Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ex-State Lawyer Calls His Firing A Political Act

When you do your job and don't apple polish/boot lick/kiss up to the bosses at the DLSE, this is always the anticipated and expected outcome. Once again Victoria Bradshaw, John Rea, Robert Jones, and Anthony Mischel lack the competence to effectively serve the People of California. How much money was wasted on this witch-hunt and who's responsible for that waste of money? How many resources were drained for this, and who's going to stand up and admit that they authorized such expenditures? It's too bad Victoria is so entrenched in the Governator's favor. Let's see how their house of cards stand up to the scrutiny of the civil courts. As always, the big joke of this is that the DLSE is the very same state agency that protects workers from employers violating state labor and employment laws. How's that for irony?

"SACRAMENTO — A veteran state labor attorney is accusing the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of firing him because he questioned efforts to rewrite controversial regulations governing employee meal breaks. Miles Locker, a 50-year-old civil servant who worked for state government for more than two decades, was dismissed from his $112,980-a-year job at the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement this month. In a 22-page complaint detailing Locker's dismissal, labor standard officials charged him with trying to undermine his supervisors' efforts to interpret state wage and hour laws. The complaint, relying in part on e-mails taken from Locker's office computer, called him disloyal because he "secretly communicated … disagreements" with his supervisors to lawyers outside the government. The complaint also accused Locker, who is appealing his firing to the state Personnel Board, of making comments last year that ridiculed then-Labor Commissioner Donna Dell. In his written response to the charges, Locker denied violating his fiduciary responsibility to his supervisors. Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) called the firing "a politically motivated witch hunt." Koretz, chairman of the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, said he would ask administration officials to explain the dismissal next month at a specially called hearing. "It seems like they are going after Miles for disloyalty to the administration," Koretz said. Dean Fryer, a spokesman for the Department of Industrial Relations, the parent agency of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, said politics and policy had nothing to do with Locker's dismissal. "The overarching issue is really about ethics and commonly accepted principles guiding attorney-client relations," Fryer said. Locker traces his dismissal in part to comments he made at a July labor law seminar sponsored by the Bar Assn. of San Francisco. Locker said he was speaking as a private citizen when he expressed disagreement with administration officials and business groups over a long-running dispute about workers' rights to meal breaks and punishments for employers who violate state wage and hour laws. The restaurant industry and business groups have been urging the governor to issue new workplace rules to loosen requirements that employers provide a mandatory, unpaid meal break after workers' first five hours on the job. Employers also want regulators to interpret state law in a way that would cut by two-thirds the amount of money paid to workers who successfully file complaints against their bosses. Under pressure from organized labor in the wake of the defeat of Schwarzenegger-backed initiatives in the November election, the administration in January ditched a set of proposed meal-break regulations that had drawn fire from worker advocates. The administration said it planned to draw up a new set of regulations while working more closely with employers and labor unions. Koretz said he was puzzled by Locker's firing because Schwarzenegger appears to be trying to improve relations with Democrats and labor unions. The firing also is an added twist in the tale of meal-break regulations, which have a tangled history. Just after Schwarzenegger's election in late 2003, industry lobbyists began pressing the governor's office for changes in a law passed in 2000 that gave workers a legal claim to file for an hour's pay for each lunch break lost. Employers wanted authority to ask workers to voluntarily waive their legal rights to lunch breaks. They also wanted to reduce, to one year from three, the period during which businesses could be fined for meal-break violations. The California Chamber of Commerce and the restaurant owners argued that the proposed regulations would give all workers more flexibility to leave work earlier in the day. Moreover, they said, waiters would earn more tips if they were not forced to take breaks during busy periods. Labor unions, however, complained that employers would be able to pressure low-paid employees into giving up their lunch hours. The Schwarzenegger administration issued "emergency" regulations in December 2004, which took effect immediately. Critics scoffed at the alleged emergency, forcing the governor to withdraw the regulations after 10 days. In early 2005, the administration submitted new, nonemergency regulations, which it touted in a video news release featuring a former television reporter who now works for the state, that was aired by some television stations. A Sacramento Superior Court judge in December ruled that the production and distribution of the videos violated state law. The administration abandoned the renewed effort in January."-LA Times, 02/28/06

