Measure B revisions draw fire

Published on

Pasadena Star-News (California)

PASADENA, CA — Supporters of a revised Measure B say the proposed changes to the law will expand taxpayer protection by further barring political kickbacks.

But opponents of the original measure say the changes remove restrictions from wealthy, influential contributors, causing more problems than remedies.

Former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp led the city-appointed Task Force for Good Government that spent four months creating revisions to Measure B, which originally passed in 2001.

Under the present law, council members and city administrators are prohibited for a five-year period or one year after leaving office from taking gifts, jobs or campaign contributions from any person or business that has been granted a benefit of $25,000 or more.

Van de Kamp said the committee believed prohibiting the acceptance of contributions for races outside the city limits could be perceived as unconstitutional. So, the new law would only restrict donations for races in Pasadena, he said.

Another change would be the institution of a “black-out period” that would keep a group seeking a city contract from making political contributions during the bidding process.

In addition, the revised measure would require that contributions to political campaigns be posted online for monitoring by the general public, he said.

Councilmen Paul Little and Chris Holden have opposed Measure B since its inception. Little said Monday that those who want to find loopholes in the law could simply donate to political action committees, which could then pass that money along to a campaign.

“The significant change is to take away restrictions for people who sit on boards of nonprofits who do business with the city, be they paid or unpaid,” Little explained. “People who sit on boards tend to be wealthier people who have time to do that, who have resources and are on the board because they are financially supporting the institution to a degree.”

Little said he believes the only way to remove the potential for donor money influence is through publicly financed campaigns.

But Carmen Balber, an advocate for The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, noted that the city didn’t allow onto the ballot for the revised Measure B proposed campaign contribution limits by the task force.

Balber’s nonprofit group, based in Santa Monica, sponsored the original Measure B. She said the foundation monitored the task force and supports all proposed revisions to the law.

“After four months that the task force looked at this measure, listened to input from people across the community and looked at the intent of the voters, it came up with a balanced proposal that, in the end, will expand what voters intended for barring political kickbacks,” Balber said Monday.
Contact the author at [email protected] or (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4496.

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