Our View: Ceres Sen. Cannella’s law would shine light on shady accounts

December 6, 2013 

People often put lights around their homes and businesses so that bad things don’t happen in the dark. It doesn’t always stop bad things from happening, but it can make it easier to spot those who are trying to carry them out.

That’s the thinking behind the bill Sen. Anthony Cannella will carry into the Legislature in January. He wants to shine a light on roughly 1,400 “outside” accounts that contain taxpayer money but aren’t covered by the state treasury. How much money? About $9.3 billion.

Cannella wants to require each state entity to provide the state treasurer an employer ID number and authorize the treasurer to monitor all of those accounts.

“It’s exactly (like a shinning a light)” on the accounts, said Cannella, who represents Merced north into Modesto. “But this is just common sense. Most agencies do the right thing, but there’s about 1 percent who create problems. And we have to stop that.”

Such a law would make it more difficult for a state agency to hide money from the Legislature or the treasurer to use for purposes other than intended. If you recall, such evasions contributed to the fear that we would have to shutter parks last year. By providing the possibility of oversight, fewer politicians will be tempted to try anything underhanded.

This is a good idea, we hope his fellow legislators enact it.

Money for fire recovery

We applaud the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, which this week announced that it will provide $1 million for projects that will restore areas affected by this summer’s disastrous Rim fire. A lot of that money will be spent on the Tuolumne River watershed and around Yosemite National Park, where the Rim fire did the most damage. The conservancy knows that in the overall scope and scale of this fire, $1 million isn’t that much. So we’ll just consider it seed money, hopefully to leverage funds from the state and federal governments and others who want to see the area restored.

All-American got her kicks

Our region has more than its share of excellent athletes, and we usually prefer to make note of them on the sports pages. But every once in a while, one comes along who deserves more. That includes CSU Stanislaus’ Karenee Demery, who was earned National Player of the Year honors in NCAA Division II women’s soccer. She was one of 12 student athletes to be named to the All-America team. Demery scored 21 goals with 10 assists and led all of Division II in total points. The Merced native was nothing short of spectacular for the Warriors. And she wasn’t bad in the classroom, either, earning the Capital One Academic All-America Player of the Year award. Congratulations, Karenee.

Art is in the air

We’ve got some artists in our midst. The work of Merced third-grader Mia Ekhause was selected for inclusion in the The San Joaquin Air Pollution Control Board’s Healthy Air Kids Calendar. If you’d like a copy, contact at public.education@valleyair.org or call (209) 557-6400.

And Merry Birthday to all

If you’ve been having trouble getting into the holiday spirit, the cure is in downtown Modesto today. The McHenry Mansion will host a Dickens Faire from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be vendors, crafts, food and carolers. Adults will appreciate all the trappings that accompany everyone’s favorite holiday story, “A Christmas Carol,” but kids will get to join Scoopy for his 70th birthday party at 3:30. We promise to be done in time for the “Holiday in Whoville” parade at 5:30. Dress warm.

Walters on Maddy Report

Don’t miss Sunday’s Maddy Report, which you can stream through the Maddy Institute’s website ( www.maddyinstitute.org) or on The Cal Channel ( www.calchannel.com). This week’s guests include columnist Dan Walters, who writes for The Sacramento Bee, and Dean Bonner of the Public Policy Institute of California. They’ll be discussing the state’s political climate with Maddy executive director Mark Keppler.

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