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.

###

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

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

Eye on Sacramento Policy Report On Measure L, The Sacramento Checks and Balances Act of 2014

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  1. EOS believes that the Sacramento city charter should not be overhauled without a showing by proponents of good cause and strong justification for doing so. The campaign literature of the “Yes” campaign argues that the current charter is “outdated” and that while the city is not broken, Measure L “is just better.” We find such justifications to be exceedingly weak.
  2. The proponent’s core justifications are that the measure will improve government accountability, responsiveness, efficiency, effectiveness and transparency.
  3. While direct election of the city’s chief executive officer is an important indicator of accountability, we believe that real accountability involves “being held to account” for performance. On that score, we find that a city manager is subject to far greater accountability than an elected executive mayor.
  4. Governmental responsiveness comes in several forms: responsiveness to citizens needs, responsiveness to the policy preferences of citizens and, importantly to Sacramento, responsiveness to opportunities for economic growth. We find that Sacramento’s current council-manager system is likely to be more responsive to the needs of citizens, but that there would likely be no appreciable difference in each system’s responsiveness to the policy preferences of citizens. An executive mayor may be more responsive to opportunities for economic growth.
  5. Research clearly demonstrates that cities that employ city managers are more efficient and effectively managed than cities run by executive mayors.
  6. Components of Measure L will increase the transparency of city government, but the details – and thus the effectiveness – of such components are left largely to the future discretion of the city council.
  7. Measure L would likely reduce the power and influence of councilmembers to a considerable degree. Since the influence of neighborhoods depends tremendously on the power and effectiveness of councilmembers, we conclude that Measure L will significantly reduce the influence of neighborhoods on city policy. The possible creation of a neighborhood advisory committee will likely do nothing to arrest a decline in the influence of neighborhoods under Measure L.
  8. Measure L may politicize the appointment of senior city managers and result in a loss of manager professionalism and potential difficulties in management recruitment. At the same time, Measure L may open up management positions for dynamic and action-oriented managers from the private sector.
  9. Measure L may weaken the bargaining position of city government in labor negotiations due to political influence of public safety unions on an executive mayor, potentially leading to higher taxpayers costs and/or reduced service levels.
  10. Measure L may very well lead to an accelerated processing of development projects through the city’s environmental and planning processes, and could possibly lead to a lowering of environmental and planning review standards.
  11. It is highly uncertain whether a sufficient pool of qualified candidates for mayor will run for office following adoption of Measure L. If qualified candidates do not run for mayor, the city will almost certainly experience a deterioration in the quality of city management.
  12. The creation of an independent redistricting commission and a strong code of ethics, as called for by Measure L, will improve the integrity and transparency of city government. However, the city council must truly commit to creating an ethics commission with the authority to enforce a code of ethics.
  13. The increase in mayoral powers under Measure L will likely lead to increased political fundraising by the mayor and greater risks of corruption and “pay to play” abuses involving private interests seeking taxpayer subsidies for private projects, increasing the importance of a strong and effective ethics code and ethics commission.
  14. EOS has major concerns over the steady erosion of democratic values and democratic practices in city government in recent years. We encourage voters to evaluate Measure U, in part, on whether they believe it will enhance or diminish our collective ability to democratically govern our city now and in the future.

For the full report click  Eye on Sacramento Policy Report On Measure L, The Sacramento Checks and Balances Act of 2014

Eye On Sacramento To Release Report and Hold Public Forum on Measure L on October 2nd

MEDIA RELEASE

 For Immediate Release

Date/Time: September 24, 2014; 2:45 p.m

Contact: Craig Powell, President, Eye on Sacramento

Phone: (916) 718-3030

E-mail: craig@eyeonsacramento.org

 

Eye on Sacramento Will Issue an Independent Report and Hold a Public Forum on Measure L at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, October 2nd at the Clunie Clubhouse

Eye on Sacramento (EOS) President Craig Powell announced today that EOS will be presenting its own independent, comprehensive report on Measure L (Strong Mayor) at a public forum and panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 2nd at the Clunie Clubhouse in McKinley Park, located at 601 Alhambra Blvd. in Sacramento. The public is invited.

At the forum, the authors of the EOS Report will summarize their analyses of Measure L while representatives of both the “pro” and “con” campaigns will offer their responses. Additionally, Chester A. Newland, the Frances R. and John J. Duggan Professor Emeritus of Public Administration of the University of Southern California, will provide critique and commentary on the measure and EOS’s findings.

“We made the decision to dive into the choppy waters of the Measure L debate because we were concerned that voters weren’t getting an accurate picture of the proposal nor a fair and complete assessment of its likely and potential impacts,” said EOS President Craig Powell. “We feel it would be a civic mistake for voters to decide whether to approve a major rewrite of the city charter without the benefit of an impartial, independent and comprehensive assessment of its impacts. We hope our report and October 2nd public forum help to meet the voters’ need for high quality information on the important question that’s before them,” Powell added.

