Beverly Hills pulled out all of the stops to celebrate the installation of the new City Council this past Wednesday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences theater. From a taste of Sweden to incoming Mayor John Mirisch’s recipe for community right here in Beverly Hills, the ceremony hit all the high notes after a season of Council discord and a partisan election characterized by negative attacks. Yet this new Council’s installation suggested that change may actually be in the air. Of course the potential for change comes every two years, but in our parochial burgh, it’s usually only the Council nameplates that rotate even as our entrenched resistance to open government endures. Will the coming two years … Continue reading
We’ve wrapped up another municipal election here in Beverly Hills with candidates returned to their Council seats and a third open seat filled by an experienced governing hand. While that may suggest steady as she goes, as we explored in an earlier post there are signs that this ship may be tacking closer to the wind, and perhaps even on a new heading toward greater accessibility and transparency in local government. Here we look more closely at the returns to see what they suggest about the concerns of voters.
Last post we last looked at the establishment vs. anti-establishment battle that played out in this election. But for such a small town, the networks of influence are difficult to tease out. For old Beverly Hills hands, though, the alliances, favors and grudges are etched in memory. We’re not old hands, however, so for some indication of how the stars do align here we took a look at the campaign contribution and spending reports for the 2013 municipal election. Fortunately, all candidates file Form 460 detailing contributions, contributors, and expenditures. Unfortunately, it only scratches the surface. Let’s started!
In a previous post we looked to campaign mailers to see what they said about City Council candidates. We learned that candidates adopt themes of leadership and integrity but often don’t do much to talk about issue specifics or highlight concrete differences between them. In comfortable Beverly Hills, a disengaged electorate wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at a projected $40 million parking operations deficit, much less scrutinize platforms for positions on water rates, park renovation, and pension obligations. On-the-stump sparks don’t generally define our elections, but what does get attention is an ugly campaign. And this cycle has been a whopper!
How long should our city hold on to official emails? That was the question before City Council in early October when policymakers declined to revisit our city’s email retention policy. The discussion came at the request of councilmember John Mirisch. He supports transparency and expressed a concern that the Beverly Hills policy of deleting official emails after only 30 days works against the spirit of the California Public Records Act. Because city email communications are presumed not to be public documents and deleted after 30 days, the Beverly Hills policy stands out as among the region’s least transparency-friendly. Before City Council was this question: Need City Hall recognize email as an official form communication and thus worthy of retention as … Continue reading