Three council persons who’ve accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from developers dug in their heels on campaign finance disclosure again at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Despite urging from leaders of most of the city’s neighborhood groups and concerned citizens, Pam O’Connor, Terry O’Day and Mayor Richard Bloom voted against a motion to make printed campaign disclosure statements available to the public at council meetings.

The motion was put forth by Councilman Kevin McKeown. At the Jan. 17 council meeting, a similar McKeown proposal that council persons verbally disclose campaign donations from persons/entities doing business with City Hall when their items are before council for review was also defeated. 

O’Connor, O’Day and Bloom made mealy-mouthed excuses why they wouldn’t support having paper copies of campaign statements available during council sessions. City Clerk Maria Stewart (whose department is responsible for campaign filings) said that hard copies already existed in her office and could be moved to council chambers for meetings.

Because they were online and available at the City Clerk (only) during business hours, Bloom saw “no public benefit” to also having statements available during evening council sessions. But, what’s the harm or better yet, what’s Bloom afraid of?

O’Day fretted about what would happen if two people wanted to look at a statement at the same time. He asked how would we know if some statements went missing. He characterized having statements on hand as a “marginal benefit versus the cost.”

Copying costs (if any) are negligible so O’Day’s and Bloom’s frugality is laughable — especially after asking staff to spend thousands of dollars in time looking into their suggestions for tweaking an interim ordinance on adoption of Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) standards for Downtown developments in the pipeline earlier in the meeting.

In the end, McKeown’s motion failed five to two with McKeown and Gleam Davis (who opposed verbal disclosure on Jan. 17) supporting the proposal. Bobby Shriver and Bob Holbrook were absent.

This is not the end of this debate. With some council members stonewalling campaign disclosure efforts, its now up to neighborhood leaders to do their own research and hand out their findings — with comments connecting the dots — at all public meetings when items relating to campaign contributors are on the council agenda.

You can bet the family Prius that campaign donations will be a major issue in next year’s election when Bloom, O’Day and Davis must run to stay on the dais for four years although Bloom has indicated he may run for Assembly, instead.

 

 

“Skins” nothing to fear 

I have to disagree with Daily Press Editor, Kevin Herrera’s negative take on MTV’s “Skins.” (”The decline of decency,” Jan. 28, Page 4).

I’m a big fan of the British series beginning its fifth season on Channel 4 in England. A butchered version of the UK “Skins” has run on BBC America, unfortunately with sanitized language and blurred nudity (which is considerable), nevertheless it’s still powerful drama.

I was curious to see what MTV would do with “Skins." The UK series is a lot more gritty and although very explicit, most of the teen’s actions have serious consequences. The MTV version deals with controversial topics but often undercuts itself by lapsing into slapstick or overstretching credibility

MTV’s first “Skins” episode was uneven but the second episode was much improved. In Episode two, The main plot deals with lover boy Tony (James Newman). He connects with Tea (Sofia Black-D’Lia), an avowed lesbian. They talk, hang out, swig vodka and go to her place where eventually they have sex — quick and unsatisfying.

This episode was not about sex but about power. With Tony, it’s all about power: Tea’s searching for her match and Tony’s trying to "match” someone he didn’t think he could control. It’s really pretty strong stuff.

Despite the complaints about nudity, both actors were fully clothed during their “love” scene which was shot so ambiguously, I failed to realize they had “done the deed” until reading a recap of the episode the next morning.

The performances by Newman and Black-D’Lia were rich, multilayered and nuanced. The repercussions of their quick hook-up have yet to be revealed — Tony has a steady girlfriend. I’m hoping MTV’s version follows this up. The UK series would.

In both series, the casts are excellent and I appreciate the fact that 17-year-olds are played by real teens not 27-year-olds. The scripts, in both series are co-developed by teens providing extra verisimilitude to the drama.

I also resent that the right-wing, evangelical Parents Television Council’s attempted to censor “Skins” which it considers “child pornography.” MTV and advertisers such as Subway and Taco Bell have been pressured to drop the show. The group recently labeled “Glee” “Unfit for young viewers” because its cast (in their 20s) posed for a slightly risqué GQ Magazine cover which the PTC claimed “bordered on pedophilia." 

 

 

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com

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