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California Senate boss Kevin De Leon was recently asked to approve a new chief for the state’s Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation. The startled senator replied that he “never heard of this department in my entire life until Rules Committee.” He may since have learned that this bureau, apparently a licensing body, has an eleven-member advisory council. The Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation is part of the state Department of Consumer Affairs, and there has plenty of company. CDE director Awet Kidane, “oversees the nearly 40 regulatory entities and other divisions within the Department.” These include the Acupuncture Board, the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, the Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Structural Pest Control Board, the Telephone Medical Advice Services Bureau, and many others.
Boards and commissions also abound outside of the state Department of Consumer Affairs. Consider, for example, the state’s Sea Urchin Commission. Besides its five commissioners, this bureaucratic body includes members “representing government entities which are significant to the sea urchin fishery.” Consider also the California Cut Flower Commission, which boasts a board of eight commissioners.
Taxpayers might recall that Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger promised to “blow up the boxes,” the maze of boards and commissions that often serve as soft landing spots for washed-up politicians. The boards and commissions managed to survive. Like Senator De Leon, taxpayers may not have heard of these bodies and may harbor doubts about their utility. On the other hand, taxpayers may be certain that they are paying the bills.