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Posted: August 9, 2008 8:15 p.m.
Updated: October 11, 2008 5:02 a.m.
What’s $30,000 between friends?

A big deal, if you listen to some of the talk among local residents over the last week, after this newspaper reported that an independent committee spent $29,500 of the 30 grand it received on campaign mailers for the campaign of City Councilwoman Laurie Ender last March.

Not that big of a deal, until one considers that the money came from one source — G&L Realty Corp., a major player in the expansion of our local hospital, of which Ender is a proponent.

That was all the fuel needed for those convinced that Santa Clarita runs on Big Money rather than ideals. The back-and-forth talk in the blogosphere can be distilled to this: Ender is beholden to special-interest dollars, and this is just more of the same.

For her part, Ender points out that she started campaigning on the hospital expansion platform well before G&L donated the money.

This whole situation begs for some clarification.

For starters, we agree with David Gauny of Smart Growth SCV that Ender needs to work overtime in proving to the voting public that she is not driven by special interests. Her time on the City Council needs to be characterized by complete transparency. She needs to go above and beyond in winning — and keeping — the trust of the people she represents.

If Laurie Ender says she’s beholden to no one, then this is the time to prove it at whatever cost necessary.
On the other hand ...

It’s time for this community to remind itself that money and politics have gone together for just about as long as money and politics have existed. What we’re seeing is nothing new.

Do voters need to demand integrity from elected leaders? Without question.

But this isn’t Mayberry. We live in the fourth-largest city in Los Angeles County, one of the fastest-growing cities in Southern California. Big-city political maneuvering comes with the territory.

G&L Realty did nothing illegal by giving $30,000 to the ironically named Citizens for Integrity in Government.

Laurie Ender did nothing illegal by taking the support offered by that independent committee.

It all boils down to two things. First, it is the duty of the public to hold its leaders accountable — to demand openness and straight talk rather than political ear candy. Keep asking questions. Secondly, to Laurie Ender — and, for that matter, the entire City Council — we remind you that it is the responsibility of elected officials to safeguard and act on what is good for the people you represent.

It is our hope that your term is characterized by public interest, not personal interest. Maybe that means keeping your distance from certain forms of support. Maybe it even means recusing yourself from some things on which the City Council votes.

The community is watching. How are you going to respond?


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