University of California scandal could lead to race to replace Jerry Brown

Janet NapolitanoUniversity of California Regents have bought UC President Janet Napolitano’s story about how her office came to interfere with an audit of its performance ordered by the state Legislature, with regents saying they were disappointed by the scandal but prepared to move on after reprimanding Napolitano.

But there could be more fallout on two fronts: in the Legislature and in the governor’s race, where the frontrunner, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, is an ex-officio UC regent.

That’s because Napolitano’s story seems so implausible. According to an independent report prepared at regents’ behest by former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno and the Hueston Henningan law firm, after state Auditor Elaine Howle sent surveys to UC campuses in October 2016 asking for their assessment of UC’s Office of the President, Seth Grossman, Napolitano’s chief of staff, and Bernie Jones, her deputy chief of staff, put out the word that they needed to review the responses. This was done even though Howle had emphasized the responses were supposed to be confidential. Subsequently, three campuses – UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine and UC San Diego – revised their responses to make them more favorable to Napolitano’s office.

But Napolitano told the Legislature in May, and Moreno’s investigators more recently, that while she approved the plan to have her office review the responses, she did so because she wanted to ensure the responses were correct – not because she wanted to protect her image. She also said campuses had requested help.

Moreno’s report did not suggest the UC president was lying. But it found no evidence that campuses sought help with their responses. And it noted that UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal said that he was chewed out by Napolitano for his campus sending in a response to Howle without running it by her staff. UC Santa Cruz’s response was the harshest of any campus, giving Napolitano’s office one “poor” and three “fair” ratings out of the 10 categories in the survey questions. After Blumenthal’s telephone conversation with what he described as a “furious” Napolitano, UC Santa Cruz changed the “poor” and “fair” ratings to good and upgraded three “good” ratings to “exceptional.”

Napolitano said she remembers her conversation with Blumenthal as being routine, not angry. But Blumenthal’s account is consistent with other findings in the Moreno report, such as Napolitano’s declaration in a text message that Howle was on a “witch hunt.”

The two aides cited in the Moreno report resigned a week before the report’s release and declined substantive comment on the allegations against them.

Lawmakers unlikely to be satisfied with handling of scandal

The Legislature, which passed a bill last session subsequently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown making it a crime for a state agency to interfere with a state audit, could consider follow-up legislation. There’s considerable residual anger overNapolitano’s May testimony to a joint legislative hearing in which she repeatedly denied personal wrongdoing of any kind. Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, vice chair of the Higher Education Committee, cited that testimony last week in calling for Napolitano to be fired.

In the gubernatorial race, UC-related sparks seem just as likely to fly. While Newsom told the Los Angeles Times that he considered regents’ decision to reprimand Napolitano “insignificant” – suggesting he wanted stronger punishment – he joined the unanimous vote to retain her as UC president.

This is tough to square with Newsom’s reported comments about how he would deal with corruption and ethical issues in state government: “I will not be known for being timid about this or anything else. Gov. Brown says reform is overrated; I say it’s underrated.”

As for Howle’s part, she wants regents to take additional actions beyond reprimanding Napolitano, according to a letter she sent to regents and an internal report by her office that were obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Howle asked regents to “consider disciplining university employees who repeatedly interfered with a state audit, tried to hide their actions, misled investigators and withheld requested information until threatened with court action,” the Times reported.

At the regents’ Nov. 17 meeting in San Francisco, they began consideration of measures meant to “clarify and strengthen” how UC officials who report both to the regents and to Napolitano must deal with state audits.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

University of California Sues Trump Administration over DACA Decision

Janet NapolitanoThe University of California has sued the Trump administration for its decision to rescind the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.

UC lawyers allege that the rights of the nation’s largest college system were violated when President Donald Trump, on “nothing more than unreasoned executive whim,” dumped DACA.

Many conservatives complain that President Barack Obama issued DACA in violation of the Constitution, after failing to win congressional approval for a “pathway to citizenship” for 11.5 million illegal aliens.

UC President Janet Napolitano is especially knowledgeable regarding DACA, because as Obama’s Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security between 2009 to 2013, she issued the memorandum, “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children,” to stop up to 2 million deportations of those brought illegally to the U.S. as children.

Although the title of Napolitano’s DACA memo talked about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) using their professional discretion to decide deportation issues, the document’s language specifically mandated that for any individual meeting Napolitano’s criteria, ICE and CBP would “prevent low priority individuals from being placed into removal proceedings or removed from the United States.”

