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« | Home | »

Exodus: Kathi Burns, Sarah Waklee out at CSAC office

By Zach Arnold | September 19, 2012

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The situation at the California State Athletic Commission continues to disintegrate in an alarming fashion. The state, which regulates twice as many shows as the second most active state in the U.S., is dealing with a commission that has become the most toxic political bureau under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Two players in the ongoing mess at CSAC are now out. Sarah Waklee, the UFC-friendly front office worker at CSAC and inspector for Northern California shows, is gone (after the end of this week). She has been reportedly transferred to another state agency, the Department of Justice. Needless to say, her CSAC front office antics will not fly at DOJ. This essentially ends her dream of becoming the next CSAC Executive Officer. Waklee filed numerous complaints against workers at Consumer Affairs, resulting in a polarized & politically-charged office environment.

Kathi Burns, who took over in mid-July as Executive Officer as a replacement for the departed George Dodd, is also on the outs. Burns was never a combat sports fan nor had any knowledge of the industry. And it certainly showed during her tenure. When we highlighted the follies of both Burns & Waklee in our Strikeforce San Diego drug testing article, needless to say the writing was on the wall for both individuals. Plus, when internal CSAC memos were revealed regarding the complete incompetence of the front office, that pretty much wrapped everything up.

Here is the internal memo that Burns sent out to CSAC staff today regarding her upcoming departure:

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to let all of you know that I have accepted a position at the Office of Legal Affairs at the CHP. My last day at CSAC will be 10/12. I have truly enjoyed my time working with all of you and very much appreciate those of you who took the time to show me the ropes and to share with me your knowledge and perspective of combat sports in California.

I will miss working with you and wish you all the best.

Regards, Kathi

Waklee has immediately departed, while Burns will be gone in October. It means the DCA lifer didn’t last three months in the job. Also, it should be pointed out that her transfer to OAL for CHP is not a direct, lateral transfer from one DCA agency to another. This was a transfer from DCA to another state agency. Did someone pull rank and help Kathi Burns out with a favor? Maybe. After all, CSAC was supposed to be a safe transfer spot for other DCA employees who needed to be kept around but had budget cuts at other agencies. Moving from Consumer Affairs to a non-DCA agency is certainly a curious move.

With Burns and Waklee out, it all but means that DCA’s golden boy Che Guevara is now in charge. However, that’s like bragging about being in charge of Libya at this point. The front office for CSAC has become an absolute wasteland and the situation is not getting any better. Guevara, who is the “Chief Athletic Inspector” at CSAC, has simply not trained inspectors properly when it comes to managing a box office, figuring out illegal hand wraps or skinned gloves, fighters using the wrong size of gloves in order to gain an advantage, screwing up drug testing protocols, and managing fighter paperwork because it’s been lost or tampered with.

Regarding these issues, the situation in the office has actually gotten worse since we last reported on what has been going on. The good news is that Consumer Affairs has a $25,000/yr person they call an SSA (Staff Service Analyst) who is now trying to look over box office records. The bad news is that this person is messing up their own audits of the box offices and can’t properly do an audit because the ticket manifests being given to them by inspectors is royally inaccurate & messed up beyond all recognition. As for the issue of medical & licensing paperwork for fighters, we are hearing angst amongst boxing & MMA fighters who are being told to fill out paperwork again that they had filled out literally a month ago at a show and got receipts for. In other words, the minute they are filling out paperwork it’s gone from Sacramento and the burden is being placed on the fighters and not the state to resolve the matters. In all my years of covering screw-ups in the fight business, I’ve never seen anything quite like the situation I’m witnessing now when it comes to the CSAC office missing or altering paperwork. Fighters really don’t have much of a choice, either, when an inspector goes to them and says either comply with our orders or else you’re not fighting on the card. The promoters are in the same bind here. The Sacramento office is driving people to their breaking point, resulting in business going to tribal land or to other states.

