Rosenberg Fires Back Arguing that Letter From Blacklock Does Not Terminate Benefits

rosenbergThis morning the Woodland Daily Democrat is reporting that Yolo County Judge David Rosenberg is disputing whether a letter from County Administrator Patrick Blacklock to William Vickrey that the county believed would preserve the county’s ability to terminate supplemental judicial benefits by filing just before the 180 period expired, in fact constitutes notice under the pertinent California Government Code section.

The notice was sent out at 4:59 pm Wednesday, just before the deadline to deadline to terminate county-funded benefits for four judges whose terms expire Jan. 1, 2011.

Mr. Blacklock in a letter dated June 30, 2010 writes, “On March 25, 2009 the county notified the court that it would terminate financing for county provided judicial benefits pursuant to pursuant to Government Code section 68220. Since that time the county has postponed terminating these benefits pending release of an Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) report on the subject. That report was published December 2009.”

“The preliminary 2010-11 county budget continues to fund these benefits through September 2010 to allow the Board an opportunity to review this report and future options,” Mr. Blacklock continued.  “In preparing for this Board presentation, however, the County noted the requirement to notice the AOC and affected judges pursuant to 68220(b). Tills notice acts as the 180 days written notice required by Government Code section 68220(b).”

The crucial portion is here, “This notice is being provided so that the Board of Supervisors will have the full range of statutory options available when the Board considers this issue. This item is currently planned for Board of Supervisors consideration on August 3. The final adopted County budget, likely to be considered sometime in September, can then be modified to reflect the Board of Supervisors direction. Again, this notice is provided simply to comply with the statutory requirements to ensure that the Board of Supervisors can consider all options when it considers this matter.”

According to the Daily Democrat, “Rosenberg said he does not contend the timing of the letter as much as its overall legality.  He cited County Code 2-1.113, which states, “No action or decision of the board … shall be valid or binding in the absence of a two-thirds or majority vote.” In other words, the 180-day notice cannot be sent until after the board has voted to terminate the benefits.”

Supervisor Matt Rexroad had on June 15 made a motion to terminate the benefits, but it was defeated by Helen Thomson and Jim Provenza voting against it while Mike McGowan abstained.  According to Judge Rosenberg, the board voted against terminating the benefits and therefore with no board action they county cannot terminate the benefits. 

“This is truly putting the cart before the horse,” Judge Rosenberg told the Daily Democrat. “They have not voted to terminate benefits; in fact they did just the opposite.”

However, Mr. Blaylock has a different view that unless the board votes to rescind the letter, the June decision will act to validate the letter.

“There is a board vote and staff is providing notice in accordance with the board direction,” Robyn Drivon, Yolo County Counsel said. “In order to preserve the ability of the board to make any contemplated change, the board directed that a finite amount of continued benefits be funded; therefore the notice is authorized by that vote.”

The board will vote on the matter again during its August 3 meeting, but if neither side backs down, “the two parties would have to go to an “outside jurisdiction” for a declaratory judgment” Robyn Drivon told the Democrat.

And so the sage continues.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Adrienne Kandel

    I’m glad you’re calling them benefits and not a “slush fund” now. It was inappropriate for media to copy Mr. Rexroad’s politically loaded mischaracterization. “Slush fund” implies at least dishonesty, often bribery.
    If the benefits cost $40,000 for all judges together, how much is it per judge? (I don’t know how many judges are involved.)

  2. roger bockrath

    So now the County has preserved their right to decide on weather well paid State employees should get “supplemental” payments from the County. Sounds like Mike McGowan is going to have to step up to the plate and break the tie. Has he offered any reason for abstaining ? I’m sure every Supervisor has a potential conflict of interest. They all know the judges. They all use the courts. Has Mr. McGowan offered any excuse for his failure to break this tie?

  3. wdf1

    Rexroad’s recent comments on the matter at his blog:


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