Breitbart News reported that of the 790,000 eligible aliens that enrolled in DACA, California has 223,000 California, or 28 percent of DACA enrollees. That is more than the combined totals of the next four states, including Texas, Illinois, Arizona and New York; and also more than in the lowest 28 states combined.

Despite the constant emphasis by DACA supporters about vulnerable children being victimized by their parents’ actions, DACA only covers aliens between the ages of 15 to 30 years old. The median age of a DACA enrollee is 25 years old.

One of the reasons that California is such a magnet to so-called “Dreamers” is the spectacular array of college educational benefits made available through the 2003 passage of AB 540, a waiver of out-of-state tuition for illegal aliens; and the 2011 passage of the California DREAM Act, which made all “undocumented” immigrants eligible for financial aid if they attended high school in the state or received a GED.

Financial aid programs available to “Dreamers” include Cal Grants for tuition; a Board of Governor’s fee waiver; and institution-specific grants and scholarships for UC and California State University campuses. Illegal aliens can also receive the UC’s California DREAM Loan Program and resources through campus Undocumented Student Centers.

Napolitano told NPR, “Neither I, nor the University of California, take the step of suing the federal government lightly, especially not the very agency that I led.”

She added: “It is imperative, however, that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community. They represent the best of who we are — hard working, resilient and motivated high achievers.”

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Jerry Brown Embraces Pension Shell Game

Jerry Brown budgetLOOMING PENSION PAIN–The Jerry Brown administration last week released its revised May budget and, lo and behold, it has finally decided to (kind of, sort of) tackle the state’s massive and growing level of unfunded liabilities – i.e., the hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer-backed debt to fund retirement promises made to the state’s government employees.

It’s best to curb our enthusiasm, however. The governor didn’t have much of a choice. This was the first state budget that is compliant with new accounting standards established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board that requires states to more properly account for retiree medical and benefits beyond pensions.

Because of those new standards and low investment returns, the state’s unfunded liabilities (including the University of California retirement system) soared by an astounding 22 percent since last year. But even this new estimate of $279 billion in liabilities is on the optimistic side. Some credible estimates pin California state and local governments’ pension liabilities at nearly $1 trillion, based on more realistic rate-of-return predictions.

The pension system invites eyes-glazing-over debates about the size of the liability. That’s because debts are calculated on guesswork about future investment earnings. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) recently voted to lower its predicted rates from 7.5 percent a year to 7 percent. The lower the predicted rate, the higher the liabilities, which is why CalPERS and the state’s unions are so bullish on Wall Street.

CalPERS’ latest investment returns were below 1 percent, but the agency insists there’s nothing to worry about and no need to do the unthinkable (reduce future benefit accruals for current employees.) That’s the same CalPERS, of course, that in 1999 assured the Legislature that a 50-percent retroactive pension increase wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime.  I suppose CalPERS was right. It didn’t cost a dime, although it did cost many billions of dollars. Their returns were then yielding 13.5 percent a year, and CalPERS figured the heyday would go on forever.

The other reason to be skeptical of the Brown administration’s commitment to solving the problem can be found in the May revise itself. The budget “includes a one‑time $6 billion supplemental payment” to CalPERS, according to the Finance Department. “This action effectively doubles the state’s annual payment and will mitigate the impact of increasing pension contributions due to the state’s large unfunded liabilities.”

Where is the extra $6 billion coming from in a budget that supposedly is so pinched that the governor recently signed a law raising annual transportation taxes by $5.2 billion?

Simple. The state is borrowing the money to pre-pay some of its debt. “The additional $6 billion pension payment will be funded through a loan from the Surplus Money Investment Fund,” according to the budget summary. “Although the loan will incur interest costs (approximately $1 billion over the life of the loan,) actuarial calculations indicate that the additional pension payment will yield net savings of $11 billion over the next 20 years.”

In other words, the state will be borrowing the money at fairly low interest rates and then investing the money and earning, it hopes, higher rates. The difference will help pay down some of those retirement debts. Even the well-known pension reformer, Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, lauded the administration for embracing that idea.

But it’s something of a shell game. It should work out well, provided the markets do as well as the state expects. In doing this, however, the state is taking out new debt that will need to be repaid. There’s no free money here. A number of localities have embraced a similar strategy with pension-obligation bonds, which are a form of arbitrage, in which the government is borrowing money and betting on future market returns.

