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Responsibility, Accountability Needed For Special Districts
Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011
“Under the radar” is a term I often use for those public agencies that are not well known to the public or the press.
You may have heard about a local water board, or a board making decisions about transit, utilities, and sanitation. But some communities have "special district" boards or commissions that are responsible for mosquito abatement, cemeteries, levee maintenance, transit, fire, harbor, geologic hazard abatement, and the like.
Some members are appointed, others are elected, but all are subject to strict reporting requirements enforced by the California Fair Political Practices Commission. The commission investigating complaints publishes a regular summary of actions, and this month one item caught my eye.
Arturo Chacon, who won a seat on the Central Basin Municipal Water District Board of Directors was just fined $30,000 for a host of violations. His election committee not only failed to file at least five separate required statements on time, it also violated several key provisions of the ethics laws, including accepting cash contributions of $100 or more and making cash expenditures of $100 or more.
The decisions made by special district board members and their administrative directors have significant impact on the day-to-day running of some of our most basic services. These individuals approve budgets, allocate funds, and set policies that our children will inherit. They should not escape the spotlight.
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