LA City Council Adopts Motion To Convene City Governance Reform Committee
For Immediate Release: October 28, 2022
LOS ANGELES -- Today, the Los Angeles City Council adopted Councilmember Nithya Raman’s motion to convene a new Ad Hoc Council Committee on City Governance Reform. The Committee will engage with proposals aimed at increasing transparency and limiting corruption on the Council, including amendments to the City’s Charter to implement those reforms.
“The leaked tapes have revealed to the broader public just how broken the redistricting process is in Los Angeles. This, along with recent FBI indictments, have rightly shattered Angelenos’ faith in their government,” said Councilmember Raman. “Establishing a separate committee that is explicitly focused on governance reform and charged with making real, concrete changes to our governing structures will help to rebuild trust between the Council and the constituents that elected us.”
Proposals to increase accountability at the City have long been circulating, but few have come to fruition. The new Ad Hoc Committee will be charged with closely engaging with these proposals, which may include increasing the number of Council seats, reforming City rules concerning lobbyists, and establishing a truly independent redistricting commission, and unexplored reforms such as removing City Councilmembers’ direct discretionary power over land use decisions in their districts.
Councilmember Raman Introduces Motion To Revise City's Lobbying Laws To Provide Greater Transparency
For Immediate Release: October 25, 2022
LOS ANGELES -- Today, Councilmember Nithya Raman introduced a motion to make long overdue updates to the City of Los Angeles’s Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance provides rules and regulations for lobbyists to ensure adequate and effective disclosure of information to the public regarding efforts to lobby City government.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission conducted a review of the ordinance and presented its findings to the City Council, but the item was never formally agendized for a vote either in the Rules Committee or in full Council – a power that lay with the former Council President. In fact, the Ethics Commission has undertaken three separate reviews of the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance after its adoption in 1994, first in 2008, 2016, and then again in 2022. However, until now, the City Council has failed to act on any of these recommendations.
Councilmember Raman’s motion requests the City Attorney, in coordination with the Ethics Commission, to prepare and present a draft ordinance to adopt the Ethics Commission’s proposed reforms regarding the City’s lobbying laws, which can be found in Council File No. 22-0560, as well as to incorporate additional modifications to further strengthen the laws.
“I ran for office and enthusiastically serve in this role because I really believe in the power of government to do good, but we will have a hard time convincing the public of that power if we do not put in place common-sense rules that promote transparency and integrity in elected officials’ decision-making,” said Councilmember Raman. “A critical piece of this work is updating the rules around how lobbyists are allowed to operate, so that the public knows who is attempting to influence City decisions and by what means. Improving the City’s lobbying laws is an essential step towards restoring Angelenos’ faith and confidence in their City.”
Councilmember Raman’s motion seeks to implement the Ethics Commission’s recommendations and to strengthen the City’s lobbying laws with additional amendments, including prohibiting lobbying entities from fundraising for and delivering contributions to City candidates and officeholders, requiring lobbyists to disclose that they are lobbyists and the name of their client whenever they communicate with City personnel either verbally or in writing, and requiring lobbying records to be maintained for at least five years.
“In light of the recent recordings that have shaken this City to its very core, it is imperative that we take decisive action to ensure accountability at all levels of City government,” stated Councilmember Raman.
City Council Adopts Motion To Begin Process Of Creating Independent Redistricting Commission
For Immediate Release: October 18, 2022
LOS ANGELES -- Today, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a motion introduced by Councilmembers Nithya Raman and Paul Krekorian in December 2021, instructing the Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA) to submit a report within 90 days with recommendations to amend the City Charter to create an Independent Redistricting Commission for the City of Los Angeles. The motion, as amended during today’s meeting, calls for options for a ballot measure to be prepared for an election in 2024, or sooner, to update the City Charter to create Independent Redistricting Commissions for both the City and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The redistricting process for Los Angeles last underwent review over two decades ago during the charter reform of 1999. The resulting process created a redistricting commission deeply intertwined with the City’s governing body, in which Commissioners are selected by the City’s elected officials—including the members of the City Council whose districts are to be redrawn—and who may be lobbied and replaced at will by the very people who appointed them. Following the leaked recordings that emerged from a private meeting between three sitting councilmembers discussing the 2021 redistricting process, this type of explicit lobbying and intervention has now been made public.
“I introduced this motion last year, following my district’s experience during the redistricting process,” said Councilmember Raman. “What came out of the recordings that we heard last week, in addition to the abhorrent racism and homophobia, was clear evidence that our City’s redistricting process was manipulated for personal political gain. These recordings were explicit: it was the intent of council leadership to reduce the voting power of renters -– at a time when renters in the City were in their most vulnerable moment due to COVID. The rights, the voice, and the power of renters — including Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian renters — were cynically ‘put in the blender and chopped up.’”
Councilmember Raman further emphasized, “Trust in the city has been broken by these recent events. Moving forward with an Independent Redistricting Commission in the City Charter can move us at least one step closer to restoring Angelenos’ confidence in their City.”
"The current so-called 'independent' redistricting commission process is anything but independent. It presents the worst of all options -- it has no independence and also no accountability," said Councilmember Paul Krekorian. "Despite the effort of many of the commissioners to maintain a fair process, the commission was hijacked by those who sought political advantage for certain incumbents by pitting races against each other. We introduced this motion over a year ago to take the drawing of electoral districts out of the hands of elected officials. This city should do as the State of California, the County of Los Angeles, and many other cities in our state have already done and create a truly independent citizens redistricting commission.”
Raman’s motion requests the CLA report to provide an analysis of the structure and performance of the independent redistricting commissions in place at the State of California, the County of Los Angeles, and other California jurisdictions, as well as best practices to ensure transparency and public participation. Among other items, the report is required to provide a comprehensive list of conflicts of interest that would preclude participation on the redistricting commission including individuals who have worked for a locally elected political or local candidate’s campaign or who have been registered as a lobbyist with the City, County, State, or Federal governments. This information will all be utilized to formulate a ballot measure.
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