Court workers’ ads call for transparency in public agency

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Khanh T. Weinberg, Communications Director
(408) 678-3364 | khanh.weinberg@seiu521.org  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

No public meetings for Santa Clara County Superior Court’s “Executive Committee”

SAN JOSE, CA — Cities and counties are run by city councils and boards of supervisors, elected by voters who expect them to conduct the people’s business in public. Even little school districts make the effort to hold meetings in public. In stark contrast stands the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, a public agency with a $120 million annual budget, run by an Executive Committee of judges who held no public meeting in 2010. None is scheduled for 2011.

“To try to understand this public agency that is exempt from Brown Act rules is to be left with more questions than answers,” said Yvette Valenzuela, a probate court investigator. “There is simply no accountability, no transparency.”

This week, Santa Clara County Superior Court workers launch a campaign to call attention to an agency that employs more than 900 public employees but is controlled by an appointed committee with no public oversight. An online advertisement can be seen starting today on the home page of www.mercurynews.com; a print ad follows on Friday. Visit www.seiu521.org to take the quiz on how much you know about the court system.

This week’s ads are meant to shine a spotlight on a cadre of judges’ control over a public agency that has shockingly little public accountability.

What is the Superior Court’s Executive Committee and what does it do? Hard to say; the judges hold meetings which are closed to the public and post no public agenda.

Did voters elect the judges to this committee? No. They are appointed by the Presiding Judge. The committee directs the work of Chief Executive Officer David Yamasaki, whose salary and compensation make him the highest paid court worker in the state.

What does Yamasaki do? Hard to say; there is no public contract.

In an ongoing campaign for more public accountability, court workers last year successfully lobbied Sacramento for court reform. First, legislation was enacted requiring regular financial audits of all 58 county court systems by the state Controller’s Office; second, workers who report court abuses would receive whistle-blower protection. In 2011, the goal is to bring transparency to the Superior Court of Santa Clara County.

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The Service Employees International Union is an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. For more information, visit www.seiu521.org

Comments

Anonymous
Thursday, January 20, 2011 11:53:07 AM
Protect Our Children. The Superior Court has been awarding custody to pedophiles behind the closed doors.

Anonymous
Thursday, January 20, 2011 11:12:16 AM
There is an organized crime within the superior court utilizing the law and engaging in criminal activity. Its about time the media gets involved.

anon
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 4:26:04 PM
It’s about time the Media gets informed of all of this unfairness.

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