Thursday, July 11, 2013
Alliance Takes Slap at Chief Justice, Questions AOC Hotel Tabs
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Alliance of California Judges yesterday accused the Administrative Office of the Courts of sidestepping queries on AOC spending and, in particular, called for an explanation of high expenditures on hotel bills.
The Alliance released to the news media a communique from the group’s directors to its members. In it, it takes a slap at Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who took office Jan. 3, 2011, succeeding Chief Justice Ronald George.
“We were hopeful that the new regime would embrace and implement measures to ensure greater accountability and transparency,” the statement says. “Unfortunately, it has become clear that the new regime is like the old regime in far too many respects.”
The statement takes the AOC to task for providing “400 pages of raw data”—which it terms a “document dump”—in response to an April inquiry from an Alliance director, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Kevin McCormick, as to all “active contracts” the AOC has. It complains that AOC staff member Chad Finke insisted in a communication of June 10 that the AOC does not “maintain such a list in the regular course of business” and that an October, 2011 Judicial Council directive “prevents us from running a custom update for you.”
Also quoted are portions of a May 31 letter from McCormick to the AOC which includes this comment:
“[T]he voluminous documents you did provide contained numerous charges I have interest in, but for now I am requesting additional information about hotel expenses. Hotel charges for the year 2010 as reflected in the documents provided total approximately $319,989. Hotel charges in 2011 totaled $274,233 and hotel expenses for 2012 were $911,950.’
McCormick went on to say:
“It is of note that the documentation reflects over a 300% increase by the AOC and Judicial Council on what many would describe as discretionary spending at the same time court closures, layoffs and reduced hours at many of our courts were taking place.”
The Alliance directors’ statement comments:
“We cannot discover and call attention to wasteful spending if our court leaders continue to hide the records that may reveal it.”
There was no response from the AOC to a request for comment.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company