Bouquets and Brickbats: No light shed on financing

So much for transparency. Assembly Bill 1148 — more commonly known as the California DISCLOSE Act — died in the Assembly this week, just two votes shy of the necessary two-thirds majority.

The bill would have provided voters with more information about the financing of political advertisements sponsored by vague groups operating under names like “Citizens for a Brighter Future,” or “Americans for aCleaner Planet.” Among other mandates, the bill would have required identification of the top three contributors to groups producing political ads.

We believe that would be agood thing; so do the majority of California voters. According to a California Field Poll conducted last fall, 84 percent of voters want more information about who is funding campaigns, at least when it comes to ballot measures.

Yet in the Assembly, only one Republican — brave soul — voted in favor of the measure. Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian voted against it, although he said he strongly supports more transparency in campaign finance laws.

“For me, this bill came down to a conflict between free speech and making campaign finance information more accessible to voters,” he said in a written statement. “I believe that protecting free speech outweighed the need for the additional disclosure that AB 1148 would have required. Going forward, I have already committed to working with the author to try and reach consensus on a compromise.”

We look forward to that. But for now, we don’t mind disclosing that we have a briefcase of brickbats for each Assembly member who voted against a reasonable measure that would have shone a light on campaign financing.

‘Jeopardy!’ contestant still in game

No question about it: Cal Poly student and A.G. High grad Weston Mangin earns a “Daily Double” bouquet for his first-round performance in the “Jeopardy!” college championship. In an episode that aired Wednesday, the 19-year-old handily beat out students from Harvard and Loyola, earning a spot in the semifinal round of the competition, at least $10,000 in prize money, and bragging rights for Cal Poly. And he did it all with poise, grace and good humor. In an interview, the biomedical engineering major modestly said winning the first round was a “big relief” — he was afraid he’d “totally bomb.” Stay tuned to see how Weston fares in later rounds; the tournament runs through Feb. 14.

Paso allegations must be answered

Allegations that Paso Robles police Chief Lisa Solomon has engaged in sexual harassment and other misconduct sent us straight to our stockpile of brickbats — just to make sure we have plenty on hand when and if we need them. Then we remembered some sage advice — “let cooler heads prevail!” — and we decided the best thing to do at this point is shampoo with ice water and wait until the investigation is complete. While the city isn’t saying much about the investigation, in reading between the lines we conclude that it’s enlisted an outside party to look into the allegations.

Good idea we just hope the city doesn’t try to hide behind the old “personnel matter” excuse when it comes time to share results of the investigation. Serious allegations have been raised and, whatever the conclusions, we believe the public should know what transpired.

Student gives back to homeland

We raise an American Dream bouquet for Akash Salam, the 17-year-old A.G. High student who is raising money to build a school in his home village of Karamja in Bangladesh.

Salam and his parents moved to the United States when he was 8 years old. On the day he left his small, poor village, his grandfather told him to study hard and to never forget about where he came from.

Indeed, the straight-A junior has not forgotten, and recently returned to Karamja for avisit with $5,000 he saved while working at Albertsons. He handed out school supplies and gave scholarships to five students, stressing the importance of education. Salam hopes to build a school in Karamja, which will cost about $20,000. “In the end of the day, my life will be judged by what I give back to society, to the people who still struggle to make a living,” he said.

We congratulate this star student, who is wise beyond his years, and wish him luck with his efforts.