California Bell tolls, but not much

The proposed California Senate Bill 501, “Local government: compensation disclosure”, isn’t an earth-shattering transparency measure. Particularly in light of the Bell city government pay debacle.

The measure would require officers and designated employees to annually file a compensation disclosure form listing their salary and non monetary benefits. I thought the payroll department knew these figures. It seems odd that the employee is providing this. And anyway, what’s a “designated employee”?

“Designated employee” means a designated employee of a county, city, city and county, school district, special district, or joint
powers agency formed pursuant to the Joint Exercise of Powers Act
(Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 6500) of Division 7 of Title 1)
who is required to file a statement of economic interests pursuant to
Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 87100) of Title 9.

Get it? Not every employee must file the disclosure form, just the same people who are required to file a Form 700, Statement of Economic Interests. According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission that is “certain state and local elected officials, judges, high level state employees, and certain employees for the assembly and senate.”

Since the names, job classifications, salary, compensation and retirement benefits of every local and state government employee in California are a public record why aren’t they all online? In fact, this almost never happens. Hermosa Beach may be the only California municipality to post names and salaries of all employees. Trawl through these links for starters.

Just as we have seen a scramble by California local governments to claim the moral high ground by posting salary schedules (post Bell, no workers’ names) on their websites, the same sites may come down if they balk at the bill’s mandate:

If the county, city, city and county, school district, special district, or joint powers agency maintains an Internet Web site, it shall post the information contained on the filed compensation disclosure form on that Internet Web site.

Otherwise, it’s back to fighting the local agencies, and paying the designated fees!

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