Whispered into our private message window and combined with other information gleaned from within the AOC, it appears that the contractor heavy IT department has been instructed to reduce their use of contractors…….. wait for it………… by hiring them. In particular, they want to make FTE’s out of the people supporting CCMS that haven’t already been previously hired.
We’d like to point out that the AOC only started releasing accurate head count numbers only after we got a hold on their internal use only directory and published it here. According to our sources, this directory is and always has been the most accurate document reflecting active positions within the AOC.
There’s a really good article by Bill Girdner titled “Tough Sell” over at courthouse news. Hopefully Bill, Maria & co have been following the long beach fiasco and can also highlight how the AOC apparently concealed the total costs of this project until it was half-built. That would be a good story for them.
In the tough sell article Mr. Girdner covers the savvy business acumen of one of our judicial branch heroes spending hundreds of Woodrow Wilsons for a stellar rate of return of a few hundred George Washingtons. And you heretics out there had the audacity of accusing him of being an alchemist. Wait. Wasn’t he the director of finance that probably signed off on Long Beach? The gift that keeps on giving.
Dear Mr. Jahr is swimming up stream. He seems to think having the full faith and credit of the Judicial Council at his back gives him a mandate. In legislative circles however they’re wondering if this is all just a bad joke. Sure, the AOC has new faces at the Office of Governmental Affairs that indeed are more credible, but the legislature can’t seem to get past the fact that he who was the least credible was launched into a Chief Operating Officer position. The words “are you fucking kidding me?” have been uttered numerous times amongst legislative aides in Sacramento.
We don’t know if you noticed but in another thread Makara28 indicates he submitted three comments in regards to the latest ethics opinion that were not posted, so we suggested that he post them here because there seems to be less resistance to posting over there if the cat is already out of the bag over here. Case in point, Mr. Paul’s letters – but they want to make him out to be a nutbag so they publish them. So it was with both glee and some surprise that we were able to view what was rejected for posting by the Ministry of Truth and Enlightenment over at the AOC and it is worth repeating here. Note to makara28 – highlighting hypocrisy is the biggest no-no of all at the Ministry of Truth and Enlightenment.
Someone must warn the Judicial Council that my very own Chief Justice (it’s okay, the Chief Justice uses the same fond intimacy in referring to trial courts as “my courts”) will commit ethics violations if she ever again speaks as freely as she did at the meeting of the Judges Association in Monterey. On October 14, 2012 my Chief Justice revealed she “whispers in the ears of a few attorney organizations” to ask them to arrange a reception to wow newly-elected legislators and offer them “swag bags with goodies”. If other judges follow her example and, at her urging, “whisper with one voice”, the wave of ethics violations would overwhelm the disciplinary agency, and forever tarnish the reputation of the Judicial Branch.
So, if the link for comments ever heals up, I hope someone takes the initiative to urge the JC to put more thought into this rule. It could potentially destroy the lives of hundreds of honest judges who, merely by the free expression of their one voice, would soon be charged with ethics violations. Many of you have seen it, but here is the comment, which, if history is kind to my Chief Justice, will be deleted from the internet as efficiently as the JC censors unfavorable public comments (and now I’m miffed as to how mine was considered as such since I simply took a stand for my Chief Justice’s and other judges’ right to make these sort of statements):
“We want to meet those 40 legislators as soon as possible. We want a reception of some sort. And so I’m not sure honestly whether the Judicial Council or CJA can do it, so I’ve kind of whispered in the ears of a few attorney organizations that, gee, wouldn’t it be nice if we paid for a reception and invited the Judicial Council and all the judges to be there ….”
Note from JCW: The link above for comments has healed up. Actually, we bandaged it. Our bad. Also: rules of court apply to serf judges that don’t have a seat in the Star Chamber. You would need to follow this bunch like we do to know that.
If there were two words that could best describe what is happening in our court system those two words would be “complete disarray”. A few threads back Anonymous posted a craigslist ad for a Fiscal Director for Mono County Courts. http://sacramento.craigslist.org/gov/3397864678.html Now I suppose that I don’t need to point out that the fiscal director will probably be the one carrying the ball under government code 13324 and the personal liability associated with the same. That 65K-85K isn’t going to go far…
Let us not forget that these laws were all enacted in better times and under King George’s iron fist. If the reserves are swept then it is only fair that the two pieces of government code that have court execs and presiding judges alike terrified to do their jobs be removed from the books. Is the Office of Governmental Affairs lobbying to get these laws removed? Word on the street is they’re actually counting on them to reign in rogue courts and vocal judges.
The next hot thing: Baseline funding. Baseline funding is the amount of funding that is divvy’d up between courts based on now ancient formulas. Initially courts were told that these amounts could never be changed, so some courts in the well-to-do coastal counties received greater baseline funding because their counties could support them well. The challenge has always been inland in what is known as “cow counties” where the sales tax might be as low as three full percentage points lower than coastal counties and those courts weren’t funded as well. Enter in the dot com craze. During the dot com buildup, affordable housing was something achievable only by driving at least 100 miles inland from the coast. And so, developers built in these cow counties, many of which are now the poster childs of the real estate meltdown. But justice did not keep up with growth and now these same counties are suffering with an avalanche of caseload and no funds to keep the doors open. DOF and the legislature have hinted that after 14 years of have/have not disparity, if the JC wants any more money for the trial courts it must first address the funding disparities between the well-to-do courts and the poor courts. Without a funding commitment everything stands to be reduced to the lowest common denominator. Baseline funding shouldn’t be based on percentages being divvy’d up because in that rat race, the AOC gives the courts an 18% haircut to fund their own operations. Baseline funding should be what it costs to operate the courts efficiently – and those monies should be committed by the legislature and entirely bypass the AOC.
Legislative low fruit – Across the country, assigned judges programs have been dismantled. The State of California pays over 26 million dollars a year for the assigned judges program operated by the AOC. This program needs some legislative revisiting and until then, the line-item funding for it should be terminated. Now we wouldn’t necessarily feel this way if the program wasn’t being abused by some, but it is being abused as a way to assign unelected judges to the same bench for greater that 20 years in one case, and greater than 10 years in several other cases. And yet the assigned judges program should fund a temporary stay in a court for a short period of no more than 60-90 days according to the laws on the books. And it is being abused. Since it is being abused, it should be a budgetary line item that should be redirected for court operations.