Truth be told, we never left the saddle.
As we entered into 2012 the first indication that CCMS was dead was on December 20th, 2011 when we announced with the assistance of Tonto (You remember him, the really nice house on the hill in Danville with the really nice yard that had been under a near perpetual state of remodeling for years….) that Mark Moore was leaving his position as chief bottlewasher for the CCMS boondoggle to take a position with Minnesota’s judicial branch. The same Minnesota judicial branch that already solved their case management issues by adopting Tyler Technologies case management systems statewide.
Branch leadership refused to admit at that time that the project was dead even though we had done a series of articles amounting to a technical assault about how the technology employed could never work reliably without having an ultra-high speed redundant network backbone. Enter the failed partnership with philanthropist Dr. Patrick Soon-Shong and National Lambda Rail, the backbone that Mark Moore knew was required to make CCMS possible. When the last mile costs were calculated to each courthouse, the billionaire’s proposed NLR gift was a drop in the bucket. Had it pushed forward, the taxpayers would have been footing the bill for those last mile costs, thereby expanding NLR at little to no cost to the good doctor. With the NLR connection looking like a losing proposition, Mr. Moore bailed. Of course he did the taxpayers a major disservice by not coming clean and reaffirming everything we had been telling you about these projects.
While we assaulted the faulty technology, the Alliance of California Judges was independently assaulting the CCMS price tag, the many conflicts of interests of the proposed NLR deal as well as the efficacy of placing sealed court records in the hands of an out-of-state third party. It was on December 30th that the AOC finally announced that the NLR deal was dead. Because they are obstinate, arrogant and lack any form of humility whatsoever, it would take the judicial council nearly 4 additional months to make up a bullshit cover story about how CCMS V4 works but they just don’t have the money to deploy it.
Of course, we were the ones who also pointed out that both Justice Bruniers, now a pariah among his peers and the rest of the branch and Mark Moore had re-scoped the project in 2011, separating out a raft of required development to make CCMS functional in the courts. Things like migration tools that needed to be coded, connectors to justice partners that still needed to be coded – all the stuff necessary to make CCMS functional was pushed out of development and called a deployment cost. This allowed them to declare CCMS finished, it allowed them to accept as complete a product that was far from complete but worst of all, it started the license plate warranty ticking (License plate warranty: Warranty is up when you lose sight of the cars license plate) Essentially that meant that any bug discovered in deployment would be a cost to the brilliant negotiators at the AOC led by that stellar group of legal minds in the “Legal services office”. In other words, paid development would continue because bugs were not covered by the warranty which expired before the product was deployed to any court.
On March 27th, those that lack any form of humility and must always appear to be right announced the end of CCMS and our friend AOC watcher announced that their mission was complete. Unfortunately, the council didn’t come to this decision entirely on their own. It took an assembly subcommittee to pull the plug on funding CCMS for the muppets on the council to finally act and kill this thing.
The reason we stayed on the job is because someone proved to us beyond any reasonable doubt that the courthouse construction boondoggle was a far larger, far more expensive issue than CCMS. Both software development and construction are the top two methods of making the taxpayers part with their money for fraudulent personal gain and with generous exemptions to the public contract code, judges can be the legal benefactors of, say, land that is purchased to build courthouses or judges having an ownership interest in, say, unlicensed contractors that are performing overpriced work or even a partnership in a grossly overpriced PPP project. It will take the same legislature to freeze all construction, turn over all buildings, construction and maintenance responsibilities to DGS and return the judicial branch back to their core function of adjudicating cases. At least then some conflict of interest laws will apply….
On January 30th we found out that the state legislature was no longer buying the b.s. that the usual suspects along with Curtis Child and Donna Hershkowitz were trying to sell them and inserted major portions of AB1208 into legislation. For that maneuver we owe thanks to the many judges throughout the state that worked behind the scenes against the death star. While this included the Alliance of California Judges it also included dozens of other judges around the state who aren’t necessarily members of the Alliance. Next year they promise to be back conveying their message to the legislature about getting the courts back to the sound basics of adequate funding for open courts while reforming the death star via legislative intervention. It should be obvious by the Judicial Council’s SEC implementation notes that they have no intention whatsoever of implementing the most pressing items in the SEC report but instead are intent on re-arranging this horrific management team like one might re-arrange deck chairs on the sinking titanic.
We want them all gone.
The easiest way to accomplish that is a budget redirection of most of the AOC budget and a two year moratorium on the legislative reports that the legislature requires of the Judicial Council and the AOC. In that two years, the legislature could ballot a constitutional amendment to require Judicial Council elections and change the governance structure from one where appointed muppets only meet six times a year and present each other with awards to a council that takes their responsibilities seriously. It is also the only way to oust the committee chairs that are also appointed by the chief and that work from both the inside and the outside to keep honest, hardworking public servants from reforming this flawed governance model. Sure they tout transparency and accountability but have you witnessed even the slightest shred of transparency and accountability in their actions? Neither have we.
On Valentine’s day 2012 we learned that the new acting executive director Jyodiben Patel was going to elevate “Her dog spot” Curtis Soderlund to an executive position under her wing. It was to be expected as this is something that she has done for years. Was it a coincidence that this was announced on Valentine’s day? I think not.
