cannella, whose vote change followed a lengthy recess and chats off the Senate floor, released a statement saying, in part:

"The contracts ratified today were negotiated at the bargaining table, and they do represent concessions from the unions involved and significant savings to the state... Today, I received assurances from public-employee union leaders that they will engage in an earnest conversation about real pension reform."

Of course, today's vote proved that the guards' political endorsements don't actually guarantee votes for their point of view. Several Republicans supported by the CCPOA came out against the deal, with two of the most notable being Senate GOP leader Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) and Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar).

Dutton set the tone for the contract debate in the Senate this afternoon, by saying in his floor speech that the deals (collectively) were "not ready," that there was no "pension reform" in them, and that the contracts fail to save enough money. That last point is based on the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office report that the six contracts will cost $306 million more than Governor Brown projected they would in his January budget.

(Brown's response a couple of weeks ago was that his estimate shouldn't have been taken literally.)

The Senate Republican leader's vote, ostensibly against the wishes of the correctional officers, comes after he was accused last October (with others) by Schwarzenegger for being too indebted to them when it came to not voting for a major pension modification bill opposed by the CCPOA.

That bit of history was referenced by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg in his floor speech in favor of the contracts.

"This is now your second opportunity to vote for pension reform in the last seven months," he said. "Where is the commitment to actually reform something?"

Meantime, Republican Huff attempted to draw the line back to the Guv's plan for an $11 billion extension of income, sales, and vehicle taxes. "You're saying you have to have new revenues to cover this agreement," said Huff in comments directed at Dems. (It should be pointed out that his assertion is only, at best, true in the macro view of government expenditures and revenues.)

It's possible the Assembly could take the contract ratification bill up in a matter of days. And again, while several worker bargaining groups are depending on the bill, it'll be the CCPOA that gets the attention -- especially given the union contributed money, too, in 2010 to a bipartisan group of sitting assemblymembers.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.
  • B. Cayenne Bird

    This bill gives hundreds of millions of our tax dollars to prison guards in more salary and benefit at a time when 22,000 teachers have received their pink slips. A public outcry needs to be made to stop it from passing the Assembly. The teachers seem not to be aware of of this misuse of our tax dollars, and the inequality being made between education and incarceration that it taking place here. The teachers are also missing the point about $7.7 billion in new prison construction that still is on the table awaiting funding. It will cost billions more every year to operate these prisons. There are 53,000 prisoners who are non violent, people who are going to be released anyway, who could be released right now. This would eliminate the need for for about $12 billion in new prisons. Brown is pandering to the guards.

  • carlyncw

    i hope these non violent prisoners our moving next to you and not me. I would like to see the teachers that our out of work to apply for corrections. (not) guards our hurt, killed….. every day. and why is not anyone reading this contract I am not a guard and i did. it is not good. I just do not get it….. they our out (cut in pay, more than most to there retirement, loss of holiday time, i could go on but i wont, just read it and ????

  • Bob Walsh

    Readers should be aware that Ms. Bird is an anti-prison zealot who operates a nut-job web site that rails constantly against locking people up as some sort of a payback for a family member who is currently a guest of the state.

  • B. Cayenne Bird

    Please fight back against reducing education to promote incarceration. Liberals To Recall Jerry Brown.

    Remember that Brown is the person who passed the original determinate sentencing laws that lead to this fiscal and humanitarian crisis in the first place.

  • B. Cayenne Bird

    Those prisoners are getting out anyway and all we can save by releasing them now is BILLIONS in new construction and operating costs. Education not incarceration.
    The Wall Street Journal compared admission to the Calif. Correctional Academy to Harvard and recommended getting a job as a prison guard earned more than a Harvard graduate law school.

  • S Griffith

    I am a “guard” in which we are called when people want to use a derogatory slang term to call us. But we are Correctional Officers. As with any profession, you have your few bad seeds. Yes, we have a few of them also, but it doesn’t make our entire union a bad thing. I’m really angry about people attacking the working people of America. The people that pay their taxes, pay their bills and actually support the America of the past. If you want to attack something, then attack the social programs we dump money in to. Prisoners, welfare recipients, healthy families, WIC, extended unemployment, free school lunches, etc… The workers of America spend money and contribute to America! The others just freeloader off the working force Americans. That’s where our tax money goes.

