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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mazziotti's Pay-to-Play Ban - First Step in Erasing the Stench

Vic Mazziotti
Lehigh County Commissioner Vic Mazziotti's pay-to-play proposal, which I told you about yesterday, is outlined below. He called local campaign finance a "moral crisis" in which "we have an obligation to do something." He considers his proposal "a first step in trying to erase the stench and and stain left my Mike Fleck and those who worked with him."

Admitting he's only one person, he asserted that "I'm still one person" and intends to advocate for campaign finance reform beyond Lehigh County. In addition to making a presentation at Lehigh county's Board on Wednesday, he will also bring his proposal to Allentown's City Council at their next meeting and even intends to ask the NIZ Board to implement it. "I'm going to push it," he insisted. "I'm going to push it real hard."

Mazziotti explained that the "hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who do nothing."

Will Northampton County take up this matter, too? I've spoken to some Council members, who seem interested in Mazziotti's proposal, or at least some form of it.

I asked NorCo Council to consider pay-to-play reforms in the early 2000s. It was supported by Ron Angle, Joe Brennan, and believe it or not, Wayne Grube. But it never went anywhere because Council was concerned that state campaign finance laws might trump a local government's ability to regulate campaign finance.

That question was answered after Philadelphia adopted its own campaign finance laws, and the state supreme court sustained it against a complaint filed by unions and luminaries like Chaka Fattah.

So there is nothing holding anyone back now, except for the lure of money.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Vic, I sure hope you run for higher office and live in either district of shit for brains Schlossberg or what ever it is I'm told to do Schweyer because I will vote for you.

Anonymous said...

Come on man, Northampton County?? No way. They will never adopt this. Like the other poster said, they would not even enforce existing county law when the Stoffa cabinet member took a job with a county contractor illegally. If you are going to pick and choose when you enforce laws what good are they.

This is just for show. Vic should really look into his own county executive and that massive fund raiser that ended up in Flecks pocket and a ritzy country club reception instead of what it was going for. Old Musty Muller wears those dollar bill suspenders for a reason.

Anonymous said...

Agree with anon 2:55. Vic should not worry about Northampton County they are a lost cause. He does have reasons to do this in Lehigh County. When all the details of the fundraising by Fleck/Muller are known the county will want to have been proactive.

Good job Vic!

michael molovinsky said...

vic and his fellow commissioners have already failed morally, with their failure to make meaningful improvements to cedarbrook, year after year. By the time they're done studying the issue, it will be ready for the bulldozer. campaign finance reform certainly hasn't helped philadelphia, or any governmental entity. new rules are just political puzzles, inviting creative loopholes. vic and the commissioners have the opportunity to act morally with the numerous issues that come before them. we see in Reading just how absurd rules in themselves can be. mm

Anonymous said...

Mr. molovinsky hit the nail squarely on the head. Vic stop your idiotic showboating and do something for Lehigh County besides enacting more laws that go on top of other laws. Fix cedar brook

Anonymous said...

"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who do nothing"? Somehow, I don't that quote really applies to campaign finance reform.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky and 8:47 -

I think it's more than a bit unfair to blame Cedarbrook's woes on Mazziotti, or any of the current commissioners. After all, residents have been four to a room at Cedarbrook for a long time, not just recently.

If you want to blame someone, blame the person who was there when surplus money for improvements got sucked back to the general fund to balance the budget. Or when surplus monies for improvements got "card-checked" away to buy votes from Cedarbrook employees.

Who's that person? None other than Tom Muller. Not exactly the bystander that he likes to portray himself as.

Cedarbrook is hardly ready for a bulldozer, but there is an obligation to ALL parties to get it right, and make sure it's sustainable for the future. If that takes some extra time, so be it.

Mazziotti and the other commissioners seem to want to get it right. Muller's concern likely stops when it's no longer an election issue.

Anonymous said...

Mazzioti is a bright guy limited by ideological inflexibility and association with the Poor Little Rich team of self funding Fat Cats and Kittens.
Poor Lehigh County, it's county seat sinking in a sea of collapse while the suburbs flounder and fiddle around.

Bernie O'Hare said...

