This measure, from the pen of longtime Ralph Nader associate Harvey Rosenfield, prohibits any city official who approves a city contract or other benefit from receiving a campaign contribution or gift from the recipient of that benefit for a six-year period. It is clearly directed at the time-honored American practice that props up many an officeholder: contracts out, money in. LL’s sponsors make clear that it does not apply to unions – that is, if the council were to negotiate a contract giving a raise to city workers, the city workers’ union could still make donations and work on campaigns. It does apply to contractors and the pols who love them.
Clearly, LL has caused hurt feelings among Santa Monica’s elected officials, and understandably so: They are just about the most honest, least corrupt group of officeholders you can find. LL is on the ballot in Santa Monica, we surmise, because it is a small, progressive city predisposed to vote for such a measure. Its critics complain that it doesn’t go far enough to reform campaign finances; that it will require too much record-keeping from public officials, causing good people to shy from seeking office; and, though not publicly, that Rosenfield should have included Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, the city’s longtime grassroots progressive organization, in the drafting process. These points may all be valid, but they don’t really diminish the case for the measure, which is simply that it establishes a model for clean government. That ain’t chopped liver.