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Government Power of “No” Still Trumps Taxpayers’ Right to Know

Friday September 26th, 2014   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 4:55pm PDT   •  

California_State_Capitol_p1080924-230x172As we noted, governments indulge their own form of insider trading through cronyism and nepotism. In California’s capital, that was on display with longtime Senate human-resources boss Dina Hidalgo. Her practice was not to give jobs to those most qualified. Rather, she gave jobs to her own son, Gerardo Lopez, other family members, and even members of her softball team. What a cozy world. Since the California Highway Patrol polices the Capitol, Lopez’s post as a sergeant at arms is really a sinecure. As the Sacramento Bee noted, Lopez “routinely received special treatment during the 15 years he worked for the Senate.” Lopez’s wife, Jennifer Delao, managed to gain a job with Senate boss Darrel Steinberg in his policy unit.

This cronyism and nepotism took long time to emerge, but the Senate finally paid a private law firm $98,000 to look into it. Those were all taxpayer dollars, but taxpayers did not see the result because the Senate refused to release the report citing privacy concerns and attorney-client privilege. So a public matter that should have been investigated by the CHP winds up an expensive cover-up. The secrecy is part of Dina Hidalgo’s retirement deal, including $85,400 in cash and $13,000 for her legal fees. One thing it fails to include is any kind of punishment or accountability. And she gets her generous pension also courtesy of taxpayers.

Steinberg is also on the way out, but taxpayers should recall that in 2012 he blocked the California Channel from showing a Senate Governance and Finance Committee hearing on four ballot measures that involved taxes and spending. And in a lame apology Steinberg said, “I pride myself on being open and transparent.” That’s how it works with the ruling class.

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September 2014