“Our guiding principle in preparing our Report on Measure L has been to ‘call them as we see them’ and to let the chips fall where they may,” Powell concluded.

EOS’s forum on Measure L marks the first of a series of upcoming EOS-sponsored public forums on major policy issues that are challenging local governments in Sacramento.

EOS has invited both the “pro” and “con” campaigns on Measure L to staff information tables outside the Clunie Clubhouse to give voters a chance to learn more about the measure from the perspectives of each campaign. Refreshments and snacks will be available at the forum.

Copies of the EOS Report on Measure L will be distributed at the public forum and will be transmitted generally to the media, as well as to the “pro” and “con” campaigns, via e-mail at Noon on October 2nd. An executive summary of the Report will be included. The Report will be posted on EOS’s website following the public forum. Requests for copies of the Report should be directed to Anna Robertson, EOS Executive Assistant, at anna@eyeonsacramento.org or by calling (916) 403-0592 extension 3.

You may register for this event ahead of time by visiting our Events page and clicking on the link, or you may register through Eventbrite here.

Poor Citizen Access to City of Sacramento Government

MEDIA RELEASE

 For Immediate Release

Date/Time: July 21, 2014; 2:00 p.m.

Contact: Craig Powell, President, Eye on Sacramento

Phone: (916) 718-3030

E-mail: craig@eyeonsacramento.org

 

Poor Citizen Access to City of Sacramento Government

One of the recurring irritants that citizens (and the media) have in dealing with the City of Sacramento is not being able to easily determine: (1) who is managing a particular city office; and (2) what is the contact information for that manager. You would assume that such information would be easily available on the city’s website. You would be wrong.

Here’s what the city has and does not have in the way of publicly information on its bureaucratic hierarchy and its personnel, followed by Eye on Sacramento’s recommendations for four ways in which the city could greatly (and easily) improve citizen access to their own government:

Directory of Government Services

This is an extremely comprehensive directory of city services that is, hopefully, kept current (although its introduction warns that it may not be up-to-date):
City of Sacramento Functional Directory . It includes no names of city staff.

City Organization Chart

This is a very incomplete organization chart that fails to list any city managers or employees below the department director level. It also does not include any contact information. View organization chart here. The chart is also available via link at this city web page: Departments – City of Sacramento.

Phone Directory of City Employees

A phone directory of city employees is not posted on the city web site and is not discoverable via Google search. Such a directory must exist as no organization could function without one.

Quick Reference List

This is a very helpful listing of city managers, neatly divided by department, listing names and phone numbers (but without e-mail addresses). The major problem with it is that it hasn’t been updated since 2008 (at least to the knowledge of two city staffers). One irony is that this List is not even available on the city web site. We found it on the website of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. Here’s a web link to it: City of Sacramento Quick Reference List.

E-mail Addresses of City Employees

No directory of city employees e-mail addresses exists to our knowledge. The standard convention is for a city employee’s e-mail address to consist of the first letter of his or her first name, followed by his or her last name and then “@cityofsacramento.org.” But with 4,500 city employees and a goodly number of employees having common last names, this convention does not always work (middle name initials are then typically added).

311 – City’s Information Line

The 311 system is a good system, but severely hampered by chronic understaffing. Wait times of 10 minutes or more are both common and unacceptable. I never use it. Who has the time, patience (and cell phone battery life) to sit on hold for 10 to 15 minutes?

Improvements the City Should Make

What the city should do:

(1) Update its six-year old Quick Reference List, post it prominently on the city website, send it to every neighborhood association and disseminate it via wide release to local media;

(2) Post the city employees phone directory on the city website (including all of the info listed below);

(3) Add a search feature to its website where a citizen can look up any city employee (as the State of California provides for state employees) and find their job title, position in the city organization chart, mailing address, e-mail address and phone number. If an employee has a city-issued or paid cell phone, the employee’s cell phone number should be listed in all directories and organization charts; and

(4) Bite the bullet and beef up staffing of its marginally functional 311 service. If the city adopts the first three recommendations listed above, it will likely cut down on the number of citizens calls to 311.

Commentary

No city employee should have an unlisted hard-line or city-provided cell phone number (one that is not listed in a publicly available city employees phone directory). No city manager should be hidden from public view by not being included in an easily available, comprehensive city organization chart. The city should make it as easy as possible for its citizens to contact city employees, not create or tolerate unjustifiable barriers to citizen interaction with their own local government.

Thomas Jefferson believed “that government closest to the people governs best” and he was right – but only if citizens know who is running their local government and can easily communicate with them.

Currently, Sacramento city government is opaque to its citizens. Many if not most citizens who try to penetrate the maze become frustrated and discouraged, leaving them disconnected and alienated from city government. While such opacity may relieve city managers from phone calls and e-mails from pesky citizens, it does real and lasting damage to local democracy.

