By Emerson Drake
Recently, an Ordinance change passed several committee hearings and is being sent to the City Council requesting a
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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.