“Scathing Critic” Lets Loose on the AOC

Well, the reviews are in for the AOC Watcher blog and so far in an article published by the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, the blog is doing pretty well with two out of three critics liking the blog very much. One critic, however, wasn’t so much a fan of the blog at all.

Judge J. Stephen Czuleger

“some of the comments border on the silly, but others are worthy of further thought,”
“a good opportunity for some folks to get things off of their chests”
““I’m a firm believer in fresh air, and fresh air may feel a little challenging in the beginning, but I think in the long run it has value”

Judge Charles Horan

“I love it.”
“just another bit of information, another information outlet about the AOC”
“As long as it’s accurate, if it has to do with the manner in which the government does business and how the government spends money, you’re darn right it ought to be up there on the Internet.”
“some of the stuff is a little bit over the top, some of it is dead on the money”

Ron Overholt, AOC Chief Deputy Director of the Courts

“not very productive in terms of trying to carry on accurate and appropriate communications”
“it’s fine to have that kind of forum”
“what I don’t think is fine is that there are rumors and allegations that are unsubstantiated or that have been cleared up and are put out there as truth and then picked up on by others”
“…those in the AOC hierarchy are ‘not reading it, so it’s not serving that purpose in terms of engaging us in dialogue about it, if that’s goal of the people who are posting on it’”
“The way to get a response, Overholt says, would be to contact him or Bill Vickery the administrative director of the courts, and ‘we’ll have lunch or whatever.’”

Click here for the article and after the jump scroll down to the article titled “Anonymous Blogger Is Scathing Critic of AOC.”

20 responses to ““Scathing Critic” Lets Loose on the AOC

  1. Paula J. Negley

    On this day in December, 1776, American Revolutionary forces led by George Washington are encamped near the edge of the Delaware River. An entirely volunteer force, they are badly equipped, low on food, and exposed to frigid winter conditions. Only months earlier a young America had issued King George a list of charges demonstrating why he was unfit to be their ruler and declared its independence from Britain.

    Among those gathered with Washington’s forces is Thomas Paine. There, on the banks of the Delaware River that cold and bitter December, Paine would commit the following words to history:

    “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

    In a blinding snowstorm on Christmas night, Washington will lead his troops across the Delaware and onto American victories in Trenton, Princeton, and Morristown, and the taking of New Jersey from the British. While much has been written about the prominent figures of the American Revolution, the simple fact is America’s freedom was won, and remains defended today, by the most common of people: teamsters, blacksmiths, print setters, shoemakers, carpenters, teachers, seamstresses, nurses, book-keepers, file clerks, stable hands, farmers. Men and women, patriots all.

    We are the beneficiaries of the same patriots who over two hundred years ago kept their watch this night along the Delaware River. The rights, freedoms, and privileges on which this nation was founded are not abstract ideals that gather dust on the pages of history. Those ideals live today, passed down and defended by each successive generation. They live in us, in our homes, our schools and universities, our free press, our courtrooms, and within every American in uniform who sleeps tonight on foreign soil.

    The inheritance of those rights, freedoms and privileges also come with responsibilities. It is the duty that is owed. It is not necessary to look to works of fiction for inspiration. There are leaders among and within you. For those here who search for an example to be led by, that is worthy of following, look to the ACJ.

    On Christmas night 1776, Washington led his troops across the Delaware. They could not know it then, there in the blinding snow of that freezing night, but the coming year would mark the turning point in favor of the American cause. The tide was already turning.

    It turns now again.

    Remember the duty that is owed.

  2. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    I’m amazed by the statements made by Ron Overholt in this article. “All you have to do is just contact Bill or Ron and we’ll have lunch or whatever….”

    Before last years budget debacle, when cost-saving ideas were solicited by Mr. Bill, those who approached those in the ivory tower on the 5th floor with the cost saving ideas were slapped down. The solicitation was lip service.

    We invite anyone in the AOC to send a message to Bill or Ron (as Ron suggests in this article that this is all you have to do….) and observe the immediate response you get.

    Not from Bill or Ron – but by your own divisional management who will tell you “lunch or whatever” will never happen and approaching those in the ivory tower is inappropriate.

    I miss the days of Andy Grove at Intel. When I worked for Intel, a company that (at the time) had no private offices and only cubicles, anyone in the building could approach Andy Grove. Just like everyone else at Intel, Andy sat in the trenches – in a cubicle just like the rest of us.

    If you want a good laugh, read any corporate open door policy. Then read the AOC’s so-called open door policy.

    If this open door policy was properly labled, it would be labled the “keep your piehole shut” policy.

