By Zach Arnold | January 18, 2013
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Thursday night’s Bellator event at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, California was supposed to be a great moment for new CSAC Executive Officer Andy Foster. The event drew significantly better numbers than expected and it was a positive first step for Bellator and Spike TV. With Bellator ramping up the number of upcoming events in California for 2013, this was supposed to be a celebratory moment for Foster.
Instead, this week has been unpredictable for Foster — and it was capped off by a resignation that has stunned many insiders in the California scene.
Last weekend, there was a training session for athletic inspectors in Sacramento. Multiple sources involved with the session claim that Andy Foster was asked about the state of California’s fraudulent audit of CSAC and whether or not inspectors were going to be getting letters of confiscation. Foster had no knowledge as to whether or not inspectors were going to be getting such letters.
Within days of the Sacramento training sessions, 18 inspectors throughout the state got letters of confiscation in which the Department of Consumer Affairs, which controls CSAC, asked for money to be returned that they had paid out years ago. Debt-collector style, DCA is telling inspectors that they can pay back the money given to them by the amount of months they were paid for years ago. In other words, if you were paid for 6 months of work, you have 6 months to pay back the money they want.
The letters gave inspectors a deadline of 15 days to respond and to approve a payment plan. Three options are listed. Option one is to pay by check or cash. Option two is to let DCA deduct money out of future paychecks. Option three is to use credits already earned.
DCA’s top PR flack warned everyone that this move was coming. When the letters of confiscation came out days after Andy Foster’s training session in Sacramento, it made him look awful to the inspectors. Either he was lying to their faces or else he has no control over what is going on. That is the perspective of the inspectors who were at the training session. Just as we’ve always said about the Department of Consumer Affairs in Sacramento, they are a nasty bureaucratic behemoth that continues to destroy morale & continuity at CSAC. They are the root cause of CSAC’s problems, not CSAC itself.
Why is DCA asking for athletic inspectors to pay back money from years ago?
The Bureau of State Audits published a fradulent audit of past CSAC activity, claiming that full-time state employees who work as athletic inspectors are not entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay rates. They even developed a phony legal memo touting this new stance… despite the fact that any armchair lawyer could immediately trounce such a legal opinion in a courtroom. It has no teeth. It only has teeth if people allow the State to run over them and not fight back.
The laws in California are very clear. Anyone working as an athletic inspector is considered an intermittent state employee. That means you have to pay the time-and-a-half. DCA, in an attempt to save themselves politically, is now telling inspectors that they paid time-and-a-half to that they should pay the money back. It’s a shameless but incredibly stupid move because it has no legal merit.
The easiest legal principle to explain why DCA’s move has no teeth is to talk about equitable estoppel. From the link:
Equitable estoppel prevents one party from taking a different position at trial than she did at an earlier time if the other party would be harmed by the change.
In other words, once the toothpaste is out of the tube you can’t put it back in. The state of California properly paid the inspectors time-and-a-half based on state law. Now that they came up with a phony legal memo saying they don’t have to do it, they want to harm the inspectors by telling them to pay back the money they were legally paid.
Why is this happening? What are the politics?
The California State Athletic Commission is considered the whipping boy of all Sacramento politics. If some politician wants to make an example out of someone or test out a new political scheme, guess who gets trampled first? This explains why CSAC is often the victim of Sacramento’s horrible political climate. It’s why the biggest names in the California Democratic Party are often so paranoid about an agency that, in the grand scheme of California’s budget mess, is relatively meaningless.
As one source told us last year, DCA lifer Denise Brown (who has been around since the days of Jimmy Carter) pushed George Dodd out based on phony claims of CSAC needing loans because she needed a pelt on the wall for her state Senate confirmation hearing to make her look like she would be tough on budget matters. After Dodd’s firing, Brown selected Andy Foster as new Executive Officer. Because of the political capital invested by Brown & her version of Fredo Corleone, Awet Kidane, it was highly unlikely that CSAC would get sunset and instead get a temporary year or two year reprieve.
That mirage of political protection CSAC has is now out the window because DCA just sabotaged their own agency for the sake of pushing a bogus image of fiscal responsibility over the issue of time-and-a-half. Andy Foster just got sandbagged.
