Update: Public Weighs In on "Good Government" Measure

By: Bonney Bowman Email
By: Bonney Bowman Email

A plan to limit elected officials from holding city contracts could be decided by voters.

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler proposed his "Good Government" measure in early February. The resolution would ban city officials from holding city contracts and would prevent people who do business with the city from running for city council. Under the measure, only those who own more than five percent of a company that does business with the city would be prevented from running.

Beutler says the resolution will end any perception that individual financial interests influence city decision-making. He says it would prevent city council members from putting undue pressure on other employees and ensure a level playing field when bidding on city contracts.

"With a contract ban, citizens have a significantly greater assurance that no elected official or director is using his or her position for personal gain at public expense," said Mayor Beutler.

Monday the city council held a public hearing that had mixed reactions.

"I think it's important to be proactive and insuring fairness and accountability in our democracy," said Adam Morfeld with Nebraskans for Civic Reform.

But Councilman Jon Camp says the ban would only make qualified business people less likely to run for office.

Camp says he thinks the mayor is offering a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, saying, "If we need some fine-tuning, I'm all for that. But don't penalize the citizens of Lincoln, don't cost the taxpayers more, don't hurt the ability of qualified people to serve this community."

It's the same reaction of some that attended Monday's hearing.

"It's not broken at all, it works very well and this seems to be something that would preclude future business leaders to be our future political leaders," said Todd Hall of Lincoln.

When the contract ban was discussed several years ago, the mayor said there was concern that it seemed directed at certain individuals. He said May is a good time to vote on the issue because no current city council members have a contract with the city.

If it passes, the resolution will be up to a vote of the people on the May 7th ballot.

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