Press Release

February 5, 2017

For Additional Information Contact:
Terri Hardy, Executive Director (A)
(916) 445-2125

Commission Urges Culture Change to Stop Catastrophic Fires and Tree Deaths

The Little Hoover Commission released a new report Monday, calling for a dramatic culture change in the way forests are managed to curb a disastrous cycle of wildfire and tree deaths.

Instead of focusing almost solely on fire suppression, the state must institute wide-scale controlled burns and other strategic measures as a tool to reinvigorate forests, inhibit firestorms and help protect air and water quality, according to the Commission’s report, Fire on the Mountain: Rethinking Forest Management in the Sierra Nevada.

Immediate action is crucial, according to Pedro Nava, chair of the Little Hoover Commission. “Dead trees due to drought and a century of forest mismanagement have devastated scenic landscapes throughout the Sierra range,” said Chair Nava. “Rural counties and homeowners alike are staggering under the financial impacts of removing them. We have catastrophe-scale fire danger throughout our unhealthy forests and a growing financial burden for all taxpayers and government like California has never seen.”

Over the course of the Commission’s year-long study, the number of dead trees in the Sierra rose from 102 million to 129 million. The Commission found that the deadly bark beetle invasion, responsible for the tree kill, signaled a larger problem of mismanaged forests and climate change.

The report, sent to Governor Brown and the Legislature, makes nine recommendations to restore forests back to their historic fire regime. The Commission urges expanded funding for state prescribed fire crews and forest administrators to oversee a transformation to more proactive forest management. Resilient forests improve safety and make economic sense. The costs of mismanaged forests – for every level of government and many California homeowners in and around the Sierra Nevada – have become an unsustainable burden in California. Firefighting costs in the first half of this fiscal year alone have already topped $700 million.

In addition, the Commission found that forest treatments should be accelerated and expanded throughout the Sierra Nevada and that there must be greater teamwork between state and federal forestry agencies to plan and implement the work. And, the state must create a long-term bioenergy plan to address the disposal of millions of dead trees as well as fund and develop a public education campaign about the importance of healthy forests in the Sierra Nevada.

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action.

In Memory of Little Hoover Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia

December 20, 2017

For Additional Information Contact:
Terri Hardy, Deputy Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

CaroleThe Little Hoover Commission regretfully announces the death of its Executive Director, Carole D’Elia, on Saturday, December 16. She was 55. Carole was diagnosed with cancer in September following a family camping and hiking trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. She welcomed the widespread support of her many friends and acquaintances, and fought bravely to the end.

Carole brought a deep institutional history to the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency. She joined the team in 2001 as a research analyst and served as project manager and deputy executive director before serving as executive director since 2013. She left a legacy of tackling some of the most complicated issues facing California state government, including pensions, water quality, healthcare and long-term care, infrastructure and spending. She developed an especially deep knowledge and passion for energy and bond spending.

Among her many important contributions to the state, perhaps the most lasting will be those in criminal justice. Her work in the Commission’s report, Solving California’s Corrections Crisis: Time is Running Out, was the first citation in the 2011 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Plata, which held that California’s overcrowded prison system violated 8th Amendment rights.

“She was a remarkable person who cared deeply about the Commission's work and inspired all around her to reach higher,” said Pedro Nava, chair of the Little Hoover Commission. “She was thoughtful, considerate and caring. Her zeal was perfectly paired with the practical. We pledge to continue to perform our work in a way that would make her proud.”

Carole dedicated her career to making California state government more effective, handled policy analysis with grace and helped the Commission skillfully navigate the political currents to find bipartisan, lasting solutions.

She also was a member and leader of the Sacramento County Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commissions and a volunteer coordinator with Get on the Bus, which provides bus trips for children to visit their incarcerated mothers. Additionally, Carole served on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Gender Responsive Strategies Commission and the St. Anthony Parish Social Justice Committee. She also worked with homeless families as part of Family Promise.

Carole leaves her loving husband, John, and cherished children, Amanda and Adam. She is deeply missed by her six-member Commission staff in Sacramento and 12 current Commissioners and many former Commissioners throughout the state.

Memorial Service Information
A memorial service will be held for Carole at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, January 5, 2018, at Saint Anthony Parish, 660 Florin Road, Sacramento, CA, 95831. Map available here. The memorial will include a Catholic Mass followed by a reception.


Press Release

September 5, 2017

For Additional Information Contact:
Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

Little Hoover Commission Calls for Urgent Repair and Bold Transformation of the Yountville Veterans Home Campus

The state must immediately fix public safety threats at the Yountville veteran’s home, including malfunctioning elevators and other critical infrastructure issues, according to the Little Hoover Commission, in a report sent Tuesday to Governor Brown and the Legislature. The report calls for bold and innovative approaches to transform the historic 615-acre campus in the heart of Napa Valley to better meet the changing needs of veterans statewide.

Transforming the Yountville Veterans Home Campus builds on findings from a March 2017 Commission report in which the Commission identified critical infrastructures issues on the historic Yountville veterans home that pose a public safety risk to residents and others. Early in its study process the Commission identified problems with antiquated heating and cooling systems and alarming malfunctions of elevators in the home’s multi-story skilled nursing facility, designed to house veterans with acute health care needs, some of whom also have mobility challenges. This update report acknowledges efforts by the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to address some of these issues, particularly to fix the faulty elevators. However, despite repairs, the problems persist. The report calls for CalVet to develop ongoing and proactive strategies to monitor and repair structural problems immediately as they arise, while at the same time evaluating and re-configuring, as necessary, its homes program to ensure that the levels of care offered meet the needs of California’s veterans population.

