ACOEM Takes Down Position Paper commonly Used to Defend against Mold Claims

Republished in its entirety with express permission from WorkCompCentral. Feel free to share with attorneys, physicians, claims adjusters and the general public; along with those who set policies over the mold issue.
ACOEM Takes Down Position Paper commonly Used to Defend against Mold Claims, by Ben Miller (Reporter) National Topic: Top
WorkCompCentral Monday, March 9, 2015
The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine appears to have retired a controversial position statement on mold that critics say has been used to deny workers’ compensation claims for more than a decade.
The position paper, titled Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment, essentially stated that mold is not likely to cause many of the illnesses that employees mark down as job- related on workers’ compensation forms, according to mold activist Sharon Kramer.
The paper no longer appears on the organization’s website. A search for previous versions of ACOEM’s policies and positions page using WayBack Machine – a website that takes snapshots of web pages and preserves them so users can compare changes later on – shows the paper appearing no later than Dec. 29.
ACOEM representatives did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But Kramer told WorkCompCentral in an interview last week that Michael Hodgson, medical director for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, received a statement from ACOEM’s publications director [Marianne Dreger] last year that the organization would sunset the position paper in early 2015.
Kramer said the sunsetting that appears to have occurred takes away any weight the paper might hold as a defense against workers’ compensation claims where the claimant is seeking benefits for mold-related illness.
“It’s sort of damning for anybody who tries to use that in court because they basically said, ‘Eh, this [is] no longer our understanding,’” Kramer said.
Kramer said the position statement was first published in 2002, then revised in 2011. Neither paper, she said, acknowledged mounting evidence supporting that mold can cause respiratory problems and inflammatory responses in the body.
“It was a litigation defense argument right from the get-go,” she said.
Ritchie Shoemaker, a mold researcher who has testified in more than 200 court cases related to mold illness, said the ACOEM paper was ubiquitous in litigation for many years.
“After 2003, there were no cases that I participated in where defense did not quote ACOEM,” he said.
Mold inhalation causes reactions of varying degrees, depending on the individual, Shoemaker said, and can present itself in an array of symptoms – confusion, memory problems, numbness and tingling, tremors, respiratory problems and even joint problems that look like rheumatoid arthritis at first glance.
“It’s fascinating to see the diversity of inflammatory responses that we have,” Shoemaker said. That position has been supported in literature from the World Health Organization as well as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.
Shoemaker said there are several ways to show that a patient has been exposed to the inhalation of mycotoxins, which mold produces. Blood samples, brain imaging and soon genetic tests can all be used to show a “fingerprint” that only mycotoxin inhalation produces, he said.
He said he has submitted a journal article for publication on genetic testing. That paper shows that a person’s messenger ribonucleic acid can be analyzed to see which genes have been activated and which have been suppressed by mold inhalation.
“If all we look at is just a genomic sample, we can take it as a blind without knowing anything about the patient and tell you with 93% accuracy whether we’re dealing with a mold patient,” he said. Further evaluation can bring the accuracy of diagnosing a person as suffering from mold inhalation up to 99%, he said.
Other workers’ compensation treatment guidelines don’t have much to say about mold. The medical treatment guidelines available on the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries website make no specific mention of mold. Colorado’s guidelines, which were among the first for workers’ compensation adopted in the country, also make no mention of mold.
“We can’t cover everything and what we focus on are really the nine highest frequency and highest cost conditions in Colorado, and (mold) is actually not on the list,” said Daniel Sung, manager of medical policy for Colorado’s Division of Workers’ Compensation.
In mold cases, he said, Colorado stakeholders will have to instead look for the best evidence-based medicine they can find.
The online portal for the Official Disability Guidelines offers no entry in its “UR Advisor” tool and points users to MedLineConnect, a government-run website which simply states that “inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions or asthma attacks in sensitive people.”
Shoemaker said that even though the ACOEM paper appears to have been sunset, he expects it to continue cropping up in court because ACOEM was the last organization to hold the position that mold inhalation wasn’t likely to cause medical problems.
