(May 11, 2005) -- With the political watchdog group California Common Cause adding its support, the LB City Council voted 9-0 to direct preparation of an ordinance that would increase LB reporting requirements for ballot measures and large contributors to them.
Councilmembers voted at their May 10 meeting to direct the City Attorney to draft an amendment to LB's campaign reform laws that would:
- Require a political committee to register within 72 hours of submitting initiative language to the city and collecting $250 in contributions;
- Require committees to (a) report contributions of $1,000 or more within 24 hours; (b) file quarterly reports and (c) in the last ninety days prior to the election, file biweekly reports
- Require at the time the committee registers that it must report all past expenditures and contributions in pursuit of an initiative, which may include polling, public relations expenses, signs, bumper stickers and brochures; and
- Require paid signature gatherers to clearly declare on the petition if they are paid (as proposed in CA bill SB 469)
In a May 10 letter to the Mayor and City Council, California Common Cause (which described itself as a "non-partisan citizens' lobby that works to strengthen public participation and to ensure that the political process serves the public interest, rather than special interests"), expressed its "support for increased transparency in contributions in the City of Long Beach." The letter, signed by Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause continued:
"Regular and timely reporting requirements lead to greater transparency and accountability. When voters are informed of the sources of ballot measure funding and expenditures, they are better able to judge the value of a measure, the interests served, and how they will choose to vote."
Among the supportive Council colloquy:
Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal: "I just want thank Councilmember O'Donnell for a wonderful job on this. I think anything we can do in the interest of full disclosure of campaign contributions is really important..."
Councilwoman Rae Gabelich: "...I think there should continued to be transparency in leadership, both in the community and with our local government, and I support this as well."
The specific legal language, now being drafted by the City Attorney and the verbiage will return to return to the Council on May 24 for adoption.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, at a May 2 meeting of the Council's Elections Oversight Committee convened by chair O'Donnell, the Committee voted (motion by O'Donnell, seconded by Baker) to recommend that the Council add filing and disclosure requirements for local ballot measure supporters to LB's campaign laws applicable to local candidates.
During the Council meeting, Councilman O'Donnell said the proposals he authored are to address what he sees as a need to "develop and further policies that help voters to become as informed as possible as to who is financing local initiatives and how much is being spent. The goal is to make sure that the voting public is fully informed as to who is financing or sponsoring an initiative in a timely manner. That way, voters might be able to gauge the motivations behind an initiative...."
He added, "We have big issues in Long Beach. We have LNG, a Home Depot [proposed] on Studebaker, huge port issues. We don't want to see initiatives on those measures, I think..."
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