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Friday, December 9, 2016

More than expected but...

The state controller has released her cash report through November. About $200 million more has arrived in the General Fund than was projected for that period when the state budget was enacted. That's the good news. But of the three big taxes - personal income tax, sales tax, and corporate tax - only the first is ahead of projections. The other two are behind. So the state remains highly dependent on the economic fate of top income earners and thus is especially vulnerable to any downturns that may come along.

You can find the cash report at:
http://sco.ca.gov/Files-ARD/CASH/05%20November%202016.pdf

Attitudes

Concerning Public Higher Ed in California:
[Click on image to enlarge.]
Table above from the latest public opinion survey of the Public Policy Institute of California on public higher ed:
http://ppic.org/content/pubs/survey/S_1216MBS.pdf

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Empty Rooms?

The UCLA Grand Hotel is circulating an ad to university employees:

Treat yourself...
to a holiday stay at the newly unwrapped Luskin Conference Center!

Make the new Luskin Conference Center your home base for the holidays while you enjoy all that Los Angeles has to offer this winter. From holiday shopping and catching a show at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance to simply celebrating the season, the 
Luskin Conference Center is the perfect place to stay. 

Use the promo code below to take advantage of our special Bruin holiday rate of $139 per night, exclusively for UCLA faculty and staff. This special holiday rate is for stays from now through January 5, 2017, based on availability (blackout dates apply). At least one guest must be a UCLA faculty or staff member. Must present a valid BruinCard at check-in to confirm eligibility. 

Reserve online now @ 
lcc.ucla.edu/reserve | Use Promo Code: HOLIDAY2N 
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Oddly, if you go on the Grand Hotel website, you find:

Holiday Closure Notice
The UCLA campus will be closed for the winter holiday from Friday, December 23, 2016 through Monday, January 2, 2017. In keeping with the campus schedule, the Luskin Conference Center will also be closed during this time period. 

So a lot of the holiday is not available. Moreover, it's not obvious that staying at the hotel for the purpose of "holiday shopping" or "celebrating the season" is a university use, whether or not the guest is connected to UCLA.

Landing Zone

Former UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is in position to lead the school’s Feminist Research Institute.
The program, established in 2015, funds and promotes the study of how gender, sexuality, race and other social structures affect research, according to its website.
The Feminist Research Institute board filed a request in November to name Katehi its new director, said UC Davis spokeswoman Dana Topousis. The decision will be made by interim Vice Chancellor for Research Cameron S. Carter and isn’t likely to happen until next year, she said.

The research institute staff includes two faculty members who currently serve as co-directors. Its board consists of nine female faculty members from the humanities and sciences.
Katehi, 62, resigned as chancellor in August after facing months of criticism for accepting lucrative board seats with private education companies and spending heavily on image-enhancing firms to cleanse her reputation after the 2011 police pepper-spraying of students, based on reporting by The Sacramento Bee.
Further allegations and statements made by Katehi prompted UC President Janet Napolitano to launch a three-month investigation of her actions. She was cleared of the most serious allegations of nepotism and misuse of student funds, but found to have violated multiple university policies, exercised poor judgment and been dishonest with Napolitano and the public, according to UC officials.
As chancellor, Katehi focused on increasing the number of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. She told the Davis Enterprise in October that she wanted to create a center focused on the “social, political and education needs of women.”
Members of the Feminist Research Institute board did not return emails or phone calls this week...

You can ignore it

If you are in the UC Blue Shield plan, you may have received a letter about your being dropped from the drug plan. Ignore it. It is part of the transition (back) to Blue Cross.

Transitioning from Blue Shield to Blue Cross: Disregard Dis-Enrollment Letter

Beginning January 1, UC will replace Blue Shield with Anthem Blue Cross as the administrator for its PPO plans. If you are a Blue Shield member, you will receive a letter saying that you will be dis-enrolled from Blue Shield effective Jan. 1, 2017. Please disregard that letter. All Blue Shield members will be automatically changed over to Anthem Blue Cross effective Jan. 1 unless you made another choice during Open Enrollment. Watch your mail for new Anthem ID cards, and an OptumRx welcome package, that will arrive in late December. Please update your doctors and pharmacies with your new Anthem ID information on or after Jan. 1. If you are using PrimeMail mailorder pharmacy under Blue Shield, you will need to change to OptumRx for mailorder medications beginning Jan. 1.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Crisp Account of Bad Tea Leaves for UC

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — If the number and tenor of questions addressed to each side during oral arguments in the CRISPR patent fight is any indication of what the patent judges are thinking, the University of California has a steep hill to climb if it wants to overturn the 2014 decision awarding key CRISPR patents to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and win them for itself.

A 45-minute hearing on Tuesday morning before a three-judge panel of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, the arm of the US Patent and Trademark Office that hears challenges to patent decisions, offered the only oral arguments in the bitter fight over whether UC or the Broad deserves key patents on the CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing technology. The Broad was granted its first such patent in April 2014, nearly two years after Feng Zhang and his colleagues engineered CRISPR-Cas9 to edit mammalian genomes.

“My gut-level impression is that the questioning of the Broad’s attorney was really light, but they grilled UC a lot more,” Jacob Sherkow, a patent expert at New York Law School who has followed the CRISPR case closely, said right after the hearing adjourned. “The heat of the questions is not perfectly indicative of the outcome, but if you read the tea leaves, it was bad for UC.”...

Full story at https://www.statnews.com/2016/12/06/crispr-court-hearing-broad-california/

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The UCLA Forecast

The UCLA Anderson Forecast took place at our favorite UCLA Grand Hotel. A news release summarized the highlights which is essentially that the Forecast had to be revised because it was assumed pre-Election Day that Clinton would win.* None of the speakers could say for sure exactly what Trump would do for all the obvious reasons. But it was assumed that one thing likely to be passed by Congress was a tax cut, i.e., a fiscal stimulus. Such stimulus tends to bump up real economic activity but with the economy already down to 4.6% unemployment, the added stimulus is likely to have some inflationary effect and trigger the Fed - with new Trump-nominated leadership - to push up interest rates. One paradoxical result is more imports as consumption rises - despite the Trump emphasis on improving the trade balance. The local LA economy tends to benefit in its logistics sector (ports and related) from more trade. If a trade war is ignited, of course, there would be less trade. California - which still has a significant (although reduced) defense sector - could benefit from more military spending, if that occurs. There was some skepticism about a big infrastructure program but whatever there is, California might get some benefit (unless the powers-that-be in DC decide to punish California for its immigration stance). There was skepticism about a mass immigrant deportation effort. But who knows, really?
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*http://blogs.anderson.ucla.edu/anderson/2016/12/ucla-anderson-forecast-the-new-economy-under-a-new-administration.html