If the City of Sacramento has any regard for its residents, it will act promptly to rectify this situation and make open and transparent government a reality and not just an easy sound bite.

###

Eye On Sacramento Objects to Repeal of the 10-Day Sunshine Rule

Statement from Eye on Sacramento to Sacramento City Council on the Repeal of the 10-Day Sunshine Rule on City Contracts over $1 Million

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dear Mayor Johnson and Members of the City Council,

We are writing to express our strongest possible objection to the proposal before you tomorrow evening to gut the current city council rule that requires that all city contracts involving more than $1 million be posted on the city’s website and be made available to the public at least 10 days before the council takes action on such contracts.

This 10-day posting/disclosure rule is commonly known as the city’s “Sunshine Rule” and was adopted to assure that the public and the media have adequate time to review and provide feedback to you on the terms of major city contracts before you vote on them (Council Rules Chapter 7, Section E-2-d; found here).

The council’s adoption of the Sunshine Rule has been the single most important upgrade in city government transparency in the past 20 years.

Had the Sunshine Rule been in place when the city was considering approval of its 20-year exclusive, no-bid prime garbage contract with BLT Enterprises (now Waste Management) in 2010, it is unlikely that such an unfair and grossly burdensome contract would have been imposed on hapless city utility ratepayers. Because the Sunshine Rule was not in place at the time, the egregious city/BLT Enterprises contract was jammed through late at night during the final session of the term of the city council with zero public or media awareness or analysis. The Sacramento County Civil Grand Jury has castigated the city for both the atrocious terms of the BLT contract and the shady circumstances under which it was approved (Grand Jury, 2011-2012 Reports, page 39; found here).

The proposed draft of the new council rules proposes that the Sunshine Rule apply in the future only to city labor contracts – which are already covered by the current Rule since every city union contract involves more than $1 million. Gutting the Sunshine Rule would return us to the council’s bad old days when it all too often provided de minimis notice to the public and the media of the terms of large contracts that have a lasting and major financial impact on the city. That is simply unacceptable.

How can you expect the citizens of Sacramento to trust the city council and city government when you are taking active steps to hide from them the details of major city contracts? When you intentionally change the rules so you can provide inadequate public notice of the terms of major contracts you only breed public cynicism and suspicion over what it is you are trying to hide from the public.

For example, is it sheer coincidence that this move to gut the council’s Sunshine Rule is occurring just three weeks before you are set to approve a massive public subsidy of a new sports and entertainment facility, set for April 1st? Somehow we doubt it.

There has been no showing whatsoever of any need to water down the Sunshine Rule. The council already has a relief valve in place in cases of exigent circumstance: the council, by a 2/3rds vote, can choose to waive the 10-day posting requirement.

We can only surmise that some council members are seeking to gut the Sunshine Rule now in order to deprive the public and the media of a reasonable opportunity to review the several hundreds of pages of legal documents that will comprise the “arena deal.” We can only conclude that you don’t want the public and the media to have adequate time to review the documents, determine the impacts and provide citizen feedback to you, their elected representatives.

If you approve this rule change tomorrow evening you will be sending a clear signal that you want to keep the public and media in the dark for as long as possible about the final terms of the arena deal and deprive them of the time needed to adequately review the final deal and provide informed feedback to the council. No council member voting to gut the Sunshine Rule could ever again creditably claim to be supportive of transparency and openness in city government.

We beseech you: please show a higher level of respect for your constituents and reject this misguided effort to gut the city’s Sunshine Rule. Thank you.

Very truly yours,

Craig Powell, President

Phone: (916) 718-3030

cc: Mr. John Shirey, City Manager
Ms. Shirley Concolino, City Clerk
Mr. James Sanchez, City Attorney
Media Distribution List

Craig Powell – Debate with Joshua Wood hosted by Capital Public Radio’s Insight with Beth Ruyak – Dec 10, 2013

Capital Public Radio – Insight

Arena Ballot Initiative Signature drives for and against a proposed Sacramento Entertainment and Sports Complex are coming to a close Tuesday. Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) opposes the new ESC and needs 22,000 signatures to put public financing of the project to a citywide vote. STOP says it could turn in as many as 40,000 valid signatures. Meanwhile, DowntownArena.org, which supports a new sports complex at the K Street Mall, says STOP used misleading information to collect signatures for the ballot initiative and has collected 15,000 signature withdrawal forms that would null some of the 40,000 signatures STOP has collected.

Guests:
Craig Powell, President of Eye on Sacramento
Joshua Wood, Executive Director of DowntownArena.org
Arena Debate schedule HERE

L.A. is Bringing Transparency to City Finances

L.A. is bringing transparency to city finances with a new website that provides reams of data on how the city spends its money. We challenge Sacramento to do the same.

L.A. controller unveils website to make city finances more transparent – latimes.com