Monday, February 8, 2010, 09:50 PM - Political developmentsIt can't have been a good weekend for Insurance Commissioner Poizner.
The Super Bowl airwaves were full of Meg Whitman ads. Whitman refuses to debate Poizner at the Republican convention, but she has no problem getting up on TV.
Far behind in polling, Poizner has unleashed almost no media presence with his own cash pile of $17.7 million (that reflects the $19 million he's given his own campaign).
It looks like contributors aren't flocking to his cause. Today the Secretary of State web site reveals that Poizner has received just one contribution of $5,000 so far in 2010:
http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/ca ... ner-h.html
For a candidate headed into a major battle, that's beyond weak. It's emblematic of a failing campaign.
How can this guy compete if he doesn't have a fundraising operation and if he doesn't spend some of his own cash to generate some public enthusiasm?
What is the Commish waiting for?
Friday, February 5, 2010, 10:22 PM - Political developmentsIn a stinging challenge to the California Division of Workers' Compensation, the Democratic legislative leadership has demanded answers as to the DWC's intentions regarding revision of the permanent disability rating schedule.
This story was revealed in a flash report late yesterday by the Workers' Comp Executive, one of the leading publications in the workers comp press. Here is a link to the article, which includes an unsigned copy of the letter to DWC acting administrator Carrie Nevans:
http://www.wcexec.com/Legislature-Deman ... -PDRS.aspx
The letter, (which I assume has actually been sent, though it appears in draft form on the WCExec site), apparently from Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Senator Mark DeSaulnier (Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations) and Assemblyman Jose Solorio (Chair of the Assembly Insurance Committee), notes that the Labor Code Section 4660(c) mandated a revision of the PDRS and that failure to meet the deadline "is a flagrant violation of the law and legislative intent", which require updating of the schedule every 5 years.
The letter notes that "...we were quite surprised to learn from media reports in late December that the Division did not intend to update the Permanent Disability Ratings Schedule due to a belief that the legislature may amend the statutory language underpinning the schedule. While the Legislature is empowered to change the statute, and reserves the right to do so, such specious speculation is not a replacement or stand in for statutorily required action."
The reference to media reports apparently refers to quotes attributed to DWC spokesperson Susan Gard. Gard had indicated that the DWC had no plans to meet the Janulary 1, 2010 deadline to revise the PD schedule.
The letter demands the following:
-a response "explaining how the Division intends to return to compliance with their statutory requirements"
-a detailed timeline explaining plans to implement a revised PDRS
-"the regulatory and, if necessary, statutory actions the Division intends to pursue to make whole the permanently disabled workers who
were adversely affected" by the delay in developing a new schedule
I'll be covering the response by Gard or her superiors, Carrie Nevans and John Duncan.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010, 09:35 PM - Political developmentsA few years ago I sat for dinner at a big birthday party with a group of friends. In the room there were a couple of psychologists.....an estate planning lawyer.....a doctor.... a real estate guy....a business consultant...
Looking around the room, everyone had some sort of challenge.
Some were between relationships, having to choose whether to plunge back into the wonderful world of dating or whether to retire from the dating scene.
Some were over-employed workaholics. Others were between jobs. And others were underemployed, in jobs that no longer interested them.
Some seemed to have life's necessities nailed down, but still sought more connection and meaning. Some were spoiled brats who had it all. Others were just struggling to keep their head above water.
For some, it was hard to know what to work on first. When you have a demanding job and demanding family or relationship issues, something has to give. Others needed to get in the gym more to lose weight to feel better to have a better self image to feel more confident to have a relationship to have a family life. Round and round in the circle game.
A few of us started talking. Many of us could use a life-tune up.
Our cars went for tune-ups. Our pets went for grooming. The cable TV guy came to tune up our service.
We saw doctors. Accountants. Dating service consultants. Estate planners. Some of us hired personal organizers. Others had ministers or rabbis or gurus. Some had personal trainers. Some had headhunter advisers.
Could there be a market for one-stop life tuneup?, some of us mused.
A place where you could go to get a handle on how all the multiple life strands combine to overwhelm us.
In our fantasy we vowed to create a retreat. We'd have a gym, a personal trainer, a dating relationship consultant, a psychologist, vocational advisers, financial planners, and a list of other arcane disciplines. We'd work to get to the bottom of what ails the soul. We'd work to extinguish the modern angst.
