KPCC 89.3FM (Pasadena, CA)
The following commentary by FTCR President Jamie Court was broadcast on KPCC 89.3FM in Pasadena, CA on Friday, August 5, 2005. Click here to listen to the commentary.
This week the Pasadena city council voted to implement what’s being called one of the nation’s strongest ethics laws. You’d think that would please consumer watchdogs, but commentator Jamie Court, president of the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, who sponsored the law, still isn’t satisfied.
It’s called the Taxpayer Protection Act. Pasadena voters approved it back in 2001. The law provides a common-sense solution to the age-old problem of cash for political favors. It requires local politicians who award contracts or subsidies to a company to reject jobs, gifts, and campaign contributions from that company. Voters in San Francisco, Claremont, Vista, and Santa Monica approved it as well. If the law applied statewide, it could have kept both Governors Schwarzenegger and Davis out of a lot of trouble.
For four years, politicians from Pasadena and Santa Monica fought the Taxpayer Protection Act in court. They lost the battle in April, and this week Pasadena’s city council finally moved to implement the law. Only there’s a big catch – The City Council voted to have the taxpayers pick up the legal bills for officials who break the law. That’s a lot like forcing an adulterer’s spouse to wash the sheets.
Shame on Pasadena’s City Council. Politicians who cheat on taxpayers should not have their lawyers financed on the public’s dime. The Council has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to overturn the will of the voters, now its members want a blank check to hire defense attorneys? That should have Pasadena residents scratching their heads.
In the People’s Republic of Santa Monica the situation’s even worse. The Politbureau of a City Council refuses to implement the law at all. Of course, it’s been busy spending its time threatening homeowners over the height of their hedges.
When voters speak about political corruption, politicians should listen. If they can’t play by the rules, they should get out of the game… Not force the public to pay for their fouls.