Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed eliminating 37 boards and commissions, a move that would cut by about 12 percent the number of such panels. We think.
We think, because apparently no one really knows how many are out there although 300 is the number most often cited. A 1989 report by the Little Hoover Commission put it at 400. More recently, the California Performance Review evaluated 339 state boards and commissions. Others have put the number as high as 1,000.
What has earned the board much of its current notoriety - aside from the Democratic governor proposing its current members seek other employ - is that six of the seven members who each earn $128,109 are former lawmakers.
Excepting the current membership, over the past 25 years more than 12 former lawmakers of both parties have been appointed to the board by governors, Assembly Speakers and the Senate...
"It's one of the choicest plums at the fruit stand," said Steve Maviglio, former Gov. Gray Davis' press secretary, now a Democratic consultant and, thanks to Davis, a member of the board for one year. "It's a job that requires really no experience in the field, pays well and you can do it from the comfort of the home office."The board's purpose is not frivolous. Every state is required by federal law to to have a mechanism for adjudicating disputes on unemployment insurance, and most states opt for a body similar to California's. What is inexcusable, however, is the rate of pay and the political backscratching that goes into securing the appointments. Governor Brown is to be applauded for his reformist instincts.