This is a spoof of a May 14, 2013, article in Mercury News, “California courts get bad budget news” by Mr. Howard Mintz. Many of the quotes in the spoof are not real or made by the person to whom they are attributed – although the many statistics regarding waste and abuse in the California judicial branch are real. The actual Mercury News article with real quotes may be read at the link above and at the end of this blog.
California courts get old news that they are bad budgeters
By Howtonot Mintzwords
Clobbered by over $2 billion in questionable budgeting over the past few years, the state’s Judicial Council and Administrative Offices of the Courts (AOC) were hoping to get some more money to pilfer as a result of California’s better economic conditions. But the governor did not include any new money for the grossly mismanaged courts in Tuesday’s budget news, which dismayed Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who has pressed hard to gain more funding for the nation’s most dysfunctional state justice system.
“I’m disappointed that the governor’s revised budget proposals provide no more opportunity of fiscal folly for the leaders of the courts,” she said in a statement. “I had hoped for more effort to help the downward spiral of the judicial branch.”
Assembly Speaker John Perez last week indicated he would support more money for the courts in the current budget, although only if stricter controls are in place to reign in the Judicial Council’s and AOC’s special interest spending habits. Cantil-Sakauye said she is not hopeful the Legislature and governor will restore funding for the courts in this summer’s final budget negotiations, but is never the less spending massive amounts of money the courts do not have to lobby toward that end.
Under the governor’s budget plan released earlier this year, the court system, from its 58 trial courts to the California Supreme Court, would secure about $3.1 billion in the 2013-14 budget, slightly more than last year. However, judicial and AOC leaders would have to divert about $200 million from trial court reserves to reach that funding level, raiding a courthouse construction fund and delaying planned construction projects across the state.
“The Judicial Council and AOC leaders have much experience diverting and raiding funds,” said State Auditor Elaine Howle. “They have attempted to build new courthouses while simultaneously closing others for lack of funds to maintain and staff them. They’ve misplaced $500 million in court construction funds. They’ve spent lavishly on parties to commemorate the naming of the new buildings after each other.”
But the trial judges have expressed concern about further draining trial court reserves by the Judicial Council and AOC, citing the fact the governor had to siphone $400 million from those funds last year to help cover $544 million budget wastes and questionable acts by the Judicial Council members and AOC employees impacting the state’s whole economy. “This occurred after the judicial and AOC leaders were caught planning to allocate $2 billion on a state wide computer system that they know is proven not to work.” Howle said.
Meanwhile, the governor plans to spend about $9.1 billion on the state’s prison system, including an additional $72.1 million for county probation departments to deal with the ongoing impact of the realignment plan and prisoners being sickened by Valley Fever at an alarming rate. Brown also warned that one budget uncertainty in the coming years is the potential cost of complying with federal court orders to further reduce the state’s inmate population at direction of Federal Receiver, J. Clark Kelso.
Adding to that uncetainty, federal employee Kelso is receiving state pension fund payments from the Judicial Council and AOC via calPERS. The matter is currently in litigation and is another indication that of the leaders of the courts cannot manage funding. They pay pensions to non-employees. Brown warned the ongoing legal conflict of the Judicial Council and AOC trying to play hardball by putting one of their own in another area that threatens the budget; could add hundreds of millions of dollars in state expenses, leaving no money for the trial courts themselves.
It would appear that the Judicial Council’s and AOC’s plan of solving their budget crisis was to force Brown into using privatized prisons, one of the hottest stocks on the market. The Judicial Council and AOC could then help to fill the profit centers by controlling the acts of the trial courts via controlling their meager allocation of the money. Heavily lobbied in DC, the forced prison privatization would then fulfill AOC pensionaire Kelso’s mandate of reducing the number of prisoners in the state prisons. Each prisoner sent to the privatized prisons at the directive of the financially controlled trial courts would then become a profit generator for shareholders of the privatized prison system — of which, no doubt, judicial and AOC leaders along with their pension funds, including Kelso’s, would also be leading shareholders.
Prediction of the Future:
We hope we are wrong but we predict that once the $9.1 billion of tax dollars are spent to upgrade the prisons and the system, the California prisons will be sold to private contractors under the premise that the State of California cannot afford to maintain them and that the situation is causing the judicial system to be unable to be funded. Once that is done the courts will receive their budget funding and proceed to produce prisoners for profit. Looks to us like the writing is on the wall.
http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-the-toxic-politics-of-science/ Bill Moyers “The Toxic Politics of Science”. About 47 minutes in it discusses that two of the current biggest lobbyists in DC are those lobbying for privatized prisons
http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130505/A_NEWS/305050302/-1/NEWSMAP “Setting aside arguments whether Kelso actually has the power to make such a unilateral demand, his order couldn’t come at a worse time for California officials. Gov. Jerry Brown faces a possible contempt of court threat if state officials don’t produce a prison population reduction plan that satisfies the federal court.”
http://www.capitolweekly.net/article.php?xid=ylta91g5empdw5 “Kelso,… He’s on record supporting the legality of private prisons.”
http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/05/16/private-prisons-rebrand-themselves-as-real-estate-investment-trusts-to-avoid-taxes/ Privatized prisons just got a huge tax break by becoming Real Estate Investment Trusts. These REITS view prisoner head count like hotel guests where they make more money based on occupancy rates. Who controls the occupancy rates in jails? Courts do.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-judge-receives-28year-jail-term-for-his-role-in–kidsforcash-kickbacks-8598147.html “An American judge known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom manner was jailed for 28 years for conspiring with private prisons to hand young offenders maximum sentences in return for kickbacks amounting to millions of dollars.”
Actual article in Mercury News by Mr. Howard Mintz which was spoofed above made be read at: http://www.mercurynews.com/california-budget/ci_23240888/california-courts-get-bad-budget-news. Mr. Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz
For more information of how we know there are severe ethics problems at the helm of the California judicial branch, please visit our sister blog, ContemptOfCourtFor.ME