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Government Cellphones Handhelds Your Rights Online

Jerry Brown Confiscates 48,000 Cell Phones 738

Posted by samzenpus
from the suede-denim-secret-police dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Sacramento Bee reports that California Governor Jerry Brown, in his first executive order since taking office, has ordered the collection and return of 48,000 state government-paid cell phones — half of those now in use — by June 1. 'It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with taxpayer-funded cell phones,' says Brown in a written statement. 'Some state employees, including department and agency executives who are required to be in touch 24 hours a day and seven days a week, may need cell phones, but the current number of phones out there is astounding.' Brown's cell phone order directs state agency and department heads to retrieve the cell phones and the governor says he plans to continue reducing cell phone usage in months ahead. 'In the face of a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, a cell phone may not seem like a big expense,' adds Brown. 'But spending $20 million, and perhaps far more than that, on cell phones can't be justified.'"
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Jerry Brown Confiscates 48,000 Cell Phones

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  • YRO? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:38PM (#34851488)

    First off, this was covered in every news outlet in the country, yesterday. Second, what the fuck does this have to do with anyone's rights online?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GeorgeMonroy (784609)

      It has absolutely nothing to do with any rights.

    • And, while I'm feeling vaguely 'insightful' ;) - The USA (much as I love it) is NOT the rest of the world, who might still have an interest in the story. Should have used my mod points, instead of feeding the troll.
      • And, while I'm feeling vaguely 'insightful' ;) - The USA (much as I love it) is NOT the rest of the world, who might still have an interest in the story.

        Should have used my mod points, instead of feeding the troll.

        Last time I checked, California was something like the world's 5th biggest economy, so it's kind of a big deal whether or not the state goes bankrupt.

        • Going bankrupt doesn't usually mean ceasing to exist.
          • by jonbryce (703250)

            No, but "when America sneezes, the world catches a cold". Living in Europe, I am aware that the possibility of sovreign defaults in Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain and Belgium is concerning a lot of people. I live in the UK, and an Irish sovreign default would directly impact me. The Sovreign default in Iceland impacted a lot of people in the UK, even though that has an economy the size of a small neighbourhood in Los Angeles.

            So if you are not interested in the possibility of California going bankrupt,

          • Re:YRO? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @04:05PM (#34852954) Journal

            Bankruptcy allows organizations to slough off all kinds of parasites and needless layers of crap. It's an opportunity for a business to reorganize within well defined guidelines.

            That's probably why the Government wouldn't allow Chrysler or GM to go bankrupt. There were too many parasites with an interest in things continuing along the way they were. All those Union dollars, and the entrenched management went wailing to Washington. Same as it ever was.

            Bankruptcy is not an endpoint. It's not even a problem. It's a solution.

            • Re:YRO? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @04:18PM (#34853184)

              So the workers who do the actual work, under a contract management freely signed are the parasites?

              Not the execs who walk away with golden parachutes after losing market share and billions?

              WTF is wrong with you?

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by FooAtWFU (699187)
                A large part of the California budget crisis can be squarely blamed on the pension system. For that you can blame Sacramento and the public-employee unions' lobbyists. Here's a snazzy little summary. Emphasis mine.

                In 1999 then California Governor Gray Davis signed into law a bill that represented the largest issuance of non-voter-approved debt in the state's history. The bill SB 400 granted billions of dollars in retroactive pension boosts to state employees, allowing retirements as young as age 50 with lif

              • Re:YRO? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @05:00PM (#34853798)

                So the workers who do the actual work, under a contract management freely signed are the parasites?

                Not the execs who walk away with golden parachutes after losing market share and billions?

                WTF is wrong with you?

                You do know that his phrase that most closely supports the idea that he considered the workers parasites included the people with the golden parachutes as parasites as well? "All those Union dollares, and the entrenched management..."
                So there is nothing wrong with him. He apparently considers the UAW and the management of GM and Chrysler to be equally parasites. I think that there is a good case to be made for that position (although parasites is not the word I would use).

          • by brainboyz (114458)

            See the LA Riots for what happens when people here think someone else was wronged. Imagine what happens when those same people think THEY were wronged because they are cut off from their government cheese or have it reduced.

        • Re:YRO? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:32PM (#34852450)

          Last time I checked, California was something like the world's 5th biggest economy, so it's kind of a big deal whether or not the state goes bankrupt.
           
          Not really. The state can go bankrupt and the California will still be the worlds 5th biggest economy. The state will just have learned a valuable lesson not to spend more than it can afford.

          • Re:YRO? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by sharky611aol.com (682311) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @04:01PM (#34852894)
            You actually think they'll learn a lesson? That's cute.
          • Re:YRO? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Jawnn (445279) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @04:53PM (#34853676)

            Last time I checked, California was something like the world's 5th biggest economy, so it's kind of a big deal whether or not the state goes bankrupt. Not really. The state can go bankrupt and the California will still be the worlds 5th biggest economy. The state will just have learned a valuable lesson not to spend more than it can afford.

