Steinberg’s Consulting Arrangements with Metropolitan Water District

MEDIA RELEASE

Date/Time: June 2, 2016, 3:00 p.m.
Contacts: Craig Powell, President,
Eye on Sacramento
Phone: (916) 718-3030
E-mail: craig@eyeonsacramento.org

Eye on Sacramento Calls on Mayoral Candidate Darrel Steinberg

to Fully Disclose the Details of His Contractual Relationship

With Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District

Sacramentans learned for the first time yesterday from a Sacramento Bee story that Darrell Steinberg, while actively seeking the support of Sacramento voters for his mayoral bid, has been covertly providing strategic consulting services to the politically powerful Southern California-based Metropolitan Water District (MWD) whose interests are very much at odds with the interests of the City of Sacramento and its residents on just about every major water issue facing our region. Steinberg’s law firm, Greenberg Traurig, has been collecting $10,000 per month from MWD for Steinberg’s services since July of last year.

Eye on Sacramento (EOS) has been championing the adoption of meaningful transparency and ethics reform in the City of Sacramento for the past 18 months. EOS co-hosted 10 public forums on the subject last year, helped form a broad coalition of supportive community groups and presented reports and proposals for a model ethics code, a robust ethics commission, a strong Sunshine Ordinance and an independent redistricting commission.

We are troubled that Sacramento voters who have already voted via absentee ballot (now fully half of all Sacramento voters) did so without the knowledge that one mayoral candidate was effectively on the payroll of the MWD. While nothing can be done at this late date to cure that significant informational failure, there are some immediate steps that Mr. Steinberg can and should take to fully explain the nature and extent of his relationship with MWD for the benefit of voters who will be casting their ballots on Election Day.

Questions that Mr. Steinberg should now answer include: When did he and MWD first begin discussing a consulting arrangement? How much of his time over the past year has he devoted to providing “strategic advice” to MWD as called for in the contract? Has he been maintaining time records of his services? Will he publicly disclose such records? Has he provided any “deliverables” to MWD, such as reports and other documentation? Will he and MWD now disclose such documents? What public officials in our region did he meet with in the service of MWD’s goal of building relationships with North State stakeholders? Will he and MWD voluntarily release copies of their e-mail communications with one another, without the need for submitting formal public records requests? (Note: Steinberg was providing “consulting services” for MWD, not legal services which would have been protected from public disclosure under the attorney/client privilege).

The voters of Sacramento deserve to know if Mr. Steinberg, in providing consulting services to MWD while campaigning for Sacramento mayor, has been acting appropriately, ethically and loyally as both a Sacramento resident and an aspirant to the mayor’s office or has he acted in a manner that is at odds with the long-term best interests of Sacramento and its residents?

By promptly and fully disclosing these matters to the Sacramento public, Mr. Steinberg will go a long way towards allaying legitimate public concern over the role he is playing with MWD. If Mr. Steinberg fails to provide such disclosures, we would encourage the Sacramento County Civil Grand Jury to consider initiating an investigation into Mr. Steinberg’s relationship with MWD to uncover the facts. One way or the other, Sacramento voters deserve to know the facts and implications of Mr. Steinberg’s dealings with MWD.

The contract between WMD and the Greenberg Traurig law firm involving Mr. Steinberg’s consulting services to WMD may be viewed on the EOS website via this link.

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A bitter divorce on ethics reform

FOON RHEE

SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

Eye on Sacramento and League of Women Voters joined forces to push City Hall

But after holding 10 public forums, the two groups disagreed on policy and tactics

Now, league is backing city plan, while watchdog group is mulling ballot measure

BY FOON RHEE

Sacramento City Council ethics reform is a must

EDITORIALS  SEPTEMBER 7, 2015

HIGHLIGHTS

Watchdog group’s ethics recommendations should not be dismissed

Public accountability and access are properly the focus of recommendations

Ironically, City Council committee has been discussing ethics behind close doors

IMG_J_JV_051215_COUNCIL__2_1_MP4QAIUU_L126192555

Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren was replaced as leader of the council’s ethics reform effort after news of a sexual harassment claim against him. Warren has denied his former aide’s allegations. José Luis Villegas jvillegas@sacbee.com

BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD

As Sacramento’s elected officials hem and haw, a local watchdog group has set the bar on transparency and ethics reform.

