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SB 123: A Bit of Accountability for an Agency That Badly Needs It

April 11, 1993

I read the editorial (April 4) against my bill, SB 123, and thought some facts might be appropriate.

Your headline, for example: "Give Wedaa, AQMD and Business a Break." The Wedaa and AQMD part I understand, but business? Not being as enlightened as The Times, I frankly don't see how opposing SB 123 equals "giving business a break."

As for the SCAQMD's argument, which you implicitly endorse, that the super-majority "helps maintain its commitment to clean air because members have a clear mandate to act on behalf of cities they represent"--it's just a smoke screen.

By any standard, Hank Wedaa does not have a mandate from the Orange County League of Cities, which has, along with a growing number of Orange County cities, endorsed SB 123. What the SCAQMD really wants, and admitted as much during committee hearings, is to insulate its board members from the bodies they purport to represent. That is the antithesis of the idea of representation and a perversion of democracy.

Will it, as Wedaa suggests, lead to the Orange County League of Cities incessantly replacing its SCAQMD representative? I seriously doubt it, since that representative serves a four-year term.

That should be long enough for anybody. Even so, if members are unhappy with their representation, as is currently the case, they should be entitled to change it when the time comes.

Let me emphasize that SB 123 is a very limited bill. It applies only to the Orange County League of Cities. It addresses a very specific problem: the league's onerous process for selecting its SCAQMD representatives.

SB 123 is about introducing a modicum of accountability to an agency that badly needs it.

I understand Hank Wedaa's opposition. He likes being chairman of the board of governors and doesn't want to give it up. As for The Times and the SCAQMD itself, I suspect the underlying reason for their opposition is their belief in the supremacy of government over the individual.

The SCAQMD is essentially a massive social engineering project. It is about coercively changing how citizens live and work.

Naturally, most Americans still don't like having government bureaucracies telling them how to live their lives.

It's this philosophy, this fear of setting a precedent for accountability or giving a hint of legitimacy to the idea of popular control over the SCAQMD that fuels the opposition to legislation as limited in scope as SB 123.

JOHN R. LEWIS

State Senate

R-Orange

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