I am surprised to see Bill Boyarsky ("Simple Tools in a Complex Era," Oct. 20) so easily fall into the "bigger is better" syndrome. Yet there it was at the end of his column, a call to expand the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, elect a county executive and opt for regional government.
The only thing missing from his description of the county today was lace doilies.
Voters have already rejected board expansion and an elected executive, and the Southern California Assn. of Governments has proven itself a papier-mache monument to regional government; paper because reams of reports are about all it has accomplished, that and spending lavish amounts of money. In a very real sense, "regional government" already exists in the close working relationship the county has with the 86 cities in Los Angeles County. Community needs are met through the cooperative efforts of local city councils and the county, which is responsible in such areas as health, mental health and courts.
Boyarsky is quite correct on one point: Volunteers can't pay for a new jail today. Soaring crime rates and construction costs changed that. Still, the existing, five-member Board of Supervisors has been modern enough, again with the voters' help, to respond to severe jail overcrowding with action to add more than 7,000 new jail beds.
It's the same board, responding to the public's demand, that streamlined county government and increased efficiency by consolidating an unwieldy 58 county departments into a functional 38 and, implemented privatization, hardly acts of intellectual and political gridlock.
The commission system is a proven and successful tool. It was the Institutional Inspections Commission, for example, whose members brought forward the need for the new Catalina Sheriff's Station and jail now in operation.
No, bigger isn't better, an elected executive isn't going to improve county government, only divide it, and a larger Board of Supervisors isn't a panacea; rather, it's an invitation to the kind of inaction and blame-shifting that allows infrastructures to crumble--at the expense of the taxpayer.
There are no doilies in county government, just dedicated staffs working very hard to meet the people's needs.
Supervisor, Fourth District
Los Angeles County