On Wednesday, September 22, the Assembly Committee on Local Government, Joint Legislative Audit Committee, and Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review will hold a joint oversight hearing on local government transparency and compensation.
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Local Government, said that the situation south of Santa Clarita brought about the hearings.
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“Since the incidents at Bell came to light, several pieces of legislation have been introduced in the last weeks of the session,” Smyth explained. “We’re moving in to the next phase, which is holding hearings to get a better handle on the situation throughout the state of California as opposed to focusing on just one city or area.”
“At this point we’re hoping to hear from local governments, cities and counties, the Attorney General and State Controller’s office have been invited to participate as well. We want to hear how these abuses could take place and what loopholes were being taken advantage of, but also we want to make sure that people know that these are pretty small incidents and for the most part, cities and counties do the best they can to be judicious with public dollars. We want to see if there are areas we can work on to tighten things up.”
The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. in Room 4202 of the State Capitol. The hearing will be televised on the California Channel and streamed live on the Assembly website.
Witnesses scheduled to appear include State Auditor Elaine Howle, representatives of the Office of the State Controller and Office of Attorney General, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Pulskamp, Wade G. McKinney, President of California City Management Foundation and Nancy Nittler of the California State Association of Counties.
Smyth said that Pulskamp’s involvement in the hearings were a “fortunate coincidence” and not a reflection on the fiscal state of Santa Clarita. Pulskamp is the immediate Past President of the League of California Cities, who asked him to represent them at the hearings.
“I think that there are two things I’d like people to know: one, that this is, to a large degree, isolated. Cities like Santa Clarita and others up and down the state are making sure they are not abusing the public trust and two, the purpose of this hearing is to gather information to see if there are ways we can tighten up the laws or tighten up the rules. I’m one that doesn’t want to have a kneejerk reaction and institute legislation if we don’t need it. But if we do, let’s take our time and make sure it has the desired effect.
A public hearing by the state on local officials’ compensation has not been held since 1987. Public comment will be allowed after the witnesses have testified. For more information, please contact the Assembly Committee on Local Government at (916) 319-3958.