February 23, 2024 3:55 pm

LA City Council Advances Ethics Reform with Proposed Office of Compliance

On Wednesday, the City Council took a significant step toward establishing a formal Office of Compliance aimed at helping council members identify and steer clear of potential conflicts of interest.

The motion passed with a 14-1 vote, signaling a commitment to higher ethical standards. Council members requested a detailed report to guide the creation of the office, outlining responsibilities, conducting reviews by studying similar offices in other cities and government agencies, identifying potential funding sources, and determining necessary staff.

Council President Paul Krekorian and Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky proposed an amendment suggesting a deputy city attorney serve as the compliance officer instead of a staff member from the Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst.

Yaroslavsky reflected on the challenges faced in the past year, emphasizing the need to rebuild public trust amid scandals. She highlighted examples from regional agencies where dedicated staff assist elected officials in navigating potential conflicts of interest.

Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, the sole dissenting vote, acknowledged the positive intent but expressed concerns about creating another office. She argued that the city already has infrastructure and policies to address conflicts of interest, placing responsibility on former council members’ lack of transparency.

Krekorian countered, emphasizing the importance of adding a layer of compliance to protect the institution and city government as a whole.

The motion, introduced by Councilwoman Nithya Raman, along with Council members Traci Park, Yaroslavsky, and Krekorian in October, was initially scheduled for a Dec. 1 meeting but was deliberated and amended on Wednesday.

Given the history of ethics scandals and accusations within the City Council, the establishment of an Office of Compliance aims to enhance transparency and prevent future ethical breaches.