Che Guevara, the golden boy of DCA, is now going to essentially run the operations. He thinks he is the cock of the walk. The man who got a job promotion from Consumer Affairs because he missed Antonio Margarito’s illegal hand wraps and then perjured himself at a CSAC disciplinary hearing over the matter is now going to be the last man standing at CSAC. He thinks that this is the greatest development in the world. Well, Bill Douglas also thought he was the cock of the walk when he took over at CSAC a few years ago and look at him now. He’s gone from state work and facing seven misdemeanor charges for allegedly trying to sabotage the commission’s front office.

With everyone else in the old power structure basically gone now from CSAC, all the blame & responsibility for combat sports regulation in California falls right onto Che Guevara. It’s a lot easier to be the finger-pointer than the one having the finger pointed at… like reportedly telling other CSAC workers that it’s not his fault but rather Kathi’s for the implementation of the infamous “3 inspector” per show policy. He’s about to find out a painful lesson on just how much powerful politicians in the state of California (outside of Consumer Affairs) are paying close attention to his actions. This will not end well for him. Perhaps Consumer Affairs can channel CSAC’s past and bring in hacks like lawyer Spencer Walker, staff manager Gil De Luna, or former interim E.O. Dave Thornton (the man who cost DCA $750,000 in a sexual & racial harassment suit) to help out Che. You never know.

May you live in interesting times.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 14 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

14 Responses to “Exodus: Kathi Burns, Sarah Waklee out at CSAC office”

  1. Jay B. says:

    The rise of Che Guevara. Went from being a bit player to being a “power” player now.

    I guess Alan was wrong, changes are coming up.

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      If by change, you mean more of the same, yes. Front office generally means a position like receptionist or secretary. National news; the secretary who did per diem inspection transferred departments!

      • Jay B. says:

        You just hate what has become of Zach. Just doing news. He even posted the jon jones story today. Well forgot to mention Kathi Burns news, champ.

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          He should be doing news. Real news. Even copypaste real news. If this is real news, it needs to be presented in a manner befitting decent journalism. This isn’t it. People can say its being critical because he’s doing something others aren’t. I’m saying that no one has been replying to this stuff for months because it has no meat to it. It sounds like he’s getting emails with information from an inspector or other low level individual who is disgruntled and he’s trumping them up to be the apocalypse of combat sports in California. And for whatever reason, Zach hasn’t spent enough time in an office setting to catch onto this. Why should I believe that Sarah Waklee dreamt of being a CSAC Executive Officer? Better yet, why should I care about an entry level paper pusher’s failure to reach that goal if it even existed?

  2. Jonathan Snowden says:

    There has been a lot of talk on Twitter about how Zach’s CSAC series is “great journalism.” I’m a longtime supporter of Zach’s, but I don’t believe that to be true. I’ve analyzed this piece and shared my annotated version below…………………….

    The situation at the California State Athletic Commission continues to disintegrate in an alarming fashion. The state, which regulates twice as many shows as the second most active state in the U.S., is dealing with a commission that has become the most toxic political bureau under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

    Now purporting to be an “insider” who is measuring the level of toxicity of all 38 bureaus of the DCA. This is a group that covers everything from barbers to state contractors. The Athletic Commission is the smallest of potatoes.

    Two players in the ongoing mess at CSAC are now out. Sarah Waklee, the UFC-friendly front office worker at CSAC and inspector for Northern California shows, is gone.

    Yes, we are at the point of writing about the career path of admin people in state government.

    She has been reportedly transferred to another state agency, the Department of Justice. Needless to say, her CSAC front office antics will not fly at DOJ. This essentially ends her dream of becoming the next CSAC Executive Officer. Waklee filed numerous complaints against workers at Consumer Affairs, resulting in a polarized & politically-charged office environment.

    Kathi Burns, who took over in mid-July as Executive Officer as a replacement for the departed George Dodd, is also on the outs. Burns was never a combat sports fan nor had any knowledge of the industry.

