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Panel Urges Disclosure of Secession Backers

October 25, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Citing the public's need to know, top city Ethics Commission officials called Tuesday for tough financial disclosure requirements for those involved in drives to break up the city.

Disclosure of who is financing petition drives for cityhood and who is lobbying for and against pending proposals should be mandatory, said Chairwoman Miriam Krinsky and Vice Chairman Richard Walch of the ethics panel.

"The city Ethics Commission continues to believe that it is critical for the public to have access to information about the receipts and expenditures made to support political campaigns--including those that fund the initiation of a special reorganization proposal," the two officials said in a letter sent to the Local Agency Formation Commission. LAFCO is studying the proposed secessions of the San Fernando Valley and the Harbor area.

LAFCO had previously declined to adopt disclosure rules, questioning its own authority to do so.

Gov. Gray Davis recently signed a bill by Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks) that the ethics officials said gives "clear authority" for the rules.

In addition to seeking the disclosure of contributions and expenditures for cityhood petitions, the ethics officials asked that lobbyists be required to disclose who is paying them.

Larry Calemine, the executive director of LAFCO, said Tuesday that the panel has formed a committee to consider possible disclosure rules and probably will hold a public hearing early next year.

The issue was first raised in 1998, when Valley VOTE acknowledged spending more than $500,000 on a petition drive to trigger a study of cityhood for the San Fernando Valley, but refused to disclose its donors or expenditures. The group said that identifying backers on an issue opposed by downtown political interests could lead to retaliation.

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