Sunday, February 1, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Real problems demand Legislature’s attention

walters column sig

By
From page A9 | February 10, 2013 |

California’s Legislature hasn’t been doing much in the two months since it reconvened – so little, in fact, that legislative leaders are staging policy seminars to show voters that they are really being diligent.

Here’s a better idea: The Legislature should assign some of its highly paid staff – particularly those hired specifically to be investigators – to delve into a number of simmering issues and then conduct rigorous public hearings.

It’s called, for the benefit of the Legislature’s new members, “oversight,” and while their leaders routinely promise it, they rarely deliver. What they call oversight consists mostly of highly orchestrated “hearings” to please major campaign donors and other interest groups.

There have been exceptions, such as the Legislature’s hearings into an Oracle software scandal a decade or so ago, but they’ve been rare.

If lawmakers really want to prove to voters that they’re earning their money this winter, they’ll delve into such matters as:

  • The continuing mystery of who knew what and when about the concealment of tens of millions of dollars in the state Department of Parks and Recreation. The organizations that raised private funds for state parks deserve some answers, especially since a criminal investigation isn’t happening and The Sacramento Bee, which broke the story, doesn’t have subpoena power to force the officials involved to talk.
  • A somewhat similar tale unfolding about the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, the state’s wildfire agency, which directed millions from a lawsuit settlement into a private fund, rather than the state’s treasury, while seeking new fees on property owners.
  • Another revelation by The Bee that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, and perhaps other agencies, have been paying salaried managers overtime for some work, undermining precepts of what managers do.
  • The prospect of ongoing unfunded liabilities in CalPERS and other retirement systems, plus unfunded commitments for retiree health care. The Legislature’s budget analyst has highlighted the issue, which the Legislature – out of deference to public employee unions – mostly wants to ignore, but it threatens the state’s long-term fiscal stability.
  • The real effect of the criminal justice “realignment” that Gov. Jerry Brown has touted as the solution to prison overcrowding. It has put more criminals on the street, supposedly under probation or parole supervision, rather than behind bars, and there is a debate over whether it has resulted in a spike in crime.

There are other issues that deserve attention, but these five would be a good beginning – if lawmakers aren’t too busy organizing fundraisers, staging self-serving news conferences and manipulating their schedules to maximize their $142 per day in tax-free expense payments.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him at [email protected]

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Rich GiddensFebruary 07, 2013 - 1:11 pm

    California's State legislature is a nanny-state and communistic legislature seemingly only interested in nanny-state'ism and getting involved in things they shouldn't be involved in while neglecting their foremost responsibility---gaining control over California's governmental red ink and debt. There is no attempt to cut the size and scope of State government. Instead there is only growing of State and local government along with defecit spending. Exactly how many departments, agencies, bureaus, commissions and authorities does California have? You don't want to know! Its not good.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Fire Department honors top firefighters

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
 
 
 
4th annual Health and Wellness Fair a big success

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Banish dry skin this winter

By Sarah Porkka | From Page: C4, 1 Comment

 
Chocolate: A long journey to deliciousness

By Karen Metz | From Page: C4

 
County board to consider DA reorganization plan

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Eurozone offers lesson in debt

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B7

 
Rodriguez graduate completes basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
Fairfield police log: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

From ocean to ocean, through the Panama Canal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
NASA launches Earth-observing satellite

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Scientist considered father of birth control pill dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

‘Rolled Sleeves Bandit’ tied to 7 bank robberies in custody

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Bay Area agency accuses former official of embezzling $1.3M

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Los Angeles female-only mosque may be first in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California health care contract fight resolved

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Man arrested after body parts found in suitcase

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
 
Snails slither into spa scene in Thailand and around world

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

Letter with suspicious powder received at Samaritan’s Purse

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Drivers: Return to your dealers for a 2nd air bag recall fix

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Hatfields, McCoys make moonshine legally in southern W.Va.

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Airport authorities: Traveler beats homeless man with chair

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Kerry: ‘Enormous interest in new relationship with Cuba

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

From car lots to city budgets, cheap oil means change

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
5 given preliminary charges over jihadi network in France

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Fire devastates major Russian library, threatens rare texts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Swiss police: 4 dead after avalanche hits group of skiers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Fire at Bangladesh plastics factory kills at least 13

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Islamic State fighters admit defeat in Syrian town of Kobani

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Africa agrees to send 7,500 troops to fight Boko Haram

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Greek leader tamps down rhetoric, vows to pay off debts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Civilians flee east Ukraine town as fighting intensifies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
British actress Geraldine McEwan dies at age 82

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: Feb. 1, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for Feb. 1, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Feb. 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Feb. 1, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Prayer, commonly misunderstood

By The Rev. Rick L. Stonestreet | From Page: C3, 7 Comments

 
Sundance doc pulls back curtain on Scientology

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Volunteer or visit because February is National Salute to Veteran Patients

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

Horoscopes: Feb. 1, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Review: ‘First Bad Man’ is Miranda July’s debut novel

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Lorrie Moore nominated for short story prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

New book to feature unpublished Hemingway conversations

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Mustangs win the whole Encalada

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Super Bowl the final act of the NFL’s worst season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lowest prices on last-minute Super Bowl tickets near $9,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Seau, Bettis, Brown, Haley, Shields voted into Hall of Fame

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Rodgers wins MVP, Watt unanimous top AP defensive player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Lydia Ko takes No. 1 spot at 17, Na Yeon Choi wins opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Laird takes a 3-shot lead in Phoenix Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

On the money: Low gas prices, incentives change math for electric cars

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Small talk: NFL players find second careers as entrepreneurs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Sumptuous seaside hotel sells for record-shattering $360M

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Recalls this week: space heaters, orbital sanders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Review: Open e-book format comes with headaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
.

Obituaries

Anthony Neal Hunley

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Frank Z. Perez

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Flora Mae Brooks

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Lester Singer

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics