Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Today's Campaign Finance Reform HEARING -- and coverage in the P-G on the scarlet letter

The P-G article and my quote:

"I think you'll be laggards if you vote no on this," added Mark Rauterkus, a member of an advisory committee that has been honing the legislation for years. He proposed that violators be barred from receiving any city money -- including their salaries if they are city officials or employees.

The article says 9 out of 10 people who spoke were in favor of the bill. I spoke under the column of "comments." That is neither FOR nor AGAINST -- but -- clearly I'm in favor of getting something onto the books.

Labor opposes city campaign contribution limits
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Nine out of 10 speakers at a public hearing today on proposed city of Pittsburgh campaign finance reform favored the idea, but the lone opponent was a representative of organized labor, a powerful political player.

"The bill limits the voice of the working class by restricting the amounts that can be given by political action committees," said Dave Vinski, of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation, who said he was speaking on behalf of Allegheny County Labor Council President Jack Shea. Unions often form PACs to contribute to candidates that they favor.

"Creating limits will stymie transparency," Mr. Vinski continued. "Loopholes are always found, no matter how well-intentioned a proposal is."

His was decidedly the minority view on legislation by Councilman William Peduto that would bar any individual from giving more than $2,500 to a candidate for city office, and any partnership or political action committee from donating more than $5,000.

"This bill proposes a very common-sense, reasonable approach," said Barbara Grover, a board member of the League of Women Voters. She said 75 cities have enacted limits on campaign contributions.

{Insert my quote here -- shown above)

Under Mr. Peduto's proposal, if a person made a campaign contribution at the maximum level, he or she would be ineligible for any no-bid contracts from the city. The city's Ethics Hearing Board would be charged with advertising the new limits and hearing any complaints of violations. The controller's office would be charged with placing all campaign finance reports filed by candidates on a Web site.

It is based on a Philadelphia ordinance that survived a legal challenge that went to the state Supreme Court.

Council expects to hold a special meeting on the proposal next month, and then vote on it.

I had to speak and run out of the meeting to get my son after school. I didn't NOT watch the speakers that came after me. But, I'll tune in on the weekend on the tape re-broadcasting. My statement should be posted in a day or so.


Anonymous said...

John K. says: It takes a libertarian to determine how much free speech I am allowed to have. Isn't that special.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Moron John K would think that buying candidates is the same as free speech.

John K has free speech even with campaign finance measures. You can always place an AD, own a newspaper, print any editorial, and talk away as you wish.

Nobody listens, of course. You don't make sense.

Free speech and campaign finance in this realm are NOT connected.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: Who buys candidates? We vote with our dollars. And the fact that you cannot raise any money at all and get more than 10% of the vote means just what it means. You can't carry the message. And your solution to your problem is to limit my free speech. Like I have been saying Rauterkus, your message is getting out and it is being rejected by everyone except for liberal lefties who love Govt control.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Money buys things -- or people -- and candidates.

Nobody votes with dollars in a democracy.

Votes are for elections. Elections are not for sale.

In an election, it is one vote for one person. In a marketplace where things are purchased, money matters.

This isn't about "ME." It is about principles.

The solution is NOT to limit FREE SPEECH. There is NOT any limit being suggested -- unless it is wrongly stated by YOU.

Jason said...

Campaign Finance - as we have seen at the national level campaign finance reform does not take the money out of politics it only redirects it away from the only person we can hold responsible for how it is spent. Now we have 3rd parties doing the dirty work for campaigns and special interest groups and the candidates can easily maintain plausible deniability. What we need is comprehensive, timely reporting. Individuals and organizations should be able to give as much money as they want to whomever they want. And we should know about it as soon as it happens. We can then hold the candidate responsible based on out INDIVIDUAL positions and belief systems.

Adding a law (created by elected law makers) that directs money, coerces individuals to give or limits their right to give is a bad idea. By default when you take away somebodies right to do something one way ... and they are forced to find another venue ... you are taking away a freedom. In some cases this is a necessity. Financing elections is not one of them.

Mark do not call me a moron. It is not a becoming habit. Feel free to use your critical thinking capability to discuss my arguement.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Jason, I won't call YOU a bad name -- as it would be far from the truth.

John K is another matter.

As a joke, 3rd parties don't do the dirty work ... in that 3rd parties are Libertarians, Greens, Indies, etc. (ha, ha)

I understand what you wrote. I just had to giggle.

Swiftboaters are sorta what you meant. The attack groups.

In my handout yesterday at the public hearing, I suggested that the best way to get what we really need is to have a referendum or two... I agree, the members on council, and the signature of the mayor, makes it hard to get real reform on campaigns. But, I feel it might be a slam dunk to craft a few points that the people would support as per changes in the city code/city charter on this matter.

On the other hand.... I like laws that limit the right of the city to give out no bid contracts. The city in the giving role is bad. There are plenty of no bid contracts. And, there are plenty of ways that limits in that realm are important.

Ending all no bid contracts would be great. And, it seems, we have many big-time givers getting these no bid contracts. Go figure.

So, all in all, I'm with you. I want real-time reporting. I want big time punishments if there are some measures in place.

As to having a 'right to buy candidates' -- humm. The gov. took away freedoms of some when there were rules written and enforced that plantation owners could not own slaves. The plantation owners had property/people/slaves. That became illegal.

Today we still might have a case where developers have candidates and in turn elected officials who are paid for / purchased / owned and controlled. The developer's (big money interest) sees a contraction in their flexibility/rights/freedoms.

Frankly, I'm not sure I see that as a protected right -- as in constitutional right. It is a shared space (politics) where I don't want campaigns to be controlled by the wealthy.

Any individual can advance without controls on one's chatter, talk, and their own messages. But, the direct link to the candidate could be a relationship that is 'guarded.'