- Require persons who lobby city government to register with the city and report any lobbying expenses they make, including any entertainment or item of value they provide to elected officials and public employees.
- Bar lobbyists or other persons with a financial interest from serving on any commission or board that directly affects or deals with their lobbying or financial interests.
- Establishing a code of conduct for city employees which bars them from soliciting contributions from individuals and firms which do business with the city.
- Require statement of economic interests filed by public officials to be made publicly available online.
- Require campaign finance reports be made publicly available online.
All of these proposals are good ideas which should be implemented regardless of who is elected mayor this year. The reaction of Councilor Patrice Abduallah to Star reporter Brendan O'Shaughnessy's recent question about who paid for his trip to the Super Bowl, "It's none of your business," highlights the need for this kind of disclosure. "Like most citizens, I was not shocked to learn Patrice Abduallah had accepted tickets to the Super Bowl," Ballard said. "What I did find surprising and offensive was his refusal to reveal who paid for the trip. This must change," Ballard stated. "It's time to restore ethics and public accountability to our local government. The internet gives the average citizen a chance to be a full participant in the government for which they pay; unfortunately, too few of our local government leaders are committed to using this tool to account for their behavior," said Ballard.
While I was in Florida this past week, I read an article in the Miami Herald about the police chief there accepting the free use of a Lexus automobile from an area automobile dealer. The police chief had not disclosed the gift until a local TV station reporter dug it up. The police chief wound up apologizing to the public and agreeing to purchase the automobile.
Note to Jim Shella: I've been getting press releases from the Ballard campaign at least two times a week for the past couple of months. There have been numerous press opportunities with the candidate in recent weeks. And he's been out at various public events and going door-to-door campaigning. Perhaps the appropriate question people should be asking is "Where is Jim Shella?"
UPDATE: Apparently during today's news conference, Star political reporter Matt Tully grilled Ballard, demanding that he release a list of all his contributors prior to the October filing deadline. Who do you think desparately wants to learn this information now instead of waiting until October? More importantly, why do you think those persons want to know that information now and what they intend do with it once they know it? Tully is asking Ballard to do something more than a state law applicable to all candidates requires him to do. Is he asking this same question of all candidates, or only Greg Ballard because he had the audacity to push for much-needed ethics reforms?
Let's not miss sight of what is at stake here. To suggest Ballard is somehow being hypocritical in calling for these reforms today but not doing more than the state campaign finances laws required of him in the way of reporting is simply unfair, particularly when the incumbent has over $3 million in the bank courtesy of many folks with a financial interest in Mayor Peterson's re-election. Why don't you just ask Ballard to lay down his arms and concede the battle in advance, Matt? That's essentially what you're asking him to do.