“What’s Money got to do with it?” (Calif. legislators & Judges at play…)
This was the original post, which got overly supplemented, shall I say, as I began to look into the corporate structures of a certain Family Justice Center, and found that it’s corporate status shows 0 income (or boards of directors) although it has one heck of a public profile.
And that the millions of $$ it got for funding (being very well-connected politically throughout) went instead to a previous nonprofit, Family VIolence Law Center, whose character, apparently, morphed to accommodate what types of activities the funding was (and was not) available for. For example, probably not anything critiquing the family law system, given that its Executive Director Cheryl N. Allison, Esq., was a former (or still?) family law attorney.
While this had been meant to simply illustrate a different example (of croynism — what else?) — I realize the tendency to want to back up posts with current information generally just gives me another project to investigate.
This post should be paired with the previous one, and the common link (how I started looking into these matters) was just simply me following up on Kids’ Turn and finding out what an amazing collection of supporters and endorsers this one nonprofit has. It’s a lesson in local government, too.
Well, perhaps there’s some good data in here also…. Happy Memorial Day Weekend. Do you know where your kids are?
What’s Money Got to do with it?
It’s MOSTLY about Money, behind the curtains.
Today on the news, we read that no, the freeze public employee salaries over $150K bill (unlike the
Kids’ Turn, excuse me “parenting education program”) will not breeze through and get signed into law. Funny, there was no real problem retroactively granting immunity for double-dipping judges payments, in SBX2-11, which addressed Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles.
Retroactive Immunity is Repugnant to basic principles of the rule of law. (this article cites strong rebuke from Robert Kennedy (yes, brother of JFK) to retroactive immunity violating anti-trust law, by a six-bank merger).
When a lot of money is involved, suddenly the legal system becomes quite, er, ‘flexible.” The SBX2-11 dealt with California Judges who already received $178K salaries. It dealt with the case Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles.
End of 2008
Here’s an article that came out the day after Christmas, 2008, explaining the situation briefly:
Fri, Dec 26, 2008
(that’s the California Supreme Court, above….)
The California Supreme Court has voted unanimously not to review Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles, which means judges in the nation’s largest county may lose up to $50,000 a year in perks.
The decision lets stand a lower court ruling that could void Los Angeles County’s 20-year practice of supplementing judges’ $178,000 salaries and state-provided benefits with perks that amount to almost $50 grand a year.
The ruling by San Diego’s 4th District Court of Appeal held thatthe practice violated the state Constitution’s requirement that the Legislature “prescribe compensation for judges.” County-funded judicial perks occur in many of the state’s 58 counties, but LA’s appear to be the most lucrative.
Judicial advocates say the state already has trouble attracting judges to the bench, with salaries that often pale in comparison to those of major law firms.
The benefits package includes travel and professional development allowances that judges can take in cash, as well as additional contributions to retirement accounts.
Some California judges have threatened to leave the state if the perks are cut.
“You want my inestimable services? Gimme back my perks!”
Maybe they’ll head off to New York now (Dec. 2010)
Senate Bill No. 11
An act to add Sections 68220, 68221, and 68222 to the Government Code, relating to judges.
[Approved by Governor February 20, 2009. Filed with Secretary of State February 20, 2009.]
legislative counsel’s digest
SB 11, Steinberg. Judges: employment benefits.
The California Constitution requires the Legislature to prescribe compensation for judges of courts of record. Existing law authorizes a county to deem judges and court employees as county employees for purposes of providing employment benefits. These provisions were held unconstitutional as an impermissible delegation of the obligation of the Legislature to prescribe the compensation of judges of courts of record.
(note: no mention made of the obvious conflicts of interest when the county is a party to the case, as L.A. County tends to be) (Another situation in which it seems a County is a clearly party to the case — Child Support cases. Any parent here been to a child support hearing? Was there the other parent and a 3rd party, representing the local county child support agency? However, this bill doesn’t address conflict of interest as a reason the payments were unconstitutional….but “improper delegation” of a legislative obligation.)
