ACJ Letter to the Judicial Council, SEC &E&P committees

Posted on August 17, 2012

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You’ll note an ongoing theme of AOC management. When someone releases a report that is highly critical of their operations, they close ranks, take down the dirty laundry curtains, go wash the dirty laundry curtains and put them back in the window and declare they built a new and much improved house with the same inept management. Huzzah! Change you can believe in!

Most of us know that OCCM can’t do any job that costs a hundred grand without spending three times that amount in getting it done. We know that the jobs are no-bid, cost plus contracts being steered to preferred vendors. We know that the director, Lee Willoughby is also the chair of western construction contracting consumers and was elevated to that position because he has the most money to spread around. Most other contractors look at WCCC.org as “pay to play” yet no one but us has cried foul.  Enclosed is a letter to the Judicial Council as well as the SEC and E&P committees. In light of the unprecedented court closures and revelations that OCCM is trying to sell off public assets while spending billions building new ones, the Pegasus Holdings report is essential in deciding the direction of OCCM programs.

Everyone knows this and that is probably why the report has not seen the light of day.  

___________________________________________________________

August 16, 2012
Dear Justice Miller:
 
I am writing on behalf of the Alliance of California Judges to request that the Judicial Council immediately make a public release of the Pegasus Global Holdings, Inc., report on the operations of the Office of Court Construction and Management. I make this request to you in your role as Chair of the Executive and Planning Committee based upon that committee’s authority under Rule 10.11(a) to act on behalf of the Judicial Council between meetings. It is our understanding that this report has issued internally. Even if the current version of the report is preliminary and not final, it is imperative that the preliminary findings of this consultant group be made public. Please do not treat this as a Rule 10.500 request. We are constitutional judicial officers, and we need this information in order to perform our duties for the reasons outlined below. Even draft versions of this report, once released to the AOC, need to be made available to the public and to judges. If the report is preliminary, it may be denominated as such.
 
The immediate release of this report is critical because the Court Facilities Working Group has invited public comment on the decision-making process and criteria to be used in re-evaluating 31 SB 1407 projects moving forward with limited funds. Comments are due on August 24, 2012 with public meetings scheduled on September 5- 7, 2012 with planned final recommendations by the end of September 2012. The committee expects to make its final recommendations to the Judicial Council by October 26, 2012.
 
The information in the Pegasus report is critical both to any public comment that would be made on the 1407 projects, and it is also fundamental to any decision to be made upon the recommendations of the Strategic Evaluation Committee. The SEC Report references the Pegasus study at Page 156, after noting substantial deficiencies in the performance of the OCCM.
 
Prioritizing the 1407 projects from an operational needs standpoint cannot be accomplished in a vacuum without full appreciation of the likely available cash flow from 1407 funds.  There are a number of fundamental deficiencies in the OCCM’s performance relative to likely available capital outlay and cash flow. First, the OCCM has not adequately considered the lack of available funds to maintain new courthouses once constructed, in light of the fact that the size of new courthouses will result in substantially increased costs of maintenance, identified to be at least $32 million more annually, which may have to be taken from 1407 funds. This problem compounds the fact that available funds for existing maintenance are already inadequate. Secondly, the OCCM may not have adequately taken into account available cash flow for the projects under consideration, particularly since there is likely to be an ongoing need to divert some 1407 funds to operations for the foreseeable future.
 
These discrepancies in the performance of the OCCM need to be addressed before any further decision can be made on prioritizing court construction projects. We are concerned that the court construction program may be headed in the same direction as the CCMS fiasco–a complete failure after a wholesale waste of public funds.  This would be disastrous to the branch on a number of levels.  We think that the Pegasus report must be released to judges, the public, to the Executive, and to the Legislature, in order for there to be a determination whether a public audit of OCCM is warranted, just as it was with CCMS. 
 
Rumors abound that the Pegasus report has been issued internally and that it excoriates the performance of the OCCM, and that the report is being withheld for that reason, or perhaps even being modified.  All interested parties need to be assured that this is not the case by an immediate public release of the report. It is unhealthy for this report to be withheld in light of the judiciary’s newfound commitment to transparency and open decision-making.
 
Thank you for your careful consideration of this request.
 
Directors, Alliance of California Judges 
by David Lampe, President.
 
cc:  Members of the Judicial Council, Hon. Brad Hill, Hon. Charles Wacob, Chair of the Strategic Evaluation Committee