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McKeown Can't Coax Council Disclosure  

y Lookout Staff

January 28, 2011 -- Council member Kevin McKeown has again tried and failed to make campaign disclosure a regular part of City Council meetings.

McKeown’s latest attempt was rejected Tuesday by a three-to-two council vote.

The failed proposal would have made copies of council members’ campaign records available for public viewing during council proceedings. The records would show who gave money to elect each of the council members during the past 5 years.

As with McKeown’s first try 2 weeks earlier, members of Santa Monica’s neighborhood groups showed up to support his ideas.

“This would go a long way in maintaining the public trust,” said Zina Josephs, president of Friends of Sunset Park, “essentially saying to the public, ‘We have nothing to hide. Here, see for yourself.’”.

However not all residents at Tuesday’s meeting thought it was a good thing.

Jerry Rubin -- a local activist for various causes and a regular speaker at council meetings -- came out against the idea, saying it would only bring a feeling of negativity and suspicion to the council’s proceedings.

But that’s not how McKeown sees it.

McKeown said he was simply trying to balance the community’s desire for transparent government with council members’ objections that his first proposal was too difficult to interpret and implement.

“This [latest proposal], I would posit, doesn’t have any interpretation,” McKeown told his colleagues. “This is only a matter of putting public information before the public.”

While the information that would be made available is indeed already public, it is not always easy to access, McKeown and his supporters argued, and that’s why it should be available during council meetings.

But Mayor Richard Bloom disagreed, saying the information is there for anyone to look at anytime during regular business hours in the City Clerk’s office located only a few feet away from the council chambers.

“I just don’t see what this measure adds to what is already available to the public,” Bloom said.

Council members Bloom, Pam O’Connor and Terry O’Day voted against the proposal. Councilmembers McKeown and Gleam Davis voted for it. Councilmembers Bob Holbrook and Bobby Shriver were absent during Tuesday’s proceedings.

Tuesday’s action came after McKeown’s first proposal – which would have required council members to identify themselves when a campaign contributor brings business before the council – failed January 11 by a four-to-two vote.

That sent McKeown back to the drawing board, talking with friends and constituents about how to tackle the issue another way.

McKeown credits the idea for his second proposal to Judge David Finkel, chair of the Santa Monica College board of trustees and a former city council member.

 

“This is only a matter of putting public information before the public.” Kevin McKeown

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