The ordinary residents of the Morongo Basin are freedom loving people who want local government and public official to conduct the people’s business in the open. They believe in the creed that public officials are public servants. And that transparency is an essential aspect of a free people.
Yet, the League of California Cities (League) has another silent code. A code that is short on promoting transparency. One that aids errant public officials in doing the public’s business without direct public input or without voter approval.
The League works to pry open transparency loopholes and it support legislation that does’t include the public’s involvement in municipal affairs.
Rather, the League seems to works as a mentor for city officials and municipal bureaucrats who just plain don’t like public interference.
As reported in Cactus Thorns yesterday, a superior judge in Santa Clara County closed a gaping hole in the California Public Records Act by ruling city government must provide city officials’ private text messages, emails or other electronic communications about city affairs upon request.
The city manager of San Jose was not pleased with Judge Kleinberg decision to require private electronic communiqués
concerning the people’s business be made public. The City Manager cited the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties in his arguing that the transparency ruling goes too far.
The League and the California State Association of Counties maintains that closing loopholes “would be impractical since the government has no control over access and storage on personal accounts and devices.”
It supported a bill that would have remove voters approval and direct public input on city projects costing tens of millions of dollars that would essentially revamp entire downtown areas in many cities in California.
The bill the League supported would have recreate redevelopment for cities under a new name without any direct from the public, or voter approval.
Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee reported that Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez Assembly Bill 2144 would have renamed RDAs as “Infrastructure and Revitalization Financing Districts” (IFD). However…
That bill would have requires voter approval. The League did not support it. However they supported a companion bill that purposely left the public out in the cold without a voice, or a vote.
Walters wrote that the League openly supported Senate Bill 214 by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis — which would have removes voter approval and direct input altogether. The bill would have an expanded a list of allowable projects, including some inherited from the now-defunct redevelopment agencies such as Project Phoenix in Twentynine Palms.
Is this advancing transparency and good governance?
Moreover, on March 12, 2013 the Twentynine Palms city council passed a resolution in support of a AB 981 (Bloom) which would in effect revive funding for redevelopment projects.
Twentynine Palms City Attorney, A. Patrick Munoz, (partner of the Law Firm of Rutan & Tucker) recommended the city sign on to a Resolution in support of AB 981.
Munoz advised that the League of California Cities favored the bill.
The bill would essential roll-back recent decisions of the California Department Finance (Dof) and will authorize municipalities to “designate the use of, and commit, indebtedness obligation proceeds that were issued prior to June 28, 2011.”
This means that projects within the Project Phoenix scheme of things (like the city going into the low-housing business) would rise from the ashes once again — after being emulated many times over by the state, the DoF and judicial decisions since before June 2011.
It must be noted that should AB 981 become law — it will once again shuts out public input and voter approval
This is what the League expects. Shut down public input and voter approval (the League’s webpage indicates they are watching this one closely).
What is the status of AB 981 today: “02/22/13 – Introduced. To print. (End status: Pending Referral).”
What exactly is the League? It’s a member organization and powerful lobby entity that represents California’s incorporated cities. The League strives to protect the local authority and autonomy of city government. And it offers many other services to numerous to list that may benefit municipalities.
Although the League Mission Statement and Vision purports to recognizes the need to conduct the public’s business in public– – that is emblematic rhetoric. It is not the friend of transparency or open government that includes the public in the decision-making process.
They League purports that “Public trust and confidence in government is essential to the vitality of a democratic system.”
However, has it supported any bill in the last decade to bring the public into redevelopment decisions like the $31 million Project Phoenix? Has it ever advocated expanding government regulation to bring about direct public input or voter approval?
The League doesn’t seem to want the public interfering with their membership (California municipalities), or IFDs or the AB 981 rolls-back laws to re-structure and revamp redevelopment.
The League needs to absolutely embrace direct public input and voter approval on debt bonds, multi-million projects, revamping of downtown areas, or resuscitate redevelopment districts.
Will it ever? More importantly, will elected officials voluntarily seek voters’ approval? Not in 29 Palms anytime soon.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
– George Santayana
“I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive.”
— Kurt Vonnegut