Courthouse construction? Frozen until further notice.

Posted on December 3, 2012

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It should come as no surprise that overspending and spending someone else’s money without their consent doesn’t go over very well.  In the case of the 1.8 billion dollar (2.3 billion dollar)long beach courthouse where both the AOC and Judicial Council took liberties, they’re getting their hands slapped. It is well deserved too.

For those of you who who supported us in our goals of getting the crooks in the AOC out of the construction business it appears that we’ve won round one as well as round two.

From Justice Brad Hill

Good morning:

It is painful to write this email to all of you. On the heels of the Judicial Council action to indefinitely delay seven SB 1407 projects due to the significant ongoing redirection of SB 1407 funds to trial court operations, there is more bad news I must tell you. All indications are that there will not be General Fund dollars available next year to pay for the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse. We have been working for months advocating that this project be paid for by the General Fund and not transferred to the 1407 program. The Long Beach courthouse is scheduled to open in August 2013, at which time the first of ongoing payments become due for the construction, operations, and maintenance of this facility.

We are, unfortunately, left with only one alternative under this scenario. SB 1407 funds must bear the burden of the Long Beach payments. Until we receive an appropriation to fund Long Beach payments, we cannot proceed on upwards of $600 million in planned SB 1407 projects. The branch has a responsibility to move forward with only the projects that we can afford.

This, I know, is devastating news.

Ultimately the Judicial Council will need to decide which projects must be indefinitely delayed to accommodate funding the new courthouse in Long Beach out of SB 1407 funds. In order to support this process, the working group I chair, the Court Facilities Working Group, will be meeting on Thursday December 13th starting at 9:00am to develop its draft recommendations to the Judicial Council. Any of you are welcome to attend the meeting to listen to the working group’s deliberations. We cannot, at this late notice, successfully accommodate members of the courts who wish to call in because we are unable to secure a room with a sufficient sound system. Thanks to you and your staff, and the time you invested in attending the September 5-7, 2012 meeting, we have a voluminous set of materials we can refer to in crafting our very, very difficult recommendations.

The draft recommendations will be posted here http://www.courts.ca.gov/policyadmin-invitationstocomment.htm for comments. When the draft recommendations are posted, I invite you to provide comments to OCCMComments@jud.ca.gov for the working group to consider while finalizing its recommendations to the Judicial Council, planned for next year.

I recognize you have been working for a long time to plan for a new courthouse to replace one or more courthouses that are unsafe and can no longer meet the functional needs of your court. I know you share my concern that indefinitely delaying more projects—in addition to the seven projects indefinitely delayed due to the $50 million ongoing redirection of SB 1407 funds to the trial courts—is not in the best long term interest of the branch.

Thank you, again, for working with us as we tackle this very difficult issue.