I cannot even begin to tell you how curious I find it that the mainstream media in California has not taken the opportunity to look into the Administrative Office of the Courts or the AOC is it more commonly known. Especially when people who work with the courts have been complaining for years about the way the AOC spends the monies it collects from all of California’s county courts. But the AOC might need to stock up on sunscreen (of course the most expensive kind it can find) to deal with the harsh limelight that it now finds itself in.
Last month the columnist Jeff Ackerman of the TheUnion.com wrote a column blasting the AOC for its decision to hold a conference in San Francisco that wound up costing taxpayers roughly over $100,000. A conference focused on “The California Judicial Branch Budget Crisis.” Yes, folks. The AOC had to spend thousands of dollars to explore the judicial branch’s budget crisis while contributing to that very crisis with an expensive conference. Mr. Ackerman explains in his column that:
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.
Well, it’s not quite the same as Nero fiddling while Rome burned, though I’d have to say it’s pretty darn close to it. And if you think this kind of questionable spending by the AOC is an anomaly in a time when courts are closing and court employees are taking furloughs, think again my friend. Think again.