Layoffs at Contra Costa Superior Court

MARTINEZ — Expect cases to move more slowly through Contra Costa County Superior Court as a result of layoff notices sent out to 16 court workers this week.

The layoff move — the first targeting the court’s clerical workers — is the latest action by the state-funded Contra Costa County court to try to manage a $7.4 million budget deficit. The cuts make it impossible for the court to sustain current service levels, according to court spokeswoman Mimi Lyster.

“We expect further delays in processing and adjudicating cases,” Lyster said.

The court’s budget for 2009-10 is $68 million after state fiscal problems forced $7.4 million in cuts. The court did all it could to avoid laying off staff members, including using $4 million of its $8.5 million reserve fund, Lyster said. Over the past 18 months, the court has laid off four executives in administration and 39 temporary employees, and eliminated nine management and 11 staff positions left vacant by attrition. Managers have forgone pay increases, members of two unions will be paying more for their benefits, and workers are invited to volunteer for furlough days.

The remaining deficit stood at $1.9 million when 16 workers received notice Monday that their last day will be Feb. 25.

Click here to continue reading.

12 responses to “Layoffs at Contra Costa Superior Court

  1. Hey look at the bright side, King George & Darth Vickery are going to build us some shiny new Courthouses.

  2. Sorry about the double post, but just found this LA Times article that will be out tomorrow (2/16/10). This is very relevant to the discussion. Add 300+ from LA to the approximate 70 from Contra Costa.

    “L.A. County’s top judge faces steep opposition to fund-diversion proposal” Found here,0,5415208.story?track=rss

  3. Interesting article –

    I suggest everyone read it in its entirety.

    If I understand the situation, the Court required employees to work on the mandatory court closure days, although one union was willing to furlough on those days.

    Why would a court facing layoffs not take advantage of the costs savings a furlough program could provide?

  4. I guess this just proves that Judge O’Malley, PJ in Contra Costa and co-author of op-ed in support of the construction trades, is more concerned with new buildings and doing the bidding of the Chief and AOC than employees of her own court.

  5. Noticeably absent in the article was a comment by Contra Costa Presiding Judge Mary Ann O’Malley. Her court issued a press release that contained the following:

    “… the Court will have sustained a 20% reduction in personnel. For these reasons, the Court will not be able to sustain the current level of service to the public and will be forced to consider reducing or eliminating non-mandated services and activities. We expect further delays in processing and adjudicating cases.”

    Judge McCoy from LA has proposed legislation that would divert SB 1407 construction funds to temporarily solve budgetary issues during the financial crisis that is affecting every branch of government.

    Yet O’Malley who has laid off 20 percent of her workforce opposes using SB 1407 money and has yet to propose a solution of her own to the funding problem.

    In fact while she was in the midst of layoff plans, O’Malley co-wrote an Op-ed piece along with a union leader from the construction trades (setting aside for the moment the obvious and serious ethical problem) as WBF pointed out, why is she taking the side of construction workers over that of her own employees?

    Contra Costa employees should be furious at the unmitigated gall of Ms. O’Malley who has proven herself to be the Benedict Arnold of Contra Costa if not the entire branch!

  6. Ahh, Contra Costa Court CEO Kiri Torre, is not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to employee relations. So the blame is not entirely on the PJ I am sure. Consider this: when she was CEO in Santa Clara, she received a pay raise (along with the judges in the state) while she was telling her employees at the bargaining table that the court had no money for staff raises, thus causing a major employee strike….I mean duh!

  7. Now I guess Contra Costa has 20% fewer clerks to collect those precious 1407 fees and fines for courthouse construction…..

  8. It is not too complicated:

    The good Judge O’Malley prefers political support for her husband in his quest to become the DA over keeping the courts open. That is why she had a construction union big wig co-author her article.

    The 20% fewer clerks who are no longer with the court and who served the public when they were employed are collateral damage for her and for Chief Justice George.

    What you are seeing in Contra Costa County will soon be visited upon every county in the state.

    The Chief’s ego is at stake and he will never back down. As long as he gets his CCMS system, his new courthouses, and a huge and expensive bureaucracy called the AOC he cares not how many people lose their jobs or how much much the public must suffer.

    The People have no bread? Let them eat cake.

    • LOL, it is always something. Orange County Superior Court Judge Kim Dunning wrote an Op-Ed piece extolling the virtues of CCMS, shortly thereafter (very shortly) her name goes out to JNE for an appellate seat in LA County. It was a brilliant Machiavellian move, reward the sycophant and punish LA Judges for daring to question the wisdom of King George. NOW we find out that Ms. O’Malley is sacrificing her employees to assist her husband’s career and at the same time she gains mucho brownie points with the King. Dang I wish I was that smart.

  9. Hey Omerta, let them eat cake is Kiri Torres motto….

  10. Kiri Torre is a very smart woman. However, Contra Costa is a medium large court and she has one of the highest salaries of any CEO in the state. Not saying she wasn’t qualified, but she was hired to fill her husband’s position when he retired without any open recruitment or competition for the job.

  11. WBF, I certainly agree that Kiri is very smart. But being smart and having common sense are two different things. Kiri just does not know anything about dealing with employees.

    You make an interesting point about her taking her husbands job. She also got the Santa Clara job when Steve Love retired without a recuitment there either. Rumor was that she and Bill V had a major falling out when Kiri was at the AOC and Santa Clara took her on as CEO as a favor to the CJ/Bill V and whoever.