Calif. Senate Blocks Secret Coastal Commission Deals

For years the California Coastal Commission has been making backroom deals with environmentalists and Al Gore scam artists.  This is wrong.  Now, developers are doing the same thing, crony capitalists abusing the public trust—and that is wrong.  Finally the legislature wants the California Coastal Commission to go honest.  A better idea would be to repeal the law that created this extortionist scam.

“State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, said the bill will increase transparency within the beleaguered commission by forcing lobbyists to disclose private communications with the powerful regulator responsible for protecting public access to the Golden State’s 1,100 miles of coastline.
Jackson said “quasi-lobbyists” often travel with commissioners in an attempt to sway them on coastal development decisions, and that the lobbying loophole has allowed the decision-making process to become “seriously flawed.”
“This measure will reestablish due process and fairness at the commission,” Jackson said on the state Senate floor.”

She is wrong—it will not reestablish fairness—the Commission has never been fair or honest.  Like most of government, the Commission abuses the public and forces payoffs to use private property.  Shame on us for not ending this corrupt agency.

Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Calif. Senate Blocks Secret Coastal Commission Deals

By NICK CAHILL, Courthouse News,  5/24/16

   

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Seeking to close a loophole that allows private meetings between lobbyists and California Coastal Commission members, lawmakers advanced a bill Monday that would shed light on backroom commission decisions and restrict “ex parte” communication.
Senate Bill 1190 comes in response to the commission’s sudden and controversial February ouster of executive director Charles Lester, a decision made behind closed doors that led critics to accuse commissioners of being under the “undue influence” of developers.
State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, said the bill will increase transparency within the beleaguered commission by forcing lobbyists to disclose private communications with the powerful regulator responsible for protecting public access to the Golden State’s 1,100 miles of coastline.
Jackson said “quasi-lobbyists” often travel with commissioners in an attempt to sway them on coastal development decisions, and that the lobbying loophole has allowed the decision-making process to become “seriously flawed.”
“This measure will reestablish due process and fairness at the commission,” Jackson said on the state Senate floor.
Following Lester’s firing, environmentalists and lawmakers have rallied together and demanded reforms to the commission that was established by voters in 1972. Currently, ex parte communications with commission staff or commissioners is allowed as long as they are disclosed through a form or if they are verbally announced during a public hearing.
Supporters of the bill claim these off-the-record conversations regarding building permits, enforcement penalties and other potential development items have tarnished the integrity of the commission.
Former commissioner and current state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, said lobbyists often reached her at home and “overwhelmed” her during her stint on the commission. She noted that being a commissioner is a part-time job, typically just three days a month, and that while on the commission she was simultaneously a teacher and mayor of Agoura Hills.
“I know the problem, and it appears it has gotten even worse,” Pavley said. “I unfortunately think we need this protection in place.”
The reform proposal cleared the Senate 23-12 on a party-line vote. It moves to the state Assembly for further consideration.
The bill was not supported by a single Republican, including state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. Moorlach said he dealt with commission while he was a county supervisor and that SB 1190 has the unintended potential to limit public discussion with the regulator.
“I think we are probably overreacting to [Lester’s firing],” Moorlach said. “I find [commissioners] being fined for failing to make notification of an ex parte communication a little overboard.”
Under SB 1190, any commissioner or alternate found to have attempted to influence commission staff reports would be barred from holding any state office.
Jackson said SB 1190 is backed by current commissioners, who voted to support the measure earlier this month.
Two other commission-related bills are currently moving through the Assembly.
Assembly Bills 2002 and 2628 propose requiring paid consultants attempting to influence commission decisions to register with the state as lobbyists, and a one-year ban on former commissioners from lobbying or working for the regulator.
The commission is still searching for a new executive director and has said it likely won’t find Lester’s permanent replacement until early 2017.

 

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Really??? says

    Tax’n Jackson doesn’t like it when the capitalist cash in on the same deals the Socialist Left has been doing for years?

    Imagine that.

    So I guess she would be against groups like the Bicycle Coalition that have been appointed to committees and behind closed doors write policy for government? I guess she would be against groups who then negotiate with opposition for cities without disclosure and only admit it when outed?

    As long as her party is favored there is no issue. She only went after this one when her opposition figured out how to work the system as the Democrats have been doing for decades.

  2. askeptic says

    The solution is to repeal the Coastal Commission Act.

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