Tuesday, May 18, 2010
McCoy Reports ‘Significant Progress’ in Court Funding Talks
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
A partial solution to the Los Angeles Superior Court’s funding crisis may be at hand, Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Charles “Tim” McCoy Jr. said yesterday in an e-mail to members of the court.
“Significant progress has recently been made ain Sacramento towards a multiyear...solution” to the court’s financial woes, McCoy said in the e-mail, portions of which were read to the MetNews by a recipient. The person asked not to be identified because the e-mail included a request that it not be forwarded.
“For a number of weeks we have been quietly engaged in confidential discussions facilitated by” Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Michael Feuer, D-Encino, with the backing of Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, and Senate President Pro Tem Daryl Steinberg, D-Sacramento, McCoy said.
The talks, he said, point towards a solution with “the potential to keep our court in business for several years without layoffs, furloughs or courtroom/courthouse closures.”
The funding, he explained, would come from “a very substantial redirection of SB 1407 [courthouse construction] funds along with certain proposed fee increases.” McCoy struck out last month in an effort to gain Judicial Council approval for using SB 1407 money to help close the operating deficit, with only the two voting members from his own court—Assistant Presiding Judge Lee Edmon and Judge David Wesley—backing him.
McCoy warned in his e-mail, however, that what was being discussed was “not a complete solution” and was subject to “many uncertainties,” notably the fact that much of the money was contingent on legislative approval of the “Automated Speed Enforcement Program” that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger first proposed in January.
The governor at that time called for the deployment of cameras to generate at least $397.5 million for state and local governments, with the state taking 85 percent, but the revenue estimate was lowered to $206.1 million in last week’s revised budget proposal.
The program would convert existing red light cameras at intersections—there are reportedly more than 1,000 operating statewide—into “speed on green” cameras that would issue citations to motorists who try to speed up at an intersection to make the light.
No Public Comment
A court spokesperson declined to comment on the e-mail and said it was unlikely McCoy would speak publicly on the matter before he and other officials return from Sacramento, where they have meetings scheduled through tomorrow. A spokesperson for Feuer said the lawmaker would not comment.
Jim Lissner, a Hermosa Beach resident who runs a website called highwayrobbery.net and is an outspoken opponent of red-light and speed cameras, said that “anybody with any brain” should be opposing the use of the devices to fund courts, or anything else.
“You shouldn’t be making criminals of people and ruining their insurance and threatening their employment in order to finance state government,” he said.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company