Truly, I do it for you. I use my time, talent, and treasure to help our government to become honest and accountable to us. We need the kind of honesty George Washington displayed. He not only told his father that it was he who chopped down the cherry tree but he also did not seek to hold on to power as the President of the United States. Additionally, we need honesty like Abraham Lincoln showed. He earned the nickname "Honest Abe" because he was a man of honesty and integrity. He was always so. When he was a store clerk as a young man and he accidentally short-changed an elderly woman, he walked miles to return only a few pennies. Time and time again, throughout his life, he lived up to his nickname. Lincoln knew how to bring people together. After the terrible civil war, he signed into law the national holiday of Thanksgiving, believing it would unify the country at least once a year. And it did. (The lady who proposed the holiday had been trying for 17 years to have it enacted.)
Though I'm neither Washington nor Lincoln, and nor am I the second coming of Jesus Christ, I am maybe the second coming of President Ronald Reagan.
I have always had a passion to help my fellow men and women.
And, in the United States, this boils down to money.
Let me bring you up to speed.
On Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, there was an article on the front page of the local newspaper, the Long Beach Press Telegram, about my fiscal transparency "Get Naked" banner, including a full color photo of the banner on page 7. Click here to see the article. Additionally, local TV News Stations CBS 2 at 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. had me on the news, and KCAL 9 had me on at 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., as well. Click on the video here below to see the full news story.
The publicity brought my idea to the forefront. I thank these media outlets publicly for this. It helped my message get out there.
Needless to say, there isn't a politician to my knowledge who has implemented my fiscal transparency idea yet. Truly, I hope the residents of Long Beach elect me. I need the authority to great things for everyone, like www.postthefinances.com
Now, to bring you up to date, in 2013, I paid $500 of my own money to attend and meet Fox's O'Reilly Factor host Bill O'Reilly at his "Bolder and Fresher" tour along with Dennis Miller at the Nokia in Downtown Los Angeles. I had prepared a letter for O'Reilly and Miller and gave it to them asking them to interview me. To date, no interview. I could have used the $500 for a day trip to Disneyland but I chose to help you instead.
Additionally, in October 2013, I paid about $1,500 to attend the California Republican Convention in Anaheim, CA, to meet Texas Governor Rick Perry at a VIP Social to ask him to implement post the finances in his state. I got a photo with him there, and, beyond that, I had the good fortune to meet former President Ronald Reagan's son Michael Reagan. I spoke with him about his father's awesome Presidential Library that my wife and daughter had recently seen, as well as my idea of post the finances. His eyes lit up and he seemed to liked the idea. He took out his business card and asked me to contact him. I did so, but he has not returned my phone call yet.
Beyond that, several years ago, I met with California State Controller John Chiang personally at his downtown office, along with California's Chief Operating Officer John Hiber to discuss my idea of posting the finances. My impression of both men was extremely positive, and we spoke for about an hour about it. They said they were working on transparency in the government. I had asked them to start just with the California State Lottery to show the citizens of California how the money really helps our kids. I said that I was given the financial information, I would be able to post all of it to the Web within 90 days. They thanked me for my time, and said they were working on it. And I haven't heard from then since. Sigh.
But as you can tell, I'm relentless and passionate about having our government honest and accountable to us.
So, really, how are your finances?
In this rotten recovery economy, most of us are still struggling, but whose fault is it?
My answer is every single U.S. politician.
Because they all continue to not only tax us, trying to disguise it by using words like fees, but they continue to hide our money when they should be posting all their finances to the Web daily, so we can all see them.
Moreover, they impose these taxes and fees everywhere, from our electric bills to our phone bills. Though these charges seem to be only pennies, think how much money you'd have if every American gave you a penny. There are 300 million plus Americans. If you had 300 million pennies, in other words, you would have 3 million dollars. Would that help you in this economy? I think so.
We need to stop these taxes and fees with percentages, so Americans will know exactly how much they're being taxed, but that's another issue.
Let's first see our money daily, posted to the Web.
