In his first speech as chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Gaddi H. Vasquez said Tuesday that Orange County must modify the size of its bureaucracy and find new ways to deliver services to its residents.
He proposed that the supervisors set an example for efficiency in government by halving the number of times they meet every month. The board had been meeting every Tuesday and Wednesday, but Vasquez’s colleagues agreed to meet only on Tuesdays from now on. Meetings will be held on Wednesdays only when necessary, they agreed.
“All across the state, counties are making major cuts, and proclaiming this to be one of the toughest years in California history,” Vasquez said in his “Goals for 1991" speech. “While the number of people needing the services of county government continues to escalate, and the inflationary cost of services continues to rise, the money to pay for these services continues to dwindle.”
In his presentation, which emphasized the county’s bleak economic picture this year, he also touched on crime and transportation, calling for better planning to anticipate greater needs for services in these areas.
For example, he proposed that supervisors meet twice a year with state and federal elected representatives from this area to discuss the general needs of Orange County. He also wants supervisors to meet twice this year with the mayors of the 29 cities in the county. One meeting would deal with crime, the other with environment.
“By conferring and communicating, we might be able to gain some legislative relief and increase funding for Orange County,” he said.
On jail overcrowding, Vasquez had only one proposal for a solution: He said is asking the county administrative officer to prepare an annual report on planned increases in police manpower at the city levels and on the impact those increases would have on the county.
“If every city in Orange County approved two new police officers in their budgets, the ranks of law enforcement increase by 58 officers,” he said. “It is fair to reason that more police officers on the streets means more arrests and more demands on the criminal justice system.
“The flaw in our process is that we react after the fact,” he said. “We must get ahead of the process by conducting an annual assessment of anticipated increases in demands on our criminal justice system.”
But Vasquez, who supports greater use of alternatives to incarceration and has opposed plans to build a jail at Gypsum Canyon, offered no new ideas on the source of funding for a new jail.
“Even in the face of voter rejection of jail bond measures, we must continue our quest to secure the necessary funding,” he said.
Vasquez brought up his proposal to meet less frequently just after the speech and said that Orange County supervisors met more often than Los Angeles supervisors, who deal with a much larger budget and a much larger population.
Vasquez said the board could easily take care of the same amount of business in one meeting a week. A survey conducted by the county clerk’s office recently showed that in one eight-week period, the supervisors’ meetings lasted an average of 27 minutes. Many times the supervisors convened only long enough to decide that they wanted to postpone action until later meetings.
“That is neither cost-efficient nor good use of staff time, and we want to eliminate this kind of situation,” Vasquez said.