Gov. Gray Davis has made more than 20 appointments to courts and state boards since losing the recall election and intends to continue filling vacancies before handing over power to Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, administration officials said Tuesday.
Davis acted despite suggestions by Schwarzenegger and other Republicans that the Democratic governor stop naming people to state jobs.
Davis' new appointments include 10 Superior Court judges and 13 people named to state boards, commissions and agencies. At least three of the judicial appointees contributed to the governor's campaign to defeat the recall; one of the appointees is a Republican.
An additional 17 vacancies exist on state courts, and Davis plans to fill most of them, said Burt Pines, Davis' judicial appointments secretary. "Even though these appointments were announced after the election, they were made before the election," said Pines, who is expected to be named to the bench by Davis before he leaves office sometime in the next month. "It takes a certain amount of time to do the paperwork, prepare press releases and review things with the candidate.
"This wasn't an effort to reward campaign donors with judgeships. If they made political contributions, it wasn't a factor in their appointment," Pines said. He added that Davis has the legal right and responsibility to continue filling judicial vacancies, and said that Schwarzenegger might need as much as six months to complete the vetting process for making his own appointments.
"I'm getting calls from courts from around the state because they need the people," he said. "If the governor doesn't fill some of these positions, it could be many months before a new governor is able to fill these positions."
H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger's transition team, said of Davis' last-minute appointments: "It's an issue that we'll continue to monitor."
Other Republicans criticized Davis.
"Davis deserves credit for some very gracious language toward Schwarzenegger once the recall was concluded, but this is simply thumbing his nose at the voters who recalled him," said Republican consultant Dan Schnur.
Davis aides note that Republican Gov. Pete Wilson made a flurry of appointments before Davis took office, naming 31 judges between the November 1998 election and Davis' Jan. 4, 1999 inauguration. Wilson appointed seven judges on Jan. 1 and 2, 1999, Pines said.
But Peter DeMarco, a spokesman for Assembly Republican Leader Dave Cox, said the transition for a recalled governor should be treated differently from past transfers of power.
"Unlike past administrations where there's been a clearly defined end of term, the people of California summarily rejected Gray Davis last week," he said. "This is the final insult to all Californians."
Davis' Superior Court appointments include Charles Stevens Crandall, 51, San Luis Obispo County; John Jeffrey Almquist, 55, Santa Cruz County; Philip H. Pennypacker, 56, Santa Clara County; Vincent J. Chiarello, 46, Santa Clara County; Douglas Hatchimonji, 48, Orange County; David Nelson, 56, Mendocino County; James E. Oakley, 50, Madera County; Bernard J. Schwartz, 43, Riverside County; Bryan F. Foster, 55, San Bernardino County; and Janet M. Frangie, 49, San Bernardino County.
Almquist made a $1,500 contribution to the Davis anti-recall campaign Sept. 22, according to filings with the secretary of state. Pennypacker made a $2,000 contribution Sept. 23, and Chiarello made a $2,500 contribution Sept. 24. The amounts are relatively small compared with other campaign donations Davis was receiving at the time.
Oakley is a Republican, administration officials said.
Davis has also announced 13 other appointments since Oct. 6; he named two new members to the state Board of Registered Nursing and made other appointments to the California Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision; the Osteopathic Medical Board; the California Committee on Dental Auxiliaries, Protection and Advocacy Inc., an advocacy agency for people with disabilities; the Health Policy and Data Advisory Commission; and the California Task Force on Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance Education.
There are about 1,500 Superior Court judges and another 100 judges in California's appellate court system, all of whom are appointed by the governor. Nominees undergo a 90-day review by the State Bar of California before being considered for appointment by the governor's office, Pines said.
Davis has announced 341 judicial appointments since taking office in January 1999; those include promotions of some of his Superior Court appointees to appellate courts. He has announced 64 judicial appointees thus far this year: 57 judges to Superior Court, seven to appellate courts.