The West Hollywood City Council tonight unanimously approved a proposal by Councilmember John Heilman that the city attorney develop an ordinance that would ban former city employees and members of city boards and commissions from lobbying the Council.
Heilman accepted a proposal from Councilmember John D’Amico that the city attorney’s proposed ordinance also address the practice of “double dipping,” or hiring as contractors city employees who have retired. D’Amico also asked that lobbying be defined.
D’Amico cited as an example of such “double dipping” the city’s hiring of Joan English, who retired on Dec. 31, 2010 as assistant city manager and then was hired as a contractor to oversee implementation of Phase I of the West Hollywood Park Master Plan. English collected a pension from the city as well as fees for her contract work.
While Heilman didn’t cite any evidence of what he called “revolving door” behavior by city employees and commission members, D’Amico wondered at the purpose of the proposal, saying he was aware only of the city’s being lobbied by Anne McIntosh, the former community planning director, and Scott Schmidt, a former transportation commissioner. Schmidt, addressing the Council later, said he had not lobbied the Council.
In a memo presented to the Council, Heilman noted that state law bars city managers and Council members from lobbying the city with which they were associated for one year after ending that association.
“While this limits the ability of certain parties to influence political action, this section does not include board or commission members or many city employees,” Heilman’s memo said. “In practice, this may enable City staff and officials with inside connections or information about a pertinent issue to influence the outcome of City decisions… Known as the ‘revolving door’ in politics, this insular arrangement is detrimental to the public interest and participation in government.”
This was Heilman’s second attempt to enact a lobbying ethics measure. A year ago he proposed banning campaign managers for City Council members from lobbying the Council. That proposal drew strong opposition from Councilmember John D’Amico. When Mayor Abbe Land proposed last month that the city attorney be asked to investigate whether such a ban could be imposed, D’Amico was joined by Councilmembers John Duran and Jeffrey Prang in voting her proposal down.
The Council’s final approval will not come until the city attorney returns with a proposed ordinance.
Good for john Hellman it’s well over due