Ethics Commission complacency continues

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As the Rules Committee considers two diametrically opposed nominees to the Ethics Commission – one a reformer and the other an ally of those who want this political watchdog to be as toothless as possible – Larry Bush with the new CitiReport blog has penned an excellent rundown of the sad recent history of an agency that is ineffective at best and corrupt at worst.

We at the Guardian have reported extensively on the problems with the Ethics Commission, from its coverup of Gavin Newsom's money-laundering to its failure to regulate Willie Brown's blatant flouting of city lobbying laws, as well as how the agency has expelled the only public-spirited employees it's had, such a Oliver Luby and Joe Lynn.

At a time when big corporations and local power brokers are cutting backroom deals to give away millions of dollars in taxpayer revenue, and when even public officials are refusing to answer basic questions about ethics violations and influence peddling, this would seem to be a good time to try to restore faith in the agency that is supposed to be regulating that kind of thing.

Instead, powerful interests seem to be doubling down and going for broke, hoping that the public is too trusting or complacent to do anything about it. Sadly, they may just be right.

Comments

Steven,

Here's my take on what went down at Rules today.

boys and girls,

D-7's Sean Elsbernd has taken control of
the Rules Committee and now it's up to David
to either show some sack or roll over and
spread em.

Chiu had to know this would happen when he
made the deal to give Elsbernd control of the
committee.

Sean's first move in today's session was
rejecting Chiu's recommendation of David Campos
for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
Elsbernd announced that he wants Scott Wiener
instead. Hey, normally in these situations,
the Board President's appointee skates through.
So, Elsbernd was clearly giving Chiu the middle
finger.

Later in the hearing Elsbernd did it again with
Chiu's choice (through Kim) of an appointment
to the Ethics Commission. He tossed the bird
at the Prog's nominee (Allan Grossman) too and
asked for a flunky from the Mark Leno camp who
hadn't even applied.

Question for David Chiu:

Do you have the balls to remove Elsernd from the
Rules Committee.

Go Giants!

h.

Delete & Prev | Delete & Next

Posted by Guest h. brown on Mar. 17, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

Steven,

Just tried to send this but it seems to have bounced. My read on today's Rules Committee hearing. Keep in mind that the replacement for Chiu's choice for Ethics is Leno's proxy before DCCC (Julius Thurman) and a rubber-stamp.

boys and girls,

D-7's Sean Elsbernd has taken control of
the Rules Committee and now it's up to David
to either show some sack or roll over and
spread em.

Chiu had to know this would happen when he
made the deal to give Elsbernd control of the
committee.

Sean's first move in today's session was
rejecting Chiu's recommendation of David Campos
for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
Elsbernd announced that he wants Scott Wiener
instead. Hey, normally in these situations,
the Board President's appointee skates through.
So, Elsbernd was clearly giving Chiu the middle
finger.

Later in the hearing Elsbernd did it again with
Chiu's choice (through Kim) of an appointment
to the Ethics Commission. He tossed the bird
at the Prog's nominee (Allan Grossman) too and
asked for a flunky from the Mark Leno camp who
hadn't even applied.

Question for David Chiu:

Do you have the balls to remove Elsernd from the
Rules Committee.

Go Giants!

h.

Delete & Prev | Delete & Next

Posted by Guest h. brown on Mar. 17, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

Elsbernd asked for a continuation of the item on the Ethics Commissioner, and said a new candidate, Julius Turman, should be considered. Kim reluctantly agreed but it is continued. Grossman displayed the values and skills that have brought him support from such witnesses as Marc Salomon, Bruce Wolfe and Richard Knee, as well as the President of the League of Women Voters.

Liu surprised many in the audience when she said she was unclear on whether lawyers need to register as lobbyists, mentioning Willie Brown by name, and saying she understood there is an exemption for lawyers (there is not an exemption). She also demurred over televising the Ethics Commission meetings, saying she thought some witnesses would not want their faces broadcast across the City and that an audio tape was different.

Finally, she offered to consult with "all the members of the Board" on important Ethics issues as a commissioner if she is selected.

Julius Turman is an attorney, a leading figure at the Bar on behalf of diversity and LGBT attorneys, and is a past Alice Toklas officer. He is also a former US Assistant District Attorney.

Posted by Milkcluber on Mar. 17, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

The vacant seat on the Ethics Commission is supposed to be filled by someone "broadly representative of the general public."

Julius Thurman is much more of a political insider than "broadly representative of the general public." He served as Senator Leno's proxy on DCCC until recently replaced by Keith Baraka, and is a commissioner on the Human Rights Commission. Maybe that would not be a concern if he had submitted his application on time or if the other two candidates were not well qualified.

Posted by Hope Johnson on Mar. 17, 2011 @ 8:30 pm

From my reading of the reporting laws, if you are a paid employee of an interest group you don't have to register, thus excluding the majority of SF's connivers be they business or labor. Going to the web page you will not find any union or business groups, only hired goons.

Not a conspiracy theorists myself, but it was likely written this way on purpose. The pretending to want to keep track of who influences government while defining out the worst offenders.

The Guardian pretends to be a righteous defender of honest government but has no problem with the biggest spender scum bags getting a pass.

More self righteous posturing.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 18, 2011 @ 5:59 pm