After holding public forums with the League of Women Voters, Eye on Sacramento is calling for four major changes at City Hall:

▪ An open government ordinance that guarantees and increases public access and accountability. It includes keeping all city emails for at least 10 years, requiring ad hoc City Council committees to meet in public and adding an independent city auditor, not one appointed by the council.

▪ A city ethics code, including strict rules on nepotism, conflicts of interest and sexual harassment, plus a cap on donations made to charities at the behest of elected officials. That would hamstring Mayor Kevin Johnson, who has persuaded donors to contribute huge sums to charities of his choice.

▪ An independent ethics commission, likely appointed by retired judges, to enforce the code and state ethics laws. It would have the power to subpoena records, compel witnesses to testify under oath and to fine and censure officials, or even seek to kick them out of office.

▪ An independent redistricting commission to draw City Council districts. There should be no doubt this is needed for the 2020 Census after the fiasco after the 2010 count. The council appointed a citizens committee, but ignored its maps and approved its own.

These are reasonable ideas deserving of serious consideration by a City Council committee, which was appointed by the mayor and is supposed to issue its report later this month.

We don’t know exactly what the council panel has in mind because it has been meeting in private – which is amazingly hypocritical.

The mayor’s spokesman assures us the council’s recommendations will reflect all citizens’ values, not just those of a special interest group. Eye on Sacramento’s proposals should not be dismissed lightly.

If the council does not approve reforms, Eye on Sacramento is prepared to go to the ballot in 2016. It would be far better if council members and the group’s leaders can agree on a plan. Whether in office or outside City Hall, everyone should want a more open and ethical government.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article34326018.html

 

 

Eye on Sacramento Releases Package of Proposed City Reforms

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release
Release Date/Time: September 2, 2015; 10:15 a.m.
Contact: Craig Powell, President, Eye on Sacramento
E-mail: craig@eyeonsacramento.org
Phone: (916) 718-3030

Erik Smitt, EOS Policy Director
E-mail: erik@eyeonsacramento.org
Phone: (916) 215-2275

Restoring Accountability:

Eye on Sacramento Releases Package of Proposed

City Ethics, Transparency and Redistricting Reforms

At a press conference this morning, local government watchdog group Eye on Sacramento (EOS) presented a package of ethics, transparency and redistricting reforms proposals for the City of Sacramento.

“The reform proposals we are releasing today are the culmination of ten very well-attended public forums held in every part of Sacramento earlier this year, followed by three months of extensive research and careful deliberation by our numerous volunteers and study groups, “said EOS president Craig Powell.  “These reforms are designed to make Sacramento the most open, transparent and ethically accountable municipal government in California and to help restore citizens’ trust in their city government.  It’s a package in which we, as citizens and residents of Sacramento, can take real pride,” Powell added.

The package includes summaries of each of the “Four Pillars of Reform:”

(1) A cutting edge Sunshine Ordinance that will make it easier for residents to participate, and have a more effective role, in City decision-making and will open up City government records and data to public review and media scrutiny to the greatest extent practicable;

(2) An Ethics Code that will set minimal standards of ethical conduct expected of our city officials;

(3) An independent and empowered Ethics Commission that will have the means and authority to hold public officials accountable for misconduct and to exonerate them whenever they’re subjected to unsubstantiated claims, through the application of rules that will provide strong due process protections; and

(4) An independent citizens Redistricting Commission that will, at long last, bring an end to the unhealthy and undemocratic practice of councilmembers drawing their own council district lines (aka picking their own voters) and shift that power to a panel of citizens who will have final authority to draw council district boundaries.

Also presented was a 12-page “Summary of Public Comment” (copy attached), that recaps the numerous comments received from the public at our Kick-Off Forum in February, our seven District Forums and our final Work Shop Forum at the Clunie Clubhouse on May 17th.  The forums were jointly sponsored by EOS and the League of Women Voters, as well as 23 co-sponsoring community organizations.

Public Disclosure of Proposals Before Closed-Door Negotiations With City Officials

“Representatives of our reform effort are expecting to meet within the next few days with city officials in closed door meetings to discuss our reform proposals in detail, to explore common ground and to, hopefully, reach agreement on the adoption/endorsement of a set of reforms that are mutually acceptable to all parties,” Powell said.

