Once again, Los Angeles County officials find themselves in the singular position of explaining what did they know about money and when did they know it--a $125-million surplus and a special district, which cost $417,000 to fund security guards in a wealthy Bradbury neighborhood.
Only this time, the questions raised by Times articles (Sept. 19 and Sept. 23) could have dire consequences for the November ballot measure aimed at keeping a half-cent sales tax in existence. I hope the public will realize that the sales tax funding is critical for public safety services, despite the county's clumsy bookkeeping.
The county's appointed auditor-controller insists he didn't know the $125-million windfall existed until now because of the complexities involved in closing the 1992-93 books on a $13-billion budget. Who knows what excuses will emerge!
I recently joined with Assemblywoman Marguerite Archie-Hudson (D-Los Angeles) in allowing more money for the county by relaxing the matching funds requirement to receive state health aid (AB 1038), for almost the same amount as this newly found surplus. This raises questions as to the county's needs.
The time has come for the Board of Supervisors to endorse my longtime proposal for an elected county auditor-controller, similar to the Los Angeles city controller's office. An elected auditor would not allow these things to happen.
STATE SEN. DIANE WATSON, D-Los Angeles