SANTA ANAâ€” Senator Lou Correa held a hearing of the Senate’s Local Government Committee in Santa Ana Wednesday on transparency in government. I was unable to attend but the Voice of OC’s Tracy Wood was. From her report:
Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, said today he will introduce an omnibus disclosure bill making it easy for members of the public to learn how much local and state officials receive in pay and benefits.
Correa disclosed his intentions Wednesday following an afternoon-long hearing in Santa Ana on transparency in government held by the state Senate’s Local Government Committee.
The hearing and Correa’s bill are reactions to the pay scandal in the city of Bell. In Bell, former City Administrator Robert Rizzo, a majority of the City Council and other officials are accused of looting the city coffers to pay themselves millions in hidden salaries and benefits.
During hours of testimony, witnesses told the committee about how difficult it can be for the public to get ordinary public information, in spite of strong, decade-old state laws that require government agencies to make such information readily available.
Even major newspapers sometimes have to use lawyers to force public agencies to comply with the law, said Tom Newton, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association. The goal, he said, should be the ability of Californians to say “public pay is the public’s business.”
Read the rest of Wood’s story here.
From my perspective there needs to be allot more than disclosure requirements included in new transparency legislation. We have consistently found thatÂ cities and local government agencies routinely fail to follow public records and open meetings laws. There is little if any enforcement of such requlationsÂ and virtually no penalties for violation. Absent a law with teeth, all we will have is another layer of paper, that says things should be done a certain way in order to make people feel like something is being done when in reality nothing has changed.