EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s a chance to stop being a victim. Get angry enough to work for change. Pass this on to your email lists and write the LA City Ethics Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org) and demand major reforms in campaign finance laws for the 2013 city elections.
At 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 1060 at City Hall, the Ethics Commission is considering a long series of changes give ordinary citizens a fighting chance to win election to the City Council over the political machines hand-picked candidates. (AGENDA Item 10).
For the elections next March, those candidates are mostly recycled state legislators who have proven themselves worthy by their repeated failure to solve the people’s problems and Council staff members who have demonstrated their loyalty and obedience like well-trained dogs.
Give real people a chance and show up for tomorrow’s commission meeting or fire off a letter immediately (email@example.com) for inclusion in the file supporting the efforts of Common Cause to end the corruption by bringing clean government to Los Angeles. Here’s a draft letter from Common Cause that you can use as a model for your own personal message.(LA City Campaign Finance Reform Letter Apr 5th)
The key to making Council races competitive for honest candidates who want to be public servants, not self-servers, is money.
What we need to seek is immediate change to the rules for campaign finance, some of them already under Ethics Commission consideration, some that only a display of citizen power will get approved.
Start with increasing the matching funds provided candidates to $3 for every dollar they raise instead of the one to one match we now have. The maximum amount available to any individual would remain $150,000 so it would not cost our fiscally irresponsible City Hall any more of its precious dollars.
If you are squeamish about public financing, get over it.
The current system is citizen candidates scrounge for every nickel and dime while the machine’s crooks hit robo-dial and come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers, unions and various special interests from here to Timbuktu so they wind up with something like a 15 to 1 spending advantage with independent expenditure committees ready to spend more if necessary.
This change would give candidates $75,000 in public money the moment they reach $25,000 in contributions and $150,000 more when they reach $50,000. It may not be a level playing, but a candidate would stand a chance even if they didn’t raise another cent.
More importantly, Common Cause wants to see the money that qualifies a candidate for matching come from contributors in their district and within the city.
The way it works now your Councilman or Councilwoman in the case of Jan Perry’s district get only 13 percent of their funding from people within their districts and more than half from people who don’t even live in LA.
It shouldn’t take a neuro-scientist to understand that apart from a few friends and family, outsiders are investing in the expectation they will get a handsome return on their investment.
The proposal that the commission wants to put off until 2015 would require that to get matching funds candidates would have to get 20 percent of their qualifying funding from within their districts and 100 percent of it from within the city limits.
This is crucial. It may not level the playing field but it means little contributors of $50 or $100 are vitally important. It means those nickels and dimes available to citizen candidates are going to be hard to match for the big shot incumbents and high-and-mighty state legislators.