The City Council is preparing to take a hard look at the city’s campaign finance and ethics rules (“Council moves to strengthen ethics rules,” April 29).
The campaign finance ordinance adopted in 2008 obviously needs refinement given the problems that have arisen as a result of the investigation into Advanced Development Investments Inc. And the city currently has no ordinance requiring paid lobbyists to register.
One of the tenets of campaign finance reform is that the appearance of corruption is as bad as actual corruption. No actual corruption has been uncovered, but plenty of mud has been slung based on the appearance of corruption because some candidates in the 2007 and 2009 municipal elections accepted thousands of dollars in donations from ADI subcontractors.
In light of the above, the League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank urges the City Council to model revisions to the ordinance after the recently passed city of Los Angeles Measure H, which prohibits, when certain contract limits are met, campaign contributions from contractors and subcontractors and further prohibits both groups from hosting events to raise funds for a candidate.
The same rules should apply to all applicants for entitlements and suppliers of materials to a city-funded project. Measure H places the remedy for violation squarely on the shoulders of the donor by barring the donor from receiving the contract.
The city’s current ordinance does not contain a similar solution to violations of the prohibition on donations. Another important goal of campaign finance reform is leveling the playing field. Council’s April 26 staff report on amending the campaign finance ordinance sounds an alarm on this front.
Discussions regarding dropping the $5,000 limit on the amount of funds a candidate can lend to his or her campaign, raising the amount of post-election funds a council member can raise above the current $10,000 ceiling and lengthening the amount of time in which those funds can be raised are steps in the wrong direction.
Clearly, incumbents have the advantage in an election as a result of their official positions. Increasing the size of an incumbent’s officer holder account allows a council member to increase his or her exposure in the community.
Furthermore, it works against efforts to stem the perceived or actual influence of money. Council members on the Burbank City Council are not allowed to maintain office holder accounts. Once the election is over, all candidates, including incumbents, must terminate their campaign accounts.
Finally, a requirement that lobbyists register increases “transparency” — a popular campaign buzz word. It is time to live up to the campaign promise to increase transparency and require registration of paid lobbyists so that the public knows who is working behind the scenes.
We urge the Glendale City Council to adopt these much-needed reforms.
Chris Carson and Joan Hardie
Editor’s note: Carson and Hardie are co-presidents of the League of Women Voters Glendale/Burbank.
Verdugo library is vital part of neighborhood
It’s very sad and disappointing to read about the proposal to close Casa Verdugo Library to help reduce the deficit and balance the General Fund budget (“Libraries could shoulder brunt of budget cuts,” May 12”).
This small library is a vital part of our community and neighborhood. Its location, surrounded mostly by apartment buildings, is of most importance for families with small children, senior citizens, students and for people who don’t have access to a computer at home.
The library has been part of this neighborhood for more than 50 years. It is a place where people go to learn, to relax with a good book or newspaper, and to just get away from the bustle and hustle of the city. Patrons, especially seniors, don’t have to worry about driving and parking in huge, and sometimes dangerous, parking structures to be able to check out books and movies.
The closing of this library will be a big mistake. I am sure that there are many other services that can be cut down and won’t affect our community as much.
Libraries are a very important part of our education. Instead of closing them, there should be more awareness, incentives and programs to attract more people to our libraries.
Ana M. Cuadrado