  • martinrwj

    Finally, this is an issue that should have been brought to peoples attention a long time ago. America start investigating this issue, get involved, do the research, you will be suprised at the results you will uncover. I use to work in a prison, in California. So much Taxpayers money is used, its sad.

  • wolfy

    I wonder what the CCPOA paid him…they gave Jerry 1.8million and got billions back.
    For every nonviolent inmate they warehouse ,we pay 50k annually. Roughly the salary of a new teacher. Most of us have a favorite teacher,who is your favorite prison guard?
    Recall Jerry Brown ! Stop the plunder,and pandering.

  • S Griffith

    The problem lies in the prison system and the federal government laws placed on California. In 2006 a law was passed so the inmates get top of the line health care. The state soon went broke. The prison is now a healthcare association. Not a prison but a top of the line hospital. Yes, we need to take the money from inmates and give it to our education, teachers and children. You don’t have a favorite prison guard, police officer, fireman, CHP officer, parking enforcer, meter reader, or anything. These are people you should be thankful for. They do jobs that keep you safe or make life a Luella less complicated. What is a non violent felon? One who sells kids drugs, steals, or is looking you son or daughter up and down awaiting for that one moment to molest them. Most felons in prison have not committed one or two felonies. They have multiple felonies and have a record that dates back to 13-16 years old.

  • JG

    California Prison Academy: Better Than a Harvard Degree

  • mp

    Being a prison guard better than a Harvard degree, how many harvard grads have had feces and urine mixed together and thrown into their face, I have, and now get tested for HIV, how many have witnessed 300 stabbings, I have, how many have been in a cell extraction where your fellow officer and best friend is stabbed three times through his neck and his blood splashes into your face and he’s yelling in terror he’s stabbing me, I have, how many have spent eight hours a day on a yard with a thousand killers, rapists, child molsters and baby killers, I have. If this job is better then harvard, then where is all the applicants? It amazes me that people blog and write information that they know nothing about. Where is the outrage when CHP and CAl Fire signed the same contract we did, there are three 24/7 agencies in California, CDCR, CHP, and Cal Fire, which one was furloughed for three days a month for three years resulting in a 17 % pay cut and which two were not? that’s right CDCR was the only one furloughed. Last year CHP was given a raise while we were losing 17% a month, where is the outrage? where is the questions about their powerful unions? In this contract, we dont even get back what was taken, we have had no contract for close to five years, yet our union is so powerful, no ouitrage on Cal Fire, no Cal Fire powerful union, why were these two state agencies not furloughed, they are 24/7 agencies just like CDCR, yet no furloughs, why/ where is the outrage about their unions. I have an idea for all that think this job is so easy, go apply, they are hiring. No. it’s easier to sit comfortably in your den and blog then to go to work in a state prison and wonder if today an inmate is going to stick an 8 inch shank into your neck.

  • mp

    To Ms. Bird, non violent felon, you have no idea, even most level one inmates belong to gang’s but when arrested were not committing level 4 crimes, but look into their records and you will see tens of violent crimes. And millions going to prison guards? we are not even restored to our last contract, you shuold be glad that there are people who will work in a prison because people like you could never do it and that would leave all these felons to prey on people like you who they seek out. If you could read a file on some of these inmates it is worse then any horror movie you have ever seen. Prison guards are not responsible for the rise in crime and cost to house an inmate, you live in a state where the goverment spends 5 thousand on medicare for a person and 14 thousand for an inmate. If your going to write about things that you know nothing about, maybe you should take the time to learn, you can go tour any state prison, but of course you wont do that because it would scare the hell out of you and then you would not be able to live with your rose colored glasses on.

  • John Myers

    Just a clarification from the news guy: the state did not pass “a law” in 2006 regarding inmate health care; a federal judge appointed a receiver to take over prison health care that year. Ever since, most of the health care spending decisions have rested in the hands of federal court officials and not with state officials. –JM

  • B. Cayenne Bird

    I have been handling complaints for 13 years from all 33 prisons. When an inmate is in distress, their family members most often come to me. I have watched minor problems escalate to the level of torture and death. One of the big problems is that there is no official place to go for help in an emergency. Deliberate indifference and cover up permeates every layer of the bureaucracy. When inmates are slinging urine and feces, it is usually because they are acting out mental illness caused by excessive lockdowns, blockage of mail, refusal to allow their use of the telephone to maintain family ties, and just plain sickness caused by that inhumane environment. There are 54,000 non-violent prisoners who could be released and that would save $7.7 billion in new construction costs, clear out the people who shouldn’t be in prison in the first place, and make a safer, more humane working environment. I, for one, do not want to spend my tax dollars paying to punish mentally and physically ill people. I know very well who is in prison. Quadriplegics, frail elderly, terminally ill, mentally ill, brain dead, minor offenders for the most part, and more than half are in for a non violent crime. California’s harsh laws had no funding sources so they robbed our human services and education budget. What do you supposed those 400,000 college students who will be cut are going to do with their spare time? More job security for the guards. Education not incarceration – no on SB 151.
    Here’s a little glimpse into the devastation being caused by these mismanaged prisons.