    Or how about the dispute resolution process, where disputes grind to a halt at your divisional director and never reaches those in the ivory tower.

    Perhaps those in the ivory tower shoud read the crap they impose on their employees before making such statements because it seems to me that thou dost protest much and it comes across as being “shrill and uninformed”

    The thing about AOC watcher is that it blunts all efforts of the office of propaganda, erm, uh office of communications that wishes to retain complete control of the message.

    The Alliance of AOC Employees is currently producing a what is best termed a “transparency and accountability survey” where AOC employees will be able to spill the beans on impropriety within the AOC without fear of reprisal by the goons in HR or IAD and leave those in the office of communications weeping in their morning cheerios.

    We intend to post the results of this anonymous survey as to indemnify those who comment and participate.

    While we are aware of specific and some ongoing incidents that should send certain AOC employees to prison for a long, long time we believe that the best way to expose these improprieties is a bit of anonymous sunshine as to where people should look.

    We will be encouraging people to name names and ask survey participants if this is “rumor or fact”.

    The mechanism to compose this survey?

    We will be using the all-too-familar zoomerang survey system used by the AOC to shed some really bright lights on the issues of ‘transparency and accountability” for all to see. Hold onto your saddle boys and girls as the AOC will start the new year with LOTS of transparency and accountability.

    Do not trust any other zoomerang survey produced by anyone else. I’m sure we’re considered one of the AOC’s fiercest critics and this is widely recognized by those who read our posts here at AOCW. We do this not because we have a bend and are out to destroy the AOC. We do this because we’ve grown weary of the office of misinformation, the goons that manage the HR department and the goons in IAD.

    Consider this: Most of the senior management across the AOC did not get promoted by merit. Most of those in senior management across the AOC got promoted by the voters to manage the wave of new employees hired behind them.

    We believe that the results of this survey will do a peachy job of telling other government agencies where to dig to find the dirt and what dirt they should be looking for.

  3. justinianscode

    We have recently seen another example of how suggestions and proposed dialog are met by those who lead the branch. When CJA’s President proposed a modest effort to oversee finances, Justice Huffman resorted to swearing and utter intransigence. And this happened at the Judicial Council’s public meeting where taxpayer business was being conducted. Did Justice Huffman not know where he was, or does he just think that rules of propriety in civil discourse are for peasants and he is above that sort of thing?

    Other examples include the Chief accusing critics of being shrill and misinformed, or acting only out of their own financial interests, or resorting to posting comments on blogs in their pajamas (as if that were some indication that the critics really need to get a life).

    The examples go on, as many here have posted their own stories of contact with Mr. Vickrey and his management team. The bottom line is that contrary to Mr. Overholt’s assertions, I don’t think many people feel all that welcome to voice their concerns to those presently in power.

  4. I am happy to see real voices of the branch captured here. I think it provides proof that there is no such thing as “speaking with one voice,” and all that money paid to Mr. Carver ended up being just another expensive shrimp on the barbie.

    If you knew his daily rate, you would do a spit-take. Clear vision, clear voices. The sun is shining.

  5. You, all of my fellow bloggers are totally right on the money and you have expressed it so well. When I saw Mr. O’s comments last night, I was alternately sputtering with anger and laughing my head off. Talk to Bill or Ron? Yeah right. That discussion would go about as far as I could throw a stack of JC meeting binders. The real truth about communication at the AOC is outlined by you my friends above and throughout this blog.

    After the laughable portion of my reaction, I was angry because we as bloggers here on this site are being painted as uninformed, and hiding behind our annonymous personas, too afraid to come out and chat will Bill or Ron. Because really, we are just spreading a bunch of crap here anyway. If it what we had to say had any validity or we had any experience with the AOC, we would be having lunch with Bill and Ron right now! Oh come on!

    Personally I have spent many years with the courts in California and some of them with the AOC. While I don’t know who my fellow bloggers are I know from my experience that you speak the truth. I spent many a year trying to bring some of these truths to light but was just blown off as a no nothing that dissented for the sake of dissention. Or that I was just simply opposed to positive change. And isn’t it interesting that they are still saying the same thing about anyone who disagrees with them, even judicial officers, years later? I was even told once when voicing my concerns about a particular AOC project to a director, that I better get on board because that train had left the station already. Now that is real communication! The sad thing was this director knew I was right. But to get that high up in the AOC sticking your head in the sand to what is right is a prerequiste and toeing the party line no matter how damaging it will be to the branch is a mandatory qualification.

