Members of Common Cause Georgia this morning will gather at City Hall in Atlanta to pitch an ordinance that would ban “pay-to-play” campaign contributions to municipal candidates – from vendors who make bundles off the city.
What makes this gathering different is the presence of Kerwin Swint, a Kennesaw State University political scientist and member of the Common Cause board.
Below is last night’s video summary from Richard Belcher and Channel 2 Action News:
The opening paragraphs of Swint’s history:
The city of Atlanta has for decades battled a governance problem. While striving to be recognized as an international city, a Mecca for business, and a destination for conventioneers and tourists, it has at times struggled to overcome its association with provincialism, institutionalized corruption and cronyism.
This struggle has been nowhere more apparent than with city contracts given to close associates, family members, and political contributors of Atlanta municipal government officials.
Exhibit A: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The history of ethical lapses and breaches of public faith with regard to Atlanta Airport contracting is unfortunately quite long, and puts Atlanta in the same league as other large cities with similar patterns of corruption, i.e. Chicago, Newark, New York, Detroit, Los Angeles,
A March 3, 2002, investigation by The Atlanta Journal Constitution found that friends of former mayors Bill Campbell and Maynard Jackson had received “the vast majority” of contracts awarded by the Atlanta Airport. In at least 80 of the 100 contracts reviewed during the investigation, one or more partners had a relationship with one or both former mayors. Most were campaign contributors.
Atlanta can take some solace in the fact that it is participating in a long tradition:
The problems of pay-to-play are at least as old as 1299, when a Florentine company prevailed on the British Crown to partner a silver mine. America has a rich heritage of pay for play, cronyism, insider dealings and out-and-out corruption. There appears to be momentum by state and local officials to address the problems head-on.
As more and more money pours into the political process, the integrity of government contracting has become particularly suspect. Well-targeted pay-to-play restrictions can be very useful in fostering fair and open competition in the contracting process and in eliminating the appearance of buying government contracts through campaign contributions. Approximately 20 states have such laws in place, along with numerous local jurisdictions.
Just in time for Georgia’s charter school crisis, former President Bill Clinton will be in Atlanta later this month to speak at a national conference on the topic, according to the Associated Press.
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools will hold its annual meeting June 20-23. Clinton will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington, D.C.-based organization.
Other speakers at the conference include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker.
The meeting is the largest gathering of charter school advocates in the country. At least 4,000 people are expected to attend.
The Augusta Chronicle reports that city officials have approved placing the matter of a new minor league baseball stadium on the 2012 general election ballot.
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver and other community leaders have been studying the idea of building a stadium complex which would be home to the city’s minor league baseball team, the Augusta GreenJackets.
AJC’s Politifact Georgia has awarded GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain a “pants on fire” for denying that he ever said he wouldn’t name a Muslim to his candidate.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider