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Oakland Government Ethics Act
On December 9, 2014, the Oakland City Council voted to approve 8-0 the Oakland Government Ethics Act.
On July 7, 2014, the Public Ethics Commission discussed and voted unanimously to approve a draft Oakland Government Ethics Act, developed by the Commission’s ad hoc Ethics subcommittee (Commissioners Whitman, Shefler, and Wyatt) in pursuit of the following goals:
1. Provide a clear and comprehensive framework of ethics rules for City staff and officials
2. Codify and consolidate locally all existing ethics laws currently in place at the state and local level
3. Include additional requirements that address needs that are unique to Oakland
4. Authorize the PEC to enforce the provisions in the ordinance
To assist in the Commission’s review of the draft ordinance, PEC staff prepared an Analysis of the draft Oakland Government Ethics Act.
The draft ethics ordinance is the product of several meetings of the Ethics subcommittee, which reviewed public input, best practices from other ethics commissions, the PEC’s own Ethics Resource Guide that provides information about state and local ethics laws, and the May 8, 2014 report of the Oakland Ethics and Good Government Working Group.
Currently, there is no comprehensive local ethics ordinance in Oakland, and the Commission has no legal authority to impose penalties for violations of ethics laws.
The Public Ethics Commission devoted attention in 2013 to building the Commission’s capacity: assessing staffing needs, evaluating the Commission’s authority and jurisdiction, and identifying gaps in the law and the need for new or amended ordinances. At its March 2013 retreat, the Commission discussed the need for enhanced authority and resources, and on July 24, 2013, the Public Ethics Commission held a public discussion reviewing its structure and authority under each of its governing ordinances. The Public Ethics Commission issued a letter to City Council in September 2013 articulating the need for the City to adopt a local Ethics Ordinance and to provide the Commission with increased staffing to support effective ethics prevention and enforcement in City government.
Following the PEC’s letter to City Council, the Commission created an ad hoc Ethics subcommittee to begin drafting an ethics ordinance. The subcommittee conducted a public meeting on April 24, 2014, to develop the draft and receive public input, and the subcommittee presents the above draft to the full PEC for review. If the PEC approves, it will continue on to City Council through its legislative process.
This proposal comes forward at a time when the City Council is reviewing an amendment to the Oakland City Charter to strengthen the PEC’s authority, structure, and staffing, as proposed by Councilmember Kalb and his Oakland Ethics and Good Government Working Group. That amendment would require both City Council and subsequent voter approval, and the amendment contemplates this proposed Government Ethics Ordinance in the language and duties articulated in the Charter Amendment.
Share your input on the draft ethics ordinance by contacting the Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 238-3593.
- City of San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code
- City of Los Angeles Governmental Ethics Ordinance (Los Angeles Municipal Code Sections 49.5.1 et seq.)
- City of San Diego Ethics Ordinance (San Diego Municipal Code §27.35)