Thanks to the LA Times, the Sacramento Bee, and others for suing for the public release of state assembly members’ administrative budgets, and for keeping up the pressure in numerous editorials over the past few weeks.
The suit arose after 44th Assembly representative Anthony Portantino’s staff was furloughed, the result of California Assembly leader Perez’s abrupt cut-off of funds to that office. Perez has now announced a “task force” to address the matter. Why is any “task force” needed? What is being scrubbed before it is dragged into the light of day?
Today’s LA Times op-ed, Shaming California, gets to the heart of the matter:
… it has brought necessary public and media attention to the fact that California’s elected representatives receive unequal resources to perform their duties, and that the allocations, controlled by a small group of Capitol party bosses, are often based on a system of whims, grudges and rewards. A member who unquestioningly follows marching orders may end up with a larger staff and therefore be better positioned to represent the needs of his district. Another member who is less reliably deferential may be required to serve her constituents with fewer tools at her disposal. The result is unequal representation for Californians in their state government, based on the obedience quotient of the legislator elected in the community they happen to inhabit.
How is it that Portantino’s suggestion that his vote was punished by withholding of funds wasn’t immediately met with absolute transparency and disclosure of how all those funds are allocated?
How can our elected state representatives truly serve their constituents if they can’t vote their conscience because it may effect their administrative budgets?
Every single scrap of paper related to assembly members’ administrative budgets should be released now, and the rules explained, so constituents know their representation isn’t being compromised.