The City Council voted this week to place a charter amendment on the November ballot that would strengthen Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission, creating a more muscular agency with a larger staff and budget to enforce public ethics laws and increase residents’ confidence in city government.
“I’m thrilled that the entire Oakland City Council voted to approve for the fall ballot my Charter Amendment measure,” said Councilmember Dan Kalb. “The council is united in seeking voter approval to give our government watchdog real teeth.”
The new commission would have the authority and resources to enforce election campaign contribution limits and other campaign violations; examine Sunshine Ordinance, public records and transparency complaints; handle conflict of interest issues; and protect employees who are whistleblowers.
“Since its inception in 1996, the Public Ethics Commission has neither had sufficient authority nor been adequately funded to accomplish its mission,” Kalb said. “The charter ballot measure will give the commission the staffing, authority, and independence it needs to perform its education, training, and enforcement duties regarding the city’s ethics and campaign finance laws.”
“ It is a big first step towards increasing the public’s trust and confidence in city governance,” he said.
The charter amendment would increase the Public Ethics Commission’s staff from its current two to a minimum of six. Among supporters of the amendment are California Common Cause, Greenlining Institute, League of Women Voters of Oakland, Make Oakland Better Now, MGO Democratic Club, Oakland Rising, and the West Oakland Commerce Association.