            Wrong lesson, my friend. The voters of California need to learn that you can't do stupid shit like slashing the state's income (Prop 13, for those of you with a memory or an interest in history) and expect the same level of service. And oh, yes. Expect it they did. As soon as it was time to balance the books, there arose an immediate stream of bitching about what was wrong with the state, bad roads, worse schools, etc. "Cutting taxes" sounds fine, until you have to face the fact that you will no longer enjoy those things that those taxes provided.

            • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:49PM (#34855882)

              Wrong lesson, my friend. The voters of California need to learn that you can't do stupid shit like slashing the state's income (Prop 13, for those of you with a memory or an interest in history) and expect the same level of service.

              Actually the lesson was "starve the beast". Taxpayers in California figured out that politicians will *not* exercise self control, that they primarily view state spending as a vehicle to reward political supporters and garner additional supporters. That the only way to constrain politicians is to limit the amount of money they have available.

              What you ignore is that there is also tremendous wasteful spending along side vital services. The politician's countermove to reduced budgets is not to cut the waste or excess but to cut vital services as a political gambit and/or retaliation. Politicians want to manufacture a crisis in order to have their spending restored or left alone. Basically the politicians layoff police, firefighters and teachers to manufacture outcry rather than reduce administrators and overhead and stop vanity projects as the voters desire.

              California is not facing a reduction of vital services due to prop 13, it is due to political brinkmanship. The politicians believe they can make the voters blink first.

  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:42PM (#34851562)

    hang on, I know Arnie's left office but surely I haven't slipped back in some timewarp to the 70s?

    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/deadkennedys/californiauberalles.html [azlyrics.com]

    obviously they missed the verse about restricting communications :)

    • Jello a long time ago basically "took back" his paranoia of Jerry Brown. The updated version mentioning Ronald Reagan, "We've Got a Bigger Problem Now" basically spells it out.

  • by TheReaperD (937405) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:43PM (#34851566)

    Finally budget cuts that start at the top... what a concept!!!!

  • by ron_ivi (607351) <sdotno&cheapcomplexdevices,com> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:43PM (#34851570)

    Is this guy some sort of libertarian or pre-reagan-republican or something?

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Except meanwhile, nothing is being said about Calif's runaway pension obligations, which amount to billions of unfunded debt. And don't expect Brown to be the one to do anything about it... some of us still remember half-built freeways and other financial boondoggles.

      Penny wise and pound foolish, that would be CA's financial politics in a nutshell.

      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:22PM (#34852248)

        Except meanwhile, nothing is being said about Calif's runaway pension obligations.

        That can't generally be done for represented employees except via labor agreements; one of the last things the previous governor did was negotiate labor agreements with many bargaining units that both reduced pensions for new workers and increased pension contributions for all workers in those bargaining units. It seems likely (given that his proposed budget includes cuts for those units that have not yet reached new agreements that mirror those under the agreements reached by the previous governor) that Brown will seek similar provisions for in contracts for the remaining bargaining units.

    • by sneakyimp (1161443) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:50PM (#34851690)

      Actually he's a pre- and post-reagan *democrat* who was famous for balancing the budget back in the 70s by refusing to cut taxes.

      • by digsbo (1292334) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:57PM (#34851794)

        He's not a mainstream Democrat by any stretch. He's widely known for promoting zero-growth policies, which I doubt most modern Democrats would support. He was at one time something of an environmental extremist.

        Above all, he seems to be, whether you like him or not, a very principled guy, who has had trouble in mainstream politics due to being honest and uncompromising. Kind of a Ron Paul of the left. I don't like him, but I believe he is at least a sincere person with some degree of integrity.

        • by gknoy (899301) <gknoy@anasazi s y s t e m s .com> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:00PM (#34851862)

          Listening to him debate Meg Whitman, I was relieved that I felt both candidates would take the job seriously. I didn't think either would do a poor job, though there were some platform stances that I liked less from Jerry Brown. It was refreshing to feel that both candidates would be both driven and competent.

          • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:50PM (#34852744) Journal

            Listening to him debate Meg Whitman, I was relieved that I felt both candidates would take the job seriously. I didn't think either would do a poor job, though there were some platform stances that I liked less from Jerry Brown. It was refreshing to feel that both candidates would be both driven and competent.

            Personally I felt like Whitman was reading from a script or a memorised list of talking points, whereas Brown was thinking on his feet and actually understood what he was talking about. I've heard that from people who have actually questioned the candidates too, they said that Whitman would respond to questions from left field with a pre-prepared answer that just barely dealt with the gist of the question and then refused to take any follow up questions. Brown could deal with anything. The better man won.

        • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@y a h o o . c om> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:23PM (#34852260) Journal

          who has had trouble in mainstream politics due to being honest and uncompromising

          That would certainly explain his previous two terms as governor, plus his term as State Attorney General, plus his time as Mayor of Oakland. Yep, just a perennial loser in politics.

