Today's State Worker column looks at whether Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Supreme Court Justice Ronald George conspired to trade a bump in the judicial funding in the May budget revision for a furlough litigation decision that favored the governor.
Our conclusion: Nope, despite our skepticism and journalistic love of a good, legitimate conspiracy.
The State Worker column today refers to George's annual address to the Legislature. This Supreme Court Web page contains links to his annual "State of the Judiciary" addresses dating back to 1999.
George also has been at the center of a furlough controversy. With the Judicial Council's Administrative Office of the Court putting millions of dollars into a controversial statewide computer system that could ultimately carry a $2 billion price tag, the council decided to close courts one day per month.
George says the computer system is vital to effectively running the far-flung state court system. He and many other judges also voluntarily cut their own pay by 4.65 percent, equal to the one-day furlough ordered throughout the judicial system.
But as Bee colleague Robert Lewis has reported, some judges have blasted the computer system upgrade as a boondoggle that is needlessly draining court resources.
And George is a key voice in how the judicial branch spends SB 1407 funds, which two years ago gave the courts $5 billion in bond money for courthouse construction to be paid through a mix of court fees, penalties, and assessments. Here's the court's SB 1407 Web page, which lays out the projects approved so far for funding.
PHOTO CREDIT: Chief Justice Ronald George speaks during a March 5, 2009 hearing on voter-approved Proposition 8, which banned gay marriages. / Paul Sakuma, Associated Press