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Law Requires Public Scrutiny of Bond Deals

September 26, 1996|ERIC BAILEY

Gov. Pete Wilson has signed into law a bill that will prohibit county leaders from sidestepping public scrutiny of large bond deals by approving them without public discussion, a spokesman for the governor announced Wednesday.

The measure by state Sen. Quentin Kopp (I-San Francisco) sprang from the 1994 bankruptcy in Orange County.

Senate hearings on the bankruptcy revealed that the County Board of Supervisors approved a $600-million bond deal as a consent calendar item. It was included on a long list of less weighty items that the board approved with a single vote and no discussion. Just months later, the county declared bankruptcy.

Kopp's bill requires that any decision to borrow $100,000 or more involve deliberation in public as a separate item of business during a board's regularly scheduled meeting.

The measure also makes supervisors more accountable for the actions of county treasurers by requiring them to vote on the annual statement of investment policy. Under previous law, the supervisors simply had to review the yearly report provided by the treasurer.

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