Calif. Cracks Down On Comps

Mountain View, Calif., city council members will see their allotment of tickets to Shoreline Amphitheatre reduced from about 90 to 14 freebies per year, thanks to a crackdown by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.

The council unanimously approved a tightened ticket policy April 28 in response to new rules laid down by the FPPC.

The practice of allotting the comps to the city-owned venue dates back some 20 years, and came under recent scrutiny because of complaints about similar disbursements to politicians in Southern California.

The city receives some 300 tickets to the shed per year as part of its lease income from Live Nation, according to the Mountain View Voice. Apparently, how they are used is up to the city’s discretion.

Under the new policy, council members can receive 14 free tickets, plus 10 at face value and another 10 as income that taxes must be paid on. The council member, immediate family or a single guest may use the tickets when accompanied by the official.

Mountain View council members told the paper they rarely used the tickets themselves. Similar arrangements in Southern California cities including Anaheim caused numerous complaints to be made that elected officials essentially used tickets to sporting events as a form of patronage in exchange for political support.

The new restrictions include a FPPC rule that requires cities to publicly report on their Web sites, within 30 days, how each ticket is used. With public disclosure, it’s believed that more of those freebies will end up in the hands of city volunteers and commissioners rather than political supporters.

Each member can also give up to four tickets to a nonprofit serving Mountain View.

Mountain View City Attorney Michael Mortello told the Voice that the tickets were included in the original lease with Bill Graham Presents as way of promoting the venue during the 1980s. It was carried over into the new lease after a lawsuit over rental income with operators BGP, Clear Channel Entertainment and the spun-off Live Nation.