Shining a brighter light on public officials
September 6, 2011
An Orange County lawmaker is pushing a plan to force greater financial accountability by public officials and certain high level government employees, but opposition from those affected is stiffening.
Sen. Lou Correa, R-Orange County, ushered his bill, SB 46, through the Senate last week, and it now heads a lower house test. It would require a much broader level of public reporting of personal finances by officers and “designated” employees of counties, cities, county offices of education, special districts and joint powers agencies.
Those people would each be obligated to file an annual compensation and reimbursement disclosure form designed, in the author’s words, to “increase transparency and keep elected officials and public employees accountable to the people they serve, and prevent further abuse of taxpayer dollars.”
The plan also would require each public agency with an Internet website to post the information contained on the compensation disclosure form online.
Included in the required reporting would be the public official’s annual salary or stipend and benefits; any reimbursement payments made to the public official for actual and necessary expenses incurred on behalf of the local agency; any monetary or non-monetary perquisites of office paid to the public official; and any money received by a public official for membership or employment with any other public agency.
Opponents to the bill include the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions, officials of which said the bill “creates an unfunded and duplicating mandate to local agencies.” The League of California Cities and numerous other public agencies and their associations are keeping “watch” on the bill.
The proposal is one of several dozen introduced this session in response to the City of Bell scandal, as politicians scramble for recognition as advocates of government transparency.