Mobster-Sparked Transparency Law Due for Easing in San Diego

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San Diego Councilwoman Barbara Bry said: “Today we take the first step in making charter section 225 enforceable as it was intended.” Photo by Chris Stone

The San Diego City Council’s Rules Committee advanced a ballot initiative Wednesday that would amend a long-maligned section of city code created to prevent officials from dealing with shady people and businesses.

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The 1992 transparency law was originally approved after the city nearly and unknowingly entered into a $47 million real estate deal with an alleged mobster. It requires that any entity doing business with the city disclose the “name and identity of any and all persons directly or indirectly involved in the application or proposed transaction.”

The language is considered too broad to enforce, however, as everyone from truck drivers to stockholders would need to be disclosed.

City attorneys issued complaints against statute language and possible fixes in 1992, 2005 and 2016. A San Diego County grand jury also criticized the city’s inability to fix the law in a 2017 report titled “Stop Kicking the Can Down the Road: San Diego’s 1992 Transparency Law Must Be Enforced.”

A proposal advanced by committee member Barbara Bry would amend city code to require only the disclosure of people who will receive more than 10 percent of a city contract, or own more than 10 percent of an entity contracting with the city.

The committee unanimously forwarded the proposal to the full City Council with a recommendation to place the amendment on the November ballot.

“For 26 years enforcement has been inconsistent at best,” Bry said. “Today we take the first step in making charter section 225 enforceable as it was intended.”

— City News Service

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