Thank You TCBWG – Our work is far from over.

Posted on July 14, 2011

23


Mission Not Accomplished.

Yesterday after a seven hour meeting of the trial court budget working group, the parties agreed in principle to an 8.8% reduction to the trial courts, a 12% reduction to the Judicial Council and its administrative arm, the AOC and a one year hold on a defective application that is not ready for deployment. The latter part concerns us the most because we want to see this program gutted of everything but essential support services for those who already have the program. The AOC had planned to spend 125 million this year on this vaporware crapplet that was riddled with bugs. While the plan was to deploy the application to the early adopters, the AOC has not met any of the criteria to even consider deployment.

Mark Moore accepted the vaporware crapplet as complete, knowing it was riddled with major bugs and insurmoutable architectural challenges. Nowhere in any editorial, nowhere in any op-ed, nowhere in any AOC press release have you seen any challenge to what the trial courts have written about this program, courthouse news has written about this program or what we have written about this program. In fact, as usual, the silence from the AOC is deafing regarding all of the challenges brought up by all parties.

So exactly, what does a one year deployment delay on an application riddled with bugs and insurmountable architectural challenges mean when that program has a $125 million dollar budget? Frankly, we don’t know. If we were in the AOC’s shoes, lying to the public about this program, lying to the judiciary about this program and lying to the legislature about this program, why stop lying to everyone now? I mean, was that 125 million for deployment services? Was it to fix the bug-riddled application? Was it to continue development on the application or was it a little of each? What was the 125 million for? These are the elements that need to be scrutinized in greater detail because if the application was riddled with bugs and wasn’t ready, 125 million might still be able to get dumped into the development of the program while you delay deployment. We believe that you want to know where every dime budgeted for CCMS goes in this proposal before and after the work of the trial court budget working group. Delaying deployment could concievably leave all 125 million in the AOC’s hands and we’re betting that we’re not far off the mark on this as the cuts to the trial courts remain too deep and the cuts to the AOC remain too few.

Bloated with a management ratio of 1 manager to every 2.7 workers, Tonto has indicated that the AOC will not be filling vacant positons. Let’s discuss this “vacant position” bullshit. Currently, the AOC is using temps and consultants and backfilling them in vacant positions as to show them as being filled. Case in point: Recently, the Human Resources department re-contracted for two labor relations negotiators. These labor relations negotiators chosen are private employment law attorneys in private practice with their own clients having their contracts renewed every 90 days for 45K apiece. And here is the kicker. Because they are employment law attorneys maintaining a private practice, this precludes them from doing the actual work of a labor relations negotiator for the AOC. What it does do is hold these positions open with really expensive placeholders when they should be eliminated.

While this is one of the more egrigous examples of stuffing really expensive bodies in to hold positions open, this behavior transcends every division within the AOC. They’ve created many positions they didn’t need in the first place while maintaining this unconscionable management ratio., filling the management and supervisor slots first. The highly paid, no-bid “forever consultants” remain on the job at the AOC as well even though their services could be had at a fraction of the cost elsewhere. And in this press release we hear Tonto talk of staff layoffs, yet no management layoffs.   The untentable bureaucracy that exists to perpetuate itself hasn’t budged one milimeter. A 12% cut is a proverbial drop in the bucket for AOC’s wasteful operations and by promising so much less to CCMS, these wasteful operations will continue to flourish. To make any dent in the bureaucracy that is the AOC, the budgetary hit that needed to occur was a 25% hit plus a substantial portion of the CCMS budget, plus a diversion of some construction funds. This all should have resulted in no further cuts to the trial courts this year and possibly no cuts next year with the wholesale elimination of CCMS. In this respect, we’re disappointed that it appears that the vaporware crapplet and wasteful spending still takes precedence to leaving the trial courts intact.

What we didn’t see, what we would like to see is a statement from the AOC that they’re actually going to follow through on, such as “Out of the 125 million dollars budget to CCMS this fiscal year, 90% of those funds will be diverted to trial court operations” You didn’t see that, did you? No. The vaporware crapplet known as CCMS remains with a whopping budget from as far as we can tell, with a commitment to delay deployment for a year. What does that do to that 125 million? How much of that 125 million is dedicated and budgeted to V1,/V2, V3 and V4 teams within the AOC? What portion of that money will be going to deloitte this year? And most importantly, what will be saved by delaying deployment for a year that gets diverted to the trial courts?

What other statements were not made? What else didn’t you hear?

We don’t believe that enough was done to save trial court operations. What’s more is that this is all proposed and could change on the 22nd.

What are your thoughts?

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Apparently, we’re not the only people who hold this opinion that not enough was done. Below is a letter from the Alliance of California Judges to their members released a few hours ago-

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Dear Members and Others:

The Trial Court Budget Working Group has  approved the AOC staff recommended options discussed in our last communications.  This includes a one-year suspension of CCMS deployment.  However, the recommendations fall short.  As we have pointed out previously, the proposal still funds approximately $70 million for operation and maintenance of CCMS V4, V3, and V2, and additional money to fund CCTC operations related to CCMS.  The recommendation only delays deployment for one year.  On-going costs for CCMS continue unabated.  This failed and out-dated technology experiment has cost the branch $600 million to date, and it needs to be ended now.

The recommendations also fall short of the cuts needed to the AOC itself, and to the Judicial Branch Facility Program operations.  Nothing has been proposed regarding the pension benefits of top staff.  The Judicial Council needs to consider long term statewide administrative cuts at the 50% level, not 12%.

These solutions, along with some additional redirection of construction funds, could deliver more than an additional $100 million annually to the trial courts for operations.

The AOC staff is not the best judge of how it should reduce its own existence, nor should they be put in a position to evaluate the projects they have championed. We urge the Judicial Council to step outside the staff recommendations and look at the issues independently. The time has come for the Judicial Council to embrace what many judges have called “coordinated decentralization,” and to evaluate a permanent restructuring at substantially reduced levels of statewide management.

We have included a link to an ABC piece which aired earlier this week.  Simply click the link below to watch the video, which includes commends by ACJ Director Judge Dan Goldstein.  We have also included two articles which we hope you will find interesting, one on AOC executive compensation,the other dealing with yesterday’s actions of the TCBWG. 

http://www.10news.com/video/28529192/index.html

Thank you for your continued support.

Directors,

Alliance of California Judges

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SFWeekly –Death by 1000 cuts

Capitol Weekly – Order in the Court: Budget hit takes it’s toll

Courthouse News – Lavish Pensions for upper crust court execs