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The solution to fixing L.A. County government isn't more of it

To the editor: The Duke of Edinburgh, who told former L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky that local and state government in California seems “designed not to govern,” is wrong. We need cost-effective government, not bigger government. ("Three steps to revamp California state and county government," op-ed, June 20)

The current five-member board of supervisors structure works for 57 of California's 58 counties (San Francisco combines city and county). It works for Los Angeles County, as evidenced by the county's stellar bond rating and accessibility of supervisors to constituents.

Measure J, a transit-tax extension, was defeated in 2012 not because of the two-thirds vote requirement. It was defeated because special interests pushed it down the throats of our communities in a top-down approach rather than a bottom-up effort to meet the transportation needs of our communities.

Adding more officials would not solve problems, but it would create more bureaucracy and waste at the expense of public safety and vital services. The Board of Supervisors is already the mayor and city council for the 1.5 million residents who live in unincorporated communities.

If bigger government were the answer, the city of Los Angeles would be efficient, responsive and cost-effective.

Michael D. Antonovich, Los Angeles

The writer is an L.A. County supervisor.

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To the editor: Yaroslavsky is right that “a five-headed executive is simply not the most efficacious way to govern a county as big as ours.” This setup is also inefficient for all other local governments, regardless of size.

A five-headed county government is one in which elected officials without training in the nuances of departmental workings are both executives and legislators. Your recent editorial on this subject framed the problem well with this question: Who's in charge here?

Los Angeles County needs a strong executive with professional experience to run the day-to-day affairs of the government. Supervisors should focus their efforts on making policy and overseeing how this policy is implemented.

The right balance on effective oversight is absent when there is no single person in charge. There should be a more powerful appointed executive or CEO with broad authority over county departments. A strong executive system would mean more accountability, more efficiency and better communication between departments.

Mark C. Salvaggio, Bakersfield

The writer served for 19 years on theBakersfield City Council and is currently staff member for a Kern County supervisor. 

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