Maria Rivera is an associate justice for the First District Court
of Appeal, Division Four, where she has served since January
2002. From January 1997 to January 2002, she was a judge of the
Superior Court in Contra Costa County. She can be reached
This article is excerpted and condensed from a speech given by
Justice Rivera to the League’s City Attorneys Conference on May
3, 2007, in Monterey, California.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A good public servant becomes so at
a high cost of personal sacrifice. We need such men and
women; when we find them we owe them our gratitude and,
above all, our respect.”
Special thanks to the following California Association of Public
Information Officials members who contributed to the on-site
conference newsletter and this article, and helped staff the
conference media room: Ann Erdman, public information officer,
Pasadena; Brad Rovanpera, public information officer, Walnut
Creek; Judy Franz, retired deputy city manager, Santa Monica;
Mark Mazzaferro, public information officer, Vacaville; Mike
Maxfield, public information officer, Yorba Linda; Scott
Summerfield, principal, SAE Communications; Sue Schlerf,
assistant city manager, Reno, Nev.; and Tom Manheim, public
outreach manager, San Jose.
Rod Diridon Jr. was a founding member of both the Santa Clara Campaign Finance Reform Committee (chair) and the Ethics Ordinance Committee. He is a former two-term city council member and currently the city auditor and elected city clerk for the City of Santa Clara. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The City of Santa Clara won the Grand Prize in the Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics and Community Involvement category of the 2007 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more about the award program, visit www.cacities.org/helenputnam.
For many, “ethical government” is an oxymoron. At all levels of government, too many disappointments in promising candidates have made voters skeptical and cynical about the ability of government officials to achieve a high professional standard of ethics.
The City of Pittsburg won an Award for Excellence in the
Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics and Community Involvement category
of the 2007 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more
information, visit www.cacities.org/helenputnam.
Pittsburg is a historic city in the east San Francisco Bay Area
with many older established neighborhoods, some of which are
showing their age and have fallen into disrepair and blight. In
2004, the city launched a major redevelopment effort aimed at
various commercial and industrial areas — but primarily focused
on downtown. Longtime residents expressed dismay that they were
being left behind and the city didn’t care about their issues or
improving older neighborhoods. Although various municipal
departments were working to address these issues, there was no
uniform action plan among the various departments to effectively
demonstrate these efforts to residents.
This column is a service of the Institute for Local Government
(ILG) Ethics Project, which offers resources on public service
ethics for local officials. For more information,
visit www.ca-ilg.org/trust. ILG is
grateful to these individuals for their assistance in preparing
this article: Dan Purnell, executive director, Oakland Ethics
Commission; Heather Mahood, assistant city attorney, Long Beach;
Jennifer Sparacino, city manager, City of Santa Clara; and Carol
McCarthy, deputy city manager, City of Santa Clara. Generous
funding for the development of this column was provided by the
International City-County Management Association (ICMA)
Retirement Corporation (www.icmarc.org), whose mission is to
build retirement security for the public sector.
We have a citizens’ group in our community considering whether to
propose establishing an ethics commission. We have looked for
information about ethics commissions but have not really found
much. Can you help?