The campaign for mayor is getting into full swing with several crises and a set of pronouncements from the aspirants for the job. The main topic is one that has preoccupied the press and alternately paralyzed, polarized, and pushed the City Council into action – lobbyists. The questions have revolved around who they are and what influence and ties they have to the Mayor and Council. This crisis can be easily avoided.
The Mercury News editorial board has apparently risen from their post-Yarnold slumber and now seem to be aggressively pushing for more disclosure following a series of front page stories. You all remember those halcyon days when the news side of the paper actually did research and wrote searing articles about errors and corruption before the editorial pages did. They may begin to do their own original research and exposure again.
Council Members Dave Cortese and Chuck Reed have both said that they would push for amendments to the city’s ordinance later this summer. Basically, many top developers, as well as big labor, have not qualified as “lobbyists.” Instead, the ordinance stands the world on its head and definitely asks again the decade-old question of what “is” is.
The chair of the Council’s Ethics Task Force, Ken Yeager, said that he wanted to review why more companies weren’t registering, but he wasn’t ready to offer specific reforms. I can answer the first part. Most of the special interests in San Jose politics know that only a few Council Members care about this “reform.” The rest consider it an annoyance and a joke. Council Member Forrest Williams even said that he didn’t know why any of this was being done and that he couldn’t see the need for it.
Nominations for the “hear no evil, see no evil” award are now open. Perhaps, Mr. Williams should ask Terry Gregory about the need for any “reform stuff”.
Let it suffice to say that Williams and Yeager would not know what to say to Mark Felt, or where to meet him.
Much of this could be ended quickly with a swift pronouncement from Ron Gonzales and I think that it may come soon. He certainly does not want his last year in office marred by more of what he regards as mere contretemps. “Count all lobbying as lobbying,” he will say. “Open up your appointment calendars” – that should cause a few eyes to glaze over from boredom – “and call it a day.” None of the lobbyists plying their trade at City Hall are even vaguely concerned. Just spell their name right and they will laugh all the way to the bank.