Applicant

Controller

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Applicant Ron Galperin is asking you to hire him for the role of controller, which pays $174,843 per year. His resume:

A portrait of Ron Galperin

Ron Galperin

Controller, City of Los Angeles

Professional Profile

Before Ron Galperin was elected controller for the City of Los Angeles in 2013, he was a community advocate. He was elected to one of the city’s 99 neighborhood councils, where he advocated for “responsible neighborhood planning” and beautification projects, and developed a training course for other community advocates. Galperin is also an attorney. 

As city controller, Galperin advocated for improvements to street services, police staffing, funding for the arts, workers’ compensation costs, airport operations and the Department of Water & Power.

As state controller, he hopes to take on California’s lack of affordable housing and “existential crisis” of homelessness, but voters will have to judge how much he can capitalize on his municipal experience.

If he wins, Galperin would be California’s second openly gay statewide elected officeholder, after Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who was elected in 2018. Galperin made history in Los Angeles as its first citywide LGBTQ elected official. 

Experience

Controller, City of Los Angeles

2013 – present

Created the L.A. Equity Index in 2020, tracking indicators including rent burden, air quality and access to internet, food and health insurance.

Launched Control Panel L.A., the city’s award-winning open data portal, in 2013. The portal lists goods and services Los Angeles has bought for the last 10 years, along with information on assets and liabilities, employee compensation and performance metrics.

Through an audit, increased fee revenues, allowing the city fix more streets and maintain funds for future repairs.

Member, Neighborhood Council

2006 – 2013

Pushed for quality-of-life improvements and responsible neighborhood planning.

Developed and taught “L.A. City Government 101,” a guide for community activists to engage with the city.

Also volunteered with Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates to provide budget recommendations to city officials.

Chairperson, Los Angeles Commission on Revenue Efficiency and Quality and Productivity Commission

2010 – 2013

Served as president of its Quality & Productivity Commission.

Reviewed and funded innovative departmental projects, and presented annual awards.

Oversaw several reform proposals, including a new inspector general for revenue and collections.

Commissioner, Los Angeles County Quality & Productivity Commission

2009 – 2013

Similar to the city role, reviewed and funded innovative departmental projects.

Partnered with departments to help productivity, efficiency, customer service and results.

References

Fun Fact

Among the data points uncovered by the portal Galperin launched: The $20,000 worth of heroin and cocaine used to calibrate the LAPD’s drug testing equipment, and the number of frozen rats the city had purchased to feed snakes at the L.A. Zoo – 52,100 costing $129,218.

“The job of the controller is not just about the money. It is about the results and it is about life. In many cases, it’s about life and death, when you think about the opportunities of how you spend your money in a more effective way.”

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Here’s a look at where Ron Galperin stands on the most pressing issues he would face in office.

Key Topics
Where Ron Galperin Stands on the Issues
Budget
Economy
Taxes
Pensions

While the state budget is awash in surplus cash, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office and other watchdogs have repeatedly questioned whether all that money is being spent wisely or effectively. 

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Which areas of the state budget would you focus on to make sure spending is effective?

Homelessness and housing programs, local agencies and special districts, K-12 schools. “Unfortunately we’re seeing rather poor results in many school districts. And I think there’s a real opportunity for the controller to look at how that can better operate.” 

What specific strategies would you employ to prevent waste and fraud?

A “real-time” website showing how state departments are spending money. “Then you can use your auditing resources and the people that you have to not just do strictly financial audits, but to really do performance audits.”

Even though the economy is rebounding from COVID, California still has the nation’s highest jobless rate and hasn’t recovered all the jobs lost. Experts say the pandemic widened the gap between California’s rich and poor in some ways, despite unprecedented direct relief.  

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Would you support another broad stimulus payment? What about the gas tax rebate?

Supports targeted relief to those most in need. “Just providing a one-time check because gas prices have increased is something that I don’t think is necessarily well tailored enough.”

The pandemic has highlighted how much the state relies on the wealthy for tax revenues that are fueling record budget surpluses — and raised again the issue of whether the tax system needs an overhaul. Conversely, some progressives are pushing to increase taxes on the rich.    

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Do you support any changes in income taxes or sales taxes to account for the shift to a service economy?

Possibly, but only if it doesn’t hurt businesses. “I think we definitely need to look at that change and some adjustments. We’re in a different time. We’re not in a 1950s economy anymore.”

Do you support a “wealth tax” or increases on tax rates on upper-income residents? If so, what would the revenue be used for?

“I’m not a big fan right now of seeing that put in place, especially if the numbers show us that people might decide to leave.”

In the short term, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislators are urging the state’s two huge public employee pension funds to divest from Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. In the longer term, CalPERS and CalSTRS both face huge amounts of unfunded debt, forcing them to consider riskier investments in search of higher returns.  

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How would you reduce the unfunded debts of CalPERS, CalSTRS and local governments?

Closely monitor investment returns, but not in favor of lower pension benefits for new employees. “When you create a two-tier system, you also create a lot of conflicts between those who just came in the door and those who have been there for quite a while. It also creates some real questions in terms of recruitment and retention.” 

Do you think the state should divest from Russian companies or funds due to the Ukraine war?

Wants better definition of a Russian company and wants to make sure that oligarchs don’t gain from divestment. “First of all, let’s not forget that the primary responsibility of those who are on CalPERS and CalSTRS is to actually make sure that they are the fiduciaries for those beneficiaries.” 

Would you change any specific investment policies of CalPERS or CalSTRS?

Wants to look at investments in private equity funds and also in clean energy. “That’s a great way to actually move us forward in terms of getting off of fossil fuels and toward renewables, but also at the same time, making money for those who are retirees and soon to be retirees.”