John McCann in 2012
  • John McCann in 2012
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Chula Vista has tiptoed closer to transparency. On November 3, the city council approved an ordinance that compels elected officers and candidates to electronically file economic interest statements, also known as Form 700, and campaign disclosure statements, or Form 460.

The portal for the economic interest forms is already up on the city website. Filers also must disclose gifts they receive.

The drawback to the new ordinance is that the electronic filing will not be mandated until July 1, 2017 — after the next election cycle. In 2016, two city-council seats will be open.

Economic interest forms (700), filed annually by public officials, consultants, volunteer boardmembers, and some city government employees, ensure that business, personal, or volunteer affiliations are disclosed and evaluated.

City of Chula Vista's new web page

City of Chula Vista's new web page

All but one councilmember, John McCann, has filed an economic interest form online with the city. However, all councilmembers’ 2014 forms are available at the state Fair Political Practices Commission site.

Although campaign disclosure statements (460) will not be mandatory until 2017, the city clerk stated in an email, “The electronic filing of Campaign Forms was just approved by Council and we are in the process of setting the site up. We expect it to be up and running by the end of the year. Old forms won't be available through the new system, but can still be requested by emailing us or coming to the office.”

But beyond these steps toward transparency, many are hoping that Chula Vista will finally compel lobbyists to register as well. There was an attempt in 2006 to require this: an ordinance was brought forward by former councilmember Patricia Chavez.

A Star News article from that time, titled, “City Council delays vote on lobbyist ordinance,” recounts how a representative from the Building Industry Association, Jerry Livingston, who is himself a lobbyist, argued against the ordinance: “Livingston took aim at the tracking of charitable donations at the behest of officials and candidates, which the ordinance requires. He threatened pulling support by his members of city and council-connected concerns.” Money is sometimes donated to a politician’s favorite charity to curry favor with that politician.

According to the article, then councilmember John McCann said: “I think there’s enough concern that we will have to take a look, but I am confident we will bring something back that does not have a potential chilling effect on charitable donations, but we really want to make sure that the ordinance we implement is understandable to the average citizen.” McCann was reelected in November 2014. The ordinance was voted down and sent back to committee, never to re-merge.

Donna Frye

Donna Frye

Former San Diego City Council member Donna Frye is the president of Californians Aware, a nonprofit group that helps citizens with rights and finding out “what they need to know to be truly self-governing.” When asked via email about the importance of these campaign disclosure documents and lobbyist registration, Frye wrote: “You can tell quite a bit about a candidate by who their supporters are.”

“The public has a right to know who is meeting with their elected officials and why,” continued Frye. “Lobbyists are paid to push a particular political agenda and influence the elected official’s vote. It is beneficial for the public to know how often an elected official is lobbied and the issue that was discussed, because it helps shine some light on how elected officials make decisions. It also helps the public determine if they are being given the same access as the lobbyists.  

“It is especially instructive for the public to look at both campaign donor disclosures and lobbyist disclosures and see if there may be a correlation between the two as it relates to access to the elected official.” 

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Comments

anniej Nov. 13, 2015 @ 4 p.m.

Ah yes, you most certainly can tell much about a person by those who support them financially and via PACS during their campaigns. What is that saying 'follow the money'?

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AlexClarke Nov. 15, 2015 @ 6:24 a.m.

And what that person votes on as it relates to his/her contributors.

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eruption Nov. 13, 2015 @ 5:57 p.m.

Does the name Hom ring a bell with the public. It sure does with CV and past SUSHD board members.

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eastlaker Nov. 14, 2015 @ 8:15 a.m.

Well, my oh my.

Let me peer into the past. When those pesky activists (who had obviously watched far too many episodes of Scooby Doo in their respective childhoods) just wouldn't let the issue of campaign reform of Sweetwater Union High School District go, it was obvious that there were obstructionist elements on that school board.

Those obstructionist elements introduced a bizarre ruling that if an issue had been voted on and voted down by the school board, it could not be reintroduced for a long period of time--one to two years, I forget the exact detail.

But--one person was very much in favor of burying all attempts to work on campaign finance reform, and that person was John McCann.

That attempt worked for a while, but eventually, those pesky activists got some controls installed.

Looks like McCann is again not thrilled with the idea of producing information on all those who have donated to him and his campaigns. Why wouldn't he be proud of his friends? What could the problem be?

Is it those pesky activists again?

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joepublic Nov. 14, 2015 @ 9:20 a.m.

So, it's been nine years (!) since the Chula Vista City Council said they'd reconsider requiring lobbyists to register. Can the public have it placed on the  agenda, or will we have to wait until the city council finally decides, as member McCann suggested in 2006, to "take a look" at it?  There's certainly, as he also said, "enough concern".

3

Sjtorres Nov. 14, 2015 @ 11:23 p.m.

Conflict of interest disclosure failure! Pseudo journalist Luzzaro fails to disclose that her family of union officers has been at war with John Mccaan for years. The failure to disclose the personal vendettas she and her family has against the councilman is unethical to say the least!

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eastlaker Nov. 15, 2015 @ 10:47 a.m.

The real question remains--why is John McCann not forthcoming when it concerns campaign donations, and campaign reform issues?

Blow smoke all you want, it still does not change McCann's history on the topic of campaign reform.

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Wabbitsd Nov. 16, 2015 @ 9:46 a.m.

Let's say what you are alleging is true. Ms. Luzzaro is not an elected official. How about we get the elected ones to be transparent? Ms. Luzzaro's employer should be dealing with her issue.

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shirleyberan Nov. 15, 2015 @ 12:57 p.m.

Need more Union progressives and reformists not perpetual cronyism of Brand-McCann.

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Susan Luzzaro Nov. 15, 2015 @ 5:43 p.m.

As it happens, I save some old newspapers. This 2006 Star News was a keeper because it contained a story about the closing of the Vogue theater as well as the lobbyist ordinance. I was surprised when I returned to the story for background information to find that Chavez and McCann were the subcommittee for this ordinance. Perhaps, that means that with McCann back in we will revisit the ordinance.

Here is the client list from the San Diego website. A cursory glance shows some of the people who lobby in San Diego that are likely lobbying here. One can see why Frye says it is beneficial how often a public official is lobbied ...and who is doing the lobbying.

http://www.sandiego.gov/city-clerk/pdf/lobbyistclients2015.pdf

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eastlaker Nov. 18, 2015 @ 6:41 a.m.

It is a very interesting list, with educational entities, real estate concerns and so forth. Some companies with multiple proponents.

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Susan Luzzaro Nov. 15, 2015 @ 5:48 p.m.

On a related subject, there was a good Open Government Boot Camp in Chula Vista last year. I spoke to several people who took away ideas. It would be great if that could be an annual event....

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oskidoll Nov. 16, 2015 @ 3:59 p.m.

I find it quite astonishing that Chula Vista, the second largest city in San Diego County, has YET to help its citizens with electronic access the statements of economic interest for office holders and those who would aspire to office! Many other cities in the County managed to provide such access months and even years ago.

Shame on the City Clerk and the City Council for such foot-dragging. It says much when those who are supposed to be serving US work so hard to continuously avoid transparency in revealing (as the law requires) their own personal $$ interests.

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Susan Luzzaro Nov. 18, 2015 @ 3:31 p.m.

oskidoll, glad to see you back in the dialogue, you often bring historical knowledge that widens the conversation.

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oskidoll Nov. 18, 2015 @ 7:57 p.m.

Thanks Susan. Glad to see you are back at the Reader!

3

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