Another idea floating around City Hall is requiring all City Council members to disclose to the public during council meetings whether or not they have received campaign contributions from a party with business before the council. This is in response to the record number of developer dollars pouring into local elections in the last decade and the continued battle between slow-growthers and those who want to capitalize on Santa Monica’s rising real estate values.
Naturally, Councilman McKeown, the target of developers and the hospitality industry, is pushing for this idea and has the backing of Shriver. And that may be it. It doesn’t seem like his other colleagues on the dais are interested, and the Daily Press understands why.
With strict campaign contribution limits in Santa Monica, candidates for office often receive dozens upon dozens of small contributions, all of which are documented and available on the city clerk’s website. We can’t expect council members, who are part-time mind you, to remember how much money they’ve received from a business or that business’ employees, or to have the money to hire a campaign manager to continually track contributions whenever a developer or local pub or restaurant wants a variance or enters into a development agreement.
Santa Monicans pride themselves on being engaged. With campaign contributions easily available online and several news outlets in the fight, there are plenty of resources available for those who are interested in following the money. The Daily Press is a supporter of transparency in government, but we believe McKeown’s idea is too cumbersome, would lengthen already marathon meetings and would make little impact on decision making.
Now, if the idea is to have full disclosure only when the council is discussing major projects or development agreements featuring significant square footage or cash, we can get behind that. Those cases warrant extra attention and do not present themselves often enough to become burdensome.