Benjamin Franklin famously said, If you watch your pennies, your dollars will take care of themselves. Just like a penny earned is a penny saved. Just put all your pennies in a piggy bank at home and see how much you'll earn in a year. Let's not let our government take it away only to waste it.
Let me horrify you here.
During the past 14 years, I have contacted three U.S. Presidents—Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton—every member of Congress, the 50 State Governors, the Mayors of the 200 largest U.S. cities, all the members of the California State Legislature, the L.A. County Supervisors and L.A. Council, requesting they post daily all their finances to the Web for fiscal honesty and accountability. This will stop waste, fraud, duplicity and corruption, from the Department of Education to the State Lotteries. The salaries and perks of every single politician should also be posted. To date, they have not posted their finances daily. I believe they're all crooks and should be in prison behind bars. What do you think?
Who is an accessory to this robbery of citizens known as taxes and fees? The broadcast TV News management, anchors, news reporters and commentators, who refused to interview me or even report about my quest for fiscal honesty. I wish local Fox Anchor Christine Devine or KNBC's Anchor Kent Shocknek would do a story on this, as well as national figures such as CBS's Katie Couric and NBC's Brian Williams and commentators like Bill O'Reilly and talk show host, CNN's Piers Morgan. With all their power, they could help to alleviate economic hardship by publicizing this campaign.
Nevertheless, my love for this land called the United States, especially its citizens, continues.
I have passed along several other gems about fiscal honesty on my Facebook page. Feel free to add me:
Politicians justify their own jobs by creating new laws that we don't need. We need to put a moratorium on new laws for two years, purge the antiquated laws and bad laws we don't want or use. Selective law enforcement isn't law enforcement.
Like compound interest, every day, we have compound laws. Soon we will have so many laws we will have to complete a law just to use the restroom. It's ridiculous. We don't need that many laws.
Of course we need some laws. Like in baseball or basketball, there are rules, and an umpire or referee is there to interpret them, but they don't interfere constantly with the game.
Our government is the rule maker and has made the rules in their favor at all levels. That's why we need to take back control of the purse strings by knowing the finances daily.
As a side note, I wrote to all the members of Congress back in 1985, asking them to be "fiscally responsible" with our money. It seems that for a time Congress may have listened, but they certainly haven't been recently. So, it’s in my blood to keep hounding them.
On a happy note, when the scandal about corrupt and grossly overpaid officials broke in Bell, California, I went to the City of Bell rally and they let me speak about Post the Finances. After I had spoken, the people of Bell started to chant "Post the Finances! Post the Finances!"
It looks like it's coming—not IF, but WHEN.
The Government can audit all of us, from individuals to corporations. But we can't audit them.
And yet, it's our government.
People say we vote for the politicians who can promise the most stuff, but we need politicians who promise fiscal accountability.
At the moment, politicians spend our money not as if they were billionaires like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey or Bernie Madoff, or Hollywood elite like Steven Spielberg, Wesley Snipes or Robert Downey, Jr., but as if they're trillionaires.
This must and will stop. We must post all the finances to the Web daily.
Do you know the government not only issues cars to politicians but also gas credit cards as well as credit cards for expenses?
California cities are now posting information about officials’ salaries in the wake of the Bell scandal, but what financial abuses other than salaries are hiding beyond taxpayers’ view? Cities like Vernon and El Segundo are coming under scrutiny as well.
California State Controller John Chiang said, as quoted in the Daily Breeze, "The absence of transparency is a breeding ground for waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars.” I hope he will apply this statement broadly to include all government expenditure, not just salaries, including his office. I have emailed him, asking him to post his office expenses and his office staff salaries to the Web daily.
At the moment California is doing very badly on that level.
The United States Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG), gave the California website a "D" on providing online access to government spending data.
This is what US PIRG says:
32 states allow residents to access checkbook-level information about government expenditures online. Checkbook-level transparency allows viewing of individual government transactions. The majority of these states (29) also enable residents to search expenditures by vendor name or type of service purchased.
Twenty-five states, including California, are “emerging states” with transparency Web sites that provide less comprehensive information and, in some cases, are not searchable by vendor or service.