MM, the topic here is campaign finance reform, not Cedarbrook. Campaign finance reform certainly hasn't hurt Philadelphia, but I reject the notion that there should be no law because people find a way to get around it. Under that reasoning, there should be no law against murder or bank robbery.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, your post associated the finance reform with morality. as someone who has advocated in front of the commissioners on behalf of cedarbrook, i find my comment quite relevant. of course, i also found gracedale to be a moral obligation, which you did not. what would your reaction be if lisa scheller proposed the ordinance, instead of vic mazzioti?

Anonymous said...

Good grief!

Can't we just agree it's something that's needed, and not worry about who's proposing it?

We can argue about what other "moral obligations" the county has, but let's focus on one problem at a time. How many FBI raids in the area are needed before we realize we need to do something?

I find it surprising that a former statewide candidate who is rightfully reminding us how corrupt the system has become is among the first to criticize someone who's trying to fix the system.

Would I expect this legislation to solve every problem? Of course not. But it certainly seems like a step in the right direction.

Chris Casey said...

I agree with Vic's proposed solution. But I will always be a cynic who questions motives. I also look at prior acts. Vic still has the stench of being an Woodman/Ott puppet on him. The reassessment he helped push thru in Lehigh County raised the property tax on our home about 15%. So I am admittedly not a big fan.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am deleting a wholesale cut-and-paste job from The Morning Call, making the point that LC Comm'r candidates were heavily financed. First, I am soirry but I hate when people do that. I prefer seeing a link to the story instead of some mess that even includes a page number. Second, you miss the point. While it is true that money played a huge role in that race, and that it was spent against someone I suppport and admire, the money does not appear to have come from county vendors. Moreover, the reform has to start with people who are playing the current game under the rules that are in place now.

Elijah LoPinto said...

While this is a nice band aid that could stop us from bleeding out so much public money to donors it is only a band aid. Real reform is needed, Changes to the very way campaigns are financed are needed. Just putting a one year limit of private no bid contracts does nothing to stop year two contracts or favorable choices in public bid contracts.

I'm not going to get into what I think these systemic changes should be here, I'm only pointing out that this is at best a minor fix that does little to nothing in the long run much the same way the changes to Allentowns city Charter in 94 did little to nothing to effect the mayors powers of corruption.

~Elijah LoPinto

michael molovinsky said...

elijah, someone who was on the committee that formulated the charter suggested at last council meeting that they should form a new city charter, as if that will make a difference. although the 94 charter rejected the manager concept, pawlowski hired a manager anyway, at a salary higher than his own. we don't need rules on ethics, we need ethical people making the rules. mm

Bernie O'Hare said...

MM, I'd argue we do need rules, not just ethical people making them. Take this ban, for instance. There is nothing per se wrong about someone getting a government contract after making a contribution to a government official. It's completely legal. In many contexts, it may even be ethical. But it creates a tench, as Vic puts it. And in most cases, the contribution is made for all the wrong reasons. A ban removes any uncertainty in anyone's mind.

Canary_In_Coalmine said...

In a perfect world we would ban contributions from anyone employed by or holding a beneficial interest in businesses or unions that may compete for government contracts.

If the above is unconstitutional, might we do the opposite? Can we bar campaign contributors from winning government contracts?

Canary_In_Coalmine said...

My tired eyes just saw the fine print of Mazziotti's proposal. Hope it succeeds.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Canary, Note that this ban applies only to no-bid contracts.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Me, too.

Canary_In_Coalmine said...

We need it to go farther than no-bid contracts. A family member is formerly a contractor and says that "competitive bid" contracts are very easily manipulated in ways that even an FBI investigation can fail to uncover.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:55 still make s an excellent point. If government officials pick and choose the laws they enforce, why pass them. This comes off more as a kiss your mother proposal than a serious attempt at reform.

Anonymous said...

Chris Casey,
the reassessment was long overdue...sure your taxes went up, but since it was 20 years since the last reassessment, that really means you were under-taxed for at least the past 10 years...sorry to go OT, but deal with this issue a lot and it helps if people just look beyond whether tax went up or down and search further to understand why

There are plenty of things to criticize county govt' for....reassessment is not one of them....they could save themselves a lot of pain if they would just implement a 10 year reassessment schedule that is automatic....

Robert Trotner said...

Bernie, do you have any information what time this afternoon Jeanette Eichenwald and Vic Mazziotti will hold their press conference? Will it be immediately after their 11 am meeting?