The deplorable state of affairs at the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office, where John Noguez is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for lowering property valuations, is depressing but not surprising.
The fact that the county assessor is an elected position only invites this kind of corruption. There is no good reason for this and it is an easy fix. Change the assessor position to one that is appointed by the County Board of Supervisors based on qualifications, not votes. This kind of bad government, which reduces tax revenues, can no longer be tolerated with the budget crisis.
Fundamentally, Proposition 13 is at the root of the problem, as it systematizes tax burden inequalities, and creates a fatal disconnect between a property's market value and the property tax paid on it. From there it is an easy step to assume that all assessments are subjective and up for negotiation. When are citizens going to realize the enormity of tax burden inequality that Proposition 13 has institutionalized?