LETTER: Hoboken council needs to reject ordinance that would scale back pay-to-play

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In a letter to the editor, four members of the defunct group People for Open Government urges the Hoboken City Council to reject an ordinance that would scale back their pay-to-play rules.

Fund for a Better Waterfront Executive Director Ron Hine.

Dear Editor,

We the undersigned were members of People for Open Government (POG) formed about 20 years ago to institute campaign finance and election reforms in Hoboken.

We brought an end to the practice of pay-to-play by putting a model ordinance — Public Contracting Reform — on the ballot at the time of the 2004 election.

It passed by a margin of 10 to 1. Subsequently, at POG’s urging, the City Council adopted a redeveloper anti-pay-to-play ordinance.

Prior to these measures, professional firms and developers gave the maximum allowed each election cycle.

In 2005, an incumbent mayoral won re-election after collecting a staggering $1.4 million dollars, outspending his opponent by a margin of ten to one.

After the election, the firms contributing were rewarded with generous, no-bid service contracts with the City and approvals for development projects. Thereafter, the school board adopted similar anti pay-to-play ordinances.

With the overwhelming support of Hoboken voters, a diverse group of the Hoboken community leveled the political playing field in Hoboken. The ordinances made Hoboken a model of election reform. Special interests no longer taint elections like they once did.

Wednesday night, the Hoboken City Council passed on first reading an ordinance that would exempt unions from the current limit of $500 in campaign contributions, raising the amount to $7,200 and reversing two decades of progress.

When the ordinance comes up for a final vote, we urge the city council, in the name of good government and fair elections, to reject it.

Ann Graham
Ron Rozenberg
Ron Hine
Jim Vance