This gimmick is similar to the one people will embrace in their personal lives. Are those credit-card debts crushing the family budget? Then borrow money from the home-equity line of credit at 5 percent and use it to pay down the 10-percent credit card loans. It makes sense, but it doesn’t deal with the real problem of excessive consumer spending.

“This is the Band-Aid,” said Dan Pellissier, a former aide to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and well-known state pension reformer. “The surgery everyone is trying to avoid is on the California Rule – changing the benefits public employees receive in the future.”

When it comes to pensions, everything comes back to that “rule,” which isn’t a rule but a series of court precedents going back to the 1950s. In the private sector, companies may reduce pension benefits for their employees in the future. An employee can be told that, starting tomorrow, she will accrue pension benefits at a lower rate. The California Rule mandates that public employees, by contrast, can never have their benefit levels reduced.

That limits options for reform. In 2012, Gov. Brown signed into a law the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA), which promised to address the pension-debt problem by primarily reducing benefits for newly hired employees. A reform that affects new hires will reduce contribution rates but won’t make an enormous difference until they start retiring.

“Gov. Jerry Brown’s attempt at pension reform has failed,” opined Dan Borenstein, in a recent East Bay Times column. The reason: the rapidly growing pension debt. “The shortfall for California’s three statewide retirement systems has increased about 36 percent. Add in local pension systems and the total debt has reached at least $374 billion. That works out to about $29,000 per household.”

CalPERS rebutted Borenstein by arguing that he “greatly oversimplifies and needlessly discounts the real impact that Governor Brown’s pension reform has had since it took effect in January 2013.” The pension fund insists, “PEPRA already is bending the pension cost curve – and will keep doing so with greater impact every year going forward.”

Yet the growing liabilities and the administration’s latest budget plan suggest that whatever minimal cost savings PEPRA is achieving aren’t nearly enough. Of course, union-controlled CalPERS’ goal isn’t protecting taxpayers or the state general fund – it is to enhance the benefits of the state workers whose pensions it manages.

As Calpensions explained, that $6 billion of borrowed money doubles the amount of general-fund dollars that the state is paying to deal with pension obligations. Meanwhile, as the state borrows money to pay that tab, it raises taxes to fund transportation. If Brown and the Legislature had trimmed pension costs, it would not have needed to raise gas taxes and the vehicle license fee. And the problem reverberates for local governments, too.

The May revise also showcased the same old issue with the administration’s priorities. Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton noted that “Brown’s entertaining rhetoric itself made him sound, as usual, like a skinflint, a penny-pinching scold. But the introductory document could have been written by Bernie Sanders, if not Depression-era Socialist Upton Sinclair, the losing 1934 Democratic candidate for governor who ran on the slogan ‘End Poverty in California.’”

The budget championed myriad big-spending programs, including higher pay for public employees. So the state has been spending like crazy, but can’t manage to deal with its pension problem – at least not without borrowing money to temporarily paper over its growing debt.

All these games are about avoiding dealing with the obvious fact that California’s public-employee pensions are absurdly generous, filled with costly and anger-inducing features (spiking, double-dipping, liberal disability retirements, etc.) and unsustainable.

In 2011, the state’s official watchdog agency, the Little Hoover Commission, argued to the governor that “Public agencies must have the flexibility and authority to freeze accrued pension benefits for current workers, and make changes to pension formulas going forward to protect state and local public employees and the public good.” Six years later, the governor is still just chipping away at the edges by embracing gimmicks.

Steven Greenhut is a contributing editor to the California Policy Center, on whose website this piece originally appeared. He is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.

Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

UC President Napolitano Hid $175 Million While Raising Tuition

Photo courtesy The National Guard, flickr.

The California State Auditor issued a scathing report last week alleging that University of California President and former Obama Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano raised tuitions while her office hid $175 million.

The cover page for State Auditor Elaine Howle’s 167-page audit report states bluntly that the UC president’s office  “Failed to Disclose Tens of Millions in Surplus Funds, and Its Budget Practices Are Misleading.”

The audit found that the UC spent $32.5 billion on expenses during the 2015-16 school year to fund 10 campuses, five medical centers, and its Office of the President headquarters. Although the UC states that its “fundamental missions are teaching, research and public service,” the UC only spent “$6.7 billion (21 percent) on teaching, “$4.6 billion (14 percent) on research” and “$630 million (2 percent) on public service.” The other $20.6 billion (63 percent) was spent on non-fundamental activities.

