With the travesty in mismanagement at the City of Bell,
Sacramento budget disasters, government regulations choking business at every
level of our lives, under-funded public pensions, and a sluggish economy
that-shocking-can’t seem to recover, we now hear the words:  "And what we need is more transparency in
government!"  Sheesh.

Frankly, what we need is LESS government, LESS regulation,
LESS red tape, but I digress.

Recently the OC Grand Jury decided that OC needed an
ordinance regulating lobbyists because "everyone else has it; why shouldn’t
we."  Well, sure.  We have about 15 honest-to-goodness
professional OC "lobbyists" in the traditional definition of the word:  those who promote or secure the passage of
legislation by persuading public officials. 
In Los Angeles and San Diego-bastions of transparency and good government–they
have formal lobbying ordinances requiring registration and reporting of all
lobbying activities.

In Orange County, Supervisor Bill Campbell recognized that
we are rather unique with our onerous TINCUP gift bans and political
contribution reporting, so he proposed testing a rather limited lobbying
ordinance, which OCBC supported. 
Professional lobbyists would register and report on who their clients
were.  Simple.  It could always be expanded if needed, but
was an OK first start for a County that didn’t have a lobbying ordinance.  And a small fee (surprise!) would be paid by
the lobbyist registering.

It shockingly failed to win support from the rest of the OC
Supervisors for a variety of reasons, most of which were that it wasn’t all-encompassing enough!  Let’s include everybody. 

So, Supervisors Bates and Nelson proposed an outrageously
expansive ordinance that would have taken those 15 lobbyists and added 12,000
OC non-profit organizations, land-owners, utilities, unions, building trades,
small business owners, residents-frankly almost everyone in Orange County would
have qualified to report as a lobbyist under their proposal if you had anything
to do with a "public official."  Not an
"elected public official."  Any "public
official."  If you wanted to remodel your
kitchen, and your contractor asked the County planning for your permit in 3
days instead of 5, for example, you and your contractor would have had to
register as lobbyists!  Think of the
expanded fee base here.

Fortunately, this didn’t pass muster with the other
Supervisors and the drafting of an appropriate ordinance has been sent to
County Counsel and County CEO for consideration, to be brought back in 60 days.

Now enter, stage left, Senator Lou Correa with his very
first bill-On the state’s failed economy? 
On jobs creation?  On regulatory
relief?  No.  On requiring all local government agencies to
have lobbying ordinances:  SB 31.  Not just the County of Orange, but water
districts, school districts, sanitation districts, flood control districts,
transportation agencies.   Everyone gets the fun of drafting an
ordinance, folks registering, reporting, paying and government collecting fees.

"At a time when the state is facing tough economic
times, this is when you really have to look at how you’re doing business and
think about doing things in a better way," said Senator Correa.  "And a great way to start is
transparency in government." 

Really?  I guess
working on the stuff that would put folks back to work is just beyond
comprehension.  It’s so politically
correct to go after lobbyists.  Well,
lobbyists didn’t cause the problems in Bell, or the OC bankruptcy, or vote in so
many California regulations that we are at the bottom of the list of
"business-friendly" states in the union.

I say "SQUIRREL."  www.CaliforniaSquirrel.com.  What do you think?