By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Having often lambasted Riordan‘s post-Chaleff police commissioners, I dropped in on their last meeting last week. De la Rocha, never exactly this column’s toast even before she voted in the commission minority with Boeckmann on the Mitchell shooting, made a very capable critique of ongoing problems with the department‘s new $50 million digital radio system. She’d been up in an LAPD helicopter on an official ride-along, and noted that it seemed impossible for the chopper to communicate with the ground units. Systems director Jeff Jantz said he‘d get right on that one. It was a very competent exchange. She said later that the explanation given her by Jantz was ”unsatisfactory and brief,“ and told me that she was recommending that the city not pay the millions still due to the contractor, Motorola, until the problem was fixed. Maybe I’ll actually miss this commission.
The other noteworthy action was Hahn‘s Monday veto of an adjustment to the city’s campaign matching-fund program: Here, part of the tale has to do with how slowly this action got media notice. Considering it was Hahn‘s first veto, you’d think it would‘ve been instant news, even if it hadn’t opened a rift with the city‘s Ethics Commission. But the day after it was signed, the only reporter with the story was KFWB’s Steve Kindred. On Friday, Rob Greene of the Metropolitan News had it. And only on Saturday did the Times get around to it. Part of the problem was the mayor didn‘t initially release his veto to the press.
The vetoed proposal, passed by the City Council unanimously last month after many weeks of public hearings (and city-attorney input), would have increased the city’s dollar-for-dollar matching funds for candidates to 2-1, and also shortened the time allowed to raise funds. But it would not have allowed candidates to raise larger totals of money. The intention was to give candidates their matching money earlier in their campaigns, allowing, it was said, more time for discussions of issues in the later months. The reduction of advance fund-raising time from 24 months to 18 months was intended to level somewhat the field between challengers and incumbents like Hahn. The latter generally start their fund-raising much earlier. The mayor based his veto on objections to the fund-doubling, although his office later told commision officials he‘d objected to the time change too. Hahn officially, if not quite grammatically, stated, ”Taxpayer dollars should only be spent where it is demonstrated that its [sic] use is justified and in the best interest of the city.“ The mayor further suggested that the new council get down with him to address ”the loopholes and inequities that currently exist in the city’s campaign-finance laws.“
Now that‘s an interesting ideal. Previously, such spending-law revisions have passed through the Ethics Commission itself, often at the request of the council. Hahn doesn’t mention the commission in his veto message, which is slightly sinister. Is the new mayor already trying to shunt aside this special, initiative-originated, nominally independent panel with which his previous relations (as city attorney) were sometimes, well, a bit arduous?
Certainly, the relationship isn‘t improving. As commission Executive Director LeeAnn Pelham put it, ”We are disappointed that the new mayor, himself a former matching-funds participant, chose not to support this package of enhancements to the city’s comprehensive set of reforms.“ But she later noted, there‘s no indication Hahn is ”not willing to work with us.“ On Tuesday, instead of overriding the veto, the council sent it to Council President Alex Padilla’s Rules and Election Committee. Let‘s see if it gets back to the council before Hahn’s veto automatically becomes law.
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