  • B. Cayenne Bird

    We need to change the sentencing laws and revise the way that prisoners are sent back for any minor reason whatsoever without a judge and jury. Being a half hour late for an appointment due to a late bus, eating a baked potato with a butter knife in the living room, I could go on for days. Our recidivism rate cannot be compared to those of any other state because of the propensity to re-arrest for any minor reason whatsoever. It’s a racket. It’s an industry. And it’s the wrong way to make money.

  • B. Cayenne Bird

    Fire 22,000 teachers, cut 400,000 community college students, chop elderly and disabled in order to give hundreds of millions to prison guards in increases that they do not even need? No on SB 151. There are 400 other Liberals to Recall Jerry Brown on Facebook who are outraged over this wrong since of priorities. It costs billions of dollars to operate these prisons for years, in addition to the building costs.

  • mp

    you are a fool lady, minor offenders, why dont you go talk to the thousands of victims families who have been killed. You live with your head buried in the sand, most inmates would kill you for the three dollars you have in your purse. Officers get blood and urine thrown in their faces because people who drive by an innocent person loaded with gang members and shoot them dont care about throwing crap in people faces. Recidivism rate is so high because everyday inmates come to the yard and play handball, basketball, frisbee, cards, have tournaments and then the winners get to have rally burgers that are picked up by a paid recreation position and handed out to the inmates. Thats right, some man who is in prison, who molsted, or what you call minor offenders, 20 kids eats rally burgers. Several times a month they also have food drives where they buy pizzas from pizza hut, chicken, cakes and cookies from costco, and they sit in the sunshine and play games and eat pizza and have no worries while their victims families suffer their loss. You do not know of what you speak lady, god forbid you ever become a victim of one of your minor offenders. Rest easy, a prison guard isnt.

  • mp

    I work on a yard with a thousand inmates, not one is Quadriplegic,maybe 3 are frail and not to frail to committ a level 4 crime, elderly, maybe 20, again not to elderly to committ a level 4 crime, terminally ill, none, mentally ill, maybe 2 or 3, brain dead, none. Your facts are as misleading as you. And as the horrible conditions, they cant use the phone, garbage, they use the phone everyday, most people have to block their phone because inmates charge calls to their numbers and they cant afford it, and even if they could not use a phone everytime they wanted, they should of thought of that before they molested a child, to bad you dont care as much for the victims as you do the people who destroy innocent lives. For anybody who is listening to this lady, research online the facts on inmates in california and you will see who is behind bars. This lady does not know what she speaks of, I have been their for twenty years and all she is doing is throwing out whatever she wants and hopes you read and believe it. I see thousands of inmates a day who dont show remorse and dont care one bit. Dont take my word, go find out facts, and then Ms. Bird can spend her life in the make believe world she does. Remember that almost 70% of inmates are in for violent crimes, not Ms. Bird minor offenders which I guess she includes, armed robbery, kidnap, murder, rape, child molesters,mayhem, torture, carjacking, which she tells you are majority quadriplegic, elderly, frail, brain dead inmates. i do not mean to be funny but I wonder if your last name is Bird because your a loon.

  • S Griffith

    No on SB 151? Why all this talk about prison guards. We go to work daily and put up with these prisoners. Something that evidently you won’t do no matter how great our pay is! The three strikes laws need to be revamped, I agree not rescinded, revamped. But you gotta stop feeling sorry for the families of these felons and feel sorry for the lives and families they harmed. Prison? Three free meals (two hot) free room and board, free water, trash, septic, free cable, free sports and equipment, free medical care(top of the line) no copays nor deductibles, free formulary medication including morphine, methadone and sex altering drugs, free ambulance rides, conjugal visits every three months for non lifers, free stamped out going mail……. And so on.. Each prisoner costs you $45k -1 million per year! Quit attacking our workforce and attack your state freebie handouts! Don’t keep attacking us, attack your social program handouts from your liberal democrats!