The issue of state employees & overtime has became an issue of civil war for the California Democratic Party. You have the unions on one side and you have Governor Jerry Brown on the other side. Where the rest of the key players falls depends on what the issue is. CADEM has a supermajority of the Capitol seats. For all intents and purposes, there isn’t a functional Republican Party in the state.
DCA’s stunt of going after CSAC is just part of the civil war brewing in Sacramento for the Democrats. The Sacramento Bee newspaper reported on overtime issues at CalPERS, the state’s public employee pension system. To make a long story short, managers at CalPERS were given second jobs at the agency and were paid for work as having a second job.
If the manager wasn’t paid at time-and-one-half the hourly equivalent of their salary when they worked more than 40 hours in a given week, a judge could decide CalPERS also violated federal labor law that requires overtime paid at a higher rate than straight time.
“It could get expensive for CalPERS very quickly,” Yeung said, obligating the fund to retroactively pay the affected employees multiple damage penalties and to cover attorney fees.
The CalPERS rank-and-file workers doing jobs similar to those performed by the managers are represented by SEIU Local 1000. Union officials declined to comment.
The Bee’s report has led to CADEM’s big wigs to proclaim that they will investigate the matter at hand. It’s issues like these that have put union leaders in one corner and the State in the other corner.
The political pressure has now forced CalPERS to stop giving their workers second jobs.
The fallout for CSAC
As a result of DCA’s u-turn about paying full-time state employees time-and-a-half while they work as athletic inspectors, multiple sources on background have told us that there is a significant battle coming up between the state and the inspectors. On one side, there is a desire to try to classify the athletic inspectors as independent contractors so that they are paid a fee per show as opposed to time-and-a-half. On the other side, there is reportedly building interest amongst some union leaders in the state to get involved and to protect the athletic inspectors who are full-time state employees.
When the letters of confiscation were sent out by DCA to 18 different athletic inspectors, the reaction from the inspectors was what you thought it would be — and rightfully so.
However, one major shoe has now officially dropped.
Mohammad Noor, considered to be by far California’s best athletic inspector (based in Southern California), quit his position as the state’s #1 athletic inspector on Friday. Noor was reportedly one of the 18 inspectors who got letters of confiscation from the Department of Consumer Affairs. Such a letter would put Noor’s job at the state’s Department of Finance into jeopardy because it attacks his credibility as a witness for court cases if he has that letter hanging over him.
Noor was a prime target for DCA’s u-turn and sabotage attempt because he was the highest paid athletic inspector in the state for years. Our tax records proved it. A few years ago, he made more money as an athletic inspector than he did for his salary at the Department of Finance. So, now that DCA has turned on him, why should he continue to work for them?
In his farewell letter, Noor included this quote:
I want to thank Che for his dedication and commitment to the CSAC through its ups and downs, which served as inspiration for me to try and do the same.
It was Che Guevara who needed Mo Noor for his job survival as Chief Athletic Inspector. With Mo on his side, he could maintain his power. Without Mo, Che’s political coalition is shakier. Which means his future is shakier in Sacramento. We’ll find out sooner rather than later what his future looks like.
On the surface, the loss of Noor will not mean anything for fight fans. However, Noor was an important person behind-the-scenes. It was only last month that Andy Foster had booked Mo Noor for an inspector training session to teach the other inspectors on how to properly do a box office. Nobody in the state did cleaner paperwork for a box office than Mo Noor. With so much revenue missing due to athletic inspectors who can’t manage a box office properly, Noor’s assistance in trying to smarten up other inspectors on how to do the job right is/was critical.
With Noor’s departure, it is expected that athletic inspector Mark Relyea will take his place as the #1 inspector in Southern California.
In addition of Noor’s resignation on Friday, we have heard through multiple channels that at least one lawsuit will be filed against Consumer Affairs over the hostile work environment they have created for CSAC. When it rains, it pours, and it’s a safe bet to expect a lot of push back against DCA’s strong-arm tactics.
The end result of all this chaos is that Andy Foster is dealing with issues that are not of his making nor are they issues that he can control.