Senate Local Govt. Committee “Transparency & Accountability” Summary Report

State Capitol

“On Wednesday afternoon, October 20, 2010, the Senate Local Government Committee held an oversight hearing on the requirements for public officials to disclose their compensation.”  This meeting was held in the Rancho Santiago Community College District’s Board of Trustees chambers in Santa Ana.”

Although receiving an email invitation from the office of vice chair Senator Christine Kehoe, I was behind in my emails while focusing on the election and missed the opportunity to cover this important meeting where the focus was on transparency and accountability and the “Public’s Right to Know.”

That said the 110 page report of that local meeting is now available. In a quick scan I noticed that some of our former and current Juice friends participated in that meeting.

Before providing their public comments let me share the six staff findings:

Unanimous support for statutory changes that will require more public disclosure of public officials’ compensation.

General support that public officials should disclose all forms of their compensation. However, there was no consensus on whether public officials should disclose their reimbursement payments, and there were cautionary notes about privacy concerns regarding medical benefits and worksites.

General support for requiring all public officials to disclose their compensation. However, K-12 schools, community colleges, and University of California contended that the current laws are adequate.

General support for public disclosure methods that produce public disclosure reports which are precise, reliable, accessible, and inexpensive.

Mixed advice on how to collect, store and distribute reports. Should the Legislature use the “Form 700” approach in SB 501 (Correa, 2010) or build on the State Controller’s recent work?

After the hearing, State Controller John Chiang posted an online database of the salaries, pensions, and other compensation for nearly 600,000 county and city employees:

Gilbert note. I applaud San Diego Senator Kehoe for her opening remarks where she said:
 “Elected officials, public employees, and the constituents we serve are appalled by the waste of public money and the lack of personal ethics” that surfaced in the news stories about the city of Bell.”

Following the invited speakers 10 members of the public added their comments.

That group included Barbara Kogerman, city council member elect for Laguna Hills, who championed the exposure of countywide city manager compensation, Mike Tardif of Santa Ana, former Costa Mesa mayor Sandy Genis, and Robin Cook from Santa Ana.

In reading sections of this 110 page report I am amused by Laguna Hills mayor Randy Brisette’s comment on page 11 where he is quoted to having said “I’m here to ask for your help.”  Immediately following on page 12 Senator Correa “called Mayor Brisette’s testimony “very troubling” because elected officials should know how much  they’re paying their staffs.”  Gilbert comment. Well stated Senator Lou.

Page 12 also contains remarks from Mike Tardif and Sandy Genis with Robin Cook’s comments on page 13.

Mike [Tardif] “does not necessarily agree with his City should be described as a “Baby Bell.” Nevertheless, he told the legislators how City officials discourage public participation at their meetings. He gave them copies of two web articles on the topic. Mr Tardif told the legislators that they should be putting some real teeth into the Brown act.”

Sandy [Genis] “reminded the legislators that local officials often sit on multiple boards and panels. There’s a need to cross-reference all of their various positions so that the public can see their total compensation. She described the problems she’s had when using the Public Records Act, citing experiences with the City of Anaheim and the City of Newport Beach. City practices can be “intimidating to the public,” Ms. Genis said.”

Robin Cook “said that legislators should quickly pass reforms. “You guys [should] go ahead and move mountains” and not wait until “a French Revolution” in which people lose their heads.”

The good news for Juice readers is that I will not be providing a full summary of this lengthy report that was triggered by what happened in the City of Bell.

You can purchase single copies of this Transparency and Accountability report by sending a check in the amount of $6.53 to:
the Senate Rules Committee, California Legislature, Sacramento Publications & Flags
1020 “N” Street, Room B-3
Sacramento, CA 95814  Ref. stock # 1482-S

The report is freely available on the Committee’s webpage:

About Larry Gilbert