“They don’t have anything else,” Shoemaker said. “The British were throwing rocks at Washington as he crossed the Delaware River because the Hessians were too drunk to fire their muskets.”
https://ww3.workcompcentral.com/…/365fb293e6c28f3644229d743…
Sharon Noonan Kramer  snk1955@aol.com
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WorkCompCentral Re: The take-down of the ACOEM Mold Statement

WorkCompCentral, 3/09/15 “ACOEM Takes Down Position Paper commonly Used to Defend against Mold Claims” by Ben Miller.
by Sharon Noonan Kramer
I wish I could share this excellent WorkCompCentral (WCC) article by Ben Miller in its entirety.  But I can’t.  That would be copyright infringement. WCC relies on the purchase of their articles so they may fund the authorship and publication of more information which needs to be widely known about the U.S. Work Comp system.
One can purchase and read Mr. Miller’s report on the quiet demise of one of the biggest frauds ever to hit the work comp system, the ACOEM Mold Position Statement, HERE.
In the meantime, here are some key quotes from the WCC article:
“The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine appears to have retired a controversial position statement on mold that critics say has been used to deny workers’ compensation claims for more than a decade….The paper no longer appears on the organization’s website…..
Kramer told WorkCompCentral in an interview last week that Michael Hodgson, medical director for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, received a statement from ACOEM’s publications director [Marianne Dreger] last year that the organization would sunset the position paper in early 2015….
‘It’s sort of damning for anybody who tries to use that in court because they [ACOEM] basically said, ‘Eh, this no longer our understanding,’ Kramer said…. ‘It was a litigation defense argument right from the get-go,’ she said.
Ritchie Shoemaker, a mold researcher who has testified in more than 200 court cases related to mold illness, said the ACOEM paper was ubiquitous in litigation for many years. ‘After 2003, there were no cases that I participated in where defense did not quote ACOEM,’ he said…. 
Mold inhalation causes reactions of varying degrees, depending on the individual, Shoemaker said, and can present itself in an array of symptoms – confusion, memory problems, numbness and tingling, tremors, respiratory problems and even joint problems that look like rheumatoid arthritis at first glance…’If all we look at is just a genomic sample, we can take it as a blind without knowing anything about the patient and tell you with 93% accuracy whether we’re dealing with a mold patient,’ he said….
‘They [the high paid, medical defensors in mold litigation] don’t have anything else,’ Shoemaker said. ‘The British were throwing rocks at Washington as he crossed the Delaware River because the Hessians were too drunk to fire their muskets.”
ACOEM representatives did not respond to multiple requests for comment.”
And on a personal note:  Happy Anniversary to me and thanks for the anniversary present WorkCompCentral!  It was ten years ago today, March 9, 2005, that I first published the first article of how the scientific fraud of ACOEM, the U.S. Chamber,  and the defensors of Veritox; was collusively mass marketed into U.S. public health policy for the purpose of misleading the courts to deny liability for causation of illness, injury and death.
One can read my March 2005 writing HERE.  I currently have a permanent injunction never to republish this accurate article again, by order of multiple California jurists — whose courts had no subject matter jurisdiction — because officers of the courts falsified key court documents.  Judgments, abstracts, remittiturs and many other court docs in the matter of Kelman & Veritox v. Kramer are all null and void — because of the coram non judice fraud upon the court.  As such, I’m going to continue to republish my 2005 writing along with the direct evidence of the criminal acts in the California courts – which aided the underlying fraud of Veritox to continue in policies and courts…that is, until the WCC’s announcement of it ceasing, Today!
So today I’m feeling a bit victorious. And I say to those who have aided and abetted the long continuance of this fraud and the relentless retaliation I have experienced for exposing it, “May your children rot in Hell for the sins of their mothers and fathers who have condemned many children to Hell here on Earth”  (Inside joke – black comedy!)
To all who helped stop this fraud in science and policy, THANK YOU!! We finally took ‘er down!
