Another View: Strong mayor measure addresses influence of money on government

Lola Acosta
Lola Acosta

Measure L is more than a political campaign, it’s a significant change in the city’s charter that requires voters to understand a complex proposal with wide-ranging impacts.

In a perfect world, each side could make its case on an even playing field free of mailers, TV ads and signs. But political campaigns require contributors. The “Yes” campaign has a broad swath of contributors that include labor unions, business leaders, Republicans, Democrats and independents. Meanwhile, the “No” campaign is primarily funded by an out-of-state special interest political action committee and the plumbers union, which is currently in contract negotiations with the city manager (“Will big money strong-mayor campaign scare voters?”; Viewpoints, Foon Rhee, Oct. 22).

While it’s easy and inexpensive to run a campaign of no and fear-mongering (even against a form of government that’s used by the overwhelming number of California cities our size), it’s far more difficult to explain Measure L, a 5,700-word proposal that’s been developed with leading citizens, former mayors and council members.

The benefits of Measure L can’t be put on a bumper sticker. That’s why Mayor Kevin Johnson has held numerous town meetings and neighborhood gatherings and has participated in many debates to tout its advantages. It’s why Sacramento’s former city manager and police chief endorse it, as well as former mayors Phil Eisenberg and Jimmie Yee. And it’s why the campaign has spent approximately $1.50 per citizen to inform voters of its benefits.

The concern about the influence of donors is always legitimate in a political campaign. The architects of Measure L recognized that. It’s why there are many key elements in Measure L that will give us a far more transparent form of city governance and the ability to hold our elected officials accountable. Those elements include a code of ethics for elected officials, including provisions for the removal from office of any elected official who violates the code, along with the establishment of an ethics committee to review and monitor the code of ethics. It also creates an independent citizens redistricting commission so politicians can’t choose their own voters.

Most importantly, voters will be able to see, for the first time, if there are any dots to connect between campaign contributions and actions. Today that’s difficult, since decisions made every day behind closed doors are made by the city manager who’s not elected and accountable to the voters.

Measure L is all about accountability and democracy. If voters are truly concerned about the influence of money on our government, they will support Measure L.

Lola Acosta is past president of Sacramento League of Women Voters.