Senator Joe Dunn Proposes County Lobbying Reform Initiative

H/T to Jennifer Muir over at the OC Register who got the scoop on this.

Former Senator Joe Dunn

Former State Senator Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana) is proposing that the Board of Supervisors adopt a major reform of the Orange County political environment by regulating lobbyists and themselves by establishing a more transparency in the way county government decisions are made.

Dunn’s proposal would require county elected officials to disclose all of their interactions with lobbyist and people with business before them. The reporting requirement would apply to both lobbyists and the elected officials.

Muir reports:

The proposal also would require elected officials to publicly disclose discussions with lobbyists aimed at influencing county business. For example, if county supervisors were considering a construction contract, the supervisors would be required to report any interactions with paid advocates related to that contract in time to be included in a public agenda report. Or, if they were unable to report the interaction in time, supervisors would have to verbally disclose the discussions before they vote to award the contract.

“It’s been disconcerting that we are one of the few remaining counties that allows our county government to operate in secrecy,” Dunn said. “I’m not going to suggest there’s been anything unsavory happening in the county. For me, this is about trying to wrestle with the utter lack of faith that the average citizen has in government.”

The board has until Thursday at 4 pm to decide whether to put the item on their agenda for discussion. If they won’t, Dunn says he will work toward creating a ballot initiative in time for the November general election.

It’s about time something was done about the grip that lobbyists and contractors have on the decision making process in Orange County. We’ve got no-bid contracts, failed contract monitoring that is documented. We need to know who is influencing the Board of Supervisors and about what. This proposal even encompasses employee union communications with elected officials as well. Muir reports:

The Orange County Employees Association, the county’s largest union, helped Dunn with the legwork for the proposal. OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino acknowledges that his organization will be affected by the regulations, but he says it’s worth it.

“Orange County has been the open frontier, and anytime that political folks on either side of the aisle are allowed to run free, there are going to be abuses,” he said.

That should make people like John Moorlach happy. But this man of so called integrity seems to think there is no funny business going on. Moorlach is the one who proposed the county hire a performance auditor but now he thinks nothing funny is going on. I would really like to know who it was that lobbied Moorlach to terminate the Planned Parenthood contract last year? Was it his pastor, or maybe another county contractor looking for other sources of money?

I can’t wait to see whether the Board actually considers the proposal. If they don’t, I hope Dunn moves forward with plans to place it on the ballot.

  1 comment for “Senator Joe Dunn Proposes County Lobbying Reform Initiative

  1. junior
    January 7, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Woah – an ultimatum! I’ll bet the Supes are quaking in their boots – not.

    This is preposterous – name the county that has such an onerous provision.

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