Seven months after Long Beach voters approved Measure CCC, creating an Ethics Commission, Mayor Robert Garcia and City Auditor Laura Doud are reviewing applications for a total of four seats on the commission to be filled by their offices. “The voters voted overwhelmingly to establish an ethics commission,” Garcia said. “It’s also something I and the city auditor have always believed in. Most cities have one.”
Selections are expected to be made in June, according to a memorandum by the city attorney’s office, but both Garcia and Doud said they did not have a final list of appointees to share at this point. However, Garcia did share his priorities for the two candidates he is asked to select. “We want people with integrity, folks that care about their community and most importantly, we’re looking at what’s laid out in the charter,” he said.
The charter, which was approved by voters on November 6, 2018, requires two of the members selected by the mayor and city auditor to have special expertise in matters of particular interest to the commission, including public policy, campaign finance, auditing of compliance with ethics laws, protection of whistleblowers and technology as it relates to open government. The other two members are required to “have involvement with civic organizations with a demonstrated history of involvement in local government,” according to the ordinance. The remaining three commissioners are appointed by the mayor’s and auditor’s appointees.
“I think that this is a great system,” Garcia said. “I love that the appointments come from the community, come from the auditor, not just me, which is basically how every other commission works.” Many other cities, he noted, have ethics commissions that are fully appointed by the mayor, just like all other commissions in the City of Long Beach. “This is the only commission in the city where only two of the members are directly appointed by the mayor,” Garcia said.
Once assembled, the commission is tasked with assisting departments in developing their conflict of interest codes and developing an educational program for newly elected officials. They will also be asked to make recommendations to the mayor and the city council regarding campaign finance reform, governmental ethics and conflicts of interest. During its first meeting, the four commissioners selected by Garcia and Doud are expected to review applications for the remaining four commissioner’s seats and receive a refresher on relevant laws, such as the Brown Act and Robert’s Rules of Order. Future meetings will include the confirmation of the remaining councilmembers as well as a review of the city’s current ethics handbook, policies and procedures.
A tentative timeline released by the city attorney’s office in March estimated for the confirmation of commissioners by the city council to take place in July. According to the same timeline, commissioners are expected to complete background checks, file the FPPC Form 700 Statement of Economic Interest and take their oath in August.