Op-Ed: How to reform L.A. City Hall to avoid future corruption and scandal
(Editor’s Note: As the city of Los Angeles grapples with the need for a new charter to replace its nearly century-old law regulating its governmental affairs, public officials have been working on a framework of new rules to reform city government to reduce corruption and increase transparency. For the past year, the Downtown Council has been working with elected officials and civic groups to find common ground on a reform agenda to improve public governance in our city.)
The Los Angeles City Charter defines the city’s governing structure as “a government composed of a council composed of representatives of the several districts appointed annually by the mayor, and a board of supervisors” (Article 5.12.2). One of the key points of the charter is that both the council and the board are responsible for “the general supervision and management” of the city (Article 22.214.171.124).
We all hope that the new City of Los Angeles Charter will reflect the changes that have been taking place in the city — changes that will make the way that we all work, live and play better. In the meantime, we must remain vigilant in protecting the city’s charter and the rights of everyone who works in the city’s governmental affairs.
Now, however, we must also remember that we are living in a time of change. For the past two years, I have been traveling the country working with mayors and city council members on how to reform city government and make the public realm more transparent and accountable. I have watched my fellow mayors work through similar issues in cities across the country, and there is a sense of common purpose here.
When I returned to Los Angeles this month to work for Mayor Eric Garcetti on his new charter and his reform initiatives, I visited the City Hall on Tuesday, April 4. The building was in a terrible state of disrepair, with boarded-up windows and open doors in a building that was already closed for most of the day. Council members had been trying to get access to the facility.
I learned that the city’s building and zoning department told us they could not come into the building because the city’s code required that all government offices, meetings, programs and the like be closed on Sunday.
This was an unfortunate