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What’s next for the California State Athletic Commission?

By Zach Arnold | August 13, 2012

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This question is one that Mauro Ranallo and I tried to answer last Friday on his radio show. My segment is around 15 minutes long, so it’s concise but easy for anyone to understand if you’re an outsider to the whole topic of CSAC’s political & financial troubles.

(If you’re looking for an audio source to give you the origins of what exactly has been going on, listen to my interview a few weeks ago with Jordan Breen on Sherdog radio.)

In the short-run, don’t expect many changes as far as the process of MMA & boxing shows happening in the state. Things should run OK, although the issue about the Department of Consumer Affairs having athletic inspectors sign “Volunteer Service Agreements” is going to turn out to be a real poisonous move. If DCA doesn’t think that they are going to face legal ramifications for this stunt, they should reconsider their position. If an inspector won’t sue them over it, an SEIU union representative or a labor attorney will. There are plenty of pro-union power brokers who think that DCA making inspectors signing VSAs is a form of extortion by using coercive contacts of adhesion in order to play favorites. Remember, athletic inspectors while doing their job for CSAC are considered intermittent state employees. That means they have union rights while working in official capacity for the state. For Denise Brown, Awet Kidane, and members of DCA’s legal department to think that they can get with the VSAs shows how arrogant and ignorant they really are.

In the intermediate picture, there’s too many factors right now building up against DCA to not cause heartburn in Sacramento. You have the impending audit of the California State Athletic Commission in regards to the boxer’s pension & neurological funds, along with the issues of in-state travel & inspector costs exploding. You have the retaliation & age discrimination lawsuit by athletic inspector Dwayne Woodard, which promises to pierce through a lot of walls in Sacramento and get DCA involved in a protracted court battle where key political players in Sacramento are at risk for deposition. You have politicians at the state Capitol who are turning on each other and picking sides over the way California’s 500+ special funds are being managed. The fact that there may be up to 2.3 billion dollars in hiding as Governor Jerry Brown is heating up his November ballot initiative to raise taxes in California means that tempers are hot and patience is thin.

Dan Walters (Sac Bee): Censorship rears its ugly head in California senate

The situation at the athletic commission is embarrassing. However, it’s not an embarrassment because of George Dodd. It’s an embarrassment because of bureaucrats like Denise Brown who have been at the Department of Consumer Affairs since 1977. When you have people like Anita Scuri running around in DCA’s legal department for decades, what do you expect to have happen when the amount of employees under their umbrella multiplies in conjunction with a heavier flow of taxpayer cash? You get the kind of debacle that you are witnessing at CSAC. You have millions of dollars in a boxer’s pension fund and few boxers are getting paid back the money they put into it. You have promoters paying out cash from their show gates to finance a neurological fund that has produced absolutely nothing in terms of new concussion testing for fighters.

With the audit of CSAC coming, I fully expect people at the Department of Consumer Affairs to start turning on each other. And not only will they turn on each other, they’ll play the blame game and try to shift the responsibility of who did what onto people like George Dodd. I would not be surprised to see DCA try to make a claim against Dodd that he should be financially liable for some of the troubles at CSAC. Of course, the Department of Consumer Affairs is the same institution that claimed less than three months ago that CSAC would be $35,000 in the red to start the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year, only to end up claiming that they were $23,000 in the black once DCA lifer & bean counter Kathi Burns took over from Dodd as Executive Officer at CSAC.

Lost in all of this debauchery is the fact that the California State Athletic Commission has become a national punchline in the combat sports community. The commission is reportedly months behind in getting bout results & suspensions to the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC), which CSAC is legally required to do. You have CSAC employing certain individuals and sending them to fight shows in which they don’t know how to run a box office and produce the proper ledger/manifest because they can’t do math or have trouble with their reading & writing skills. You have events taking place in the state, like the Antonio Tarver fight recently promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in Carson, California at the Home Depot Center where you have 1,200 paid tickets and over 4,000 comps being distributed with the approval of CSAC management. Not only does Denise Brown at the Department of Consumer Affairs acknowledge that fraud is taking place, she hasn’t fired or arrested anyone over it!

