California Official Court Reporters Association

Questions About AOC Spending During Budget Crisis

Posted in AOC

Columnist Jeff Ackerman of The Union, a Nevada County newspaper, revealed in a column posted to the paper’s online edition that believe it or not, the AOC has not been spending its money wisely during these tough economic times for California superior courts.  As an example of how he believes the AOC is misspending money, he reveals that the AOC had a meeting at its San Francisco location where attendees were called upon to discuss “The California Judicial Branch Budget Crisis.”  And how much did this meeting to discuss the obvious wind up costing taxpayers?

..around 70 people from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) got together at the Hilton in San Francisco to discuss … get this … “The California Judicial Branch Budget Crisis.” They even spent $40,000 on five facilitators, just to make sure they came away with good notes on where all the taxpayer money went. And … again … I couldn’t make this up if I tried. “Gentlemen … please pass the wine … we are gathered here to discuss urgent business … please pass the cheese … the state is broke and unless we find some money, we may be meeting next year in Marysville at a Motel 6 …,” which resulted in a collective gasp and group wine-spit across the table.

A $10,000 facilitator had to be summoned to coordinate a group-hug.

The Hilton meeting rooms cost $42,000, according to a memo I intercepted in cyberspace. An estimated 25 of the 70 attendees spent two nights each at the Hilton (at a discounted price of $138 per night) and one member (a fellow named Judge Brad R. Hill) spent the night in the “Presidential Suite” because, according to the memo, it was his turn. The memo didn’t say how much the suite cost, but presidents don’t stay in rooms where remote controls are chained to the television sets. Don’t ask how I know this to be true.
It might be a good time to pause here and remember that this party … I mean conference … was happening while Nevada County courthouse employees (and state employees all over California) were being laid off and sent home without pay. So you might start to understand why our local judges might be just a little torked by such extravagance by their Mother Ship. You might also start to understand how groups such as the Tea Party are starting to get serious momentum.

The judicial group eventually got bummed out by all the budget crisis talk, so they boarded a bus and headed to the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, where taxpayers paid $6,000 for a cocktail party, according to the memo from the judicial council’s mouthpiece.

Also drawing Mr. Ackerman’s ire is the AOC’s computer system which will purportedly cost $1.1 billion.

Close to home, our Nevada County courts have trimmed payroll and may be forced by the Mother Ship to close one day per month despite a growing caseload. Local judges wondered why their own Mother Ship (the AOC) was growing while they were being asked to sacrifice.They also question the need for a $1.1 BILLION computer system being shoved its way by the AOC. The math, by the way, works out to roughly $20 million per county … for a freaking computer system. At a time when we are cutting teachers, cops and firefighters to save money.

Mr. Ackerman’s column begs a few questions.  When Californians voted to approve the consolidation of municipal and superior courts, do you think they had any idea that they would wind up creating a new bureaucratic octopus with its tentacles in the financial pot of every county?  And would Californians have voted to approve the consolidation if they knew just how much money it would take to feed this octopus in its current state?  And is this column just the beginning of a more focused look by the press on the inner workings and spending habits of the AOC?  Stay tuned.

Posted on July 22, 2009 by admin

2 Comments

2 Responses to Questions About AOC Spending During Budget Crisis

  1. Debbie Mayer says:

    Way to tell it like it is, admin! Good job! Sounds like even us normally quiet,
    geeky court reporters are coming out of the woodwork on this one.

    BTW, since you mentioned the TP, here’s a great link guaranteed to give a
    smile and lighten the load:

    http://www.lloydmarcus.com/

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