“Before our representatives go behind closed doors to negotiate these proposals, however, we feel we have an obligation to first release our reform proposals to our forum attendees, our supporters, the media and the public at large,” Powell added.  “The public deserves to know exactly where we stand at the beginning of these negotiations so that they can assess where we end up at the end of them,” Powell concluded.

Plan B: A Ballot Initiative

“We’re pursuing these reforms on two different, but parallel, tracks.  Given the significant time and effort it takes to qualify an initiative for the November 2016 general election ballot, we’re entering into negotiations with city officials in pursuit of a mutual agreement while we’re concurrently taking the steps necessary to qualify our reform proposals for the November 2016 ballot,” said Powell.  “It is our great preference that we reach an acceptable agreement with city officials, but we’re doing the necessary ground work to bring our reform proposals before Sacramento voters in November 2016,” Powell added.

“Given the growing number of claims asserted against councilmembers, the city auditor’s recent finding of nepotism in the Department of Utilities, the city’s efforts this year to mass delete 85 million e-mails, the alleged use of city staff and resources for political purposes and the shrouding of city e-mails via the use of private e-mail accounts, the need to establish accountability in city government through effective ethics, transparency and redistricting reforms is acute,” Powell concluded.

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To view/download a copy of the Media Release click here
To view/download a copy of the Sunshine Ordinance Summary click here
To view/download a copy of the Ethics Code Summary click here
To view/download a copy of the Ethics Commission Summary click here
To view/download a copy of the Redistricting Commission Summary click here
To view/download a copy of the 12-page “Summary of Public Comment” click here

Eye On Sacramento calls for Moratorium on deletion of City of Sacramento e-mails

MEDIA RELEASE

June 29, 2015
Contact: Erik Smitt, Policy Director
916-215-2275

At a press conference today on the steps of Sacramento City Hall, leaders of Eye On Sacramento, a member of the community coalition pressing for robust ethics, transparency and redistricting reform of City government, called on City officials to halt the City’s announced plan to mass delete City e-mails on July 1st and to place a six-month moratorium on the deletion of City e-mails pending the ongoing and robust community conversation over needed reform of City government.

“The Ethics and Transparency Reform Project has drawn hundreds of City residents to public forums.  These forums held in every council district in the City over the past three months with the consistent message we received was loud and clear: the people of Sacramento want a major upgrade of ethics and transparency in their City government.  Even the City council has an ongoing initiative to upgrade City ethics and transparency.  For City officials to even entertain the idea of a mass deletion of millions upon millions of City e-mails dating back years in the face of this citizen-led reform movement is an affront to the will of the public and their aspirations for a more open, more responsive and more ethically accountable City government.” said Eye On Sacramento, Debra Desrosiers.

“We call on the mayor, the City council, the City manager and the City clerk to do the right thing, to do the responsible thing,  and stop the deletion.  The cost of electronic storage of e-mails has dropped to virtually nothing in recent years, imposing no burden on City government.  The cost of searching such e-mails to respond to the public’s request for records is a necessary cost of open government and democracy, not a reason to shred the history of the City, to frustrate the public’s legitimate access to public records or to stymie pending and future civil and criminal investigations into potential wrongdoing and lawbreaking by City officials,” said EOS Policy Director Erik Smitt.

Smitt added, “How many e-mails are City officials planning to trash?  Believe it or not, even City clerk Shirley Concolino has no idea how many would be deleted.”  “We have no way of knowing,” she stated in a recent e-mail to Craig Powell, President of Eye On Sacramento.

“We know from hearing from citizens at our forums that City government is operating with a major league trust deficit,” said Eye On Sacramento,  Erik Smitt.  “Citizen trust in City government, indeed, all levels of government, is at an all-time low.  We see it in falling participation rates in City elections and City meetings.  We see it in recent election results. We all hear it at the grocery store, in the coffee houses and around the dinner table.  Let’s be clear: there is no better way to rebuild the public’s trust in City government than to adopt meaningful ethics and open government reforms and there is no better way to further destroy that trust than to mass delete decades of City e-mails in the face of public calls for greater transparency in City government,” Smitt added.

As part of the press conference, EOS Policy Director Erik Smitt delivered a gift of a one-terabyte USB drive to the clerks at the public counter of the City clerk’s office, which provides enough storage space, he says, to store approximately 10 to 25 million e-mails, which EOS acquired for a total cost of $65.09

At least two citizens of Sacramento, with standing, have made Public Record Requests that include emails planned for deletion

Under the City’s new records policy, e-mails would be deleted two years after their transmission or two years after the project to which they relate is completed.