March 2012 was a busy month where we found out that the legislature had slammed the brakes on financing CCMS further and that cuts to court reporters removed one of the only elements of accountability in the courtroom – the keeper of the records. Even though every litigant pays a court reporters fee with their filing we would find out from Victoria Henley what a lack of court reporting would mean to the CJP. What it would mean is that the CJP was crippled in numerous cases and unable to perform their function because there was no record. It would also mean appeals where one failed to hire their own court reporter even though they paid a fee for a court reporter to be present would be unlikely for there is no record without a court reporter creating one. The alarm bells haven’t been heard in Sacramento over this yet. Perhaps they aren’t loud enough.
Also in March an assembly subcommittee would terminate CCMS funding and later that month the muppets on the council would announce that CCMS is complete but they didn’t have the money to deploy it. It was also nice to see and photograph the many people of SEIU 1021 and San Francisco Superior Court who were protesting CCMS on the AOC’s doorstep despite the inclement weather.
On April 5th we would discover that our state judges would get a heavily redacted copy of the contract between Deloitte and the AOC which sent red flags up nearly every flagpole in the state and thoroughly outlined how non-transparent and unaccountable those who give lip service to these things really are. Also on April 5th, we would outline the apparatus that defined the AOC’s Ministry of Truth operations which would later lead to the public-facing portion of it being dismantled under the guise of AOC layoffs. Get rid of the people that deal with the journalists and it appears you’ve made great strides at reform but as we know, appearances with this group are incredibly deceiving which is why we and our sponsor continues to work with the media until our goals are accomplished. Yes, we beat the ministry of truth at their own game but then they changed the rules and leveraged legal publications who fear a loss of access to carry their message for them. By the way, how’s that working out?
On May 5th we would learn that the AOC vs. Jacobs trial would end exactly the way that Michael Paul had outlined insofar as the AOC created the narrow safe harbor under MW erectors that did not previously exist and that Jacobs would win this case, thereby indemnifying four unlicensed contractors for their participation in Judicial Branch business and indemnifying the AOC employees that improperly hired them.
May was a fairly busy month with the release of the May Revise that gutted trial court budgets and left the AOC on easy street. Clearly, those that have no control paid the price for those who had been abusing control all of this time. Later in the month the Judicial Council would release the Strategic Evaluation Committee report in advance of a three day weekend so that it would mitigate the press coverage. And it worked. Even though the report called for a total overhaul of the AOC and was backed by the recommendations of about 460 state judges, the Judicial Council chose instead to deliberate for the next eighteen months for implementation of the report while sidelining many of its most meaningful reforms. Basically, they are buying time in eighteen month segments in the hope that enough time will pass so that you forget that it is the same bumblers that are still in charge with different titles. Change you can believe in? Hardly.
June 02, Mike Feuer recommends that the AOC be trimmed down to 770 employees and that the assigned judges program be eliminated and we kept hammering away at what was left of the Ministry of Truth. About mid month, the AOC let go 29 employees including most of the media facing elements of the ministry of truth so it appears they actually did something. It was only window dressing designed to conceal their current hiring binge of converting 70+ contractors to employees. We would also learn about the 98 people that telecommute to the AOC from as far as Switzerland and Minnesota and Maryland.
In July we learned that all the people supposedly laid off were actually fired with cause and told that if they want to be able to collect unemployment, they better sign a non-disclosure agreement and the AOC will convert the terminations to layoffs. Most everyone took the deal. July would also bring news that the nationwide manhunt for a new executive director would result in a centralization proponent and insider being appointed from a tiny northern California court. Now that’s change you can believe in! Not. July would also bring an endless summer of SEC comments from judges statewide with a vast majority endorsing full implementation and not the selective implementation that is going on now. Over 500 people weighed in and were largely ignored by the central politburo.
In August we would learn that AOC employees had been getting raises even though the rest of the judicial branch was taking cuts and laying people off. We would also learn that the AOC was selling vacated courthouses in August. We would also learn that Paul Jones was the AOC’s media boy friday insofar as he was leaked the Pegasus report ahead of everyone else- and then the devastating Pegasus report was released late on a Friday afternoon to mitigate media coverage….and again, this strategy worked even though the report itself was devastating and outlined the mismanagement of the construction program.
In September the AOC would announce the entire leadership team to include a person who should have been given walking papers, one Curtis Child. As a lobbyist he had zero credibility with the legislature so the AOC did what any corrupt entity with something to hide would do. They promoted him! We would also begin to learn the skyrocket costs of the Long Beach courthouse PPP project as the judicial branch sought to shift that financial liability from the AOC to the legislature. A courthouse about the same square footage of a federal courthouse going up across town and costing 40% more than that project. The numbers were and still are mind-numbing.
We’ll continue later with this year in review to cover the closing months so check back.
As a closing message to those in the judicial council and those that manage the AOC, we have a message for you. We will be haunting you until democracy comes to the judicial council and we don’t ever intend to be nice about it.
Welcome to the Jungle-