Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tony Avella Wants Clean Money In NYC

Unlike other politicians in New York that think clean money means having it laundered, Councilman Tony Avella wants to see election reform here in Gotham. Avella is somewhat of a renegade compared to the other 50 members, and consistently advocates for meaningful reform, even if it has a small chance of passing. Yesterday however, he stood up with election reform proponents (myself included) on the steps of City Hall in order to get a bill ready for the Mayor and Council to consider.....and pass.

From The Daily News:

Queens Councilman Tony Avella, the underdog 2009 mayoral hopeful who views the fact that he has raised less money than his opponents as a badge of honor, today unveiled a Clean Money, Clean Elections bill that would provide a full public financing (at the taxpayers' expense) for candidates for city office.

(And yes, this is part of the revolution).

Avella argues that the current partial public financing system is failing because many candidates opt out in order to avoid spending limits.

The system as it exists also relies too heavily on bundlers and special interest donors, the councilman said, (albeit less so since the campaign finance reform signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg, which is being challenged in federal court).

Avella denounced his fellow citywide candidates (particularly a certain Council Speaker) for accepting too much special interest cash, particularly from developers.

"They're not contributing just for the sake of it, they're contributing because they want something," Avella said. "I tell people when they give to me, they're not getting any favors."

I asked Avella whether he would accept contributions from developers and he responded: "It's not going to happen." He later amended that to: "If there were no strings attached, yes," allowing that there are some "good developers who try to work with the community."

That said, there are some people from whom Avella said he would never accept campaign cash - Donald Trump, for example.

The Daily News doesn't sound too hopeful in her post about this having a chance to happen but that doesn't mean this is over before it starts. The Mayor himself ran on a theme that he couldn't be bought and his support on this issue what kick things into high gear. Of course at the moment he is rather busy with passing congestion pricing, so we'll have to check back next week after the Council is finished with that 'little' matter.