Judge Dismisses Santa Monica’s Case Against Popular Conflict of Interest Initiative

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Oaks Project Volunteers Call on City to Implement Will of Voters

Superior Court Judge Debra Yang thwarted the city of Santa Monica’s attempt to challenge the popular Proposition LL, agreeing with the Oaks Project’s motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that no parties to the case were truly harmed.

Santa Monica challenged the voter-enacted law, Proposition LL, by suing its city clerk last June. The Oaks Project intervened in the case, challenging the city’s position as plaintiff and defendant and arguing that there was no real controversy between them. Judge Yang ruled in the Oaks Project’s favor at the end of the court day Friday.

“The city council has been trying to avoid taking the preventive medicine prescribed by the people of Santa Monica for a year and a half now,” stated Oaks Project Director, Carmen Balber. “But just because they think reform is a bitter pill to swallow, that doesn’t mean they can ignore it, or decide it’s voodoo medicine. The court agreed and the public will expect the city to finally accept the will of the voters.”

The decision maintains that “there is no direct or threatened injury” to the City or the city clerk in the case, and both parties therefore had no standing to bring the suit. Santa Monica’s motion for summary judgment on the merits of the case was dismissed as moot.

Heartened by the decision, Oaks Project volunteer Susanne Griffin stated, “We can be thankful that Judge Yang saw through Santa Monica’s attempt to nullify a tough reform law and the foolish waste of taxpayer dollars. It is now time to pick up the pieces of voters’ shattered confidence and implement the good government measure embraced by 59% of Santa Monica voters.”

Volunteers challenged the city to implement the conflict of interest measure approved in November 2002. The measure prevents city officials from accepting campaign contributions, gifts or employment from entities that benefit from the official’s decisions.

Claremont and Pasadena, who tried to intervene in the case to surreptitiously kill similar laws in their cities, were denied last fall. In Pasadena, the city clerk has refused to even put the measure officially on the books. Volunteers with the Oaks Project contend that the cities’ excuse — feeble as it was — to avoid implementing the law has been dismissed and they must finally recognize the popular reform.


Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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