This bill would provide that judges who received supplemental judicial benefits provided by a county or court, or both, as of July 1, 2008, shall continue to receive supplemental benefits from the county or court then paying the benefits on the same terms and conditions as were in effect on that date. . . . .
The bill would authorize a county to terminate its obligation to provide benefits upon providing 180 days’ [6 months..] written notice to the Administrative Director of the Courts and the impacted judges, but that termination would not be effective as to any judge during his or her current term while that judge continues to serve as a judge in that court or, at the election of the county, when that judge leaves office.
It was wrong — unconstitutional — but if a county [california has 58 counties] WANTS to stop engaging in this illegal behavior — they can’t correct the situation towards any judge while that judge is serving, including if the county calls him/her back (i.e., functioning from retirement, which judges often do) either. So, basically, only after it becomes a truly moot point can the county act to stop this (conflict of interest) unconstitutional behavior towards its own judges.
The bill also would authorize the county to elect to provide benefits for all judges in that county.
The practice is unconstitutional and is making it virtually impossible to win a case against a county? Too bad — we just legalized it!
The bill would require the Judicial Council to report to the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, the Assembly Committee on Budget, and both the Senate and Assembly Committees on Judiciary on or before December 31, 2009, analyzing the statewide benefits inconsistencies.
Great. That’s really exciting, that the Judicial Council (which I’m sure knew about the situation anyhow) has to write some reports and doing a statewide analysis (more costs for taxpayers)
This bill would provide that no governmental entity, or officer or employee of a governmental entity, shall incur any liability or be subject to prosecution or disciplinary action because of benefits provided to a judge under the official action of a governmental entity prior to the effective date of the bill on the ground that those benefits were not authorized under law.
That’s a lot of words, so I will simply spell it out for us. “Retroactive Immunity for Unconstitutional Behavior.”
Next item of business after granting retroactive immunity was “get rid of Fine” (before he does any more damage). ….
A bill that would freeze pay for the highest-paid state workers stalled today in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, effectively killing it.
The 15-member committee held Assembly Bill 7, a measure that Assemblyman Anthony Portantino , D-La Cañada Flintridge, puts up every session. Holding his legislation in committee killed it, since today is the deadline for fiscal committees to send bills out for chamber floor votes.
The measure would have frozen pay increases until Jan. 1, 2014, for any state employees whose base pay is more than $150,000 a year. It would have applied to workers in the executive, legislative or judicial branches of government, appointees to state boards and commissions and employees of the California State University system. It wouldn’t apply to University of California employees, although it urges the system to play along.
CalPERS, CalSTRS and the UC system have objected, saying the freeze would hurt recruiting and retaining top-flight employees.
(see my notice bottom right on “Fair Use” as to copyrights, please. This article is very relevant to my readers, some of who are having their wages garnished through custody actions, and are learning that very little accounting has been given for federal funds to state which are supposedly helping them with child support and custody actions…)
Retroactive Immunity for Unconstitutional Judicial Benefits that prejudice the court system — and jail for the whistleblower in that matter, although the whistle obviously was appropriate to blow in the situation.
No Freeze on exorbitant salaries for public employees already making $150K because we know that, obviously (see judges, legislators) that a high salary attracts the most qualified and best candidates for public positions.
Let’s back up in this Sturgeon v. County of Los Angeles Case a little bit.
SBX 211 showed it was illegal, unconstitutional — but only because the state was supposed to handle the salaries not because, say, it created any conflict of interest. Richard Fine gets tossed in jail and disbarred (not the typical “handslap” some judges get for misbehavior, or attorneys. He’d seriously offended some sensibilities by taking on this case, and the child support stash scandal called “Silva v. Garcetti” (which — dropped off the map, or what?).
Now they are going to be the good guys again, summer 2009. Source, “JDJOURNAL.com”
Taking a cue from their brethren and sistren in Delaware, Los Angeles County judges have volunteered to give up one day’s pay per month, as other court employees deal with involuntary salary cuts.
The judges are each giving up around $688 each month, saving the County $3 million a year. Under the state constitution, judicial officers’ salaries cannot be reduced during their term.
All but seven of the court’s 430 judges are participating.