City Council Fails to Consider Reforms to Prevent Conflicts of Interest
The Irvine city council turned their backs on the citizens of Irvine last night when they failed to even consider the strong conflict of interest protections proposed by citizen representatives of the Oaks Project. One Oaks Project volunteer chastised the city council, applying the infamous ad line “Where’s the Beef?” to the City’s toothless reform proposal.
A city committee met with the Oaks Project several times over the past year and a half to discuss their anti-kickback proposal supported by the signatures of over 9,500 Irvine voters. However, the committee presented unrelated recommendations to city council last night, proposing the placement of campaign disclosure documents online and the discouragement of gifts to public officials.
“We are sadly disappointed in the council’s lack of action on this issue,” testified Oaks Project Director, Carmen Balber, at the council meeting. “Two years ago, the egregious conduct of one of their own members forced the Irvine city council to address the problem of conflicts of interest. Now, as the scandal fades from the public eye, so does Irvine’s commitment to implementing real reform. The proposals they adopted last night are toothless actions which will prevent not one misdeed from happening.”
Advocates with the Oaks Project charged that the committee report should, at very least, have accurately outlined the committee discussions. A number of concerns with the conflict of interest proposal voiced at the council meeting had already been addressed in the committee.
Citizen volunteers with the Oaks Project urged the city council to adopt the reforms outlined in the Taxpayer Protection Amendment which was supported by Irvine voters but missed qualifying for the ballot by just 81 signatures. The measure would prevent public officials from accepting campaign cash, gifts or employment from those they have awarded taxpayer dollars for a specified period of time. Similar measures were passed by voters in five other California cities in 2000 and 2001.