Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Created: 11/24/2011 06:10:20 AM PST

State Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Montclair, is co-chairing a committee to hear the statewide concerns of employers and employees on the issue of pension reform.

The lawmaker, who plans to run for Congress next year, was elected to serve the 32nd District in the California State Senate in 2006.

McLeod recently discussed several other issues besides the Golden State’s pension crunch with the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and The Sun.

Q: You agreed to the new state redevelopment plan, which does away with redevelopment agencies, but allows redevelopment agencies to exist if payments are made for services. Some people are unhappy about this. How would you defend this plan?

A: What started out as a tool for local governments to get property taxes and do cleanup for blighted areas, it turns out that many of the cities that still have blighted areas now have stadiums, and all kinds of state-of-the-art stuff, which was not, in terms of my interpretation, taking care of the blighted areas … Not to say there weren’t people that did terrific stuff and yeah, stadiums bring money into the coffers, but that’s not what it is meant for.

Q: You voted in support of the prison realignment (which shifts low level offenders to the county jails). Some officials have said this will raise the crime rate because of the lack of space in the local jails. How do you respond to the concern?

A: We have to see what happens. I’m not saying they don’t have a concern. Let’s see what happens, and see if what everybody has yelled about actually happens.

Q: What do you think about the effect of legislative term limits and what some say is the increasing power of staffers in Sacramento.

A: (Many lawmakers) are not there long enough to understand the real things the Legislature does. Let’s say when you get there first, it’s not like on-the-job learning. They don’t say you’re gonna come in and then you get to do this. They say here you go …. Then you say OK and you learn real quick. Fortunately, for most Californians, most of its legislators have some on-the-job training outside. Most of them come from some form of city government. They’ve been on school boards and they’ve done budgets. So most of them can catch it pretty quick. But then how do you carry a bill? Nobody’s done that before, because you don’t do that in local government. You don’t carry bills. The skill involved is knowing where the pitfalls are. How do I get my bill out? How do I not get everybody angry at me? How do I talk to my colleagues to make sure they know this is a good bill? Am I wiling to make amendments? … Ultimately, you are the one whose name is on the bottom of the bill. You are responsible for it. If you let somebody else be responsible, you’re obfuscating your responsibilities. Staff can recommend what they see as pitfalls, then it’s up to you to say OK, I heard your point of view, then here is what I’m going to do.

Q: What do you think of the initiative process?

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