Former mayor, commission members say conflict-of-interest measure will dampen enthusiasm of professionals volunteering for city.
Inland Valley Times
As City Council members debated Tuesday whether to challenge a new conflict-of-interest law approved by voters this month, several city commissioners said they would resign if the law is enforced.
The council was considering four options regarding Measure A: do nothing, mount a legal challenge, enforce it, or delay enforcement while doing more legal research. City Atty. Sonia Carvalho said, however, that delaying enforcement would probably land the city back in court either as a defendant or a plaintiff.
Measure A will put a long list of restrictions on all city officials, from elected office holders, to appointed commissioners to the people who work for the city administration.
City officials can’t take gifts or campaign contributions from a person or organization that has benefited by their action such as winning a city contract, tax break or franchise.
Additionally, a city official can’t accept a job at a company or organization that benefited by that official’s vote.
“I think it will have a very chilling effect on professionals coming forward to volunteer their time,” said Michael Chael, an architect who serves on the city’s architectural commission. “I would be forced to submit my resignation.”
Patrick Stout, the chairman of the architectural commission, said four of the commission’s seven members would probably resign if Measure A is enforced.
The City Council had not reached a decision on the issue late Tuesday night.
The council didn’t take an official stand on Measure A during the election, but members campaigned against it. Then-Mayor Karen Rosenthal said it would scare anyone associated with the Claremont Colleges from wanting to volunteer for civic service.
Backers of the measure were incensed at the city’s position.
“The voters approved this, and now they are spending taxpayers’ money to fight the measure, to not implement the measure,” said Carmen Balber, an organizer with the Santa Monica-based Oaks Project. “They just can’t do that.”
The goal of the measure is to remove one more possibility that public business is done for the benefit of those in charge, backers said during the campaign.
The same measure was on ballots in five other cities in California including Santa Monica, San Francisco and Pasadena. Volunteers fell short of putting it on the ballot in Irvine, but the measure passed easily in the other cities.
In Claremont the measure got 55% of the vote March 6.