ARRA v2 – Will a 2021-22 infrastructure bill go to waste again here in California’s judicial branch?

Posted on February 23, 2021

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In 2009 the American Reinvestment & Recovery act became law. If you happened to have a bunch of shovel-ready public works projects this federal vehicle would have picked up the entire tab. California’s judicial branch just happened to have dozens of courthouse projects that were shovel ready, Indeed, around the country, many other states had shovel ready courthouse projects and actually applied for those funds. While the federal government ended up funding courthouse construction around the country, not a single penny was spent on any shovel ready project managed by California’s judicial branch. Not a single penny. Because federal accountability was too much for the branch to stomach and there was already an avalanche of questionable dealings.

The end result of this disasterous governance is that a slew of new courthouse projects ended up getting sidelined in the years following because an outgoing chief justice wanted to dump all of the money into renting one long beach courthouse and then bamboozle legislators that previous legislators had agreed to pay for it. They didn’t and the record was clear on that point.

Golden opportunities don’t come around too often. But since the former guys administration experienced 208 consecutive “infrastructure weeks” where not a dime was allocated, the Biden administration is planning a second version of the American Reinvestment and Recovery act to be a post-pandemic event to get americans back to work and is planning to allocate 3 trillion dollars to do it. This bodes well for high speed rail here in California and it could bode well for California’s judicial branch as well.

Now is the time to start a pressure campaign. It is time for many in the branch to start asking the hard questions. Do you want to give up any opportunity to get new courthouses built, paid for by your federal tax dollars and coming with a little federal oversight and accountability, or just kiss the whole concept goodbye like the branch did last time? It isn’t like nobody knew about the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and the possibilities it held for the branch. Many judicial council employees and managers routinely discussed it and were told by management that management was indeed gathering the necessary materials to secure the funding.

It was all a ruse.

There was no intention of ever applying for funding because federal oversight when you already have a ton of questionable overpriced transactions that make no sense was not anything that leadership could stomach. So they simply let the clock run out without taking any action, not seeking a single penny for any shovel-ready project – but knowing the money would have completely paid for the first dozen courthouses.

There are lots of new courthouse projects that are currently mothballed due to a lack of funding. Many of which could be shovel-ready in short order. But we wonder if Judicial Branch governance will permit them to take another look and determine what projects could be shovel-ready by the time that the 2nd ARRA becomes law.

I have received a few emails from around the branch about covid-19 and virtually non-existent protocols that put front-line workers at risk, while permitting judges, justices and executives to work from home or take time off that line workers aren’t permitted to. We intend to do a story about this but we want to hear from you. If you are a court worker you can comment on either your courts covid response or court construction. If you wish to remain anonymous but have us reach out to you, please leave a comment with your contact information from an account you have never used here. All new posters initial comments are moderated and must be approved to post. If your comment starts with “do not post”, we won’t but it will be an effective way to get in touch and tell your story.