Now, on to taking down the fraudsters in California’s legal system who made the fight for public and workers safety so tough, through their use of crimnal means under the color of law.
Let’s start here: the below billboard was paid for with tax dollars when San Diego County’s District Attorney was unsuccessfully running for mayor in 2012.  Its advertising and honest services fraud by DA Bonnie Dumanis. She played a significant role in keeping fraudsters in the local courts, while aiding workcomp fraud over the mold issue nationwide.  (the mustache and goatee are not real and  no, I’m not the one who painted it own her)
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ACOEM’s Newest Bad Position in the War for Public Health & Safety

Merely sunsetting the ACOEM Mold Position Statement does not rectify the diminished quality of life that is still occurring for many, and is resultant from the years of fraud in medical policy and courts over the mold issue.
by Sharon Noonan Kramer
About a week ago, I posted a blog on Katy’s Exposure entitled “ACOEM Mold Statement ~ Ding, Dong! The Witch is DEAD!”.  The blog was regarding the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) finally removing the scientifically void “Adverse Human Health Effects of Mold in the Indoor Environment” as a position statement on the public affairs page. The gist of the blog was of the positive impact that sunsetting this horrid position paper should have on public health policies and toxic tort litigations nationwide.
ACOEM no longer portraying this paper as an “Evidence based statement” and as the medical understanding of thousands of learned physicians, should aid to cause America’s physicians to be better informed to the reality of disabling and sometimes deadly Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome from exposure to biocontaminants found in Water Damaged Buildings (CIRS WDB). (that one is always a mouthful to write. read it again if you don’t get it!)
Commonly referred to as the “ACOEM Mold Statement”, it was always known to be controversial. It was penned by prolific expert defense witnesses in mold litigation and crammed through ACOEM’s peer review process while being referred to as a “litigation defense argument”.  (See multiple ACOEM emails from the 2002 peer review process in the 2007 Wall Street Journal article linked below).
Again, the primary problem lays with the fact that two PhDs, Bruce Kelman and Bryan Hardin of Veritox, Inc., have repeatedly professed in court that they proved mycotoxins in an indoor environment could never reach a level to harm — as they used the ACOEM Mold Statement that they wrote –to legitimize their scientific fraud upon U.S. courts.  The false concept was mass marketed into policy by many affiliated with ACOEM and by medical schools around the country, that the Veritox associates’ bogus findings meant no amount of biocontaminants indoors (not just mycotoxins) could ever reach a level to cause CIRS-WDB.
In other words, based on scientific fraud, many sick and injured people were deemed to be liars about what caused their injuries, in many U.S. courts for now well over a decade.  In the accurate words of Dr. Harriet Ammann when quoted by the Wall Street Journal in January of 2007,
They [Kelman and Hardin] took hypothetical exposure and hypothetical toxicity and jumped to the conclusion there is nothing there.” 
Equally accurate and in the words of Dr. James Craner in the same article that was written over eight years ago,
“a lot people with legitimate environmental health problems are losing their homes and their jobs because of legal decisions based on this so-called ‘evidence-based’ statement.”
So…last week after I blogged about the ACOEM Mold Position Statement finally being sunsetted — which is basically the same thing as retracting it as purported current scientific understanding of thousands of ACOEM physicians — I received an email from a dear friend of mine, Mrs. Heather Plude.
Heather wrote,
“It is gone off their website, and that’s a good first step. I don’t think them taking this down without putting a new policy up does what you state here: “it marks the end to fraudulent public health policy via false proof of lack of causation of illness from exposure to biocontaminants in water damaged buildings.” I did a search for “Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment” — and came up with this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12762072  Which is still damaging to people who are sick because it states: Current scientific evidence does not support the proposition that human health has been adversely affected by inhaled mycotoxins in home, school, or office environments. We need a public admission of the causation of illness from exposure. Not merely the sudden disappearance of a document that has been denying causation for more than a decade. Again. It’s a good first step… but a lot of damage has been done. Thank you for all you do, Sharon!”
