County gov­ern­ment

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

Re “Is our county sys­tem de­signed not to gov­ern?,” Opin­ion, June 21

The Duke of Ed­in­burgh, who told for­mer L. A. County Su­per­vi­sor Zev Yaroslavsky that lo­cal and state gov­ern­ment in Cal­i­for­nia seems “de­signed not to gov­ern,” is wrong. We need cost- ef­fec­tive gov­ern­ment, not big­ger gov­ern­ment.

The cur­rent five- mem­ber board of su­per­vi­sors struc­ture works for Cal­i­for­nia’s 58 coun­ties. It works for Los An­ge­les County, as ev­i­denced by the county’s stel­lar bond rat­ing and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of su­per­vi­sors to con­stituents.

Mea­sure J, a transit- tax ex­ten­sion, was de­feated in 2012 not be­cause of the two- thirds vote re­quire­ment. It was de­feated be­cause spe­cial in­ter­ests pushed it down the throats of our com­mu­ni­ties in a top- down ap­proach rather than a bot­tom- up ef­fort to meet the trans­porta­tion needs of our com­mu­ni­ties.

Adding more of­fi­cials would not solve prob­lems, but it would cre­ate more bu­reau­cracy and waste at the ex­pense of public safety and vi­tal ser­vices. The Board of Su­per­vi­sors is al­ready the mayor and city coun­cil for the 1.5 mil­lion res­i­dents who live in un­in­cor­po­rated com­mu­ni­ties.

If big­ger gov­ern­ment were the an­swer, the city of Los An­ge­les would be ef­fi­cient, re­spon­sive and cost- ef­fec­tive. Michael D. Antonovich

Los An­ge­les The writer is an L. A. County su­per­vi­sor.

Yaroslavsky is right that “a five- headed ex­ec­u­tive is sim­ply not the most ef­fi­ca­cious way to gov­ern a county as big as ours.” This setup is also in­ef­fi­cient for all other lo­cal gov­ern­ments, re­gard­less of size.

A five- headed county gov­ern­ment is one in which elected of­fi­cials with­out train­ing in the nu­ances of de­part­men­tal work­ings are both ex­ec­u­tives and leg­is­la­tors. Your re­cent ed­i­to­rial on this sub­ject framed the prob­lem well with this ques­tion: Who’s in charge here?

Los An­ge­les County needs a strong ex­ec­u­tive with pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence to run the day- to- day af­fairs of the gov­ern­ment. Su­per­vi­sors should fo­cus their ef­forts on mak­ing pol­icy and over­see­ing how this pol­icy is im­ple­mented.

The right bal­ance on ef­fec­tive over­sight is ab­sent when there is no sin­gle per­son in charge. There should be a more pow­er­ful ap­pointed ex­ec­u­tive or CEO with broad au­thor­ity over county de­part­ments. A strong ex­ec­u­tive sys­tem would mean more ac­count­abil­ity, more ef­fi­ciency and bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween de­part­ments.

Mark C. Sal­vag­gio

Bak­ers­field The writer served for 19 years on the Bak­ers­field City Coun­cil and is cur­rently staff mem­ber for a Kern County su­per­vi­sor.

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