The importance of the Local Agency Formation Commission in Orange County is underscored by its consideration of a new, critical and controversial issue, the incorporation of Dana Point and Capistrano Beach. But the issue is not getting the attention and respect it deserves from the two members of the county Board of Supervisors who sit on the commission.
The supervisors occupy two of the five commission seats, but in votes on the heated issue Dec. 2 and again last Wednesday the supervisors did not cast ballots. In fact, last Wednesday Supervisors Gaddi H. Vasquez and Don R. Roth, himself just appointed, didn't even show up for the meeting.
The county board members on the commission, and notably Vasquez, are earning a well-deserved reputation for absenteeism or abstention when there is a vote on a controversial boundary, annexation or incorporation issue. That kind of inattention to their legal obligations shortchanges the public and makes it unfairly difficult for the other commission members to do their jobs. It cuts down on the input and representation that goes into discussion of important issues. And it leaves many decisions to only three members, who must all agree if there is to be formal action.
There are many reasons why county board members may not like to serve on the commission. It is time-consuming. State laws limit campaign contributions commissioners may receive to $250. And many politicians hate to be in the middle of boundary controversies that split communities and might cost them reelection votes. The supervisors are so eager to be excused from commission duty that they are trying to get state legislation to allow them to appoint others to sit in their place.
But the law is the law, and until it is changed, the supervisors are obliged to attend commission meetings--and to vote on the issues.