To the editor: There is nothing inherently nefarious about members of the California Coastal Commission meeting individually with agents and lobbyists concerning business matters before them. In fact, it's their job. And "agents" of parties opposed to projects under consideration may also represent organizations such as the Sierra Club as well as groups whose motivations have nothing to do with protecting the coast. ("Bill to improve Coastal Commission transparency is a good start," editorial, Feb. 22)
Other than the increasingly bloated administrative duties it creates, the ex parte reporting requirements proposed for the commission wouldn't do much. Will minutes be prepared? Will a transcript or recording of the meeting be required? Without those items, simply reporting that a meeting occurred is useless. And if those items are required, then documented private meetings will simply stop happening in favor of "unofficial" encounters.
The real issue is accountability, not behavior. Can we simply ask that our governor appoint qualified and impartial people to the commission and hold him accountable if they do not measure up?
Brian Cornelius, North Hollywood
To the editor: Thanks to Steve Lopez for his column on potential conflicts of interest for several Coastal Commission members. ("Important questions linger after firing of Coastal Commission chief," Feb. 24)
A previous article in The Times didn't mention that Commissioner Mark Vargas met in Ireland with U2 guitarist the Edge, who was trying to get approval for his massive, controversial development project in Malibu. The fact that Vargas paid his own way is meaningless; he should have recused himself from voting on the compound in Malibu.
To me, the firing of former Executive Director Charles Lester, which was opposed by the community, is a grand example of why the general population has no confidence or faith in those who are appointed (or elected) to represent us.
Karla H. Edwards, Santa Clarita
To the editor: The California Coastal Commission's numerous conflicts of interest already stink to high heavens. The revelation that powerful lobbyist Susan McCabe's domestic partner and employee, Antoinette DeVargas, not so cleverly donated to Commissioner and Pismo Beach City Councilman Erik Howell, who sided with developers represented by McCabe, is far worse.
It's time for common-sense leadership to be injected into this broken, corrupt process. The first step is an in-depth investigation by state authorities. Hopefully Lopez's great reporting will wake up Sacramento.
Michael Sanchez, Newport Beach