Eighteen other states are “lagging states,” whose online transparency efforts fail to meet the standards of Transparency 2.0.
According to the Sunshine Review, the state of California:
Does not provide information on state-paid lobbying and agency lobbying contracts.
Does not provide detailed, downloadable, information on individual contracts entered into by Departments/Agencies with vendors for IT and non-IT services and consulting services.
Does not provide detailed information on payments to vendors that can be compared to salaries for state employees.
Does not update contract information on a regular basis.
Does not include dollars allocated for contracting in State budget.
California, it’s time to improve!
Are you ready to have someone help you out of your financial mess as well as the government's?
I have come full circle with this "Post the Finances".
In 2010, I ran as a Write-In Candidate for Governor of California.
I asked both Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, through Facebook, to talk about posting California finances to the Web daily, starting their first day in office. This would include all their daily governor's office finances, the California Lottery and every one of those invisible government boards, committees and commissions. Even after Jerry Brown won the gubernatorial election, I posted a comment on his Facebook page asking him to post all California finances.
And just think—if the local Los Angeles broadcast media had talked to me as a viable candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles in 2001, we would have already thwarted this economic crisis by seeing and reining in the runaway spending, waste, fraud and corruption. I told the news directors they were chickens and they should abide by the "Equal Time" law for the 16 candidates. I even sent them each a raw chicken from head to toe via overnight mail! One news director at NBC didn't open it for more than a week. It smelled rotten in the news room, like our government at every level and the broadcast news media for not reporting about it. Of course, that was prior to 9/11.
Additionally, just think—in 2003, I made it almost to the finish line with my State ballot initiative to have the finances posted. I just lacked the money to get signatures gathered to place the measure on the ballot. One rich guy, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon called me on the phone, and another rich guy, Rep. Darrell Issa, Republican, spoke to me. But neither offered me the money to gather the signatures to put the initiative on the ballot.
Just think, if Meg Whitman who mailed me a Christmas Card in 2009, had sent me a check for $2 million, instead of wasting $160 million on her failed gubernatorial campaign, how that would have help her fellow Californians. Oh, well.
California could have written me in on the ballot: Steve Mozena for Governor so I could have implemented this long-overdue measure.
But no one knew that I was even running.
But now, the saga continues as I still try get our political system honest.
We need it in California and in the nation as a whole. We are told that the economy is recovering but economists are calling it the “jobless recovery.”
Nearly five years after the federal stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, was passed, unemployment in the U.S. is still unacceptably high.
The financial industry may be recovering, but where are the jobs? Surveys show that people think the federal stimulus helped the banks far more than it helped ordinary people.
The worst thing about it is that it’s impossible for ordinary citizen to check up on what has happened to all that stimulus money.
The Obama administration, with a great deal of fanfare, established a website, recovery.gov, in the name of financial transparency.
But the site has failed to deliver on its promise, which is “to allow taxpayers to see precisely what entities receive Recovery money in addition to how and where the money is spent.”
The website was re-launched at the end of September 2009, and a Maryland company was paid a cool $9.5 million to redesign it, with a further $8.5 million to operate it until 2014.
But take a look at recovery.gov. As a website, it’s hard to use and gives only general, and often out of date information and incorrect information.
If this is what the Obama administration calls transparency, they have set the bar pretty low.
It does not do what it is supposed to do. It does not track the finances.
It does not include a checkbook register so that anyone can see at a glance where the money has been spent.
That is why I am continuing to promote my idea of “post the finances.”
Politicians talk all the time about fiscal transparency, but neither the federal government nor any state government has yet taken the plunge and put every dime of its income and expenditure on a publicly accessible and searchable website. This has become the most urgent issue of our time.
It is our money. We deserve to know how it is being spent.
Let me explain further.
Post the Finances is a simple but revolutionary idea that will change the face of politics and government.
Simply put, Post the Finances is a system to post daily all government finances, at all levels of government, to the Internet in the form of a simple online checkbook. We need it because we need to make our government honest.