  6. By the way, I got an inspiration from watching Mr. Smith goes to Washington last night, but with a twist. You know how people from everywhere sent telegrams and letters in support of Mr./Senator Smith’s cause/fillibuster (i.e. fighting corrupt politics as usual and lets do whats right instead) when he is almost beaten?

    Well, my idea is that we should start a pajama-gram campaign to let the Chief and Bill know there are hundreds like us out there that are unhappy with their policies and that we demand the status quo be tossed out and positive changes be made.

    Can you picture this? Thousands of pajamas flooding the Chief’s chambers and the executive office or even the next JC meeting? Maybe we can send them some snuggies as well. As you can see from the link below there many styles and colors to choose from. The Chief and Bill could use them to read the AOC Watcher blog


    • courtflea, I personally believe it’s a great idea and one that will draw attention to a serious message! Now, I just have to find the perfect pattern design! Are we drawing names this year? (Yes, I’m guilty of sometimes bordering silliness on this blog, I admit…but in stressful times, humor is good medicine. I much prefer that over the anti-anxiety meds that surely the upper AOC management is taking? Just saying!)

      • Obi-Wan Kenobi

        Black and white stripes would do well.
        Or something that starts with FCI.

        FCI Dublin
        FCI Herlong
        FCC Lompoc
        FCI Terminal Island

  7. Dear AOC, please take note because it’s clear and convincing that you do, indeed, read this! The discussions on these matters are not limited to merely the AOC-W blog for this is taking place statewide, and even starting to bleed over to a national level. (More on that later!) The discussions of dissent are growing steadily with each passing day, as more and more people are stepping forward and sharing information. Regardless of how much the AOC hierarchy wants to disengage in dialogue and stick their heads in the sand, that’s not the way it works here in America and eventually, it will be time to face the consequences of your actions.

    The AOC is unable to serve the public when they refuse to consider the public messages being sent to them! (Is the AOC using Judge Huffman’s behavior as an example in ignoring valid messages of reason and logic?) On that one single issue alone, notwithstanding the endless list of other issues and responsibilities in question, it makes the AOC unqualified for the job!

    Open book!? Then why is the AOC using a strategic maneuver of divide and conquer from within? Why are they currently firmly pressing their thumb-screws of power down on numerous employees and certain other people, in an attempt to intimidate and isolate with the ultimate goal of keeping all detrimental information inside the AOC walls? Why in the world would any employer tell their employees not to talk to each other about certain things (things that should be and need to be discussed!) unless the employer had something to hide?? Why is it that so many parties have tried to address the AOC with reasonable and well thought out solutions to problems within the AOC only to be disrespectfully slapped down, very often without even being given the proper opportunity to be heard!

    Please, step forward and explain, for you definitely have an audience that is awaiting the arrival of some of those fine AOC qualities you seem to only give lip service to!

    Even with the vast amount of eyes watching you closely from so many different directions, you have the audacity to do all of this, too! Assumptions in power have been the downfall of many! This is especially true when those holding the power have the misguided belief that anyone who refuses to rubber-stamp their inappropriate actions is uninformed! Quite the contrary is the situation here, and the AOC knows it, which is precisely why they are sweating bullets and applying their unscrupulous damage control tactics! (How many with unclean hands are visiting Kaiser Permanente for anti-anxiety meds, you think?)

    Have no doubt there is a rather large list of witnesses who can and are willing to testify to these AOC matters to shine light on the truth!! I hope the legislature personally interviews each and every AOC employee in private, so all is known. Bet that idea gives you a cardiac arrest, doesn’t it, AOC?

    The AOC’s strategic tailoring of their flimsy song & dance routine to the media is merely an attempt to circumvent taking responsibility for their actions. The AOC can hide from this blog, but they can’t hide from their responsibilities, the people, or the truth, and they surely can’t hide from being held accountable.

    • The amazing thing to me is the attitude of AOC/JC leadership toward dissent. There are a number of very bright and capable individuals working in the ranks of the AOC and the trial courts. However, rather than encouraging critical analysis of issues and looking to the troops in the field for novel solutions to difficult problems, the AOC seem sincapable of considering any opinion that does not align with the its own agenda.

      In response to Ron Overholt’s comment that he and Bill would go to lunch with anyone who wants to talk to them, I suggest that is not necessary. All they need to do is read the comments on this blog or sit down with the leadership of the Alliance of California Judges and listen. Just listen.

      I have so many questions I would like to ask Bill/Ron/CJ/Justice Huffman about the details and costs of CCMS, the hiring freeze, SB1407 and why it is necessary build new courthouses when there is not enough money to keep the doors open on exisiting courthouses.