    It’s almost like she was just filling the position until they could find a permanent person for the job!

    And it certainly showed during her tenure. When we highlighted the follies of both Burns & Waklee in our Strikeforce San Diego drug testing article, needless to say the writing was on the wall for both individuals. Plus, when internal CSAC memos were revealed regarding the complete incompetence of the front office, that pretty much wrapped everything up.

    Here is the internal memo that Burns sent out to CSAC staff today regarding her upcoming departure:

    Hello Everyone,

    I wanted to let all of you know that I have accepted a position at the Office of Legal Affairs at the CHP. My last day at CSAC will be 10/12. I have truly enjoyed my time working with all of you and very much appreciate those of you who took the time to show me the ropes and to share with me your knowledge and perspective of combat sports in California.

    I will miss working with you and wish you all the best.

    Regards, Kathi

    This “internal memo” is what most people would call a “friendly email.”

    Waklee has immediately departed, while Burns will be gone in October. It means the DCA lifer didn’t last three months in the job. Also, it should be pointed out that her transfer to OAL for CHP is not a direct, lateral transfer from one DCA agency to another. This was a transfer from DCA to another state agency.

    Only in Zach Arnold land is moving from one government agency to another cause for alarm!

    Did someone pull rank and help Kathi Burns out with a favor? Maybe.

    There is absolutely nothing in the record to support this. Pretty clear example of the writer’s rampant bias and the kind of assumption he makes, often for no discernible reason.

    After all, CSAC was supposed to be a safe transfer spot for other DCA employees who needed to be kept around but had budget cuts at other agencies. Moving from Consumer Affairs to a non-DCA agency is certainly a curious move.

    What is this based on? There’s no evidence that Zach has worked in California government, nor that he has talked to anyone who can explain the normal career path of a state worker. Why is switching jobs so alarming? Millions of people do it every week.

    With Burns and Waklee out, it all but means that DCA’s golden boy Che Guevara is now in charge.

    Golden boy reference number one. DCA, which I remind you deals with state contractors, the medical board, and other vital agencies, has a “golden boy” who works below the executive level at the Athletic department? Doesn’t pass the smell test.

    However, that’s like bragging about being in charge of Libya at this point. The front office for CSAC has become an absolute wasteland and the situation is not getting any better. Guevara, who is the “Chief Athletic Inspector” at CSAC,

    Why is “Chief Athletic Inspector in quotes? Is he not the chief athletic inspector? Is this a title he’s given himself?

    has simply not trained inspectors properly when it comes to managing a box office, figuring out illegal hand wraps or skinned gloves, fighters using the wrong size of gloves in order to gain an advantage, screwing up drug testing protocols, and managing fighter paperwork because it’s been lost or tampered with.

    I remind you that many of these offenses we are taking at Zach’s word. There’s no record or documentation to support them. Just previous articles of his that don’t substantiate the claims either.

    Regarding these issues, the situation in the office has actually gotten worse since we last reported on what has been going on. The good news is that Consumer Affairs has a $25,000/yr person they call an SSA (Staff Service Analyst) who is now trying to look over box office records. The bad news is that this person is messing up their own audits of the box offices and can’t properly do an audit because the ticket manifests being given to them by inspectors is royally inaccurate & messed up beyond all recognition.

    Support for this? Whispers in a phone call? Sorry, but at some point you need some on the record sources or this is just a bedtime story a disgruntled inspector shared. If the problem is this pervasive, the employees so angry, the situation so dire, someone will speak up.

    As for the issue of medical & licensing paperwork for fighters, we are hearing angst amongst boxing & MMA fighters who are being told to fill out paperwork again that they had filled out literally a month ago at a show and got receipts for.

    Are you hearing angst? If you are, it should be here in the form of a fighter actually making this complaint. That’s what reporting is.

