Finally, that state is putting the brakes on a cushy perk for lawmakers. The Citizens Compensation Commission, which sets salaries for California’s elected officials, decided last week that legislators are no longer entitled to state-owned cars.
Starting in December, they’ll be required to drive their own vehicles, and they’ll be limited to a flat, $300-per-month allowance to help with car expenses.
It’s about time.
California is the only state in the nation to still provide cars for unlimited use. And we’re not talking nondescript, two-door sedans. Lawmakers have had their choice of vehicles, and according to the San Jose Mercury News, their picks have included a $55,000 Cadillac sedan and a $52,000 Lexus hybrid.
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On top of that, the state has paid for maintenance, repairs and gasoline — and as we recently learned from a Sacramento Bee investigation, it also covered claims when lawmakers got into accidents.
We should point out that not every legislator has taken advantage of this sweet deal; local Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and state Sen. Sam Blakeslee elected to drive their own vehicles.
For that, we toss them — and the Citizens Compensation Commission — petal-to-the-metal bouquets.
Crucial to reopen route to Big Sur
We’re delivering hang-in-there bouquets to residents of Big Sur, as well as to the road crews working hard to reopen Highway 1 following a series of landslides.
Road closures along the coastal highway aren’t just an inconvenience; they also affect business in the popular tourist area. The latest slide, which occurred 7 miles north of the SLO County line, could also interfere with next month’s Amgen Tour of California bike race. It may be necessary to reroute a portion of the race if road repairs can’t be completed in time.
The Big Sur Chamber of Commerce wants state and federal officials to know how important it is to reopen the highway as quickly as possible. We agree. This stretch of coastline is a national treasure that we should all be able to enjoy.
Morro Bay’s unreasonable edict
That’s a curious dictionary that the Morro Bay City Council uses — you know, the one that defines “tardy” and “absent” as one and the same.
In case you missed the news, the City Council voted 4-1 last week to enforce a strict attendance policy for planning commissioners. More than three absences in a single year is now grounds for dismissal and — here’s the kicker — missing even a portion of a meeting counts as an absence.
Under a strict interpretation, commissioners who are 10 or 15 minutes late — maybe because they got caught in traffic or had to hunt for their car keys — could be marked absent.
Is that any way to treat a person who is essentially volunteering his or her service to the city? We don’t think so.
All this tardy/absence malarkey didn’t occur in a vacuum, of course. It came about because John Diodati, a city planning commissioner, asked for permission to arrive late for four or five meetings so that he could coach his son’s Little League team. His fellow planning commissioners said that was OK, but the council disagreed and decided to enforce the attendance policy.
That means Diodati — who was only in this pickle because the City Council changed the Planning Commission’s meeting schedule — faces being cut from the commission.
Certainly, planning commissioners, like all other elected and appointed officials, should regularly attend meetings and there should be reasonable guidelines in place to help ensure that.
But that doesn’t mean the City Council should treat commissioners like schoolkids who have to be in their seats the minute the bell rings.
The Morro Bay City Council — with the exception of Noah Smukler, who voted against the silly edict — earns a hard-nosed brickbat and a trip to the principal’s office.