We need to ensure that our government is not a slave to the money supplied by large corporations.
We need to ensure that politicians to not misuse taxpayer money to enrich themselves.
We need to ensure that all social programs are run responsibly, with full accountability, so that no one, politician or ordinary citizen, exploits them for their own benefit illegally and unethically.
Our economic future is at stake. The Red Dragon of China and the hi-tech economy of India loom on the horizon as emerging economic superpowers and formidable competitors.
Posting the finances is in accord with principles stated by the Obama administration.
Then-Senator Obama helped to create the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which requires a single searchable website, accessible by the public for free that includes details of each federal award.
This was a step in the right direction, but it is not good enough. We need more, more, more.
A basic system of posting the finances, to include parts of a checkbook register, was initiated by the state of Alaska. Other states have placed varying degrees of financial information online, and in Colorado and South Carolina there are groups calling for checkbook registers online.
But it's not hard to see why the politicians are dragging their feet.
Post the Finances is political dynamite. For some politicians, it would be political suicide, since they do not want us, the taxpaying citizens, to see what they do with our money behind closed doors.
They may give lip service to the idea of fiscal honesty and accountability, but they refuse to put in place a simple system that would guarantee it.
Most politicians are dedicated to helping the few, not the many.
They usually help the people who helped get them elected, and on whose support their political futures rest. Post the Finances is quite different.
It ignores the interests of the few and helps the many. It helps you, the American taxpayer.
As the Journal-Standard, a newspaper in Freeport, Illinois, wrote in an editorial, Post the Finances is "a radical move toward openness."
It is necessary because in their zeal to bail out Wall Street and large corporations, the federal government is neglecting the fact that it must be accountable to the citizens for its use of U.S. taxpayer money.
The times could hardly be more urgent, with the federal budget deficit reaching record levels and no end of it in sight.
How Post the Finances Began
The campaign for Post the Finances began ten years ago, in 2000. It was a new idea for a new century, and it became the central plank in my campaign for mayor of Los Angeles in 2001. See www.mayormozenaforla.com.
The following year, in 2002, my wife gave birth to our first child. Then it really hit me what Post the Finances was all about: safeguarding the future for our children. They are the ones we should be thinking about.
Whatever we do today is their legacy for tomorrow. I realized then that we must not leave our children a legacy of debt, waste and corruption in our government. Our government is a mirror of who we are.
Just as we want our personal lives to be honest and open, we must demand the same qualities in our government, especially in respect of how it uses our money.
Since this site was established several years ago, more than one million people have visited it.
From the response I have had, I know that Post the Finances is the way of the future. It will restore fiscal sanity to California and to the nation as a whole.
Just as our young kids today are growing up assuming that cell phones and the Internet have always been there, so the kids of tomorrow will think it's no big deal that citizens can check up on every detail of what their government is doing with taxpayers' money.
When that day comes, and it is not far off, people will wonder, How did we ever do it any other way? It will be like trying to remember a world without email. How did we all manage?
Given the inspiration that the birth of my baby girl gave me, the Post the Finances campaign kicked into high gear several years ago.
Because the political establishment in California was failing to respond to my many requests to start the Post the Finances ball rolling, I created a ballot initiative that would mandate all California government departments and agencies to post their finances to their respective Web sites every day.
If Post the Finances were to become law, ordinary citizens would be able to access, through the Internet, all the state's finances. It will be like having an open checkbook register showing all revenues and expenditures, day by day. Payees, dates, and amounts will all be shown clearly, as will income from all taxes and fees. It's as easy as online banking. We will have "open books" not "cooked books."
We need a money trail like this so we can follow the "flow of the dough" to prevent misuse of our taxes.
In this way, Californians will always be able to stop any waste and corruption instantly.
A ballot initiative is a large undertaking for a single individual. To get the initiative on the ballot, nearly 400,000 signatures are required.
