Will next governor end California government corruption?


The well-documented corruption in various wings of California state government shows few signs of abating soon.

Even though Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest questionable appointees to the state’s powerful Public Utilities Commission have been held up, no one has yet been penalized for several fix-is-in decisions there that are costing consumers billions of dollars.

Energy Commission members who handed out many millions of dollars in hydrogen highway grants to cronies with conflicts of interest weren’t punished; they were reappointed.

Nothing happened to University of California President Janet Napolitano and her aides who accumulated a $175 million slush fund while students were assessed about that same amount in tuition increases.

And so on.

Ask any of the three candidates now leading the polls in the run for governor about all this and you get encomiums to Brown and blanket vows to end corruption, but nothing specific and no sign that any of them understands the extent of sleaziness in state agencies.

Said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a former San Francisco mayor who has led the polls since the run to replace Brown began, “I will not be known for being timid about this or anything else. Gov. Brown says reform is overrated; I say it’s underrated.”

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, running second, noted that, “As mayor, my very first executive direction was that city commissioners could not raise money for me or for City Council members. Historically, it’s been the opposite.”

“I believe transparency in government is critical, especially in a time when people don’t trust the government, any government,” he added.

Noting that members of the state PUC cannot be fired during their six-year terms, even by the governor who appointed them, Villaraigosa suggested, “We should look at the ability of the governor to fire PUC members. I had zero tolerance for corruption on any city commission and that’s how I would be in state government, too.”

And state Treasurer John Chiang, a former state controller best known for withholding pay from state legislators when they were late approving a budget, said, “The governor needs to set the high ground on matters of government integrity. We need to hold people accountable. When I’m governor and we find instances of corruption, people will get due process, but they will be responsible for what they and their agencies do.”

Chiang, however, noted that a mere accusation of corruption doesn’t…



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