Additionally, the Commission determined the state has greater latitude than originally believed to craft a new future for the home. Officials long had operated under the misperception that use of the Yountville property is limited by a 1899 deed that stated California must maintain the property as a home for United States soldiers, sailors and marines. Instead, the Commission discovered that state law permits leasing real property on the Yountville veterans home campus and lawmakers could further clarify the terms and purposes of leasing opportunities.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform pristine property in the heart of Napa Valley and do so in a way that honors the history of the campus, while simultaneously expanding the state’s ability to serve more veterans,” said Commission Chairman Pedro Nava. 

The Commission recommends that California establish an independent entity to plan, design and manage the use of the Yountville property, beyond the current veterans home program. New uses could include affordable housing for veterans home employees and others, park space for residents and visitors, modernized office space in formerly underutilized buildings and a hotel and restaurants to serve the community while providing jobs for returning veterans. Though the Commission recommends the property should maintain a strong veterans focus, state law should be adapted to expand the use of the campus to allow long-term leasing agreements that generate revenue to be used for other veterans services across the state.

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action.

Press Release

August 30, 2017

For Additional Information Contact:
Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

Little Hoover Commission Calls for Special District Reforms

The Little Hoover Commission, in a report sent Wednesday to Governor Brown and the Legislature, recommended several measures to strengthen oversight of California’s 2,071 independent special districts.  The state should eliminate unnecessary hurdles for district dissolutions and consolidations to improve service delivery, expand transparency by requiring every district to have a website with basic information and standardize current reporting requirements on  revenues, expenditures and reserves, according to the Commission’s report, Special Districts: Improving Oversight & Transparency.

“Special districts are the most common form of government in California, yet because there are so many performing so many different types of services, it is hard to draw conclusions on whether taxpayers would be better served if various districts merged or consolidated,” said Commission Chairman Pedro Nava.  “Current local government oversight of these districts is working in many places, but not all corners of California.  To that end we are recommending some legislative changes that should lead to improved service delivery and greater efficiency.”

Special districts are the workhorses of government in California, providing vital services ranging from fire protection to water, cemeteries to sewers. Often it is special districts on the front lines of adapting to climate change and the Commission’s study focused on the important role districts can plan in both planning for change and educating their constituents. The Commission spent a year investigating whether California taxpayers are well-served by this little-understood layer of bureaucracy.  While they vary greatly in size and in servces provided, some common themes emerged.

The Commission found that the 58 Local Agency Formation Commission charged with oversight are not uniformly effective at initiating dissolutions and consolidations when necessary to improve service delivery and efficiency.  The Commission recommends several legislative modifications to strengthen these local bodies as well as a small one-time funding injection to initiate the most urgent dissolutions and consolidations, something that should save taxpayer dollars in the long run. 

Also in its review, the Commission found it difficult to find basic information on all special districts.  The Commission recommended requiring every special district to maintain a website outlining how to participate in decision making and an easy guide to revenue resources and expenditures, plus a published policy for financial reserves.

Additionally, the Commission focused on one type of district – healthcare districts – particularly those that no longer operate hospitals.  It found this segment needs to evolve to a modern preventative healthcare model, as some healthcare districts have.  As a start, the Commission recommends updating the outdated practice act that governs these districts.

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action.

California's Little Hoover Commission Launches New Website, Brand and Logo

The Commission is pleased to announce the launch of its newly redesigned website, brand and logo. Our refreshed new look mirrors the exciting and engaging direction we are taking the Commission’s work.

Over the past year, the Commission has been working with lowercase productions to enhance our brand identity and web communication strategies. The Commission began its journey by developing a new logo design that better reflects its core mission, values, vision and purpose. You’ll see our refreshed look on our new website, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube platforms, and very soon on all of our business collateral, as well.

In conjunction with our brand identity project, we also redesigned our website. With a focus on user experience, we wanted to create an aesthetically pleasing website with an intuitively accessible navigation scheme to make it easier for visitors to find the information they’re looking for.

We will be continually expanding our online content to bring you updated information about future events, report releases and much more. So we encourage you to sign-up for our public notice list – located on our contact us page – and follow us on Twitter!

We invite you to explore our new website and welcome your feedback.

Start Exploring
  • Homepage: At a glance, see upcoming events, recent reports, current studies, and quick links to get to where you want to go with one click. The rotating slideshow displays images of California’s diverse and beautiful landscapes. These images were selected to represent those who we serve – every Californian.
  • Report Library: Read our reports and learn more about our findings and recommendations. The new report library search engine and drop-down menu is a powerful yet simple feature, making it easier for you to filter through our 230 plus reports by subject areas or key words. You have the option of viewing the report library in a grid or list format.
  • Current Studies: Learn more about our current studies in progress and view their study schedules.
  • Events: Preview upcoming and past hearings, meetings, site visits and events. Quickly view the time and location of the event, agenda, public notice and the associated study page.
  • About: Meet our Commissioners and staff, and learn about the Commission’s role and responsibilities, organization, study process and history, and the Commission’s role in the Governor’s Reorganization process and oversight of the California State Auditor.
  • Impact: Learn about our impact in California state government and see highlighted implementation activities displaying our direct and long-term effects. Read about the Commission’s exciting work in the news and find legislation the Commission has supported during each two-year legislative session.
  • Contact Us: Participate! The new contact us form allows you to select multiple options for how you want to share your thoughts with us and follow our activities.