I finally can say what I think about Proposition R, the phony term limit/ethics measure and its sponsors, the LA Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters.
Iím vice president of the City Ethics Commission. A city law prevents members of the City Ethics Commission from commenting on measures such as Proposition R after they have been approved by the City Council and been placed on the ballot. I was told that if I disobeyed the city law I faced removal from office and accusations of criminal behavior. I counted up the potential offensesósomething like two felonies and a misdemeanoróand decided to shut up.
Now that the election is over, I guess I can comment. Why am I doing it here? I chose this space because itís hard to get an audience in the mainstream media. Most of the reporters covering City Hall are good but they and their bosses have their own schedules and itís hard for our commission to crack it. So I thought Iíd write about Proposition R and, in the future, other City Hall topics. Council members blog. Why not me?
This proposition was bad, and its advertising misleading. Contrary to what the ads said, the measure extends term limits and weakens lobbyist control laws. Previously, lobbyists had to file reports on their income and clientele if they earned a certain amount a quarter. Under the new law, they donít have to file unless they work more than 30 hours. Hot lobbyists can do their work in less time than that and still make big money. It means the top-drawer lobbyists escape regulation. Lobbyists put this thing together. A law firm representing them wrote the law.
At our meeting Tuesday I am going to ask our staff how it will enforce such a weak law. I am also going to ask the staff to find out the origin of the gag rule law that forbids ethics commissioner from speaking out.
I can understand why the chamber was for Proposition R. The chamber is pretty much a front for the business lobbyists who, with city employee unions, call the shots at City Hall.
But I still canít believe the League of Women Voters would lend its name to a measure that reached a new low in false advertising. Or that the voters would fall for the measure as a way to crack down on lobbyists when, in fact, it loosens things up.
Bill Boyarsky will be posting occasionally about City Hall and politics. His bio can be found here.