CITY HALL — By any measure, Councilman Kevin McKeown’s latest proposal to provide the public with greater access to officials’ campaign disclosure records was a modest one.

But that didn’t prevent it from falling flat.

On Tuesday, he suggested that the city clerk make five years worth of financial statements from council members’ campaigns — information that is posted online and also is accessible in paper form in the clerk’s office during business hours — available in a binder at the council’s public meetings.

While the requirement wouldn’t bring any new information into the public domain, it would further the goal of government transparency, he said, and make accessing the records easier for the public.

His usual group of backers from neighborhood organizations spoke in favor of the idea.

But Mayor Richard Bloom and Councilman Terry O’Day each noted it would have very little impact. And they worried that it could be a burden on the city clerk.

“I don’t understand what this adds and how it benefits the public, particularly given that it’s going to require some work on the part of the City Clerk’s Office,” Bloom said.

O’Day said it would have a “very marginal benefit and unknown cost.”

Along with Councilwoman Pam O’Connor, they voted it down 3-2, with McKeown and Councilwoman Gleam Davis making up the minority.

Councilmen Bobby Shriver and Bob Holbrook did not attend the meeting.

The defeat was more notable because the request on Tuesday was simply for preliminary approval; council members could have declined to approve the idea at a later meeting after receiving more detailed information from city staff, but instead declined to allow the staff to consider it.

The rebuke came after a divided council earlier this month rejected a more substantial proposal from McKeown that would have required council members to verbally disclose financial contributions that could be seen as giving rise to a conflict of interest prior to relevant votes.

After Tuesday’s meeting, McKeown delivered one more jab at his colleagues who voted his suggestion down.

“Making public records difficult to access by the public seems counter to all the principles Santa Monica stands for on informed public participation,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Daily Press, “but I’m only one vote on the council.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.