SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 20 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network — The Schwarzenegger administration lost another legal battle yesterday when the Sacramento Superior Court struck down a directive pressuring independent board members to work in Sacramento rather than in their hometowns.
The case was brought by Marcy Saunders, a five-year member of the
Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board, which rules on workplace health
and safety violations. After repeated interference from the administration
and Board Chair Candace Traeger, Saunders sued. Judge Lloyd G. Connelly found
that Traeger’s directive barring Board staff from sending documents to
Saunders’ San Mateo County office was an illegal attempt to control a co-equal
Board member’s place of work. Traeger, a Schwarzenegger appointee, had also
locked away official documents, ordering that other Board members seeking
access would first have to get clearance from her.
“The court’s ruling sends a clear message to the Schwarzenegger
administration,” said Saunders’ lawyer, John J. Davis, Jr. “It can’t give
marching orders that trample the independence of California boards and
commissions. Marcy has always been a fierce defender of workplace safety.
The administration was trying to force her out because she wouldn’t toe the
Saunders’ supporters point out that after failing to dissolve the Board
altogether, the administration began targeting worker-friendly board members
The court’s ruling — that the administration cannot force commissioners
and board members to work in Sacramento — is a victory for the many public
officials who serve the state from their hometowns and travel to Sacramento
for hearings and meetings. In his ruling, Judge Connelly pointed out that
requiring board members and commissioners to work in Sacramento would greatly
limit the diversity of public representation, making those bodies
unrepresentative of California as a whole. “The Schwarzenegger directive
would have consolidated control among political insiders,” Davis said.
When Saunders was appointed five years ago, she was asked her to work from
home due to an office-space shortage. “Saunders is a dedicated public servant.
She is always fully prepared for Board meetings, and in five years she has
missed only one meeting,” Davis said. “By working from her home office, she
saves the state thousands of dollars it would otherwise spend each year.”
For more information, contact: Michelle Mulkey, 415-987-7377