June 30, 2016 Board Meeting Minutes
The California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (Board) convened a special meeting in open session at the call of Marybel Batjer, Secretary, California Government Operations Agency, at 400 R Street, Sacramento, California, on Thursday, June 30, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. Also present was Member Richard Chivaro, Deputy State Controller and Chief Counsel, acting for and in the absence of Betty T. Yee, Controller. Member Michael Ramos, San Bernardino County District Attorney, was absent.
Chief Counsel Wayne Strumpfer was in attendance. Denise Howder, Executive Assistant to the Executive Officer, recorded the meeting.
The Board meeting commenced with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Item 1. Public Comment
The Board opened the meeting for public comment. No public comment was provided.
Item 2. Claims of Laura Sweet, Kim Trefry, and Nancy Butler
Claim Numbers G624628, G625033, and G625147
Laura Sweet, retired Deputy Chief, Department of Consumer Affairs, appeared and addressed the Board. Neither Kim Trefry nor Nancy Butler were in attendance; however, Ms. Sweet stated she represented Ms. Trefry and Ms. Butler who were both out of state. Laura Freedman, attorney, appeared and addressed the Board on behalf of the Department of Consumer Affairs.
Nicholas Wagner, Government Claims Program Manager, stated the matter was continued from the June 16, 2016, Board meeting. He stated claimants Laura Sweet, Kim Trefry, and Nancy Butler requested relief from accounts receivables established by the California State Employees’ Retirement System for which they believed the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) was liable. Mr. Wagner stated Government Claims Program staff recommended the Board allow discussion by the claimants and DCA regarding the settlements to ensure the settlements were legal, the claimants had a full understanding of the settlements, and the claimants knowingly and voluntarily withdrew their claims.
Chairperson Batjer explained that at the last meeting, the Board received information regarding the settlements shortly before the meeting began. As a result, the Board had several questions. Staff did not have time to analyze the documents; consequently, the Board needed appropriate time to allow staff to perform their analysis, which was the reason for the special meeting of the Board.
Chairperson Batjer stated that in the settlement agreements, DCA offered the claimants more compensation than they requested. For example, in Ms. Sweet’s settlement agreement, DCA offered her an additional $1,000. She asked for an explanation for what the extra money represented.
Ms. Sweet stated the payment was not discussed and she was unsure the reason DCA wished to compensate her for more than the CalPERS accounts receivable; however, she explained that all claimants accepted the offers because they believed it was fair compensation for their level of frustration and for the inconvenience they all endured.
Ms. Freedman stated she was not at liberty to discuss the matter with the Board due to attorney/client privilege.
Chairperson Batjer explained that the Board had no authority to give a gift of public funds.
Ms. Freedman stated there were no claims pending before the Board; therefore, the Board was not entitled to the terms of the agreement.
Mr. Strumpfer clarified that the Board had not received a signed waiver from the claimants. Instead, the Board only received an email, which the Board had not accepted. He explained that the Board was concerned about the protection of the claimants. If the amount paid was above the amount requested by the claimants, then it represented a gift of public funds and would have to be returned. However, if the amount represented DCA’s liability, then it would be a different situation.
Ms. Freedman reiterated that she was not at liberty to discuss DCA’s rationale for the settlements.
Chairperson Batjer remarked that she believed DCA’s payment to the claimants for more than they requested was not in an effort to compensate the claimants for their frustration; instead, she believed it was DCA’s attempt to avoid paying the 15 percent surcharge on those awards.
The Board accepted the claimants’ requests to withdraw their claims.
The Board meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m.