Heather Plude is a smart and staunch advocate for those who have been injured by biocontaminants in water damaged buildings. She has helped many people find their way toward better health through natural remedies.  Upon reading her comment, it occurred to me that if Heather doesn’t understand why the sunsetting of the ACOEM Mold Statement will aid science to advance more freely, then there is a good chance that 99.9% of people do not understand either.
As Heather writes, its true that one can still find the medical journal 2003 version (not the 2002 position statement version) “Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment” Hardin BD, Kelman BJ, Saxon A.” on the National Institute of Health website. But the 2003 version is not now, nor was it ever published in ACOEM’s medical journal, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, as the Position Statement of the medical association.  It’s just a paper by three guys who went to college somewhere — now known to NOT BE current accepted science by any medical org.
With the sunsetting of the 2002 position statement version, the 2003 medical journal version carries no more weight when shaping policy and in court than any other medical journal publication.  In fact, this 2003 paper is now subject to even greater scrutiny in the courts because its concept of promoting that its proven indoor mycotoxins can’t harm, has been deemed by ACOEM as not to be the current accepted science of the occupational physician community.  THAT is why sunsetting their scientific nonsense as a position statement is so important to the future of many people.
Plainly stated the 2003 “Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment” on the NIH website by Kelman, Hardin and Saxon, is now just an old, debunked, medical journal publication with the same amount of credibility as a recent medical journal publication by Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabapple. (or maybe even less!)
So now, many questions remain of what will occur to correct the damage from the fraud.  
Now that ACOEM has acknowledged that its NOT current accepted science that its proven mycotoxins in the indoor environment could never reach a level to harm, will there be any restitution for all of those harmed in the past thirteen years by their promotion it was proven that systemic, chronic illness isn’t caused by indoor mold and toxins?
Will court cases which were lost by the sick based on the ACOEM Mold Statement, now be reversed or subject to review/retrial?
Will people who spent all their money trying to find viable medical treatment — only to be told by physicians that mold wasn’t harming them, based on the ACOEM Mold Statement, be reimbursed?
What about all of those who lost their workman’s compensation benefits based on the now known false science?  Any restitution for them? How about the taxpayers who funded life’s necessities of the defrauded workers via social services programs?
Will the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform and the Manhattan Institute Center for Legal Policy be held accountable for paying Hardin and Kelman in 2003 no less than $25K, to publish that their phoney-baloney science proved:
“Thus the notion toxic mold is an insidious secret killer” is only being claimed because of “trial lawyers, media and Junk Science”?
(You all do know, don’t you, that the dynamic duo also forged the name of UCLA physician, Andrew Saxon, as a co-author on this paper for the Chamber, “A Scientific View of the Health Effects of Mold“?  The Chamber sunset their’s a long time ago.)
What about the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)?  Will they be held accountable for all the harm done by leaving their mold position statement up on their website as valid science for five years — while knowing that it also had forged authorship and was based on the fraud of ACOEM’s? (Listed co-author Dr. Jay Portnoy stated under oath that he did not write the AAAAI Mold Position Statement. It was sunset in 2011).
Or how about the Regents of University of California for accepting NIOSH money to teach the fraud in the ACOEM Mold Statement to UC physicians?  Double-whammy and in violation of the California Constitution, they also did nothing to protect the UC name when made aware the UC name was forged for money by Kelman and Hardin on the US Chamber’s Mold Statement.  The Regents  also have made money off the fraud for years. They’ve kept over half of the income generated by UC physicians testifying for the defense while citing the Veritox/ACOEM nonsense as legit science in court.  What will the Regents do to correct fraud in higher education with the use of federal funds while profiting from aiding workers comp fraud?
Will Dr. Elana Page and Dr. Doug Trout of NIOSH be made to issue an apology for using the CDC NIOSH to aid Veritox and other defense witnesses in mass marketing it was proven indoor mold toxins do not harm? (Of worthy note, Page just published a new paper stating that urine tests can’t prove indoor mycotoxins harm. Don’t know if she’s right on the science of this one, but sure seems a little fishy on timing that this newest writing coincidentally was published at the same time the now debunked ACOEM Mold Statement that she supported for years, was being withdrawn.)

