Months ago, Councilwoman Darlene Harris and I had a wide-ranging conversation about city ethics and campaign finance reform. My desire to see strict legislative limits on political contributions along with full transparency did not impress her.
"You don't think people take cash?" she asked.
She shot me a look like maybe I was from another planet. Then she looked around as though to check to see that she herself was still on the right planet. Then she resumed looking at me like I had just fallen off the turnip truck.
(Photo cap h/t Pgh Hoagie)
So we have an issue. Campaign finance reform is not perfect.
Point conceded. However, let's start with simple things first. Today our politicians accord themselves a fair amount in the way of so called pay-to-play because it is so fairly ingrained in the system, and because it is so easy.
It makes sense to take action to demonstrate that selling out is not acceptable.
If the ship leaks, we can look to where it's leaking. I'm sure there will still be lobbyists and financiers, not to mention rogues, who will continue to excel at circumventing the system and enriching the coffers of politicians. Yet by turning down this road, we would be establishing some mutual standards, and encouraging those middlemen to disappear into the hinterland.
Harris offered another jewel to the Comet, this one regarding all the excitement the pay-to-play angle tends to stir in the media. This must have been just a short time before the Superbowl, because sports event tickets and trips were very much in the news.
"Do you know what would make a really fascinating expose?" she began, caustically.
She then wondered aloud how many trips sports journalists and all other print and broadcast journalists and personalities accept to attend professional sporting events and sports-related events throughout the country. Home games. Road games. Playoff games. All-Star games. Drafts. Exhibitions. Planes. Hotels. Restaurants. Et cetera.
"Do you know the food they have at those things?" she asked.
"Now, see here," I thought for a moment. The media doesn't get to vote on public contracts. The media doesn't get to hand out taxpayer dollars. The media doesn't....
But then I thought about every new stadium we've ever built.