Plan Would Alter Council Term Limits

Times Staff Writer

A group of Los Angeles civic and business leaders announced plans Thursday to seek a ballot measure this fall that would extend term limits for elected city leaders and tighten ethics rules for officeholders.

The reform package, crafted by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, would alter term limits imposed by voters more than a decade ago.

Under the proposal that would appear on the Nov. 7 ballot, members of the City Council could serve three four-year terms -- one term beyond the current limit.

Representatives from the chamber and the league said they were discussing whether to extend the term-limit proposal to the city's other elected officials -- the mayor, city attorney and city controller.

The civic leaders said that lifting the two-term cap would give elected officials adequate time to implement public policy without having to think about their next career move.

"Our hope is that by adding a third term there will be improved ability of at least our City Council to deal with the tough issues that take political courage," said Ron Gastelum, a member of the chamber board.

The two groups also want to toughen rules that govern the relationships between elected leaders and lobbyists.

Their proposal, dubbed the "City Government Responsibility, Lobbying and Ethics Reform Act," would:

* Prohibit city officials and candidates from accepting campaign contributions or gifts from registered lobbyists and lobbying firms.

* Bar lobbyists from sitting on city boards and commissions.

* Ban former city officials, commissioners and other employees from engaging in lobbying activities for two years after leaving city service.

Leaders of the two groups will present their plan to the City Council on Tuesday, asking that the city attorney and the Ethics Commission review it.

The council would have to vote by early next month to place it on the Nov. 7 ballot. It would require a simple majority for approval.

The package "will create responsible government and curb undue influence," said Liza White, president of the Los Angeles league. "We are proposing a package that is well thought out. I don't believe the City Council would ... find anything objectionable."

Council President Eric Garcetti said through a spokesman that he would withhold comment until the formal proposal is submitted. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also said through a spokesman that he would review the proposal.

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