Ethics law on go-slow track;

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City sees flaws in Measure B

Pasadena Star-News

PASADENA, CA — The City Council decided Monday night to take a more measured approach in addressing what it says are serious flaws in an anti-corruption initiative passed by voters in 2001.

At the behest of Councilman Chris Holden, the council reluctantly agreed to first consider restructuring the initiative, known as Measure B, so that its provisions, in Holden’s words, “pass constitutional muster.”

Measure B prohibits council members and city administrators from taking campaign contributions, gifts or employment from any business that has received a contract, tax break or other consideration worth $25,000 or more stemming from that city official’s decision.

Critics say these restrictions are onerous, difficult to implement and possibly unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds.

Holden said he preferred trying to “fix that which is broken” rather than take the approach favored by Councilman Steve Madison, which is to develop a new set of campaign finance laws that could be included on a future ballot.

Although Madison had more votes on his side, he could not pass anything without Holden, so a compromise was reached.

The job of revising Measure B goes to the “Task Force on Good Government,” a nine-member committee of community members led by former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp.

The council left open the possibility that a replacement ballot measure might still be considered if the task force finds Measure B irredeemable.

Two councilmen, Steve Haderlein and Paul Little, spoke out against the task force. Both men say the measure’s provisions are not burdensome enough to warrant spending $100,000 on an extreme makeover.

Haderlein also has criticized his colleagues for pushing ahead with a process he says is being controlled by the council to reach a predetermined outcome.

“We are directing the task force to overturn the initiative,” Haderlein said.

“I don’t think it’s all that tough to live with,” said Little, who recently returned a $250 campaign contribution he received from a Los Angeles developer after former Pasadena councilman Bill Paparian flagged it as a violation of the measure.

Measure B passed with 60 percent of the vote in 2001. The initiative was sponsored by the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights, or FTCR.

FTCR advocate Carmen Balber attended the meeting to refute charges by several council members that the measure is arcane and unconstitutional, and asked the council to enforce the voters’ will.

Members of the group Friends of the Raymond Theatre were also on hand to oppose the task force. They cited contributions from Raymond Theatre owners Gene and Marilyn Buchanan as proof that Measure B is needed. “Stop using precious taxpayer money in fighting a battle against the will of the people,” said Katherine O’Brien.
Gary Scott can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4458, or by e-mail at [email protected]

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