The city council voted to “reduce or limit” campaign contributions by those “seeking to enter into a contract, obtain approval for a special permit or zoning, acquire city real estate or to seek financial assistance from the city, December 20, indicated a description of the political order on the agenda of the council.

The council provided City Manager Louis DePasquale with a draft ordinance and asked him to ask city attorney Nancy Glowa to read the proposed ordinance and provide comments on the implementation.

The ordinance was also referred to the Ordinances Committee for deliberation and discussion, in accordance with the political ordinance.

The city’s lawyer gives his opinion

The council has been discussing for some time limiting the amount of money that those who do business with the city can contribute in municipal elections. Some advisers noted at the meeting that Glowa informed them that such an order would not stand up to legal challenge unless the state legislature approves a autonomy petition allowing them to limit contributions to the countryside.

Deputy Mayor Alanna Mallon proposed an amendment to the order that would have called for a self-government petition and prevented the law from coming into force until approved by the state legislature, signed by the governor and approved by the council.

Mallon said approving the ordinance without the domestic regime petition would be “unwise.”

“Our town lawyer and her team have been telling us for many months that in order for us to pass this ordinance, we have to go through the legislature in a self-reliance petition,” Mallon said. “I think we need to move forward with this order without a special act authorizing it, as the town’s lawyer has suggested on several occasions, in this place, that we do this without the special act which I think would be reckless.

“We have been told repeatedly that if we [put it] up, it will be challenged and they will win, ”Mallon said.

Councilor Quinton Zondervan said the amendment would actually mean the council did nothing since the law would only come into effect after the legislature acted, and he was not convinced it ever would. .

“If that’s what we do, we might as well wait until we have the house rules petition, which of course we all know will never happen, and then order the ordinance,” Zondervan said.

Council voted against the amendment and will instead consider sending a self-government petition in a separate order, which will not prevent the ordinance from taking effect while the city awaits a decision from the legislature.

The law will enter into force at an indefinite date in 2022, according to the draft ordinance. It prohibits anyone receiving a financial benefit from the city, including those seeking to enter into a contract, the approval of a special permit, a zoning change that improves the value of the permit, or the approval of a development. planned unit, to pay over $ 200 per year to election candidates for four years, or the length of their contract with the city.

Limit all contributions

The law does not include people who have signed a citizens’ petition requesting a change to the zoning ordinance, according to the ordinance. Those who violate the ordinance and make contributions over $ 200 despite receiving a financial benefit from the city may be fined $ 300.00 per day for each violation.

As the council scrambled back and forth over whether or not to send a rules of procedure petition to the legislature, Councilor Dennis Carlone said the proposal had been under discussion for over a year and it was time for the board to act.

“We have discussed these details, more than any other zoning I could add, which has huge implications,” Carlone said.

Councilor Tim Toomey said he has supported campaign finance reform for many years, but did not feel comfortable allowing certain people to make large contributions while limiting what d ‘others can contribute. He said this puts lesser-known candidates at a “complete disadvantage”.

“It’s really very discriminatory,” Toomey said.

He said he would support limiting everyone’s contributions to $ 200.

“People said, ‘Well that’s unconstitutional [you] I can’t do it, “well some people think what we’re doing here tonight with this proposed ordinance is also unconstitutional,” Toomey said.

Councilor Marc McGovern took issue with the idea that people who support zoning down will not be limited, while those who want zoning up will be.

“We should limit all money in politics,” he said, “not just some people’s money in politics because we don’t like what they stand for.”