In a letter to the editor, Bayonne resident Michael Embrich said that with the municipal elections in the past, the time is now for the city to enact pay-to-play laws.
Let’s say there is a small business owner who wants a contract with the City. They make a donation to the local elected officials, and in turn, they get a no-bid contract.
Let’s say a government department wants to put out a request for proposal to have a roof repaired on a government building.
Elected officials can think back on their campaign donors and choose one to do this work, and have the department head give them the contract.
These hypothetical situations are examples of pay-to-play, and both are currently completely legal but, they are toxic to healthy government.
Not only does these types of transactions hurt other small businesses who participated in the fair and open bid process, it puts lifelong government employees in bad situations because they feel like they need to cater to the elected officials.
It hurts the taxpayer because they are often over-billed for these services–in effect paying for the favor that is being returned.
Now that the election season is behind us, we need to set our sights on ways to do away with these conflicts of interest that damage our City and engender corruption. We need to pass comprehensive pay-to-play laws.
Nearly 100 of the 565 municipalities in the state have adopted some form of pay-to-play restrictions in their cities, towns, and villages.
With so many examples to choose from, the City of Hoboken’s ordinance is a good paradigm to follow because of similarity in scale and governmental structure.
I would encourage the newly elected Bayonne City Council to draft and adopt a pay-to-play ordinance within their first 100 days in office.
This act would do two things for our city: 1) Ensure Bayonne continues to grow and reaches the potential we all know it has 2) Assure the thousands of Bayonne residents who voted for change that their voices aren’t being ignored.
I look forward to seeing this council take a leadership role in this endeavor. Thank you all for taking the time to read this and God Bless the City of Bayonne.