  • CDCveteran

    B. Cayenne Bird is well know for her “Hot Air” remarks, calling us guards etc,etc…..

  • B. Cayenne Bird

    Epidemics in prison are still out of control to the point that you “immortals” are even catching MRSA. OK I won’t call you guards anymore, I will call you “immortals.” You don’t correct anyone, I don’t see anyone coming out of prison who is better off for the experience. I see people who are broken in mind, body and spirit.

    I see entire neighborhoods devastated due to a human grinding machine that is financed with my tax dollars. Teachers are far more valuable than “immortals.” Certainly very few people are in prison for murder. CDCR has estimated that 40,000 inmates are mentally ill, maybe studying the statistics that your own department releases will help you know the facts.

    We should only remove the criminally insane people from society and this could be done in a much more healing manner. There is no leading criminologist in America who believes that prisons are serving any good purpose. Want less feces thrown at you? Stop trying to punish mentally ill people into being well. All that does is make them much worse. Stop the power trips, the denial of medical care, double celling people then locking them down for 23 hours a day, stop encouraging conflict and division between the races, give the prisoners disinfectant to clean with, enough toilet paper since half of them have a life-threatening disease. How about I come to your training academy and teach you that prisoners are not livestock for your benefit but are human beings.

    Many are veterans with PTSD and addiction problems, former foster children who were unwanted. What a disgusting way to make a living, feeding off the suffering of mostly medically and mentally ill people. What a disgusting thing for our State to encourage instead of industries in technology, environment and many other possibilities. The prevention of crime – an education – would be the highest priority in a civilized society. The immortals don’t need a raise, and if they cared about California, they wouldn’t want it.

  • S Griffith

    What is your career of choice, Bird? This state will have to pay someone to manage these mentally mentally ill persons. Have you been in a housing unit and toured a prison yard? Or are all your facts from somewhere else? Lockdowns are for the safety of other inmates. I have done nothing wrong. Write your congressman.

  • mp

    You complain that it will cost 7 billion dollars to build more prisons and then you say single cell inmates, so lets see if there is 150 thousand inmates doubled celled and now you single cell them how many more prisons would you have to build. I think your one of these women with low self esteem who connect with filth. Why have you not said one single word about the victims? We catch MRSA because your friends use dirty needles to shoot dope snuck into the prison by women like you who are stupid. Inmates dont go to prison to come out better, they go because they KILL, RAPE, and MOLEST LITTLE KIDS and if they were not put there they would continue. I know of an inmate who put a small infant into a microwave after he sodimized her and then cooked her, one of your poor friends, but dont worry, he was on the yard eating pizza hut pizza last week, he’s fine and enjoying life, how about that child.Your an idiot, inmates have yard from 0830 to 1130 go in untill 1230 and then have yard untill 1530 7 day’s a week, divisions between the races, they come in as gang members from all races and fought and killed on the streets and continue in prison. I think the founder of Wendys was from foster care, I dont think he was raping and killing, and molesting, your arguments come from something you know nothing about and you can tell from your statements. Come to our academy, why not come to a prison and have the urine feces blood mixture thrown into your face and eyes and mouth and then you can get tested for aids every few months like we have to. You see inmates who are released with broken minds, and spirits, poor babies, go look at their victims parents if you want to see broken minds and spirits. Cared about California, you fool, we care enough to go to a place where we can lose our lives in a moment, and put up with fools like you who care about the broken spirit of a man who rapes and kill babies and nothing for the broken spirits of the victims mother and father. You calling us immortals when I think your trying to say immorals shows your field level, as far as your tax dollars, you have most likely collected welfare most your life and dont pax taxes. Care about california, you call for inmates to be released so that they can continue to committ their mayhem on citizens of this state, I bet you have someone in prison and they call you and whine and then you send them money and then they say they love you, hang up the phone and call another female, give her the same story, and then another one and then they collect all that money every month and buy dope and gamble. We hear it everyday and even the inmates tell us how foolish you are. I bet if Hitler was in prison you would of called for his release because he is so mistreated. Anyone out there, want to know the truth, go to the prison near you and take a tour, then you can see how foolish this woman really is. You remind me of one of these women, that have a wild animal and believe that they love you and then turn around and kill you, please see someone and seek help, your low self esteem is truly evident in your statement, I’m sure there is someone out there in the world will love you besides a baby killer.