Will Bruce Kelman, Bryan Hardin and the other owners of Veritox, be forced to pay restitution to the victims of their known fraudulent expert witness testimonies? (I’ve got the transcripts. They had the audacity to state under oath in multiple cases that they had proven illness from indoor mold toxins “Could not be”)

 
Or how about the U.S. Department of Justice, who continued to hire Veritox as expert defense witnesses in federal mold cases, long after the USDOJ attorneys were aware of the all the fraud over the matter?  Will they be paying anyone for the damages — Or better yet, will they be prosecuting anyone for this massive public fleecing by collusive criminal means?
What about any ACOEM Board of Directors who are also consultants for Veritox? What liability do they have for allowing this public fleecing to continue for so long before sunsetting the known problematic position statement?
Or how about the deceptive idiots at Global Indoor Health Network (GIHN)?  In 2012, while trying to fight fraud with fraud, they put out a Position Statement saying that it was proven half the world’s illnesses were caused by poor indoor air quality. This gem was based solely on their quoting the flawed title of a short news article out of Africa.  When caught in the act of promoting scientific fraud, they attempted to tell their members that the primary theme of their position paper was because of a mere typo. Doh! People injured by poor indoor air quality started quoting the outrageously false statistic while discrediting themselves before any defense witness or naysaying physician had to say a word!
And last but certainly not least in my mind, will California court officers who committed criminal acts under the color of law while knowing their courts had no subject matter jurisdiction; be made to pay me, personally, for harassing me via abuse of their courts, for over 10 years? The direct evidence proves several of them, including appellate justices, committed multiple criminal acts of mailing fraudulent legal documents, coram non judice, to aid Veritox, et.al. to continue to harm thousands via fraud upon the court in Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP).
WHO is going to be punished for these many and massive wrongs, so that collusion to defraud the United States public is discouraged from occurring in U.S. medical policy and in U.S. courts, in the future?
Merely sunsetting the ACOEM Mold Position Statement does not rectify the diminished quality of life that is still occurring for many, and is resultant from the years of fraud in medical policy and courts over the mold issue. 
WHO will be paying for the damage to the public, workers and their legitimate advocates and whistleblowers now that ACOEM has finally acknowledged that they know that what they have been selling over the mold issue for now well over a decade,  is JUNK SCIENCE?  WHO?
Is this a matter that warrants an OSHA investigation? And if so, will they?  NBC News, San Francisco, February 24, 2015 “OSHA Whistleblower Investigator Blows Whistle on Own Agency
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ACOEM Mold Statement ~ Ding, Dong! The Wicked Witch is DEAD!

by Sharon Noonan Kramer
In late October of 2014, I received a message which stated that Marianne Dreger, Publications Director for the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), had told an ACOEM board member that the ACOEM position statement on mold would be sunsetted and removed from ACOEM’s website in early 2015. Many times since the first of the year, I have checked ACOEM’s website to see if the information I received of Ms. Dreger’s statement was correct.
Early this week, I checked the site once again.  Much to my delight, it was true!  The ACOEM mold position statement, “Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment” no longer appears on ACOEM’s position statement and guidance page.  No denotation of its sunsetting anywhere on the site.  No announcement made to ACOEM’s occupational and environmental physician members.  Just Poof!  Quietly gone like it never existed!
So why is this vastly important to the future health and safety of countless Americans and why it is important that the public, physicians and policy setters know of this sunsetting?  Because it marks the end to fraudulent public health policy via false proof of lack of causation of illness from exposure to biocontaminants in water damaged buildings.
Background:
In 2002, three expert defense witnesses in mold litigation were specifically brought into ACOEM to write their mold position statement.  The scientific fraud that was then promoted into policy by the mass-marketing of the bogus position paper, was that two of the three ACOEM paper’s authors, Bruce J. Kelman and Bryan D. Hardin, had scientifically proven mycotoxins could never reach a level indoors to harm anyone.
