On the March 3 Los Angeles ballot are proposed Charter Amendments 1 and 2, which would cancel the city’s elections in 2019 and instead let city officials elected in March 2015 stay in office until December 2020. NBC4 News says moving city elections out from the shadows was “an effort to clean up corruption at City Hall.” Now politicians want to undo that reform and put our city elections in Junes (and for the small fraction of city elections with runoffs, Novembers) of even-numbered years. Why? They say it’s because we can call it increased turnout if voters pulled in by marquee contests end up marking city choices at the bottom of a long ballot. As if mindless, “what the hell, I’m here anyway” turnout is the hallmark of good democracy. And it’s hard to credit the leader of the effort, Councilman Herb Wesson, with sincere concern about turnout in city elections, since he’ll be termed out after getting re-elected next week.
Wesson would get about $270,000 in extra pay, plus benefits, after his current term limit. Mayor Eric Garcetti, if re-elected, would get a cool third of a million dollars, plus benefits. Other termed-out electeds would cash in too. And politically appointed staff would get tons of city dough. In the execution, terms would grow to 5 1/2 years, as elections — those times of accessibility and accountability — are postponed. You know, the obvious pro-democracy option would have been to have transition terms of 3 1/2 years, much closer to the usual four.
Wesson and Garcetti appointed the commission that recommended the change to even-year elections. Wesson’s office staffed the commission and provided logistical support.
Full Article: L.A., you’re being played by politicians: Guest commentary.