04/08/2014 by Ed Coghlan

CA Fwd to Legislators: Act now to restore public trust in government


(Photo Credit: LWYang/Flickr)

When State Senators get arrested, indicted and convicted, as a trio has in California this calendar year, it shakes the public's confidence in our government. And rightly so.

That's why California Forward (CA Fwd) is calling on legislators to take immediate action on implementing reforms to restore public trust in government. Our Path Toward Trust (which you can read here) is designed to accelerate and focus the State's response to these scandals.

What we propose are all things that can and should be done immediately. Survey after survey showed that a deficit of trust in Sacramento existed among Californians well before 2014, and recent events have only set the bar even lower and made the need for immediate action on the part of the Legislature that much more critical.

"The recent events in Sacramento provide an opportunity for elected officials to meet this crisis of confidence head-on and enact real and immediate reform to restore confidence in elected officials," said Lenny Mendonca, co-chair of the CA Fwd Leadership Council.

CA Fwd, a non partisan group that is dedicated to improving accountability and trust in government, believes every violation of the law by a public official is also a violation of the public trust.

The "Path Toward Trust" includes the following steps:

  1. Modernize California's outdated campaign and lobbying disclosure system, known as Cal-Access;
  2. Create online filing of economic interests statements of all public officials (Form 700);
  3. Extend whistle-blower protection for legislative staff (there's movement on that bill this week already);
  4. Create an independent legislative ethics officer;
  5. Enact a 72-hour Read-the-Bill provision; and,
  6. Enshrine the public's Right-to-Know in the state Constitution.

"Many of our elected officials are responsible, hard working public servants and they can demonstrate that to all of us by enacting the elements of this proposal before breaking for the summer recess," Mendonca added.

Californians have been willing to support reforms, from Citizen's Redistricting and the Top Two Primary to 12 year term limits, because they want to reclaim our government. We are living in an era of political reform in California, but reform is not possible without the will and support of the people.

"Until now, lawmakers have not felt compelled to reform the rules that affect them," said Jim Mayer, CEO of CA Fwd. "What we propose is only the beginning of a prescription. But it is a good start and CA Fwd will continue to work with allies to identify others ways to fix our democracy."

There is serious work ahead of us--creating real budget discipline to avoid our boom and bust budget cycles, investing in our crumbling infrastructure and finding innovative ways to deal with our severe drought.

"To achieve all of that and more, government needs the people's trust," said Mendonca. "There is no better time than now for legislators to seize this opportunity."

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