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Lawmakers pledge swift action on bills prompted by Bell scandal

August 19, 2010 | 12:32 pm

State legislative leaders promised swift action Thursday on a package of bills to address the city of Bell financial scandal even as a top aide to the governor accused lawmakers of "grandstanding" and said Democratic proposals fail to address deeper problems of runaway pension costs and government spending.

Eight legislators including state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) held a news conference at the Capitol to support six bills that would restrict city pay and employment contracts and require salaries to be made public.

"The problems in Bell must be fixed," Steinberg said, adding that the Legislature needs to make sure similar abuses "do not happen anywhere else in the state of California."

But politicians behind the bills are not addressing serious financial issues also facing state government, wrote David Crane, a special advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the political blog Fox and Hounds.

"The politicians I'm referring to are those engaged in vigorous grandstanding about the city of Bell's compensation abuses," Crane wrote.

Perez said legislators are working on pension reform but added that there are also urgent issues raised by the Bell controversy that require swift action.

"I don’t think it's grandstanding to talk about legislation that brings needed controls to cities across the state," Perez said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers said three legislative committees will hold a joint hearing in September on the issue of government transparency in light of the Bell controversy.

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

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