Flying in the face of the basic tenets of toxicology, the duo claimed to have proven lack of causation by simply applying math extrapolations to data taken from one rodent study of mold. The two fraudsters are co-owners of Veritox, Inc. and are prolific toxic tort expert defense witnesses throughout the United States. Among their many clients is the U.S. Department of Justice.  Hardin is a retired Deputy Director of the CDC’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  (See January 2007 Wall Street Journal for greater detail)
The fraud in the ACOEM mold statement becoming U.S. medical policy in 2002, and remaining policy for over twelve years has aided many an insurer, employer, landlord, builder, property manager and property seller to escape liability for causation of severe illness and even deaths. Thousands of lives have been devastated by the false concept that it is proven biotoxins in water damaged buildings could not have harmed them.
It is easily billions of dollars of wasted medical testings and treatments that attempt to treat while naysaying the true cause of the symptoms. The burden of care for those injured in their workplace, has been cost-shifted off of many a workers comp insurer and onto the taxpayer via needed social services for the disabled and their families.
While following the teachings of ACOEM, medical schools and medical non-profits, by and large, chose to harm people further by claiming their pleas for help for severe illness after exposure, were only being made because they were mentally ill or fakers trying to scam building stakeholders.  Infants and small children, who have not be able to receive viable medical care, have been among the accused scammers. The litigation over the years has been horrendous with the ACOEM mold statement being the fraudulent mainstay of the defense in the vast majority of cases.
Needless to say, the paper in its various uses over the years, is undoubtedly one of the dirtiest tricks ever played on the American public by leaders of America’s medical communities and non-profit organizations who influence medical policies and practices. The politics in governmental organizations and in courts which have aided this fraud to continue, is shockingly inconceivable to those who are concerned for the health and safety of their fellowman and for the future integrity of United States courts.
But the good news is…..
Science and medicine continue to advance to greater understanding of how to prevent and treat these illnesses.  ACOEM removing the scientific fraud from their website and sunsetting the false concept that it is proven these chronic, debilitating and sometimes deadly illnesses could not be caused by biotoxins in water damaged buildings, is a huge milestone toward achieving that understanding and toward stopping scientific fraud upon the court.
In other words….
 
The Wicked Witch is FINALLY DEAD!
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Cal Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer re: Cal Court Corruption

Since 2010, we at Katy’s have been doing our best to inform the public that the California Judicial Branch is corrupt, and a true hazard to public health, safety and welfare.  We blew a whistle of fraud in public health policy over the mold issue.  Several Cal court leading judges and justices falsified court docs in SLAPP suits to aid the fraud to continue to harm people all across the county.
The fraud was and still is being perpetrating by federal contractors and expert defense witnesses of the United States Department of Justice — namely Bruce J. Kelman and Bryan D. Hardin of Veritox, Inc.  The ten years of fixed litigation and relentless harassment by criminal means in California courts has been a failed attempt to shut us up of not only the scientific fraud over the mold issue, but also of the criminal acts of several Cal jurists who willfully broke the law to aid it to continue to fleece the public — while lives have been devastated.
Did you think we were just kidding or just screaming in the wind?  WE WEREN’T and WE STILL AREN’T!  Here it is in the words of California Assemblyman Reggie Jones Sawyer:
“Last week a mighty ray of sunlight beamed down on an appalling example of government inefficiency and wasteful spending of precious taxpayer dollars. This sunlight came in the form of a state audit, which my office requested, of the Administrative Office of Courts (AOC), a department of California’s judiciary branch.
As co-chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment and chair of the Sub-Committee on Public Safety which funds California’s courtrooms, I directed the California State Auditor to investigate potential mismanagement of state funds.
The audit released last week exposed the fact that from 2010 to 2014, the AOC wasted $30 million on lavish compensations and questionable business practices as a result of inadequate Judicial Council oversight.
