SF May Make Major Update to City Ethics Policies

The city of San Francisco might be in for a major update to its ethics policies.

Board President David Chiu and City Attorney Dennis Herrera have unveiled a package of legislation that has taken them 10 months to craft.   At a press conference on Tuesday before they introduced the legislation to the Board of Supervisors, Herrera listed the plan's hoped-for effects.
"First, to tighten rules and enhance transparency for City Hall lobbyists, permit expediters and influential developers," Herrera said.  "Second, to bring greater oversight and fiscal accountability to city contracting, procurement and grant-making practices.  And third, to expand public access to public information. The biggest criticism that we hear of those of us in City Hall is that there's a lack of accountability, a lack of transparency, a lack of openness with respect to how business is done."

Chiu said San Francisco was a pioneer in open government, but in recent years has fallen behind cities like Los Angeles and San Diego.
"Many of our sunshine laws that we had passed here in San Francisco generations ago were not necessarily drafted to deal with the digital age," Chiu said." And I think it's very important for us to always be setting the standard of open government, of transparency, of real accountability. That, I think, will help us in garnering the public's trust with the decisions that city government is making."

Both Chiu and Herrera said there were no specific incidents or targets of their proposal.

"This is not designed to limit lobbying," Herrera said.  "It is designed to make sure everyone has a clear picture of who is doing the lobbying, who is being lobbied and the subjects upon which people are being lobbied."

The supervisors can begin discussion of the new ethics plan at their next meeting in May.


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