Los Angeles/ Politics & Govt
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Published on April 14, 2024
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Spearheads Ethics Symposium to Cement Transparency in GovernmentSource: City of Los Angeles, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In a bold move to tackle the specter of corruption, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass hosted a groundbreaking ethics symposium aimed at bolstering transparency and upholding the public's trust in their elected officials. The gathering, touted as the first of its kind in Southern California, brought together over 50 leaders in the realms of governmental ethics and oversight. These movers and shakers assembled to exchange ideas and hammer out best practices for clean governance, as reported by the Office of Mayor Karen Bass earlier this week.

The symposium, co-sponsored by Mayor Bass’ office, was marked by an address from Ambassador Norm Eisen (Ret.), who served under President Barack Obama as a special counsel and is celebrated for his transparency initiatives. Eisen lauded the efforts in Los Angeles, expressing his support for the city's foray into ethical restoration. “Mayor Bass's ethics program exemplifies these principles, and I look forward to the continued successes led by the Mayor and those who support her ethics programs, including David Michaelson, counsel to the Mayor and Ruth Kwon, ethics officer,” he said, as quoted by the Mayor's office.

Panels populated by a variety of inspectors general, ethics officials, and compliance officers unpacked strategies to promote ethical conduct in local government. This collaborative effort seeks to significantly blunt the impact of unethical practices that have historically sullied public institutions. Mayor Bass heralded the event as a keystone in her blueprint to reinvent City Hall as an exemplar of integrity. “As we continue to move to restore trust and faith in City Hall and ensure that City Hall is working for the people of Los Angeles, we must push forward in our work to lead transparently and ethically in Los Angeles and across the country,” she stated, affirming the city’s dedication to transparency.

Reflecting a deep commitment to ethical administration, Bass has gone beyond words to action by installing Ruth Kwon as both the Deputy Counsel to the Mayor and the city's inaugural Ethics Officer. Kwon's role, conceived to wield far-reaching implications for policy development on ethics and transparency, signifies a tangible step to qualitatively lift the standard of administration in the city. The Ethics Officer's mandate is promptly to develop initiatives that shore up an ethical infrastructure within the Mayor's office and city-wide apparatus.

This initiative isn't singular; it's a continuation of Mayor Bass's broader crusade against corruption that saw the Mayor’s Fund of Los Angeles and the Getty House Foundation impose strictures on charitable donations from registered city lobbyists and developers—measures hailed as some of the sternest ever put into practice by either body. For those wanting to scrutinize the text of the reforms, the Mayor's office released two memos last year, accessible here and here, detailing the new ethical guidelines for staff within the Mayor's Office.