###

Speakers included:

Erik Smitt, Policy Directory, Eye On Sacramento
Debra Desrosiers, Eye On Sacramento Board Member
Jean Fleury, Eye On Sacramento Board Member
Joe Rubin, Journalist and Investigative Reporter

Lawsuit Filed in Sacramento County Superior Court to Enforce the California Public Records Act

MEDIA RELEASE

July 6, 2015
Contact:
Erik Smitt, Policy Director, 916-215-2275, Erik@ eyeonsacramento.org
Paul Nicholas Boylan, Attorney, 530-297-7184, PNBoylan@gmail.com

In a press release today Eye On Sacramento, a member of the community coalition advocating for robust ethics, transparency and redistricting reform of City government, notifies the press that a lawsuit has been filed with the Sacramento County Superior Court seeking to enforce the California Public Records Act (CPRA), and an application has been made for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent the City of Sacramento from deleting emails that form a critical, irreplaceable part of the public record.

If the application for a TRO is denied, the City will destroy these emails on Wednesday, July 8.

The hearing for the TRO will take place at the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse, 720 9th Street, Sacramento, on July 7, 2:30 pm, Department 24, the Honorable Judge Shelleyanne W. L. Chang presiding.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Richard Stevenson, member of Eye On Sacramento and Katy Grimes, President of the Sacramento Taxpayer’s Association. Both Plaintiffs have made formal requests to access to emails the City intends on destroying on July 8 and are suing the City under the CPRA to enforce their rights to gain access to these records.

Plaintiffs are asking Judge Chang to issue a TRO preventing the City from destroying the emails Plaintiffs want to access because, if the City destroys these emails, the lawsuit will be rendered moot and Plaintiffs’ – and the public’s – constitutional right to access these emails will be irrevocably injured.

“My clients understand the City’s desire to manage the City’s email archive,” said Paul Nicholas Boylan, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the CPRA enforcement lawsuit. “But the City’s interest can’t violate the public’s fundamental right to access public records. The City’s plan to destroy these emails after my clients have asked to see them is like a librarian burning down an entire library because a member of the public has asked to check out and read one book,” Boylan said. “It is unthinkable that this might actually happen.”

As noted in news reports of an ongoing trial in Sacramento Superior Court, public officials have deleted records even after legal notifications to preserve those same records. Eye On Sacramento supports Richard Stevenson and Katy Grimes in their lawsuit to enforce the California Public Records Act and their application for a restraining order to prevent the City of Sacramento from destroying public records.

“Eye On Sacramento is focused on transparency and citizen access to all mechanisms of government. Deletion of public records is contrary to the principles of Open Government and the public’s right to know.” Erik Smitt, Policy Director.

Open Government … transparent, responsive, accountable!

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Eye On Sacramento and the League of Women Voters to Host Public Forum on City Ethics & Transparency Reform at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25th at the Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library

Eye On Sacramento (EOS) and League of Women Voters (LWV) are pleased to announce the next public forum on City Ethics & Transparency Reform Project at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25th at the Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library, 7335 Gloria Drive. The public is invited and encouraged to share ideas and ask questions on ethics, transparency and redistricting reforms for our city.

Attendees will be hearing the results of a survey conducted by a team of EOS & LWV researchers and presented by EOS President Craig Powell and LWV President Paula Lee.  City Council Member Rick Jennings, Terry Francke, Californians Aware, and Bill Edger, retired Sacramento City Manager, will be on hand to critique the findings, offer their insights and answer questions from the public.  Lisa Garcia, EOS Community Outreach Director, will be the moderator.

We encourage you to share the event flyer (found here) with others who may be interested in attending the forum.

Eye On Sacramento and the League of Women Voters to Host Public Forum on City Ethics & Transparency Reform at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 16th at the Sierra 2 Center

Eye On Sacramento (EOS) and League of Women Voters (LWV) are pleased to announce the next public forum on City Ethics & Transparency Reform Project at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 16th at the Sierra 2 Center, Garden Room, located at 2791  24th Street. The public is invited and encouraged to share ideas and ask questions on ethics, transparency and redistricting reforms for our city.

