It seems the Judicial Council is DETERMINED to protect all of the monies for it’s pet court construction fund even if it means telling the largest court system in the country to go ahead an lay off even more court employees. An article in yesterday’s Daily Journal detailed what happened when the JC took up the proposal by LA Superior to release funds from the court construction in order to help LA Superior prevent more layoffs. And as can be expected, a majority of the council members voted to deny LA’s request basically sealing the fate of hundreds of LA Superior employees unless the Legislature steps in.
In heated discussions prior to the 15-to-2 vote, three Los Angeles judges who sit on the council took issue with a report by the Administrative Office of the Courts finding the Los Angeles court had overestimated the number of employees it needed to lay off to deal with its budget shortfall.
Council member Lee Smalley Edmon said her court’s projections, which include the need to let 500 employees go in the next fiscal year, were correct and “based on our actual experience.” She objected to “unnecessary second guessing.” “I don’t think it’s helpful to the cause of the judicial branch,” Edmon said. “The AOC isn’t in the trenches every day.”
And the AOC’s response to LA’s budget projections? Thou doth protest too much basically.
Stephen Nash, finance director for the AOC, told council members he believes the Los Angeles court underestimated the savings it could achieve through attrition and the layoffs it has already implemented.
According to Nash’s calculations, the court should have enough reserves at the end of fiscal 2012-13, and should not have to resort to a second wave of planned layoffs of 500 employees. Nash said that using the construction funding for operations could “imperil the timing and success” of many of the courthouse projects and that court officials are working hard to find other solutions. “We believe the creativity needs to continue,” he said.
Instead of dipping into the court construction fund, the AOC will now work to ask the Legislature to cough up more funds to cover the deficits faced by the courts.
I’m sorry, but when it comes to who do I believe in terms of budget numbers, and if I’m going to have to choose between people who work in the court and know what they’re dealing with and a group of administrators, some of whom have NO idea of the day-to-day operations of running a court, I’m going to choose the former.