The audit highlighted criticism in January from students and lawmakers after the UC regents approved President Napolitano’s 2.7 percent tuition increase for the 2017-18 year, given that UC tuition nearly doubled from $6,141 in 2006–07 to the current $12,192 this school year.

In addition, State Auditor Howle’s audit found the “Office of the President has amassed substantial reserve funds, used misleading budgeting practices, provided its employees with generous salaries and atypical benefits, and failed to satisfactorily justify its spending on systemwide initiatives.”

Howle ominously added that the “Office of the President intentionally interfered with our audit process. Auditing standards require that we disclose this interference and prohibit us from drawing valid conclusions from this portion of our work.” Specific concerns, outlined in a cover letter to Governor Jerry Brown, include:

  • The Office of the President has accumulated more than $175 million in undisclosed restricted and discretionary reserves; as of fiscal year 2015–16, it had $83 million in its restricted reserve and $92 million in its discretionary reserve.
  • More than one-third of its discretionary reserve, or $32 million, came from unspent funds from the campus assessment— an annual charge that the Office of the President levies on campuses to fund the majority of its discretionary operations.
  • In certain years, the Office of the President requested and received approval from the Board of Regents (regents) to increase the campus assessment even though it had not spent all of the funds it received from campuses in prior years.
  • The Office of the President did not disclose the reserves it had accumulated, nor did it inform the regents of the annual undisclosed budget that it created to spend some of those funds. The undisclosed budget ranged from $77 million to $114 million during the four years we reviewed.
  • The Office of the President was unable to provide a complete listing of the systemwide initiatives, their costs, or an assessment of their continued benefit to the university.
  • While it appears that the Office of the President’s administrative spending increased by 28 percent, or $80 million, from fiscal years 2012–13 through 2015–16, the Office of the President continues to lack consistent definitions of and methods for tracking the university’s administrative expenses.

Breitbart called the University of California’s Office of the President and left a message requesting a comment regarding the audit. No response was received.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

California University’s “Sanctuary” Policy a Threat to Federal Funding

FILE - In this July 17, 2007 file photo, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Judiciary hearing on the prosecution of Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, two former Border Patrol agents imprisoned for shooting a drug smuggler in the backside as he sprinted toward Mexico. Rohrabacher's suggestion Friday, June 10, 2011, during a trip to Baghdad, that Iraq repay the United States for the money it has spent in the country has stirred anger, with an Iraqi lawmaker ridiculing the idea as "stupid" and others saying Iraqis should be compensated for the hardships they've endured. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher last week warned UC President Janet Napolitano that the system’s sanctuary campus polices could jeopardize federal funding for research.

The Costa Mesa Republican denounced a recent announcement from UC that campus police would not be cooperating with federal officials in deportation efforts of undocumented immigrants.

“Your commitment to spending scarce resources to finance people illegally present in the United States is unacceptable and a flagrant misuse of taxpayer money,” Rohrabacher wrote. “This is an insult to Americans and legal immigrants who pay your salary.”

While sanctuary policies align with the state’s liberal lean, one of the main policy reasons supporters turn to is that by creating a space where deportation is off the table, undocumented immigrants are more likely to cooperate with police in other investigations.

“It is in the best interest of all members of the UC community to encourage cooperation with the investigation of criminal activity,” according to the UC statement. “To encourage such cooperation, all individuals, regardless of their immigration status, must feel secure that contacting or being addressed by UC police officers will not automatically lead to an immigration inquiry and/or a risk of removal.”

The UC system gets more than half of its research funding from the federal government, which Rohrabacher claimed is jeopardized by resistance to the upcoming administration.

“I assure you that, in the next session of Congress, those who receive and spend federal dollars in a manner that includes people illegally present in our country will find it difficult to obtain those funds,” Rohrabacher wrote.

The issue of sanctuary campuses is a small part of a bigger showdown between California and President-elect Donald Trump. While Trump campaigned heavily on a tough stance on immigration — which included mass deportation and the construction of a wall along the country’s southern border — California Democrats have since announced their intention to fight those efforts at every turn.