According to its official responsibilities, the AOC supposedly provides administrative support to trial courts, yet the audit report revealed that wasn’t entirely factual. Through their investigation, the state auditor discovered that the courts requested only 55 percent of the AOC’s services because the office never formally surveyed courts in the first place to determine their basic needs. As a result, the office continuously funded unused services and wasted state resources.
Moreover, the AOC’s employees are paid handsomely even when compared to executive branch employees. The former receive an average salary of approximately $82,000 whereas the latter are paid on average $20,000 less.
Eight of the office’s directors were paid at least $179,000 while managing fewer than 120 employees in fiscal year 2013-14. In comparison, the director of California Department of General Services received $167,000 while managing more than 3,600 employees. Gov. Jerry Brown — an elected official — was paid a hair under $174,000. This wage disparity is staggering and completely unjustified.
The audit also highlighted the fact that the AOC continued utilizing services of contractors, consultants and temporary workers in spite of the Strategic Evaluation Committee’s recommendation to downsize and cut costs. These suggestions were ignored, and the office spent $13.5 million on 55 contractors, although it could have saved $7 million by deploying state employees in similar roles.
Other examples of the office’s blatant disregard for taxpayer money can be seen through its excessive lunch reimbursements. The audit report showed that each Administrative Office staff member was reimbursed up to $40 for business lunch or dinner, and $25 for breakfast. Spending on meals, however, went from $60,000 in 2011-12 and 12-13 fiscal years to $266,000 in 2013-14 — essentially quadrupling. I’d like to know why.
The AOC helps trial courts manage “content strategy, publishing, and metrics evaluation for social media channels including You Tube and Twitter.” The AOC rated this service as critical, yet a total of one trial court has requested this service.
Even worse, all of this irresponsible spending by the AOC coincided with $1.2 billion of budget cuts to the state’s court systems since 2011, forcing the closure of 51 courthouses and more than 200 courtrooms, according to the L.A. Times.
After years of crushing deficits and the slashing of critical funding to important health and human services for disadvantaged communities throughout California, the last thing our state needs is this kind of disregard for state funds and the flat-out waste of millions in precious taxpayer money.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees one’s right to a speedy and fair trial. However, some users experienced hours of waiting at clerk windows after driving more than 100 miles to the nearest courthouse. Is this — people being unable to even file cases because of an understaffed court system — what we consider to be “speedy”?
California families and our children are all bearing the recent costs of state government budget cuts — with prison overcrowding, increasing college tuition, K-12 classrooms overflowing, less services for the poor, crumbling infrastructure, and more.
That’s why I believe strongly that neither the Judicial Council nor the AOC should be exempted from ensuring that every penny of taxpayer money must be spent wisely, efficiently and effectively — especially when it comes to our overcrowded court system.
Yet the AOC and the Judicial Council remain oblivious — indifferent, even — to the sacrifices that nearly every other state department or agency has made. The former continued its trend of excessive spending despite having received numerous recommendations for change from different entities. The office’s responses to criticisms over its allocation of money has been underwhelming at best.
Because of this, we must take a heavy-handed approach given that the AOC has had a long track record in reckless spending and the Judicial Council has clearly abused the autonomy offered by state laws. As such, I plan to work diligently in the Assembly to ensure the courts do not receive funding until the office and the council formulate a comprehensive plan responding to the issues brought forth by this important state audit.”
Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, represents the 59th District and is chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus.
**********************
So…..when is someone going to file criminal charges?  This is WRONG and DANGEROUS that these people are being allowed to continue on their merry way with barely a slap on the wrist and a promise that they won’t do it again.
History proves that they are going to do it again, and again, and again, until someone stops them.  If they were common folk like the rest of us, many of the leaders of California’s judicial branch and the federal contractors at Veritox, Inc., plus their Cal SLAPP attorney would have been in jail long ago.  Equally at fault for aiding this to continue, Cal Attorney General Kamala Harris should be made to make sure there is jailtime in their future!
Sharon Noonan Kramer
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