Southern California News Group editorial board shines a spotlight on local corruption

On Sunday, Feb. 12, the Southern California News Group editorial board published commentaries focusing on the problem of corruption here in the Golden State.

The editorial board condemned the plague of corruption in an unsigned editorial giving context to the problem: “Corruption – of the illegal and legal variety – undermines the public’s faith in its institutions. It creates the sense that the system is rigged and an average citizen can’t get a fair shake. In a self-governing society, people need to have the confidence their dealings with, say, police officers, tax collectors and regulators are based on a set of fairly applied rules rather than a system of graft or political ties.”

The editorial board, a longtime opponent of the drug war, further highlighted the problem of corruption in California’s legal cannabis industry: “Both state and local governments need to make it much easier for the market to work. The more convoluted the barriers or permit schemes, the greater the risk of corruption.”

Opinion editor Sal Rodriguez chronicled a litany of corruption cases across Southern California, including the “Anaheim Cabal,” Los Angeles City Hall and more:  “The scourge of corruption will prevail as long as people think they can get away with it. We must all do our part to say, ‘Enough.’”

Columnist Susan Shelley linked what’s going in California to old institutions of corruption, from Daley’s Chicago to New York’s Tammany Hall: “The state of California is run by a one-party government that increasingly resembles the machine that dominated Chicago.”

Columnist Matt Fleming explained that corruption is often subtle and routinely distorts state government priorities: “If you’ve ever wondered why things never improve in California, this is why. If you feel like the politicians don’t actually represent you, the good news is you’re right and now you know why. Soft corruption lurks throughout state government.”

Columnist Steven Greenhut warned that the bigger government gets, the greater the opportunities for corruption: “Everyone is corruptible, so of course private citizens operating in a market economy must be (and are) subject to the rule of law. But corruption fundamentally is a problem of government power, as official actors use immense powers to help themselves and their allies. If we want less corruption, the solution is obvious: We need less government.”

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Columnist John Seiler highlighted how public sector unions corrupt our system of government in California: “Actually, using the voters’ own tax money to push candidates and positions on them is a violation of democracy, which is rule by the people — all of them. Not just a few union bosses living off taxes forcibly taken from everybody else, and funding pro-union campaigns with those same taxes.”

Columnist Larry Wilson spoke with former Assemblymember Cristina Garcia about her past anti-corruption efforts in Los Angeles County’s “Corridor of Corruption”: “Cristina Garcia was on the battlefield as a citizen activist when the first shots were fired in this newfangled Southern California war on municipal corruption. It’s been a fight against the waste of  money in local government taken on not by middle-class White suburban anti-taxers but by the working-class children of Latino immigrants in Southeastern Los Angeles County.”

Former Riverside County Supervisor and former Calimesa Mayor Jeff Hewitt provided his thoughts on how easy it is for politicians to succumb to corruption: “You settle into your office and realize that most of the people you come in contact with are successful businessmen, other elected officials and even celebrities. In your mind you are now on their level merely by right of association. The empty bag is now in your hand.”

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