As Jerry Brown prepares to take office as Governor, some of the highest paid officers and professors at the University of California are threatening to sue the State to allow them to spike their defined benefit pensions by adding bonus and other forms of “compensation” to the formula beyond the Federal IRS cap for doing so set at $245,000 in 2007. The IRS granted the UC system a waiver from the cap for these employees, but the university did not implement it because of its cost promising to do so at some unspecified future.
Now the professors, deans and other affected UC administrators sensing correctly that this gravy train was at serious risk want UC to make good on ‘the promise to allow them to accrue retirement benefits based on their full salaries, rather than at a federal cap set at $245,000.’
They complain that the current pension system sets benefits for retired employees who made $500,000 per year the same benefits as those who made $245,000 or $184,000. But the University says honoring the alleged promise would cost the university about $5.5 million a year, plus $51 million as a one-time catch-up to make the change retroactive to 2007.
Thirty-six employees of the 200 affected sent a letter to the UC Regents demanding action to ‘follow through on this promise’ according to a story by Matt Krupnick in the Contra Costa Times. Meanwhile, the University is under growing pressure to overhaul its under-funded pension plan which now has a $20 billion liability because the 20 years of underfunding.
Welcome to our world, professors!
When asked his comment on the letter sent to the regents Governor-elect Jerry Brown replied:
“These executives seem very out of touch at a time when the state is contemplating billions of dollars in reductions that will affect people who are far less advantaged.”
Here is a prime example of what is wrong with our country today.
I received the following email notice that I had been included in a class action lawsuit was recently settled by Dell involving customers in California and Arizona who alleged that Dell mislead them about its promised next business day in-home repairs on computers bought from the company.
Dell’s service certainly has slipped and who has not been stuck in the queue waiting for someone to help us? But few of us sue over such bad service—we get revenge by buying another brand and bad-mouth the manufacturer all over Facebook and Twitter!
But this is not about bad service from manufacturers—it’s about something worse—class action lawsuits that allow lawyers to file claims and then take a huge portion of the settlement leaving the “alleged victim” victimized twice—first by the company and then by the lawyers.
Do we really think anything got better because Dell agreed to pay $10 million to induce these lawyers to settle this class action lawsuit giving customers affected $10, $8 or $4 depending upon how long they waited for service in California or Arizona while the lawyers rake in contingency fees of $5.4 million?
U. S. DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA, SAN JOSE DIVISION
SUMMARY NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION AND PROPOSED SETTLEMENT
VIVIAN FIORI ARIZA, ROGGIE TRUJILLO, PAMELA NEWPORT, RAUL REYES, and ROBERT DEAN, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated,
DELL INC., a corporation; BANCTEC, INC., a corporation; WORLDWIDE TECHSERVICES, LLC, an entity; DELL CATALOG SALES, L.P., an entity; DELL PRODUCTS, L.P., an entity; DELL MARKETING L.P., an entity; DELL MARKETING L.P., LLC, an entity; DELL MARKETING G.P., LLC, an entity; DELL USA, L.P., an entity; and DOES 1 through 10, Defendants
Case No. 09 CV 01518 JW
THIS NOTICE ADVISES YOU OF A PROPOSED CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT WITH DELL INC., BANCTEC, INC., AND WORLDWIDE TECHSERVICES, LLC f/k/a QUALXSERV, LLC. THIS NOTICE MAY AFFECT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS.
PLEASE READ IT CAREFULLY.
This summary notice informs you about the settlement of Fiori et al. v. Dell Inc. et al., United States District Court, Northern District of California, Case No. 09 CV 01518 JW, which challenges Dell’s sales practices relating to its first year at-home service contract charges and its next business day service representations. Defendants deny all allegations of wrongdoing and have agreed to settle the case for the sole purpose of avoiding the uncertainties, expenses, and time of further litigation. Under the settlement, Dell agreed to pay cash benefits to eligible class members as set forth below and change its sales practices regarding its service contracts. If you are a consumer in California or Arizona who purchased a Dell computer with an at-home service contract directly from Dell between January 1, 2000 and July 31, 2010, then you are a class member, and the proposed settlement could affect your legal rights.
You may be entitled to a cash benefit of $10, $8, or $4 if you are a class member and you submit a Valid Claim Form. You must submit a Valid Claim Form by May 20, 2011, unless this date is extended, to seek payment.
You may submit a Claim Form online by clicking on this link and following the instructions there: [LINK REMOVED], or you may request a Claim Form by mail from the Independent Claims Administrator at the telephone number or address below. Please keep your PIN# which will assist in making your claim.
To exclude yourself from or object to this settlement and/or Class Counsel’s application for attorneys’ fees, costs, and incentive awards for the Class Representatives, or to move to intervene in the case or indicate your intent to appear at the final fairness hearing, you must follow the instructions in the Notice described below. The deadline to opt out of the class, submit a notice of appearance, or submit any objections is February 22, 2011; the deadline to move to intervene is January 27, 2011. If you opt out of the class, you may NOT file a claim, and you will not receive any compensation under the settlement. If you do not opt out of the class, you will be bound by the settlement and will release any and all claims that you may have against the defendants about the conduct at issue in this lawsuit. The Court will hold a final fairness hearing to decide whether to approve the proposed settlement on March 21, 2011, at 9:00 a.m., in Courtroom 8 of the U.S. District Court located at 280 South 1st Street, San Jose, CA 95113. This date is subject to continuance by the Court. See further details on the settlement website by clicking this link: [LINK REMOVED]
This is only a summary notice of the settlement. The full and complete Notice, which provides additional information regarding the allegations and claims asserted in this case, this settlement, your rights as a class member, and Class Counsel’s application for an award of attorneys’ fees and costs in the amount of $5,368,000, and incentive awards in the amount of $5,000 for each Representative Plaintiff, is available at [link removed] or from the Independent Claims Administrator at Fiori v. Dell, et al., Claims Administrator, c/o Analytics, Inc., PO Box 2006, Chanhassen, MN 55317-2006, (toll free at 1-888-735-3412).
