Democracy Has Prevailed.

March 26, 2009

Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and Campaign Finance Reform

Georgia Blotzer, Democratic candidate for Pittsburgh City Council District 2, released the following statement on campaign finance reform yesterday:

"My opponent in this election, Councilwoman Kail-Smith, is a cog in the special interest machine that has put so much of Pittsburgh up for sale. From her rabid support for the unremarkable policy initiatives that have done so little for the West End to her fixation on the type of politics that arranged her special election victory, Theresa Smith represents more of the same. Her recent obstruction of commonplace campaign finance reform and her acceptance of tens of thousands of dollars in large contributions now proves that."

"Gathering signatures and meeting voters during my listening tour has taught me many things about Pittsburgh, and what the residents of District 2 want in a councilmember. I am pleased to accept the suggestion of a West End neighbor in announcing my new campaign slogan:

"Georgia Blotzer: Some things aren't for sale."
City Councilor Bill Peduto has also been pushing for reform for YEARS:

Councilman William Peduto first sponsored campaign finance reform legislation in City Council in 2004 and re-introduced and passed legislation in 2008, prior to a mayoral veto. Councilman Peduto now plans to amend the Mayor and County Executive’s proposal to include three key provisions. First, an elimination of all no-bid contracts. Second, donation limits that are significantly lower than currently proposed and comparable to similarly sized cities. Finally, public access to political contributors and contracts.

“Comprehensive campaign finance reform is an essential first step in the effort to reform City government,” said Councilman William Peduto. “I will not vote for any legislation that does not include these three key provisions.”

He held a post agenda meeting on campaign finance reform on Tuesday.

Mayoral candidate Patrick Dowd in response to yesterday’s post agenda on Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s campaign finance bill, called the Ravenstahl bill “a hollow gesture that falls short of real reform.”

From his press release:

Last year, Ravenstahl vetoed a bill supported by a majority of council that imposed federal contribution limits, $2,300 per person per cycle, on municipal elections. Since his June veto, Ravenstahl has raised approximately $500,000 according to public filings.

“Luke’s attention to reform is a year late and $500,000 short,” Dowd said. “When the council passed sweeping reform in June, he blocked it, only so city contractors could keep funneling cash into his campaign."

Ravenstahl’s current proposal is a watered down version of the legislation he vetoed last year. It allows for double the limit for individual contributions, and fails to provide for transparency in electronic reporting.

More importantly, Ravenstahl's legislation places no restrictions on the awarding of no-bid contracts to contributors. In light of recent press coverage, this means the legislation fails to address the rampant pay-to-play politics currently going on in Pittsburgh.

In response to what he termed a “complete failure of leadership” on campaign finance and eliminating the appearance of impropriety in contracting, Dowd outlined his campaign finance reform agenda:

In a Dowd Administration

1) I will introduce comprehensive, common sense campaign finance legislation that is tied to federal contribution limits within the first 100 days;

2) I will end the practice of awarding no-bid contracts to campaign contributors;

3) I will ensure that every contract over $25,000 will be competitively bid;

4) As an incumbent Mayor, I will not solicit campaign contributions from any firm that does business with the City of Pittsburgh or its Authorities;

5) I will make all finance reports electronically available to the public on the state and county filing dates;

6) I will ensure the creation of and integrate searchable electronic databases of all city contracts and all campaign contributions of all city elected officials;

7) I will publish my public schedule on the city's website so that any Pittsburgher can see who I am meeting with.

Bob Mayo has a chart offered by Peduto during City Council's meeting on the topic which compares the Onorato-Ravenstahl proposal to limit political contributions to campaign finance reform in other cities. It demonstrates how seriously out of whack the O-R plan is.

The Post-Gazette reports that "Facing a potential train wreck of competing campaign reform concepts, city and county council members may create a joint committee to hash out legislation that would cap political donations to candidates, possibly even in borough and township races."

I wish I could be hopeful...

Obligatory Disclaimer: As mentioned before, I've been paid by the Georgia for Council campaign to create and maintain her web site:



EdHeath said...

Let's just exempt Mayor Ravenstahl from any limits, and limit all other mayoral candidates to public funding of thirty seven cents and a bit of lint for our collective pockets.

Maybe I will stay home on primary day and watch "The Candidate".

Anonymous said...

Blotzers criticisms of Smith are ridiculous. Smith isn't part of any special interest machine.

The only way to curb getting money to candidates and officials is to stop allowing campaign contributions. There is no final complete resolution to this problem/issue.

Bram Reichbaum said...

There is no final compete resolution to this problem/issue, and so we shouldn't do anything about it?

There is no solution to rain either, but umbrellas are still selling.

Blotzer's opponent comes from the same long lineage that brought us Deasy, Bodack, Koch, you name it. It's all the same committtee leaders who collect $$ from the same lobbyists. That's why Smith is trying to derail campaign finance reform.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Bram, you've gone way off the ranch.

Same too with the trash talking release from G.B.

Lineage review:

Koch was from O'Connor's camp. Friend of Bob.

Len B was the son of a PA Senator.

Theresa Smith is a mom and came from the ranks of public school advocates.

Make some sense.

Infinonymous said...

It might not be necessary to stay home in order to watch "The Candidate," Ed. I understand you have a good chance to see "The Candidate" if you spend time in nightclubs within a half-hour of the North Side. Or if you spend time in the vicinity of Tiger Woods, UPMC executives on expense accounts, Snoop Dogg, variance-seeking advertising executives waving around checks, businesses attempting to dodge water bills, Jim Motznik, jetsetters seeking arena subsidies, Sidney Crosby's 9-iron, drunken hooligans at sporting events, or Ben Roethlisberger.

Anonymous said...

"Blotzer's opponent comes from the same long lineage that brought us Deasy, Bodack, Koch"

Noooo way. Theresa Smith is not cut from the same cloth as Koch & Bodack.

She did help Deasy and was/is a supporter of his.

Bram Reichbaum said...

"Theresa Smith is a mom..."

Being a parent disqualifies one from being a Pittsburgh committee drone?

"...and came from the ranks of public school advocates."

Yeah, she goes to a lot of meetings. What *isn't* she an advocate for? Georgia has been an effective advocate for special education for 20 years. Theresa Smith's most energetic and effective advocacy has been for Dan Deasy. Yet she's supposed to bring change.

Infinonymous said...

I, for one, hope she uses her extensive experience in the financial field to save the city's pension funds; employs her formidable legal acumen to create an effective legal department for the city; relies on her extensive managerial experience to improve the city's performance as an employer; takes advantage of her educational credentials to overhaul the city's relationships with universities and other tax-exempt entities; and continues to exhibit the overall high-level executive leadership needed to change the manner in which city government operates, transforming Pittsburgh city from a failing city to a successful one.

That, or the West End can hope for a small extra ration of Luke-label trash cans.