The $1,200 chair you didn't know you had
Last fall, BOE member Jerome Horton faced some heat for spending around $130,000 on new office furniture.1 This included 24 white leather chairs at $1,200 a pop, a matching couch, new cabinetry, and a $115 umbrella stand (in the third driest state in the nation), to furnish the glass-walled offices that staff apparently refer to as "Jerome's aquarium."2
The furnishing of Horton's new office is a byproduct of the BOE building woes at 450 N Street, which forced BOE staff out because of structural leaks, toxic mold, bursting pipes and corroded wastewater plumbing, faulty exterior glass panels, a bat infestation, unreliable elevators, noxious odors, and trace amounts of toxic chemicals.
Most state agencies are required to buy new office furniture from the Prison Industry Authority, which uses inmate labor to build furniture. But apparently the project manager redecorating Horton's office asked for a waiver to buy his furniture from a different source. (The other three board members took hand-me-down furniture for their offices.)
When pressed by reporters to explain himself, Horton claimed he wasn't involved in the furniture selection process and also noted: "And of course, at the end of the day, the chair, the office, whatever, actually belongs to the people of the state of California."
Excellent. I'll be stopping by later to rest in one of "my" chairs. Hope I don't spill any coffee on the white leather.