Though Rohrabacher initially supported a different candidate in the Republican primary, he eventually came around to Trump with a full-throated endorsement, even going so far as to call other Republicans “gutless” who backed away from Trump at times of turmoil. His name was even floated as a potential candidate for secretary of state, although he was not chosen.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

California universities weigh first tuition hikes in 6 years

As reported by the Washington Times:

Faced with record high enrollment and the need to hire faculty, the University of California and California State University systems are considering raising tuition for the first time in six years.

The proposed annual hikes – $270 at the 23 Cal State schools and $280 at UC’s 10 campuses – are being discussed this week by the governing boards of both systems at separate meetings on budget plans.

Leaders of both institutions say they need more funding to maintain the quality of the nation’s largest public university system.

Rates have remained frozen despite declining state support, officials said. The current in-state undergraduate tuition at Cal State schools is $5,400 a year and $12,300 a year at UCs. …

Click here to read the full article

How UC-Berkeley Can Dig Out of Financial Hole

UC BerkeleyDesperate times call for desperate measures. So it was in June, when the University of California-Berkeley created Ideaction, a website for friends of Cal to pitch their money-raising ideas for the university. Suggestions have rolled in: charge for valet parking, host furniture sales, repurpose Memorial Stadium for clubbing, and so on. These submissions would be amusing if not for the fact that Berkeley and the UC system face a larger problem, which no amount of parking transactions or furniture sales can fix.

The University of California system has long faced financial challenges and controversies, many of which are self-inflicted at the campus level. In 2015, for example, after the system received an increase in state funding, it promptly gave its highest-earning administrators a raise over student objections. The current situation at Berkeley is particularly acute: Berkeley has what outgoing chancellor Nicholas Dirks described as a “substantial and growing” $150 million deficit, which imperils its long-term solvency and growth. Solving that budget crisis won’t be easy, given declining state funding, an in-state tuition freeze, and annual increases in merit pay and cost-of-living adjustments.

Instead of hunting for creative, untapped revenue sources or making piecemeal changes, Berkeley administrators need to turn inward and take a comprehensive look at their own spending choices. How did the situation become so dire? Any sober analysis of the institution’s budgeting makes the indulgences — particularly on administrative spending — immediately apparent.

Berkeley’s excesses start at the top: Chancellor Dirks, who recently announced his resignation, earns an annual salary of $532,226 — ten times the median American household income. The university spent more than $200,000 on his image consulting and more than $1 million on renovations to the chancellor’s University House, including almost $700,000 for a fence and $90,000 for new Persian rugs. Dirks himself came under investigation for allegedly misusing funds. Below him, Berkeley has lavished spending on full-time administrators, growing the ranks by 56 percent between 2005 and 2015, to a total of 1,281 people. There are now almost as many administrators at Berkeley as there are faculty — one for roughly every 21 undergraduates.

An analysis conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni of publicly-available data found that between 2009 and 2014, Berkeley’s administrative spending grew faster than that of any other institution in the UC system, at a rate dramatically outpacing instructional spending growth. Both physical and human resources are squandered. As is true at nearly all UC campuses, tenured and tenure-track faculty generally teach a maximum of four courses per year, often fewer. Many classrooms sit empty, especially on Fridays and the whole of the summer. Berkeley’s renowned research reputation doesn’t preclude a modest increase — appropriately rewarded — in teaching responsibilities. Even one more course every other year would make a huge difference. That, and the full use of classroom and lab space, would open opportunities for deserving California students and bring a robust stream of new tuition dollars to the campus, without further taxing the public.

Research has shown that colleges and universities could save as much as 10 percent of their instructional costs simply by reorganizing curricula. Berkeley can follow the example of its Pac-12 colleague, Arizona State University. By consolidating related departments, ASU has already saved more than $13 million without eliminating any faculty positions. For example, it once had separate departments for biology, plant biology, microbiology, and molecular and cellular biology; today, it has a truly interdisciplinary School of Life Sciences. Berkeley is ripe for similar innovation.

A $150 million deficit is daunting but not insurmountable, though it requires changes that may be uncomfortable. The cost of inaction as budget shortfalls loom would be far more harmful, especially at a time when overstretched students, families, and taxpayers have already seen their tuition bills rise by more than 30 percent over a five-year period. UC–Berkeley is a remarkable institution with more than 480,000 living alumni, but to preserve its tradition of academic excellence, university and system leaders must finally address long-festering financial problems. Its challenge now is to become a model for academic excellence and management responsibility.

Dr. Michael Poliakoff is president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

This piece was originally published by City Journal Online.