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tool Of The Year

This year's award goes to Anthony Mischel, who has systematically disposed of (or tried to) more state employees than anyone else. He tried to get rid of Armida Corral, until he had his professional posterior handed to him at the DPA hearing. Then he tried to get rid of Christopher Lotts, who's already won one of his grievances against the DLSE. Lotts is on his way to having his day in court with this Tool. Finally, he thinks he got rid of Miles Locker just because he served him with termination papers.
For someone who is morbidly obese and smokes more cigs than Susan Nakagama, I don't think he quite understands or comprehends that actions have consequences (yeah, he's real smart for lawyer). Miles did not hire one of the smartest labor attorneys just to be driven out by this Tool.
The state is in incredible slow process because of numerous reasons that don't bode so well in the private sector. It will take time before Miles and Chris have their day in court. It took Armida almost a year, but the judge finally dismissed Mischel and his legal accusation against her, and that was a hard one. Typically, DPA decisions mostly favor management because that is how the game is played.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Disputed Meal Rules Ditched

Last month, an article in the LA Times stated that the Governator's peeps within the Dept. of Industrial Retaliation decided not to go forward with rules making it easier on the employers and harder on the employees. Let's re-cap:
1. Illegal propaganda video/infomercial actually ruled illegal: desk donkeys decided not to appeal ruling.
2. Lunch break rules deemed "Emergency Regulations" by the desk donkeys removed from the table.
3. Last-ditch effort to meet legal deadline to impose new rules expired because desk donkeys failed to submit paperwork to review panel.
Can the desk donkeys pass any legislation/rules successfully? Can the desk donkeys write stuff that isn't such a hotbed of litigation? Can the desk donkeys devise better ideas to better serve Californians than making illegal propaganda videos on behalf of the Governator? And finally, can someone formally evaluate these desk donkeys for their critical judgment skills and how their actions affect the people (not the lobbyists) of California? How are these desk donkeys still collecting a taxpayer-paid paycheck?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Labor Standards; yup, we're still a joke.

Marie-Anne Hogarths wrote an article about the DLSE problems concerning Miles Locker. What a waste of taxpayer money! Miles has been on paid leave (taxpayers are paying for it!), and the clowns that are running this train wreck will NEVER be held accountable for their actions against Miles Locker. These clowns, and I use that term loosely, really don't know how to get out the corner they've painted themselves into. Bob Jones and Tony Mischel, two of the DLSE's lawyers, are operating this train. What are they waiting for? DLSE (via Mischel) told Miles' laywer on December 23rd (nice holiday present!) that they were gonna serve him with an adverse action at the end of January, so he might want to resign and save himself. Needless to say, Miles' attorney told those clowns to go pound sand (not those words exactly). What kind of magic fairy dust have those clowns sprinkled on their bosses to justify wasting all of this taxpayer money on their half-ass joke of an investigation. The reason why this investigation is a half-ass joke is because they put Miles on paid leave back in September...five months ago, and they have SQUAT to show for it. But then again, maybe this is why Tony Mischel is in state service and not in private practice. There are many stereotypes befitting state employees; I wish Mischel would stop perpetuating most of them, get his act together, and start serving the public in their best interests', not his own. Same goes for Bob Jones, who is Mischel's boss.
Will someone please do a Public Records Act request to find out how much money has been spent on this and other personnel actions and forward that information to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. and our state-elected officials? Using state funds for a witch-hunt is very alarming. Why should the public pay for political vindictiveness? And where's the accountability? This is how the Governator bridges the rift between employees and employers...he can't clean up his own agency but as long as he talks about mending fences, well, that's just as good as the fairy dust, I guess. This fiasco has been brought to you by the very same state agency that is charged with enforcing Labor and Employment laws in California. Will John Rea, Tony Mischel, Robert Jones, and Victoria Bradshaw please stand up; let's give these 'leaders' a great big round of applause! Bravo! How will they waste taxpayers funds for their encore performance?