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Senator wants board reform

Politics: Strickland wants to shift power from state agencies to the people

Posted: May 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

State Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, wants to make state agencies such as the regional water board accountable to the people.

His plan to wrest power away from appointed board members and put it back in the hands of the people was one of several initiatives he outlined Friday for members of The Signal’s Editorial Board.

 “We have (placed) too much power and responsibility into unaccountable boards and agencies,” Strickland said.  “Let’s look at the Air Resources Board or the regional water control board or the Coastal Commission.

“We have as a legislature, in my opinion, given too much power and authority to unaccountable boards,” he said.

The power state agencies and boards wield often involves decisions affecting every citizen of California, valuable state resources such as water and millions of dollars.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, decisions made by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board could, by threat of water fines, cost local residents hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I can’t tell you how many constituents come to my office frustrated that there is no accountability,” said Strickland, who represents California Senate District 19, which includes portions of Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties. “If I don’t do a good job, people can vote me in or out at least there’s accountability there.

“I believe, we have to put a lot of those duties and responsibilities back in the legislature,” he said.

Strickland’s call to action on reforming the structure of state boards is the second time in two months the people from the Santa Clarita Valley have been told that by state politicians.

The first mention, in March, was from a state Democrat.

In March, Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, told a delegation of Santa Clarita civic leaders visiting Sacramento that  it’s time state legislators consider pulling the power plug on regional water boards that enforce different standards on things such as chloride water levels.

The State Water Resources Control Board oversees nine regional boards with each board consisting of nine members – all of whom are appointed by the governor, none of them elected.

The regional board could issue fines against the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District of $10,000 a day, for each of its two water treatment plants if they determine chloride levels are above their set limit.

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