Ethics & Transparency

A clean government improves democracy, participation and trust. I have a deep record of success in improving ethics and transparency in my school activism:

  • Using open data to ensure that school budgets are publicly posted;
  • Founding an education newspaper that has led investigative pieces on excessive School District spending patterns, charter abuses, and test score cheating;
  • Filing the first successful complaint under the City’s new lobbying law to expose a local foundation using philanthropy as a back-door lobbying effort to promote privatizing school choice;
  • Removing patronage workers off the School District payroll and putting them back under city ethics guidelines; and
  • Demanding public access to meetings and decision-making processes of the School Reform Commission.

As your Councilwoman, I will continue these efforts in City Hall. I’ll start by being your full-time Councilperson, and I won’t hold outside employment. My priorities:

Use “Open Data” to increase transparency and responsiveness. I will expand and build on the current administration’s embrace of open data reforms, and make sure that transparency is a basic function of how the City does business. I will prioritize investment in:

  • new and improved tools like public maps and dashboards that allow searching and analysis of data, so that any citizen can understand how their tax dollars work;
  • technology upgrades for a revenue data warehouse that will aid in tax collection and a first-ever comprehensive inventory of the city’s vacant properties to aid in code enforcement and redevelopment; and
  • a modern case management system to track calls, referrals, and resolutions within City Council. The lack of such a system results in both inefficiency and lack of transparency about Council’s operations.

Consolidate government agencies to increase efficiency. We need to review City row offices and the preponderance of independent entities that too often work at odds with City government. These reforms impact our bottom line. In order to combat the burden of vacant land and abandoned properties, for example, we have to stop inefficient, lagging land sales at the Sheriff’s office. Every dollar we don’t collect because that office is too slow to get vacant land back into productive use, is a dollar we cannot spend on our schools or other desperately needed city services.

Strengthen campaign finance laws and ethics oversight. I will protect and continue the campaign finance and ethics reforms that have been put in place in recent years, and strongly support our Board of Ethics to enforce against violations. I will prioritize fixing a variety of loopholes in our city’s campaign finance law, including the loophole for raising unlimited pre-election donations. I will work to institute a comprehensive disclosure law, so that third-party groups which seek to influence elections are required to disclose their donors.

Ensure that every eligible voter has access to the polls. Our city should celebrate its growth, driven significantly by the presence of new immigrants. However, language access at polls has been embarrassing. In May 2014, the City provided only four non-Spanish interpreters at the polls. Thanks to a complaint filed by immigrant groups, that number jumped to 14 in November and I will make sure it continues to improve during my term in City Council.