          • by digsbo (1292334)
            He's never had success outside of California - he can't hold any Federal office (maybe I should have said "trouble in Federal politics"). California may be big, but it's not mainstream. Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor there, for heaven's sake.
        • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:32PM (#34852458) Homepage Journal
          It really depends on where you are. In Texas the liberal areas, often cities, tend to me more fiscally conservative while the outlying areas tend to more conservative and likely to spend other peoples money. At least in Texas, the money is often concentrated in the city. For instance, in this fragile economy, the conservatives want to continue to build a road around the Exburbs of house. Sure this will be good and will create jobs, but spending half a billion of discretionary funds when the state deficit has been officially stated at at least 30 billion dollars seems fiscally irresponsible. Such money wasted on a road to nowhere is a conservative plan and benefits only the conservative rural area.

          And of course it is the conservatives in Texas who don't want an income tax. The problem is that Texas depends on sales tax, a tax which is not collected due to everyone ordering product from out of state. Of course the conservative legislature could create a new enforcement squad to collect these out of state taxes, thus destroying legitimatize businesses, or they could acknowledge a failed taxation model. Right now the sales tax is 6.25% If this tax was eliminated and replaced by a fixed income tax, say 3-5%, local business would no longer be at a huge disadvantage to Amazon and the like, and the average person, who spends all their income on goods, many taxed, would be no worse off. Of course, because conservative are more interested in dogma rather than conservative fiscal policy, this can never happen.

    • by countSudoku() (1047544) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:01PM (#34851866) Homepage

      He bills and is listed as a democrat, but in the real world hardcore left or hardcore right is not going to get any job done. Unless that job is gridlock. I don't think for a second that Meg Whiteman (I spelled it that way for a reason, smartasses) would be able to cut the budget as well as this state's budget needs it. The way she pissed away $140+ million dollars speaks volumes for her wasteful lifestyle and lack of experience. I'm glad to have voted for Obama and for Governor "Moonbeam." THIS is exactly the type of thinking we need to keep California within its budget and an example the red states need to stop the useless political bickering and get the FUCKING JOB DONE.

      More budget cuts and more openleaks/wikileaks! Obama did fail in making our government transparent. The "leakers" have fixed this. Brown also is slashing the salaries of many state agencies. More of the same is needed, and this is a step in the right direction. Stop the waste and fraud committed by both sides of the equation.

  • by slapout (93640) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:45PM (#34851616)

    Early termination fees may be more than $20 million....

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:46PM (#34851632) Homepage

    And why not require "executives" to provide themselves with phones at their own expense? They'll have them anyway.

  • Confiscates? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evro (18923) * <evandhoffmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:46PM (#34851634) Homepage Journal

    He runs the State of California, which owns (or is paying for) the phones. Sounds like he's saying "I want my phones back." Confiscating makes it sound like he's taking people's own property away from them.

  • by Sporkinum (655143) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:48PM (#34851660)

    Close your eyes, can't happen here
    Big Bro' on white horse is near
    The hippies won't come back you say
    Mellow out or you will pay
    Mellow out or you will pay!

  • Stipend (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _16s (1963724) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @02:50PM (#34851692)
    Some states use stipends. They don't provide cell phones to state employees, they say, "Look, here's 40 bucks a month. Use this to pay for work related calls on your personal cell phone." It's much cheaper and everyone is happy.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:06PM (#34851960)

    Such a tiny amount to close a multibillion dollar budget number. If even 25% of those employees use the phones effectively, then it will increase costs or lower quality of service.

    There are probably $5 million to $10 million of real savings there- the rest will have a cell phone again in a year because it turns out the job requires one.

    It's a good start-- but i hope they find some real meat.

    • by east coast (590680) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:18PM (#34852166)
      The problem with "real meat" in most budgets is that it means cutting service. Someone is going to have to do without something in order to put all the ducks back in a row and that someone is probably going to bitch and moan about it.

      For Jerry to do what he needs to do to really turn things around he'll never have a snowballs chance in hell for re-election to the post. Reform looks good on paper but in action it's an ugly thing.
  • by redelm (54142) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:12PM (#34852056) Homepage

    I'm not a State of Calif employee, but I would _LOVE_ it for my megacorp employer to take my issued cell phone away. Then I wouldn't have to handle out-of-hours calls! For free (I'm exempt staff). I'd just get a pers cellphone for ~$15/mo.

    All this instant connectivity is a race to the bottom. Employer funded competition between employees. Expectations get raised but must inevitably disappoint. There are only a few things that really benefit from instant reactivity, and you already know them.

    • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:59PM (#34852850) Homepage

      Then I wouldn't have to handle out-of-hours calls! For free (I'm exempt staff).

      Just practice saying these phrases and you should be able to manage after-hours calls a little better:

      "Really? Uh huh? Okay, I'll get right on that when I get into the office tomorrow."

      "Oh, there's an emergency? You'd better call someone about it. Let me know how it went on Monday."

      "Great, send me an email explaining everything you just said and I'll take a look at it in the morning."

      "You have reached your name here. I'm not in the office right now so please leave a message. *BEEP*"

  • by swschrad (312009) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @03:40PM (#34852592) Homepage Journal

    why, back in the day, when I was a sysadmin, they didn't let me take my hammer and stylus home, I had to carve all my clay tablets at work.

    the upside is, these guys now are AWAY FROM THE OFFICE !!! when they are away from the office. a lovely thing, more should try it.

    the downside is, they have to use their own minutes. and hard to see what the downside is, frankly.

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