At its January 20th meeting the City Council with a vote of 3-2 adopted the Resolution to “express support for reform of the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court Ruling.” 700 Cities nationwide, including 70 in California and 16 states including California have adopted similar resolutions. The adoption of this Resolution is highly commendable and a sound and far-sighted stance for our community. We know the real possibility of outside monied interests kidnapping any kind of election - even in Del Mar.
Council members Corti and Sinnott found the lack of local citizen input or demonstrated interest in this issue too restrictive to give support to this Resolution - though they firmly agreed about the importance and the need for change with the financing of election campaigns. They were looking for “proper input” to validate the Council”s role in this national debate. This prompts the question when is it appropriate for our local leadership to take a stand on an issue of national debate and vote its conscience?
It is quite unlikely that City Hall would be flooded with spontaneous local input about reforming the practices of dark money in election campaigns. According to Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard legal theorist and Founder of Mayday, 91% of Americans are too stuck in the “politics of resignation” - feeling that nothing can be done about the issue of campaign finance despite 96% believing it is important to reduce the money in politics. Is there any reason that Del Mar residents are any different? This is when local leadership can vote its belief and join the larger debate.
Waiting for “process” and keeping an appearance of an even-handed evaluation with this kind of Resolution is as unnecessary as giving more deliberation to the efficacy of the measles vaccine. It is a false search for a balanced discussion. Enough established information, diverse citizen activism in the San Diego region and extensive polling evidence exists about reforming Citizens United. At this point our local leadership should stop the hand-wringing and and start handing out hope for change - as a majority of the Council did.