For many months during 2003 I moved heaven and earth to raise the money that was needed. I contacted all the movers and shakers in California politics, from Congressman Darrell Issa, who bankrolled the recall of Governor Gray Davis, to Arnold Schwarzenegger. I received support from the now-councilman Carl DeMaio at the Performance Institute in San Diego, and encouraging words from former LA Mayor Richard Riordan.
Wherever I went I spoke about Post the Finances, and I always received an enthusiastic response.
When I spoke at the Sunday morning Prayer Breakfast at the Fall 2003 California Republican Convention, nearly 500 people broke out in spontaneous applause in support of the Post the Finances initiative.
I was invited to the Schwarzenegger inauguration in Sacramento in November, 2003, and made sure that every member of Schwarzenegger's inner circle knew about Post the Finances. I also wrote directly to Schwarzenegger, asking that he throw his weight behind the initiative.
However, to date I have received no reply, even though the Governor emphasized reform and commissioned a Performance Review to improve all aspects of government.
Why has California missed this great opportunity?
I am still seeking an appointment with the Governor to discuss the proposal directly with him. Initially, if Schwarzenegger would have issued an executive order for this, or if I would have had enough money to get the necessary signatures, as Schwarzenegger has for his numerous initiatives, I would have proposed Post the Finances to be applied systematically to just one California government department at a time.
That will allow everyone to see how the system works and enable it to be fine-tuned and integrated throughout the department. From there, every California government department can be converted to the same system.
Whether it is a local city, a state or even the federal government, my approach would be to implement the system, one department at time until it was fully operational throughout local, state or federal government.
Governors and Mayors Contacted
In July, 2004, aware of the fact that I could not rely on California to take the necessary step, I wrote to all state Governors and more than 200 mayors of the biggest U.S. cities informing them of the Post the Finances proposal.
The letters generated considerable interest.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams of Washington D.C. pointed out that his city already posts more financial information on the Internet than most other cities, and he added, "Your suggestion of posting information on a daily basis is intriguing, and I will ask the CFO to explore this option."
Mayor Bart Peterson of Indianapolis said he would consider the proposal, and M. Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut, expressed his appreciation for my taking the time to share my concerns.
From the State of Illinois, then-Governor Rod R. Blagojevich's office wrote, "We have reviewed your idea regarding posting all our finances online and we will take this suggestion into consideration."
Another encouraging response came from the office of then-Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. The letter stated, "You have raised some interesting points, and therefore I have taken the liberty of forwarding your letter to our Policy & Planning Department."
Oscar B. Goodman, Mayor of Las Vegas, also took action, writing that he had "taken the liberty of forwarding your letter to our City Manager's Office for review."
A telephone message from the office of South Carolina's Governor Sanford saluted me for "this trailblazing undertaking."
Phil Gordon, Mayor of Phoenix, also responded in a positive fashion. He wrote, "Your idea of posting all city financial transactions on the Internet to increase accountability and fiscal integrity is very creative and interesting . . . . I have taken the liberty of forwarding your letter to our Finances Department for their review. I am sure that its applicability will be carefully reviewed by our city staff."
The most promising response came from Martin J. Chavez, Mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who stated that the city of Albuquerque already had plans underway to establish a post the finances system for its city government. Although some time has elapsed since then and the system is not yet operational, I still have high hopes that Albuquerque will become the first city in the nation to implement a post the finances system.
In the Fall of 2004, I ran a vigorous campaign to win a seat on the Carson, California, City Council. At several candidate forums I advocated Posting the Finances. In the election, I received over 1,150 votes. I took encouragement from this, and ran again for a Council seat in March of 2005. Once again, Post the Finances was a vital part of my platform. Although I did not win election, many more people became aware of the Post the Finances.
Pushing for this fundamental reform of the way our government at all levels handles our money is an uphill struggle, but I am determined to continue it.
In politics, the issue of fiscal honesty is never far from the surface.
The Campaign in Los Angeles and Southern California
In the March, 2005, campaign for mayor of Los Angeles, Mayor James Hahn's campaign was dogged by charges of financial impropriety. His challenger, Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, said he was for fiscal transparency, but he said nothing of posting the finances. I informed both candidates of my plan, so they could have the excuse that they knew nothing about it.
