March 27, 2013
Dear Members and Others,
We attach an editorial penned by Bill Girdner of the Courthouse News. Suffice it to say, our branch leaders have gotten the attention of those in the media who report on court cases and who believe in open government. The author voices a concern that we share — some of the reporting on the “$10 pay for view” proposal has appeared to cast blame on the Governor or his Department of Finance for this assault on the First Amendment and open government. That could not be further from the truth.
A Report to the Judicial Council dated December 14, 2012, lays out the council’s legislative priorities for 2013. On page 12 you will find language drafted by AOC staff amending the Government Code to charge the public $10 to view a “name, file, or other information for which a search is requested.” Our branch leaders standing by silently while the Governor and his Department of Finance are unfairly criticized for this gaffe hearkens back to the last time the AOC was caught attempting to gut Government Code sections concerning the management of the local trial courts. Then AOC staff affirmatively blamed the Department of Finance. Now, they seem content to allow a misleading impression to be made regarding the authorship of this misguided proposal.
We encourage you to read this report in its entirety, as it sheds additional light on what our handpicked leaders believe is essential in this year’s legislative session. We will point out only one additional item. On pages 7 and 8, the AOC proposes to defer audits for compliance with the Public Contracting Code unless specific funding is provided to the judicial branch to offset the cost for these audits.
As you know, the State Auditor recently released her audit findings of the first six local courts that were chosen to be audited. We learned from this audit that the AOC was up to its old tricks by providing incorrect data and excluding information required by the auditors. The six local courts were found to be substantially in compliance with the code. Ending the audits now would stop the State Auditor from auditing the “AOC and other judicial branch entities” as is required by December 15 of this year. It appears that the six local courts had the funds to pay for audits last year, but this year the central office appears to be broke and unable to afford an audit unless the General Fund provides the resources to do so. How convenient.
The Alliance believes that auditing the AOC is not a luxury that should only occur if extra funding is secured. Rather we believe it is of utmost importance that respected State Auditor Elaine Howle undertake this audit immediately. For those on the Judicial Council who champion and repeatedly claim that a new regime has embraced “greater transparency,” this proposal to kill off an audit speaks to their definition of transparency when it comes to their own operations.
As always, we will continue to keep you informed on matters concerning our branch.
Alliance of California Judges
In that suspicious transactions involving Judge David Rosenberg, Lea Rosenberg (“Rosenbergs”), Treasurer Victor Bucher, Cache Creek Casino and Barbara Sommer (President of Yolo County Grand Jury ; Progress Ranch) were recently unearthed, this will serve to place your office on notice of my plans to directly contact those individuals in furtherance of the inquiry.
The above will be contacted in their capacity as officers of various non-profit entities ( Davis Odd Fellows, Soroptimist International of Davis, Davis Rebekah Lodge, Progress Ranch) for the purpose of obtaining documents, dates, amounts, as well as other relevant information.
Specifically, a noticeable surge has been detected in the level of enthusiasm (i.e. fundraising, donations) on the part of Cache Creek Casino and Rosenbergs to benefit “foster youth” and/or “emancipated foster youth” in Yolo County.”
For example, Rosenbergs (at times, with the assistance of Judge Dave Reed, Treasurer Victor Bucher) raised funds to support foster youth by mobilizing Davis Odd Fellows (“Breakfast with Santa”), Soroptimist International of Davis (“Texas Hold ‘Em” ) and Davis Rebekah Lodge (“Crab Feed” ).
Subsequently, those funds were forwarded directly to Progress Ranch and/or Yolo County Department of Employment and Social Services – The Homeless and Foster Youth Services of Yolo County, which in turns forward sums to Progress Ranch pursuant to contractual agreement with Yolo County totaling around $800,000 per annum.
Likewise, Cache Creek Casino’s sudden interest in foster youth manifested itself with a $48,500 donation.
Please observe that the inquiry is in its infancy, and stem from the fact that Progress Ranch President Barbara Sommer is also the President of Yolo County Grand Jury, as well as the role of Victor Bucher as treasurer in various judicial elections.