Our Best of California 2009 award winning projects will be honored at two breakfast events – Dec. 8 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco and Dec. 9 at the Renaissance Long Beach. I just got a confirmation on the keynote speaker in San Francisco – Laura Chick, the state’s inspector general for the federal stimulus funds.

Chick was the Los Angeles city controller before being named to this position by the governor in April. Gov. Schwarzenegger says that this “first-in-the-nation position” will make sure the funds the state receives from the Recovery Act are used with “accountability and transparency to stimulate our economy and create jobs.”

Chick will give us an update on how accountable and transparent the stimulus program is going in the state, along with snapshots of some successes and, well, yes, some failures, abuse and waste.

As some of our SoCal readers may know, she is no push-over. As LA’s chief auditor, accountant and taxpayer’s watchdog, she had, since 2001, released over 170 audits and has exposed a major backlog of untested rape-kits, contracting improprieties at the city airport and harbor, millions in over-billing by a public relations firm, and hazing and harassment at the Los Angeles Fire Department. In 2008, the governor’s office says that Chick authored the groundbreaking blueprint for a comprehensive gang strategy in Los Angeles. She also created the city’s Waste and Fraud Unit and 24-hour whistleblower hotline.

The governor’s office says that she will review the work of the California Recovery Task Force and all funding that is funneled through the state as well as funding that is sent directly to cities, counties, school districts, non-profits or other entities over the coming two years. This position was created through Executive Order S-04-09 and reports to the governor.

Meanwhile, down in Long Beach, our keynoter is Larry Eisenberg, executive director, facilities planning and development for the Los Angeles Community College District, which is a big contractor and architectural firm employer with a healthy list of active construction projects on the books or under way.

For more details about the events, visit here. For information about this year’s Best of California winners, go here.