Tell Me More – Government Code 70374

Posted on May 23, 2011

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On Febuary 27th, 2011 JCW posted an article titled “Another fine example of Bill Vickrey’s Gross Mismanagement” and that article seems to have created far more questions than it answered. Chief among them is how could the AOC spend all monies attached to a trial court without that trial court’s knowledge, consent or accounting when 25% of those funds were designated for local projects?

That commentary seems to have piqued lots of interest throughout the California Courts with both JCW and one of our media partners being contacted about different fact-finding missions different entities are pursuing. It seems that some of these courts had plans they couldn’t execute on due to a lack of available funds. Funds that should have been available under Government Code 70374 but were spent.

Government Code 70374(d)(1)

(d) (1) Except as provided in Section 70374.2 and paragraph (2) of
this subdivision, 25 percent of all moneys collected for the State
Court Facilities Construction Fund from any county shall be
designated for implementation of trial court projects in that county.
The Judicial Council shall determine the local projects after
consulting with the trial court in that county and based on the
locally approved trial court facilities master plan for that county.

Just a little digging working one single county discovered that the local court, more often than not, used its own money for projects because the 25% that was supposed to be set aside wasn’t. It’s speculated that these monies vaporized into automatic service work orders. It is this 25% set-aside that gives every trial court a vested interest in these facilities maintenance contracts, especially when the AOC steers the work to them on a no-bid basis at unconscionable pricing. How much money has the AOC collected and not set aside for trial courts in accordance with Government Code 70374(d)(1)? This post will be a build-a-post with updates that will be appended to as we get more information and other parties. What it appears though is that this costly adventure into building maintenance is leeching these funds dry long before the end of any fiscal year – and those funds appear to include the local project set-aside money.

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This weekend JCW received two curious anonymous messages in our private message window that makes the following claims:

The service area defined by the Southern Regional Office of the Office of Court Construction & Management’s facilities maintenance program is in shambles. Dozens of people have been laid off at both Jacobs and ABM and buildings being undermanned or unmanned. In one service area previously serviced by (undisclosed number over 12) maintenance people spread between a (undisclosed number under 6) buildings, there is only one person currently servicing all of these buildings. High-rise courts that were previously manned by crews are manned by just one person. The AOC is not approving any service work orders for preventive maintenance in any of these buildings due to the news stories about costs. In some cases, there are air filters that are supposed to be changed every sixty days that have not been changed in eight months. Lightbulb changes are only approved in groups of lightbulbs, not individual bulbs. The AOC has stopped issuing work orders in SRO.

The second message pertains to Riverside Hall of Justice and makes the following claims:

The AOC was screwed over on the Riverside HOJ. The winning bidder started out at $250,000.00 more than the low bidder for that job. By the time change orders were done, that added an additional $400,000.00 to the price tag and it still doesn’t work right. As an example, there is an after-hours button that is supposed to enable air in the building after hours. After spending $650,000.00 more than the lowest bidder this button does nothing.

We’ve chosen to post these two messages and let others verify their accuracy. If they are inaccurate statements then they should be clarified or corrected.