Valley Voice: Transparency and reform for Palm Springs
by: Geoff Kors, incoming Palm Springs City Councilmember
On Wednesday night, along with Mayor-elect Rob Moon and Councilmember-elect J.R. Roberts, I will be sworn in as a member of the Palm Springs City Council. It is an honor and a privilege to serve our great city.
During the campaign, I had the opportunity to speak with thousands of residents about the issues that were most important to them. From discussions that ranged from downtown to homelessness to economic growth to quality of life to sustainability, it was clear that Palm Springs residents are engaged and invested in helping ensure that our city attains its full potential.
But the issue that was brought up more than any other — and that permeates everything we do – was government ethics and transparency.
During the campaign, I pledged that I would start my tenure by proposing a task force to address ethics, transparency and government reform. I will begin that process Wednesday night.
The task force will be charged with making recommendations that will ensure that our government is more transparent, free from potential conflicts of interest and more representative of the diversity that is Palm Springs.
The task force will look at best practices in other cities, seek input from residents and experts, and then propose an ordinance to the City Council for consideration. I have numerous ideas that I believe should be considered by the task force, but they are just that – ideas. Ultimately, what is included in the task force’s proposal will only be decided after significant research and public input. Here are some of my ideas:
1. Elected and appointed officials’ and candidates’ statements of financial interest and campaign contributor reports shall be posted on the city’s website.
2. Elected and appointed officials shall be recused from any matter in which they have an economic or financial interest or if they are employed by or sit on the board of directors of an entity that is supporting or opposing a matter. In such instances the official shall provide, in detail, the reason they believe that there might be a conflict and the city attorney shall determine whether recusal is appropriate.
3. Sales of property or other assets that require approval of the City Council shall be put out to competitive bid and voted on as a non-consent item.
4. An application process – with specified criteria and reporting – shall be created and followed for grants made by the city.
5. Appointed commissions, boards and committees shall meet after 5:00 pm to allow a larger number and broader diversity of city residents to participate.
6. Meetings of city appointed commissions, boards, committees, task forces and similar entities shall be noticed and open to the public.
7. Staff reports regarding a matter being considered by the City Council, a commission or board must be made available to the public when the agenda for the meeting is published. If the staff report is not made available, the matter shall be tabled absent exigent circumstances.
8. Examine our election process – including campaign financing – for possible changes.
I encourage residents to share their ideas so that together we can ensure trust in our city government for decades to come.
Email incoming Palm Springs City Councilman Geoff Kors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The preceding article was originally posted as a Valley Voice op-ed contribution in The Desert Sun at http://desert.sn/1HFJaQn on December 1, 2015. It has been reproduced here with permission from the author.
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