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New law requires city council members to report details on stipends

Gov. Jerry Brown signs law requiring disclosure when meetings add to officials' pay.

July 26, 2011|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Sacramento — Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a law that makes it harder for city council members in California to improperly pad their paychecks, a response to the financial scandal that rocked the city of Bell.

In recent years, some officials in the working-class Los Angeles suburb earned more than $100,000 annually for part-time jobs by receiving stipends for serving on various boards and commissions that sometimes met for just minutes at a time, often during council meetings.

On Monday, Brown signed AB 23, which requires city officials to announce, when holding simultaneous or back-to-back meetings, how much those attending will receive in stipends.

Assemblyman Cameron Smyth (R-Santa Clarita), the legislation's sponsor, said it addresses situations in which lawmakers receive one stipend for attending council meetings and additional payment for simultaneously serving on planning commissions, library boards, redevelopment panels and public financing authorities.

"The intent is to discourage the potential abuses by making public how much officials are being paid," Smyth said.

In Bell, eight former officials were charged with misappropriating more than $5.5 million in city funds after a public-corruption investigation by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

The Smyth bill was one of more than 30 Brown signed into law Monday.

He also vetoed legislation that would have provided replacement services for an adult day-care program cut in the recently approved state budget.

Brown said that creating a substitute for the Adult Day Health Care program, which provided services to those at risk of being placed in nursing home care, was "unnecessary and untimely."

Some fellow Democrats — including Assemblywoman Mario Ramada of Davis —criticized the governor's action.

"Today's veto is both disappointing and incomprehensible; especially from someone who is himself a member of the senior community," Ramada said.

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