Martin Hoshino and zero-sum decisions….

Posted on October 30, 2014


This past Monday we saw a glimpse of some positive movement when Martin Hoshino told the judicial council “I hope they feel as good about me as I feel about them a year from now, after I’ve had the luxury of making some zero-sum decisions that affect their workplace and their lives,”

For those who might be less informed a zero sum decision is where one wins at the expense of another. The SEC report disclosed that many AOC’ers were being paid bay area wages after moving to Sacramento where they’re supposed to be taking a 7% salary hit.

No action was taken.

The SEC report also disclosed something we disclosed well before the report was started: The AOC is top-heavy with a bunch of do-little-to-nothing managers whose sole purpose appears to be moving from meeting to meeting and accomplishing next to nothing in terms of real work – for both the AOC and the trial courts.

No action was taken.

The SEC report denoted that annual performance appraisals, which companies and government agencies typically use to justify both promotions and raises were not happening. In fact, the HR policies and procedures were largely ignored and are used only in a punitive way to justify management decisions after the fact. The whole AOC can ignore whole swaths of policies and procedures and the only time anyone will ever be held accountable is when they want to oust someone, at which time they will cite what was ignored when in fact everyone ignores it and no one is ever held accountable.

Again, no action was taken.

Somehow, the judicial council themselves managed to promote three individuals to the most senior management positions within the organization that produced a rousing “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me” not only from AOC employees but from most of the judicial branch as well as the state legislature.

Those people are Jodi Patel and her dog spot Curt Soderlund. One cannot promote Jodi without also promoting her dog spot. And Curt Child? After spending years misleading the legislature, his credibility in Sacramento was totally shot. They needed to pull him out of Sacramento. But by placing him in a management position overseeing the AOC as Chief Operating Officer they completely offset anyone taking his place in Sacramento because Curt was given an even more significant role in the organization.

How would we go about zero-sum decisions? 

If you want any credibility in the rest of the judicial branch and in Sacramento, all three of the three stooges must be shown the door. Hire professional managers instead of a narcissistic psychopath, a barely functioning alcoholic and a pathological liar. Hoshino can do far better by walking out the AOC’s front door and grabbing the first three people that walk by.

Below the three stooges exist about 14 different division directors and another 14 assistant division directors and a slew of people with the title of senior manager or manager.  All of that top-heaviness the SEC report reflected.

Our first question would be to these people “show us all of the annual performance appraisals for all of your respective staff from the time the SEC report was released to today”. Promote the ones that did their jobs and toss the rest. If you as a director or an assistant director, senior manager or manager cannot produce them, then obviously, you’ve not been doing your job and there’s the door.

Next question: Are you a boondoggler that has damaged the AOC’s reputation with your antics like my friends Jerry and Bert and ALL the people that kept on signing off on those Deloitte contract extensions? Are you a boondoggler that sole-sources all work to expensive vendors when others can do it for far less? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

As far as line staff and supervisors, this is the level where work actually happens. Everything above them is a circle-jerk social club of bloated pensions, top of the line electronics, free parking and zero productivity because they are always meeting with each other.

Finally, we have internal audits and the office of the fraud, waste and abuse coordinator. You know, the guy that actually coordinates fraud, waste and abuse and makes it easier. This greaseball has undermined the trust of every AOC and court employee across the state. Erase the whole budget for that whole department and contract with the bureau of state audits for all of the services that this whole department provides. Never have I ever witnessed a watchdog who reported to the foxes as they raided the chicken coop. This guy is compromised and must go because all AOC employees do anyways is report to the bureau of state audits and circumvent him now. Might as well make it official….

Accurate or not, we’re getting the impression that Mr. Hoshino was hired for and intends to clean house. In doing so, he has the unique ability to erase 3/4 of the reason for our existence. The other quarter sits in the chief justices lap and she seems well seasoned at colossal management missteps like elevating Vickrey to demi-god status and putting the three stooges in charge while dropping a yes-ma’am figurehead at the top of the org chart that some refer to as Jahrhead whose never managed a court, much less over 800 misdirected employees. The latest judicial council appointments were’t that repulsive either but if as she says diversity and representation is important to her, the diversity should come from being elected by ones peers, not appointed by the chief justice.

The state auditor gave the feckless one quite a bit of breathing room by delaying the release of the AOC audit until January but you can take it to the bank that Mr. Hoshino has the pre-release sitting on his desk and it’s job number one for him to address those concerns prior to the release of that report. And if I were a manager or above at the AOC and Mr. Hoshino is truly serious about doing his job instead of another five years of window dressing, I’d be considering retirement or another position outside of the AOC because we think the pressure is there for real change.

As we said with respect to the chief justices 3 year blueprint – it was dead on arrival. And it was dead on arrival because all of the above has been mismanaged and remains unaddressed to the satisfaction of legislators and the rest of the judicial branch. Without cleaning house vigorously, her critics own the message and she’s just along for the ride and her inaction will be the sole reason the branch sees only token increases in funding.

We’ve been right about this for 4 consecutive years.

When all of that reorg is done and all of that management fat cut out of the equation, the chief justice would also be wise to take that savings and use it to backfill the tiny courts across the state that can’t make payroll without cutting employees. Without taking from her own judicial council budget she is saying – like she has repeatedly said to all courts statewide – “let them eat cake until the other two branches gives us more funding. “

And now that the cat is out of the bag as to shorter court hours not producing a dime of savings, it will be pretty effortless to look at the courts that are doing this and connecting the dots. Legislators who are getting heat from their constituents about these early closures already know that the false premise of savings exists to put pressure on legislators. So does the governor. So the grand plan isn’t working so well.

Crazy is when you do the same thing again and again expecting different results.

It’s time for change. At the council level and at the council administrative level. Five years of window dressing is enough.