Santa Clara University

Ethics Center Blog
Bookmark and Share

At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

The following postings have been filtered by tag special districts. clear filter
  •  The Ethics of Special District Expenditures

    Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012 12:20 PM
    Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler

    The Santa Clara Valley Water District is the latest in a group of California special districts to draw press scrutiny for its spending of taxpayer dollars.  An NBC Bay Area news segment reports that members of the Water District Board collected  fees for attending meetings that had, at best, a dubious connection to the business of the district.  Member Patrick Kwok, for example, took fees to attend the city of Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce awards, San Jose State University’s Engineering Banquet Awards, and the Asian Pacific Resources Group Lunar New Year luncheon. 

    To Kwok's claim that the charges were reasonable because constituents might approach him at these meetings about Water District issues, Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler responded:

    The presumption that when you go out in the public someone will, A) Recognize you are a water board member and B) will have a pressing issue that they want to discuss at a social event, I think it’s actually unlikely.  You are not necessarily paid to show up, you are paid to do your job. 

    If the gist of the discussion is not at all about water issues I would question why you would be in attendance.

  •  California Health Districts Sitting on Reserves

    Monday, Mar. 12, 2012 11:58 AM

    Responding to a reporter for the New York Times investigating health care district spending in California, Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler commented, “The outrage factor is we have public agencies that are collecting money that is not being used for the purposes for which the agencies were originally established....  The question is, how are they helping the public right now by having that money in the bank?

    For example, the tax-supported Peninsula Health Care District was holding a $43million reserve while uninsured citizens of the district were waiting as much as a year to see a doctor.  The Los Medanos Community Healthcare District spent just half of its revenue, with the balance--more than $400,000-- going to "administrative and operating expenses, including stipends for the board of directors, travel and election fees and a board retreat."