    In other words, the minute they are filling out paperwork it’s gone from Sacramento and the burden is being placed on the fighters and not the state to resolve the matters. In all my years of covering screw-ups in the fight business, I’ve never seen anything quite like the situation I’m witnessing now when it comes to the CSAC office missing or altering paperwork. Fighters really don’t have much of a choice, either, when an inspector goes to them and says either comply with our orders or else you’re not fighting on the card. The promoters are in the same bind here. The Sacramento office is driving people to their breaking point, resulting in business going to tribal land or to other states.

    Documentation? Which promoters have recently run events on tribal lands instead of through the AC? Words are wind.

    Che Guevara, the golden boy of DCA, is now going to essentially run the operations. He thinks he is the cock of the walk.

    Golden Boy reference number 2. Cock of the walk number one. Professional “reporting?” Or is this an opinion piece? Is it a fantasy novel? That would explain so much!

    The man who got a job promotion from Consumer Affairs because he missed Antonio Margarito’s illegal hand wraps and then perjured himself at a CSAC disciplinary hearing over the matter is now going to be the last man standing at CSAC.

    Accusing someone of a crime is a bold move. Was he charged with or convicted of perjury? What’s your basis for this claim?

    He thinks that this is the greatest development in the world. Well, Bill Douglas also thought he was the cock of the walk when he took over at CSAC a few years ago and look at him now. He’s gone from state work and facing seven misdemeanor charges for allegedly trying to sabotage the commission’s front office.

    Feeling the “journalism” yet?

    With everyone else in the old power structure basically gone now from CSAC, all the blame & responsibility for combat sports regulation in California falls right onto Che Guevara. It’s a lot easier to be the finger-pointer than the one having the finger pointed at… like reportedly telling other CSAC workers that it’s not his fault but rather Kathi’s for the implementation of the infamous “3 inspector” per show policy.

    Where was this thing that “reportedly” happened reported? Or did you mean “I heard some gossip” when you wrote “reported?”

    He’s about to find out a painful lesson on just how much powerful politicians in the state of California (outside of Consumer Affairs) are paying close attention to his actions.

    Powerful people are watching! That’s what started this whole mess. A gentleman was once seen on stage at an event with Jerry Brown, meaning, in Zach World, that Brown is pulling the puppet strings for a department that represents 0 % of the state budget.

    This will not end well for him. Perhaps Consumer Affairs can channel CSAC’s past and bring in hacks like lawyer Spencer Walker, staff manager Gil De Luna, or former interim E.O. Dave Thornton (the man who cost DCA $750,000 in a sexual & racial harassment suit) to help out Che. You never know.

    Classic Zach Arnold name drop. No context for any of these people. On what basis do you call them hacks? Who are they? Why are they mentioned, in passing, in the last line of this diatribe?

    May you live in interesting times.

    If not, just make them so, with the power of will!

    • Steve Brown says:

      It’s a good thing that Jonathan is “a longtime supporter of Zach’s”. I could only imagine how long and negative his comment would have been if he didn’t “support” Zach.

      Thanks for the journalism lesson.

      • Jay B. says:

        Not only a “lesson”, but Snowden is acting like a bitter man because people praised Zach’s articles.

        Hiding resentment because he does not receive this praise?

  3. The Predictable Johnny Rodz says:

    On the plus side, Zach, at least Snowden is attacking you to your face for once and not hiding behind his imaginary friend “MMA Curmudgeon.”

  4. Zach Arnold says:

    Alan Conceicao said:

    He should be doing news. Real news. Even copypaste real news. If this is real news, it needs to be presented in a manner befitting decent journalism. This isn’t it.

    In the many months since the investigation first started, not one major claim has ever been denied by the parties involved. You’d have to go far and wide to find any sort of political/sports investigation where none of the major claims are challenged.

    If I didn’t believe it was a real story, I would have given up on it long ago. However, every day new evidence turns up and more people approach me with documentation that would easily hold up in a court case.

