Council to Study Ethics Proposals

By Jessica Garrison, Times Staff Writer

Concerned about the appearance of impropriety at City Hall, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to study proposals that would ban city commissioners from political fundraising or evaluating contractors within their purview.

The proposals will now move to three council committees for discussion â€" leading some to worry that the plans could become buried in the bureaucracy.

"The question is, will it ever emerge," said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Government Studies and a proponent of ethics reforms. "What's going on is they are burying it with love…. I want to see the action. I don't want to hear the talk."

Council members stressed that they are committed to clean government. "The public … has a cynical view of how we operate here," said Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who sponsored the proposal along with Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski. "It is time to make them more accountable and make the public understand we are making decisions … in the bests interests of the city."

The council action comes three weeks after City Controller Laura Chick released an audit of the city's airport department in which she sharply criticized the practice of commissioners participating in contract negotiations they would eventually vote on. She said it led to a perception that some were engaging in "pay to play" politics in Los Angeles, or trading political contributions for favorable treatment. And she asked local, state and federal officials to investigate "potential illegal acts." She declined to say what those acts might be.

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