Monday, May 16, 2011

California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board Targeted for Closure

Governor Brown is revealing himself as a more active terminator of government deadwood than his action hero predecessor. A recent announcement that the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Boards (CUIAB) is in his cross hairs may signal a move towards placing all the administrative judge functions of boards under a single authority.

Many of the professional licensing boards and appeals boards in the state do not themselves hold hearings to make findings or decisions with regard to resolving cases. This work is done by hired consultants and administrative judges. These boards, more than most, cross the check and balance boundaries of the three branches of government that we all learned about in high school.

Like many of the highly-paid boards, the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board has turned into an Ex-Legislator private membership club with termed-out or voter-rejected legislators receiving appointments and receiving upwards of $128,000 to accomplish very little. The public portion of the meetings last only a few hours once or twice a month and board members do little more than listen to staff reports. The board rarely votes, rarely directs the staff, rarely commits to anything while administrative judges do all their heavy lifting.

These CUIAB members do not actually hear unemployment insurance appeals, that is accomplished by administrative judges. After brief reports, the board recesses into closed session, rarely reporting out of the closed session as to the results per the Bagley-Keene Act. It is nice work, if you can get it! The JLSRC has an organizing meeting this Wednesday at the Capitol. As the JLSRC advances ideas for board and commission realignment, it appears there will be a governor at the ready to follow through.

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