The prospects of sunsetting CSAC

Part of the intermediate picture for CSAC’s future is the impending sunset hearing in front of the Senate Business & Professions committee. DCA is supposed to meet with the committee in October to go over matters.

There are many ways this situation could play out. The commission could remain with the status quo and keep going. The commission could get sunset by the SBP committee. If it does, it means one of three possibilities:

The last scenario is unlikely given that there’s lots of revenue to be made from hosting fight shows and everything that comes along with it. However, if the stench from what’s happened at CSAC is so bad and people like Denise Brown are trying to keep their cushy government jobs, anything they need to throw overboard to save their careers is on the table.

There is a fourth scenario which could wrap around to scenario a), which is that DCA themselves sunset CSAC without SBP’s help and take things private. It would make the regulation of combat sports in California about as transparent as a fiduciary board for conservatorship.

The long-term picture for the athletic commission

During my interview on Friday with Mauro, I stated that we have at least a year, if not two years worth of painstaking scrutiny coming for the California State Athletic Commission. It may come sooner, but I think the time frame of about two years is accurate.

The audit of CSAC by Sacramento will take a couple of months, at minimum. The media coverage of what’s going at DCA, as long as we are alive, is not going to stop. We will continue to press the issue. The legal angle is the real hammer being swung here, however, and I fully expect the following:

On top of that, don’t forget the criminal charges filed by the Sacramento DA’s office against current Pest Control Executive Officer and former CSAC Executive Officer Bill Douglas for allegedly trying to sabotage CSAC power brokers like George Dodd & Che Guevara!

The analogy I used on Mauro’s radio show is that the deal in Sacramento is like a house of cards ready to fold. Perhaps a better analogy to use is that the foundation of the DCA house is starting to crack and that, slowly but surely, the cracks will expand and eventually the foundation will crumble. Count on it.

A message to potential whistle-blowers

One of the humbling aspects of our reporting on what’s been happening at the Department of Consumer Affairs and the California State Athletic Commission is that we’ve been contacted by individuals who have proved to be incredibly valuable sources of information and have led us in the right direction to do our own research. If our research was faulty, we would have never been able to produce the results that we have so far from our investigation. Plus, as you have seen from the reaction by the politicians in question, we’ve hit a real nerve.

However, we understand that there are potential sources who have key & critical information that could provide us with some real clues of what is going on in Sacramento. However, some of these sources have day jobs with the state of California and are afraid to risk their livelihood because of threats from Consumer Affairs about what is happening with CSAC.

So, we want to extend an olive branch to anyone who wants to come forward and talk to us on background. If you are interested in communicating with me, just send me a message and give me contact information in which you can be reached offline to further discuss matters. I will not burn any potential sources nor disclose names. Your potential communication with me, as a source on background, is protected by the California Shield Law.

The reason I am publicly writing this invitation is because I have a pretty good understanding of the political climate right now at the Department of Consumer Affairs. If you have information that can help out our investigation, please reach me. There is a good reason for you, as a potential source, to cooperate with us. If you are someone who is in a vulnerable political position and you don’t stand up for yourself in terms of defining what your situation is, others will attempt to use you and blame you for their actions. With the impending audit of CSAC and the upcoming legal battles against DCA over what has happened at CSAC, now is a chance for you to reach out to me and put the spotlight on where the bad apples are and why. The more you help us with our investigation, the more you can help your situation out and bolster your credibility.

We know that everyone who is involved in the California combat sports scene (and those who have sporadic involvement in California affairs) is paying close attention to our investigation. Help us put the media spotlight on where it needs to go.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 2 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

2 Responses to “What’s next for the California State Athletic Commission?”

  1. Old Fighter says:

    It was sad watching the commission members asking Che what they could “legally do” when it comes to changing a decision. Some of them have been on the commission longer than Che has been with CSAC.
    At least they were wise enough to over ride his recommendation on the fights that were protested.

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