Yaroslavsky Attacks Woo in Government Ethics Battle
The battle over Proposition H--the ethics-in-government measure on next Tuesday’s Los Angeles ballot--escalated Wednesday to a level of rancor rarely seen at City Hall as Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky accused fellow councilman Michael Woo of “stooping to the very gutter of politics” in soliciting funds for the proposition’s campaign.
Yaroslavsky, who opposes the ethics measure as a backdoor way for the council to gain a 40% pay hike, was reacting to a report in The Times which showed that a committee formed to support the proposition had raised nearly $100,000 from special interests.
Many of the firms contributed to the committee only after they were personally solicited by Woo, City Council President John Ferraro and Mayor Tom Bradley.
“I think that what is unethical is soliciting funds from a developer with a pending subdivision” over which Woo would have influence, Yaroslavsky said, referring to a $4,500 contribution from Jefferson Development Corp.
In a prepared statement, Woo said he would not “respond to unfair attack by a colleague in the heat of anger.”
Woo denied that he personally solicited the funds from Jefferson. But he acknowledged “a member of my staff . . . did encourage an executive there to support” the measure. Woo’s office would not identify the individual but said the solicitation was not made at Woo’s direction or with his knowledge. Officials at Jefferson could not be reached.
Proposition H, placed on the ballot by the City Council, would reduce the influence of special interests in city government by limiting the outside income, gifts and honorariums that politicians may accept. It also encourages politicians to restrict spending to specified levels to become eligible for public matching funds. The ballot measure also contains a 40% pay raise for City Council members.
Bradley, when asked about the fund-raising effort at an earlier press conference, said: “I see nothing evil, I see nothing illegal, I see nothing improper in getting that kind of support.”
In addition to Yaroslavsky, the measure is opposed by council members Ruth Galanter and Ernani Bernardi. All three say the pay raise and public financing provisions are too expensive.
Supporters of the measure said that Galanter and Yaroslavsky were being hypocritical because they also accept campaign funds from many of the same corporations.