When I put out my PAULY’S PICKS voter recommendations a few weeks ago, I wrote: “COUNTY OF ORANGE, Measure A: NO – this will probably pass, but I don’t like that it expands the size of county government. ‘Ethics Commission’ sure sounds good though. The problem is that you can’t legislate ETHICS. The unethical will always find a way around doing what is right.”

I was almost immediately accused of being “disingenuous” and “obviously” making “just another campaign statement.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Oversight has been Shirley Grindle’s life’s work and I genuinely believe Orange County has been tremendously blessed to have her. A good watchdog is hard to find. There will never be another Shirley Grindle. She has a servant-warrior’s heart. I relate to this. I also agree that our current DA is overly political and very selective about what he pursues or doesn’t. We’d be better-served by working to replace the DA.

I watched the development and progression of Measure A, albeit from a distance. I have given it a good bit of consideration. It is not disingenuous nor is it just another campaign statement that I consider it an expansion of government. I truly believe that it is because, well…it is. It’s another commission that we don’t currently have and calls for the hiring of another executive director that we don’t currently have.

I was told that the estimate to fund this expansion “is only $300,000,” just a fraction of the County’s general fund budget. It may be $300,000 today, but it will grow. It will grow in size and in power and in the amount of funding that it consumes. That is the nature of things in government.

I wish it were possible to legislate “ethics,” but it isn’t. The truly ethical among us will bend over backwards to meet the requirements of this new commission. It will burden them. I believe the unethical and most devious will figure out a way around the law and sidestep the Ethics Commission’s scrutiny. The devious are great at finding loopholes, as Shirley well knows from her many years of public oversight.

There will be appointees to the commission that are politically motivated. If you need evidence that the Ethics Commission will become a political football, all you need to do is look at the current brouhaha between OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and OC Supervisor Todd Spitzer as reported in the OC Register and the Voice of OC. They’re both making political hay out of Measure A and it hasn’t even passed yet!

I want to support this effort because I have such a high respect for Ms. Grindle and know that her heart is absolutely in the right place.  However, if I support Measure A — just because of how I feel about her personally — I am violating several of my own core values, namely principles over personalities and a commitment to limited, smaller government.

I hope we can be saved from ourselves and reject Measure A, although I can certainly understand the present appetite to try almost anything to clean up government.  All I can say is, Measure A ain’t the way!

The Honorable Deborah Pauly is a candidate for California State Assembly, District 68, having concluded her second term as Councilwoman for the City of Villa Park.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

For an opposing view on Measure A, check out Shirley Grindle and Chapman Professor Mario Mainero’s Op-ed advocating for an ethics commission in Orange County.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

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