It’s true. Ask anybody. Everybody says they want accountability and transparency in government, especially political candidates; but those in authority have a lot of incentive to keep their doings free from risk – the risk of being exposed as responsible for some screw-up or other; and the risk of fighting the inertia produced by institutional dead weight in a gravity-free environment. And of course the ability to pass along lucrative contracts to their pals.
And all this bring me to the point of this essay: it’s time for the Orange County Board of Supervisors to take charge of semi-autonomous agencies that have been operating under the public radar. Two of these “hidden governments” spring most immediately to mind: the Children and Families Commission – that seems to have been operating as a cash cow for the local repuglican machine, and the OC Cemetary District, ditto.
The Children and Families Commission is a poster child for liberal, under-scrutinized government. You may agree with its goals and method of revenue collection. But even if whole-village child rearing and confiscatory income redistribution are your cup of tea, you have to admit that paying a connected political operative like Matthew J. Cunningham $200 an hour to update Facebook and read blogs and hand out toothbrushes must diminish from the resources available to actually help kids. And what’s with all the lobbying? Hundreds of thousands worth in any given year at the State level, with Anaheim’s mayor-for-hire Curt Pringle being the chief beneficiary.
And then there’s the Cemetery District that paid Pringle to find a new graveyard and paid him another $25,000 as bonus for finding a site in Brea. I’m not even sure if Brea is going to go along with this, but let’s hope Pringle’s fee included guaranteed entitlements from the city. But I digress. The real issue here is why the District hired Pringle at all to do the work of a real estate professional whose compensation would have been a partial commission from the seller, not the taxpayers.
Well, we’ve got some new blood on the 5th Floor of the Hall of Administration, and hopefully these guys will start to attend to these and other agencies that need to be examined, made accountable, taken over, and if appropriate, disbanded. Sure, the ‘pugs will squeal and squawk.
And that’s when you know you’re doing the right thing.