City Council OKs Tighter Lobbyist Registration Requirements

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A win for good-government in Beverly Hills: Council unanimously OK’d tighter lobbyist registration requirements that now require any ‘legislative advocate’ remunerated above $50 to both disclose their role in chambers and file a form under penalty of city suspension and state perjury law. Kudos to Mayor Mirisch for spearheading it and to the mayor’s Sunshine Task Force for workshopping it.

Sunshine Task Force Meeting #3 [Recap]

The Sunshine Task Force, an ad hoc committee formed by Mayor Mirisch to advance good government reforms, met for the third time this week, and on the agenda was a change to the city’s existing legislative advocate form. The objectives are to glean more information about lobbyists and their clients, and to make that information available online to the Council and the public at large. The broader goal: greater transparency in Beverly Hills city government. Continue reading

Time to Review the Department Head Hiring Process

Beverly Hills org chartHave you wondered why Beverly Hills has taken none of the steps toward safer for cyclists that other cities have? One can point to a few factors that get in the way: an outdated 1977-era Bicycle Master Plan; our Traffic and Parking Commission which doesn’t recognize road safety as a mandate; and a City Council that historically has shown little interest in cycling. All are true but not sufficient: probably the biggest obstacle has been our Public Works department where managers and staff seem not to grasp the importance of multimodal mobility to our city’s future. But now that it’s time to name a new PW director, we can help to change that. How difficult can it be? Continue reading

How Well is the City Doing on Transparency?

The three concepts of sustainability

A transparent local government is a politically-sustainable local government

It is the cry of good-government & transparency (aka ‘sunshine’) advocates alike: all public documents should be accessible, machine-readable, and searchable. For how would we find the proverbial needle in the local government haystack if we couldn’t locate a document based on a search for content? We at Better Bike have bent the collective ear in Beverly Hills City Hall for three years (without much success) to get the city to commit to generating documents that meet that standard, at least, but to no avail. How’s our city doing on other aspects of that ‘sunshine’ thing then? Continue reading

Sunshine Task Force #2 Recap

The Beverly Hills Sunshine Task Force met for a second time this week following on last month’s initial meeting, wherein participants highlighted instances where the city falls short on sharing information. In that meeting, several new initiatives were proposed to nudge the city toward open government principles. On this month’s agenda was a staff presentation on West Hollywood, Walnut Creek and little-known city of Villa Park’s efforts. But in this 1-hour meeting we focused instead on proposals for an ombudsman and greater lobbying disclosure. There was scant time to address other issues as suggested last month much less ‘next steps.’ Here’s the recap. Continue reading

Beverly Hills Sunshine Task Force Meets

John Mirisch in Council chambersMayor John Mirisch’s transparency-focused Sunshine Task Force (agenda) held its inaugural meeting this past Tuesday. A handful of folks from all corners of Beverly Hills came together to talk about what can be done to make City Hall more open and to make public information more accessible. The mission as framed simply by the Mayor: “To shine a light upon the workings of city government to encourage public participation.” With two sitting councilmembers, two former mayors, various neighborhood leaders and a bike advocate at the table, there was no shortage of diagnoses or suggestions for a cure. Continue reading

What a Difference a New Council Makes

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Three of our five candidates for City Council this election cycle ran on platforms that featured transparency in local government as a clarion call, and all three were elected. At tonight’s first post-installation Council formal meeting, we can see the difference this new Council makes: after a fifteen-minute discussion, Council voted to increase email retention from only thirty days to two years. As if in time for Sunshine Week, this puts our city in the forefront of progressive (aka ‘good government’) cities with regard to public records access. What a difference a new Council makes!