Attendees will be hearing the results of a survey conducted by a team of EOS & LWV researchers and presented by EOS President Craig Powell and LWV President Paula Lee. City Council Member Jay Schenirer, Terry Francke, Californians Aware, Bill Edger, and retired Sacramento City Manager, will be on hand to critique the findings, offer their insights and answer questions from the public.  Lisa Garcia, EOS Community Outreach Director, will be the moderator.

We encourage you to share the event flyer (found here) with others who may be interested in attending the forum.

Eye On Sacramento and the League of Women Voters to Host Public Forum on City Ethics & Transparency Reform at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, February 26th at the Artisan Building

Eye On Sacramento (EOS) and League of Women Voters (LWV) are pleased to announce the next public forum on City Ethics & Transparency Reform Project at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday February 26th at the Artisan Building, located at 1901 Del Paso Blvd in Sacramento. The public is invited and encouraged to share ideas and ask questions on ethics, transparency and redistricting reforms for our city.

Attendees will be hearing the results of a survey conducted by a team of EOS & LWV researchers and presented by EOS President Craig Powell and LWV President Paula Lee. City Council Member Allen Warren, Oliver Luby, fromer Ethics Commission Attorney, and Bill Edgar, former City Manager, will be on hand to critique the findings, offer their insights and answer questions from the public.

We encourage you to share the event flyer (found here) with others who may be interested in attending the forum.

Eye On Sacramento and League of Women Voters Release Report on the City Ethics & Transparency Reform Project

Media Release/Media Advisory

 For Immediate Release

Date/Time: February 18, 2015, 4:10 p.m.
Press Conference: February 19, 2015; 9:30 a.m. (See Media Advisory Below)

Contacts: Craig Powell, President, Eye on Sacramento

Phone: (916) 718-3030

E-mail: craig@eyeonsacramento.org

Paula Lee, President, League of Women Voters of Sacramento County

Phone: (916) 400-3802

E-mail: paula.lee@comcast.net

 

Eye on Sacramento and League of Women Voters Announce:

                                                (1) Release of Survey Report on Ethics Reform
                                                (2) First Forum on Ethics Reform Tomorrow Night at 6:30 p.m.

 

Eye on Sacramento (EOS) and the League of Women Voters of Sacramento County (LWV) announced today the release of their joint survey report on ethics reform. The report (link provided here) is entitled “Considering Ethics Reform in Sacramento: An Overview.” It reviews the ethics reforms that other California cities have enacted in four key areas: Ethics Codes, Ethics Commissions, Open Government (or Transparency) Ordinances and Redistricting Commissions.

“Our survey report is designed to kick start a community conversation that will begin tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Clunie Community Center on what form ethics, transparency and redistricting reform should take in Sacramento,” said EOS President Craig Powell. The Clunie Community Center is located in McKinley Park in East Sacramento (601 Alhambra Blvd.).

Tomorrow night’s forum at the Clunie marks the first of eight public forums that the LWV and EOS are hosting in each city council district in the city. A panel discussion at tomorrow’s forum will include representatives of EOS, LWV, Mr. Jeff Harris, the city council member who represents East Sacramento, Mr. Peter Scheer, the Executive Director of the California First Amendment Coalition, and CSUS Professor Kim Nadler, Director of CSUS’s Project for an Informed Electorate.

“The most important element of each forum, however, will be the suggestions and comments offered by those who attend. They will have the biggest voice at each forum. Everyone who attends will have a chance to express their views or pose questions to panelists. We’ll stay until they turn the lights out on us,” said LWV President Paula Lee.”

The next forum will be at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 26th at the Artisan Building (1901 Del Paso Boulevard) and will include council member Allen Warren as a panelist.

“We also want to acknowledge the broad support our effort has received from a growing roster of co-sponsoring neighborhood groups and community organizations. We’re very gratified to receive support that crosses all partisan, ideological and ethnic lines. They range from the Sacramento Taxpayers Association to Common Cause of Sacramento and from the Democratic Party of Sacramento County to Republicans of River City. This is a true kumbayah moment for Sacramento,” Powell concluded.

Following the forums and meetings with city officials, a research and drafting committee of EOS and LWV, chaired by local attorney Nicolas Heidorn, will prepare legislative proposals that will be public vetted before they are presented to the city council for action.

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view/download … Considering Ethics Reform in Sacramento: An Overview …

An Eye On Sacramento and the League of Women Voters of Sacramento County Report