      However, the one question I would most like to ask is, did you ever think that maybe they’re right and you’re wrong?

      “When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities” David Hume.

  8. World B. Free- thanks for your great insights. The CJ won’t tolerate dissent as evidenced by his comments that anyone who raises questions is shrill, uninformed or uninterested in accountability. The JC as evidenced by their last meeting certainly doesn’t tolerate dissent given their reaction to the CJA’s mild proposal for oversight. By all accounts the AOC doesn’t tolerate dissent given the comments of many here. Given all the great things the courts do and represent it is indeed sad that the voices of dissent and differing views are ignored and disregarded at all levels. The long term solution is to democratize the JC so meaningful and positive oversight of the branch can be achieved. Thanks to all here who have stood up to help the courts better serve the citizens of California. Happy Holidays to all of You !

  9. Stupid is as stupid does…..Forrest Gump

  10. Either Ron or Bill are really in the dark, or they are completely fibbing. There is no open door policy at the AOC. Directors and assistant directors are extremely afraid to enter the Executive Office, as if the mighty wizard or a strange spirit might bellow at them. But for some strange reason, this is the reality that gets passed down from the top … unnecessary fear and intimidation that gets transferred down to the lowest receptionist or secretary, who is taught to be terrified to call or e-mail Bill’s secretary.

    What Bill and Ron don’t seem to grasp is that they cannot have any credibility when they give a RAD a ten percent increase when courts are closing. Sheila Calabro would be fired in the private sector, and I don’t understand why people are afraid to say this! She did not follow the AOC’s own rules regarding contracts, has mismanaged CCMS, and yet she was rewarded in the poorest time imaginable.

    It’s a sad joke. But they refuse to look at it or acknowledge that there is any problem at all.

    I hate to say this, but I will be voting NO when the Chief is up for retention if things do not change. If he is the boss of Bill, then I don’t think he is doing anyone in the state any favors by ignoring problems.

    • What is the recourse when someone breaks the rules? Oh, Chris investigates her friend Sheila. Like that would ever happen. Happy holidays, John.

  11. I personally believe there are better qualified individuals for the Chief Justice position; those who possess a track record of actually putting the interest of the entire CA court system as top priority, so I’ll be voting no for retention of the Chief, myself. Imho, his arrogance and fixation on power has clearly been displayed by his various actions, or lack thereof, in addition to the numerous public statements he has made, all of which directly contradict the leadership we need for our judicial system. You can’t change history and a yes vote is only condoning that behavior. I need a Chief Justice I can respect and admire! Nighty-night!

  12. Yes it is time to be honest. The Chief Justice reportedly said “When I became Chief Justice it became apparent to me that we weren’t really functioning as a judicial branch in anything but name only”. Really and doesn’t that say it all? The work of the many fine Judges and court staff prior to 1996 didn’t apparently amount to anything. The reality is the courts served the citizens of California very effectively through local rather than centralized state control.It is indeed time to vote no on the Chief’s retention next year.

    • Wow, that’s a pretty bold statement by the Chief! I’ll be equally as bold in suggesting he has a bit of a God-complex, especially considering all of the other statements I’ve seen from him.

  13. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    The failure of leadership at the AOC is reflective of the lack of leadership from the Chief Justice himself.

    You will find the Chief Justice notably absent from all of these events as to detach himself – and others – from making this association.

    Additionally the good ship CCMS has its own chairman of the board – Justice Ming Chin who leads the court technology advisory committee.

    Neither Justice should be retained.

    Both AOC and court employees from around the state should ensure that the voters toss both justices off the bench and that the AOC Executive leadership be replaced.

  14. Former AOC supporter

    Another Ron-O lie exposed

    Ron Overholt, AOC Chief Deputy Director of the Courts stated:

    “…those in the AOC hierarchy are ‘not reading it, so it’s not serving that purpose in terms of engaging us in dialogue about it, if that’s goal of the people who are posting on it’”

    In Wednesday, December 23, 2009, Metropolitan News-Enterprise, KENNETH OFGANG wrote:

    “The MetNews, however, yesterday received a copy of an internal e-mail in which between AOC spokesperson Philip Carrizosa wrote:

    “On this point, I think the Alliance is correct—The Legislature did ask the Judicial Council to draft a Trial Court Bill of Financial Management Rights and the council never did that. The finance policy quoted [by Kasley] specifies nothing about those rights. [Bold in original.]

    “All we can do is emphasize that the finance policy recognizes that each trial court is responsible for managing its own operations.

    “Good luck in selling this approach to Ken.””