New Chief Tonto Feigns Leadership

Posted on November 2, 2011


Good Morning California,

Up until the following letter, the AOC had three regional offices and three regional directors, all of whom are paid more than the Governor Brown.  One office in Sacramento called NCRO consists of three buildings on Gateway Oaks, another is the Bay Area / Northern California Regional Office located in the same office as AOC headquarters in San Francisco and the third SRO or Southern Regional Office right across the street from Burbank Airport.


For years the AOC has been chastised about opening and expanding these regional offices as well as a dozen or so satellite offices. NCRO and SRO are both comprised of hundreds of employees at these locations even if they’re not directly assigned to the regional offices. It was the regional office concept that assisted Sheila Calabro, the retired queen of mean to mismanage CCMS and SRO in a vacuum for years. It is what permits the facilities management unit to exist in Sacramento and work in a vacuum for years. In both cases, being one step removed creates plausible deniability allowing the AOC to deny impropriety and if they are caught red-handed, they can then claim that they didn’t know what was going on.

Feigning leadership, Acting Chief Tonto has made a bold move eliminating all three regional director positions for just one regional director for all three regions. Why didn’t he eliminate all of those positions? If your read many of the policy and procedures that the AOC produces, the highest ranked person most can normally access is the regional director. If one analyzes just about any chain of command at the AOC, all of them terminate at the regional directors level. The executive office is and remains an island outside any chain of command, again so it can assert the plausible deniability of not knowing what the expansive organization is doing.

Talk about a serious governance issue that remains uncorrected by Chief Tonto feigning leadership…. By having and continuing to maintain three regional offices, the AOC will continue to justify the offices themselves including the considerable staffs employed by each of the three regional offices. They will continue to assign arms length impropriety out to these regional offices to maintain plausible deniability. Lastly, they will continue to maintain the justification for future regional directors since in essence, they are putting assistant regional directors in charge. In other words, the change is slightly cosmetic in nature. It has the appearance of eliminating positions when all it really does is change the titles of those in charge. Tens of millions are spent every year supporting this regional office infrastructure and support staff and Chief Tonto’s bold leadership does nothing to address cutting any of these costs or bringing any of these questionable activities under their watchful eye. It amounts to centralized decentralization. It defies both logic and common sense.


From: Overholt, Ron []
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2011
To: AOC Admin. Pres. Justices; AOC PJs – ALL; AOC Appellate Court Clerks-Administrators; AOC Court Execs – ALL
Cc: Patton, Christine; Patel, Jody; Borjon-Miller, Margie; Lowe-Thomas, Althea
Subject: AOC Regional Offices: Executive Management Change

Dear Administrative Presiding Justices, Judges, Clerk/Administrators, and Executive Officers:

As the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) continues to look for ways to achieve efficiencies and maintain services to the courts, I’m writing to share information about a change in our regional offices. Effective Tuesday, November 1, Jody Patel will serve as regional administrative director for all three regional offices.

I am grateful to Margie Borjon-Miller and Althea Lowe-Thomas, who stepped up to become acting regional administrative directors following Sheila Calabro’s retirement and Christine Patton’s shift to the AOC’s Executive Office. However, this transition period is an opportunity for consolidation of the regional offices’ executive structure. I believe that this is a positive move, for several reasons: it is consistent with the AOC’s effort to consolidate executive resources, it will facilitate even greater information sharing among regional courts on local issues, and it will strengthen the oversight of communications between the AOC’s offices and the courts.

With Jody serving as regional administrative director for all three regions, Margie and Althea will resume their positions as assistant regional administrative directors in the Southern Regional Office and the Bay Area/Northern Coastal Regional Office, respectively. All three offices will continue to provide support services locally to the trial and appellate courts and ensure that local court perspectives are brought to the AOC and the Judicial Council. The regional offices also will continue to maintain specific statewide functions such as trial court financial services, enhanced collections, and facilities programs.

The collective court experience that Jody, Margie, and Althea bring to their roles is impressive and is reflected in their commitment to serving and representing the courts. I appreciate Jody’s willingness to serve in this new leadership role and know that the AOC and the courts will benefit as a result.


Ronald G. Overholt

Interim Administrative Director of the Courts

Judicial Council of California – Administrative Office of the Courts

455 Golden Gate Avenue

San Francisco, CA  94102-3688

415-865-4235, FAX 415-865-4244,