In weeks leading up to the , Patch will be asking our nine City Council candidates a series of questions significant to the community.
This week's question: What does transparency mean to you?
People should be able to understand what government officials are doing before they vote; they should fully understand how they're voting and why they're voting. Transparency is important.
Thank goodness for the dedicated residents of South Pasadena. Because of them, our City will never have issues like Bell or Vernon. Those poor people in those towns had no idea what was going on in their government. Our people do. I want to continue to promote this wonderful tradition.
does a great job of explaining what is going on at City Council. I know our people are paying attention. Further, I intend to be accessible. I want to know what is on my neighbors' minds, and I want them to know what is on mine. This is what transparency is about, and this is why I would be so proud to serve on this City Council.
Having transparency in City government is based on City officials having integrity, being sincere and honest, and having an attitude of being open and objective. We cannot have City officials with their own personal or political agendas. We need to work together making South Pasadena the best place to live.
Transparency has not been a value of our City Council. It is a word that too often has no meaning behind it. Elected officials like to talk about transparency, but “Where’s the beef”?
I have developed several plans that I can implement to increase transparency in all levels of City government. Transparency means elected officials holding themselves accountable to the voters of South Pasadena and explaining their decisions through effective, timely communication. It does not mean making decisions in closed session or predetermining the outcome behind the scenes.
Going one or two steps beyond what it legally required by law, trying to involve the public as much as possible. I know we've done a good job at this since joining the council in 2003.
Stated as simply as possible, transparency is having discussions and making decisions out in the open so that people will be able to perceive what is being done and feel confident that decisions are in concurrence with their needs. In addition, I believe to be truly transparent a government needs to be interactive, instead of reactive. It needs to lay out both the pros and the cons of any project or decision—not just the benefit because nothing is ever 100 percent positive.
Both the what and the why need to be available regarding any decision, because different people can see facts differently, and by presenting the reasoning it assists in a truly transparent government. By providing this information from the onset, it will allow people to speak up early on in the process and provide input that will be valuable in coming to the best decision.
Transparency by City Council of how decisions are made is one of my top priorities. Closed-door sessions prevent our residents from fully understanding the threats and challenges we face. Such sessions have even brought an regarding violations of the Brown Act (the Openness in Government Act).
We are a small town and should be openly talking about our problems and their solutions with our neighbors, having town hall meetings and open sessions. The people of our community are the great untapped, underutilized resource for this City. They start or support small businesses, work hard on behalf of our schools, create local happenings such as our theatre, local music festivals, and holiday community events. Open sessions and town hall meetings are the most certain pathway to increasing community involvement.
I want South Pasadena residents to understand the changes that are being planned, and have their voices heard, particularly with respect to where City funding is concerned ( , , repairs of local infrastructures).
Experiences we residents have had, such as with the Fair Oaks construction and the mishandled treatment of , leave us jaded and wanting to see more accountability and oversight than the current council has provided. We need the wisdom and voice of all generations of South Pasadena residents to usher this City into an even brighter future. We must enlist and respect the residents in decisions that so closely affect their daily lives.
Transparency means not having hidden agendas and being available, honest and forthcoming with the residents.
Ernest B. "Ernie" Arnold
City policy positions must be made in open session with full debate. They cannot be agreed to in close session. Closed session is for dealing with labor negotiations and legal strategy—not policy. If the council wants to utilize a strategy that is in conflict with policy discussed and voted on in public, they have to come before the residents to explain the policy change.
Stay tuned to hear whether or not candidates think there's a transparency problem currently in South Pas government. And if so, what would they do to fix it?
Also on Monday: A recap of Thursday night's candidate forum.
PATCH ASKS: Do you think there's a transparency problem in South Pas government? If so, what would you like to see change?