Transparency is one of those words that’s become popular among those that have a bone to pick with the government. Those who utter it when criticizing a particular government agency want accountability and want information on how that particular agency conducts its business. And it’s a word that we should all use more often when it comes to dealing with any government agency. Who wouldn’t want to have more transparency from their government? Who wouldn’t want to know how their tax dollars are spent? Well, apparently that would be the AOC.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that the columnist Jeff Ackerman’s description of the AOC as a mothership right out of the film “Star Wars” is true. We could assume then that the AOC is the Death Star, only less cuddly and not as efficiently run. Which would make anyone who has the audacity to question the mothership to be traitors to the AOC empire and are members of the “Rebel Alliance.” Well, AOC Mothership, you should raise those shields because there appears to be a rebel group ready to hit you.
Amy Yarborough of the Daily Journal writes that a group of judges have become so disillusioned with the AOC, especially its solutions to the judicial branch’s budget shortage by closing courts, that they’ve formed a new group that will make it their goal to get the AOC to open up on many issues including its operations.
A coalition of judges from throughout the state has been discussing, largely through emails, forming a new group aimed at forcing the agency to open up about its budget and operations to democratize the Judicial Council, policy-making body for the state’s courts.
San Diego Judge Runston “Tony” Maino, who is among those involved in discussions with the new group, said judges may push for an independent audit of the AOC and to require that both the AOC and the Judicial Council be subject to the California Public Records Act. The judicial branch has long argued it is exempted from the act. Maino said some judges he’s heard from would also like a more open process of appointing members to the council. Presently, Chief Justice Ronald M. George appoints the majority of 27 members on Judicial Council.
The article goes on to say that the judges want more of a say on how the AOC runs its business. And frankly, since the AOC is now in the habit of inhaling monies from county coffers for their use as they see fit, I don’t think it’s such an extraordinary request that the AOC give judges more of a say. You know. That whole taxation without representation phrase rings a bell or two.
San Diego County Superior Court Judge David Goldstein, one of the leaders behind the proposed coalition, said judges began emailing each other soon after the AOC proposed in April to close the courts one extra day a month, pushing tens of thousands of court workers into unpaid furloughs. The closures, which apply to all courts in the state and the AOC, will begin in September.
Goldstein said judges have become even more concerned following what they see as attempts by the AOC and Judicial Council to increase their grip on local courts and an unwillingness on the part of the agency to provide specifics about its ballooning budget.
“It has everything to do with control,” Goldstein said, adding that judges recognize the need to save money, but fear closing the courts will harm the public. “The judges I’ve talked to, while wanting to keep the courts open, are willing to take the furlough.”
Looks like the years of the AOC Empire running without impunity are finally coming to an end. May the force be with these judges.