When the City Council, struggling with its total failure and loss of the public’s trust, stacks the ballot with 11 measures plus seven Council seats and LAUSD and Community College board elections.
The mayor, desperate for something, anything, to claim he has achieved anything during his two terms is going all out to control the school board and his claim to be the education mayor and to keep citizen candidates from knocking off his obedient Council supporters like Jose Huizar and Tom LaBonge.
Here’s my analysis of three more measures on the March 8 ballot:
ELECTION REFORM — MEASURE H
Nothing changed except we are stuck with these failures for 12 years instead of eight.
This new two-issue measure supposedly would bar contractors from making political campaign contributions and provide something close to full public financing of campaigns so that ordinary citizen candidates stand more than a long shot chance of winning.
But it won’t do any of that.
Its stated purpose:
encourage a broader participation in the political process and to avoid
corruption or the
appearance of corruption in city decision making, and protect the
integrity of the City’s procurement and contract processes by placing
limits on the amount any person may contribute or otherwise cause to be
available to candidates for election to
the offices of Mayor, City Attorney, Controller and City Council and promote
accountability to the public by requiring disclosure of campaign activities and
imposing other campaign restrictions.”
participation, end corruption, protect integrity — why that’s exactly
what City Hall needs to restore public confidence and make the focus of
what City Hall does the public benefits that are achieved instead of its
slavishness to special interest.
Measure H, unfortunately doesn’t do any of that.
Contractors and sub-contractors bidding on city contracts from making campaign contributions to candidates but it doesn’t stop them from setting up independent expenditure committees and spending all they want on candidates and issues.
Even if it passes and meant something, the Council made sure it doesn’t apply to contracts with the DWP, Harbor and Airport — the “juice” departments where the big money contracts are and the big money contributions.
What a joke!
The other element of Measure H is even more cynical if that’s possible.
Poor Jose Huizar, he tried to so hard to make himself the clean money reformer so he could coast to re-election, cultivating genuine reformers like Common Cause and others who want to see an even playing field and fair elections.
His effort started out with six strong proposals, got whittled down to three for consideration for the March 8 ballot and he wound up only getting one to make it in a form so watered down as to be worthless in achieving the goals of anyone except the incumbents.
The goal was to provide citizen candidates with something like $100,000 to run their campaigns if the raised a modest amount of money from small contributors. But nothing like that is in this measure. It’s left to the Council to develop rules it likes someday if Measure H passes to enhance the matching funds now available for contributions of $250 or less.
What is left is the city will add $2 million a year — not the $3 million Huizar proposed — to the $13 million now available for matching funds but the council can take the money back any time it wants or even decide to withhold the money entirely.
All it has to do is declare “a fiscal emergency,” which is likely to the case for years ifnot decades to come..
The measure contains high-minded phrases about helping to “restore public trust in governmental and electoral institutions … to
avoid corruption or the appearance of corruption by providing
an alternate source of funding for campaigns and reducing real or perceived ties between elected officials and special interests.”
Now what kind of people would feel they can’t “trust” government or see “corruption” or the “appearance” of it or worry about the “real or perceived ties between elected officials and special interests.”
‘Just about everybody who has paid the least bit of attention, of course. None of them is going to believe the Council and mayor have any intention of implementing this measure to achieve its stated goals.
EMPLOYMENT RULES — MEASURE Q and CAMPAIGN FINANCE — MEASURE N
The employment provisions measure is as timeless as they get while the campaign finance is legally meaningless, so why now?
The answer is simple: There’s no better way to suppress the vote than to make it so long and unintelligible that special interests can pour money into independent expenditure committees can get what they want which is to re-elect the people who have served them so well for so long.
The campaign finance measure does utterly nothing.
The U.S. Supreme Court has lifted restrictions on what unions, corporations and individuals can spend on elections through independent expenditure committees so Measure N merely brings L.A. rules for city and school board elections in line with federal law.
The law is the same whether this is on the ballot or whether it passes or not. The rich and powerful will be able to spend freely to buy elections without even worrying about limits on contributions of $500 or $1,000.
One of the unintended consequences of Charter reform a decade ago was how making top managers at-will employees of the mayor has worked out.
The goal was to give mayors the power to get rid of ineffective top managers who no longer would have Civil Service protection.
But under the current mayor, that power has been used to intimidate and humiliate upper levels of every department, to make them do the mayor’s bidding or face being fired.
Measure Q — instead of stopping mayoral abuses — extends his power to deputy fire chiefs and increases the possibility of other patronage abuses by eliminating the need for full and open examinations and review of all candidates seeking promotions in every department.