I’ve long been an opponent of publicly funded campaigns, and it appears that the mayoral campaign currently underway is the perfect case study of why using our tax dollars to elect politicians is a lousy idea.
First, let’s consider how Albuquerque’s incumbent Mayor Marty Chavez was able to get on the ballot:
The confirmed city employees constitute 42 percent of the volunteer base used to collect the qualifying donations, making Fleisher correct in that respect. But those employees collected more than their share of the contributions. The review shows that 152 of the 295 books, or 52 percent, were used by city employees to qualify the mayor for public financing.
For example, the city’s employee relations manager, Lawrence Torres — who is the administration’s liaison with the city’s unionized workers — collected 10 books for the mayor, which was the largest group of books collected by one individual. Torres confirmed he collected the contributions, but declined to discuss how he did it, or why he participated in the drive.
Along with Torres, many of the city’s department directors — who are appointed by the mayor — collected contributions, as did many of their department managers plus the mayor’s own staff.
In other words, there is nothing grassroots about the whole taxpayer funded campaign program. The biggest beneficiaries are those already in office. Of course, getting your appointees to collect the signatures and money you need to get on the ballot and rake in the taxpayer money is only the beginning of the story.
Next comes the actual execution of the campaign. This is where you have to convince people to vote for you. Of course, once again, the incumbent in this case, Mayor Marty Chavez, has a great strategy. Try and buy the votes of a large voting block:
Mayor Martin Chávez says the city’s blue-collar, clerical, security and transit employees won’t have to wait an extra six months for their annual pay raises.
Chávez said his budget office had found about $1.3 million that isn’t needed in a workman’s compensation fund. That will allow the city to provide pay raises to more of its employees on July 1, the mayor said. The raises are expected to be about 3 percent.
That’s amazing! Mayor Chavez found $1.3 million to pass out as raises. Somebody please explain to me how that happens. Last I checked the City of Albuquerque was looking at huge budget shortfalls:
Albuquerque faces a $20 million budget shortfall because of the worsening economy, and city officials are trying bridge the budget gap without laying off city workers.
In fact, the $20 million budget shortfall is just the beginning. It has been estimated that this amount will grow even larger next year. Yet, the Mayor is handing out raises. There is only one motivation to do this – buying votes!