Announcements

Mr. Schweers,

1. The Florida Today was provided copies of Tiboron and Progressive (the predecessor) contracts. The Tiburon contract bears the signature of Mr. Crawford. When will we see a retraction of the statement that Scott Ellis brought on and contracted with Tiboron to fix the computer system?

2. Today's article states that, in an article leading off with my name, that "After spending millions of taxpayer dollars on consultant and staff overtime, the computer system still doesn't work right". Since I have been in office less than $50,000 has been spent on additional programming and consultants, and about $400,000 has spent on over time. Annual licenses must be paid on any commercial computer system, they are an ongoing operational costs. Overtime numbers are consistently under $100,000 annually, and as I explained to you in the office, we have people on duty every single weekend and holiday, as well as after-hours Injunction Clerks, and they are an unavoidable overtime. I also explained the long list of things in the system that currently do work as opposed to four years ago. Other than the after-the-fact SRS reporting, what other aspects of the computer system do you consider to not be working right? In particular, where are the day-today operations impacted by this computer system? This entire paragraph is misleading, to say the least. God forbid anyone would research what was going on here in 2000.

3. In the lead paragraph is discussed a "backlog of case filings". Is this the 'backlog' of the headline? If so, upon which facts do you base the statement that there currently is a backlog of case filings in Brevard County? Is there a backlog of case filings or just a backlog of cases that for some reason lay a long time on the dockets and are slow to be disposed? If the issue is the time it takes to dispose a case, how is the Clerk's Computers or Operations responsible?

4. The third paragraph states "Judges and lawyers can feel the impact every day." The impact of what? Are you implying the Clerk's computers are somehow fouling up the day-to-day operations? A long litany of problems is listed, are these all to be blamed on the Clerk's Office? Are you saying that because of the after-the-fact SRS errors, in a period where no new Judges have gone to any County, and this County did get two more quasi-Judicial Hearing Officers, that the Clerk's Office is to blame for all of these problems? How does post-action SRS reporting
affect the daily operations, please? I have said they do not, you have included a litany of allegations they do, and I would like to know how.

5. The fourth paragraph states (from Mr. Casanova), "It strains the court's trial dockets, to the extent where trials are continued beyond the reasonable amount of time it should take to try a case." What is 'It'? Is 'It' the Clerk's Computer systems? Is 'It' the Continuances requested by the attorneys and granted by the Judges? If it is Continuances, the Clerk's Office does not and can not grant them. I would like to know what specifically about the current computer system forces Judges to Continue cases and keep bringing people back to court time and time again.

6. In the fifth paragraph Judge Perry is talking about a 'That' which is an infringement upon people's constitutional rights. What is the 'That' that deals with the "Access to the courts" discussed immediately afterwards? Is it the Clerk's Computer systems which deny access, the Clerk's Operations, or ? If it is something in the Clerk's Office I would like to know what and how, please. What is the 'That'?

7.The lead under the headline states that "Judges, lawyers criticize Ellis, computer system". Only one Judge and only one attorney are cited in this article, period. One criticizes an 'It', the other criticizes a 'Th at'. I fail to read a single quote in this article from any attorney or any Judge criticizing myself or the Clerk's Computer Systems. Mr. Van Bever and the OSCA personnel are neither Attorneys nor Judges. I would like to know how this sub-headline was created and the basis for it.

8. The headline itself says "Backlog impairs judicial process". Which backlog? If it is because of the docket sizes, are you saying that is because of the Clerk's Operations or Computer Systems? If it is the SRS numbers, what is their effect on day-to-day operations, especially since nobody has any new Judges the last two years? Upon what other statistics is it even shown new Judges are needed? Clerks do not grant Continuances, Judges do. Clerk's don't bring in 40,000 people for a Pay-or-Appear program, Judges do. Clerks don't request Continuances, the party
attorneys do. I would like to know the basis for this headline - is it the Clerk's Office Operation, the Clerk's Computer System, or the Judicial Operations?

9. I have sent a list of questions to both OSCA and Court Administration which for the most part
cover the text of the story on page 3A.

10. I find it convenient that the numbers given on page 3A do not have a breakdown between what has been spent under myself and what was my predecessor, although the periods written overlap. As I explained to you Friday, the budgets of Mr. Crawford neglected to include over 50 temporary employees. Also Mr. Crawford had used about $400,000 from Internal Audit for Courts in 2000, while we returned this money to the Board in 2001. We also uncovered as we got the financials back together (our audits were successful, thank you) that in 2000 over $700,000 was spent by the Clerk's Office of other people's money. All monies were made good and last year we returned over $100,000 to the Board as well as paid off the $700,000. In this years budget, as I also explained, we returned last Summer about $400,000 to the Board and had another $400,000+ deleted for this year at our request. We also received over $1.4 million from the state which we did not anticipate, and at year end all excess monies will be returned to the Board and the State. Even after returning the $400,000 last Summer we still had an excess of around
$400,000 which will be sent to the State with some to the Board. Actually the overtime numbers show our success at eliminating the mandatory overtime from 2000, but only if you knew that the 2000 and first quarter fy 2001 numbers were before I was elected. Your numbers for 2000-01 neglect the nearly $300,000 in salaries Mr. Crawford had not included as well as monies returned to the Board, plus another $200,000 error from 2000 which we made good in 2001, and the rampant overspending from 2000 which we were discovering. The employee numbers fail to include the number of employees and other expenses off-budget from 2000, and there is no comment that all of the employees listed are not full-time and neither do they all work in the Courts. After looking at adjustments for pay raises and insurance increases (nearly $3 million) over four years, plus the projected return of revenue to the State in 2005, it would be impossible to have added 142 employees for $2.5 million in total annual costs when insurance alone costs over $7,000 per employee per year. Believe it or not, since I have been in office we have added Judges and have added quasi-judicial Hearing Officers and we have added staff to support them, as well as added staff to support a much larger workload in Recording due to the real estate and refinancing markets as well as additional accountants to support the State's new Article V requirements. None of these additions have a doggone thing to do with the Computer systems. I believe it no accident that none of the financial/budget explanatory information I gave you made it into the story, nor that numbers crossing backwards to Mr. Crawford were included in the totals. I have no idea who edits these stories and writes the headlines, but once again the facts have been selected to support the story in whatever manner they need be presented, rather than
getting all of the facts first and letting the story flow from the facts.

Sincerely,
Scott Ellis