The Beverly Hills City Council on Tuesday agreed to slow the spin rate of the city’s political revolving door by strengthening its ban on former elected officials and employees returning to city hall as paid lobbyists.
The city’s 2006 “Revolving Door” ordinance aims to help city hall avoid the appearance that elected officials or employees are influenced by “undue” external sources such as financial gain or by paid lobbyists when taking actions or making governmental decisions.
Currently, any former employee who submitted a form 700 – required by the Fair Political Practices Commission of any employee who influences government decisions to eliminate conflict of interest – is banned from lobbying for compensation for two years after leaving city employment. Elected officials and planning commissioners cannot lobby for 2.5 years after leaving office. The law also specifies that former elected officials cannot “represent for compensation any person or entity” by making any communication to the city that is related to land use matters that were voted upon by the elected official during their time in office.
Vice Mayor Nancy Krasne, who initiated the discussion and the motion, said she has been “seeing too many people walk through a revolving door” at city hall. She proposed extending the time restriction to four years for lobbying for compensation after leaving city hall employment.
She said it’s not city hall employees’ or officials’ jobs to advocate for or against any project, and it’s important the public does not think any differently.
“I’d like to see a minimum of four years, possibly five,” she said. “I’d like [the ordinance] strengthened and extended and I want it to apply to all employees, whether they be council level or on any level, that they cannot lobby for anybody within the period of time, nor can they work for somebody who’s lobbying the city.”
Strictly as an example, she said someone who is a police chief should not be able to “lobby for your pals” within the first few years after leaving that office. Members of the city council explained that there are “ex-mayor lobbyists” who continue to represent clients on issues – which is seen more often in Beverly Hills than in neighboring cities.
“Philosophically, I totally agree,” said Councilwoman Kathy Reims. “People are upset that they see former elected city people doing all of this kind of lobbying and they are upset. And I don’t know what the answer is time wise.”
Mayor John Mirisch agreed that the period should be extended to four years and that it should definitely apply to all staff.
They directed staff to bring back the ordinance with suggested amendments so that it applies for four years and to all city employees.
If approved after the next reading, the new time limits would be effective for any future appointments or reappointments.
By comparison, the city of West Hollywood prohibits lobbying for compensation within one year after employment or term. The city of Los Angeles prohibits lobbying for compensation for former elected officials for two years and other officials for one year.
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