San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed worries about the unlimited spending by independent expenditure committees during elections, saying it gives outside interests more sway than individual candidates. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Reed and his colleagues will consider a motion to lift voluntary spending limits on candidates to even the playing field with committees during campaigns.
The council in 2011 raised limits to $500 per donor for council candidates and $1,100 for those in mayoral races. The city’s election commission suggests leaving things as they are, at least until we see how some pending state legislation fares. Senate Bill 52, dubbed the California Disclose Act, would let voters know who’s actually paying for political ads by stamping it on the ads themselves. It would also require those ads to list their three biggest funders and institutes follow-the-money disclosures to help the public better track special interest spending.
The bill, authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), seeks to amend the Political Reform Act of 1974 by requiring political ads to list their top three funders and would apply to both ballot initiatives and expenses for and against candidates.
Two other proposals include nixing funding disclosures on campaign literature, which Councilmember Kansen Chu worries could be a First Amendment violation, and allowing for a candidate-funded recount if the results were too close to call, which was recommended by Councilmember Don Rocha. The elections commission recommends no change on either of these proposals.
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for August 19, 2013:
• Since construction’s been postponed at the Environmental Innovation Center, the city has to update its lease agreement with Habitat for Humanity. The nonprofit was offered office space in the under-construction innovation center, but delay after delay—partly because the city tapped a broke construction firm for the job—has forced the city to re-write some contracts along the way, including this one.
• The San Jose/Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility has gone for nearly six months without an environmental safety office worker on staff, so the city has had to contract with an independent consultant until someone permanent is recruited. The treatment plant is one of the largest in the nation with 180 employees, miles of underground tunnels, concrete tanks, large motors and industrial machinery, more than 600 confined spaces, hazardous materials like natural gas and anhydrous ammonia, and a vast high-voltage electrical system.
• The city’s graffiti abatement efforts have improved by becoming a bit cheaper and more efficient, according to a city audit of the outsourced graffiti program. But the city needs to engage more of the public, encouraging crowdsourced reporting to pinpoint tagged areas and improving relationships with property owners.
One problem is that the city-contracted graffiti abatement team seems to keep covering up tagging on the same private buildings without making the property owner aware of the problem, councilmembers Rocha and Xavier Campos note in a joint memo.
Also, while the company is still under budget, it’s quickly approaching its limit about a year ahead of schedule.
• A four-year contract for shuttle service at Mineta San Jose International Airport will cost about $3.86 million, according to an agreement up for consideration.
• The council will vote on amending city code to include provisions for a second-tier pension plan for new hires.
• The Wal-mart at 4080 Stephens Creek Blvd. wants a permit to sell alcohol.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that two additional proposals to change campaign rules were submitted by Mayor Reed. San Jose Inside regrets the error.