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    Sic Transit

    Jim Sturm, LB Activist, Passes

    (August 5, 2004) -- has learned of the passing of veteran LB activist Jim Sturm.

    Mr. Sturm, who was among the activists who pressed to enact LB's historic Campaign Reform Act (Prop M) -- and then successfully fought to preserve it from Council efforts to change it -- passed away after battling the effects of a stroke.

    He would have been 84 years old later this month and died in Grass Valley, CA on August 3.

    Mr. Sturm, who was active in LB's Gray Panthers, successfully fought against a now-abandoned City Council policy of spending general fund taxpayer money for projects desired by individual Councilmembers and allocated as "district discretionary funds."

    Mr. Sturm -- whose name means "storm" in German -- would regularly come to the City Council podium to charge that the incumbents' use of taxpayer money for pet projects amounted to a "political slush fund" to curry favor with voters and help reelect themselves.

    Each time Council incumbents voted to approve each other's spending on favored district "discretionary" projects, Mr. Sturm lambasted the practice...and his pointed criticisms became such a political sore point that they were addressed by a Council-appointed "Ethics Commission." (A majority of "Ethics Commission's" expressed misgivings about the practice but offered recommendations if Councilmembers wanted to maintain it; a minority report urged ending "district discretionary funds" outright.) Eventually, as Mr. Sturm had urged, the Council ended "district discretionary funds"...a decision made somewhat easier by budget constraints.

    Mr. Sturm, who strongly supported the voter approved Prop M (LB's local campaign reform measure) fought Council efforts in the 1990s to modify it. When a Council majority put a measure on the ballot that proposed to modify it, Mr. Sturm blasted the proposal and urged its defeat. The Council-proposed change failed at the polls...and today Prop M remains in force, basically as it was originally adopted.

    Mr. Sturm was also an outspoken opponent of destruction of the LB Naval Station's historic Roosevelt Base facilities.

    For over a decade until his health began to fail, Mr. Sturm commanded the Council chamber public podium by combining pointed political speech with a measured insouciance toward local officialdom. will be posting remembrances of Mr. Sturm as we receive them in the coming hours. Click reload or refresh on your browser for updated text.

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