SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a new ordinance which, if given final approval on March 8, will impose a one-year “cooling off” period during which former County employees would be prohibited from engaging in lobbying activities for other agencies or companies.
Supervisor Zach Friend, who proposed the ordinance, says it is a way to engender trust in local government.
“The overall trust in institutions, especially in the national level of government being at the forefront if this, has been eroding over the couple of decades, and even more so over the last few years,” he said. “My sense is that the one place where people still feel they have access is at the local government level.”
This was evidenced, he said, by a vocal group who came to protest countywide mask rules during the Tuesday meeting, forcing the meeting to recess to online only.
Friend says the rule would provide “another guardrail” to ensure that the people who work for the public are not able to exercise undue influence when they leave.
Many other institutions have similar rules, including the City of San Diego, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the states of Hawaii and California and the City and the County of Los Angeles. U.S. Senators have a two-year ban.
These rules are an acknowledgment that former employees have unique knowledge and relationships unavailable to the public, which they could use to “exert improper influence over decisions affecting the public’s interest,” County officials say.
The ordinance does not restrict the type of employment employees may seek.