Monday, April 20, 2009

End Pay to Play Legislative Package

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto will introduce a 5-bill package tomorrow that he says will help end the so-called "pay to play politics" in the city of Pittsburgh. Peduto's proposals involve everything from limiting campaign contributions to registering lobbyists to eliminating no-bid contracts. Peduto says you "can't break the culture of pay to play politics if you just pass one of the bills...together they begin to loosen the bolts of the new 21st Century machine politic and its influence of money on decision-making."
One proposal would limit campaign contributions for mayor and controller to $2,000 from an individual and $4,000 from a political action committee(PAC). For council campaigns, the limits would be $1,000 and $2,000 respectively. Those amounts could be contributed in the primary and the general elections. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl earlier this year introduced a proposal to limit contributions for mayor, controller and council to a total of $4,600 from an individual and $10,000 from a PAC for the entire election cycle. Peduto says that allows the entire amount to be contributed for the Primary Election which is the key race in Pittsburgh (because of the city's heavily Democratic registration edge). Peduto's legislative package also includes creation of an online searchable database for all campaign contributions and contracts.
Peduto is also proposing eliminating all no-bid contracts for all contracts over $30,000. On Friday, Mayor Ravenstahl removed an exception from the no-bid contracts for professional service providers such as attorneys and financial advisers where the contract is above $30,000. However, Peduto says an executive order could be changed by the next mayor and it's important to put the no-bid changes into the city code.
The councilman also wants to require all bids for city contracts to disclose any finder's fees or payments to lobbyists or consultants, and that all lobbyists register annually with the city.
Peduto says the timing for these proposals is right because the primary for mayor and half of council is next month and voters should know where the candidates stand on these issues.

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