Beginning Tuesday, November 17, county officials from throughout the state will come together in Monterey County for the 115th Annual Meeting of the California State Association of Counties.   We know travel funds are tight, but your participation has never been more urgent.

Since CSAC’s inception in 1895, it’s always been important for county leadership to attend our annual meetings. But this year’s meeting has added significance due to the fiscal and political climate currently swirling in the State of California.  Another budget deficit that could top $10 billion, a polarized and dysfunctional Legislature, an increasingly frustrated public – all are helping to shape 2010 as a year where the talk of reform takes center stage. Already we are seeing potentially three different November ballot measures that focus on reform.  These measures could significantly change the future of California’s counties.

For California Counties, the CSAC Annual Meeting is coming at a very advantageous and crucial time.

Our membership, through CSAC’s five Policy Committees and Board of Directors, will engage in the reform dialogue. Our goal is to approve a set of core principles for reform developed by CSAC.  These principles will be discussed and voted on, as will principles for state budget and fiscal reform developed this summer by the Cities Counties Schools (CCS) Partnership.

This is an important first step. It is our intention to leave the Annual Meeting with reform principles that can guide us in 2010 as we discuss reform initiatives that qualify for the ballot, as well as any discussions and movement within the Capitol.

Beyond the critical issue of reform, our five Policy Committees will discuss a number of policy issues key to California counties, including protecting our transportation revenue streams, SB 375, prison overcrowding, federal health-care reform and wildland fire suppression.

Input from you, our county leaders, is absolutely critical. We need to hear the perspectives from our rural, suburban and urban counties, north and south, mountain, coastal, and valley.

Our meeting workshops will focus on a variety of other issues of importance to California counties: pensions, green energy, privacy rights and background checks, the H1N1 virus, social networking, the reform effort started by the CCS Partnership, to name a few.

I urge you to not only attend the Annual Meeting, but to get involved when you are there. Join the discussion at our Policy Committee meetings, attend our workshops, and help elect the CSAC leadership for the next year.

If you haven’t already registered for the Annual Meeting, you can do so on-site. To review the program agenda, click here.  We look forward to seeing and hearing from you in Monterey County.

Paul McIntosh
Executive Director
California State Association of Counties