Can’t we find ways to solve political problems without creating more laws? Take campaign spending.
Recently (April 25) you ran a front page article critical of City Councilman Hal Bernson’s campaign fund spending. It seems Bernson potentially ran afoul of a loosely worded law that requires office-holders to maintain “officeholder” accounts containing their privately solicited funds. These funds must be used solely for “governmental, legislative and political purposes.”
In spite of the fact that any ninth-grader could creatively interpret that language, it appears Bernson has been called on the carpet for this before. He spent too much on dinner and season tickets. Who’s to say they weren’t political affairs? Define political. Who cares how Hal Bernson spends his campaign dollars? Or Zev Yaroslavsky or Rita Walters, for that matter.
Those who gave him the money decide whether that’s OK, not the Ethics Commission, whose enforcement wing talks to the city attorney, who passes opinions on to the State Fair Political Practices Commission. What a waste of bureaucratic time.
Too often society’s response to a situation that outrages us is “there ought to be a law.” Maybe we should consider alternatives. Maybe next time we need a problem like this solved we should ask an entrepreneur for an idea instead of another lawmaker.
What if politicians paid an independent bureau to review campaign spending and to mail copies of spending records to all those who contributed as well as the media? Let those whose money went to candidates judge whether their money was well-spent.
Let’s free up our representatives to spend more time serving their constituents and less time justifying their expenses. Free up our bureaucrats to do something besides make more work for more bureaucrats. And free up our legal workers to take care of cocaine traffickers or the thug who broke into my car the other day.
Your story “Bernson’s Spending in ’92-'93 Follows Pattern” (April 24) shows that all City Council members, the city attorney and the city controller all have spent “officeholder” money, even Zev Yaroslavsky, who outspent Hal Bernson.
Why not put the spotlight on the entire council? Why focus on Mr. Bernson? It seems to me the culprit is officeholder accounts.