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Letter to the Editor: Santa Maria Needs an Independent City Treasurer

My purpose in running for Santa Maria City Treasurer is to promote “Check and Balance” and “Transparency” in our city Government. I disagree with the city job description that the City Treasurer is a “ceremonial” position. As an elected official, the City Treasurer is accountable ONLY to the people of Santa Maria. The independency of this office makes it an important conduit for the people of Santa Maria and their city government.

The late Dorothy Lyman was one of the most respected City Clerks in the State of California. In opposing efforts to eliminate the City Clerk and City Treasurer as an elective office, she wrote, “Elective representation is the very core of American Democracy.” She defined the role of the City Clerk and City Treasurer in this manner: “Making the City Clerk and Treasurer appointive could compromise the ‘Checks and Balance’ necessary to assure good, honest government.”

The current elected City Clerk is the secretary to the City Manager, and the elected Treasurer is a city employee. These relationships represent an unavoidable conflict of interest that compromise their ability to represent the interest of the people as elected officials.

Government represents integrity, honesty and serving the best public interest. The principle of “Check and Balance” and “Transparency” are essential requisites to maintain these basic values. In preparation to run for public office, I have found the money trail of public funds does not meet the requirement of “Transparency.”

The Mayor in violation of the law abdicated his authority to a city employee. City Resolution 2005-34 states: The Mayor in his absence authorized the city manager to execute the NHIS agreement on behalf of the City. The law states the Mayor pro-tem takes over in the absence of the Mayor.

The above NHIS agreement, which totaled more than $60 million to date, is between the City of Santa Maria and Chevron. Amendment Two of this contract, negotiated by the City Manager, orders Chevron to pay Central Coast Remedial Resources Inc. (CCRR Inc.) for dumping their diluent contaminated sand (NHIS) at the City of Santa Maria Landfill. This private company, after taking their “share,” then disburses the balance of the money to the City. Since CCRR Inc. is a private company, the public has no access to its books.

I see no justification for this irregular accounting procedure. This financial arrangement is suspect because the contract is between the City and Chevron and therefore the City should be collecting the dumping fee from Chevron and disbursing the revenue for any services rendered. This lack of “Transparency” in the handling of public funds can be a temptation for abuse.

Another example for the need for “Check and Balance”: Under California Government Code 53753, the City must provide a Ballot to their water customers to approve or disapprove the 15 percent water-rate increase. The City did NOT provide the required ballot, thereby denying the people the chance to exercise their important “Right to Vote” in violation of State Law.

If elected, I would work to correct the irregular NHIS contract between Chevron and the City. I would exercise whatever authority at my disposal to restore the “Right to Vote” on the water-rate increase. There are other allegations and issues like Department Heads spiking their retirement pay and the City improperly padding the expense of the Water Fund to justify a rate increases that needs investigation. These are some of the issues an elected City Treasurer is responsible to review to ensure that the public interest is not compromised.

For an independent elected official to look after your best interest, Vote for TORU MIYOSHI as your City Treasurer on Nov. 6, 2012.

Toru Miyoshi
Santa Maria

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