Mercury News editorial: Cindy Chavez's lobbyist rules are promising

Source: Mercury News Editorial
Posted on: 01/08/2014

When Cindy Chavez was running for former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr.'s seat last summer, we said her opponent would be the one to pursue transparency in a county government that often seems impenetrable.

At her inauguration in August, Chavez raised the subject. Then she got the board to make their calendars public. And last month, she won unanimous approval for tightening the county's lobbyist ordinance, calling for more disclosure, an online database and other improvements to the current flimsy rules.

It's a good start on improving the county's lackluster sunshine policies. If Chavez follows through with other reforms—well, let's just say sometimes it's great to be proven wrong.

Her next idea is to try to make databases for campaign contributions and for county contracts searchable. People can look at campaign finance reports, but they can't search a database to find patterns. And there is no searchable database of county contracts for services, she says, even though they account for about half the budget the supervisors control. Now that would be helpful information for not just residents but the supervisors themselves to peruse.

We'd also like to see more advances in areas the San Jose City Council has improved, such as earlier posting of not only agendas but the staff reports and other information people need to understand what's at stake. But the calendar and lobbyist rules are a very good start.


Cindy Chavez, May 2, 2013. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

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