Pershing Drive bikeway
The Pershing Drive Bikeway is among the projects overseen by the San Diego Association of Governments, the region’s publicly funded transportation planning agency. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

The committee overseeing a series of damning audits at the San Diego Association of Governments is again seeking more independence despite past opposition from the agency’s Board of Directors.

But this time, the members will try to push for approval during a massive board turnover at SANDAG, including new leadership.

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The regional planning agency’s Audit Committee will recommend changing how its members are selected and their term lengths, a move supporters say would lessen the board’s authority over what should be an independently functioning body free from political influence. 

Part of its proposal mirrors what the SANDAG board shot down last year, though several members — including Chair Catherine Blakespear — are exiting. Whether the board’s new makeup will boost the committee’s chances of getting any changes approved, however, remains to be seen.

Emails obtained by inewsource reveal longstanding tensions between the two bodies — and concerns expressed within the last month by Independent Performance Auditor Mary Khoshmashrab and one committee member that board leadership was interfering in the latest process.

The Audit Committee, made up of public representatives with financial backgrounds and elected officials, is a lower-level but important component of SANDAG: It helps oversee the work of Khoshmashrab, whose audits exposing policy and documentation problems have dogged the agency in recent months.

Yet despite its independent role, it remains largely controlled by the SANDAG board, which picks the committee’s members. The board chair decides who will serve in its leadership positions.

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