22
Wed, May

A Modest Proposal: Private Contact Disclosures

LOS ANGELES

A NO BRAINER - It’s no secret that Los Angeles city government is suffering from a crisis of confidence. The scandals of the last few years, especially those involving elected officials, deserve solutions that go beyond tinkering around the edges.

City government must get serious about becoming more transparent. In short, the public’s business should be done in public as much as possible.

In the weeks to come I will be offering some specific suggestions to improve the quality of city government.

Here’s a good starting point.

Years ago, the city had a Telecommunication Commission that regulated cable television companies in the city. Eventually it was disbanded as the state and federal government consumed the regulatory powers.

Before each meeting of the Telecommunications Commission, each commissioner would declare if they had any private communications with those who were doing business with the commission that day.

In this way, possible conflicts of interest and backroom dealings could be discussed and dealt with.

Most importantly, having this rule on the books sent clear notice to commissioners, business leaders, and lobbyists before any private meeting were to be scheduled that the meeting would become a matter of public record.

There is no reason why the mayor can’t direct all commissioners to begin a similar practice at their next meetings.

The City Council could become a national transparency leader by adopting the same policy for its meetings.

(Greg Nelson, Former chief of staff to Councilman Joel Wachs and past contributor to CityWatchLA.com.)