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Metropolitan Digest / LOS ANGELES COUNTY NEWS IN BRIEF

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY : Closer Scrutiny of Mountain Conservancy Funds Urged

April 23, 1993

An Assembly budget subcommittee has urged that the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's finances be subjected to greater scrutiny, especially the way it spends money obtained from outside sources.

At the request of a lobbyist for Soka University, which is embroiled in a legal fight with the conservancy over the state parkland agency's attempts to seize the school's campus in Calabasas, an Assembly Ways and Means subcommittee recommended that the conservancy file an annual report on all funds it receives to acquire open space. The recommendation will go to the full Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

The call for financial oversight of the agency was prompted by questions from Assemblyman Ross Johnson (R-Fullerton), who said the conservancy's finances, especially funds it receives from sources outside the state government, are "somewhat unaccountable."

Johnson said he had recently seen advertisements in auto magazines trumpeting the usefulness of Suzuki vehicles to the conservancy, and asked whether the agency is getting something in return from Suzuki.

Joseph Edmiston, the conservancy's executive director, responded that Suzuki has donated 12 vehicles, which might otherwise have been been purchased with state funds. "We are proud not to have . . . taxpayers pay for it," Edmiston told the committee.

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