MOORLACH UPDATE — Caltrans’ Hiring Spree — March 12, 2018

I’m opposed to the gas tax, Senate Bill 1 (2017), for many reasons. Here are the top 4:

1. Caltrans mismanagement
2. Regressive taxation
3. Misdirection of funds to high speed rail
4. Lack of priority for transportation previously exhibited by the Democrats in the state’s annual budgets over the last 14 years

Let’s just deal with Caltrans and its mismanagement. Think high speed rail (although it is not responsible for this agency, it can’t brag that it’s doing better). Therefore, think budget overruns. Think a $6 billion-plus Bay Bridge, which was supposed to cost $1 billion. Think 3,500 architects and engineers too many. Think only 20 cents of every dollar actually going to road repairs. Think a Department Head golfing on your dime. Think an engineer who golfed 56 days without management raising a stink. Think spending $250,000 for software at the height of the recession and then not using it, but falsely telling the Legislature that it was being used. Think road repairs running more than four times the national average; and we don’t have long winter snows on our highways.

I could go on. In fact, I already did in previous UPDATEs. If you need the links, I can provide them. But, it would double the size of this e-mail. So let me give you just one. Think public employee union controlled department (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Blame the Unions — November 9, 2015).

The previous Director for Caltrans, one whom I found totally tone deaf, recently left and was replaced by an insider by the Governor. I am doubtful that a career long bureaucrat is going to turn this agency around.

Today, I reintroduce the idea of outsourcing (for a sample, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Transportation Strategies — August 13, 2015). The Sacramento Bee starts the new spree of mismanagement in the piece below, which is front page, top-of-the-fold, allowing me to be one of the dissenting voices.

It is such a shame that Caltrans is such a bureaucratic mess and that it was not reorganized first. What’s worse, is that the state could easily accommodate more contractors and not have to hire a single, permanent union employee who will immediately increase California’s unfunded pension liabilities that are already massive. If California’s Department of Transportation was one of the best in the nation, then I could, in good conscience, support more road funding. Orange County did it with Measure M. Twice!

BONUS: For the first time in ten years, the State Senate recognized Women of the Year on the Floor this afternoon. Here are the details of my selection, whom I affectionately refer to as “Mom,” as she reminds me so much of my mother and she looks like a twin sister from a different mother. Here are the details:

Woman of the Year 2018

Ruth Tang Ding

During her illustrious career, both as a music teacher and a philanthropist, Ruth Ding has inspired students and members of her community with her organizational expertise and unflagging optimism in all her endeavors. She credits the strong work ethic and vision that her family instilled in her throughout her upbringing for her positive outlook on life, which served as a constant reminder to never take for granted the opportunities that she was afforded.

Ms. Ding received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Arizona State University. Her graduate work was performed at the University of Southern California. She has been an activist and promoter of the arts and Chinese culture in Orange County for over 50 years. She was honored in an article by Jodi Cadenhead of Newport 17 Magazine that celebrated “Champions of the Arts.” She has produced and chaired many ethnic festivals, music, and cultural programs in Southern California.

In addition to her commitments to the arts, Ms. Ding is extremely active in a number of philanthropic community interests. She is the founding president of the Orange County Chinese Cultural Club and Pan Pacific Performing Arts, Inc. She served on the founding board of the Opera Pacific and Asian American Senior Citizens Service Center in Santa Ana, and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. She was also the 2011 Gala Chair for Founder Plus, a support group consisting of founders of the center. These initiatives support education and community programs. Ms. Ding believes deeply in not only supporting the arts but also in instilling pride in younger members of the Chinese American community.

Ms. Ding was also instrumental in founding several major benefit events including the Opera Pacific Opera Ball, the Asian Headdress Ball, The International Music and Dance Festival, the Winter Blossom Ball and AASCSC’s “Winter Gala” which raised $200,000 for vital programs hosted by the Senior Service Center.

Ms. Ding has been honored with numerous leadership, music and service awards in her illustrious career. She has received the “Special Commendation for Service to Orange County Award,” presented by the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and she was also made an “Honorary Goodwill Ambassador” by former Secretary of State of California, March Fong Eu in 1990. She is also listed in the “International Who’s Who of Women”, The Dictionary of International Biography, and now the California State Senate Woman of the Year.

Photo courtesy of Senator Cathleen Galgiani

Caltrans is desperate to fill thousands of new jobs



No kidding: It’s a really good time to send a résumé to Caltrans.

California’s transportation department plans to swell its staff by 10 percent over the next five years, adding 2,000 employees to help it execute projects funded by the new gasoline tax. Those positions run the gamut from maintenance to architects and engineers.

It has so many jobs on such a tight time line that the department is trying to cut through some of the state civil service rules that govern who it can promote.

Last week, it tried to wipe out a promotion list for senior engineers that was made up exclusively of internal candidates so it could more quickly hire from a different promotion list that included candidates from outside the organization.

In its request to the State Personnel Board, the department said that it will have a challenging time making a case to expand its headcount if it’s too slow filling its current vacancies.

“To justify these additional position resources it is essential that all departmental resources are filled,” the state Human Resources Department wrote on behalf of Caltrans.

Caltrans didn’t get everything it wanted.

It struck a deal with the Professional Engineers in California Government – the union that represents transportation engineers – that would let the department promote from both sources without throwing away the roster of eligible internal candidates.

The union, the department and the members of the State Personnel Board all stressed that Caltrans has to move fast to take advantage of Senate Bill 1, the law that hikes gas taxes over a decade to fund transportation projects.

“The governor’s directive to get SB 1 dollars out is imperative. We don’t want to disadvantage the department,” State Personnel Board member Richard Costigan said.

Caltrans began escalating its hiring efforts a year ago, first to replace retiring workers and then to prepare for the gas tax funding. The tax and other fees will deliver about $5.2 billion a year for transportation over the next decade.

“SB 1 is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” said Ted Toppin, a lobbyist who represents PECG.

California Republican leaders and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association are campaigning to repeal the gas tax, although their efforts have not yet qualified to reach voters as an initiative.

Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, thinks Caltrans is getting ahead of itself with its hiring spree. He wrote a bill three years ago that would have compelled the department to hire more private sector contractors rather than public employees.

“They need to outsource,” Moorlach said. State budget restrictions forbid Caltrans from outsourcing more than 10 percent of engineering work. “You don’t even know if the tax is going to be permanent until November. These (new employees) will be the ones you lay off, theoretically.”

The construction industry and labor unions last week released a study that argued the new gas tax would have wide-ranging benefits over the next decade, supporting about 68,200 jobs each year. The study by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association said about 14,000 jobs would be in transportation and warehousing, 7,500 in services, 4,300 in retail, and 3,900 in real estate and housing.

To get started on a Caltrans application and learn about the state’s hiring process, go to

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