The County Voice

Thoughts of Gifts and Romance This Valentine’s Season

‘Tis the season of roses, chocolates and love.  CSAC’s research affiliate, the Institute for Local Government, is looking at such issues in a decidedly unromantic way on local officials’ behalf.

In a recent piece entitled “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places,” the Institute looks at the downside risks of elected official/staff romances.   The article is available to local officials from the Institute’s website at

No red wine and candlelight, we are afraid.  The article does, however, continue the Institute’s mission of alerting local officials to situations which, like too much red wine, can leave one with a giant headache or worse after the fact.

Speaking of chocolates, roses, meals and other such gestures, the Institute has updated its online gift resource center to explain the Fair Political Practices Commission’s most recent changes to the Political Reform Act’s gift regulations.

Those include recent changes to the rules relating to the travel, explained at TravelRelatedGiftExceptions.  The brainchild of Institute board member and Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, the Institute’s Gift Resource Center ( offers local officials a plain language explanation of the rules relating to gift acceptance, reporting and limits for California public servants.

This includes the recently added exceptions, under certain circumstances, for what the Fair Political Practices Commission calls “bona fide dating relationships.”  See  (Strike a small victory for romance in California’s fabric of ethics laws.)

Geeks that we are, the Institute for Local Government isn’t waxing particularly poetical about love and romance this Valentine’s season.  We do, however, continue to be passionate about our mission of supporting good government at the local level with practical, impartial and easy-to-use materials to help local officials be maximally successful in their service to their communities.  And success in public service is our Valentine’s Day wish for all local officials.

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