Lawmaker proposes to cut waste board

SACRAMENTO The California Integrated Waste Management Board overseas the state's trash and works with cities and counties to improve recycling rates.

State Senator Jeff Denham is working on a bill to get rid of the six board members because he says they're a waste of money.

"It pays $132,000 a year to meet a couple times a month. Most boards pays about $100 per diem per meeting. So this is certainly a plumb position," said Sen. Denham.

The executive director says his board is funded with the fees assessed at landfills and uses no taxpayer money.

And it does more than just meet a few times a month.

"They're out visiting landfills, visiting recycling opportunities, inter-acting with cities and counties that recycle. They're very engaged in the work of the management of solid waste in the state," said Mark Leary, CA Integrated Waste Management Board.

During these tough budget times, critics have said those trash fees could be used for the state's other environmental responsibilities.

The proposal to abolish Integrated Waste comes at a time when it's suffering from an image problem.

The board has become a vehicle for political patronage for former staffers and out-of-work politicians.

Chairwoman Margo Reid Brown was Governor Schwarzenegger's scheduler.

Termed-out politicians Sheila Kuehl who championed universal healthcare, Carole Midgen who is known more for her erratic behavior than policy and John Laird who was lead budget negotiator, all got recent appointments -- filling the latest three vacancies on the board.

Laird says he is qualified for the job.

"Twenty-five years ago, as Mayor of Santa Cruz, I presided over one of the first curbside recycling plans in the state. So I have long experience," said Laird.

"It's very clear this is more the nature of patronage than a legitimate advancement of environmental policy," said Jon Coupal, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

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