Let’s see, I file a lawsuit covering customers in two states, the company settles and I get half the settlement as attorney fees so next I file lawsuits in two more states and cash in, over and over and over again.
What a racket!
It makes me want to read more Shakespeare, especially Henry VI, part 2. You know the part where Dick says to Jack Cade—“The first thing we’ll do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
Traffic on the freeways especially in rush hours is never fun. Here in California we know a few things about freeways having built many of them—badly. It seems as if the CalTrans engineers never met a choke point they didn’t like so driving in the San Francisco Bay area is full of interchanges,bridges, tunnels, toll booths and other choke points that slow us down when we least want it.
HOV lanes or carpool lanes have both helped and hurt the commute traffic. It has encouraged casual carpooling where people gather at a park and ride site and decide whether it is safe to either get into a car with someone you do not know or pick up a stranger who might be a rapist, mugger or smell bad for the trek across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco.
Fast Track promised to revolutionize the commute by offering automatic toll lanes that ‘ding’ your toll account when you pass over a toll bridge or tunnel. But it also set up the capability to endlessly ‘ding’ us with more tolls.
Here are a few coming your way soon:
- Car Pool Lanes are no longer free. They will now cost you half the regular toll price on Bay Area bridges and you must have Fast Track.
- HOV Lanes will become HOT Lanes. All those high occupancy vehicle lanes on the freeways designed to speed commute hour traffic can now be entered with your Fast Track device for a toll even if you are a solo commuter.
- City Gate Congestion Pricing. San Francisco is flirting with a commuter tax which would charge every vehicle entering the City $6.00 during congestion pricing hours. This has enraged commuters and their suburban politicians. San Mateo County replied to the San Francisco proposal by suggesting it would also charge a congestion transport fee on Highway 101 on the stretch from the San Francisco city limits to SFO airport. Opps!
Is this about traffic congestion or money?
The answer is probably both but the prospect of new revenue streams from people who can not vote is just too seductive for politicians with local budget deficits. All of this mischief is made possible by new technology called Fast Track that seduced us into setting up debit accounts to allow whizzing passed the tool booths on those bridges.
Imagine the possibilities for Fast Track?
- Ding and Whiz Stops where your fast track is used to access a public restroom and paying for its maintenance.
- Shop or Else Parking where the shopping center hits you with a large parking fee unless you buy something.
- Public Transit Pass is one I do like replacing all those BART, Clipper, MUNI and other public transit passes with the swipe of my Fast Track card.
- Car Insurance at the Pump where dispensing gas requires swiping your Fast Track card which is ‘dinged’ for an incremental auto liability insurance premium each time you get gas instead of monthly charges.
- Parking Ticket Collection Agent where a failure to pay a parking or traffic ticket means the amount is drained out of your fast track account as a debit the next time you use it triggering a withdrawal from your bank account to refill the Fast Track. Gotcha!
Big Brother is here and his name is Hal!
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted its first round of rules to implement AB32 this month. While the rules do not kick in until 2012 and most of the “allowances” required to emit greenhouse gases will be given away until 2015 it still is cause for celebration or alarm in the Golden State and elsewhere.
A boom in the clean energy economy has been started24% (9 votes as of 12/13/2010)California’s economy will be driven off a cliff43% (16 votes as of 12/23/2010)
The state will muddle along like much of the rest of the country32% (12 votes as of 12/23/2010)
As expected California’s three major investor owned utilities will not meet the 20% RPS goal by the end of 2010 as required by law. We have known this outcome for more than a year, but pressure has been applied on all sides to get as close to the goal as possible. The failure to meet the goal is not causing major heartburn because procurement is continuing and the CPUC and CEC have been approving new projects at a frantic pace over the last six months to ‘show progress.
At the end of the third quarter reporting period the RPS performance was about 15% of retail electricity sales allocated as follows:
- Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) – 14.4%
- Southern California Edison (SCE) – 17.4%
- San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) – 10.5%
Despite the inability to meet the 20% target California pressed on nonetheless setting an even higher 33% PRS goal by 2025 by executive order. By increasing the goal to 33% and pushing it beyond the term of office of the current politicians responsible for failing to meet the 20% target—this is considered ‘good news’ in Sacramento.
There is an additional 352MW of renewable projects that are working feverishly to come on line by year end 2010 to meet the federal financing requirements. But Congress granted an extension to the end of 2011 for compliance. To date, the sum of all renewable energy capacity installed that counts toward achieving the California RPS goals is 1, 049 MW or about the size of one typical nuclear power plant or—bite your tongue—typical Midwest coal plant. Remember we don’t allow either new nuclear or coal plants to be built in California—that’s one of the reasons our electricity rates are so high.
But we still feel good about trying to meet our RPS goals and save the planet even if we fail. And the voters seem to think that’s OK since they rejected Proposition 23 to suspend the Global Warming Solutions Act on the November ballot effectively telling Sacramento to keep doing what you are doing.
Now Jerry Brown is on the hook to finish what he started the first time he was Governor. The 33% RPS goal is set by executive order not legislation and the state can hardly afford any more subsidies of anything.
The sum of our fears is the perfect storm of higher state taxes, higher electricity rates and continued high unemployment.
Forget it, I’m not giving up my old beer refrigerator in the garage to save energy!