May 1, 2008

More on the Rose Bowl, Rose Parade ticket giveaway

Fred Ortega, City Hall reporter at the Pasadena Star-News, did a little digging after reading my post yesterday on the FPPC taking an interest in the Rose Bowl Game and Rose Parade tickets given each year to Pasadena City Council members. Since computer troubles prevent him from posting this on his Star-News blog, I'll post the entire report here:
State Looking Into Council TofR Freebies

Former Star-News star reporter Gary Scott points us in his blog to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which has set its eyes on the free Rose Parade and Rose Bowl tickets Pasadena City Council members get each year.

Turns out that so far the FPPC, the state's political ethics watchdog, has been treating the tickets council members dole out to friends and supporters as having "no value." That is because they are technically "tickets to a nonprofit or political fundraiser."

Apparently the FPPC is now considering treating such tickets at "face value of the ticket less any amount of the ticket price that is indicated as a donation to the nonprofit or, in the alternative, the fair market value of any food, beverage, and entertainment provided to the individual."

So what does that really mean for Council members? According to the FPPC's own investigation when they last examined this issue in 2004, Mayor Bill Bogaard gets about 150 to 230 Rose Parade grandstand tickets from the Tournament of Roses each year, while individual council members get about 120 a piece. Sharp Seating, the Rose Parade's official grandstand seating provider, is currently selling tickets for anywhere between $42 and $85 a seat. So at the state's current gift limit of $390 for elected officials, even at the lower end of the pricing range an FPPC rule change would end up cutting the mayor and council's maximum allotment to a measly nine tickets each.

The Rose Bowl tix are, of course, a totally different story. According to the FPPC, the 2005 face value price for a ticket to the big game was $125, which would reduce the four free tickets council members were receiving at that time to three if the state's gift limit were applied. But who the heck gets Rose Bowl tickets at face value? is already selling tickets to next year's game -- at a range of between $299 and $599. That means that if the FPPC changes the rules, Council members would get no more than one freebie -- and it better not be on the 50-yard line.

Furthermore they would have to report nearly all the tickets on their yearly economic interest forms (Form 700), because state law requires any gift valued over $50 to be listed.

Suffice it to say that, if the rules change, there are gonna be a whole lot of council friends/family/contributors watching America's favorite parade and game with the rest of us.... on TV, unless they want to camp out overnight on Colorado for a good seat.

FPPC is requesting public comment on the issue at, or by telephone at (916) 327-2020.

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