Our View: City needs to tighten ethics rules

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Santa Clarita City Councilman Bill Miranda did something recently as a public official that is truly mind-boggling.

In the latest issue of a local magazine, an advertisement from a local business features a photo of Miranda along with a testimonial he makes about the company’s products. He is identified in the ad as a City Council member.

Miranda claims he didn’t know his council title was going to be used in the ad. He then asked the business to stop using his testimonial.

OK, we’re glad that matter is settled, but why did Miranda agree to the testimonial in the first place? He’s a sitting council member no matter how he is identified. Why would he endorse one company’s products when he is supposed to represent the entire city, its residents and its businesses?

Such behavior can lead to all sorts of problems if companies know a council member is willing to push a firm’s products or services. Staying away from such conflicts is just common sense to us.

We believe Miranda’s fellow council members should publicly rebuke him for his behavior. They also should get wheels in motion to tighten city ethics policies.

Mayor Cameron Smyth told The Signal that he would have counseled Miranda against doing the testimonial if he had been asked. He also said it may be time for the council to update its “norms and procedures” as the city continues to grow.

“Norms and procedures” are the written rules outlining how the council functions and its members should behave. The current version states that when advocating their personal beliefs, council members should explicitly state that they are not representing the city. It appears now that wording should be stronger or a separate ethics policy should be established.

Smyth is right. The city is growing. It has grown into the third largest city in Los Angeles County, and its City Council members should act accordingly. They can’t be doing small-town favors for their friends and family anymore.

Some people may think that all this ethics stuff is just common sense, and we agree. But Councilman Miranda’s advertisement is a perfect example of why any city, business or organization needs detailed and clear rules of how people representing them are expected to behave. There should be no room for interpretation.


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