Opinion: The Final Piece of the Ethics Puzzle

In my previous op-ed, I talked about the need for campaign finance and ethics reform, but this week I want to focus on the last piece of the ethics puzzle: Lobbying reform.

Lobbyists are individuals who are paid to advocate for a particular governmental decision. Every interest group has lobbyists. Whether it’s nurses, firefighters, teachers, construction workers, individual companies or nonprofit groups, lobbyists can serve an important function by informing government officials about the effects of their decisions. Even cities like West Hollywood hire lobbyists to interact with the state legislature and the MTA for increased affordable housing funding and more mass transit.

Problems with lobbyists occur when they are permitted to operate in secret. West Hollywood has no lobbying disclosure laws, and because of the lack of information regarding lobbying activities there can sometimes be the appearance of “buying votes.” As I talked about last week, even the appearance of malfeasance can be as bad as actual wrongdoing; it plants the seeds of mistrust in our minds.

Just as with campaign finance reforms, lobbying reforms should focus specifically on increasing transparency, the first step of which is disclosure.

Currently, lobbyists in West Hollywood are required to register, but they are not required to submit public disclosure statements that contain useful information about who is paying them, how much they are being paid, what specific matters they are lobbying and who they are lobbying. As I proposed in my piece on campaign finance reform, public disclosure has to be a key part of lobbying reform. The city of Los Angeles requires reporting of lobbying activities quarterly. West Hollywood must adopt similar standards, and the information should be available on a real-time, searchable electronic database. Lobbyists need to be mandated to publicly disclose their professional and financial relationships with sitting Council members before they can speak on behalf of an issue to the Council.

The new City Council must make passing a comprehensive lobbying ordinance, along with campaign finance and governmental ethics ordinances, a top priority. If we work together to pass these new laws, we can take the first steps in restoring the public trust in West Hollywood City Hall.

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Lynn
Lynn
7 years ago

Thank you Lynn it’s lovely that you do. There seem to now be at least three Lynn’s commenting. For some unknown reason my last name has been deleted lately. I try to discuss facts unless specifically stating an opinion.

What IS fascinating is that when many folks active in local political affairs appear in public they are in disguise. Equally fascinating, how many times that just slips on by.

Lynn Hoopingarner
Lynn Hoopingarner
7 years ago

For the record, I am not the Lynn above. When I speak out I use my full name.

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
7 years ago

In all honesty, I never heard of Joe Guardarrama before the election.

I see that he was on a commission, but I never saw his name in the press or even heard anyone talking about him working to make the city a better place.

I’ve not only heard of Lauren Meister and Larry Block, but I’m also aware of their good work. This is why they are both getting my votes.

Lynn
Lynn
7 years ago

If you want specifics from the horse’s mouth, please call Joe Guardarrama @ 310.213.3776. After a frank conversation with him following the forum, continued this afternoon, I have a much better sense of him and a grasp on his previous decisions, alliances and his objectives for an ethics overhaul encompassing many situations in West Hollywood. It also seems anyone’s prerogative not to get involved in online threads. So if you would like answers, please call or try meeting with the candidate yourself.

Stop the Hate JOE
Stop the Hate JOE
7 years ago

joe, what about your ethics if you win? u have failed to talk about the deputy situation and the money they make. How do you feel about your running mate John D’Amico and his deputy Michelle Rex behavior at city hall? In case you didn’t know it, Rex has turned the entire city hall upside down.

Lynn
Lynn
7 years ago

@Marco: Are you privy to the legal aspects specifics questioned regarding Land’s motion. If so, perhaps you could illuminate exactly how it was determined that they could be overcome. If D’Amico, Prang and Duran merely questioned the legality but made no effort to resolve the issue it could reveal one of two things: 1. They had no specific knowledge and merely wanted to throw a monkey wrench or 2. They had legitimate possibly resolvable questions which necessitated a follow up after direction from Atty. Jenkins A third possibility comes to mind in that citizen Guardarrama could have taken an interest… Read more »

Marco Colantonio
Marco Colantonio
7 years ago

With his previous op-eds, Joe Guardarrama displays his astute understanding of how to modify and adeptly apply campaign finance and lobbyist reform ordinances so as to offer the maximum opportunity for transparency and create a path toward restoring public trust in our West Hollywood Council’s ability to operate on an ethical plane. In this op-ed, Guardarrama calls for a mandate (enforceable order/law) that requires lobbyists to make full disclosure of financial and professional relationships before they are allowed to speak to City Council on related issues. His proposals represent direct resolutions to address the obvious ethics vacuum in our regulations.… Read more »

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
7 years ago

I find this series of editorials about council ethics more and more bizarre as there are ethics questions being asked of Joe Guardarrama that he continues to ignore. If as a candidate he is unwilling to enter any kind of dialogue with residents, how responsive can we expect him to be as an elected council member? In his campaign materials he claims that he resigned from the planning commission in protest but it seems the real reason is that his law firm had clients in front of the commission. As a self described ethics expert he would do himself a… Read more »

Christopher Landavazo
7 years ago

Since 2012, I have challenged the status quo and have been consistent with advocating ETHICAL LEADERSHIP at City Hall. I realize that you all must be tired of ramblings on so here is lighter look at how I will continue to bring about change here in West Hollywood- http://youtu.be/sR3akewcsSY

Steve Lamson
Steve Lamson
7 years ago

Larry, your constant rambling attacks of other candidates using alleged conversations you had with someone reeks of desperation and unprofessionalism. I fear how you would handle being in public office.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
7 years ago

Our biggest issue with lobbyists is when they also act as campaign consultants. Steve Afriat has run the re-election campaigns of John Duran, Jeff Prang and the late Sal Guariello. All three have nearly “perfect” voting records of supporting Afriat clients when he represents them before City Council. It is a bit sad that this obvious reform has not been included in this conversation.

Larry Block
7 years ago

Hi Sheila, I can answer one of those questions.. per Steve Afriat to me directly.. “Joe is one of my dearest friends’

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