    I’m saying that no one has been replying to this stuff for months because it has no meat to it. It sounds like he’s getting emails with information from an inspector or other low level individual who is disgruntled and he’s trumping them up to be the apocalypse of combat sports in California.

    I’m glad you are underestimating me. I hope the folks in Sacramento are, too… except they aren’t. The Governor’s office isn’t. The Legislature sure as hell isn’t. After all, their new request at the Joint Legislative Audit committee was based on our articles. There are politicians of big name value behind the scenes in Sacramento asking around as far as how to save this commission because it has become such a train wreck.

    And for whatever reason, Zach hasn’t spent enough time in an office setting to catch onto this. Why should I believe that Sarah Waklee dreamt of being a CSAC Executive Officer?

    She applied for the position (a laugher) while also being interested in working for a promotion like the UFC.

    Let’s take your claim on face value. If nothing I wrote here was legitimate, there would be zero activity in that office. Instead, that office has become incredibly toxic for not only the workers but also for anyone from other DCA bureaus who could get transferred there if they wanted to keep a job on the taxpayer’s dime. The climate there since our investigation started has completely deteriorated.

    Better yet, why should I care about an entry level paper pusher’s failure to reach that goal if it even existed?

    Waklee worked in the front office and also worked as a lead inspector for many big shows in Northern California. Her story, along with the stories of the rest of the cast of characters is entirely why we have the mess that is currently on their hands here.

    If you think that this whole investigation has been based on a couple of disgruntled ex-inspectors, then there’s not much I can say to change your mind until there’s a final conclusion (sunsetting, suspending, or shutting down operations). A lot of powerful individuals with skin in the game here in California have approached me either with words of support or leads that have helped the investigation out. I’m thankful for the support that I’ve received behind the scenes. It means a lot to me.

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      In the many months since the investigation first started, not one major claim has ever been denied by the parties involved.

      This is assuming they acknowledge it at all. Has the Governor’s office issued a presser answering the charges you put on them?

      There are politicians of big name value behind the scenes in Sacramento asking around as far as how to save this commission because it has become such a train wreck.

      And they are doing what? Replying to emails? Probably going to hire some new people?

      She applied for the position (a laugher) while also being interested in working for a promotion like the UFC.

      What is this claim based on?

      If nothing I wrote here was legitimate, there would be zero activity in that office.

      I am not claiming she didn’t leave the CSAC and transfer to a different division. I’m saying that in the grand scheme of things, she is irrelevant because she is a paper pusher, probably near entry level, making very little money and of little consequence to anyone in state government. Instead, some low level, front desk admin changing departments is being treated like headline news in the world of fight sport.

      If you think that this whole investigation has been based on a couple of disgruntled ex-inspectors, then there’s not much I can say to change your mind until there’s a final conclusion (sunsetting, suspending, or shutting down operations).

      Is that the proposed end game I asked you for? You really believe the state of California is going to kill the CSAC and cease regulation of combat sports? Wow.

      • Tomer says:

        “Is that the proposed end game I asked you for? You really believe the state of California is going to kill the CSAC and cease regulation of combat sports? Wow.”

        The CSAC has been sunsetted before, so why are you acting surprised? And sunsetting doesn’t lead to the end of regulations, it means that the CSAC gets dissolved and rolled into the DCA. BTW, Zach is listing all the possible options for the commissions (including the unlikely chance of a shut down), so I’m not really sure what’s with your (disingenuous) histrionics.

        • Jay B. says:

          That is something Alan may not have known. Alan seems furious about this. I remember I was furious with Zach about Pride, then realized this was a big story. I thought he was infatuated with yakuzas. But turned out to be something of a big deal. If he has a gut feeling, let him go with it.

  5. Clint says:

    Thanks Zach for telling it like it is. Makes you wonder just what the agenda is for those who want you quit reporting the facts about CSAC and DCA. They are expending a lot of effort for something they would like you think they care nothing about.

    Hang in there.

  6. Zheroen says:

    I heard that the CSAC is the organization behind chemtrails!

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