State Senate Fails to Confirm Anti-Bargaining UC Regent

Former UC Regent David Crane, who served on the Board of Regents since his controversial nomination by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in December 2010, lost his seat on the board after being denied the state Senate confirmation required within one year of his appointment.

A former partner at multibillion-dollar investment firm Babcock & Brown and once Schwarzenegger’s top economic adviser, Crane became known for his stance against public employees’ collective bargaining. In addition to a UC Berkeley Faculty Association petition calling on Governor Jerry Brown to rescind Crane’s nomination, UC workers and unions gathered at UC San Francisco in March to protest his appointment.

In an op-ed piece published in the San Francisco Chronicle last February, Crane said state spending on compensation and benefits for public employees consumes much of state revenue, ultimately causing taxes and student tuition to rise.

“Collective bargaining is a good thing when it’s needed to equalize power, but when public employees already have that equality because of civil service protections, collective bargaining in the public sector serves to reduce benefits for citizens and to raise costs for taxpayers,” Crane wrote.

In a statement released last month, state Senator Leland Yee said Crane’s political beliefs stand in opposition to the direction the university system should head.

“Students deserve to have someone who will fight for them and ensure their needs are addressed,” Yee said in the press release. “Considering recent efforts to privatize the University of California, yet another millionaire investor for a Regent is the last thing students need to protect their public university.”

Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Ahmed Mostafa said Crane’s failure to be confirmed by the Senate stemmed from Schwarzenegger’s original decision to make the appointment without consent from the academic community.

“When the governor appoints all the Regents … they’re supposed to take into account both the academic Senate and the students’ opinion,” Mostafa said. “I think it’s very important to understand that when Crane was initially appointed, Schwarzenegger did not take into perspective the academic Senate or the students.”

Contrastingly, UC Office of the President Media Relations Director Steve Montiel referred to a Dec. 29 San Francisco Chronicle editorial titled “UC Regent Crane Ousted for Telling Hard Truths,” which concludes that Crane “is the type of advocate and truth teller who belongs on the Board of Regents.”

According to Montiel, the Senate’s inaction guaranteed that Crane would be able to finish out his contentious stint on the board.

“By not acting one way or the other on confirmation of David Crane as a member of the University of California Board of Regents, the state Senate at least ensured he could serve as a regent for the entire year,” Montiel said in an email.