Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jerry Brown Does Two Things Worth Praising

We don't often get a chance to credit Jerry Brown for doing something commendable, but today we actually have two such things to report. First, in a manner reminiscent of a broken clock being right twice a day, Brown has once again shown the capacity to buck union-sponsored legislation, much as he did when vetoing the "card check" bill beloved by the farmworkers' union. The Sacramento Bee reports that the Governor has vetoed AB 455, which would've required that half the seats on local civil service commissions be held by union members. AFSCME and San Jose Assemblywoman Nora Campos were behind the bill. In his veto message, Brown said AB 455 mandated a "top down, one-size-fits-all solution on all merit and personnel commissions statewide," which was "inconsistent with my administration's efforts to realign state services and to increase local control." Insofar as top-down, one-size-fits-all solutions encapsulate much of what's horribly wrong with California politics, good on Brown for shooting this one down.

Second, in another sign that the heavy stench of the Bell corruption scandal still hangs over this state's politics, Brown also signed AB 23 into law yesterday. This bill, the brainchild of Santa Clarita Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, may eliminate one of the more egregious abuses of the ex-City Council members in Bell: collecting multiple stipends for service on other boards and commissions by scheduling lots of back-to-back or simultaneous meetings, often during City Council meetings. In the years leading up to the eruption of pay scandals in 2010, some Bell council members were making over $100,000 every year by holding such meetings, often lasting just minutes. The new bill will require officials to publicly announce the stipends attendees will receive any time back-to-back or simultaneous meetings are held. While it's sad that it took an act of the Legislature to curtail such a blatant abuse of taxpayer trust, it's a good thing that it's now law.

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