The governor told Attorney General Jerry Brown and every other state constitutional officer last week that, based on a Sacramento County Superior Court ruling, their employees would have to take unpaid daily furloughs twice a month starting Feb. 6. But don’t expect the state Department of Justice to be shuttered on Friday.
In a vaguely worded email to The Recorder, Brown said Monday that he’s taking “appropriate legal steps” to ensure that the 1,000 or so attorneys who work in his office stay on the job five days a week.
"We believe that the [Sacramento County] Superior Court's order last week regarding furloughs does not apply to the constitutional officers, including employees of the Department of Justice,” Brown wrote.
Brown didn’t specify what he meant, but the thought of him suing Arnold Schwarzenegger is intriguing. And the thought of Brown defying the governor is even more politically tantalizing.
Best two out of three falls, after the jump:
Even if Brown doesn’t sue, the union representing 2,700 state lawyers, including deputy attorneys general, is probably heading back to court this week. Patrick Whalen, general counsel for California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment said the union is preparing to “pursue our appellate remedies.”
Time is running short, but there seems to be a sense among some in the Capitol that the Legislature will save the day by quickly cutting a deal with the governor that eliminates the need for furloughs. We’ll see.
In the meantime, the state public defender’s office is preparing to close twice a month. Lawyers who must work on the designated Fridays will take their furloughs at a future date. Public Defender Michael Hersek said last month that most of his employees are just relieved the department, a frequent budgetary target, isn’t being hit by layoffs.
Update: Moments after posting, we got 'hold of another detail. Chief Deputy Attorney General James Humes wrote Controller John Chiang this letter (.pdf) today asking him not to include Department of Justice employees when carrying out the governor's furlough order. The governor's decision to furlough employees of constitutional officers is "improper," Humes writes, and "is tantamount to a bait-and-switch."
— Cheryl Miller