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By Carol Chen, Council Member, Cerritos and Immediate Past President, Los Angeles County Division League of California Cities
In my term as president of the Los Angeles County Division of the League of California Cities, I knew that I had a responsibility not only to my own constituents, but also to my fellow local elected officials. I knew that they would hold me accountable for my actions and I thought carefully about the specific needs of my community in order to tailor decisions I made to meet their needs. This responsibility and accountability is why representative governance is important. It informs the choice by communities to elect leaders who know and care how they are affected by governmental actions.
SB 1387, a bill before the state Assembly as we speak, threatens the representative system of California government, a system that was expressly created so that every community maintains a voice in the state’s actions.
This bill would increase the number of representatives appointed by Sacramento politicians on the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Board, when Sacramento Leadership already appoints three members. The increased number of state-appointed members weakens the ability of this regional board, reducing local power by so much that the board can hardly be considered a local governing board anymore.
The purpose of the board is to support local interests, and to that end, local representation should be the overwhelming voice in its actions.
Furthermore the citizens in these districts voted for their representatives because they believed that they would make the best decisions with their homes in mind. By diluting the power of local representation, SB 1387 bypasses public participation and the democratic process and negating their ability to take part in what happens to their communities.
The author of SB 1387 claim that the board is failing to act in favor of its constituents and are not capable of enacting local policies. The reality is that SB 1387 is a thinly veiled power grab on the part of the state to maximize their control and to be able to impose their agenda in the South Coast basin.
Such an unnecessary increase in state control sets a dangerous precedent for the state to overtake more than just air districts, but also water districts, transportation authorities, fire protection, sanitation districts and more, all of which could cause serious harm to communities if they are left voiceless and without local representation.
The state cannot be allowed to overtake any regional power that it disagrees with political power grabs such as this are shallow, and they impact long-term harm.
More than 115 organizations and individuals have formed a coalition in opposition to this bill, and am proud to count myself as one of them. SB 1387 poses a danger to California communities, and I urge the assembly to vote no on dismantling this state’s process.
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