    Hey you guys, don’t buy into this woman. Look her up online sometime. I wasted time out of my life over her. Her “kid” is “R’d” up and single cell status due to the White Boys trying to get to him. He got some prison leach “Doctor” to say he has PTSD. Leave her alone and you will be a better person for it.

  • B. Cayenne Bird

    I have a been a human rights activist and journalist for more than four decades and publish four national columns. I am addressing victims when I speak of 54,000 people living in squalor in a prison system that is comparable to a third world country. I don’t have a “lover” in prison, but you need to keep in mind that there are 3 million people related to those in a state prison and most of them are voters. When you are caught smuggling cellphones and other contraband, is your family going to stop loving you? Your job is not to punish people, it is to “correct” and heal them, which I frankly believe that most of you with your attitudes toward the poor are incapable of doing. When a system is as corrupt as ours, no one is above getting swept up into it. All it takes is an accusation, evidence is not required. Things that we do bad against other human beings have a way of coming back on us. Here is some of my recent work.

    I did this video essay to expose a prisoner who was murdered by medical neglect at Mule Creek and SCC. His mother died from stress and was already gone by the time he served a ten year sentence. He came out with his diabetes so neglected that he could barely walk and he only had 14% of his heart functioning. He also caught MRSA from Mule Creek. He was caught up in a child custody fight and when his accusers reached adult age, after he served all that time and was nearly dead, they recanted their testimony. The assumption that all prisoners are guilty and deserve torture is quite wrong. This entire family is victimized.

    My video essay

    The resulting broadcast

    I am working on a documentary about another prisoner who has been tortured for several years. It is very likely to end up in movie theaters.

  • B. Cayenne Bird

    I should clarify that far more prisoners than 54,000 live in squalor and third world conditions. I meant to say that 54,000 non-violent prisoners who are getting out anyway could be released right now to save billions. About 10,000 per month prisoners are already released, we could speed that up. Too many billions are wasted on a failed prison industry. My documentary writes itself.

  • mp

    should of known your son was in prison, make excuses for him, it’s easier for you and him not to take responsibility. Maybe you should of not babied him and he would of grown up to be a man, and not someone who preys on innocent people. Maybe you can write a book on being a successful mom instead of blogging all day and making excuses for the scum of the earth.

  • S Griffith

    He’s nonviolent though! He’s just a “r” suffix! Poor prisoners. Just let them all out so they can pay their overdue library fines. Cut all prison jobs all together. Now we have over 200,000 more unemployed people on welfare, including the just realeased prisoners and a huge increase in crime. Hell, lets do away with police officers that catch these guys too. Let’s just smoke weed and be happy. Would that make for a better America? Another Bird Brain idea! You’re immoral, and ridiculous!

  • B. Cayenne Bird

    The movie about his life includes the recantation in court and the way he was tortured in prison for being able to file lawsuits. I hope that you will all come to see it, it’s about your peers.

  • Big Hunk

    And you believed every lying word out of his mouth about being tortured for doing something that inmates do every day? File lawsuits? We(the taxpayers) provide them with law libraries that they have free access to every day. If correctional staff tortured every inmate that filed a lawsuit, there would be no time to get anything else done, such as…. lets see… oh… Feed them, release them to work and school, release them to yard, bring them back in from yard, release them to and from yard again, feed them again, conduct count(important), release them to dayroom… feed them again, etc… You get my point… Well, maybe not. All I know is that you cannot trust anything that comes out of an inmate’s mouth. And if all you are spewing here was gotten directly or indirectly from an inmate’s mouth, guess what? I’ll spell it out for you, Dr. Reverend B. Bird. That’s right. You are not to be trusted either. And going by what I see written about you all over the internet (Google is your friend), you’re not liked much either. I suggest you spend more time trying to eradicate the true causes of crime rather then demonize an entire profession. Your zeal and passion would yield much better results.

  • mp

    To bad your son’s victim cant file a lawsuit MS, BIRD. And if he has a “R” he’s one of those child molsters or rapists. How are you going to change the world when cant stop your son from preying on children.

  • John Myers

    Folks, I think there’s been more than enough back and forth about one poster here. Our online folks would no doubt say that we should intrude as little as possible, but the point of my original blogging has long since been left in the dust. Appreciate the passions on both sides of prison issues, but let’s put that one to rest for now. –JM