The best politicians money can buy: money first, legislate second

I’m a failure as a candidate, because I don’t want to raise scads of money to spend with media companies like the Dayton Daily News, or their sister Channel 7. I don’t want to send attack mailings like Rhine McLin. I don’t want to engage in “sound bite politics.” The issues of Dayton can’t be solved in :30 second commercials, nor can a 3 minute speech at a candidates night tell you anything.

At the Statehouse, they are more interested in raising millions for their campaigns, than dealing with the jobs they asked for:

“According to a study released today by Ohio Citizen Action, the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate have cancelled nearly half of their 92 scheduled sessions. Members of the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate held 243 campaign finance fundraisers during this same time period. Of these fundraisers, three were cancelled.

via Money in Politics.

In Dayton, we scare people away from running with a political machine that stacks the deck against challengers. First, we make the standard for gathering signatures ten times higher than you need to run for Congress (yes, CONGRESS IN WASHINGTON). Then we have a dominant party that endorses not just before a primary, but before the petitions are even turned in. Then challengers face a machine that is guaranteed workers from unions (even though city policy has rules against city employees working on campaigns). And as a final warning, the 60 day before the election warning shots come with the campaign finance reports- showing the incumbents to have a war chest of $100K and are still raising money.

Just to put that in perspective, when we spend $100K on a client for advertising in Dayton- it is a pretty solid showing for an ENTIRE year if used carefully.

Politicians even get a “special political rate” from the media that’s supposed to be the guaranteed minimum. Since we hold elections in the critical fourth quarter (when many businesses spend up to 75% of their ad budgets) this process actually ends up interfering with private businesses and raising their costs to buy media. During the last presidential campaign, many businesses were unable to buy any advertising until after the election.

Term limits aren’t an answer. In fact, one of the only interesting things I’ve heard out of Rhine in all her candidates nights, was that States with term limits are the ones facing the biggest problems right now. (It’d be great if someone can find something that substantiates this).

The only answer is campaign finance reform. Real campaign finance reform. I envision a single system that’s run by a non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides absolute transparency. Real time reporting- with real time donor lists. There would be a single portal for all campaigns, with all payments made going directly into a debit card- which must be used for all payments.

Donors would not be able to fudge names, employers or hide behind cover. All would be searchable. This would eliminate the kind of shenanigans as practiced by local company QBase, where employees were forced to donate to candidates and elected officials including Congressman Steve Austria and Governor Ted Strickland.

Voters would be able to see clearly, complete with charts and graphs, of how much their candidate is “owned” by specific industries or special interests. If there is any question about why Rhine McLin and Nan Whaley keep talking about demolition of homes, it’s because they received over $15,500 from a demolition contractor who lives outside of Columbus.

I’d also like to see restrictions on dollars that can be spent. I used to think that it would be great to cap dollars by the amount of money the seat actually pays- but, maybe there could be a better system that penalizes overspending. Maybe we give a figure based on total eligible voters- $1 per. If you spend more than that you must make equal contributions to a “public option fund” that would be available to be split between your challengers the next time. And, as an extra incentive to be frugal, any dollars spent above the actual turnout- would have to also go into the challengers fund: ie, you spend $100k because there are 100K registered voters. Only 20K turn out to vote- you must pay $80K back to the fund, to be used against you since you were so inefficient at garnering votes. Candidates who lose to you, get extra dollars in their next run, based on how much they spend, if it’s under the amount for the actual turnout.

Maybe if we had a system like this, politicians would be more interested in doing the right thing while in office, instead of spending most of their time trying to stay in office.

It’s this kind of innovative ideas I hope to bring to the Dayton City Commission to once again, make this city an innovator in how to run a city like it was almost 100 years ago. I’d like your help. Please consider a donation, or volunteering- head over to www.electesrati.com to do both.

And, don’t be surprised if you see a mailer from Nan with the first six words from this post. She has to spend her money somehow, and since she has accomplished very little- why not slam me with her war chest? And note, this post isn’t a sound bite either- it’s 886 words.

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