It never came to pass, of course. Perhaps somewhere such programs exist for members of the jet set.
But our efforts are usually more disjointed. Most of us lack the comprehensive approach to life or the vision or money to seek it.
But there has been a recent trend toward personal coaches or life coaches:
In the workers' comp world, could this be helpful to some disabled workers? With vocational rehab a thing of the past, could some workers use life coaching if it helped give them perspective and tools to set goals?
As an attorney with decades in the field, I'd say yes. As with any professional service, the quality of the service is key. But many injured workers are buffeted by so many problems that they don't know where to start. And the caregivers working with these workers are often focused on "procedures" rather than results. After years of "procedures" many are still in pain, broke, and angry.
The injury affects their income. Their sex life. Their sleep. Their family life. Their motivation. Their morale. The list goes on and on. Many of these folks could use a quality personal coach to help them identify priorities and strategies for getting back on track. A coach who would not provide answers, but who would provide perspective and guidance.
A bit of a life tune up might go a long way.
Monday, February 1, 2010, 09:58 PM - Political developmentsMeg Whitman's gubernatorial campaign appears to have jumped the shark.
Whitman campaign advisor Mike Murphy has sent an e-mail to California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (Whitman's rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination), threatening Poizner if he does not reconsider his gubernatorial run.
It follows a threat to put Poizner "through the wood chopper".
That's a thinly veiled reference to the movie Fargo, where actor Steve Buscemi was thrown into a wood chopper.
Murphy's e-mail is telling in its display of arrogance. Murphy says ..."we can spend $40M tearing up Steve if we must..." It's just one more example of the emerging Whitman strategy: buy the governorship, no matter what it costs.
I'm not a Poizner supporter, but I must admit that he has shown a great deal of backbone in resisting pressure from California comp insurers to raise rates. Today he showed backbone in defying the Whitman campaign's threats.
Whitman appears to be ready to spend whatever it takes to achieve her goal: to buy the California statehouse.
But Poizner, using jiujitsu tactics, won this round. Whitman's campaign is on the mat on this one.
A central narrative of Whitman's campaign is competence and managerial talent. But if you have trouble managing the consultants and political advisers who staff your campaign, it sends a poor message.
Poizner wrote to AG Jerry Brown (that's a strange twist), the FBI, and various U.S. Attorneys, asking for an investigation on the following grounds:
-California Election Code Sec. 18205 (prohibits inducing by way of money or other valuable consideration) a person to withdraw as, or not become, a candidate for public office
-18. U.S.C. Sec 875(d) (Federal anti extortion statute)
-18 U.S.C. Sec. 1952 (another Federal anti-extortion statute)
-18 U.S.C. 1343 (Federal law prohibiting fraud to deprive people of rights)
Little may come of Poizner's call for an investigation. But Whitman's campaign stepped in some public relations manure on this one.
This race will be interesting.
I'll be commenting from time to time on the Governor's race. The outcome of that election will probably have profound consequences for the California workers' comp system.
Sunday, January 31, 2010, 11:49 AM - Political developmentsThis week a report from the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) questions salary reductions of state personnel who are funded through targeted and user-funded mechanisms:
http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2010/stad ... 012710.pdf
The Workers' Comp Appeals Board is "user funded" by assessments on employers. Those assessments also fund Cal-OSHA and labor standards enforcement activities.
But WCAB staff have been subject to furloughs. The Governor plans salary cuts from which the WCAB staff would not be exempted. This is causing great consternation among WCAB staff and staff at other user funded agencies.
The LAO report by Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor notes that:
"It is unclear, however, why the administration chooses to implement the 5 percent unallocated cuts to parts of personnel budgets not funded by the General Fund. The administration's rationale communicated to our office-that the overall size of state government is too large-is arbitrary and not based on any reviews of specific program workloads or personnel effectiveness."
The LAO recommends to the legislature:
"The administration has not put forth a credible rationale why unallocated reductions should be extended to personnel expenses funded by special funds, federal funds, or other nongovernmental funds.
If the Legislature chooses to implement unallocated personnel reductions, we believe that it should do so only for General Fund personnel budgets in departments."
Will the administration back off its plan? Or will they trot out another lame spokesperson to defend this policy?
We shall see.