Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Tin Cup Ordinance”

Formula for the TIN CUP Limits…Divide by Six and then Double It

By Emerson Drake

Recently, an Ordinance change passed several committee hearings and is being sent to the City Council  requesting a

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was taken by me on January 14, 2010 in Modesto, California I hereby relinquish all rights to this photo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

new, lower  level of $1,000 campaign donation limit or  TIN CUP for Council races.  In 2005 when the Council decided to raise the limit from $1,000 to $3,000 the council races were city wide. On November 7th of 2007 the voters of Modesto approved breaking Modesto into six council districts.

Since the $3,000 limit was thought more than sufficient for races encompassing the entire city, dividing the 3,000 by 6 would make $500 a reasonable limit. But the thinking was to double the amount to $1,000  and no reasonable person should have a problem.  But we’re talking about politicians who are already in office.  The higher amount of $3,000 obviously benefits incumbents who, it could be argued,  have more influence to offer donors than first time candidates. What should be crystal clear to everyone?  The lower the campaign donation limits, the less influence special interest groups have on our politicians.

It’s about leveling the playing field

The suggested changes don’t stop anyone from donating whatever amounts they choose.  The only stipulation would be that the elected officials  would have to recuse themselves (not be involved in conversations or voting) on any item brought forward by someone who donated more than $1000.   This should be satisfactory to everyone.   We’ve discussed the amounts raised by candidates  and detailed how even large amounts ($37,000 by Cogdill) can be raised without exceeding the $1,000 mark from any donor.

The influence Modesto politicians have on county politics is tremendous.  Modesto’s population equals all of the other cities in Stanislaus County combined.  We are, unfortunately, the city whose council is most likely to ignore the wishes of the people, as was demonstrated by the Council regarding Denny Jackman’s RUL proposal.  Councilman Lopez declared the 65,974 votes received by measures A-E against extending the sewer trunk lines were because of what he termed “voter fatigue” instead of the obvious message sent by voters against SPRAWL.

I encourage anyone, regardless of where you live, to express yourselves in emails to the Mayor and Council and in letters to the editor. Letters@modbee.com, mayor@modestogov.com,  jgunderson@modestogov.com, dgeer@modestogov.com, dlopez@modestogov.com,  jmuratore@modestogov.com,  sburnside@modestogov.com and dcogdill@modestogov.cov

Everyone CAN make a difference, all you have to do is try.  The following is just a suggestion.  Speak from your heart.

Subject line: Level the Playing Field

Body:  I support the lower TIN CUP levels that were recommended by the Committee.

Letters to the editor require your name, address, and phone number.


Modesto’s Tin Cup Ordinance Goes to Committee Monday at 5:00

By Emerson Drake

Last adjusted in 2005, Modesto’s  Time Is Now To Clean Up Politics or TIN CUP ordinance is being voted on for the second

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was taken by me on January 14, 2010 in Modesto, California I hereby relinquish all rights to this photo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

time by Modesto’s Safety and Community Committee.  The last time the ordinance was changed the Modesto Chamber of Commerce was the petitioner.  They actually wanted to get rid of campaign limits altogether (no surprise) but a compromise was reached at the insistence of the Councilman Garrad Marsh(Marsh wanted to keep the limit at $1,000.  A donation can be made with a limit of $3,000 before a member of the city council including the Mayor, had to recuse themselves from voting on the contributor’s bill

We’ve been trying to get the TIN CUP total rolled back for several years and the requested

levels are a $1,000 contribution for council races and $2,000 for mayor with a 48 month window.  Since 2005 we instituted council districts, there by lowering campaign costs.  A council candidate has only one sixth of the city to “get the message out”  to.

In fact there is no limit,  and will be no  limit on how much anyone can donate. It just helps keep the old quid pro quo in check.  At least that’s the goal according to some, and levels the playing fields say others. It should come out of committee unscathed since it’s the wording agreed upon by the committee during their January  meeting.  The vote then was Councilmen Geer and Gunderson voting for and Councilman Lopez against.

Councilman Lopez like to say he believes someone running for Council should have the guts to ask for $3,000 yet he doesn’t. He asks for $2,999 so he can still vote for a donors project.

For the public there is NO downside to the change.  It helps to level the playing field between average citizens and deep pocketed special interest groups.

Here are the top ten contributors for the 2012 city elections.  Some of the totals would astound you, like the over $20,000 to Brad Hawn by Stephen Endsley over one year before the elections.

1  –  Dr. Steve Endsley
2  –  David Wright
3  –  George Petrulakis
4  –  Modesto Police Officers Association PAC**
5  –  City Signs
6  –  Modesto City Firefighters COPE (PAC)
7  –  Dr. Aruna Chopra including Chopra Development
8  –  Modesto Chamber of Commerce PAC (MOPAC)
9  –  Russ Newman including Newman Romano LLC
10 – Chris Tyler

After all what do a couple of City Unions, a developer under indictment, a developer not under indictment,  several lobbyists, a SCAP Director loving insurance salesman, a land use attorney,  and a Gallo In-Law have in common?

Could it be to make friends and influence people and their votes?    I heard a politician say, “Money doesn’t buy access to me or my vote.”  

My response is fine, then the limits won’t stop you from voting YES on lower TIN CUP limits.

Here is the pdf of the entire ordinance: 28221703032013111122796

Please don’t hesitate to call or email your Council representative and let them know how you feel.   Lets take the special interest money out of politics.

Tell them to Vote Yes for lower TIN CUP limits.

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