Wednesday, November 16, 2005

San Francisco and Los Angeles Take a Look At Clean Elections

Two of the largest cities in the country are examining whether to increase public financing of city elections.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, the Los Angeles City Council agreed yesterday to examine public financing of elections as a possible way to reduce the influence of special interest money on the city's elections. The council voted 11-0 to tell the city's legislative analyst to develop a proposal for public financing of elections for the city. Los Angeles already provides some public funds for qualifying candidates.

And as Matt Hirsh reports in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the San Francisco Ethics Commission (see item 5) is examining whether to extend that city's current public financing of elections for the Board of Supervisors to other city races, including mayoral elections. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has proposed such a program for mayoral races, including a $1.4 million voluntary spending cap for candidates who sign up and qualify for public funds. The Ethics Commission is scheduled to vote on Mirkarimi's proposal in December.

Last year, the city of Berkeley, right across the bay from San Fran, voted against Measure H, which would have started a program of public financing for that city's elections.

In October of this year, the voters of Albuquerque made it the first city in the U.S. to vote by ballot initiative for public financing of elections.

Portland, Oregon's city council voted in May 2005 to start a program of public financing for elections in that city.

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