UC regents approve new limits on moonlighting by administrators

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

University of California regents voted Thursday to limit top administrators to two outside paid jobs and add another layer of approval to ensure moonlighting doesn’t pose a conflict of interest or a “reputational risk” to the university system.

The regents approved the changes without opposition during their full board meeting in San Francisco. The new restrictions come after UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi drew criticism this year for accepting past board positions with a textbook publisher and for-profit DeVry Education Group.

The new policy, initially proposed by UC President Janet Napolitano, would require administrators to explain the benefits an outside job or paid board seat would bring their campus and UC, as well as a statement that spells out how much time the job would require. The new policy adds a mid-year review of outside jobs, as well as a review panel for questionable applications.

“The changes we are recommending today would be among the most careful and restrictive in the nation,” said UC regent Bonnie Reiss, who chairs the board’s Compensation Committee. …

UC spent $158,000 on campaign to counter critical state audit

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

In the wake of a scathing state audit released in March, the University of California mounted a $158,000 publicity campaign to dispute claims that its admissions policies had disadvantaged resident students.

The campaign included a report rebutting the conclusions of the audit; digital ads on websites, Facebook and Twitter; and sponsorships on public radio stations throughout the state, according to documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee.

Dianne Klein, director of media engagement and strategy at UC’s Office of the President, said no state or tuition revenue was used for the campaign. She said it was paid for out of the “endowment cost recovery fund,” which collects a small percentage of endowment earnings for administrative purposes, including projects to enhance the university’s fundraising efforts.

“Negative tends to stick in the public’s mind much more than positive news,” she said. “Rather than let a blemish take over the whole state, so to speak, we felt it was necessary and good to get out a positive message.”

Klein added that …

Click here to read the full story

California legislators continue to push for UC Davis’s chancellor’s resignation

UC DavisTwo state lawmakers took to Twitter on Thursday and joined the growing chorus of Democratic legislators who are calling for the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi after a series of unflattering stories by The Sacramento Bee.

On Wednesday, The Sacramento Bee reported that the university paid consultants at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative postings about thepepper-spraying of students in 2011, in an effort to improve the school’s and the chancellor’s reputations.

The Bee also reported that between 2009 and 2015, the school’s strategic communications budget increased from $2.93 million to $5.47 million.

In response, Democratic Assemblymembers Freddie Rodriguez of Pomona and Mike Gatto of Los Angeles took to Twitter to condemn Katehi and demand her resignation.

Other incidents

In March, it was reported that Katehi, who receives $424,360 annually as chancellor, earned an additional $420,000 between 2012 and 2014 as a board member for textbook publisher John Wiley & Sons.

Katehi had also came under fire in March for violating University of California policy by accepting a $70,000 per-year seat on the board of DeVry, a for-profit university.

Katehi has since stepped down from DeVry board and pledged $200,000 in John Wiley & Sons stock to a scholarship fund. And she apologized.

But those actions weren’t enough and Democratic Assemblymembers Luis Alejo of Watsonville, Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, Kevin McCarty of Sacramento and Evan Low of Campbell had called for her resignation, who Gatto and Rodriguez have now joined.

In Katehi’s defense

UC Davis spokesperson Dana Topousis would not say whether Katehi intended to step down (which likely means the answer is “no”). In a statement responding to only the most recent article from The Sacramento Bee, Topousis defended the overall cost of communications.

Here is the entire statement:

“Communicating the value of UC Davis is an essential element of our campus’s education, research, and larger public service mission. Increased investment in social media and communications strategy has heightened the profile of the university to good effect.

“As part of this overall communications strategy, it is important that the excellent work underway at UC Davis with respect to educating the next generation of students, pursuing groundbreaking research, and providing important services to the State is not lost during a campus crisis, including the crisis that ensued following the extremely regrettable incident when police pepper-sprayed student protesters in 2011. Communication efforts during this time were part of the campus’s strategic communication strategy. In fact, one of the main objectives during this time was to train staff on how to effectively use digital media to improve engagement with our stakeholders.

“Communicating the value of UC Davis is among the many reasons why our campus was able to increase its endowment to $1 billion last year, garner more than $700 million in research grants, and attract the highest caliber of students and faculty from around the country, with a record number of student applications this year.

“Most of the growth in the communications budget is tied to raising the visibility of our College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the School of Veterinary Medicine, both rated the best in the nation.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com