San Diego’s ethics commission, its enforcement count already falling like a rock, has come under fire by the county grand jury for being overly subject to political influence. In 2012, according to the grand jury’s findings, the commission posted 24 stipulations or enforcement orders on total cases of 64. Two years later, the numbers had dropped dramatically, to 11 actions on total cases of 56.
Quoting unnamed officials, who “spoke of the perception that appointments are political, and commissioners fail to be reappointed as retribution for their decisions,” the grand jury recommended that selection of ethics commissioners no longer be up to the mayor and city council, but instead be done another way, “perhaps by a group of retired judges.”
Further biasing the commission, the report points out, is the fact that the city council can dissolve the panel at any time. “Revising the City Charter to remove the City Council’s authority over the [commission’s] existence would preserve [it] as an independent body.”