(May 2, 2005) -- Late this afternoon (May 2), the City Council's Elections Oversight Committee voted to recommend at the May 10 City Council meeting that Councilmembers request a City Attorney opinion for the May 17 Council meeting regarding a proposal to increase LB's existing requirements for campaign contribution reporting, specifically that:
- All contributions of $1,000 or more on behalf of a ballot measure be reported within 24 hours;
- All political action committees be required to file reports disclosing expenditures in pursuit of placing an initiative on the ballot in Long Beach; and
- Any other items that may be transmitted to the City Attorney.
Councilman O'Donnell opened the meeting with a statement:
Councilman/Chair O'Donnell: This committee is dedicated to ensuring a fair, efficient and legal election process in Long Beach.
...Today we are here to discuss several issues that I have brought forward after a review of our local campaign finance laws. In my estimation, Long Beach has a cake that is half baked when it comes to campaign finance reform.
...[W]e have very little, if any, local law that speaks to local initiatives. It is my belief that we should review this situation and look to make potential recommendations to the full Council that serves the interests of our voters by allowing the voters to be fully informed and limit the ability of special interest money to dictate our public policy.
What is this meeting about? Very simply, it's about policy, not politics. It's about creating a policy that creates a level playing field and allows the electorate to be fully informed of the motivations behind any ballot measure, specifically those that may be financed by outside interests.
What is this meeting not about? It is not about attacking one point of view over another with regard to the airport, and it is not about trying to limit to people's ability through the initiative process.
But we should remember that Long Beach has some pretty big issues and we can expect to hear more initiative talk in the future as we face ever more complex issues that are backed by big money and big interests.
We have a huge Port. We're facing the introduction of LNG to Long Beach, what will that mean? There's a proposed Home Depot on Studebaker Rd. All of those are contentious issues that could ultimately lead to an initiative, if it goes that7 far.
A sidebar here: I hope cooler heads will prevail and this proposed initiative will not be forwarded. As I see it, it is my role as a member of this City Council to point fingers at solutions, not at people with whom I disagree. We did that on February 8, 2005 with a compromise. We had a 9-0 vote, a Chamber of Commerce and neighbors that stood up and spoke of that compromise. So I'm somewhat confused about why an initiative would be needed and the motivations behind any proposed initiative with regard to the Airport.
Simply put, it is my belief that the February 8 compromise should stand.
Councilman/Committee Vice Chair Baker said he was "fully supportive" of the Committee action. ELB realtor Joe Sopo also spoke in favor of the Committee action.
The motion passed 2-0 (committee member Richardson absent).
A City Attorney representative was not present, but City Attorney Bob Shannon told LBReport.com that this was simply a scheduling matter. "It's not making a statement of any kind; it really was as mundane as it gets," City Attorney Shannon said.
Observing from the audience; Tom Modica (for city management); Cathy Wieder (Mayor O'Neill's chief of staff); Council office Chiefs of Staff Niki Tennant (Councilwoman Lowenthal); Dan Baker (Councilman Baker); Melissa Infusino (Councilman O'Donnell); Ray Pok (Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga; Jonathan Kraus (Councilwoman Gabelich).
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