During the campaign for the run-off election in May 2005, I publicly called on each candidate to make a promise to enact Post the Finances if they were elected. After Hahn was defeated, I called on him to issue an Executive Order to enact Post the Finances before he left office on July 1. He didn't do it. So far, Mayor Villaraigosa hasn't had either the fiscal honesty or guts to institute the Post the Finances system.
The urgency of the matter was brought home to me that month of May, when there were some egregious examples of government corruption in southern California. In Carson, Robert Pryce, the attorney who brokered a votes-for-cash scheme between former Carson Mayor Daryl Sweeney and a refuse company, was sentenced to prison.
In San Diego, Mayor Dick Murphy resigned as a federal probe continued of San Diego's pension fund. Then the acting mayor of San Diego, Michael Zucchet, was convicted, along with a city councilman, of taking illegal campaign cash from a strip club owner in exchange for legislative favors.
The corruption just goes on and on, but there is a solution.
And, recently, the Journal-Standard, in Freeport, Illinois, became the first newspaper in the nation to endorse Post the Finances.
The editorial was titled, "Information can do what 'reform' can't," and it argued that a Post the Finances system, "would go a long way to mitigate the enabling activities of government agencies and their accounting methods that too often serve to either obscure various expenses or needlessly delay reporting them to ensure individual lawmakers can't be connected to political favors, votes, appointments and other efforts to reward an outside benefactor."
The editorial concluded, "So perhaps it is finally time to subject our politicians and bureaucrats to . . . scrutiny and let sunshine - the disinfecting power of openness - do its work on a government that is increasingly selling out our democratic soul to the highest bidder."
I applaud the Journal-Standard for its vision and courage.
I hope it will be the first of many newspapers to call for the instituting of Post the Finances.
I also hope and expect many more ordinary citizens to take up the challenge and call for Posting the Finances.
As for myself, I will continue to work towards that end, using whatever ideas and resources I have. In the late fall of 2006, I published my book, Anchoring America in Stormy Times: My Voyage to Discover the American Dream, in which the opening chapter is devoted to Post the Finances.
I mailed a copy of the book to more than a hundred influential leaders in the United States in the fields of politics, entertainment, TV news, religion and business. Recipients included President George W. Bush, former President Bill Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, Senator John McCain, Former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, TV news personality Bill O'Reilly, TV commentator Larry King, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Reverend Jerry Falwell, Pastor Joel Osteen, Dr. James Dobson, RCA Chairman Clive Davis, Fox Newscorp's Chair Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump, singer Barry Manilow, actor Ed Asner and many others. I hope these leaders will support fiscal transparency.
Some wrote to thank me. Click here to see an image of Governor Schwarzenegger's reply that he would read the book after the holidays.
You can order a copy of Anchoring America in Stormy Times: My Voyage to Discover the American Dream from www.amazon.com by clicking here.
Along with my wife Lucille, I ran again as a candidate for Carson City Council in the election of March 6, 2007. My main goal was to get the Council to make Carson a model city for the post the finances program. That remains my goal. Carson will then lead the nation and other cities will follow its example. See www.mozena.com.
Eventually the message of Post the Finances will get through to the politicians. They will realize they can no longer hide behind a wall of financial secrecy and must open up the books for everyone to see.
No longer will we have politicians and their friends becoming millionaires at the public expense, but an informational system that will help millions of American taxpayers ensure their money is spent wisely and well.
The Post the Finances fuse may seem long now, but eventually this stick of political dynamite will explode, with devastating results for those politicians, bureaucrats and others connected with our government who have taken advantage of our political system.
Then, and only then, will the bells of financial freedom and accountability ring out from sea to shining sea.
Wow, what an inspiring sound that will make.
Who could have known that the ringing would begin in the city of Bell, California, with the scandal of corrupt officials paying themselves huge salaries.
Finally, let me say that I have written for 10 years about fiscal transparency. If I am ever given the opportunity in public life to implement it, I will do so, without any equivocation. I'll put all government financial information where it should be—online, daily.