I received a copy of San Mateo Superior Court (SMSC) CEO John Fitton’s email that he sent out this past Wednesday to SMSC staff. In the email Mr. Fitton lists the challenges that SMSC has faced since the implementation of court closures and the discovery of the almost $4 million deficit that the court unknowingly carried over from last year into the new fiscal year.
Mr. Fitton addressed the issue of the financial frackup thusly:
“Compounding our challenges was the fact that significant internal mistakes resulted in inaccurate budget analysis, tracking and forecasting. I requested independent investigations to look into both the system and personnel issues. Also at my request, the time line for the regularly scheduled fiscal audit for our court was modified to begin early and was started on September 2nd. While our fiscal audit is currently in-process, the initial fiscal system investigation and personnel investigation have been completed. These were very serious issues for our court – and serious, timely and appropriate actions have been taken or initiated to improve our financial systems and appropriately address performance issues at all levels.”
“Independent investigations?” Um, sir, can you tell us who this independent entity is that you appointed to look into SMSC’s books? Was that “independent investigation” handled by the AOC or an entity the AOC chose? I’m not sure I’d call that an independent investigation, Mr. Fitton.
His email also goes on to explain that of the 60 positions planned for elimination, SMSC wound up eliminating only 28 of those positions and that the court, so far, has managed savings of over $1 million through various cost-cutting means.
And though Mr. Fitton’s email vaguely addressed the financial frackup and the aftereffects that have led to drastic measures taken by the court, no mention was made as to what, if any, consequences would fall on the court’s finance department. At least that issue wasn’t addressed in this email.
However, Mr. Fitton did send out an earlier email announcing the “resignation” of SMSC finance director.
Finance Director ____ ____ has resigned from her position. I want to recognize [her] 25 years of service to our court and wish her well in her future endeavors.
We will begin recruitment for Finance Director shortly. In the interim, the Finance Department will be reporting to me.
May I suggest Mr. Fitton that instead of hiring a headhunter agency to find you suitable candidates you could save SMSC some money and post your job announcement here instead? Perhaps with a catchy title like, “Finance Director Wanted. Must Have Basic Knowledge of Decimals and Answer To, ‘What Is 2 + 2?'”