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Our View: We can’t afford a distracted assessor

The Signal Editorial Board

Posted: May 27, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 27, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez is under investigation by the District Attorney's Office concerning influence-peddling allegations involving the lowering of property valuations in exchange for political support and contributions.

District Attorney Steve Cooley has called for Noguez's resignation even though no charges have, to date, been filed.

Former Los Angeles County property appraiser Scott Schenter was arraigned Friday on charges stemming from allegations that he improperly slashed valuations on homes and businesses. Authorities say Schenter allegedly secured campaign contributions from the property owners for Noguez.

We believe that as long as this cloud is swirling around the Assessor's Office, Noguez should step down until this matter runs its course.

Locally elected officials such as Assemblyman Cameron Smyth and county Supervisor Mike Antonovich have also called for Noguez to step down.

The Assessor's Office, which plays an important role in the local economy because of its involvement in property appraisals, is far too critical of a department to be run by an official who is being weighed down and distracted by such allegations.

The Signal is not supportive of conducting trials in the media, but we do agree with the notion that currently there is a crisis of trust in government at all levels.

These allegations involving the Assessor's Office only add fuel to that fire. The possibility or likelihood that selected Noguez campaign contributors are receiving lower tax bills while the average taxpayer is not - all during one of the worst real estate downturns in recent memory - only causes more cynicism and public distrust.

The widening investigation and the dependence of revenue-strapped local governments on fair property valuations and appropriate taxing all support the proposition that Noguez should step down until his name is cleared or he is arrested.




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