To the editor: A Los Angeles Times editorial claims that banning “behested payments” to benefit charitable causes from developers, lobbyists and companies with city contracts is an “important step toward removing the appearance of quid pro quo city decision-making and restoring public trust in government.” This shortsighted view negates any benefit that private philanthropy delivers in filling the often debilitating gaps in resources that charities and community programs face.
Have you witnessed the hundreds of families on any given summer night enjoying food, sports and programming in one of 32 city parks in our most challenged neighborhoods for Summer Night Lights? Or heard the laughter of children enjoying quality after-school programming at one of 200 Title I schools through L.A.’s Best?
These and other programs would not be possible without the support of private philanthropic resources directed by elected officials who know the unique impacts of these efforts.
Motivations for charitable donations may be self-serving, but the end result is always clear. Like any astute philanthropist, companies actively seek opportunities where their giving will have the greatest impact and seek informed input from local leaders to help direct their giving.
A few bad apples certainly have taken advantage of their elected position, and they must be called out. However, it makes no sense to ban our elected officials from using their platform to direct resources in the best interests of their constituents and communities. What a shame if our elected officials are unable to fulfill that role.
Deidre S. Lind, Los Angeles
The writer was founding president of the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles.