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Alameda City Council Defers Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance

At last night’s Alameda City Council meeting, Council voted 3-2 to defer implementation of a proposed campaign finance reform ordinance pending further review from the public and the City’s Sunshine Task Force.

Councilmembers Frank Matarrese and Marie Gilmore thought that there had not been enough time for public input on the ordinance; they want the League of Women Voters and the City’s Sunshine Task Force to review the proposed ordinance and provide input.

Alameda City Attorney Teresa Highsmith said that with the exception of language stating that the intent of the ordinance was to prevent corruption, the ordinance had been drawn as narrowly as the United States Constitution and recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings would allow. Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson said “I may be old fashioned, but I consider what we’re doing, holding a City Council meeting and hearing from the public constitutes having public input.”

Councilmember Gilmore was concerned about changing campaign finance rules in the middle of an election period, stating, “practically everybody up here is running for something this year. If that doesn’t scream conflict of interest, I don’t know what does,” and, “it’s more important to get it right than to do it quickly.”

Gilmore’s motion referred the ordinance to the Sunshine Task Force to allow more time for input from the public and the task force; it also deferred implementation of the ordinance until January 1, 2010. Councilmembers Gilmore, Tam and Matarrese voted in favor of the motion, and Mayor Johnson and Vice-Mayor Doug deHaan opposed it.

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