LOS ANGELES – Councilmembers Nury Martinez, David Ryu, Paul Krekorian, and Mike Bonin introduced the latest effort to root out corruption from City Hall today, in a motion to expand the type of conflicts requiring City officials to recuse themselves from taking action or casting votes. The motion, which highlights the recusal standard used by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), seeks a higher standard of recusals and conflict-of-interest rules.
“Our goal as a City Council is to restore public trust in City government,” said Council President Nury Martinez. “There are two ways to do that. One, all public officials must act with integrity. Two, the City’s rules, laws, and procedures must be effective and transparent. The first requires personal commitment. Today’s motion is in pursuit of the second. I look forward to hearing the Ethics Commission recommendations as we work to restore the public’s trust in our City government.”
“We need to be vigilant and relentless in rooting out corruption and conflicts of interest in local government,” said Bonin. “This is an important and commonsense step to protect the integrity of city deliberations, and I wholeheartedly support it.”
“This recusal model could be implemented quickly and have an immediate chilling effect on the pay-to-play politics that are far too common in City Hall,” Ryu said. “This motion would make clear to every real estate developer and moneyed interest that votes cannot be bought. This is just one of many reforms we are pushing forward to combat corruption in City Hall.”
“Serving on the Metro Board, I’ve seen how effective a very strong conflict of interest policy can be in ensuring the public’s confidence in an agency’s integrity,” said Councilmember Krekorian. “Now more than ever, we need to leave no doubt that city decisions must always be based on the merits, not on friendship, favors, or financial connections.”
“Corrupt behavior saps confidence in our government and faith in our elected officials, and we need to send a powerful message to Angelenos that conflicts of interest have no place among our public servants,” added Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Transparency is at the heart of running a City that Los Angeles can count on — and with Metro’s recusal standard in place, we can ensure that City Hall upholds the highest standards of integrity.”
The LA Metro recusal model, one of the strictest in the state, requires members to withhold from votes on any item that could affect an individual or organization that has given them a campaign contribution. LA Metro staff reviews each members’ history of received contributions and cross-references them against items up for a vote in committee or board meetings. If any potential conflict-of-interest arises, that member is required to recuse.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who sits on the LA Metro board along with Councilmember Bonin and Councilmember Krekorian, voiced support for adopting the LA Metro recusal model after Councilmember Jose Huizar was arrested in June on corruption charges. Ryu, Krekorian, and other Councilmembers previously called on the Ethics Commission to explore adopting the LA Metro recusal model in January 2019.
City Council voted to ban campaign contributions from developers with business before the City in 2019, a motion originally introduced by Councilmembers Ryu and Krekorian in 2017. Earlier this year, Councilmember Ryu introduced legislation to reduce the influence individual Councilmembers have over planning decisions and to establish an Office of Accountability and Transparency in City Hall. Councilmember Krekorian, a former City Ethics Commissioner, introduced a motion in June to require projects that are connected to corruption to have their approvals and entitlements re-evaluated on the merits and considered for revocation. This would including projects connected to the indictments of Councilmember Jose Huizar and former Councilmember Mitch Englander. Councilmember Bonin put forth a motion to publicly finance City elections in December 2019.
Read the motion here.
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