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Ethics and City Hall: San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed Outlines Reforms
By Suruchi Bhutani
In a recent Ethics at Noon presentation, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed highlighted the reforms he has initiated since taking office in January 2007. Reed and two San Jose city councilmembers were elected in November by a margin of more than 60 percent, which Reed saw as a clear message that the people were unhappy with the way city hall was being run before he took office.
To reform city government, the mayor began by focusing on budgeting. Adopting the doctrine of community-based budgeting, he encouraged community participation in the process through community surveys and neighborhood committees.
The second key focus of the Reed reforms was reducing the influence of lobbyists at city hall. The mayor insisted on full disclosure to the public of all lobbying activities along with the amount of lobbying dollars being spent. He believes that full disclosure leads to public accountability, which in turn keeps the lobbying influences in check.
These reforms, Reed said, brought about change in the attitude of city employees, who have started the Employee Values Project. Through this project, city hall employees have identified six key values: Integrity, innovation, excellence, collaboration, respect, and celebration.
Finally, the mayor emphasized the need to reduce the influence of money in government and politics. He stressed the importance of campaign reforms and advocated strict control over how much money is donated to political aspirants by lobbyists and other vested parties during the election process.
Suruchi Bhutani is a media intern at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.