Sunday, January 31, 2016
ABOUT CHANGES IN " PAY TO PLAY
Sunday night 60 Minutes devoted half of its time ti how American Lawyers assisted in Money Laundering. One lawyer commented that lawyers ran the country because they made the Laws for the benefit of the lawyers.
This letter from Alan Goldstein to the Council members regarding the changes in the “Pay to Play Ordinance is a well perceived appraisal of the proposed changes.
Dear City Council Members,
re MC 2016-04 Pay-To-Play Amendments
The Mapp Administration is trying to gut the Pay-To-Play ordinances adopted by the City Council in November 2011. These have been ignored in practice by the Mayor’s campaign committee since they were adopted, most egregiously by two vendors that utilized an East Orange joint campaign committee to funnel $9500 to the Mayor’s 2013 campaign for office, and by multiple vendors who have made contributions in violation of the prohibition against making any contributions during the term of their contracts. A mechanism for enforcement is needed, as well as a true and full understanding of what these ordinances say, not amendments that roll back restrictions. Several changes actually may make the amended ordinance less restrictive than New Jersey’s Local Unit Pay-To-Pay Law, thereby invalidating it. Wording to the effect that these changes are a response to Citizens United and “would create a more fair application of the spirit and intent of the Ordinance” are falsehoods obfuscating what would open the door to significantly more vendor cash and abuse of Plainfield’s electoral process.
Among the notable changes are:
1)Tripling the local contribution limit to $1000 from $300.
2) Permitting contributions up to the limit in all instances during the term of a contract regardless of State law prohibiting them.
3) Redefining the threshold for ownership or control, and hence what is considered to be a contribution by the business entity itself to 51%, disregarding the State mandate of anything more than 10%. This would effectively void all restrictions, as most business entities such as partnerships do not have a single majority owner.
4) Removing “solicitation” as an action that would invoke a penalty.
5) Reducing the penalty phase from four years to one year. Not that this means anything. Without enforcement, there are no penalties.
Under these circumstances I urge the City Council to reject this ordinance. I view it with a great deal of suspicion, particularly coming as it has from the Administration’s Office of Economic Development, not from the Council itself. These changes will mean the City and its officials will be even more beholden to contractors, and fully subvert the spirit and intent of the original ordinance. Moreover, changes 2 and 3 above, being less restrictive than State law would, in my view, invalidate the entire ordinance. It should also be noted that once a local unit adopts its own Pay-To-Play ordinance, the Election Law Enforcement Commission washes its hands. The only amendment should be the creation of a mechanism for local enforcement and a legitimate interest in seeing it through.